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Vico and NaplesThe Urban Origins of Modern Social Theory$

Barbara Ann Naddeo

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449161

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449161.001.0001

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Vico and Naples

Vico and Naples

(p.1) Introduction Vico and Naples
Vico and Naples

Barbara Ann Naddeo

Cornell University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This introductory chapter provides an overview of this book's inquiry into the intellectual accomplishments of Giambattista Vico (1668—1744), the famed professor of Rhetoric at the University of Naples. His magnum opus, the Scienza nuova (3rd ed., 1744), has been hailed by many contemporary scholars as the precursor of modern social theory and its disciplinary affiliations. In particular, the chapter identifies the oft-neglected aspects of Vico's social theory as exemplified in his ideals of a metropolis. The second half of the chapter elaborates on the particular subject of Vico's investigations—Naples—and the questions of society and citizenship brought about by its urbanization and expansion during the early eighteenth century.

Keywords:   Giambattista Vico, Vico's social theory, modern social theory, Naples, Neapolitan metropolis, Neapolitan society, citizenship, urbanization, eighteenth century

I. Vico, the Metropolitan Question, and the Emergence of Social Theory

In this book I specifically examine the oeuvre of Giambattista Vico (1668–1744), the famed professor of Rhetoric at the University of Naples, whose magnum opus, the Scienza nuova (3rd ed., 1744), has been hailed by so many contemporary scholars as the precursor of modern social theory and its disciplinary affiliations.1 Since the 1960s, Vico has often been cited by historians of the social scientific disciplines as a most precocious forerunner, and, as such, a legendary sort of founding figure whose genius transcended his own circumstances. Consequently, as concerns Vico’s own social science, sight of the forest has been lost through the trees, as the historical contribution and circumstances of his thought have been neglected.

Paradoxically, the aspects of Vico’s social theory that have been least studied are its most obvious, namely, that Vico made an iconic metropolis the privileged object of his investigation and that he individuated in the iter—or procedural acquisition—of civic citizenship a law of development pertaining to humans across the globe. Specifically, Vico identified in the origins of Rome the template for the formation of society from a state of nature. Similarly, he found in the history of Roman factionalism and the plebeian contest for rights a universal typology of societal development, or what constituted (p.2) the history of civilization in his early texts. Thus, my book takes as its own thematic focus the centrality of the metropolis and the metropolitan question to Vico’s social thought. It also offers a historical account of why Vico specifically identified the metropolis as the site for the contest of rights, and why he believed that contest to be utterly transformative of human nature.

Methodologically, in this book I seek to wed texts to their contexts in ways that have often eluded historians. It is my working assumption that some of the most innovative, if not inflammatory, claims of the past regularly escape contemporary readers simply because we do not share the original frames of reference presumed by their authors. Consequently, in this book I set out to do two things. First, I identify not only the commonalities but also the differences of Vico’s texts from the traditions in which he was working, by exhibiting both the debts and departures of his ideas from them. As Vico was a neoclassicist whose idiom was that of the ancient Romans, I examine the novel content with which Vico invested both the history and theory of the Roman polity, novelties that shifted the very terms in which political belonging was cast and shocked Vico’s contemporaries. In other words, it is my contention that Vico’s contribution to social thought was encoded in his unique interpretation of the Roman polity, and that we can begin to appreciate that same contribution only if we situate the uniqueness of his interpretation in the historical perspectives of antiquity and of early modern Naples. I thus seek to decipher what Vico’s interpretation of Roman history meant to him, without losing sight of the pitfalls, or unintended consequences, of his working within overdetermined frames of reference. Simply put, in this book I pinpoint and contextualize the specificities of Vico’s interpretation of history to make manifest his politics, however subtle they may have been.

Second, in this book I participate in the debate about the relationship between the transformations of society and the emergence of social theory in early modern Europe. I provide an example of why one eighteenth-century figure found it appropriate to describe the polity of the capital city in terms of a society, and why he further hypothesized that the laws of behavior animating that same polity were exhibited by groups whose identity and coherence were rooted in what were extrapolitical realities. In particular, I argue that Vico’s social theory was a product of his observations regarding the social transformations of his own metropolitan habitus, and I show why that was the case, as the transformations of society and of theory do not necessarily correspond. Put somewhat differently, this book evidences that Vico’s theoretical convictions about the nature of the Roman polity and significance of Roman citizenship were first formulated within an assessment (p.3) of his own urban environment: that of the capital city of Naples. It makes plain that the very occasion for Vico’s first foray into social theory was one that dramatically tested the municipality of Naples and gave contemporaries reason to reevaluate the criteria for and meaning of citizenship in the capital. In sum, it finds in the highly politicized judgment Vico passed on both the municipality and its rivals that novel content with which he would invest the iter of civic citizenship for ancient Romans and, analogously, for humanity.

While the historiography has acknowledged the literal prescience of the Scienza nuova (1744), little has been done to contextualize its innovation either in the oeuvre or experience of Vico himself. Indeed, the foremost twentieth-century advocates of Vico assiduously maintained that his work was not only vanguard but also untimely and apolitical.2 Moreover, these claims faithfully reproduced Vico’s own disingenuous pronouncements about his alienation from his intellectual milieu, pronouncements that he had carefully crafted to account for his failure to win promotion to the coveted Morning Chair of Civil Law.3 Although meant to be a corrective, the historiographical response then erred on the side of recasting Vico as overly typical of his age, that is, as a prodigious and recondite polymath, whose works represented the summation and apotheosis of late Renaissance and baroque epistemologies.4 In dialectical fashion, subsequent literature has thus attempted to restore the work of Vico to its immediate context, but has differed on whether that context was “European” or “Neapolitan,” and in both cases has presented Vico’s topics as somewhat belated rejoinders to the once-burning and manifold questions of the Republic of Letters, especially as they concerned religious belief.5 Intrigued by not only the contemporaneity but also the politics of Vico’s oeuvre, I have taken the clues for my own work from scholars who have suggested the importance of the jurisprudential tradition for the hallmarks of Vichian social theory, which I herewith examine from its first formulation in Vico’s early historical and rhetorical texts through its permutations in his legal works and the first edition of the Scienza nuova.6

As I show in the chapters that follow, Vico derived both the categories and norms of his social theory from the jurisprudential tradition of Roman law. Furthermore, Vico’s theory manifestly historicized the juridical categories and norms of Roman law to provide a novel account of the formation of the urban polity and, more important, the nature of its foundational contract. What is more, this same debt of Vico’s social theory to Roman jurisprudence explains both some of its peculiarities as well as some of its more comparable, European-wide features, such as its characteristic materialism. As will become clear, the benchmark status of property for political belonging evidently was (p.4) as much a debt to the recent legacy of a Hobbes or a Locke as it was to the shared legacy of Roman jurisprudence, which already in its classical age had introduced the category of “things,” or property, as an essential attribute of persons and the constitutive bond among individuals in society.7 Beyond his debts to the legacy of canonical theorists and jurists, this present book also establishes Vico’s affinity for contemporary politics and political factions, and argues that we can understand both the jurisprudential beginnings and iter of his social theory precisely in this same context.8

Consequently, in this book I begin by examining the political occasion for Vico’s first reflections about the nature of urban society and social relations. And I show that Vico therewith employed old concepts to the novel ends of diagnosing and accounting for the atypical behavior of new metropolitan groups, whose innate desires and goals he would grant the quality of finality, or teleology, in his subsequent work.

The first chapter presents the occasion for Vico’s foray into social theory, that is, his composition of a history of the failed Neapolitan revolt of 1701, known as the Coniuratio principum Neapolitanorum. Although commissioned by the political brokers of the Spanish regime, Vico’s history evidently failed to please the representatives of the status quo, as it challenged their neat incrimination of the urban underclasses with its attention to the unusual ways in which extrapolitical processes had both destabilized and reshaped the behavior of the traditional orders of the Kingdom in general and those of the capital city of Naples in particular. By examining Vico’s account of revolt in light of the normative explanations of the period, this chapter underscores just what an astute critic of contemporary politics and society Vico was and the extent to which his keen sense of the obsolescence of civic citizenship and the municipality of Naples informed his alternative account of this episode of revolt against the Spanish.

