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Venetian Virgins

Title: Venetian Virgins: The Cloistered Lives of Convent Brides

Dates: 1500 - 1700

Era: Italian Renaissance

Summary: In the watery world of Venice, where the sinful meets the saintly, lived a group of women secluded from the sumptuous city around them. These women were married to Christ and instructed to dedicate their lives to poverty, chastity, and obedience. But was their devotion genuine? Did they choose to take the veil? Or did the financial and political spheres of their birth dictate their inevitable seclusion? Join us on a gondola ride through Renaissance Venice to meet these fated women and discover how cloistered nuns defied their destiny.


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Laven, Mary. Virgins of Venice: Broken Vows and Cloistered Lives in the Renaissance Convent. Penguin Books, 2004.

Limoli, Howard. “BOCCACCIO’S MASETTO (‘DECAMERON’ III, 1) AND ANDREAS CAPELLANUS.” Romanische Forschungen, vol. 77, no. 3/4, Vittorio Klostermann GmbH, 1965, pp. 281–92,

Lowe, Kate. “Elections of Abbesses and Notions of Identity in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century Italy, with Special Reference to Venice.” Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 54, no. 2, [The University of Chicago Press, Renaissance Society of America], 2001, pp. 389–429,

Mulholland, Maureen, et al., editors. Judicial Tribunals in England and Europe, 1200–1700: The Trial in History, Volume I. Manchester University Press, 2003,

ROBARTS, JULIE. “Dante’s ‘Commedia’ in a Venetian Convent: Arcangela Tarabotti’s ‘Inferno Monacale.’” Italica, vol. 90, no. 3, American Association of Teachers of Italian, 2013, pp. 378–97,

Schutte, Anne Jacobson. “Between Venice and Rome: The Dilemma of Involuntary Nuns.” The Sixteenth Century Journal, vol. 41, no. 2, Sixteenth Century Journal, 2010, pp. 415–39,

Westwater, Lynn Lara. “A Rediscovered Friendship in the Republic of Letters: The Unpublished Correspondence of Arcangela Tarabotti and Ismaël Boulliau.” Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 65, no. 1, [The University of Chicago Press, Renaissance Society of America], 2012, pp. 67–134,

Portrait of Maria Salviati, wife of Giovanni de Medici and mother of Archduke Cosimo I. Attributed to Pontormo. Often incorrectly identified as Arcangela Tarabotti. (1543-45)

Paternal Tyranny, retitled La Semplicita Infannata. Published after Tarabotti's death in 1652.

Pietro Longhi’s The Visiting Parlour in the Convent (1702 - 1785)

Jacometto Veneziano's Portrait of a Nun (1485-95)

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