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Following the intervention of the Council of Ten, Capello took part in yet another election and on 11 February she was legitimately re-elected. The heads of the Council of Ten awaited Fra Serafino s confirmation of the new prioress only to find that he had suddenly left Venice and taken himself off to Bologna. But the controversy continued to rage on both sides of the convent walls. Two parties had developed around the rival candidates, each commanding support throughout the city. Giacoma Torella, of citizen stock, was the favourite of the vicar-general and his local allies. In November , when Veneranda Capello was, at last, appointed, a clique of nuns around the unsuccessful Torella The papal nuncio excommunicated the rebellious nuns, but even this was insufficient to tame them; the Council of Ten took more effective action, ordering that the convent be raided and that six sisters two professed nuns, including Torella, and four converse be imprisoned in six different observant nunneries around the city.

In the event, the threat did not have to be carried out, for relatives of the rebellious faction came to Corpus Domini and urged the nuns to manifest their obedience and humility both to the prioress and to the secular authorities. From the outbreak of the conflict to its resolution, the interests of the nuns of Corpus Domini proved to be inextricable from those of their families. On 30 June, news reached the convent magistrates that in the convent of San Sepolcro, the nuns were in a state of great confusion and uproar, because their superior, the father confessor, a Franciscan, had arrived at the convent last Saturday and had ousted the abbess from office.

Yet the determination of the friar to force through the election of his own preferred candidate, Suor Daria Navagier, suggests that factors besides the alleged negligence of Suor Michaela drove him to intervene.

The magistrates scented trouble. Statements that have survived from the ensuing investigation indicate the fury that many nuns evinced at the conduct of their confessor. They tell of how he came to the convent, accompanied by the superior of the nearby friary, San Francesco della Vigna, and set about bullying the nuns into submission.

First of all, the two friars undertook to interview all the inhabitants of the convent over a period of two days. The events of the third day are recounted sceptically by one of the nuns: The confessor came with the superior of San Francesco, and made the gate-keepers open the door, and the pair of them entered, and the confessor rang the bell summoning the nuns into the chapter, and all the nuns came obediently, and then he pronounced that the abbess had been removed from her office, although this was against the will of the majority.

Many of the nuns refused to return, prompting the confessor to pursue these women, in an attempt to force them back. The friars pulled the veils off nuns who failed to comply, a gesture designed to rob the women of their status and dignity. Eventually, after much more bell-ringing, the chapter reassembled, and the father confessor announced that they were to vote openly on whether they favoured the old abbess or Suor Daria Navagier.

Enraged by this travesty of their electoral system, nuns fled in a riot of flying headgear: Many of the nuns pulled their black veils from their heads, and threw them away, and they escaped upstairs, and the fathers wanted to remove their veils, and in this confusion the new abbess was elected by nine nuns who remained in the chapter.

Of course, Navagier had her supporters. One was Suor Franceschina Moresini, who insisted on the legitimacy of the election with a similar precision as to the division of votes. In common with the disputed election that had occurred at Corpus Domini, family rivalries fired the controversy at San Sepolcro. As the investigation progressed, it emerged that the old abbess, Suor Michaela, had been feuding with the Navagier family for some time.

The object of their contention was the proposal of the Navagiers to construct a balcony in the church — such private investments were the equivalent of corporate sponsorship in the Renaissance, and most ecclesiastical buildings were heavily marked with monuments, altars, tombs and other showpieces of munificence.

Suor Aurelia Pizzoni gave this account: And when suor Michaela was first made abbess, the dispute with the Navagier family regarding the balcony which they wanted to build m church was still running, and suor Michaela put an end to the matter, ensuring that the balcony was not built, because it would be possible to see into the convent from it; and this was the cause of great displeasure to suor Daria. There were those who claimed that Suor Michaela had deliberately allowed the escape of Meneghena; others protested her innocence, blaming the interference of the friars for the crisis in the convent.

In the words of one witness, the seventy-eight- year-old Suor Cecilia Lion: I have been in this convent for 58 years, and we have always lived m peace, and poor suor Michaela is a saint, and I believe that she will achieve miracles at her death, and she has lived with great patience, and I do not know how she survives, and the cause of every ill is the father confessor who came here, and I believe that the devil is the cause of all this.

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Meanwhile, all the nuns had to eat were a few beans and some rough oil — the food that the friars had spurned. A panoply of different interest groups was involved in the affairs of nunneries. As we have seen, reforming prelates like Antonio Grimani and Lorenzo Priuli would later insist on the integrity of the chapter, in an attempt to isolate convents from the disruptive interventions of outside parties.

Ultimately, however, from within the walls of the convent, it was the nuns who controlled the level of external influence upon their affairs. It was they who opened up channels to the outside world. And it was they who fought off interference when they so wished, invoking the constitutions of their internal government in defence of their autonomy.

The myth - classically articulated by the Venetian historian and reformer, Gasparo Contarini, in the s flourished from the early sixteenth century until around From the later seventeenth century it was opposed by an anti-myth, forged principally by French critics, which presented Venice as a centre of corruption, intrigue and tyranny.