The second chapter then examines Vico’s advocacy of global citizenship, or cosmopolitanism, as it was expressed in the inaugural addresses he delivered to the student body of the University of Naples between 1699 and 1708. In particular, this chapter traces Vico’s abandonment of an emotive notion of cosmopolitanism for a commercial one, and explains his idealization of commercial sociability with reference to the conclusions he had drawn about the protagonists and nature of the metropolitan community in his history of the revolt of 1701. It thus shows how Vico arrived at the idea that all human relations are transactional in nature, and therefore forms of commerce, and that both the mutual obligations and actionable rights of humans most appropriately can be conceived in terms of international commercial law. Finally, it contextualizes these seemingly moral philosophical (p.5) claims about the obligations and rights of humans within the contemporary legal battles of the Kingdom, especially as they concerned the jurisprudential tradition of its arbiter of Roman law, that is, the supreme court of the Kingdom, the Sacro Regio Consiglio.

Chapter 3 considers both the legal aspirations and jurisprudential works of Vico, and reconstructs his first full-blown account of Roman law and society in light of the jurisprudential tastes of his target audience, the leading members of the Neapolitan judiciary. It begins with an ample reconstruction of Vico’s life and work between the publication of his last inaugural address, the De ratione (1709), and the drafting of his legal treatise known as the Diritto universale, which comprised the volumes De uno (1720), De constantia (1721), and Notae (1722). In particular, the second section identifies Vico’s motivations for undertaking a legal treatise, and it reconstructs the publication history and reception of both De uno and De constantia, which not only were subjected to scrupulous censorship but also occasioned some scandal.

The third section of this chapter considers the history of law and society immanent to the legal treatise. In particular, the third section reconstructs Vico’s unique history of Rome, which, it shows, made novel claims about the origins and laws of development characteristic of cities and, by analogy, world polities. Furthermore, this section evinces that Vico’s unique history of Rome couched the theme of natural, or human, rights in the political idiom available to him, namely that of citizenship, and that he therewith lodged the sharpest critique with not only the classical notion of citizenship as a set of political liberties but also the social inequities constraining the practical meaning of that same political category. In his legal works, Vico provocatively rewrote the history of Roman citizenship as a history of the plebeians’ gradual acquisition of natural property rights. Against the traditional historical grain, Vico argued that the political watershed of the Roman Republic was marked by the Lex Poetelia Papiria (326 BCE), which forbade the enslavement of plebeians for debt. Similarly, he conceptualized the successive victories of the plebeians as their progressive acquisition of full possession of their own persons and, subsequently, lands and things, departing from the revered historical record of Livy to engage in contemporary debates about the rights indiscriminately due to humans and the path to civilization. This third section thus underscores Vico’s idealization of the late Roman Republic as a societas, or commercial partnership, that engaged its members in the practice of commerce. It also makes plain that this idealization was intended as a counterpoint to the condition of not only the earlier Republic but also the modern capital, which, as this chapter also establishes, was implicated in Vico’s reconstruction of the origins and nature of Roman political civilization.

(p.6) Finally, the third section of this chapter assesses the influence of Vico’s target audience, that is, the leading members of the Neapolitan judiciary, on his arguments concerning the nature and ends of Roman jurisprudence. In his legal treatise, Vico arguably rewrote the history of Roman jurisprudence to support the innovations of the contemporary Neapolitan judiciary, whose judicial program had sought to further social reform. Therein, he insisted that the end of jurisprudence was justice, which he significantly equated with “equity,” a precept of the ius gentium, or “law of nations,” that was often invoked in contemporary courts to overrule traditional privileges in favor of the public welfare. This section thus makes plain the intimate connections between Vico’s endorsement of an equity-oriented form of Roman jurisprudence and his politicking among the high-ranking judiciary of Naples. At the same time, it also explains why the judiciary failed to take an interest in Vico’s legal treatise, which not only endorsed the natural jurisprudence of the courts but also its codification.

The last chapter of this book, chapter 4, gives content to Vico’s famous claim in his Autobiografia that he became a philosopher only because he failed to become a professor of law. In the first place, it shows that Vico’s politicking among the judiciary was untimely—and hence a miserable failure—by narrating Vico’s unsuccessful bid for the highly remunerative Morning Chair of Civil Law at the University of Naples, a position whose award traditionally was contingent on the favor of not only the professoriate but also the heads of the Kingdom’s tribunals. It further recounts the great personal difficulty with which Vico drafted and sought to publish the first edition of the Scienza nuova, for which he failed to secure the financial support of the learned Cardinal Corsini. Finally, the book ends where most books on Vico begin, that is, with the first edition of the Scienza nuova, in which Vico generalized the hypotheses of his legal works to make applicable to world society those insights about the nature of citizenship and rights of humans that he heretofore more narrowly had exemplified with his history of the Roman metropolis.

Though an intellectual biography of Vico, this book does more than reconstruct the career of one of the eighteenth century’s most intriguing thinkers. In it I seek to answer a number of the big questions surrounding the relationship between the actual transformation of society and the advent of social theory at the end of the Old Regime. Above all else, this book evidences something that all students of early modern Europe intuitively know but that the historiography heretofore has failed to reconstruct in all its due complexity, namely, the relationship between the advent of the metropolis and the emergence of a cosmopolitan theory of society that (p.7) posited commerce as the constituent relation and right among humans. Cosmopolitanism was one of the most common and powerful critiques leveled at the Old Regime by its critics. At the same time, it was predicated on a sense of anachronism that itself must be explained and politically aligned. As I argue here, the metropolitan question made meaningful, if not necessary, the coinage of an extrapolitical notion of cosmopolitan society by making plain the utter disconnect between the rhetoric and realities of the civic polity, or city. Thus, this book concretely weds a history of semantics to one of metropolitan politics, restoring to both the invention and critique of “society” its fullest political dimension.9

What is more, with its contextualization of cosmopolitanism, this book also helps to identify and account for the genesis of a modern rights theory that places its primary emphasis on contractualism, individuating the metropolitan roots of one of modernity’s most central political concepts. Curiously, the centrality of contractualism to modern rights theory has been importantly qualified by the historiography on political thought, which, unintentionally perhaps, has shifted the gaze of the literature from the nature of the original political contract to questions regarding the possibility and conditions of individual liberty within political civilization. One vein of this historiography in particular has reconsidered early modern contractual theory in terms of its upshot for the model of freedoms enjoyed within political civilization, as if the debates about political rights themselves had been subordinate to concerns about political liberty per se. Consequently, this vein has focused on the reconstruction of the political concept of “liberty” and its manifold associations, and has hypothesized the existence of three historical types of such, two “positive” and one “negative,” which together purportedly represented the range of opinions characteristic of the early modern period. According to this view, the first type of “liberty” was “positive” and premised on a “participatory” notion of political freedom, while the others were “negative” and espoused either a “liberal,” that is, Hobbesian, or a “neo-Roman” notion of the same, which in the latter case amounted to a definition of liberty as freedom from forms of political dependency and the concomitant representation of the citizen in the decisions of the political community.10 Despite the dichotomous nature of the vantage points it has considered, the emphasis of this vein can be said to have limited its purview to texts in which the polity and politics were presumed to function independently of what we would call social constraints. Indeed, the very enthusiasm this vein has expressed for the “neo-Roman” definition of “liberty” as a political condition opposite to the one of “slavery” has both overstated the metaphorical meaning with which republican theorists invested this status of persons and, (p.8) consequently, obscured the ongoing historical relevance of its more fundamental juridical meaning, that is, the right to the possession of oneself and of one’s labor. In other words, this vein has focused its study of political thought to suggest that questions of equity—whether legal, moral, or economic—did not factor into that set of conditions proposed as necessary for the “liberty,” or freedom, of the individual within political civilization. In other words, with its particular choice of traditions, it has downplayed, if not neglected, the centrality of extrapolitical rights to some notions of freedom in the early modern period—such as the importance that the rights tradition specifically gave to the potentiality and self-realization of humankind, as well as to the manifold extrapolitical contingencies that could impede the same.11

