“This is My Dowry”

in Love & Death in Renaissance Italy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2004 | ISBN: 9780226112589
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226112602 | DOI:
“This is My Dowry”

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter pits a single household, a lute maker and his cloistered female family, against an overweening, predatory neighbor. It chooses to tell it, protagonist by protagonist, from inside the artisan family. Three young women and their two bastard infants define its parts. Meanwhile, through all five stories runs a common adversary, exploiter, and sometime benefactor, Alessandro Pallantieri, Rome's chief prosecutor. Pallantieri, a perverse, vicious man, like many such, repeated his obsessive acts of cruelty. And his acts of kindness. Protagonists have time to mature, age, and sometimes die. The story is ugly, painful, and deeply sad but redeemed to austere beauty by the women's nobility in the face of so much suffering and abasement. It is fascinating too for its sexual politics and politics of sex.

Keywords: artisan family; protagonist; Alessandro Pallantieri; nobility; suffering; sexual politics

Chapter.  16714 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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