Part II: The Church and Abortion in Counter Reformation Italy

Claire Litt // The first part in this series on women’s sexual and reproductive health in early modern Italy explored the political consequences of women’s pregnancies, and the devastating consequences for noblewomen when they were unable to conceive. However extensively treated the topic of conception was, especially in scholarly medical literature, the topics of contraception…

Part I: Political Pregnancies in the Italian City States

Claire Litt // In early modern Italy, there was enormous pressure on noblewomen to produce healthy male children. The security of ruling families’ lines of succession (and the political stability of the city-states they ruled) were often precariously dependant on the reproductive health of only one or two women who married into each family. For…

The Great Millennial Depression?

Claire Litt//           The post-World War II babies of the 1950s were the teenagers and young adults who brought about the cultural and sexual revolutions of the 1960s. Theirs was a generation of optimism and change; they fainted during Beatles concerts, demanded contraception and held feminist protests. Restrained only by the hemline…

Bizarre Plots to Bezoars Stones: Poisons and Antidotes in Medici Florence

Claire Litt // On February 8th, 1548 a ciphered letter addressed to Duke Cosimo I reported that “The Farnesi every day try new practices to kill Don Ferrando [Gonzaga] with poison” (Medici Archive Project Doc ID# 5407). By the mid-16th century in Italy, the brazen daylight attacks that characterized assassinations of political leaders in previous…

Blood, Stone, Snake, Woman: A Brief History of Association

Claire Litt // Medusa was once renowned for her loveliness, and roused jealous hopes in the hearts of many suitors. Of all the beauties she possessed, none was more striking than her lovely hair. […] But, so they say, the lord of the sea robbed her of her virginity in the temple of Minerva. Jove’s…