Another vein of the historiography has complemented the first by specifically considering the history of rights theory over the longer durée and has argued that the genealogy of a modern notion of individual rights, or subjective liberties, developed internal to the ancient and medieval tradition of natural law.12 Perhaps the most suggestive and important insight of this vein of historiography has been the emphasis it has placed on the ongoing importance of Roman law for circumscribing the rights and obligations of individuals. In particular, its study of the ever-changing semantics of the Latin word ius, law or right, since antiquity has brought to the fore the centrality of allied Roman legal concepts—such as, potestas, or power, and of dominium, or possession—to the definition of the essential condition and irreducible rights of the individual. If implicitly, then, this vein has reminded us of the unequivocal significance of Roman jurisprudence for the development of a modern rights theory; and it has cast light upon the assumptions of that same rights theory as they regarded the rule of law, or the political order as it were. At the same time, the history of rights theory—initially at least—shied from contextualizing the literature it unearthed and from reconstructing the occasions for either the transmission or incommunicability of that literature’s ideas to political worlds of thought and action. What is more, this vein has upheld a distinction between types of rights that was not itself historical: that is, the one between “objective,” or claim-based, and “subjective,” or agency-based, rights. As I show in this book, however, Vico’s innovation of a subjective notion of rights went hand-in-hand with his revising and advocating an objective notion of the same. Drawing and expanding on the findings of this literature, the historiography of political thought of the early Enlightenment too has emphasized the importance of the idiom and concepts of Roman law for the emergence and diffusion of a modern notion of freedom—that is, what it was more restrictively called an “economic” notion of freedom, by which it meant the right and ability of the individual to engage in commerce.13

(p.9) In many ways, this book has profited from the insights, conclusions, and even shortcomings of all this scholarship. I have tried to write a book that would live up to the methodological program of the first vein of historiography on political thought;14 and with this methodology, I have sought to account for that pertinence of Roman law to the modern notion of individual rights so strongly suggested by the latter two veins. In the first place, I have sought to reconstruct the meanings of Vico’s utterances and texts by restoring them to their contexts. Second, I have sought to show that the “economic” definition of freedom pertained to Vico’s world of concerns in his early works and that the pertinence of that definition is best accounted for by Vico’s debts to contemporary Roman jurisprudence. As this book makes plain, Vico’s contribution to the redefinition of political freedom and individual rights had its roots in the institutional problems confronting the judiciary of his own day. Similarly, I argue that Vico should be understood as participating in a set of reflections and theoretical solutions that were common to those of the judiciary and its successors during the European Enlightenment. Put somewhat differently and plainly, this book evinces that both Roman law and the practice of jurisprudence by the courts was an important source for innovations in thought about the polity and the rights due to its constituency.

Finally, this book revisits an old, unresolved theme within the historiography of early modern Europe: that of the relationship between jurisprudence and social science.15 As the book suggests, the blossoming of the social sciences in the Kingdom of Naples had something to do both with the agenda of jurisprudence and with the failure of the same to accommodate and effectively administer the natural claims made on the polity by social groups, both displaced and entrenched, in search of justice. Through its reconstruction of Vico’s own intellectual career, furthermore, this book makes manifest that the uncoupling of social theory from jurisprudence leveled a heady critique at the shortcomings of jurisprudence as a palliative for the challenges of the capital city—especially as those shortcomings concerned the rights of new metropolitan groups. And it provides an example of the professional trajectory that so often culminated in the vocation of social science: that of critics who viewed themselves as the heirs and successors of the judiciary in the twilight of its efforts at reform.

II. Questions of Citizenship and Society in Metropolitan Naples

Circa 1730, the city of Naples was famously described as a gigantic head set upon a frail, thin body, a grotesque corporeal metaphor for the relationship (p.10) between the capital and provinces of the Kingdom that would be invoked repeatedly over the course of the eighteenth century.16 More incisively than the political brief in which it was employed, this metaphor conveyed how contemporary authorities perceived the origins and consequences of the demographic growth of Naples, which throughout the early modern period steadily grew at a dramatic rate to become the third-largest metropolitan area in Europe by 1730.17 Picturing Naples as the colossal head of an attenuated Kingdom, this metaphor suggested that the urbanization of Naples was the product of migration from the provinces to the capital of such relatively great size that it sapped the former while enlarging the latter to the point of utter monstrosity, or what we would call preternaturality.

If this metaphor overstated the effects of urbanization for the provinces of the Kingdom, it faithfully represented the source and consequences of population growth for Naples itself, which like all other major European capitals was dependent on immigration for its demographic increase and infamously outgrew the limits of its own municipal structures.18 However apt eighteenth-century Neapolitans considered this metaphor for their particular circumstances, this image of the capital city had both European-wide currency and longevity, becoming by midcentury what was an almost hackneyed way for contemporaries to convey the sorts of challenges posed by the unprecedented growth of Europe’s capitals, or what contemporary historians have dubbed the metropolitan question.19 Throughout the long eighteenth century, indeed, gross immigration to capital cities was epochal, and the sheer demographic size of capitals such as London, Paris, and Naples increasingly dwarfed the towns of their respective kingdoms, be they near or far from the metropolitan center.

For instance, we know that London drew as many as twelve thousand immigrants a year by the outset of the eighteenth century and that it absorbed about half the natural increase of provincial England in its entirety.20 As a result, “by 1700 it almost certainly contained a tenth of the total population of England and before 1800 it was always at least ten times larger than the next English town.”21 While these trends made and sustained London as the single largest capital in all of Europe throughout the eighteenth century, the comparable figures for Naples are even more stunning. Although it ranked behind London and Paris in terms of its aggregate population, Naples was truly immense in relation to the other towns of its Kingdom, and doubtless its hypertrophic growth was sustained by waves of immigration from the provinces that stabilized, if not depressed, the population of the same. In light of its immensity, historians of the Kingdom have been careful to note that the demographic growth of Naples was equally an indication of a more general (p.11) trend investing the entire Kingdom over the course of the eighteenth century.22 Nonetheless, relative to other towns of the Kingdom the capital grew at what was a disproportionate rate. As is well known, between 1657 and 1707 the population of Naples increased by a spectacular 47 percent, and it doubled in the course of the century, while that of the major towns in its most immediate hinterland, for instance, increased but modestly or stagnated.23 As a consequence, by 1700 approximately 10 percent of the Kingdom resided in Naples proper and a stunning 33 percent of the same additionally inhabited the territory within 50 kilometers of its city limits, making the metropolitan area of the capital a literal metonym for the Kingdom of Naples.24 By 1800, indeed, the capital could boast close to half a million inhabitants, and it figured as twenty times larger than the second-largest peninsular city of the Kingdom, that is, Bari.25 With the continuous growth of its population, the capital famously morphed far beyond the confines of its “City,” or municipality, rendering the demographic map of Naples increasingly incommensurable with the political territory of its municipality. In the eighteenth century, especially, most of the demographic growth of the metropolitan area of Naples took place in its outlying circles of suburban residential developments (borghi), agricultural communities, and villages (casali) belonging to the City of Naples, but only tenuously controlled by it.26 The image of Naples as a gigantic head set upon a frail, thin body, in sum, conveyed the nature and immediate problems of an urban community swollen by immigration and sprawling beyond the grasp of its own municipal jurisdiction.

Beyond the very real challenges this image conveyed, for contemporaries it further bore the problem of political categorization. For it equally represented a political typology that posited the capital in contradistinction to the prevailing models of urban community, namely, those of the Greek polis and of the Roman civitas. Representing the capital as the site of implosion of a larger constellation of political territories, this image constructed an urban type whose hallmarks were its openness, extraordinary demographic size, and, most conspicuously, the overwhelming foreignness of its constituency.

