Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 8741
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Killerby , Catherine Kovesi.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Heralds of a Well-Instructed Mind: Nicolosa Sanuti's Defence of Women and Their Clothes [in the Appendix the author gives an English translation of Nicolosa Sanuti's protest against a new sumptuary law].
  • Source: Renaissance studies : journal of the Society for Renaissance Studies 13, 3 (September 1999): Pages 255 - 282.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article;Translation
  • Subject (See Also): Clothing Latin Literature Literature- Prose Noble Women Polemics- Women Sanuti, Nicolosa, Noble Woman and Author- Nicolosa Sanuti, Bolognese Matron, to the Most Reverend Father in Christ, the Bolognese Papal Legate, That Ornaments Be Restored to Women Sum
  • Geographic Area: Italy
  • Century: 15
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  • Abstract: This article is an analysis of the 1453 treatise written by the Bolognese noblewoman, Nicolosa Sanuti, demanding the repeal of Cardinal Giovanni Bessarion's sumptuary law of the same year. It is accompanied by the first English translation of the treatise. Whilst questions of authorship and of translator into latin are addressed, the bulk of the article concerns the contents of the treatise. It is argued that the treatise is remarkable in many ways. In the context of protests against sumptuary legislation, it was the lengthiest appeal made during the Renaissance in Italy and was also the only one to question the ideological assumptions of sumptuary law. In the context of humanist debate as to the proper position of women in society, its declared subject was to become a springboard to a discussion of the merits of all women, and of noblewomen in particular. Finally, it is argued, this treatise was the first public defence of women in Italy conceived by a woman. Nicolosa Sanuti's treatise, then, is seen not simply in the context of sumptuary law protests, but as perhaps the earliest Italian contribution by a woman to the ongoing humanist debate concerning the nature and status of women. [Permission granted by Oxford University Press.]
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Notre Dame, Australia
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1999.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 02691213
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