Binding Passions: Tales of Magic, Marriage, and Power at the by Guido Ruggiero

By Guido Ruggiero

Mining the wealthy Venetian records, in particular the strangely precise documents of Venice's personal department of the Roman Inquisition, Guido Ruggiero presents a strikingly new and provocative interpretation of the top of the Renaissance in Italy. during this boldly dependent paintings, he develops 5 narrative debts of person encounters with the Inquisition that illustrate the double-edged metaphor of the way passions have been either sure via past due Renaissance society and have been visible in flip as binding humans. during this approach new views are opened on magic, witchcraft, love, marriage, gender, and self-discipline on the point of the group and past. Witches, courtesans, prostitutes, girls healers, nobles, Cardinals, and renegade clergymen and clergymen communicate from those pages describing their lives, ideals, hopes, fears, and lies. With an inventive aptitude for storytelling and impeccable scholarship, Ruggiero exposes the wealthy complexity of the tradition and poetics of the standard on the finish of the Renaissance and illuminates a formerly unexplored bankruptcy in Italian heritage.

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Those records are layered with a wide range of perspectives and values that each in its way speaks from the past and often speaks eloquently through the niters of scribes, bureaucratic structures, time, and culture that separate us from them. And, of course, as Natalie Z. Davis has so carefully demonstrated in her book Fiction in the Archives, many of those voices were themselves telling artfully constructed tales of their own. But rather than retelling their tales, I have attempted to use the techniques of microhistory to craft their truths, half-truths, and evident lies into stories that reveal the underlying complexities of late-sixteenthcentury culture and values, shared (and at times not shared) from which their tales sprang and drew meaning.

Even language itself was marshaled against this. Accounts of Andriana's snaring of Dandolo stressed the fact that she was a common whore or public prostitute, in other words, a prostitute of the most base reputation. That unanimity in labeling Andriana, however, does not square well with the details of the case, nor obviously was it supported by the testimony of her family and remaining friends. As one might expect, Laura Savorgnan presented a different picture of her daughter. " Her reply was impressive: "They were Santo Contarini, Piso Pisani, Fillipo da Canal, the Count Scipio Avrogado, Paolo Robazzo—but it would take a much larger brain than mine to be able to remember them all.

An aristocratic and courtly environment with limited access to aristocratic and courtly women, so this thesis runs, engendered a higher caliber of prostitute—a woman who was not only young and beautiful, but who could grace with wit and charm a dinner or an evening otherwise dominated by male clerics. 28 Unfortunately, there is little information to prove or disprove such conjectures. What seems clear is that the style caught on quickly because it satisfied new social imperatives. In the increasingly aristocratic world of the Renaissance, upper-class males found in the courtesan, as they found in expanding interests in display and manners, yet another area of life where they could fashion themselves as a Renaissance elite.

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