Did ordinary Italians have a ‘Renaissance’? This book presents the first in-depth exploration of how artisans and small local traders experienced the material and cultural Renaissance. Drawing on a rich blend of sixteenthcentury visual and archival evidence, it examines how individuals and families at artisanal levels (such as shoemakers, barbers, bakers and innkeepers) lived and worked, managed their household economies and consumption, socialised in their homes, and engaged with the arts and the markets for luxury goods. It demonstrates that although the economic and social status of local craftsmen and traders was relatively low, their material possessions show how these men and women who rarely make it into the history books were fully engaged with contemporary culture, cultural customs and the urban way of life.
In this illuminating work, surveying 300 years and two nations, Sarah Gwyneth Ross demonstrates how the expanding ranks of learned women in the Renaissance era presented the first significant challenge to the traditional definition of "woman" in the West. An experiment in collective biography and intellectual history, The Birth of Feminism demonstrates that because of their education, these women laid the foundation for the emancipation of womankind.
It is rarely possible to write biographies of lay people who lived in the Middle Ages. While accounts of clerical, royal, and military life are many, the wider populace has remained in relative obscurity. In Clean Hands and Rough Justice: An Investigating Magistrate in Renaissance Italy, David S. Chambers and Trevor Dean present an extraordinary and previously unknown character from Renaissance Italy, Beltramino Cusadri (ca. 1425–1500). This judge was known as the "terrible commissioner," and he spent most of his professional life acting as criminal investigator and legal adviser to two princely dynasties—the Gonzaga of Mantua and the Este of Ferrara. The authors investigate and compare the judicial institutions and social conditions in which he worked, the criminal cases that he investigated, and his successes and failures. Their combined presentation of the figure and mentality of Beltramino amounts to something unprecedented in Italian Renaissance historiography: the portrait of a professional man, employed to combat rising crime but accused of corruption and tyranny by the entrenched interests that he faced. The book follows the major phases of Beltramino's career along with a broader exploration of the legal history of Renaissance Italy. In his long life Beltramino Cusadri wrote hundreds of letters to his employers, and it is upon these letters that this book is based. These letters, with their wry, colorfully worded expressions, are liberally quoted and provide unique insight into the career, activity, and attitudes of a major Renaissance bureaucrat. The letters of his employers in return, and of many other judges and officials, along with the evidence of legislation and prosecution, are also drawn upon to examine a variety of themes, from the progress of lawmaking and the pattern of criminality, to the problems of policing and the changing forms of punishment. These provide an extraordinarily vivid picture of face-to-face realities that make an important cont
Salomone da Sesso was a virtuoso goldsmith in Renaissance Italy. Brought down by a sex scandal, he saved his skin by converting to Catholicism. Tamar Herzig explores Salamone’s world—his Jewish upbringing, his craft and patrons, and homosexuality. In his struggle for rehabilitation, we see how precarious and contested was the meaning of conversion.
In this book, Douglas Biow traces the role that humanists played in the development of professions and professionalism in Renaissance Italy, and vice versa. For instance, humanists were initially quite hostile to medicine, viewing it as poorly adapted to their program of study. They much preferred the secretarial profession, which they made their own throughout the Renaissance and eventually defined in treatises in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
Examining a wide range of treatises, poems, and other works that humanists wrote both as and about doctors, ambassadors, and secretaries, Biow shows how interactions with these professions forced humanists to make their studies relevant to their own times, uniting theory and practice in a way that strengthened humanism. His detailed analyses of writings by familiar and lesser-known figures, from Petrarch, Machiavelli, and Tasso to Maggi, Fracastoro, and Barbaro, will especially interest students of Renaissance Italy, but also anyone concerned with the rise of professionalism during the early modern period.
Emotions depend on language, cultural practices, expectation and moral beliefs. Hate, fear, cruelty and love are always turning history into the history of passion and lust, because emotional life is always ready to overflow intellectual life. This fascinating study of emotion in Renaissance Italy shows that emotions are built and created by the society in which they are expressed and conditioned. The contributors examine, among others, the emotional language of the court, around public execution, religious practices and during outbreaks of disease.
Focusing on Florence, Thomas Kuehn demonstrates the formative
influence of law on Italian society during the Renaissance,
especially in the spheres of family and women. Kuehn's use
of legal sources along with letters, diaries, and
contemporary accounts allows him to present a compelling
image of the social processes that affected the shape and
function of the law.
The numerous law courts of Italian city-states
constantly devised and revised statutes. Kuehn traces the
permutations of these laws, then examines their use by
Florentines to arbitrate conflict and regulate social
behavior regarding such issues as kinship, marriage,
business, inheritance, illlegitimacy, and gender. Ranging
from one man's embittered denunciation of his father to
another's reaction to his kinsmen's rejection of him as
illegitimate, Law, Family, and Women provides
fascinating evidence of the tensions riddling family life in
Renaissance Florence. Kuehn shows how these same tensions,
often articulated in and through the law, affected women. He
examines the role of the mundualdus—a male legal guardian
for women—in Florence, the control of fathers over their
married daughters, and issues of inheritance by and through
women. An ambitious attempt to reformulate the agenda of
Renaissance social history, Kuehn's work will be of value to
both legal anthropologists and social historians.
