When Charity fails: Andrea Gallerani and memory of the Misericordia in Siena

Norman, Diana (2007). When Charity fails: Andrea Gallerani and memory of the Misericordia in Siena. In: Stathakopoulos, Dionysios ed. The Kindness of Strangers: Charity in the Pre-Modern Mediterranean. Occasional Publications from the Centre for Hellenic Studies. London: Centre for Hellenic Studies, King's College, pp. 91–118.

URL: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/humanities/hrc/chs/


This essay, in a collection devoted to examining charity in the Byzantine Empire in the early modern period, offers a comparative case study of the practice of charity in late medieval Siena. It focuses on the role of Andrea Gallerani, a late thirteenth-century nobleman who during his lifetime practised various forms of charity towards his fellow Sienese and was reputed to have founded the hospital of the Misericordia, which became the second largest charitable institution in Siena. Building on the work of the modern historian Paolo Nardi, the study explores the cult of Andrea Gallerani in Siena over the centuries, arguing that although this saintly figure did not, in fact, found the Misericordia, Gallerani’s identity and reputation was skilfully exploited by the hospital authorities in order to increase the Misericordia’s wealth and status within the city. It also draws attention to the vital role of art in promulgating and sustaining this myth – a practice that continued even after the economic failure and closure of the hospital in the early fifteenth century.

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