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Patriarchies in practice : women, family, and power in late medieval and early modern Italy

Author: Megan Moran
Publisher: ©2008.
Dissertation: Thesis (Ph. D. in History)--Vanderbilt University, Dec. 2008.
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript   Archival Material : English
Summary:
This dissertation investigates the workings of patriarchy in late medieval and early modern Italy through examining the relationships of women and men in the Spinelli family.
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Genre/Form: History
Named Person: Spinelli family.; Spinelli family.
Material Type: Thesis/dissertation, Manuscript
Document Type: Book, Archival Material
All Authors / Contributors: Megan Moran
OCLC Number: 659769436
Description: 310 leaves : genealogical tables ; 28 cm
Responsibility: by Megan Moran.
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Abstract:

This dissertation investigates the workings of patriarchy in late medieval and early modern Italy through examining the relationships of women and men in the Spinelli family.

While historians have traditionally viewed patriarchy as a monolithic system inherent to the culture of late medieval and early modern Europe, the letters and papers of the Spinelli family, a prominent merchant family in Florence, reveal how patriarchy was an interactive and dynamic set of associations that formed and shifted as female and male relatives interacted in family affairs. This dissertation argues that Spinelli women and men constructed a more flexible model of family life where women operated at the center of family and community affairs, rather than a static system of institutionalized dominance. Spinelli women created a variety of relationships with family members that worked within as well as moved outside of patrilineal considerations. They built gossip networks with relatives and friends as a way to strengthen ties and create communication channels to circulate news about people and events in Florence. Spinelli women also handled financial transactions for their households in commercial life and acted as managers of family health care in the household and community through regulating the bodies of their male and female relatives. Even Spinelli nuns continued to mediate between secular and religious life to insert their own voices into Florentine society. At times, Spinelli women negotiated forms of patriarchal authority, such as paternal power in the household, while simultaneously reinforcing other articulations of patriarchy that valued contributions to the family above other associations in Florentine life. Reframing patriarchy as an interactive and dynamic set of associations among women and men created a space for alternative definitions of family life and perceptions of femininity and masculinity to develop that worked to build, tear down, and reconstruct the concept of patriarchy itself in late medieval and early modern Florence.

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