In late sixteenth-century Venice, nearly 60 percent of all patrician women joined convents, and only a minority of these women did so voluntarily. In trying to explain why unprecedented numbers of patrician women did not marry, historians have claimed that dowries became too expensive. However, Jutta Gisela Sperling debunks this myth and argues that the rise of forced vocations happened within the context of aristocratic culture and society.
Sperling explains how women were not allowed to marry beneath their social status while men could, especially if their brides were wealthy. Faced with a shortage of suitable partners, patrician women were forced to offer themselves as "a gift not only to God, but to their fatherland," as Patriarch Giovanni Tiepolo told the Senate of Venice in 1619. Noting the declining birth rate among patrician women, Sperling explores the paradox of a marriage system that preserved the nobility at the price of its physical extinction. And on a more individual level, she tells the fascinating stories of these women. Some became scholars or advocates of women's rights, some took lovers, and others escaped only to survive as servants, prostitutes, or thieves.
The eighteenth century's critique of privilege and its commitment to the idea of advancement by merit are widely regarded as sources of modernity. But if meritocratic values were indeed the product of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, how do we explain earlier attention to merit--especially the nobility whose values the Revolution rejected? The Culture of Merit probes this paradox by analyzing changing perceptions of merit among the old nobility from the age of Louis XIII to the eve of the French Revolution.
Jay M. Smith argues that the early modern nobility instinctively drew a correlation between the meaning of merit and an image of the "sovereign's gaze." In the early seventeenth century, merit meant the qualities traditionally associated with aristocratic values: generosity, fidelity, and honor. Nobles sought to display those qualities before the appreciative gaze of the king himself. But the expansion of the monarchy forced the routinization of the sovereign's gaze, and Louis XIV began to affirm and reward new qualities--talent and application--besides those thought innately noble.
The contradictions implicit within the absolute monarchy's culture of merit are demonstrated by the eighteenth-century French army, which was dominated by the nobility, but also committed to efficiency and expertise. Smith shows that the army's continuous efforts to encourage and reward "merit" led to a clash of principles. The ever-growing emphasis on talent and discipline led reformers--the great majority of them noble--to attack the most egregious examples of privilege and favoritism in the army. Smith's analysis of the long-term evolution in conceptions of royal service suggests a new explanation for the shift in values signified by the French Revolution. The transition away from the "personal" gaze of the king toward the "public" gaze of the monarchy and nation foretold the triumph of a new culture of merit in which noble birth would have no meaning.
The Culture of Merit will interest historians and other social scientists concerned with issues of aristocratic identity, state formation, professionalization, and the changing political culture of pre-Revolutionary France.
Jay M. Smith is Assistant Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Margaret King shows what the death of a little boy named Valerio Marcello over five hundred years ago can tell us about his time.
This child, scion of a family of power and privilege at Venice's time of greatness, left his father in a state of despair so profound and so public that it occasioned an outpouring of consoling letters, orations, treatises, and poems. In these documents, we find a firsthand account, richly colored by humanist conventions and expectations, of the life of the fifteenth-century boy, the passionate devotion of his father, the feelings of his brothers and sisters, the striking absence of his mother. The father's story is here as well: the career of a Venetian nobleman and scholar, patron and soldier, a participant in Venice's struggle for dominion in the north of Italy.
Through these sources also King traces the cultural trends that made Marcello's century famous. Her work enlarges our view of the literature of consolation, which had a distinctive tradition in Venice, and shifting attitudes toward death from the late Middle Ages onward.
For the depth and acuity of its insights into political, cultural, and private life in fifteenth-century Venice, this book will be essential reading for students of the Renaissance. For the grace and drama of its storytelling, it will be savored by anyone who wishes to look into life and death in a palace, and a city, long ago.
Originally published in 1529, the Declamation on the Preeminence and Nobility of the Female Sex argues that women are more than equal to men in all things that really matter, including the public spheres from which they had long been excluded.
