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Seller: ancientgifts (4,181) 99.3%, Location: Lummi Island, Washington, Ships to: Worldwide, Item: 381824666029 Click here to see 1,000 archaeology/ancient history books and 2,000 ancient artifacts, antique gemstones, antique jewelry! Virgins of Venice: Broken Vows and Cloistered Lives in the Renaissance Convent by Mary Laven. DESCRIPTION: Hardback with Dust Jacket: 282 pages. Publisher: Viking; (2003). Venice in the late Renaissance was a city of fabulous wealth, reckless creativity, and growing social unrest as its maritime empire crumbled. It was also a city of walls and secrets, ghettos and cloisters -- including fifty convents housing three thousand nuns, many of them refined, upper-class women who had been immured against their will. In this utterly fascinating book. Cambridge historian Mary Laven uncovers the long-hidden stories of the "Virgins of Venice" and the secret, and often surprising, lives they led. Sifting through records kept during the Counter-Reformation, Laven has created a detailed and dramatic tapestry of resourceful, determined, often passionate women who managed to lead fulfilling lives despite their virtual imprisonment. Far from being precincts of piety and silence, the convents of Venice were hotbeds of political scheming, colorful pageantry, gorgeous decoration, and illicit love affairs. One nun was so determined to sleep with her lover that she painstakingly chipped a hole in a stone wall so he could climb through under cover of night. Another expressed her individuality through obsessive gift giving while keeping records of the dangerous flirtations going on around her. Still others exercised considerable clandestine power in the dangerous game of Venetian politics. Rich in intrigue and gossip, eye opening in its historic revelations, and written with drama and compassion. “Virgins of Venice” brings to life a culturally vibrant period in Venice and the hidden residents who dwelled behind its walls. CONDITION: New, never read. PLEASE SEE IMAGES BELOW FOR SAMPLE PAGES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK. PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW. PUBLISHER REVIEW: REVIEW: Ancient and isolated, the twenty Orthodox monasteries on the Greek peninsula of Mount Athos do not make the headlines often, but the current standoff between the conservative monks of Esphigmenou (motto: "Orthodoxy or Death") and other orders shines a light on this enclave, famous for its total exclusion of females (including livestock) and its extreme notion of solitude. Some hermits still live for decades in caves with only the skulls of their predecessors for company. Graham Speake's history Mount Athos suggests that the monks have always been a querulous bunch. As early as 972 A.D., the number of monks allowed to attend annual meetings was limited to "avoid the disorders and disputes which have occurred very frequently at these gatherings”. Few people nowadays are attracted to the cloistered life, but in some periods of history joining sacred orders was almost the norm. In Renaissance Europe, the high cost of marriage in aristocratic families sometimes sent the majority of a family's daughters to convents. In “A Convent Tale”, P. Renée Baernstein focused on the life of the sixteenth-century Milanese noblewoman Agata Sfondrati. Such was the dearth of marriage opportunities that Agata's sister Anna was the only woman in three generations of the Sfondrati to get married. Unsurprisingly, many women felt trapped by this life. Mary Laven's “Virgins of Venice” looks at the many ways in which this frustration was vented; amateur dramatics, hospitality to outside women, and love affairs. A nun who, in 1614, knocked a hole in a wall to admit her lover pointed out that she had been at the convent since she was six or seven and that, when she took her vows. "I spoke with my mouth, and not with my heart." Author Mary Laven is Lecturer at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Jesus College. PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS: REVIEW: This engrossing book unveils a world of convent communities far richer and more complicated than the nuns' vows of poverty, chastity and obedience would seem to allow, wherein women led "lives caught between renunciation and self-indulgence, monotony and flashes of high color”. The author explains how, in the 16th century, Venice's 50-some convents were seen as "places of vice and indiscipline", and a "spiritual liability" that called for visits by church and state authorities who would chart infractions and demand reforms. Using visitation reports, trial records, personal letters and diaries, Cambridge historian Laven weaves a fascinating social history of these women's hidden existence; lives that included "gossip-mongering", befriending prostitutes, cross-dressing, sharing beds with one another, writing love letters to priests and even cutting holes in convent walls to allow their lovers in. The problem, Laven says, was that Venetian convents served as "dumping grounds for unmarried noblewomen," many of whom had no calling to the religious life. Stripped of wealth and position and cut off from the outside world, these young women longed, more than anything, for communication, and taking lovers, sometimes, was simply the best way to get it. Laven writes with powerful empathy for the nuns, neither glorifying them nor reducing them to helpless victims. And in asserting that nuns' struggles were ultimately to define themselves as individuals against the strictures of their community, Laven makes a compelling feminist argument without employing any overblown feminist rhetoric. REVIEW: Laven (Professor of History, University of Cambridge) describes the politics, religious practice, and physical realities of the involuntary enclosure in convents experienced by a large percentage of the upper-class girls of Renaissance Venice. The shifting circumstances of the nuns, who lived marginally normal lives until stricter reforms eliminated their contact with the outside world, stories of the lives and struggles of individual nuns, and the physical features of the convents are among the topics described, based on extensive research of convent and other archives. A fascinating glimpse into the life which once existed behind cloistered convent walls, this book is a tremendous achievement. Laven has released the voices of the nuns of renaissance Venice. REVIEW: Virtually impossible to put down, in this beautifully written book Mary Laven takes us behind the closed doors of the convents of Late Renaissance Venice. She exposes the predicament of