Civic Identity and Civic Participation in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

Conferenza, Roma




Citizenship and assertion of belonging to civic political communities were among the core principles and values on which societies relied for centuries in Ancient Greece and Rome. The collective volume Civic Identity and Civic Participation in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages aims to analyse the continuity and discontinuity of civic membership in local communities as it developed in late and post-Roman Europe. Both in the patchwork of Germanic kingdoms that replaced the Empire in the West and in the monarchical and “theocratic” Byzantine Empire in the East the notion of civic belonging underwent drastic changes, changes that led scholars to the opinion that issues such as “citizenship” and civic political participation ceased to play a relevant role. The volume and preceding conference aim at both reassessing the implications of those changes in the cities of the Later Roman Empire and at examining how social and political identities, and legal institutions, were transformed in this period.

Contributions will explore the meaning of civic identities and the actual significance of civic participation in the definition of political communities from the third to the eleventh century CE. By civic identities and participation are meant the various forms of expression of collective belonging and of popular will in urban and local contexts in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Starting from the Classical background of the concepts of citizenship and democracy, this volume will examine how the idea and the practice of civic participation have been reinterpreted and rephrased over time. The contributions will assess the relevance of similar concepts for the post-Roman period and will examine what kind of power or representation the people were assigned in local communities at that time. The collective volume will provide a reappraisal of the impact of Classical heritage with regard to civic identities in later political experiences and will examine which new forms of social and political partnership were negotiated in the Early Middle Ages and in Byzantium.

Organisers and editors:
Cédric Brélaz, Université de Fribourg
Els Rose, Utrecht University

A project by: Utrecht University, Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, Swiss National Science Foundation, Istituto Svizzero, Université de Fribourg.

The conference will take place on the 29th and 30th of November. For the full programme on the 29th which will take place at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome  please click here.


Friday 30 November
Location: Istituto Svizzero, Via Ludovisi 48

09:00 Meet and greet

09:15-10:00 Cities as legal entities in Late Roman and Visigothic Spain
Michael Kulikowski, Pennsylvania State University

10:00-10:45 Urban identities in Late Roman Italy
Pierfrancesco Porena, Università Roma Tre

10:45-11:15 Coffee break

11:15-12:00 Citizenship and ethnic identity in the late Antique and early medieval West
Helmut Reimitz, Princeton University

12:00-13:30 Lunch break

13:30-14:15 Civic Identity and Civic Participation in a Christianising World: the case of sixth-century Arles
Els Rose, Utrecht University

14:15-14:45 Coffee break

14:45-15:30 Urban culture in the Early Medieval West
Marco Mostert, Utrecht University

15:30-16:15 Civic identities and “pre-communal” communities in Early Medieval Italy
Cristina La Rocca & Gianmarco de Angelis, Università degli Studi di

16:15-17:30 Discussion and closing remarks

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