Giovanni Villani's New Chronicle traces the history of Florence, Italy, and Europe over a vast sweep of time – from the destruction of the Tower of Babel to the outbreak of the Black Death in 1348. In the eleventh and twelfth books, Villani represents a particularly eventful period (1326-1342) in the history of his city, whose grandeur is depicted in the famous and oft-cited chapter describing its income and expenditure. The dramatic account follows the internal strife of the Florentine commune, and its wars against powerful local lords including Castruccio Castrocane and Mastino della Scala. The chronicler's perspective, however, ranges far beyond the walls of the city, as he documents the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor Louis of Bavaria, the penitent processions of Venturino da Bergamo, and the opening phases of the Hundred Years War.
Matthew Sneider, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, USA, and
Rala Diakité, Fitchburg State University, Massachusetts, USA.