Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Entitlement to burial in a wall tomb with sculpted effigy, the Florentine tomb-type above all others in honor and prestige, belonged solely to members of the ecclesiastical elite throughout the Trecento and into the Quattrocento, but that changed in the mid-1440s with the inclusion of the most illustrious laymen among those memorialized by this type of monument. This modification of patronage, however, does not signify a major reform that allowed unmitigated access to the tomb-type for all laymen of high repute. On the contrary, eighteen of the twenty-two known effigial wall tombs erected in Florence in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries commemorate individuals of religious prominence, such as popes, cardinals, bishops, saints, beati, and founders of religious houses. The remaining four tombs and their interred—Leonardo Bruni, Carlo Marsuppini, Giuliano Davanzati, and Bernardo Giugni—constitute the subject of this thesis, which aims to understand these exceptions to centuries-old Florentine burial customs from a sociological perspective, viewing them not merely as independent funerary monuments, but as part of a broader and richer context. It examines the biographies of each man, revealing that devotion to the greater good above all else represents the common thread running through the lives of all four. It then analyzes the iconography of their tombs, which memorialize each man’s qualities and accomplishments that made him worthy of Christian salvation as well as perpetual fame. This thesis also explores the function and context of the four tombs as a collective. The visual references to the intellectual, social, and civic aspects of the interred and their lives evoked the classical past by publicly honoring and commemorating to the highest degree men who exemplified the ideal citizen, in the same manner as their ancient forebears, which the classicizing architectural forms and imagery reinforced. In breaking with tradition to allow the burial of these four men in Florence’s most honorific tomb-type, the state found an effective means of rewarding those whose active civic pride and devoted public service significantly benefitted or glorified Florence, inspiring others to the same and connecting the Republic and her citizens to the ancient past.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mark J. Zucker