Sister Giustina Niccolini's Chronicle of Le Murate captures both the gritty realities and the soaring spirituality of convent life in Renaissance Florence. Niccolini offers an inside look at how her community grew from a small female hermitage circa 1400 into the largest, most prominent Florentine convent by 1600. As she traces this spectacular rise, Niccolini illuminates the tenor of everyday life and the complexity of interpersonal relationships within a hothouse atmosphere. This unique chronicle also bristles with insight into such important issues as collective governance, patterns of patronage, the creation of a rich visual culture, and the decisive impact of Tridentine reform. Weddle's translation successfully catches the immediacy of the author's voice as well as its stately cadences.
Professor of History, Emory University
The Chronicle of Le Murate, completed by Sister Giustina Niccolini in 1598, is one of a small number of surviving documents that presents a nun's own interpretation and synthesis of historical events. It recounts the roughly two hundred-year history of Florence's largest convent, which attracted boarders, nuns and patrons from Italy's elite families. The manuscript provides a rare view of life behind the enclosure walls and of nuns' interaction with the world outside. The messy vitality of this account is an important pendant to the more formal and predictable convent chronicles that dominate the genre.
SAUNDRA WEDDLE is Associate Professor of Architecture and Art History at Drury University. She has authored several articles relating to the form and function of convent architecture in Renaissance Italy.
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