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Daily Life in Renaissance Italy


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Discover what life was like for ordinary people in Renaissance Italy through this unique resource that paints a full portrait of everday living.

Table of Contents

Italy in the Renaissance Society: Who Was Who Dangers Family and Other Solidarities Hierarchies Moralities: Honor and Religion Keeping Order Media, Literacy, and Schooling Spaces Time Life Cycles: From Birth Through Adolescence Life Cycles: From Marriage Through Death Houses, Food, and Clothing Disease and Healing Work Play Last Words Notes Resources and Bibliography

About the Author

ELIZABETH S. COHEN is Associate Professor of History at York University in Ontario. She is co-author, with Thomas Cohen, of Words and Deeds in Renaissance Italy.THOMAS V. COHEN is Associate Professor of History at York University in Ontario. He is co-author, with Elizabeth Cohen, of Words and Deeds in Renaissance Italy.


"[A] rich synthesis of some of the central concerns and insights that have shaped the social history of early modern Italy in the last generation. As a primer, directed at an audience of early undergraduates(even final-year high school students), and a more general readership, it serves both as an entree to thinking historically and to the social anthropology of Italy between roughly 1400 and 1600. On both counts it is an excellent introduction, above all for its lightness of touch. A wealth of material and an often nuanced, if compacted, analysis is put across with great economy, clarity, and imagination....[a] finely tuned work, both in its content and methodological apparatus....The poise and lucidity of the exposition should make this book an invaluable pedagogical tool, a point of departure, as the authors say in their conclusion, for the student's own explorations." - The Sixteenth Century Journal
"Clearly written as a textbook for undergraduates in renaissance survey classes, this volume fits that niche well and also offers a suggestive overview of the current state of scholarship on everyday life in renaissance Italy....[t]his textbook is on cutting edge of exciting new knowlage....[t]he everyday world that they present is at once alien and familiar, strange, and exciting. Students should find this book an intriguingly different perspective on the Italian renaissance." - Journal of Social History
"[P]rofessors Elizabeth and Thomas Cohen have deftly crafted a text that bridges the chasm between often-outdated popular notions of the social and cultural history of Renaissance Italy and the rich scholarship that has deepened and refined professional historians' approaches, insights, and debates in Renaissance studies over the last few decades....[T]he straight-forward yet at times imaginitive prose provides for readers--presumably an audience of generalists interested in the Renaissance, beginning undergraduate students, or academics who are not specialists on Renaissance Italy--a long-awaited and much desired synthesis....[T]he authors have offered a way to understand the Renaissance on its own terms and by including, wherever the archival sources and the abundance of specialized scholarship to date make it possible, the entire range of society within its scope...[I]t leaves us with an understanding of Renaissance Italians as actors in daily life." - H-Net Reviews
"...a very engaging and useful book. It is the kind of text which every undergraduate should be required to read at the beginning of a course on Renaissance social history; and, it is a book which instructors could use with profit for exemplary material for lectures, given the authors' success in bringing the world of the Italian Renaissance so gracefully to life." - Renaissance Quarterly
"This book provides an intimate glimpse into the private and personal lives of Renaissance Italians...information is complete and very useful for school and public libraries." - VOYA
"This book is suitable for the study of world history and women's studies classes. It would also be useful for students who are trying to recreate the Renaissance for a paper, a re-enactment or a drama." - Blanche Woolls & David Loertscher (
"Students from high school on up will find this work quite useful for the range of general and specific information regarding Renaissance Italy. Written in readable prose, it is likely to be cherished by many an armchair historian, creative writers, and readers of historical fiction. Daily Life in Renaissance Italy is recommended for high school, public, and academic libraries." - American Reference Books Annual

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