Cover: Abortion in Early Modern Italy, from Harvard University PressCover: Abortion in Early Modern Italy in HARDCOVER

Abortion in Early Modern Italy

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Product Details


$49.95 • £39.95 • €45.00

ISBN 9780674248090

Publication Date: 01/01/2021


368 pages

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

6 photos

Villa I Tatti > I Tatti Studies in Italian Renaissance History


Christopoulos has meticulously pieced together a secret history not only from prescriptive sources but from the public records of trials, giving us for the first time a sense of the way early modern women and men experienced abortion… [His] accomplished account emphasizes the ambiguities and ambivalences that surrounded pregnancy and its termination in early modern Italy.—Erin Maglaque, London Review of Books

A major contribution—subtle, erudite, and wide-ranging. Christopoulos’s sophisticated handling of the complexities and ambiguities surrounding the termination of pregnancy in early modern Italy makes this book not merely for scholars interested in abortion but also for anyone who studies the workings of early modern society more generally. Abortion in Early Modern Italy demonstrates the abilities of a first-rate historian.—Mary Lindemann, University of Miami

While most studies of the early history of abortion adopt the perspective of medical, ecclesiastical, and secular authorities, this important book gives equal attention to the motivations and experiences of the women and men involved in procuring, facilitating, or testifying regarding abortions. Through exhaustive archival research, Christopoulos has managed to excavate the voices not only of the pregnant women themselves, but also of their accusers, their partners, rapists, and seducers, their families, their healers, and other members of the community.—Katharine Park, Harvard University

In this beautifully researched book, punctuated by vivid microhistories, John Christopoulos offers a complex and nuanced perspective on the meaning of abortion in early modern Italy. He puts a human face on the decisions made by men and especially women, by church and state, and by judges, lawyers, and medical experts, allowing us to see how this quintessential Catholic society grappled with the status of the unborn and reproductive rights. Christopoulos thoughtfully reminds us that the past is full of surprises, sometimes where we least expect them.—Paula Findlen, Stanford University

A brilliant, field-shaping book based on extraordinary archival research and great analytical insight. John Christopoulos not only remakes our understanding of struggles over reproduction in early modern Italy and Europe, but also provides an important intervention in the long and broad transnational history of abortion. In centering abortion, this beautifully written book also illuminates in new ways our understanding of a wide range of early modern themes from church and state to science and local communities.—Julie Hardwick, author of Sex in an Old Regime City: Young Workers and Intimacy in France, 1660–1789

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