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Nefarious Crimes, Contested Justice


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Ferraro opens up what has really been a hidden world... She reconstructs each case with often fascinating and disturbing detail. This is done so well that one frequently feels as if one is hearing the voices of the testimony and following the case as it was laid out in court. -- Guido Ruggiero, author of Machiavelli in Love: Sex, Self, and Society in the Italian Renaissance and Binding Passions: Tales of Magic, Marriage and Power at the End of the Renaissance

Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsPrefaceAcknowledgments1. Sex and Subjection in the Republic of Venice2. Family Secrets: Father-Daughter Incest3. Hidden Crimes in a Noble Household4. Infant Deaths and Community Secrets5. Defying Scandal: Priests and Their Lovers6. ConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex

About the Author

Joanne M. Ferraro is a professor of history at San Diego State University and has written widely on the history of family and sexual relations in early modern Italy. She is the author of Marriage Wars in Late Renaissance Venice and Family and Public Life in Brescia, 1580-1650: The Foundations of Power in the Venetian State.


This is a book which repays careful study and illuminates a world which most of its inhabitants would have preferred to have kept hidden. * Reviews in History *
This is an elegantly written concise and clear book that will be a fascinating read for scholars and students alike. -- Tessa Storey * Law and History Review *
This is an elegantly written, concise, and clear book that will be a fascinating read for scholars and students alike. * Law and History Review *
This book, rich in documentary evidence and level-headed when it comes to dispensing overarching theory, paints a vivid portrait of the early-modern conceptualization and regulation of female sexuality. It recognizes the larger cultural shifts-the new censoriousness provided by the Council of Trent, the evolution of Italian cultural and legislative attitudes-but its main purpose is to unearth the poignant, detailed stories of Italian women who found themselves in awful situations. In this endeavour, Ferraro has succeeded triumphantly. * Journal of European Studies *
A thoroughly enjoyable and informative study that will be a great benefit to scholars of Venice and the Mediterranean, crime and criminal procedure, the Reformations, and the history of sexuality. -- Jane Byars * Journal of Social History *
One of the great strengths of the microhistorical method that Ferraro adopts is that it provides a window into the world of individuals long thought to have, at best, muffled historical voices... The work sheds light on social and sexual fissures in early modern families as well as on the function and limitations of early modern justice. It is perhaps an unintended consequence, but a poignant one, that these themes-sexuality in the priesthood, domestic violence, the legal challenges of rape, and the control of women's bodies-resonate in our own times. -- Holly S. Hurlburt * Journal of Modern History *
This is truly a fascinating book. -- Hiram Kumpar * Sixteenth Century Journal *
The compelling stories in this well-written book provoke many thoughts and questions which will doubtless interest many historians of Venice, crime, justice, gender and the family. * European History Quarterly *

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