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Richard S. Mackenney

Ph.D., University of Cambridge,1982
Italian Renaissance, Early Modern Venice, Shakespeare.
Office: LT 807
Phone: (607) 777-4421   E-mail:

Professor Mackenney came to Binghamton in the Fall of 2006. He took his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Cambridge, and spent twenty-five years at the University of Edinburgh, where he became a Full Professor and Head of History. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and served as a member of Council between 2003 and 2006. His research centres on the Renaissance, spanning the period between the 13th century and the 17th. He has special interests in the History of Venice and in Shakespeare's plays and their relationship to the broader context of Renaissance mentalities. His approach is consciously interdisciplinary, and he is particularly interested in the overlap and interaction of history, literature, the visual arts and music. Since his arrival in Binghamton, he has devoted his research and writing to a monograph on the guilds of Venice. As Polity of Mercy: The Spectrum of Representation in Venice, c.1250-c.1650, the fully revised text went out to readers in 2013. Among his most significant publications are:


  • Polity of Mercy: The Spectrum of Representation in Venice, c.1250-c.1650 (forthcoming)
  • Renaissances: The Cultures of Italy, c.1300-c.1600 (2005)
  • Sixteenth-Century Europe: Expansion and Conflict (1991) (translated into Spanish, Polish, Czech and Russian)
  • The City-State, 1500-1700: Republican Liberty in an Age of Princely Power (1989)
  • Tradesmen and Traders: The World of the Guilds in Venice and Europe, c.1250-c.1650 (1987)
  • Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature, nos.83-4 (1997-1998) (edited with Keith Laybourn)
  • Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature, nos.77-82 (1991-1996) (edited with Joseph Smith)

Recent Articles and Book Chapters:

  • '"A Plot Discover'd"?: Myth, Legend and the "Spanish" Conspiracy against Venice in 1618', in
  • John Martin and Dennis Romano (eds), Venice Reconsidered: The History and
  • Civilisation of an Italian City-State, 1297-1797 (2000)
  • 'Public and Private in Renaissance Venice', Renaissance Studies, 12 (1998)
  • 'The Guilds of Venice: State and Society in the longue duree' Studi Veneziani, n.s.34 (1997)
  • 'The Scuole Piccole of Venice: Formations and Transformations', in Nicholas Terpstra (ed.), The Politics of Ritual Kinship: Confraternities and Social Order in Early Modern Italy (2000)
  • 'Continuity and Change in the Scuole Piccole of Venice', Renaissance Studies, 8 (1994)
  • 'Italy, Venice and the Diffusion of the Renaissance', in Cultural Atlas of the Renaissance (1993)
  • 'Venice', in Roy Porter and Mikulas Teich (eds), The Renaissance in National Context (1992)
  • 'Letters from the Venetian Archive', Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, 72 (1990)
  • 'Devotional Confraternities in Renaissance Venice', Studies in Church History, 23 (1986)
  • (With A.D. Toft), 'Occult Resemblances: Magic and Medicine in the Age of William Harvey', Proceedings of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, 27 (1997) (based on the College's 200th Harveian lecture)
  • (With Peter Humfrey), 'The Venetian Trade Guilds as Patrons of Art in the Renaissance', The Burlington Magazine, 128 (1986)

Doctoral Theses

Professor Mackenney has supervised 10 Ph.D.'s to successful completion, and the subjects demonstrate the range of his expertise and experience:

  • Mary Beth Benbenek, 'Young men in Florentine politics, c.1380-c.1530' (Binghamton University, 2012)
  • Joseph Fahey Stanley, 'From medieval corporatism to civic humanism: continuity and change in the patronage of Florentine guilds, c.1350-c.1450' (Binghamton University, 2011)
  • Anna-Anastasia Constantinidou, 'Renegotiating divine and temporal, public and private in the age of Religious Wars, c.1580-c.1620' (University of Edinburgh, 2006)
  • William J. Landon, 'Language, politics and patriotism: Niccolo Machiavelli's "secular patria" and the creation of an Italian national identity' (University of Edinburgh, 2003)
  • May-shine Lin, 'The Mirror-for-Princesses: the fashioning of English queenship, 1553-1603' (University of Edinburgh, 2001)
  • Henry Knox, 'Opposition to government in early sixteenth-century Florence, 1494-1530' (University of Edinburgh, 1999)
  • James Shaw, 'The scales of justice: law and the balance of power in the world of Venetian guilds, 1550-1700' (European University Institute, Fiesole, 1998)
  • Stephen D. Bowd, 'The contemplatives in action: Vincenzo Querini, Gasparo Contarini and the shaping of politics in Renaissance Italy' (University of Edinburgh, 1997)
  • Patricia Allerston, 'The market in second-hand clothes and furnishings in Venice, c.1500-c.1650' (European University Institute, Fiesole, 1996)
  • Alastair Millar, 'Olivier de la Marche and the Court of Burgundy, c.1425-1502', (University of Edinburgh, 1996)

All of the above who wish to be in academic posts are in academic posts.

