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Giannino in History, Legend, and Literature

Giannino in History, Legend, and Literature

Chapter:
(p.119) Chapter Six Giannino in History, Legend, and Literature
Source:
The Man Who Believed He Was King of France
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226145273.003.0006

This book has narrated the story of Giannino di Guccio, the Siena merchant who believed he was king of France, in a straightforward fashion, commenting on the main source—the so-called Istoria del re Giannino di Francia—or departing from it only for specific reasons. At various places, the reconstruction differs from what Giannino asserts in his memoirs. This final chapter shows how Giannino's career poses a whole series of problems for history. It asks the question: Did King Giannino exist? Was he a historical figure or a literary invention? This chapter proves Giannino's existence thanks to two documents independent of one another. The first is the recorded deliberation of the General Council of the commune of Siena, dated October 27, 1359 and still preserved in the State Archive in Siena. The second is the letter that Pope Innocent VI wrote to the king and queen of Naples on April 16, 1361. And among all the hypothetical relationships involving Giannino, the most fascinating seems to be the one with Cola di Rienzo.

Keywords:   Giannino di Guccio, Siena, merchant, king, France, Istoria del re Giannino di Francia, Cola di Rienzo, General Council, Pope Innocent VI, Naples

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