The Introduction explains the concept of absolute power or plenitude of power, as understood in the Middle Ages, when it meant a ruler's capacity to overrule laws and rights. The author describes how the prerogative was adopted by the Visconti and Sforza rulers of Milan. A brief historiographical survey follows, showing how the relationship between the powers of rulers and the rights of subjects has been explored in the work of Ugo Nicolini, Ennio Cortese, Dieter Wyduckel, Jesus Vallejo, and Kenneth Pennington. The sources used in the book are outlined, including legal commentaries and consilia. The author touches on the character and importance of consilia, explaining that they were considered by contemporary lawyers to be even more authoritative than academic commentaries. The other main sources are acts and decrees passed by the rulers of Milan. The Introduction concludes with an outline of the main chapters.
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