Gender, Honor, and Charity in Late Renaissance Florence

Gender, Honor, and Charity in Late Renaissance Florence

This book examines the important social role of charitable institutions for women and children in late Renaissance Florence. Wars, social unrest, disease, and growing economic inequality on the Italian peninsula displaced hundreds of thousands of families during this period. In order to handle the social crises generated by war, competition for social position, and the abandonment of children, a series of private and public initiatives expanded existing charitable institutions and founded new ones. Philip Gavitt's research reveals the important role played by lineage ideology among Florence's elites in the use and manipulation of these charitable institutions in the often futile pursuit of economic and social stability. Considering families of all social levels, he argues that the pursuit of family wealth and prestige often worked at cross-purposes with the survival of the very families it was supposed to preserve.


"This well-written book touches on many aspects of 16th-century Florentine social history, maintaining a brisk dialogue with many scholars' conclusions. Highly recommended." -Choice

"Some of the best parts of this multifaceted study recount the lives of wards of charitable institutions as changing models of discipline and pedagogy shaped them."
-Katherine A. Lynch,Carnegie Mellon University

"Gavitt presents a comprehensive overview of the historiography of the stillunderstudied sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Florence..." -Dale V. Kent, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"...the study offers a valuable contextualization for institutions that are often discussed only in terms of pious intentions and horrific results." -Nicholas Terpstra, Bulletin of the History of Medicine

"Gavitt has ably demonstrated that charitable and other conventual institutions were an important part of state-building strategies in Florence and an intrinsic part of Florentine life and culture. His book provides an important window into key aspects of Florentine gender and family history." - Parergon

"This book is and will long be an important contribution to a lively and growing area of research interest -- the inheritance practices of early modern Italian societies." - Continuity and Change

"Gavitt provides stimulating insight into crucial issues that although long debated in the historiography of Renaissance Florence have been only sporadically addressed for the history of the city in the sixteenth century." - American Historical Review