Abstract

This article explores the relationship between middle-class women and the early modern state in Venice by examining the wills of women who entrusted charitable institutions with the oversight of their wills. Women's testamentary practices helped to shape political power in early modern Venice by entrusting charitable institutions rather than the central government with the oversight of wills. Furthermore, women used these charitable institutions to protect their private property against claims by male kin, especially husbands. This article builds on recent reinterpretations of the nature and configuration of state power in early modern Europe, especially Italy, which emphasize how the boundaries between public and private power were contested and redrawn. Women's sizeable gifts to charitable institutions helped sustain these institutions as alternative sites of political power, different from and at least partially autonomous from the centralized state.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 32-52
Launched on MUSE
2002-11-15
Open Access
No
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