chapter  1
31 Pages

Constructing a Civil Religion: The Virgin, the ‘Myth of Montaperti’ and the Sienese Civic Pantheon 1260–1555

The developed version of the narrative and myth of Montaperti depends principally on three Sienese chronicle accounts of the events of early September 1260. Another image that was to exercise an important influence on the development of Sienese civil religion was placed upon the high altar of the cathedral in the early fourteenth century. There is a substantial body of evidence to suggest that Sienese civil religion underwent significant development in the period after Montaperti and as a result of a special vow and dedication of the city to the Virgin on the eve of the battle. Whatever historical basis there may thus be for the 'myth of Montaperti', that both the myth itself and the enhanced place of the Virgin within late medieval Sienese civil religion did not immediately assume their full stature in 1260. Towards the end of the siege, in March 1555, they again dedicated their city to the Virgin according to the established ritual.