9780226769363

Convents and the Body Politic in Renaissance Venice

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780226769363

  • ISBN10:

    0226769364

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2000-01-01
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
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Summary

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.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
ix
List of Tables
xi
Foreword xiii
Catharine R. Stimpson
Acknowledgments xix
List of Abbreviations
xxi
Introduction 1(17)
Potlatch alla Veneziana: Coerced Monachizations in the Context of Patrician Intermarriage and Conspicous Consumption
18(54)
Marvelous Venice: A Virgin City and Its Noble Body Politic
72(43)
The Theology and Politics of Clausura
115(55)
The Economic Dimensions of the Convent-Reform Program
170(36)
Convents and the Question of State Sovereignty
206(30)
Conclusion 236(5)
Appendix 241(32)
Notes 273(102)
Glossary 375(4)
References 379(22)
Index 401

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