This book is mainly about clerical households in northeast Italy in the fourteenth century, with a special emphasis on Venice and Bergamo. The late Shona Kelly Wray’s study of notarial records in Bologna—Communities and Crisis: Bologna during the Black Death (Boston, 2009)—provides a constant touchstone for this book. Most of its data comes from a survey of more than 100 wills by priests, this number obtained from a sample of about 10 percent of the abundant notarial documents surviving in the Venetian archives. Cossar also consulted estate inventories and records of episcopal visitations where available. By emphasizing the household as a moral, economic, and social unit, Cossar combines two big subjects, the history of the family and church history. Because women in clerical households assumed a variety of roles, from concubines and relations to slaves, gender studies and its theories appear in the analysis. Cossar’s view that parish or...

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