women who were incarcerated to satisfy the social and religious pressures of the time, and yet managed to create emotional and even sexual lives for themselves. Laven brilliantly evokes the atmosphere and drama of the period, while making a major contribution to the understanding of the place of women in early modern Europe. REVIEW: Mary Laven has provided us with a fascinating, thought-provoking glimpse into the lives and thoughts of these sisters of Venice so long ago, and we find them our own sisters in many ways. A very special book that shines light into a secret corner of the human heart and the ability to adapt to boundaries, and enlightens us all. As in so many other aspects, Venice was unique in its attitude toward nuns and convents, having more than anywhere else in Europe. Here at last is the most interesting and informative book I have ever read on the subject. REVIEW: Mary Laven deftly lifts the veil on the nuns of Renaissance Venice, revealing their world in the minutest and most fascinating detail. A triumphant combination of scholarship and storytelling, Laven provides readers with astonishingly fresh, immediate insights into the fascinating reality of day-to-day convent existence. It’s an utterly engrossing account, a work of analytic pathos and compassion. It’s scholarly and diligent, but with frequent moments of fun. READER REVIEWS: REVIEW: An Important Study of Convent Life! Laven's scholarly study (originally her doctoral thesis) is an eminently readable account of convent life in early Renaissance Venice. She describes a fascinating slice of 16th century life. What is remarkable is that the 'slice' is actually quite large. As Laven relates, noble women (most professed nuns were noble) had few options. Most families concentrated their financial resources in a dowry for only one daughter and the rest commonly went to the convent. For many of these women life in a nunnery was involuntary. As part of the Church's defensive reaction in the Counter-Reformation, Venetian convents became much more strictly enclosed by the strictures of the Council of Trent. The enclosure laws greatly benefited Laven's work because most of her material comes directly from court records. These sources are the book's greatest strength. The records provide insight into the behavior of real people, individuals with names and families, in and around the convents. Given the lack of other available resources, the reliance on court records somewhat limits our view as we mostly only read about those situations that made it to court. Fortunately for us, convent life was quite strictly regulated, yet nuns were also determined to have dealings with the outside world, many of them non-sexual, so Laven has access to many records. It makes for a very interesting study. The Church was so central to Medieval and Renaissance life that anyone who wants to understand those periods must understand the role of religion and the Church as an institution. Laven's book is highly instructive and highly recommended. REVIEW: If we could travel back in time, and our machine landed in 16th century Venice, what would you like to see? Grand palaces, and the people who lived in them? Carnival time in the Piazza of San Marco? Perhaps life on the streets? What about life in a convent? Too dull, you think? Then, you have not read Mary Laven's “Virgins of Venice”, a remarkable journey into the lives of the women who lived in the fifty or so convents that existed in Venice at the time. Convents were not only spiritual houses, but also end stations for noble women who could not be given away in marriage by their families. By using reports of investigations and trials, together with statements that came from the nuns themselves, Laven opens a world of suffocating oppression and enforced chastity, but also a world of determination from the nuns to lead a life as normal as possible. Contact with the outside world might have not been allowed, but the courts were full of incidents where both outsiders and nuns had breached the law. For instance, we learn that Zuana, a "gossip", kept hens for Madonna Suor Gabriela, and that in exchange, Suor Gabriela provided Zuana with wine and other commodities. This and many other stories make this book impossible to put down, since we feel anger, sadness, despair and sympathy for those women whose lives were condemned from the moment they entered the convent. On the other hand, we can't help but to feel glad that the nuns did everything they could to fight back. From being petty to actually engaging in sexual acts, these nuns will forever be a remainder that no matter time and place, human beings will do the impossible to lead dignified lives. Bravo, Leven! REVIEW: In the wall of the Arsenal in Venice is an arch of the demolished convent Santa Maria delle Vergini. The convent had been one of the grandest of thirty-odd Venetian convents. There is a plaque below the arch that reads, "Hope and love keep us in this pleasant prison”. Convents were indeed like prisons, in many ways, and many of the inhabitants were reluctant prisoners, rather than volunteers for God. In an amazing account of convent existence and day-to-day life within, “Virgins of Venice: Broken Vows and Cloistered Lives in the Renaissance Convent”. Some of the nuns may have been devoted to God, but even they had to be busy with laundry, cooking, and herbal remedies to keep the convent going. They were also not immune from gossip, laughing, friendship, and sexual intrigue. The convents in the 16th and 17th centuries were intended to be islands of sinlessness walled away from the outside world. However Laven shows that sinless or not, the nuns had to participate in a larger society, and inescapably took on that society's characteristics. Convents were supposed to keep nuns from the outside world and vice versa. There were veiled and grated communion windows where the nuns could line up and receive the host from the priest, without actually entering the church. There were walls to keep nuns from public view, and to keep them from looking out upon the sinful world. For passing things in and out of the convent, there might be a “ruota”, or wheel, a sort of revolving door that would prevent glimpses in and glimpses out. Convents were vital to the Venetian nobility. If a daughter could not be married, or could not be put on the marriage market with the enormous dowries Venetian law required, the convent was the one place she could go. Most of the nuns had the "forced vocation" of the convent imposed upon them, and others were tricked into it by relatives, some within the convent, who had misrepresented the benefits of