Throughout history, marriage has been used as a method of creating and strengthening bonds between elites and the societies over which they ruled. Nowhere is this more apparent than in early modern Venice, where members of the patriciate looked to marital alliances with outsider brides to help maintain their position and social distinction in a fluid society. This book explores the parameters of upward social mobility, contemporary evaluations of social status and moral behaviour, and the place of marriage and concubinage within patrician society. Drawing heavily on the records of the Avogaria di Comun, which had the task of examining the social backgrounds and moral reputations of women from outside the patriciate who wished to marry patricians, this study provides a fascinating reconstruction of Venetian society as it was seen by individuals at every level.
’… a very thoughtful, lucid and suggestive book that should inspire further research into the relationship between gender, marriage and social mobility in early modern Europe.’ Parergon ’[Cowan] provides a well-researched study that provides a nuanced view of marriage patterns and sexual mores among the Venetian elite.’ Sixteenth Century Journal