This essay examines the social orientation of married and widowed Venetian patricians in the fifteenth century as expressed in their election of final resting places. Comparing the choices of women and men reveals sharp contrasts by gender in burial patronage of lineage and of religious institutions. Most men displayed loyalty to their lineage of birth in their chosen site of interment, while women’s family choices demonstrated nearly equal loyalty to natal and marital family, indicating varied individual responses to the vicissitudes of married life. The most striking contrast, however, was between men’s and women’s affiliations to religious institutions. Men usually opted for burial in male monasteries, chiefly those with their family’s tombs, another indication of enduring identification with their natal lineage. The great majority of women, by contrast, patronized female convents, usually ones with no family connections, demonstrating a preference for postmortem association not with family but with a community of celibate women.
Stanley Chojnacki; The Patronage of the Body: Burial Sites, Identity, and Gender in Fifteenth-Century Venice. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 January 2015; 45 (1): 79–101. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-2830028
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