Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. vii

List of Figures

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p. ix

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

The seed for this book was planted many years ago, and it’s grown only through the tender care of many people, institutions, and granting agencies. The thesis has matured over time, due both to ongoing research and also to the conversations, challenges, and contributions of a very large number of people. Some conversations have gone on for years and others ...

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Note on Dates, Currency, and Measures

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p. xv

Florentines counted the new year from the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25), the day when bookkeepers and scribes changed the year on their entries. All dates in this book have been modernized, so that what a Florentine would write as 15 March 1566 is given as 15 March 1567. Florentine merchants and bankers used a gold currency for international ...

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1 Mystery and Silence

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pp. 1-11

Our story begins with desperation, a mystery, and many secrets. An intense famine in Renaissance Florence sweeps food from working people’s tables. Just as it begins to subside, an epidemic fever arrives to sweep many of the survivors into the grave. A group of charitable women open a home for hundreds of the teenage girls who have been orphaned ...

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2 The Setting: Sex and the City

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pp. 12-50

Araucous carnival parade featuring Florence’s Top 40 whores lurches down the streets to the jeers and catcalls of apprentices and journeymen lined up deep on either side. Each whore has her own cart—or his own cart because, in the Renaissance as now, men in drag act the most outrageous parts at carnival. A bald middle-aged wool worker in ...

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3 Renaissance Teenagers: Working Girls

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pp. 51-84

I must speak of the Mulberry, for it leads into the great discourse of the Silkworm, another of the greatest commodities of Tuscany. In the two months of May and June this worm labours. The rest of the year they are only seeds kept in some warm & close places, safe from cold and thunder. Either of these destroys them. Once the worm has spun herself into a cocoon, they put it into warm water to find the end. If they ...

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4 Teenage Girls and Birth Control

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pp. 85-112

Is it possible? What would it mean? It’s certainly possible, though as we explore further, it likely meant far less than we think. Modern debates around abortion have isolated it as an act or practice that few in the Renaissance would recognize: always deliberate, always conscious, and always intended to remove a human fetus before it matures to term ...

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5 Renaissance Fundamentalists and Girls in Trouble

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pp. 113-147

And so the pious and once-wealthy widow Mona Antonia, pimping her daughter Sandra, accompanies servant Giannino in a plot to allow his aged master Gerozzo to bed the beautiful young wife of his neighbor. Only it’s even more complicated than that—in Antonfrancesco Grazzini’s La pinzochera nothing is as it seems, and not just because the ...

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6 Virgin Girls and Venereal Disease

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pp. 148-168

Fingering syphilis as the killer assumes a lot. It assumes that syphilis in the sixteenth century followed roughly the same course from its emergence as a plague in the late fifteenth century until the mid-twentieth century, when penicillin finally brought it under control. It assumes that the plague which emerged in the Renaissance actually was syphilis ...

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7 Conclusion: Friction in the Archives

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pp. 169-182

Vincenzo Gonzaga of Mantua was barely twenty years old when the storm broke. A carefully constructed marriage alliance between this eldest son and heir of the Duke of Mantua with Margherita Farnese started unraveling days after the wedding. His side whispered that she was physically unable to have sex, and hers countered with a flurry of ...

Appendix: Sexual Politics: Giulia and the Crown Prince Gonzaga

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pp. 183-190

Notes

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pp. 191-219

Bibliography

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pp. 221-234

Index

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pp. 235-234