Francesco Barbaro: The Wealth of Wives: A Fifteenth-Century Marriage Manual

Francesco Barbaro: The Wealth of Wives: A Fifteenth-Century Marriage Manual

Distributed for Iter Press

146 pages | 6 x 9
Paper $31.95 ISBN: 9780866985406 Published December 2015

In 1415, Francesco Barbaro produced a marriage manual intended at once for his friend, a scion of the Florentine Medici family, and for the whole set of his peers, the young nobility of Venice. Countering the trends of the day toward dowry chasing and dowry inflation, Barbaro insisted that the real wealth of wives was their capacity to conceive, birth, and rear children worthy of their heritage. The success of the patriciate depended, ironically, on women: for they alone could ensure the biological, cultural, and spiritual reproduction of their marital lineage. The Wealth of Wives circulated in more than 100 manuscript versions, five Latin editions, and translations into German, Italian, French, and English, far outstripping in its influence Leon Battista Alberti’s On the Family (1434).

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