[Paper:] Vittoria Camelliti (Udine), Heraldry in the cities’ images between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Civitas Florentae under the Madonna (or Allegory) of Mercy (Bigallo Museum, Florence, Fresco, post 1344).

Civitas Florentiae under the Madonna (or Allegory) of Mercy (Bigallo Museum, Florence, Fresco, post 1344).

My paper focuses on the heraldry as a marker of identification of the cities between the Middle Age and the Renaissances. It considers in particular the function of the heraldic signs from the point of view of the urban iconography (as it happens with the walls, the city gates and the buildings, which represent civic and religious power).

With this prospéctive it is important to recognise the coats of arms which actually existed and which are able to reveal the identity of the city and its political orientation, for example the imperial eagle and the crossed keys of the Church (which we can see, among others, in the Chronicles of Villani and Sercambi and in the Codex Astensis). It is also interesting to find the coat of arms of one dominus (as the case of the bas-relief ‘El fare le mura’ of the cenotaph of Bishop Tarlati) or notice the presence of the so called ‘totemic animals’, that is to say the symbolical representatives of a parallel civic heraldry.

On the other hand it is interesting to observe the invention of the coats of arms to characterize imaginary cities (such as coats of arms with a devil’s head, placed on the gate of Limbo, which are painted in St. Nicola’s Cappellone in Tolentino). Finally it is equally important to verify the absence of coats of arms, especially in very detailed images of the city.

The research deals with very different typologies of cities’ images, distinguishing between city-models, urban landscapes and city as setting of narrative scenes.

Conference: Heraldry in the Medieval City: The Case of Italy in the European Context (Journées Héraldiques 5), Rome, 5th-7th May 2015


Vittoria Camelliti graduated from the University of Pisa in Conservazione dei Beni Culturali (2004), and she obtained her PhD in History of Art at the University of Udine (2010) where she is currently working on ‘Cultore della materia’ in History of Medieval Art. Her main fields of research focus on different aspects of civic devotion and religious iconography. She has pubblished a number of essays, both as articles in journals and papers in proceedings or contributions for catalogues; she was a member of the Scientific Committee of the exibition Dal Giglio al David. Arte civica a Firenze (Firenze, Giunti 2013) and she is the co-editor of the book Un Medioevo in lungo e in largo. Da Bisanzio all’Occidente (VI-XVI sec.). Studi per Valentino Pace (Pisa, Pacini 2014).


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