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Women in the Streets: Essays on Sex and Power in Renaissance Italy

Overview

"These seven essays on women, sex, violence, and piety in Renaissance Italy," writes historian Samuel Cohn Jr., "bespeak the darker side of the Renaissance and, in particular, the decline in Italian women's status from the late fourteenth century until the Counter Reformation visitations of the 1570s. In this sense, these essays run directly counter to Jacob Burckhardt's claim for Renaissance Italy, 'that women stood on a footing of perfect equality with men."

Challenging conventional views of the history of ...

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Overview

"These seven essays on women, sex, violence, and piety in Renaissance Italy," writes historian Samuel Cohn Jr., "bespeak the darker side of the Renaissance and, in particular, the decline in Italian women's status from the late fourteenth century until the Counter Reformation visitations of the 1570s. In this sense, these essays run directly counter to Jacob Burckhardt's claim for Renaissance Italy, 'that women stood on a footing of perfect equality with men."

Challenging conventional views of the history of women in the Italian Renaissance, Cohn examines the lives primarily of non-elite women and looks at their experiences in various city-states and regions, thus offering a different perspective from the history of aristocratic and well-to-do women in the large city-states. Drawing on a wide range of archival documentation, Cohn also relies on large sets of quantitative material to reveal a multifaceted view of women's social worlds not seen from the letters of patrician ladies or the prescriptive judgments of Renaissance moralists.

Within the larger historical contexts of the Black Death, the growth of territorial states, and the Counter Reformation, Women in the Streets charts changes in law, the structure and accessibility of the criminal courts, and the customs and mentalities that shaped women's lot, from infanticide to the control of sexual mores. Ultimately, Cohn argues, women are the protagonists of this book, whether the issue is their support of other women or the resolution of conflict in the streets of Florence, the control of their own dowries or the salvation of their own souls.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801853081
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1996
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.21 (w) x 9.29 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Samuel K. Cohn, Jr. is professor of medieval history at the University of Glasgow. He is the author of The Laboring Classes in Renaissance Florence, Death and Property in Siena, 1205-1800: Strategies for the Afterlife, and The Cult of Remembrance and the Black Death: Six Renaissance Cities in Central Italy, the last two available from Johns Hopkins.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
Acknowledgments
1 The Social History of Women in the Renaissance 1
2 Women in the Streets, Women in the Courts, in Early Renaissance Florence 16
3 Last Wills: Family, Women, and the Black Death in Central Italy 39
4 Women and the Counter Reformation in Siena: Authority and Property in the Family 57
5 Nuns and Dowry Funds: Women's Choices in the Renaissance 76
6 Sex and Violence on the Periphery: The Territorial State in Early Renaissance Florence 98
7 Prosperity in the Countryside: The Price Women Paid 137
Notes 167
Bibliography 217
Index 241
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