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Lost Girls: Sex and Death in Renaissance Florence

Nicholas Terpstra

29 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1421407728 / ISBN 13: 9781421407722
Published by Johns Hopkins University Press
New Condition: New Soft cover
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Paperback. 264 pages. Dimensions: 9.2in. x 6.1in. x 1.0in.In 1554, a group of idealistic laywomen founded a home for homeless and orphaned adolescent girls in one of the worst neighborhoods in Florence. Of the 526 girls who lived in the home during its fourteen-year tenure, only 202 left there alive. Struck by the unusually high mortality rate, Nicholas Terpstra sets out to determine what killed the lost girls of the House of Compassion shelter (Casa della Piet). Reaching deep into the archives letters, ledgers, and records from both inside and outside the home, he slowly pieces together the tragic story. The Casa welcomed girls in bad health and with little future, hoping to save them from an almost certain life of poverty and drudgery. Yet this safe house was cruelly dangerous. Victims of Renaissance Florences sexual politics, these young women were at the disposal of the citys elite men, who treated them as property meant for their personal pleasure. With scholarly precision and journalistic style, Terpstra uncovers and chronicles a series of disturbing leads that point to possible reasons so many girls died: hints of routine abortions, basic medical care for sexually transmitted diseases, and appalling conditions in the textile factories where the girls worked. Church authorities eventually took the Casa della Piet away from the women who had founded it and moved it to a better part of Florence. Its sordid past was hidden, until now, in an official history that bore little resemblance to the orphanages true origins. Terpstras meticulous investigation not only uncovers the sad fate of the lost girls of the Casa della Piet but also explores broader themes, including gender relations, public health, church politics, and the challenges girls and adolescent women faced in Renaissance Florence. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Bookseller Inventory # 9781421407722

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Lost Girls: Sex and Death in Renaissance ...

Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:New

Book Type: Paperback

About this title

Synopsis:

In 1554, a group of idealistic laywomen founded a home for homeless and orphaned adolescent girls in one of the worst neighborhoods in Florence. Of the 526 girls who lived in the home during its fourteen-year tenure, only 202 left there alive. Struck by the unusually high mortality rate, Nicholas Terpstra sets out to determine what killed the lost girls of the House of Compassion shelter (Casa della Pietà).

Reaching deep into the archives' letters, ledgers, and records from both inside and outside the home, he slowly pieces together the tragic story. The Casa welcomed girls in bad health and with little future, hoping to save them from an almost certain life of poverty and drudgery. Yet this "safe" house was cruelly dangerous. Victims of Renaissance Florence’s sexual politics, these young women were at the disposal of the city’s elite men, who treated them as property meant for their personal pleasure.

With scholarly precision and journalistic style, Terpstra uncovers and chronicles a series of disturbing leads that point to possible reasons so many girls died: hints of routine abortions, basic medical care for sexually transmitted diseases, and appalling conditions in the textile factories where the girls worked.

Church authorities eventually took the Casa della Pietà away from the women who had founded it and moved it to a better part of Florence. Its sordid past was hidden, until now, in an official history that bore little resemblance to the orphanage’s true origins. Terpstra’s meticulous investigation not only uncovers the sad fate of the lost girls of the Casa della Pietà but also explores broader themes, including gender relations, public health, church politics, and the challenges girls and adolescent women faced in Renaissance Florence.

From the Back Cover:

In 1554, a group of idealistic laywomen founded a home for orphaned and homeless adolescent girls in one of the worst neighborhoods in Florence. Of the 526 girls who lived in the home through its first fourteen years, only 202 survived. Struck by the unusually high mortality rate, Nicholas Terpstra sets out to determine what killed the lost girls of the Casa della Pietà. As he uncovers their sad fate, he also explores broader themes, including gender relations, abortion, syphilis, religious politics, and the challenges adolescent girls faced in Renaissance Florence.

"Terpstra weaves literary evidence, intelligent guesswork, and vivid historical imagination into an eminently readable micro-history that forms part of a growing body of scholarship that challenges long-held historical assumptions about female honor in the Mediterranean world."― American Historical Review

"A masterpiece of historical writing and an invaluable contribution to the study of premodern Italy."― Journal of Modern History

"The book contains fascinating, and sometimes shocking, information about Terpstra’s topic. I appreciated that Terpstra does not exclusively limit himself to the subject of Casa della Pietà, but uses the mystery of what happened to the home’s residents as a way to examine related issues."― Feminist Review

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