Professor Mackenney has also acted as External Examiner for the following doctoral theses in other Universities:

  • Stephen S. Ortega, 'Ottoman Muslims in the Venetian Republic from 1573 to 1645: contacts, connections and restrictions' (University of Manchester, 2002)
  • Jonathan Walker, 'Honour and the culture of male Venetian nobles, c.1500-c.1650' (University of Cambridge, 1998)
  • Daniela Hacke, 'Marital litigation and gender relations in early modern Venice (1500-1700)' (University of Cambridge, 1997)
  • Thomas Allison Kirk, 'Genoa and the sea: ships and power in the early modern Mediterranean (1559-1680)' (European University Institute, Fiesole, 1996)

He is principal supervisor for the following working titles of dissertations in progress:

  • Michael Bottigi, 'The Cistercians and crusading ideology in medieval Spain'
  • Jeffrey Youn, 'The influence of Neo-Platonic humanism in the visual arts and its political implications in Renaissance Italy in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries'


He offers the following taught courses:

  • Graduate Seminars: The Renaissance: Interdisciplinary Approaches
  • Renaissance Venice, c.1300-c.1700
  • Renaissance Political Thinking, c.1300-c.1700
  • Undergraduate classes: Renaissance Resonances: Shakespeare to Hollywood (Senior Seminar)
  • Machiavelli and the Renaissance
  • 'Civilisation': History on Television in 1969
  • Renaissance: Italy and Europe, c.1250-c.1650
  • 'Wars of Religion'?: Confessional Europe, c.1500-c.1650
  • Europe since 1500: Integration or Disintegration?
  • The Ingredients of Europe, c.500 BCE-c.1500 CE

Invited Lectures, Conference and Seminar papers:

A select list of Professor Mackenney's lectures and conference papers gives a further indication of his research interests:

  • 'The Renaissance: Interdisciplinary Approaches', Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Binghamton University (2013)
  • "Quel ramo del lago di Como": Identities and Identity Theft in Venice and Lombardy, 1530-1531', Royal Holloway College, University of London (2013)
  • 'Thomas Jefferson and the Concept of "Renaissance Man"', International Center for Jefferson Studies, Charlottesville, Va. (2012)
  • 'Death and the Devil in Venice, c.1500', Renaissance Society of America, Montreal (2011)
  • 'Stone of Venice? Bartolomeo Buon's Madonna della Misericordia' (workshop), and 'Ruskin Tomorrow' (lecture), Robert H. Smith Renaissance Sculpture in Context series, Victoria and Albert Museum and Royal College of Art, London (2010)
  • 'Venice: "Mercantile System" and Misericordia, c.1250-c.1550', Renaissance Society of America, Venice (2010)
  • 'The Shakespearean Moment: Machiavelli finds an Audience, c.1600', Colgate University, Hamilton, NY (2008)
  • 'Renaissance and Modernity: A Re-examination', and 'The Shakespearean Moment: Machiavelli finds an Audience, c.1600', (lectures) National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan (2007)
  • 'Who were the "Venetians"? Individual and Collective Identities in a Renaissance Republic', Renaissance Society of America, San Francisco (2006)
  • 'A Capon to Asclepius? Renaissance Resonances in Shakespeare's Plays', Modern History Seminar, University of Edinburgh (2005)
  • '"The Triumph of the West". John Roberts and History on Television', Modern History Seminar, University of Edinburgh (2004)
  • 'Venice – A Vernacular Culture?', lecture for 'The Age of Titian', a conference to accompany the exhibition of that title, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh (2004)
  • '"And set the murtherous Machevil to school!": Shakespeare and the "translation" of Machiavelli', 56th Kentucky Foreign Languages Conference, Lexington, Ky. (2003)
  • 'Artisans and Shopkeepers', 'News on the Rialto?' Identities and the Social Order in Renaissance Venice. A Conference in Honour of Professor Brian Pullan (2001)
  • 'Aldous Huxley, Shakespeare and Political Mentalities, c.1600', Conspiracy and Conspiracy Theory in Early Modern Britain and Europe, 1500-1800, Birkbeck College, London (2001)
  • 'Doors of Perception in Grey Eminence? Aldous Huxley and Cultural History', Modern History Seminar, University of Edinburgh (1997)

Professor Mackenney's other interests include classical music, Shakespearean theatre, great books, museums and galleries, film, and conversation.


Last Updated: 12/13/17