Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy

By Judith C. Brown | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
The Convent

THE IMPACT OF Benedetta's journey down the mountain must be measured in psychic and cultural distance. The seven miles between Vellano and Pescia separated vastly different personal worlds and cultural geographies. Benedetta was not only leaving her parents, who had lavished on her the kind of attention reserved solely for an only child who was the special recipient of God's grace, but she was leaving the world of the mountains for that of the plains -- the world of nature, where the inroads of civilization were as tenuous as the precariously perched walls of Vellano, for that of the plains, where new people, new ways of doing things, and new ways of thinking were daily transforming the lives of ordinary people. If in the Mediterranean world the planting of grapes and olives was roughly coterminous with the line of civilization, then Vellano was barely at the edge. Just above the town, the landscape gave way to forests of oak, chestnuts, and ilex. The hoe had never scratched the surface of that land. "The mountains," Fernand Braudel tells us, are "a world apart from civilizations, which are an urban and lowland achievement." 1 The two worlds, of course, were not totally isolated. There was a necessary, though inter-

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Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents *
  • Introduction 3
  • Chapter One - The Family 21
  • Chapter Two - The Convent 29
  • Chapter Three - The Nun 42
  • Chapter Four - The First Investigation 75
  • Chapter Five - The Second Investigation 100
  • Epilogue 132
  • Appendix - A Note About the Documents, with Selected Translations 139
  • Notes 165
  • Index 207
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