Rather than directly refuting prevailing wisdom, Agrippa uses women's superiority as a rhetorical device and overturns the misogynistic interpretations of the female body in Greek medicine, in the Bible, in Roman and canon law, in theology and moral philosophy, and in politics. He raised the question of why women were excluded and provided answers based not on sex but on social conditioning, education, and the prejudices of their more powerful oppressors. His declamation, disseminated through the printing press, illustrated the power of that new medium, soon to be used to generate a larger reformation of religion.
The First English Translation of the Wartime Diaries of the Eldest Daughter of Nicholas II, the Last Tsar of Russia, with Additional Documents of the Period
In August 1914, Russia entered World War I, and with it, the imperial family of Tsar Nicholas II was thrust into a conflict they would not survive. His eldest child, Olga Nikolaevna, great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, had begun a diary in 1905 when she was ten years old and kept writing her thoughts and impressions of day-to-day life as a grand duchess until abruptly ending her entries when her father abdicated his throne in March 1917. Held at the State Archives of the Russian Federation in Moscow, Olga’s diaries during the wartime period have never been translated into English until this volume. At the outset of the war, Olga and her sister Tatiana worked as nurses in a military hospital along with their mother, Tsarina Alexandra. Olga’s younger sisters, Maria and Anastasia, visited the infirmaries to help raise the morale of the wounded and sick soldiers. The strain was indeed great, as Olga records her impressions of tending to the officers who had been injured and maimed in the fighting on the Russian front. Concerns about her sickly brother, Aleksei, abound, as well those for her father, who is seen attempting to manage the ongoing war. Gregori Rasputin appears in entries, too, in an affectionate manner as one would expect of a family friend. While the diaries reflect the interests of a young woman, her tone grows increasingly serious as the Russian army suffers setbacks, Rasputin is ultimately murdered, and a popular movement against her family begins to grow. At the point Olga ends her writing in 1917, the author continues the story by translating letters and impressions from family intimates, such as Anna Vyrubova, as well as the diary kept by Nicholas II himself. Finally, once the imperial family has been put under house arrest by the revolutionaries, we follow events through observations by Alexander Kerensky, head of the initial Provisional Government, these too in English translation for the first time. Olga would offer no further personal writings, as she and the rest of her family were crowded into the basement of a house in the Urals and shot to death in July 1918.
The Diary of Olga Romanov: Royal Witness to the Russian Revolution, translated and introduced by scientist and librarian Helen Azar, and supplemented with additional primary source material, is a remarkable document of a young woman who did not choose to be part of a royal family and never exploited her own position, but lost her life simply because of what her family represented.
In the eighteenth century, as modern forms of literature began to emerge in Russia, most of the writers producing it were members of the nobility. But their literary pursuits competed with strictly enforced obligations to imperial state service. Unique to Russia was the Table of Ranks, introduced by Emperor Peter the Great in 1722. Noblesse oblige was not just a lofty principle; aristocrats were expected to serve in the military, civil service, or the court, and their status among peers depended on advancement in ranks.
Irina Reyfman illuminates the surprisingly diverse effects of the Table of Ranks on writers, their work, and literary culture in Russia. From Sumarokov and Derzhavin in the eighteenth century through Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, and poets serving in the military in the nineteenth, state service affected the self-images of writers and the themes of their creative output. Reyfman also notes its effects on Russia’s atypical course in the professionalization and social status of literary work.
Sometime in the 1740s, Sor María Magdalena, an indigenous noblewoman living in one of only three convents in New Spain that allowed Indians to profess as nuns, sent a letter to Father Juan de Altamirano to ask for his help in getting church prelates to exclude Creole and Spanish women from convents intended for indigenous nuns only. Drawing on this and other such letters—as well as biographies, sermons, and other texts—Mónica Díaz argues that the survival of indigenous ethnic identity was effectively served by this class of noble indigenous nuns.
While colonial sources that refer to indigenous women are not scant, documents in which women emerge as agents who actively participate in shaping their own identity are rare. Looking at this minority agency—or subaltern voice—in various religious discourses exposes some central themes. It shows that an indigenous identity recast in Catholic terms was able to be effectively recorded and that the religious participation of these women at a time when indigenous parishes were increasingly secularized lent cohesion to that identity.
