Renæssanceforum 10 • 2016

Marianne Pade
In Gallos: Renaissance Humanism and Italian Cultural Leadership

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In my contribution to the proceedings of the first Text & Contexts conference on The Role of Latin in the Early Modern World, I discussed how Italian humanists, from Petrarch onwards, increasingly claimed the heritage from classical Antiquity for themselves. I based my observations on a number of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century writers who maintained – more or less explicitly – that only Italians could have the proper mastery of Latin and only they possessed the culture that came with that language. In this article I hope to take this further: scholars who study how national identity is constructed often point out how important it is not only to have something in common, like a shared past, but also to have a common enemy or another group from whom one can distance oneself. In the present article, I focus on the role of this other group – the French.