Conceptually, this urban type thus presented a novelty that posed the problem of political oxymoron: that of a city whose political identity was vested neither in its citizenry nor in its capacity to integrate others into the civic self. Since the time of Aristotle, the polis had been synonymous with its exclusive citizenry, or politai, that corporation of free adult men whose duty was to rule and to be ruled, and with that citizenry’s enjoyment of the “good life,” a telos that Aristotle thought was predicated on the purported self-sufficiency, or near autarky, of the civic community.27 Analogously, the boundaries of the Roman civitas, too, had been coextensive with its citizenry. (p.12) Indeed, at the time of the Republic, Cicero used that Latin word to signify both the condition of citizenship and the body of the citizen community subject to a common law.28 As the rhetoric of ancient history had suggested to its heirs, furthermore, the imperial Roman civitas had been an expansionary polity that proved eminently capable of incorporating the peoples of its new territories into the civic self with its successive grants of Roman citizenship to Latins, Italians, and provincials, respectively.29 To the extent that it lent itself to metaphor, the image of an infinite set of concentric circles perhaps best would have captured the nature of the Roman civitas,30 which, after the imperial edict of the Antonine constitution in 212 CE, could claim to have encompassed the Empire in its entirety and to have earned the epithet of the urbs orbs, or cosmopolis as it were.31 In light of the centrality of citizenship to the ancient typologies of the city, then, the preternaturality attributed to the modern capital is hardly surprising. It was in stark contrast to both the boundedness of the polis and the integrative capacity of the imperial civitas that the typology of the capital figured as a behemoth and plurality of political subjects. Consequently, the typology of the capital presented the uncanny and novel problem of how to understand the nature of an urban polity whose actual constituency conspicuously exceeded that of its nominal citizenry.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this problem was most patently addressed by the coinage and usage of new language to denote the capital itself. The modern usage of the word “metropolis,” for instance, was a byproduct of this era of hypertrophic growth; and it appeared unusually early in Naples, where, to my knowledge, it was first employed by Capaccio in his famous guide to the city, Il forastiero (1632), to capture not only the splendor but also the grandeur of Naples,32 a connotation that it would maintain in the eighteenth century as well.33 If a less dramatic representation of change than the oft-used head metaphor, this semantic innovation too articulated a shift in the political ontology of the capital city of Naples; posited in contradistinction to the “city,” the “metropolis” semantically conveyed the anachronism of the capital as a discrete civic polity, whose internal dynamics and fortune could be accounted for by the laws of classical politics. For in the city of classical politics, there had been no place for the analysis of the claims and behavior of outsiders, who simply were viewed as alien to the political, cultural, and even moral orders of the civic community.34 What is more, once dislodged from the field of political analysis, study of the city necessitated not only a new taxonomy but also a new teleology that could subsume the diverse members of its constituency. It begged the redefinition of citizenship for a world where the characteristic modalities of the civic community were not only strained but also in the process of being superseded.

(p.13) Perhaps the best-known response to these questions and others like them in the eighteenth century was to invent the “nation”—as had Jean Bodin and, to very different ends, as would Jean-Jacques Rousseau35—that is, to extend the extant political categories of “citizenry” and “civic community” to embrace the larger, eclectic whole. As this book will show, another response was to discern in the implosive city the privileged site for the investigation of “society”—or what was a metapolitical sphere of human association and interaction—and to provide a new narrative of the iter and ends of civic citizenship that squared with those new realities and policies governing the metropolitan community.

In early modern Italy, the iter of civic citizenship had defined the political obligations and rights of the extant members of the city as well as provided the practical means for the integration of outsiders into the ranks of the civic community.36 Typically, immigrants to cities could apply for citizenship once they had fulfilled the residency, tax, and property requirements stipulated by municipal statutes. Customarily, the award of citizenship then conferred on the individual the title of “true and original citizen of the city,” or “antique, true and natural citizen of the city,” so that his citizenship did not differ in kind from that of citizens-by-birthright, with whom he then (theoretically) shared the same burdens and rights of membership in the civic community.37 Beyond the customary duties and privileges, the acquisition of citizenship bore for the same individual the fiction of naturalization. As studies of the consilia, or opinions, of prominent Renaissance jurists have shown, the conferral of citizenship was viewed not only as a juridical contract between the city and its new member but also as a formal acknowledgment of the new member’s acquired political essence, or second political nature, be that new essence or nature understood as the product of juridical art itself or prolonged civic habit.38 In other words, with its bestowal of a new juridical persona upon its recipient, the award of citizenship was a process that both dramatized and formalized the acquisition of a new political culture, making for a legal equivalent of the process of civilization avant la lettre.

As in the city-states of northern Italy, in the Kingdom of Naples the award of citizenship was primarily the prerogative of local municipalities, and it distinguished its recipient as the free and privileged member of a distinct civic community. In the capital of the Kingdom, however, the real perquisites and political duties of municipal citizenship were the most advantageous and honorific, making citizenship in the City of Naples a coveted good for much of the early modern period. Unlike the citizens of other communities, the citizen of Naples enjoyed numerous fiscal exemptions and jurisdictional privileges throughout the Kingdom of Naples.39 In the first place, the Neapolitan (p.14) citizen was exempt from cadastral taxation in Naples, or what was called the “focatico,” and from numerous duties imposed on goods at the customs houses of the capital and Kingdom. In the legal realm, the Neapolitan also enjoyed the so-called privilegio del foro, the right for his case to be judged in Naples and thus by Neapolitan law, regardless of the provenance of the other party, as well as a set of legal protections that most famously included freedom from torture in the informational phase of a trial and from the confiscation of one’s property. Finally, the citizen of Naples also possessed the right and duty to participate in the government of the municipality, which in addition to the governance of the polity also had the political privilege of officiating on behalf of the entire Kingdom in both the political dialogues and rituals conducted with the Spanish Empire.40 Thus, the patent of citizenship in the City of Naples secured for its bearer a superior status that was literally honored throughout the Kingdom: it had cachet, both literally and symbolically.

As in the city-states of northern Italy, in the City of Naples the acquisition of citizenship was a well-codified process regulated by the practices and norms of juridical culture that both dramatized and formalized belonging to the civic corps. Significantly, integration into the citizenry and municipal governance of Naples could occur at one of two social levels: that of the civic patriciate or that of the Popolo, or People. In the case of the former, the acquisition of citizenship was the product of the admission of an individual to one of the five patrician piazze, or local parliaments of Naples, the accession to which had less to do with the civic qualifications than with the political and personal allegiances of the successful candidate.41 As the civic patriciate was an exclusive body, most aspirants thus petitioned for citizenship at the rank of the Popolo, which beginning around 1500 increasingly required that one submit the requisite documentation to the Kingdom’s preeminent fiscal organ, the Regia Camera della Sommaria, which evaluated it and ultimately conferred the patent and perquisites of municipal citizenship on the successful candidate. Beyond birthright, the primary qualification for citizenship was demonstrable possession of immovable property in Naples, that is, a home, which was the benchmark for residency.42 In addition to this relatively steep property requirement, the qualifications for citizenship in Naples included the testimony of a number of key members of the civic community on behalf of the candidate, for whose good civic standing and Catholic orthodoxy they vouched, making the process of application an opportunity not only for an evaluation of the urban polity but also for a strengthening of ties among its own members, in spite of the centralization and juridical standardization of the process itself. In other words, the process demanded, as Piero Ventura has put it, “constant contractualism” with the (p.15) state,43 which served to adjudicate the status and rights of its new constituents and strengthen the fabric of the urban community. At the same time, the process of citizenship also renewed the municipality, whose corporation it symbolically reaffirmed and literally sustained with its admittance of new members to the Piazza del Popolo, the popular component of the municipal government of Naples, which effectively policed the polity and often served as a political partner of the viceroy on the ground. In sum, the institution of citizenship in early modern Naples was vital to both to the political fiction and function of the City, whose corporation was vested in its citizenry.

In light of the status and importance of citizenship in early modern Naples, its waning as an institution well before its formal abrogation by the nation-state is striking and warrants both explanation and investigation. Although not quantified, historiographical studies have suggested that the request for Neapolitan citizenship declined relative to the actual population growth of the capital in the second half of the seventeenth century, a political trend that partially could be explained by demographics, that is, by the ever-larger presence in the capital of immigrants excluded from the prospect of citizenship because of its exigent qualifications.

