Mogli non ufficiali e figlie illegittime a Venezia nella prima età moderna

Cowan, Alexander (2003) Mogli non ufficiali e figlie illegittime a Venezia nella prima età moderna. Quaderni Storici, 114 (3). pp. 849-866. ISSN 0301-6307

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Early modern Venice was ruled by an exclusive group of noble families, the patricians, most of which could trace their status back to the late thirteenth century. They seemed to be affected by a sort of collective paranoia about anything which might stain the purity of their collective heritage. It is no surprise, then, that their concubines, though often living with them in fairly stable relationships and bearing their illegitimate children, remained on the edge of patrician circles. They had no legal rights to their partner's property, could not bear the title of "Nobil Donna", were not part of their partners' extended family, and might even be abandoned or married off to a non-noble husband. Why, then, were patricians so keen on promoting their illegitimate daughters, making sure they could pass all the tests set by the "Avogaria de Comun" and marry a patrician, thus becoming potential mothers of future members of the ruling elite? The sources for this investigation, the "Prove di Nobiltà", the requests on behalf of or by patricians' natural daughters to be allowed to marry patrician husbands and the testimonies given by witnesses called before the magistrates of the "Avogaria di Comun" provide the basis for this work, which is an attempt to explore social boundaries as they were expressed in terms of ambiguities as well as certainties.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article, the first study to consider the contrasting positions of natural daughters and their concubine mothers in Venice, arose out of papers given at conferences on the history of the family at Carleton University, Ottawa, and on ‘Meeting the Other’ at the Charles University Prague. It is one of a series of articles on marriage and Venetian urban culture based on the analysis of the records of the Avogaria di Comun in the Venetian State Archives, beginning with ‘Love, Honour and the Avogaria di Comun’, published in 'Archivio Veneto' in 1995, and culminating in the publication of 'Marriage, Manners and Mobility' in 2007. A book chapter on a related subject, ‘Patricians and Partners in early modern Venice’, which considers the relative stability of relationships between Venetian patricians and lower-born concubines, was submitted in the 2001 RAE. The archival research upon which the article is based was funded by Northumbria University and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, New York. The publication of this article led to an invitation to Cowan to participate in a conference on families and power in medieval and early modern Italy held in Lucca in 2005. An article arising from the conference, ‘Lusty widows and chaste widows in seventeenth-century Venice’ is due to be published in A. Bellavitis (ed.) Famiglie e poteri in Italia tra medioevo eta moderna, 2008.
Subjects: L100 Economics
L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
Depositing User: EPrint Services
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2008 09:46
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 08:39

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