The first treatise of its kind to be written in a European vernacular.
Around 1460, Michele Savonarola produced the extraordinary Mother’s Manual for the Women of Ferrara, a gynecological, obstetrical, and pediatric treatise composed in the vernacular so that it could be read not only by the learned but also by pregnant and nursing mothers and the midwives and wet nurses who presided over childbirth. Savonarola’s work is not merely a trivial set of instructions, but the work of a learned scholar who drew on, among others, the ancient Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen, and Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine. The first of its kind, Savonarola’s Mother’s Manual helps readers understand both the development of late-medieval and early-modern obstetrics and gynecology, as well as the experiences of women who turn to advice books for help with reproductive issues. This book also provides a key to understanding why and how a new genre of book—the midwifery manual or advice book for pregnant women—arose in sixteenth-century Italy and eventually became a popular genre all over Europe from the early modern period to the present day.
Caterina Vigri (later Saint Catherine of Bologna) was a mystic, writer, teacher and nun-artist. Her first home, Corpus Domini, Ferrara, was a house of semi-religious women that became a Poor Clare convent and model of Franciscan Observant piety. Vigri's intensely spiritual decoration of her breviary, as well as convent altarpieces that formed a visual program of adoration for the Body of Christ, exemplify the Franciscan Observant visual culture. After Vigri's departure, it was transformed by d'Este women patrons, including Isabella da Aragona, Isabella d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia. While still preserving Observant ideals, it became a more elite noblewomen's retreat.Grounded in archival research and extant paintings, drawings, prints and art objects from Corpus Domini, this volume explores the art, visual culture, and social history of an early modern Franciscan women's community.