such a life. There was stratification within the convents that mirrored society without. The aristocratic nuns could dress as they were used to, and they kept their family names, indicating a secular identity. Of course there were sexual violations. Boccaccio's tales of convent hanky-panky might have been satire, but he knew that sexuality would show itself. “Virgins of Venice”, despite its lurid subtitle, is certainly not about sensational sex stories. This is a work of serious scholarship, but it is humorous and compassionate. Laven has drawn from contemporary sources, including the reports of inspections of the state magistracy that had been set up "to enforce the new laws that aspired to obliterate all contact, from the most innocent and inconspicuous to the flagrantly sexual, between the city's nuns and the outside world." Laven cannot support the feminist view that these enclosed women had resourcefully found a means of self-expression within their society. They were prisoners, who although they might be making the best of a bad situation, were under life sentences. REVIEW: This is not a book for those looking for freak stories about nuns but a serious account of an important part of the population of Venice in the 16th-17th centuries. Having grown up in a Mediterranean catholic country I have found quite normal things that were something shocking to the author but I've really been shocked by things like that the Trent Council ordered all the nuns to be enclosed! I must have been slept when they mentioned that in religion and history lessons! I was also shocked by the use the aristocratic elite of Venice made of the convents as nothing more than a dumping site for their daughters. However I found normal that this did not lead to a "convent revolution" as I'm quite aware of the "class feeling" and family pride of these involuntary. Those sentiments precluded any “revolution”, as they were and remain normal in Western Mediterranean countries. I have found this book very interesting for all those interested in a somewhat forgotten sector of the Mediterranean society of Renaissance and early modern Europe. I always ship books Media Mail in a padded mailer. This book is shipped FOR FREE via USPS INSURED media mail (“book rate”). All domestic shipments and most international shipments will include free USPS Delivery Confirmation (you might be able to update the status of your shipment on-line at the USPS Web Site and free insurance coverage). A small percentage of international shipments may require an additional fee for tracking and/or delivery confirmation. If you are concerned about a little wear and tear to the book in transit, I would suggest a boxed shipment - it is an extra $1.00. Whether via padded mailer or box, we will give discounts for multiple purchases. International orders are welcome, but shipping costs are substantially higher. Most international orders cost an additional $12.99 to $33.99 for an insuredshipment in a heavily padded mailer, and typically includes some form of rudimentary tracking and/or delivery confirmation (though for some countries, this is only available at additional cost). There is also a discount program which can cut postage costs by 50% to 75% if you’re buying about half-a-dozen books or more (5 kilos+). Rates and available services vary a bit from country to country. You can email or message me for a shipping cost quote, but I assure you they are as reasonable as USPS rates allow, and if it turns out the rate is too high for your pocketbook, we will cancel the sale at your request. ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per book (for each additional book after the first) so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are sent via insured mail so as to comply with PayPal requirements. We do NOT recommend uninsured shipments, and expressly disclaim any responsibility for the loss of an uninsured shipment. Unfortunately the contents of parcels are easily “lost” or misdelivered by postal employees – even in the USA. That’s why all of our domestic shipments (and most international) shipments include a USPS delivery confirmation tag; or are trackable or traceable, and all shipments (international and domestic) are insured. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. We will accept whatever payment method you are most comfortable with. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price (less our original shipping costs). Most of the items I offer come from the collection of a family friend who was active in the field of Archaeology for over forty years. However many of the items also come from purchases I make in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) from various institutions and dealers. Though I have always had an interest in archaeology, my own academic background was in sociology and cultural anthropology. After my retirement however, I found myself drawn to archaeology as well. Aside from my own personal collection, I have made extensive and frequent additions of my own via purchases on Ebay (of course), as well as many purchases from both dealers and institutions throughout the world - but especially in the Near East and in Eastern Europe. I spend over half of my year out of the United States, and have spent much of my life either in India or Eastern Europe. In fact much of what we generate on Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. I acquire some small but interesting collections overseas from time-to-time, and have as well some duplicate items within my own collection which I occasionally decide to part with. Though I have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, my primary interest is in ancient jewelry. My wife also is an active participant in the "business" of antique and ancient jewelry, and is from Russia. I would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from me. There is a $2 fee for mailing under separate cover. Whenever I am overseas I have made arrangements for purchases to be shipped out via domestic mail. If I am in the field, you may have to wait for a week or two for a COA to arrive via international air mail. But you can be sure your purchase will arrive properly packaged and promptly - even if I am absent. And when I am in a remote field location with merely a notebook computer, at times I am not able to access my email for a day or two, so be patient, I will always respond to every email. Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE." TRANSLATE Arabic Chinese French German Greek Indonesian Italian Hindi Japanese Korean Swedish Portuguese Russian Spanish

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