Nuns and Nunneries in Renaissance Florence

Nuns and Nunneries in Renaissance Florence

by Sharon T. Strocchia
     
 

The 15th century was a time of dramatic and decisive change for nuns and nunneries in Florence. In the course of that century, the city’s convents evolved from small, semiautonomous communities to large civic institutions. By 1552, roughly one in eight Florentine women lived in a religious community. Historian Sharon T. Strocchia analyzes this stunning growth

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Overview

The 15th century was a time of dramatic and decisive change for nuns and nunneries in Florence. In the course of that century, the city’s convents evolved from small, semiautonomous communities to large civic institutions. By 1552, roughly one in eight Florentine women lived in a religious community. Historian Sharon T. Strocchia analyzes this stunning growth of female monasticism, revealing the important roles these women and institutions played in the social, economic, and political history of Renaissance Florence.

It became common practice during this time for unmarried women in elite society to enter convents. This unprecedented concentration of highly educated and well-connected women transformed convents into sites of great patronage and social and political influence. As their economic influence also grew, convents found new ways of supporting themselves; they established schools, produced manuscripts, and manufactured textiles.

Strocchia has mined previously untapped archival materials to uncover how convents shaped one of the principal cities of Renaissance Europe. She demonstrates the importance of nuns and nunneries to the booming Florentine textile industry and shows the contributions that ordinary nuns made to Florentine life in their roles as scribes, stewards, artisans, teachers, and community leaders. In doing so, Strocchia argues that the ideals and institutions that defined Florence were influenced in great part by the city’s powerful female monastics.

Nuns and Nunneries in Renaissance Florence shows for the first time how religious women effected broad historical change and helped write the grand narrative of medieval and Renaissance Europe. The book is a valuable text for students and scholars in early modern European history, religion, women’s studies, and economic history.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

Strocchia examines the complex interrelationships between Florentine nuns and the laity, the secular government, and the religious hierarchy. The author skillfully analyzes extensive archival and printed sources.

Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal - Diana Bullen Presciutti
Lucidly written and meticulously organized... The book is remarkable for both its richness and its clarity: the chapters are logically framed, the sections of broad argumentation are supported by vivid case studies, and the conclusions are both sound and thought-provoking... Strocchia's study makes a significant contribution to the study of Renaissance Florence. By weaving the convent into myriad aspects of Florentine social and political life, she offers both thought-provoking findings and a trove of new evidence that will make the book required reading for a wide range of scholars.

Renaissance Quarterly - P. Renée Baernstein
Strocchia performs a service both to convent studies and to historians of Renaissance Florence by bringing these two fields together... Convents, long a hazy presence on the rich scholarly map of Renaissance Florence, now have their political and economic contours there clearly charted.

Magistra - Laura Swan
An enjoyable, well-written account by a gifted historian clearly knowledgeable about her subject.

American Historical Review - Sally Mayall Brasher
Strocchia makes a significant contribution to the developing body of work on women's religious life in the Renaissance... providing a plethora of research avenues for the interested scholar and an interesting glimpse of Renaissance life for the general reader.

Canadian Journal of History - Brian Maxson
A convincing and wide-ranging analysis of a crucial facet of Renaissance Florence.

Catholic Historical Review - Gabriella Zarri
An original and high-quality contribution to the knowledge of the monastic institute.

European Review of History - Karin Tilmans
One of the central arguments advanced in this book is that the fifteenth century was a decisive moment both for convents and for their relations with urban society.

Historian - Constance H. Berman
This is a splendid intervention in the expanding study of religious women's communities. It is a 'must read.'

European History Quarterly - Roisin Cossar
An important volume which deserves to be read and re-read not only by historians of the Renaissance church, but also by those interested in the histories of women, work and early modern urban culture.

Bibliotheque d'Humanisme et Renaissance
Well worth your close attention whether you are interested in Renaissance religion or ruling dynasties or the textile industry of Florence.

Journal of Social History
A most impressive investigation of the intricate connections that developed between convents and the Florentine state in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.

Enterprise and Society - Holly S. Hurlburt
Through scrupulous archival research, Strocchia situates her nuns in the context of late medieval spiritual, political, social, and urban developments... Strocchia convincingly moves the history of nuns and nunneries to the center of our understanding of Renaissance urban geography.

Church History - Charmarie J. Blaisdell
In this brilliant study, Strocchia brings us a deftly crafted analysis of Florentine convents and life within them... The combination of Strocchia’s scholarship and engaging narrative sets a new standard for future studies of nunneries in other Italian cities. This is a superb book!

Journal of Interdisciplinary History - Carol M. Bresnahan
This well-conceived work breaks new ground for the role of convents in society and politics in early modern Europe.

Speculum - Philip Gavitt
Strocchia has written a judicious, balanced, and meticulously researched book, one that is drawn from a splendid breadth of archival sources and that makes a major contribution to our understanding of the complex and changing relationships between ecclesiastical institutions, family strategy, and civic consciousness.

Renaissance Quarterly
With this book Sharon Strocchia performs a service both to convent studies and to historians of Renaissance Florence by bringing these two fields together... Convents, long a hazy presence on the rich scholarly map of Renaissance Florence, now have their political and economic contours there clearly charted.

— P. Renée Baernstein

American Historical Review
Strocchia makes a significant contribution to the developing body of work on women's religious life in the Renaissance... providing a plethora of research avenues for the interested scholar and an interesting glimpse of Renaissance life for the general reader.

— Sally Mayall Brasher

Magistra
An enjoyable, well-written account by a gifted historian clearly knowledgeable about her subject.

— Laura Swan

Canadian Journal of History
A convincing and wide-ranging analysis of a crucial facet of Renaissance Florence.

— Brian Maxson

Catholic Historical Review
An original and high-quality contribution to the knowledge of the monastic institute.

— Gabriella Zarri

European Review of History
[A] wonderful study.

— Karin Tilmans

Historian
This is a splendid intervention in the expanding study of religious women's communities. It is a 'must read.'

— Constance H. Berman

European History Quarterly
An important volume which deserves to be read and re-read not only by historians of the Renaissance church, but also by those interested in the histories of women, work and early modern urban culture.

— Roisin Cossar

Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Lucidly written and meticulously organized...The book is remarkable for both its richness and its clarity: the chapters are logically framed, the sections of broad argumentation are supported by vivid case studies, and the conclusions are both sound and thought-provoking... Strocchia's study makes a significant contribution to the study of Renaissance Florence. By weaving the convent into myriad aspects of Florentine social and political life, she offers both thought-provoking findings and a trove of new evidence that will make the book required reading for a wide range of scholars.

— Diana Bullen Presciutti

Chronique

Well worth your close attention whether you are interested in Renaissance religion or ruling dynasties or the textile industry of Florence.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781421411842
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
11/14/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
280
Sales rank:
971,555
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Judith C. Brown

A terrific book. It’s superb in its analysis of the internal life of convents and in its subtle and thorough use of archival materials. There is no other book like it and historians will turn to it for a long time to come.

Judith C. Brown, Wesleyan University

Meet the Author

Sharon T. Strocchia is a professor of history at Emory University and author of Death and Ritual in Renaissance Florence, also published by Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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