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February 29, 2000
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v2.1 Reference

Women and Men in Renaissance Venice

Twelve Essays on Patrician Society

In Women and Men in Renaissance Venice Stanley Chojnacki explores the central role played by women in holding Venetian patrician society together. Family relations, marriages, and dowries were the areas in which women interacted dynamically with men. The three parts of the book discuss the involvement of the state in those interactions; the social and economic consequences for women; and their unexpectedly varied consequences for men of the patriciate.

The society Chojnacki describes is at once socially complex and highly regulated. On the one hand, women of the Venetian nobility, like patrician women in other cities, were subordinate to their fathers and husbands. But unlike their counterparts elsewhere, Venetian patrician women exercised much control over their own wealth and property and were key players in family strategies. Thanks to advantageous state regulations regarding dowries and marriage practices, Venetian women influenced their fathers' financial and social choices, which in turn affected their fathers' and husbands' attitudes and behavior toward them. Because limited family resources favored some daughters' marriage prospects at the expense of their sisters', the family and marriage practices of the Venetian nobles led to a range of vocations for women, as well as for men.

About the Author

Stanley Chojnacki is a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Stanley Chojnacki's distinctive views of the Venetian family have illuminated the gender and family history of Renaissance Italy since the inception of this field in the early 1970s... Unified by a reflective introduction, the collection offers a powerful vision of kinship and marriage in Renaissance Venice.

- P. Renée Baernstein - Journal of Modern History

The discussion is detailed and convincing, as is the overall argument that patrician women had greater importance than is recognized by historians who limit themselves to describe Venice as unequivocally patriarchal.

- Filippo de Vivo - The Historical Journal

An outstanding contribution to European history, Women and Men in Renaissance Venice deals with every aspect of gender and presents an enormously informative, scholarly, 'reader friendly,' and highly recommended introduction to male/female aspects of Venetian society and culture.

- Midwest Book Review


Chojnacki has complete command of the secondary literature and constantly relates the Venetian case study to situations elsewhere. Italianists will find here a wealth of specialized information, while students of other regions can benefit from its broadly comparative aspects. Moreover, Chojnacki deals with every imaginable aspect of gender: this book thus provides a useful introduction to the field as a whole. But this is more than just a good teaching book. Each essay is a fine work of scholarship; taken together, they provide a major contribution to the field.

- James S. Grubb, University of Maryland-Baltimore County
Johns Hopkins University Press
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384 Pages
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