Cover: The Renaissance of Marriage in Fifteenth-Century Italy in HARDCOVER

Harvard Historical Studies 146

The Renaissance of Marriage in Fifteenth-Century Italy

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$85.00 • £73.95 • €77.95

ISBN 9780674015524

Publication Date: 02/28/2005


274 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Harvard Historical Studies


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In sum, the author argues convincingly that the revived genre of the wedding oration provides a window into Italian Renaissance court culture and at the same time sets forth ideas that would shake up the rest of Europe in the following century. This study should be of interest to a broad range of scholars and students of the Renaissance and Reformation.—Jo Ann Cavallo, American Historical Review

A concise, coherent analysis of a little-studied genre—the Renaissance wedding oration introduced in the 15th century in the lavish nuptials of the Italian courts. D’Elia has turned up a very impressive corpus of sources and offers a close reading of select orations, focused on the praise of the princely rulers and their families and the praise of marriage and its advantages. He places the genre as a whole in the context of ancient and medieval views on marriage, 15th-century concerns to encourage population growth after demographic crises, and humanist models of civic virtue drawn from antiquity.—Ann Blair, Harvard University

In an original and well-executed book that will be of interest to scholars of Renaissance humanism, the history of women, and the history of family and social values more generally, Anthony D’Elia establishes the significance of marriage as an issue of social concern for the Italian humanists by looking at their wedding orations. His work reinforces the view, not much discussed but of great importance for an understanding of the career of Western thought, that Italian humanism was a lay, secularizing movement, marking a turning-away from the clerically dominated culture of earlier centuries.—Margaret King, Brooklyn College, City University of New York

D’Elia shows with abundant and incontrovertible evidence that it was the Italian Humanists of the fifteenth century, not the Protestant Reformers, who in a consistent and insistent way first exalted marriage over celibacy. He thus forces us to revise radically one of the unquestioned assumptions of the history of marriage and the family.—John W. O’Malley, Weston Jesuit School of Theology

This book by a superb Latinist is the first in-depth study in any language of the secular oratory of Italian Renaissance humanists. D’Elia’s focus on the form and content of wedding orations leads to fascinating observations on fifteenth-century views on marriage as a political, economic, and social institution, as a source of sexual pleasure, and, surprisingly, as a bond between equals.—Ronald G. Witt, Duke University

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