Indigenous Writings from the Convent examines ways in which indigenous women participated in one of the most prominent institutions in colonial times—the Catholic Church—and what they made of their experience with convent life. This book will appeal to scholars of literary criticism, women’s studies, and colonial history, and to anyone interested in the ways that class, race, and gender intersected in the colonial world.
The Kingdom of Rus'
Christian Raffensperger Arc Humanities Press, 2017 Library of Congress DK73.R238 2017 | Dewey Decimal 947.02
As scholarship continues to expand the idea of medieval Europe beyond "the West," the Rus' remain the final frontier relegated to the European periphery. The Kingdom of Rus' challenges the perception of Rus' as an eastern "other" – advancing the idea of the Rus' as a kingdom deeply integrated with medieval Europe, through an innovative analysis of medieval titles. Examining a wide range of medieval sources, this book exposes the common practice in scholarship of referring to Rusian rulers as princes as a relic of early modern attempts to diminish the Rus'. Not only was Rus' part and parcel of medieval Europe, but in the eleventh and twelfth centuries Rus' was the largest kingdom in Christendom.
The Lara Family
Simon R. DOUBLEDAY Harvard University Press, 2001 Library of Congress DP60.L3D68 2001 | Dewey Decimal 946.302
The Marble Faun
Nathaniel Hawthorne Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS1862.A1 2013 | Dewey Decimal 813.3
The Marble Faun mingles fable with fact in a mysterious tale of American artists liberated from New England mores in Rome. Hawthorne’s novel is ultimately less about freedom than its costs. The John Harvard Library edition reproduces the authoritative text of The Marble Faun in The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
In this groundbreaking new study, Kate van Orden examines noble education in the arts to show how music contributed to cultural and social transformation in early modern French society. She constructs a fresh account of music's importance in promoting the absolutism that the French monarchy would fully embrace under Louis XIV, uncovering many hitherto unpublished ballets and royal ceremonial performances.
The great pressure on French noblemen to take up the life of the warrior gave rise to bellicose art forms such as sword dances and equestrian ballets. Far from being construed as effeminizing, such combinations of music and the martial arts were at once refined and masculine-a perfect way to display military prowess. The incursion of music into riding schools and infantry drills contributed materially to disciplinary order, enabling the larger and more effective armies of the seventeenth century. This book is a history of the development of these musical spheres and how they brought forth new cultural priorities of civility, military discipline, and political harmony. Music, Discipline, and Arms in Early Modern France effectively illustrates the seminal role music played in mediating between the cultural spheres of letters and arms.
A gifted poet, a women's rights activist, and an expert on moral and natural philosophy, Lucrezia Marinella (1571-1653) was known throughout Italy as the leading female intellectual of her age. Born into a family of Venetian physicians, she was encouraged to study, and, fortunately, she did not share the fate of many of her female contemporaries, who were forced to join convents or were pressured to marry early. Marinella enjoyed a long literary career, writing mainly religious, epic, and pastoral poetry, and biographies of famous women in both verse and prose.
Marinella's masterpiece, The Nobility and Excellence of Women, and the Defects and Vices of Men was first published in 1600, composed at a furious pace in answer to Giusepe Passi's diatribe about women's alleged defects. This polemic displays Marinella's vast knowledge of the Italian poetic tradition and demonstrates her ability to argue against authors of the misogynist tradition from Boccaccio to Torquato Tasso. Trying to effect real social change, Marinella argued that morally, intellectually, and in many other ways, women are superior to men.
In 1434, the new Medici government exiled Matteo Strozzi as an enemy of the regime. Soon afterwards, Matteo and three of his eight children died of the plague. His young widow, Alesandra, struggled to make arrangements for her five remaining children, preparing her sons for merchant careers and finding husbands for her daughters. Her three sons left Florence in the 1440s to enter relatives' merchant banking firms. Their absence, prolonged by a sentence of exile imposed on them in 1458, gave rise to the family correspondence that informs this rich study.
