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To Pray, To Work, To Hear, To Speak: Women In Roman Streets C. 1600

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Chapter Summary

In urban spaces outside their homes beggars, prostitutes, servants, working wives, nubile daughters, and even gentlewomen faced risks, but also cadged opportunities. While Rome's patterns of physical and demographic growth distinguished it in important respects from other Italian cities, it is nevertheless likely that, as in Venice, these female uses of urban space had analogues elsewhere. Rome's squares and thoroughfares were spaces both public, in Nussdorfer's sense, and urban; they hosted social relations both communal and private. To pray, to work, to hear, to speak, to watch, to play, to quarrel, to defend: there were many reasons for women to join the life in and of the streets. The extent and manner of women's participation varied with regard certainly to rank, but also to circumstances of household composition, work, and even temperament.

Keywords: gentlewomen; Rome's street; social relations; urban spaces



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