Beyond this demographic explanation, recent studies have offered two further reasons to account for this trend, one fiscal and one professional/cultural.44 For those who did qualify, in the second half of the seventeenth century it seems that the patent of citizenship was no longer an efficacious means to attain more than the symbolic ends of civic distinction. In the first place, the patent yielded fewer tax exemptions after 1647, when the reforms of the viceroy, the Count of Oñate, eliminated most of the customs duties imposed on goods entering the capital in the wake of popular revolt in Naples. Furthermore, the significance of fiscal reform for the institutional bankruptcy of citizenship was compounded by the geographical limits of its political privileges. After the plague of 1656–57, just as earlier, much of the demographic growth of the city of Naples was accommodated by its district—that is, by its immediate suburbs and villages—where qualified residents could apply for Neapolitan citizenship bearing the qualification de casalibus, or of the district, which entitled them to the same privileges as those of a citizen de ortu, or of Naples, save participation in the Piazza del Popolo.45 Consequently, the “constant contractualism” of residents of the district of Naples had been first and foremost about the fiscal prerogatives due its propertied class. Without the lure of those prerogatives, it is easy to imagine why the institution became less attractive to many of its prospective candidates. Just as citizenship no longer carried the same fiscal benefits after 1650, neither did it provide its titleholder with a competitive edge in qualification (p.16) for the profession of government administration. Beyond its loss of fiscal might, the patent of citizenship also seems to have lost ground to other qualifications for office, such as a university degree, or dottorato, as the reflections of a contemporaneous jurist employed in the capital, Francesco D’Andrea, suggest.46 In his celebrated personal memoir, the Avvertimenti ai nipoti, D’Andrea exclaimed that the essential qualification for office in Naples was “merit,” rather than “birth, money, or even the honor of citizenship (cittadinanza),” which he therewith discounted as a nice but meaningless embellishment of the credentials requisite for a career in administration.47

Although it had lost its attractiveness, the category of citizenship seems to have persisted, if only to beg reinvention. Indeed, a better-known example of that reinvention is the way that D’Andrea and other members of the judiciary in Naples literally reappropriated and redefined the more antique Italian word for citizenship, that is civiltà, to refer to their own order of educated legal professionals, a usage that apparently was so widely diffused by the eighteenth century that it was reiterated in the sociological profiles of the city offered by numerous tourist guides.48 With the waning of citizenship as an institution, then, the iter of civic citizenship gradually was lost as a procedure but gained as a model for thinking about the nature of distinctions among the constituents of a polity, whose demographic boundaries exceeded those of the municipality. In other words, it became a template for a theory of naturalization, whose subjects were those of the burgeoning metropolis.

Viewed retrospectively, it is easy to underestimate the sea change brought on by the obsolescence of civic citizenship in the early modern metropolis. Beyond the political challenges it must have posed to the municipality’s governance on the ground and partnership with the court, the waning of citizenship additionally undermined the municipality as the telos of political incorporation, as well as the normative grid by which to assess and account for the relative status, rights, and obligations of the metropolitan community’s members. Its waning thus made necessary, if not urgent, an alternative account of the union and ends of human beings, as well as the liberties and claims of the individual within the metropolitan community. In other words, it made meaningful the posing of those questions that otherwise were thought to apply to a fictional state of nature, namely, the occasion for the formation of what we would call “society” and the nature, obligations, and rights that its human relationships entailed. As this book shows, this sea change provided the context for the emergence of social theory in the city of Naples, which both adapted and transformed the criteria of early modern citizenship to hypothesize anew political belonging for the modern world.

(p.17) If social theory hypothesized anew civic belonging, then it also challenged those models of social organization and comportment that heretofore had been the gold standard of behavior for the most ambitious members of the civic community of Naples. For the idea of Napoli gentile—that is, the idea of Naples as the seat of an illustrious nobility and a theater for that nobility’s exhibition of its courtesy and power—had been among the most antique, oft-quoted, and tenacious tropes particular to the capital.49 What is more, this trope was not without an undeniable foundation in reality. As is well known, Naples had long boasted its own indigenous caste of nobility, that is, the civic patriciate, which proudly drew its members from the ranks of the most illustrious families of the Kingdom.50 In fact, the families with the largest feudal holdings in the Kingdom all enjoyed the privilege of membership in the patrician piazze of Naples,51 and typically divided their time between their feudal estates and urban residences in the capital.52

Consequently, Naples truly was not only the capital of the Kingdom but also the capital of the Kingdom’s feudal magnates; for contemporaries, it housed not only the representatives and institutions of royal governance but also those of, what the eighteenth-century itself called, the feudal system.53 Among the many types of capital cities characteristic of early modern Europe, then, Naples is perhaps most comparable to Madrid, which has been referred to as a city “in the feudal order.”54 Beyond the ranks of the civic patriciate, other illustrious representatives of the Kingdom’s nobility, or “barons,” populated the capital in the early modern period. They had been invited by Viceroy Pedro de Toledo to maintain a residence in Naples, and the consequences for the capital’s urban fabric are well known. Waves of immigration by the Kingdom’s barons grossly enlarged the city and transformed it into a spectacle of palatial residences and, no less, a semiotic field of noble blazonry.55 This imprint left no less a mark on the religious fabric, institutions, and customs of the capital, which benefited from the countless bequests of chapels, charities, reliquaries, and their associated festivities.56 In the political field, furthermore, this same invitation unleashed among the barons a fierce competition for citizenship in the patrician piazze of Naples—which, as noted, held the keys to the political prerogative of civic governance for the nobility—and a keen vying for precedence and visibility in the rituals of the capital.57 At the same time, the high concentration of nobles reproduced within the urban landscape social forms of organization and customs that had been typical of the barons’ feudal estates. In the first place, it created a disproportionate number of jobs for domestic servants of various stations.58 While the provenance of these servants has yet to be studied empirically, it is indubitable that many belonged to either the provincial households or communities of the barons (p.18) themselves. As Tommasso Astarita has suggested in his study of the Caracciolo family, the resettlement—or seasonal residence—of the baronage in the capital provided opportunities for their vassals.59 Consequently, it is easy imagine that Naples provided not only a spectacle of aristocratic station but also an ostentatious display of the aristocratic household and its customary forms of patronage. As Galanti commented in his reflections about the customs of Naples at the end of the eighteenth century: “Large is the number of domestics. … No one who has any pretense to station would know how to do without them. The custom of going about town in the morning without them has been introduced, but toward evening their company is reputed to be indispensable to the gentleman.”60 And it was precisely at the center of this great concourse of nobility and within its landscape pregnant with signs of genealogy and power that the young Vico was born, received his education, and nursed his ambitions for the remainder of life.


(1.) The historiography on Vico is immense and cannot be cataloged here. However, for evidence of the appropriation of Vico by historians of modern disciplines, see the contributions by social scientists and others to the series of monumental conference proceedings edited by Giorgio Tagliacozzo between 1968 and 1981: Giorgio Tagliacozzo and Hayden V. White, eds., Giambattista Vico: An International Symposium (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1969); Giorgio Tagliacozzo and Donald Philip Verene, eds., Giambattista Vico’s Science of Humanity (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976); and Giorgio Tagliacozzo, ed., Vico, Past and Present (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1981).

(2.) In particular, see Benedetto Croce, The Philosophy of Giambattista Vico (1913; repr., Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2002) or any of Fausto Nicolini’s numerous contributions regarding the “a-politicalness” of Vico, such as his articles in Atti dell’Accademia Pontaniana 5 (1955): “Fu il Vico uomo di partito?” 289–98; “Ancora dell’apoliticità del Vico,” 299–317; and “Sempre sull’apoliticità del Vico,” 403–6.

(3.) See the Vita di Giambattista Vico scritta da se medesimo, cited by the specialty literature in Italian as the Autobiografia in Giambattista Vico, Opere, vol. 5, L’autobiografia, il carteggio e le poesie varie, ed. Benedetto Croce and Fausto Nicolini, 2nd ed., rev. and enl. (Bari: Laterza, 1929), 20 and 42; and, in English, Giambattista Vico, The Autobiography, trans. Max Harold Fisch and Thomas Goddard Bergin (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1944), esp. 132 and 158. Henceforth, this work will be referred to as the Autobiografia and my citations of its above editions will be abbreviated. The Nicolini edition of Vico’s works will be abbreviated as Opere.

