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Enamelled with the Blood of a Noble Lineage: Tracing Noble Blood and Female Holiness in Early Modern Neapolitan Convents and their Architecture

Hills, Helen (2004) Enamelled with the Blood of a Noble Lineage: Tracing Noble Blood and Female Holiness in Early Modern Neapolitan Convents and their Architecture. Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture, 73 (1). pp. 1-40. ISSN 1755-2613

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Abstract

The stark antithesis between the secular and the religious has been effectively challenged by scholarship of early modern Italy, which has shown the degree to which these fields necessarily overlapped. Nevertheless, studies of early modern female devotion, especially within convents, often present women as caught between competing claims of kinship and clerical authority, a conflict between family and convent, an opposition between the secular and the divine. This paper argues that within Neapolitan conventual circles, at least, nuns' noble blood was regarded as enhancing the spiritual value of their convents, and that, on the whole, the way in which the Decrees of the Council of Trent were interpreted served to “aristocratize” convents. Something of a fusion occurred between nobility and spirituality in women. This paper relates this fusion to discourses on nobility and to the aristocratization of convent culture after enclosure at Trent, examining how it marked post-Tridentine Neapolitan convent architecture and urbanism. In short, I argue that nuns' nobility enhanced the spiritual value of Neapolitan convents after Trent, and that such status was communicated discursively, architecturally, and urbanistically.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: blood rank class gender enclosure architecture nobility Naples urban, Sapienza, Carafa, monastery
Academic Units: The University of York > History of Art (York)
Depositing User: prof Helen Hills
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2009 13:12
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2009 13:12
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S000964070009781X
Status: Published
Publisher: American Society of Church History
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1017/S000964070009781X
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8936

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