For example, in the last essay, his survey of suburban villages uncovers widely-disparate taxation rates for these villages, rates under which the inhabitants struggled.
This discovery, the author states, throws into question the parameters of the traditional debate not only about communal tax policy, but also about the nature of the relationship between city and country itself. This book should inspire a new generation of feminist scholars to design studies which would engage the sobering findings reported here.
To deal with increased taxation, from 1402, some inhabitants simply fled, some participated in peasant uprisings, older women were forced to "out-migrate," and, ultimately desperate to limit family size and survive, many households practiced female infanticide.
Cohn's sophisticated reading of the statistics suggests that from the early 1400's onward, an extremely skewed sex ratio is evident in tax records, peaking in 1427 at 100 female infants to 180 male, but still hovering at 100 female to 145 male as late as 1460. id=4219 Copyright © 2000 by H-Net, all rights reserved.
The bequests which DO increase, are legacies to dower poor girls for marriage, which would ultimately work to the propagation of the cult of remembrance; remembrance of male ancestors.
That women tended to cling to the medieval mendicant ideas longer than men, Cohn, citing Martines, attributes to the inclination of women to be more conservative and traditional (p. Here, the author makes lavish use of charts and graphs to display his demographic data.Where mendicant ideals and preaching HAD changed testamentary practices however (in the towns of Siena, Assisi, and Pisa), he found that women's power over property was stronger.With the third essay, "Women and the Counter Reformation in Siena," Cohn moves in space and time; geographically southwest from Florence to Siena, and temporally ahead from the late medieval period to the era of the Counter Reformation.The statistics upon which this book's conclusions rest have been painstakingly culled from the archival records of six northern Italian communes: Arezzo, Assisi, Florence, Perugia, Pisa and Siena.Cohn's book, however, does have a misleading title, taken from his first essay here, and readers should not be led to believe that this book will demonstrate female agency in Renaissance Italy.I myself have only assigned this collection to students in my Italian Renaissance History classes along with Brucker's , as a kind of counter. When overwhelmed by masses of demographic data (even with the very occasional real-person narrative included), the process of feminine (and masculine) resistance to engulfing patriarchal strictures tends to be flattened and bottom-lined, losing the actual complexity of engagement. For example, see Gabriella Zarri's "Gender, Religious Institutions and Social discipline: The Reform of the Regulars" in Brown and Davis, eds. Even given Joan Scott's recent caution about a focus on individual incidents precluding the examination of societal structures, I believe that these specific individuals' experiences provide valuable information. These experiences are important to learn, to teach, and to remember, because statistics can often make people merely deflated or angry, whereas a single individual's action can inspire. Gene Brucker, , (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986). , (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1995), where she examines three seventeenth-century women's lives for the rich details of their specific situations. This work may be copied for non-profit educational use if proper credit is given to the author and the list. In the Introductory chapter "The Social History of Women in the Renaissance," the author tips his hand by stating that the book will explore "the darker side of the Renaissance..." (p.1) In offering a broad overview on the state of studies on Renaissance women, he certainly does begin at the beginning here, with reference to Jacob Burckhardt's infamous statement regarding female equality in the Renaissance, as well as Joan Kelly's by-now well-known feminist response.While property values rose and population was stabilized, the human cost was dear indeed. H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online.One valuable habit of mind in Cohn's writing is his continual suggestions for new areas in which historical inquiry could be fruitfully focused. For any other proposed use, contact the Reviews editorial staff at [email protected]