BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Elites in search of authority: political power and social order in nineteenth-century Sicily

    Riall, Lucy (2003) Elites in search of authority: political power and social order in nineteenth-century Sicily. History Workshop Journal 55 (1), pp. 25-46. ISSN 1363-3554.

    Full text not available from this repository.


    Studies of power in nineteenth-century Sicily have long been overshadowed by interest in the mafia, and are dominated by perceptions of feudal backwardness, bureaucratic weakness and criminal deviance. This article challenges such interpretations. It looks instead at the rise to prominence of new elites in Sicilian rural communities during this period, and analyses their complex relations with the state, with the peasantry, and with each other. Their strategy for success lay, it is argued, in a remarkable hold over the tasks of local government, in controlling the market for land, and in manipulating family ties. Yet this article also warns against taking the image of autonomy, authority and longevity, so carefully cultivated by these elites, entirely at face value. Indeed, the research presented here shows that the new elites of nineteenth-century Sicily were divided among themselves and threatened by peasant unrest. Their lack of authority made them ultimately dependent on the state's fiscal and coercive powers.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Sandra Plummer
    Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2008 15:57
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 16:48


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item