The practices and rhetoric of sortition in medieval public life (thirteenth–fourteenth centuries)

2. The medieval world and the modern world
By Lorenzo Tanzini

This paper focuses on the use of sortition within the political practices of the Italian city states during the central period of the late medieval blossoming. In such a context, sortition is not usually employed as such, but is rather one of the institutional tools of electoral designation, including cooptation, indirect choice, etc., with the use of the different systems depending on the political situation, the political aims, and the different offices involved. The aim of the paper is consequently to analyze the witnesses of the sources that relate to the real function of sortition in terms of its practical uses and ideological framework, and in particular to understand how, during the fourteenth century, the electoral system of most cities created a kind of turnover of officers within the circle of qualified citizens.


  • medieval Italian communes
  • sortition
  • vote
  • urban institutions
  • medieval democracy
Go to the article on