Later critics scorned the notion of Venetian political integrity. They pointed out that it was in the broglio, an area of Piazza San Marco which became a synonym for corruption, that the real business was done. Here, nobles bought and sold votes and plotted to further their careers at the expense of others. Their selfishness and irresponsibility were concealed beneath the cloak of the secret ballot. Secret ballots, records of divisions, the rotation of offices, gerontocracy, the exclusion of interested parties, and shared authority all reflected the traditions of the republic in the convent.

In the parlours of convents, nuns and their relatives dealt and schemed, pursuing their private concerns and forming factions. Even the broglio, that unofficial yet crucial aspect of the Venetian political scene, found an echo within the enclosed world of the nunnery. Notes — Blood of the Republic 1. Sanuto, Diarii. Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance, p. Pullan, Rich and Poor, p. For a discussion of the causes of popular acquiescence to the state, see E. Muir, Civic Ritual, pp.

B, —, SS. On Venetian marriage rituals, see P. Labalme and L. The figures collected by Vendramin are as follows: S. Roughly in keeping with these figures is J. However, her figure is even more impressive than it seems, since the census figures for the overall number of nuns include converse. My figures exclude converse, on the grounds that i visitation records tend not to provide their family names; ii converse were almost by definition non-noble.

The exceptionally low proportion of noble nuns at S. Chiara in suggests that, in the 90 years that had passed since she made her protests, the fears of Anzola Boldu had been fulfilled. Zaccaria, , fo. On the elite character of convents throughout Italy and Europe, see L. Roper, Holy Household, p. Hufton, Prospect, p. Wiesner, Gender, Church and State, p. Russo, I monasterifemmin- ili, pp.

Anna, detailing a dispute between two nuns regarding order of precedence.

These data testify to the failure of ecclesiastical measures to limit the concentration ofblood relatives in particular houses; see for example A. Venetian families regularly petitioned Rome for the relaxation of these rules; see permissions granted to Marietta Grimani, Lucretia Falier and Felicita Genova to enter San Maffio di Mazzorbo, where each already had two blood sisters; AS Vat. Iseppo, Iseppo, ; 32 of the 64 choir-nuns came from Venetian noble families.

Priuli, I diarii, IV, p. Lorenzo, Using the records of tax assessments, Sperling has pointed to the impressive gains in income and property achieved by nearly all Venetian convents during the period Among those which made the most dramatic increases in their land ownership were S. Maffio di Murano, which acquired its entire farmland of hectares after The Carmelite house of S. Teresa, founded in , was remarkably quick to, develop its agricultural estates, acquiring about hectares in the Verona area during the course of the seventeenth century.

The highest increases in total revenues, however, came more predictably from the two oldest convents in the city ofVenice, S. Zaccaria and S. Lorenzo, whose position at the head of the wealth tables had long been secure. Apart from the general increase in real estate, another poticeable feature of the investment portfolios of the nunneries is the rise- in revenues from urban property. Sperling, Convents, pp.

X LII, fo. X V I, fos i8v— I9r. Andrea, On the self-perpetuating system of rule by the old in Venice, see R. Servolo, , fo. Bullarium diplomatum, VIII, pp.

See ASV, Comp. On this issue, see K. VI, Here, Grimani was adopting the Tridentine legislation sessio 25, cap. VII; N. After that Sier Piero Tron, a Head of the Ten, rose to say that they were plainly in agreement, for the conventuals wished to be reformed and the reverend Cardinal had undertaken to do this, though how it would be done remained to be seen. The bulls and briefs should be taken in hand and the Council of Ten with the Zonta be called one day to discuss the matter, since it was there that the business started.

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He was applauded by all, but when the Vicar tried to speak he was put down by the members of the Collegio. Be it determined that by the authority of this Council three most honourable gentlemen, from among the most eminent in the city, shall be chosen by scrutiny of this Council that, with the reverend Patriarch, they may hear and take note of the grievances and complaints of the conventual nuns concerning their livelihood [viver]. Where proper resources have not been allocated to the nuns for their livelihood, [these gentlemen] shall be free by majority vote to make provision that shall enable the said conventual nuns to stay in the convents and live there in a manner befitting their status and quality.

They shall do the same for the observants. They shall give each of the parties, whether conventual or observant, that portion which seems suitable and honourable. No person, of any status or degree, may open his mouth to discuss these allocations once they have been made; nor may he attempt in any way to work against such allocations and decisions, or to oppose anything else in the bulls and papal briefs issued upon this matter, on pain of the displeasure of this Council and of the other more severe punishments contained in its most stringent decrees.

Neither fathers nor brothers nor blood relations nor paternal nor maternal uncles either of conventual or of observant nuns, nor persons that have leases or rents of these convents, nor persons that act as their procurators, may be elected to this office. Those that are elected [to this office] are bound and obliged to examine with diligence the leases and rents made by the conventuals and observants of the convents after their reform, or even before, if they so choose.

If they find that anything has been done to the detriment or prejudice of these convents, they shall have the freedom and authority to revoke or annul [these agreements] as they see fit for the benefit of the convents.