(4.) Among Italian scholars, the most brilliant exposés of this interpretation have been offered by Nicola Badaloni, Introduzione a G. B. Vico (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1961); Eugenio Garin, “Da Campanella a Vico,” in Dal Rinascimento all’Illuminismo (Pisa: Nistri-Lischi, 1970); and Paolo Rossi, I segni del tempo: Storia della terra e storia delle nazioni da Hooke a Vico (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1979). In the Anglo-American world, this backward-looking approach to Vico has been embraced and intelligently pursued by Nancy Struever and Donald Kelley in their numerous conference contributions, as well as by Michael Mooney in his Vico in the Tradition of Rhetoric (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985) and Giuseppe Mazzotta in his The New Map of the World: The Poetic Philosophy of Giambattista Vico (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).

(5.) See the fine studies by Harold Samuel Stone, Vico’s Cultural History: The Production and Transmission of Ideas in Naples, 1685–1750 (New York: Brill, 1997) and John (p.196) Robertson, The Case for the Enlightenment: Scotland and Naples 1680–1760 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

(6.) See Isaiah Berlin, Vico and Herder: Two Studies in the History of Ideas (New York: Viking Press, 1976); Donald Kelley, “Vico’s Road: From Rhetoric to Jurisprudence and Back,” in Tagliacozzo and Verene, Science of Humanity; Donald Kelley, “The Pre-history of Sociology: Montesquieu, Vico, and the Legal Tradition,” History of the Behavioral Sciences 16, no. 2 (1980): 133–44; and Mark Lilla, Vico: The Making of an Anti-Modern (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993). Lilla has indicated the centrality of Vico’s legal texts for his social theory and emphasized its providential design and, thus, theodicy. A number of Italian scholars have analyzed Vico’s approach to law in reference to both the metaphysical and philosophical traditions available to him. In particular, see Dino Pasini, Diritto, società e stato in Vico (Naples: Jovene, 1970); Guido Fassò, Vico e Grozio (Naples: Guida, 1971); Guido Fassò, “The Problem of Law and the Historical Origin of the New Science,” in Tagliacozzo and Verene, Science of Humanity; and Santo Mazzarino, Vico, l’annalistica e il diritto (Naples: Guida, 1971).

(7.) J. G. A. Pocock, “The Ideal of Citizenship since Classical Times,” repr. in Ronald Beiner, ed., Theorizing Citizenship (Albany: SUNY, 1995), 29–52, esp. 35 and 43.

(8.) While some have considered the political theory of Vico’s works, few have contextualized it in the concerns and factions of his contemporaries. On select political topoi in Vico’s work Enrico Nuzzo has written a number of learned essays, the last appearing in Lorenzo Bianchi, ed., Cosmopolitismo (Naples: Liguori, 2004). An astute reading of the political theory of Vico’s oeuvre is Riccardo Caporali’s Heroes Gentium: Sapienza e politica in Vico (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1992). Nonetheless, Caporali does little to contextualize Vico’s political ideas in the Italy of his day. Before his untimely death, Eluggero Pii sought to recover the importance of Vico’s political theory for midcentury Neapolitan philosophes by underscoring some of the themes in Vico that would recur in Genovesi and his school. See Eluggero Pii, “L’utile e le forme di governo nel Vico politico,” Il pensiero politico 23 (1997): 105–34. Exceptionally, Giuseppe Giarrizzo’s work has provided some valuable insights into the contemporary politics of Vico’s legal theory in Naples that have long been worthy of further consideration and exploration. See Giuseppe Giarrizzo, Vico, la politica e la storia (Naples: Guida, 1981). The one sustained postwar debate about the politics of Vico in his Neapolitan context was conducted among Raffaele Ajello, Giuseppe Giarrizzo, and Giuseppe Galasso, which somewhat foundered on Ajello’s infelicitous insistence on the conservatism of Vico, which he anachronistically has contrasted with the liberalism of contemporary advocates of economic reform. In particular, see Raffaele Ajello, Arcana Juris: Diritto e politica nel Settecento italiano (Naples: Jovene, 1976); and for their pointed exchange, see Giuseppe Giarrizzo “Giannone, Vico e i loro interpreti recenti,” Bollettino del Centro di Studi Vichiani 11 (1981): 173–84; Raffaele Ajello, “Dal facere al factum,” Bollettino del Centro di Studi Vichiani 12–13 (1982–83): 343–59; and Giuseppe Galasso, “Il Vico di Giarrizzo e un itinerario alternativo,” Bollettino del Centro di Studi Vichiani 12–13 (1982–83): 359–75. In English, see Frederick Vaughan, The Political Philosophy of Giambattista Vico (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1972); B. A. Haddock, Vico’s Political Thought (Swansea, Wales: Mortlake Press, 1986); and Lilla, Vico. (p.197)

(9.) Compare the excellent studies of the usage of the word “society” in Keith Michael Baker, “Enlightenment and the Institution of Society: Notes for a Conceptual History,” in Main Trends in Cultural History, ed. Willem Melching and Wyger Velema (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1994) and Daniel Gordon, Citizens without Sovereignty: Equality and Sociability in French Thought, 1670–1789 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), esp. 51–54.

(10.) Here I am thinking of the magisterial work (and school) of Quentin Skinner and, in particular, his Liberty before Liberalism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998). Among his many classics, also see The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, 2 vols. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1980); Machiavelli (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981); Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996); Visions of Politics, 3 vols. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002); and Hobbes and Republican Liberty (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008). Skinner has also edited a number of books specifically dedicated to the history of republicanism, in which he has argued for the importance of that tradition beyond the traditional scope of the Renaissance. See Gisela Bock, Quentin Skinner, and Maurizio Viroli, eds., Machiavelli and Republicanism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1980) and Martin van Gelderen and Quentin Skinner, eds., Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage, 2 vols. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002). Skinner has also served as the editor of the Cambridge series Ideas in Contexts, which has published a number of exemplary contextualizations of the work of Enlightenment authors, including James Tully, An Approach to Political Philosophy: Locke in Contexts (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993) and Helena Rosenblatt, Rousseau and Geneva: From the First Discourse to the Social Contract, 1749–62 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

(11.) The political critique of Skinner’s work has been significant, as have been his erudite responses. For a fine first overview of this debate, see Kari Palonen, Quentin Skinner: History, Politics, Rhetoric (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003).

(12.) Here I am thinking of the work of Richard Tuck and the studies that work has inspired. In particular, see his classic Natural Rights Theories: Their Origin and Development (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979). A number of scholars have further explored natural law and rights over the course of the Middle Ages. For two fine examples, see Brian Tierney, The Idea of Natural Rights (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997) and Annabel S. Brett, Liberty, Right, and Nature: Individual Rights in Later Scholastic Thought (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

(13.) Here I am thinking of the collections of essays by Istvan Hont and by J. G. A. Pocock. In particular, see Istvan Hont, Jealousy of Trade: International Competition and the Nation-State in Historical Perspective (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005) and J. G. A. Pocock, Virtue, Commerce, and History: Essays on Political Thought and History, Chiefly in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985).

(14.) Quentin Skinner, “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas,” History and Theory 8, no. 1 (1969): 3–53.

(15.) Much of the career of Donald R. Kelley has been dedicated to exploring this theme. In particular, see The Human Measure: Social Thought in the Western Legal Tradition (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990).

(16.) This metaphor most famously is contained in a memoir written by Pietro Contegna entitled “Alcune riflessioni intorno al presente governo del Regno di (p.198) Napoli sotto l’Augustissimo Imperatore Carlo VI” (1733) in SNSP MS XXI.A.7, f. 90v, and has been cited on a number of occasions in the historiography on Naples. For example, see Cesare De Seta, Storia della città di Napoli (Naples: Laterza, 1973), 323. However, in my own research I have found usage of this image in earlier texts, and it is a commonplace throughout the eighteenth century. Also see Giuseppe Maria Galanti, Breve descrizione della Città di Napoli e del suo contorno (Naples: Gabinetto Letterario, 1792), 14.

