City of Men

Service and Servants in Baroque Rome

Laurie Nussdorfer
Collana: Viella History, Art and Humanities Collection, 15
Pubblicazione: Dicembre 2023
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Edizione cartacea
pp. 222, 15,5x23 cm, hardback
ISBN: 9791254694787
€ 35,00 -5% € 33,25
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This is the untold story of the men who fed, dressed, protected and advised the cardinals and great nobles of Baroque Rome. Against the background of demographic crisis and a Europe gripped by plague, war and famine, the papal capital lured ambitious gentlemen and hungry commoners to work in service. Mirroring a city where men far outnumbered women, elite households provided jobs for thousands of male immigrants from all over Italy and beyond. Footmen, secretaries, stable boys, cooks and accountants composed an all-male world that fit awkwardly within the paradigm of early modern patriarchy. A gender ideology dependent on the idea that men were innately superior to women had to navigate a society without women and justify the subordination of most men to the few. Rigid domestic hierarchies imposed by employers and implemented by gentlemen servants yielded only the barest subsistence to the robust but unskilled majority. The vagaries of the patron-client relationship doomed even the gentlemen to insecurity. In this context the streets, churches and squares of Rome offered richer, if sometimes dangerous, opportunities than the palaces to enjoy masculine privilege and the experience of egalitarian fraternity. This book mobilizes census records, trials, family account books and household manuals to show both the contradictions and the tenacity of patriarchy in a city of men.

  • Monetary Units and Abbreviations
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • 1. The Maestro di Casa’s Manual
  • 2. The Market for Men
  • 3. The Composition of the Household
  • 4. The Compensation for Service
  • 5. The Footmen’s Tale
  • 6. The Courtiers’ Consolation
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix
  • Archival Sources
  • Select Bibliography
  • Index of Names

Cover illustration: Opera di M. Bartolomeo Scappi, cuoco secreto di Papa Pio V, Venice, Michele Tramezzino, 1570 (New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art). A cardinal’s steward and footmen present his meal to be inspected for hidden messages prior to transfer into the conclave during the Vacant See.

Laurie Nussdorfer

Laurie Nussdorfer is a historian of early modern Rome. Author of articles on popular protest, masculinity, book history and artisan guilds among other topics, she taught history, literature and philosophy for many years at Wesleyan University where she is William F. Armstrong professor of history and letters emerita. She has published Brokers of Public Trust: Notaries in Early Modern Rome (The Johns Hopkins University Press 2009) and Civic Politics in the Rome of Urban VIII (Princeton University Press 1992).

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