As Peter Gray and Kermyt Anderson reveal, fatherhood actually alters a man’s sexuality, rewires his brain, and changes his hormonal profile. This book presents a uniquely detailed picture of how being a parent fits with men’s broader social and work lives, how fatherhood evolved, and how it differs across cultures and through time.
As far back as Jacob Burckhardt, illegitimate children have been considered advantaged, insofar as they lacked family obligations. Celebrated Renaissance figures such as Petrarch, Boccaccio, Alberti, and da Vinci were born illegitimately. Of course, their status put these children at a legal and a social disadvantage that was nearly impossible to overcome in usual circumstances. Illegitimacy in Renaissance Florence is the first systematic study of a population of illegitimate children--in this case in the city often seen at the heart of Renaissance politics and culture, Florence.
The Florentine catasto, a fiscal survey of households taken at several points in the fifteenth century, locates hundreds of illegitimate children and reveals a great deal about their household circumstances and parentage. Supplementing this information are notarial documents and family account books. Illegitimacy in Renaissance Florence places Florentine illegitimate children in a complete legal context, culminating in examination of several Florentine legal cases. Thomas Kuehn shows how lawyers were called on to cope with and make legal sense of the actions and prejudices of Florentines toward their illegitimate kin.
It is clear, in its simplest terms, that illegitimacy in Florence was a permanent, if not fixed, status. Most illegitimate children, especially girls, were abandoned; infanticide was undoubtedly practiced. But even those children raised by benevolent fathers and granted legitimation always remained "legitimatus" and not "legitimus." Florentines whose illegitimate paternity was admitted were overwhelmingly born of elite fathers but poor or servile mothers. In neither social nor legal terms did the illegitimate share fully in the personhood of the legitimate adult male Florentine citizen. Still, ambiguities of status could be useful for those with sufficient wealth and social standing to exploit their potential.
Illegitimacy in Renaissance Florence will appeal to social historians of Europe, medieval and early modern, especially those concerned with family life, women, and children, as well as all those interested in Florentine history. Legal historians will find it useful as well.
Thomas Kuehn is Professor of History, Clemson University.
The Manly Masquerade unravels the complex ways men were defined as men in Renaissance Italy through readings of a vast array of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century evidence: medical and travel literature; theology; law; myth; conduct books; and plays, chivalric romances, and novellas by authors including Machiavelli, Tasso, and Ariosto. Valeria Finucci shows how ideas of masculinity were formed in the midst of acute anxiety about paternity by highlighting the beliefs—widely held at the time—that conception could occur without a paternal imprimatur or through a woman’s encounter with an animal, or even that a pregnant woman’s imagination could erase the father’s "signature" from the fetus. Against these visions of reproduction gone awry, Finucci looks at how concepts of masculinity were tied to issues of paternity through social standing, legal matters, and inheritance practices.
Highlighting the fissures running through Italian Renaissance ideas of manliness, Finucci describes how, alongside pervasive images of the virile, sexually active man, early modern Italian culture recognized the existence of hermaphrodites and started to experiment with a new kind of sexuality by manufacturing a non-man: the castrato. Following the creation of castrati, the Church forbade the marriage of all non-procreative men, and, in this move, Finucci identifies a powerful legitimation of the view that what makes men is not the possession of male organs or the ability to have sex, but the capability to father. Through analysis, anecdote, and rich cultural description, The Manly Masquerade exposes the "real" early modern man: the paterfamilias.
For most of human history, paternity was uncertain. Blood types, fingerprinting, and, recently, DNA analysis promised to solve the riddle of paternity. But even genetic certainty did not end the quest for the father. Rather, as Nara Milanich reveals, it confirms the social, cultural, and political nature of the age-old question: Who’s your father?
Why does sacrifice, more than any other major religious institution, depend on gender dichotomy? Why do so many societies oppose sacrifice to childbirth, and why are childbearing women so commonly excluded from sacrificial practices? In this feminist study of relations between sacrifice, gender, and social organization, Nancy Jay reveals sacrifice as a remedy for having been born of woman, and hence uniquely suited to establishing certain and enduring paternity. Drawing on examples of ancient and modern societies, Jay synthesizes sociology of religion, ethnography, biblical scholarship, church history, and classics to argue that sacrifice legitimates and maintains patriarchal structures that transcend men's dependence on women's reproductive powers.