(17.) This fact is well known and has been tabulated in a number sources, whose findings have been reproduced in Peter Clark and Bernard Lepetit, eds., Capital Cities and Their Hinterlands in Early Modern Europe (Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 1996), 30–31. It is noteworthy that around 1600 the metropolitan area of Naples contained the largest population in all of Europe. What is more, it was only after the devastating plague of 1656–57—which more than halved its population—that Naples was reduced to the third-largest city of Europe, a rank that it would hold through 1800. Traditionally, the historiography has identified the census figures of 1742 as evidence of the city’s full recovery and supercession of its preplague population. See Claudia Petraccone, Napoli moderna e contemporanea (Naples: Guida, 1981), 55. More generally, on the urbanization of Naples in the early modern period, see her Napoli dal Cinquecento all’Ottocento: Problemi di storia demografica e sociale (Naples: Guida, 1974). Brigitte Marin has sought to offer a summary and reassessment of the historiography concerning the political and social history of the capital in a number of fine articles. See her “Mythes ou Mystification,” in Collette Vallat, Brigitte Marin, and Gennaro Biondi, Naples: Démythier la ville (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1998); “Naples: Capital of the Enlightenment,” in Clark and Lepetit, Capital Cities and Their Hinterlands; and “Town and Country in the Kingdom of Naples, 1500–1800,” in Town and Country in Europe, 1300–1800, ed. S. R. Epstein (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001). On the demographic history of the Kingdom, also see Gerard Delille, “Demografia,” in Storia del Mezzogiorno, Giuseppe Galasso and Rosario Romeo, eds., vol. 8 (Naples: Edizioni del Sole, 1991) and the studies of Pasquale Villani, such as his Documenti e orientamenti per la storia demografica del Regno di Napoli nel settecento (Rome: Istituto Storico Italiano per l’età moderna e contemporanea, 1968) and “Territorio e popolazione: Orientamenti per la storia demografica,” in his Mezzogiorno tra riforme e rivoluzione, 2nd rev. ed. (Rome: Laterza, 1973).

(18.) On the importance of immigration for the demographic growth of early modern capitals, such as Naples, especially see Paul M. Hohenberg and Lynn Hollen Lees, “Urban Systems and Economic Growth: Town Populations in Metropolitan Hinterlands, 1600–1800,” in Clark and Lepetit, Capital Cities and Their Hinterlands.

(19.) “Metropolitan question” is my term. However, it is a variation on a number of similar terms employed in the contemporary historical literature. Brigitte Marin has aptly used the term “la question de la capitale” to refer to the debate about Naples that took place in its eighteenth-century public sphere. See Marin, “Mythes ou Mystification” in Vallat, Marin, and Biondi, Naples, 85. Historians have also used analogous terms to describe and generalize about the phenomenon of metropolitan growth in the early modern period. On the “metropolitan effect,” see Clark and Lepetit, Capital Cities and Their Hinterlands, 2. (Compare S. R. Epstein, Town and Country.)

(20.) Ibid., 7 (citing 31) and 12. (p.199)

(21.) Michael Reed, “London and Its Hinterland 1600–1800: The View from the Provinces,” in Clark and Lepetit, Capital Cities and Their Hinterlands, 52.

(23.) Based on the famous work of Paul Bairoch and Jan de Vries, these trends have been tabulated by Hohenberg and Lees in their essay “Urban Systems and Economic Growth: Town Populations in Metropolitan Hinterlands, 1600–1800,” in Capital Cities and Their Hinterlands, ed. Clark and Lepetit, 31. Therein they note, for example, that the population of Benevento increased from 7,000 in 1600 to 8,000 in 1700 and then 10,000 in 1750, while the population of Salerno actually declined from 11,000 in 1600 to 8,000 in 1700 and remained at that figure through 1750. Salerno, like Naples, most certainly was affected by the plague of 1656. However, without the postplague figures it is hard to assess whether or not there was any real growth between 1657 and 1700. Be that as it may, it is evident that the population of Salerno stagnated throughout the first half of the century as Naples grew.

(24.) Villani, Mezzogiorno tra riforme e rivoluzione, 95. This stunning fact often has been cited by Brigitte Marin.

(25.) The population of Naples in 1798 numbered 435,930 inhabitants, and in 1804 it numbered 449,519, according to the official statistics of the court. Petraccone, Napoli dal Cinquecento, 138.

(26.) Both Petraccone and Marin have insisted on the role that the peripheries of the city played in the accommodation of newcomers to the capital and territory of Naples. On the new axis of demographic growth characteristic of the first half of the eighteenth century, see Petraccone, Napoli dal Cinquecento, 135–36. On the growth of the casali, see Marin, “Mythes ou Mystification,” in Naples, ed. Vallat, Marin, and Biondi, 98–104.

(27.) Aristotle, Politics, ed. Stephen Everson and trans. Jonathan Barnes (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), esp. I.1–2, III.1, and III.6.

(28.) For the former sense, see Cicero, De legibus, trans. C. W. Keyes, Loeb Classical Library (1928; repr., Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), II.ii.5; and for the latter, see Cicero’s De re publica, trans. C. W. Keyes, Loeb Classical Library (1928; repr., Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), VI.xiii.13 and I.xxvi.41.

(29.) As per the rhetoric of the imperial civitas, I am especially thinking of the famous panegyric on Rome by Aristides. For a general history of Roman citizenship, see A. N. Sherwin-White, The Roman Citizenship (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1939), which has been reprinted on a few occasions; and for the Republic, see Claude Nicolet, The World of the Citizen in Republican Rome, trans. P. S. Falla (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980).

(30.) For Cicero’s description of the degrees of fellowship within “human society,” or the world civitas, see Cicero, De officiis, trans. Walter Miller, Loeb Classical Library (1913; repr., Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005), I.xvii.53.

(31.) This idea was expressed by Ulpian in his book of Edicts. See The Digest of Justinian, ed. Theodor Mommsen with the aid of Paul Krueger and English translation ed. Alan Watson (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985): 1.5.17. Henceforth all my citations of passages from the Digest will refer to the above edition and employ its identifying numbers. For contemporary opposing views on the actual significance of this grant, see Tony Honoré, “Roman Law AD 200–400: From Cosmopolis to Rechstaat” and Peter Garnsey, “Roman Citizenship and Roman Law (p.200) in the Late Empire,” both in Approaching Late Antiquity, ed. Simon Swain and Mark Edwards (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).

(32.) Giulio Cesare Capaccio, Il forastiero, 3 vols. (1634; repr., Naples: Lucca Torre, 1989), esp. 276 and 466–67.

(33.) A famous eighteenth-century example of this usage is the one by Pietro Giannone in his Istoria civile del Regno di Napoli, ed. Antonio Marongiu, vol. 6, chap. 3 (Naples, 1723; repr., Milan: Marzorati, 1972), 23.

(34.) See Aristotle, Politics, esp. book 3, where the criteria for citizenship are treated.

(35.) See, for example, Jean Bodin, The Republic, book. 6, chap. 1, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract. In the case of early modern Spain, the discussion of the appropriate criteria for and meaning of national citizenship has been identified in the legal case literature concerning the naturalization of foreigners by Spanish municipalities: see Tamar Herzog, Defining Nations: Immigrants and Citizens in Early Modern Spain and Spanish America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003). For the case of France, where the naturalization of foreigners was rather the prerogative of the court, see Peter Sahlins, Unnaturally French: Foreign Citizens in the Old Regime and After (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004).