Thomas Kuehn is professor of history at Clemson
Gratuitous sex. Graphic violence. Lies, revenge, and murder. Before there was digital cable or reality television, there was Renaissance Italy and the courts in which Italian magistrates meted out justice to the vicious and the villainous, the scabrous and the scandalous. Love and Death in Renaissance Italy retells six piquant episodes from the Italian court just after 1550, as the Renaissance gave way to an era of Catholic reformation.
Each of the chapters in this history chronicles a domestic drama around which the lives of ordinary Romans are suddenly and violently altered. You might read the gruesome murder that opens the book—when an Italian noble takes revenge on his wife and her bastard lover as he catches them in delicto flagrante—as straight from the pages of Boccaccio. But this tale, like the other stories Cohen recalls here, is true, and its recounting in this scintillating work is based on assiduous research in court proceedings kept in the state archives in Rome.
Love and Death in Renaissance Italy contains stories of a forbidden love for an orphan nun, of brothers who cruelly exact a will from their dying teenage sister, and of a malicious papal prosecutor who not only rapes a band of sisters, but turns their shambling father into a pimp! Cohen retells each cruel episode with a blend of sly wit and warm sympathy and then wraps his tales in ruminations on their lessons, both for the history of their own time and for historians writing today. What results is a book at once poignant and painfully human as well as deliciously entertaining.
Girolamo Savonarola (1452–1498), the religious reformer, preacher, and Florentine civic leader, was burned at the stake as a false prophet by the order of Pope Alexander VI. Tamar Herzig here explores the networks of Savonarola’s female followers that proliferated in the two generations following his death. Drawing on sources from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, many never before studied, transcribed, or contextualized in Savonarolan scholarship and religious history, Herzig shows how powerful public figures and clerics continued to ally themselves with these holy women long after the prophet’s death.
In their quest to stay true to their leader’s teachings, Savonarola’s female followers faced hostile superiors within their orders, local political pressures, and the deep-rooted misogynistic assumptions of the Church establishment. This unprecedented volume demonstrates how reform circles throughout the Italian peninsula each tailored Savonarola’s life and works to their particular communities’ regionally specific needs. Savonarola’s Women is an important reconstruction of women’s influence on one of the most important and controversial religious movements in premodern Europe.
Spirituality, Gender, and the Self in Renaissance Italy places St. Angela Merici and her Company of St. Ursula in historical and religious context and examines them from a variety of perspectives: institutional, social, spiritual, and cultural.
James Hankins challenges the view that the Renaissance was the seedbed of modern republicanism, with Machiavelli as exemplary thinker. What most concerned Renaissance political theorists, Hankins contends, was not reforming laws but shaping citizens. To secure the social good, they fostered virtue through a new program of education: the humanities.
Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, a brilliant historian of the Annales school, skillfully uncovers the lives of ordinary Italians of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Tuscans in particular, young and old, rich, middle-class, and poor. From the extraordinarily detailed records kept by Florentine tax collectors and the equally precise ricordanze (household accounts with notations of events great and small), Klapisch-Zuber draws a living picture of the Tuscan household. We learn, for example, how children were named, how wet nurses were engaged, how marriages were negotiated and celebrated. A wealth of other sources are tapped—including city statutes, private letters, philosophical works on marriage, paintings—to determine the social status of women. Klapisch-Zuber reveals how women, in their roles as daughters, wives, sisters, and mothers, were largely subject to a family system that needed them but valued them little.
Though the practical value of maps during the sixteenth century is well documented, their personal and cultural importance has been relatively underexamined. In Worldly Consumers, Genevieve Carlton explores the growing availability of maps to private consumers during the Italian Renaissance and shows how map acquisition and display became central tools for constructing personal identity and impressing one’s peers.
Drawing on a variety of sixteenth-century sources, including household inventories, epigrams, dedications, catalogs, travel books, and advice manuals, Worldly Consumers studies how individuals displayed different maps in their homes as deliberate acts of self-fashioning. One citizen decorated with maps of Bruges, Holland, Flanders, and Amsterdam to remind visitors of his military prowess, for example, while another hung maps of cities where his ancestors fought or governed, in homage to his auspicious family history. Renaissance Italians turned domestic spaces into a microcosm of larger geographical places to craft cosmopolitan, erudite identities for themselves, creating a new class of consumers who drew cultural capital from maps of the time.
Leonardo Bruni is widely recognized as the most important humanist historian of the early Renaissance. Gary Ianziti undertakes a systematic work-by-work investigation of the full range of Bruni’s output in history and biography, and assesses in detail the impact of the Greek historians on humanist methods of historical writing.