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The Power to Decide: Battered Wives in Early Modern Venice*

  • Joanne M. Ferraro (a1)

Extract

Historians of the Family in Renaissance Europe have devoted much attention to its patriarchal orientation. For the northern Italian cities, intense monographic study of elite behavior has illuminated the guiding principles behind strategies that preserved and enhanced family status. Those principles also occupy a prominent position in the prescriptive writings of contemporary jurists, humanists, and moralists; from them historians have argued that women's powers of decision in the urban environment of Renaissance Italy were severely limited. Similar conclusions have been reached for the Reformation period.

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