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Journal > Volumes > 50 (2019) / 2 (Summer)
The Piety of Female Friendship: Convent and Court in Sixteenth-Century Mantua
Jennifer A. Cavalli
College of Charleston

This article analyzes friendship bonds in letters between the marchesa of Mantua, Isabella d’Este, and female religious in Mantua and Ferrara. The letters reveal significant and lifelong relationships between women that bridged the gap between spheres of activity and experience. Their content discloses a female community network that was based on, in, and through particular convents, the roles members of this community played for each other, and the concerns they deemed important. The author argues that secular social ties traveled with women as they moved from court to convent, and between convents, and that the conservation of these ties constituted an extended support network that operated in a spiritualized context. At the center of this network were convents, which fostered a sense of belonging for the women (religious and lay) they connected.

Pages: 399 - 420