In the Shadow of the Gallows

Symptoms, Sensations, Feelings

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques

Through the fascinating late sixteenth-century legal battle over the inheritance of the Florentine nobleman Giovambattista di Bindaccio Ricasoli Baroni, in which the young Galileo Galilei appeared as a key witness, this article reflects on two key categories of emotion of the era: melancholy and terror (specifically, fear of death). In analyzing these emotions, which hounded the unfortunate Ricasoli throughout his life, the article shows that, far from being the private sentiments of a single pathological individual, these emotions reflected the mood of people living in an era when the shadow of the oppression of arbitrary power in this world and of the possibility of eternal suffering in the next were particularly salient. Moreover, seemingly perennial emotions like sadness or the fear of death or shame, far from being unchanging, can take different and unpredictable configurations in a precise historical context, based on impulses and conflicts related to the power relations and the mental patrimony of that society.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 1 1 1
PDF Downloads 2 2 2