The Strozzi correspondence tells the story of the decline and recovery of one Florentine patrician family. Eventually, the Strozzi brothers earned the greatest fortune of their era, and, after the repeal of their exile, Filippo, the eldest, most successful, and longest lived, spent the last years of his life in Florence as one of its foremost citizens. Set in the context of other documentary evidence and of modern historical and anthropological studies, Crabb's study illuminates the role of women, kinship, solidarity, honor, and profit. These letters provide nuanced insights into values and practices that more impersonal sources cannot rival.
As well as appealing to those interested in the Renaissance, Florence, and Italy, this book will attract those wanting to read about topics in social history that cross time periods: women, family and kinship, business, and honor. It confronts issues of Renaissance Florentine historiography by presenting a more positive view of the role of women than does current orthodoxy, by providing evidence of the impact of extended kinship ties, a controversial issue, and by illuminating further the value placed on honor and profit.
Ann Crabb teaches medieval history at James Madison University.
Translated for the First Time in English with Annotations by a Leading Expert, the Romanov Family’s Final Years Through the Writings of the Second Oldest Daughter
Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia was the second of the four daughters of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Long recognized by historians as the undisputed “beauty” of the family, Tatiana was acknowledged for her poise, her elegance, and her innate dignity within her own family. Helen Azar, translator of the diaries of Olga Romanov, and Nicholas B. A. Nicholson, Russian Imperial historian, have joined together to present a truly comprehensive picture of this extraordinarily gifted, complex, and intelligent woman in her own words. Tatiana Romanov, Daughter of the Last Tsar: Diaries and Letters, 1913–1918, presents translations of material never before published in Russian or in English, as well as materials never published in their entirety in the West.
The brisk, modern prose of Tatiana’s diary entries reveals the character of a young woman who was far more than the sheltered imperial beauty as she previously has been portrayed. While many historians and writers describe her as a cold, haughty, and distant aristocrat, this book shows instead a remarkably down-to-earth and humorous young woman, full of life and compassion. A detail-oriented and observant participant in some of the most important historical events of the early twentieth century, she left firsthand descriptions of the tercentenary celebrations of the House of Romanov, the early years of Russia’s involvement in World War I, and the road to her family’s final days in Siberian exile. Her writings reveal extraordinary details previously unknown or unacknowledged. Lavishly annotated for the benefit of the nonspecialist reader, this book is not only a reevaluation of Tatiana’s role as more than just one of four sisters, but also a valuable reference on Russia, the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the people closest to the Grand Duchess and her family.
René Descartes is best known as the man who coined the phrase “I think, therefore I am.” But though he is remembered most as a thinker, Descartes, the man, was no disembodied mind, theorizing at great remove from the worldly affairs and concerns of his time. Far from it. As a young nobleman, Descartes was a soldier and courtier who took part in some of the greatest events of his generation—a man who would not seem out of place in the pages of The Three Musketeers.
In The Young Descartes, Harold J. Cook tells the story of a man who did not set out to become an author or philosopher—Descartes began publishing only after the age of forty. Rather, for years he traveled throughout Europe in diplomacy and at war. He was present at the opening events of the Thirty Years' War in Central Europe and Northern Italy, and was also later involved in struggles within France. Enduring exile, scandals, and courtly intrigue, on his journeys Descartes associated with many of the most innovative free thinkers and poets of his day, as well as great noblemen, noblewomen, and charismatic religious reformers. In his personal life, he expressed love for men as well as women and was accused of libertinism by his adversaries.
These early years on the move, in touch with powerful people and great events, and his experiences with military engineering and philosophical materialism all shaped the thinker and philosopher Descartes became in exile, where he would begin to write and publish, with purpose. But though it is these writings that made ultimately made him famous, The Young Descartes shows that this story of his early life and the tumultuous times that molded him is sure to spark a reappraisal of his philosophy and legacy.