Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 7304
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Lansing , Carol.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Gender and Civic Authority: Sexual Control in a Medieval Italian Town
  • Source: Journal of Social History 31, 1 (Fall 1997): Pages 33 - 59.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Adultery Authority Courts of Law Gender Law Misogyny Morality Orvieto, Orvieto, Italy Politics Sexuality Social Class Social Control
  • Geographic Area: Italy
  • Century: 13- 14
  • Related Resources:
  • Primary Evidence:
  • Illustrations: One figure. "Tyranny Presiding over the Court of Bad Government" painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti for the Sienese town hall. Tyranny is represented as a lustful woman.
  • Table:
  • Abstract: This study uses judicial sentences for adultery to examine the influence of gendered understandings of political order on late medieval Italian state formation. From the thirteenth century, town councils sought to use the courts to control behavior, including sexual morality. The article first explores normative legislation. Lawmakers, influenced by Christian preaching on original sin, believed that disorder in society resulted from concupiscence, disordered desire. They were also reacting to social change and the presence in the towns of large numbers of poor women who were not clearly under patriarchal control and despite other constraints had freedom of movement and considerable agency. The second half of the article turns to practice. Judicial inquests and sentences for adultery in the town of Orvieto suggest that lawmakers also feared concupiscence because of their experience of genuine threats to authority, more than because of disorderly sexual relations between men and women. [Reproduced by permission of Carnegie Mellon University.]
  • Author's Affiliation: University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1997.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00224529
  • Material/Technique :
  • Rights: