Friday, June 26, 2009

"Christ is the one son-in-law who doesn't cause me any trouble"

Forgive me; I had to lead with that because it just made me laugh uproariously. The magnificent Sarah Dunant has an article in the Independent about "a fresher form of historical fiction," meaning more stories of women!

Some factoids:
  • "By the end of the 16th century, something like half of all reasonably well-born Italian women were in convents."

  • An "abbess... had two children by the landowner next door and, when a serving nun discovered her secret, battered her to death with a shovel and had her body thrown down the well."

  • ...And then the success stories: "women exploring profound states of spirituality, copying and illustrating manuscripts, composing plays, arranging and even writing music."

Dunant encourages historians and novelists to provide many perspectives on one historical event - what she describes as being similar to "the thousands of dots used in a Pointillist painting to build a full picture."


And today's post title is brought to you by Isabella d'Este, who was, of course, speaking about sending her daughters off to join a convent.

Portrait at left is credited as follows:
Leonardo da Vinci, Portrait of Isabella d'Este, 1499
Pierre noire with red chalk and yellow pastel, 63 x 46 cm (24 7/8 x 18 1/8 in), Musée du Louvre, Paris, via

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