What is it about?

Catherine of Siena is famous as a saint and mystic. But she also left a body of written work. In her writings, Catherine offers not only spiritual guidance, but also guidance on how to approach political life in an Italian city state. She drew on longstanding traditions of civic political thought.

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Why is it important?

This is the first study to place Catherine's works within the 'common good' tradition of medieval political thought. It aims to widen the canon of medieval political thought to include Catherine alongside better known male figures, such as Thomas Aquinas and Remigio de'Girolami. It proposes that works which have been written off as unworldly mysticism made important – and neglected – contributions to high medieval and early Renaissance thinking about politics.


When I first read Catherine's works I was surprised and delighted to see that she was writing in a language I recognised from better-known (and male) thinkers of the period. The history of political thought has a long history of unjust erasure of women. I hope to make some small contribution to redressing the balance.

Eloise Davies
University of Cambridge

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This page is a summary of: Catherine of Siena: a Dominican political thinker in fourteenth‐century Italy, Renaissance Studies, December 2019, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/rest.12633.
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