Cover: A Convert’s Tale: Art, Crime, and Jewish Apostasy in Renaissance Italy, from Harvard University PressCover: A Convert’s Tale in HARDCOVER

A Convert’s Tale

Art, Crime, and Jewish Apostasy in Renaissance Italy

Add to Cart

Product Details


$49.95 • £39.95 • €45.00

ISBN 9780674237537

Publication Date: 12/03/2019


400 pages

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

10 photos, 3 illus.

I Tatti Studies in Italian Renaissance History


[An] illuminating microhistory of the Jewish goldsmith and Christian convert Salomone da Sesso, and how far he and his family were truly able to integrate into their ‘host’ society of Renaissance Mantua and Ferrara.—Simon Ditchfield, Times Higher Education

Reconstructs the complex relations between Christians and Jews in the Renaissance, highlighting a darker side of an era often seen as enlightened.—Ariel David, Haaretz

[A] richly detailed work of microhistory… Herzig’s investigation of Salomone/Ercole’s history leads to new reflections on the lives of Jewish converts and Christian rulers in early modern Italy and how punishment, gender, and religion intertwined.—Meghan Callahan, Canadian Journal of History

Meticulously researched and superbly written… Provides a more ambitious and richly textured panorama of the wider effects of Salomone’s life as a Jew, as a Christian, and as a goldsmith, in relation to his family members, his patrons, associates—both Jews and Christians—and the Renaissance culture and society in which he lived… Herzig’s work will stand at the forefront of research on the conversion of Jews to Christianity in Renaissance Italy for many years to come.—Katherine E. Aron-Beller, H-Net Reviews

Enriches our present understanding of apostasy through an interdisciplinary investigation of the artistic, political, social and psychological undertones of the phenomenon… Herzig is able to turn a micro-historical case study into a macroscopic biopic of a self-fashioned virtuoso of the arts and the social life of 16th-century Ferrara… Convincingly succeeds in painting a full-color portrait of an equally raw and embellished life.—Allegra Baggio Corradi, Reviews in History

A thoroughly researched investigation of the life of one of the most celebrated Renaissance goldsmiths, A Convert’s Tale offers a vivid, layered portrayal of the ambiguities inherent in both Jewish–Christian and patron–client relations in Renaissance Italy. Herzig’s book is exemplary in its insightful treatment of the familial and gendered implications of conversion to Christianity. Its impressive reconstruction of the often unglamorous vicissitudes of a busy artisan’s existence, and its masterful presentation of the complex power dynamics that marked the uneven relations between Jews/Jewish converts and their princely protectors, make A Convert’s Tale an unmissable read for Renaissance and Jewish Studies scholars alike.—Francesca Bregoli, author of Mediterranean Enlightenment: Livornese Jews, Tuscan Culture, and Eighteenth-Century Reform

Herzig’s brilliant case study offers captivating new perspectives, not just for the glance it casts on Salomone’s apostasy, but also on the profound effects, both negative and positive, his adherence to Christianity had on his family over the long term. A Convert’s Tale will increase our understanding of conversion in early modern Italy and move scholarship on Jewish–Christian relations in fascinating new directions.—Konrad Eisenbichler, author of The Sword and the Pen: Women, Politics, and Poetry in Sixteenth-Century Siena

A Convert’s Tale is an incisive book that with impressive sophistication blends archival research with cultural and social history. Herzig employs a microhistorical approach to thoroughly examine the life of a noted virtuoso goldsmith as a Jew and later as a convert in Renaissance Italy. In so doing she shines a light on the life of converts from Judaism to Christianity, Jewish–Christian relations, patronage, and homosexuality in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italian cities with her usual, admirable command of primary sources and scholarship.—Federica Francesconi, University at Albany, State University of New York

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Book jacket: Vera Rubin: A Life, by Jacqueline Mitton and Simon Mitton, from Harvard University Press

Q&A with Jacqueline Mitton, coauthor of Vera Rubin: A Life

While astronomer Vera Rubin made significant contributions to our understanding of dark matter and championed the advancement of women in science, she is not that well known outside of the scientific community. HUP Executive Editor for Science, Janice Audet, spoke with Jacqueline Mitton, coauthor of Vera Rubin: A Life, about Rubin’s remarkable life and work and the writing of the book