Chapter 3. Gender: Who Was the Renaissance Woman?

  1. William Caferro

Published Online: 4 JUN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444324501.ch3

Contesting the Renaissance

Contesting the Renaissance

How to Cite

Caferro, W. (2010) Gender: Who Was the Renaissance Woman?, in Contesting the Renaissance, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444324501.ch3

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 JUN 2010
  2. Published Print: 2 JUL 2010

Book Series:

  1. Contesting the Past

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405123693

Online ISBN: 9781444324501



  • gender, Who Was the Renaissance Woman;
  • Burckhardt's well-known but unqualified statement - “women stood on a footing of perfect equality with men”;
  • Kelly's essay, impetus to study of Renaissance women - whether the same could be employed for both sexes;
  • research on Renaissance, realities of women's lives - differing from men and from each other;
  • popular early approach to Renaissance women's history - biography of prominent individuals;
  • classical and Christian notions of women - asserted conspicuously in works of humanists;
  • “semi” or “split literacy” among women - restricting intellectual horizons;
  • legal and social status of women, closely connected to their economic roles;
  • Convents and “Living Saints” - Christianity, the means of physically sequestering women in convents;
  • gendered images and exercise of female agency in the political world - vibrant fields in Renaissance studies


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • The Inherited Tradition

  • Law and Family

  • Economy and Work

  • Convents and “Living Saints”

  • Witchcraft and Sorcery

  • Education and Humanism

  • Unnatural Beings and Book-Lined Cells

  • Patronage and Power

  • Renaissance and Early Modern