(36.) Among the best treatments of the history of citizenship in early modern Italy remain, in chronological order: William Bowsky, “Medieval Citizenship: The Individual and the State in the Commune of Siena, 1287–1355,” Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History, ed. William Bowsky, vol. 4 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1967); Peter Riesenberg, “Civism and Roman Law in Fourteenth-Century Italian Society,” Explorations in Economic History 7, no. 1–2 (1969): 237–54; Julius Kirshner, “Civitas Sibi Faciat Civem: Bartolus of Sassoferrato’s Doctrine on the Making of a Citizen,” Speculum 48, no. 4 (1973): 694–713; Julius Kirshner, “Ars Imitatur Naturam: A Consilium of Baldus on Naturalization in Florence,” Viator 5 (1974): 289–331; and Julius Kirshner, “Between Nature and Culture: An Opinion of Baldus of Perugia on Venetian Citizenship as Second Nature,” Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 9, no. 2 (1979): 179–208.

(39.) My own discussion of the privileges of and requirements for citizenship in early modern Naples is indebted to the pioneering work of Piero Ventura, on whose following articles I have drawn to provide my own short overview of the topic in this paragraph and the next: “Le ambiguità di un privilegio: la cittadinanza napoletana tra Cinque e Seicento,” Quaderni storici 89, no. 2 (1995): 385–416, and “Privilegio di cittadinanza, mobilità sociale e istituzioni statali a Napoli tra Cinque e Seicento,” in Disuguaglianze: stratificazione e mobilità sociale nelle popolazioni italiane (dal secolo XIV agli inizi del secolo XX), ed. Società Italiana di Demografia Storica, vol. 2 (Bologna: Clueb, 1997), 515–30. On the possibility of “naturalization” for Spaniards in Italy and the delicate question of nationality more generally in the Spanish Empire, see Mireille Peytavin, “Espanoles y italianos en Sicilia, Nápoles y Mílan durante los siglos XVI y XVII: Sobre la oportunidad de ser ‘nacional’ o ‘natural,’” Relaciones 19, no. 73 (1998): 87–114.

(41.) Ibid., 390.

(42.) From the documentation analyzed by Ventura, it seems that birthright was the first criterion for citizenship in Naples, a criterion that essentially distinguished Naples from other early modern Italian cities, where typically residency of as little as ten years was satisfactory. For the Sommaria, successful aspirants documented either their own or their wife’s birth or conception in the City of Naples. Additionally, the property requirement in Naples was proof of home ownership, which effectively meant that the masses of laborers who flocked to the capital for work were excluded from the prospect of citizenship. Ventura, “Le ambiguità,” esp. 404, and Ventura, “Privilegio di cittadinanza,” esp. 518.

(44.) For the identification of and speculation about the reasons for this trend, see Ventura, “Le ambiguità,” 385, and Ventura, “Privilegio di cittadinanza,” 515.

(45.) Here, I am drawing on Bartolommeo Capasso, Sulla circoscrizione civile ed ecclesiastica e sulla popolazione della città di Napoli dalla fine del secolo XIII fino al 1809 (Naples: Tipografia della Regia Università, 1882). If Capasso is correct, then it seems that the physical enlargement of the city only translated into an enlargement of the political jurisdiction of the municipality with some temporal delay, if not territorial unevenness. Sulla circoscrizione civile ed ecclesiastica, esp. 34–45. More important, the casali were never fully brought into the administrative fold of the city, although their residents had the right to Neapolitan citizenship. As he summarized: “The casali had the same privileges as the City of Naples, and they governed themselves by the same customary laws. Beyond that they had their own mayors, or elected officials, who administered the local government in an entirely independent way. The only jurisdiction that the government of the City [of Naples] had over them consisted in the administration of the food supply and of taxes.” Ibid., 39–40.

(46.) On the creation and success of a legal corps with a distinct identity, see Salvo Mastellone, Pensiero politico e vita culturale a Napoli nella seconda metà del Seicento (Messina: Casa Editrice D’Anna, 1965) and Salvo Mastellone, Francesco D’Andrea politico e giurista (1648–1698): L’ascesa del ceto civile (Florence: Olschki, 1969).

(47.) Francesco D’Andrea, Avvertimenti ai nipoti, ed. Imma Ascione (Naples: Jovene, 1990), 141. Also cited in Ventura, “Le ambiguità,” 385.

(48.) For examples of the usage of “civiltà” in the works of the illuministi, see Antonio Genovesi, Lezioni di commercio, o sia di economia civile, 2nd ed., 2 vols. (Naples: Simoniana, 1768–70) and Giuseppe Maria Galanti “Diverse classi della nazione e loro costumi,” in his Della descrizione geografica e politica delle Sicilie, ed. F. Assante and D. Demarco, vol. 1. (Naples: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1969), 272. For its usage in guides, see Domenico Antonio Parrino, Napoli, città nobilissima, antica e fedelissima esposta a gli occhi e alla mente de’curiosi (Naples: Parrino, 1700), 57. Also see “Civiltà,” in Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca, rev. Neapolitan ed. (Naples: Giovanni di Simone, 1746), where interestingly it additionally denotes humanitas.

(49.) This trope resonates throughout the early modern guides to the city of Naples. For example, see Parrino, Napoli città nobilissima, antica e fedelissima, in which he introduces Naples as “la più gentil Città dell’Europa” in his (unpaginated) preface.

(50.) For a typological overview of the types of nobility in the Kingdom, see Giovanni Muto, “Problemi di stratificazione nobiliare nell’Italia spagnola,” in Dimenticare (p.202) Croce? Studi e orientamenti di storia del Mezzogiorno, ed. Aurelio Musi (Naples: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1991); Giovanni Muto, “I segni d’honore: Rappresentazioni delle dinamiche nobiliari a Napoli in età moderna,” in Signori, patrizi, cavalieri in Italia centro-meridionale nell’Età moderna, ed. Maria Antonietta Visceglia (Rome: Laterza, 1992), esp. 174–78; and Maria Antonietta Visceglia, “Composizione nominativa, rappresentazioni e autorappresentazione della nobilità,” in Identità sociali: La nobilità napoletana nella prima età moderna (Milan: Edizioni Unicopli, 1998).

(51.) This claim is tabulated and asserted by Visceglia for the sixteenth century in her “Composizione nominativa,” 114. The concentration of feudal powers in the hands of the civic patriciate in the eighteenth century is further documented by Angelo Massafra in his “Nota sulla geografia feudale del Regno di Napoli alla fine del XVIII secolo,” in Le mappe della storia, ed. Giuseppe Giarrizzo and Enrico Iachello (Milan: FrancoAngeli, 2002), 28.

(52.) Based on her synthesis of work on the nobility, Visceglia has surmised this trend in her Identità sociali, esp. 19–29. Also see Tommasso Astarita, The Continuity of Feudal Power: The Caracciolo of Brienza in Spanish Naples (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 119–31.

(53.) For an important example of this usage, see “Del sistema feudale,” the first section of chapter 4 of book 1 in Galanti’s Della descrizione geografica e politica delle Sicile, 126.

(54.) See José Miguel López García and Santos Madrazo Madrazo, “A Capital City in the Feudal Order: Madrid from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century,” in Capital Cities and Their Hinterlands, ed. Clark and Lepetit.

(55.) See Gerard Labrot, Baroni in città: Residenze e comportamenti dell’aristocrazia napoletana, 1530–1734 (Naples: Società editrice napoletana, 1979).

(56.) On the importance of this trend for the religious fabric of Naples, see among other works that of Helen Hills, Invisible City: The Architecture of Devotion in Seventeenth-Century Neapolitan Convents (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); and for its importance concerning religious rituals, see Visceglia, “Nobiltà, città, rituali religiosi,” in her Identità sociali.

(57.) On the competition to enter the piazze and the effective closing of them in the early modern period, see Giovanni Muto, “Gestione politica e controllo sociale nella Napoli spagnola,” in Le città capitali, ed. Cesare De Seta (Rome: Laterza, 1985).

(58.) Petraccone, Napoli dal Cinquecento all’Ottocento, esp. 90–93 and 123, where the percentage of immigrants employed in domestic services was calculated at 64.6% for the second half of the seventeenth century. Concerning their origins, Petraccone has speculated: “Inoltre gli adetti ai servizi seguivano spesso i feudatari del loro paese, quando essi si venivano a stabilire a Napoli.” (Those individuals suited for domestic service often followed their local feudal barons, when the latter relocated to Naples.) Ibid., 124.