This paper will centre on the relationships of women to men and women to women which form the backbone of the history of the Benedictine convent of Le Murate in Florence in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Le Murate started in a quiet way with one pious woman deciding to live virtuously by herself, but under no rule, in a house on the Ponte Rubaconte in 1390, and expanded to become perhaps the largest female convent in Florence in 1515, situated on Via Ghibellina, with 200 enclosed women and their servants living under the Rule of St Benedict. I want to examine the relations between these nuns and the outside world and look at how the male government of the outside world, secular and ecclesiastical, both at an individual level and in a more collective, formal way, tried to restrain and weaken this group of females, even to the point of forbidding them to earn their own livelihood. I would like to posit that religious life on a large scale and in a large city offered opportunities for the exercise of power by women not available to those of the female sex who stayed within the structure of the family and who were, therefore, in direct competition with men at every stage. Daughters, sisters, wives, and widows were legally and socially subject to their male relatives, in varying degrees. Nuns were not, and were permitted a measure of self-government. Just how irksome, worrying, and unacceptable to men it was for women to take their own decisions will become clear later. Barred by their sex from an active life in the hierarchy of the Church, and barred by their Order from an active life in the community, nevertheless in the Renaissance these enclosed Benedictine nuns devised strategies for obtaining access to power and money unparalleled by their secular counterparts. Le Murate exerted a strong attraction on women, both the powerful and famous and the more ordinary. Due to the increasing politicization of Florentine society, it secured, in addition, the patronage of the two most important Florentine political families during the period, the Medici and the Soderini. It was this seeming capacity to mobilize support from every sector of the population, regardless of sex, social group, income, political hue, or place of origin, which enabled the convent to prosper.