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Renegade Women

Gender, Identity, and Boundaries in the Early Modern Mediterranean

Eric R Dursteler

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This book uses the stories of early modern women in the Mediterranean who left their birthplaces, families, and religions to reveal the complex space women of the period occupied socially and politically.

In the narrow sense, the word "renegade" as used in the early modern Mediterranean referred to a Christian who had abandoned his or her religion to become a Muslim. With Renegade Women, Eric R Dursteler deftly redefines and broadens the term to include anyone who crossed the era’s and region’s religious, political, social, and gender boundaries. Drawing on archival research, he relates three...

This book uses the stories of early modern women in the Mediterranean who left their birthplaces, families, and religions to reveal the complex space women of the period occupied socially and politically.

In the narrow sense, the word "renegade" as used in the early modern Mediterranean referred to a Christian who had abandoned his or her religion to become a Muslim. With Renegade Women, Eric R Dursteler deftly redefines and broadens the term to include anyone who crossed the era’s and region’s religious, political, social, and gender boundaries. Drawing on archival research, he relates three tales of women whose lives afford great insight into both the specific experiences and condition of females in, and the broader cultural and societal practices and mores of, the early Mediterranean.

Through Beatrice Michiel of Venice, who fled an overbearing husband to join her renegade brother in Constantinople and took the name Fatima Hatun, Dursteler discusses how women could convert and relocate in order to raise their personal and familial status. In the parallel tales of the Christian Elena Civalelli and the Muslim Mihale Šatorović, who both entered a Venetian convent to avoid unwanted, arranged marriages, he finds courageous young women who used the frontier between Ottoman and Venetian states to exercise a surprising degree of agency over their lives. And in the actions of four Muslim women of the Greek island of Milos—Aissè, her sisters Eminè and Catigè, and their mother, Maria—who together left their home for Corfu and converted from Islam to Christianity to escape Aissè’s emotionally and financially neglectful husband, Dursteler unveils how a woman’s attempt to control her own life ignited an international firestorm that threatened Venetian-Ottoman relations.

A truly fascinating narrative of female instrumentality, Renegade Women illuminates the nexus of identity and conversion in the early modern Mediterranean through global and local lenses. Scholars of the period will find this to be a richly informative and thoroughly engrossing read.

Reviews

Reviews

Intriguing.

[Renegade Women] is of tremendous interest to scholars investigating the roles of and opportunities available to women in the early modern period.

The virtues of this intelligent, wide-ranging study are many, and the overarching one is Dursteler's skillful blending of detailed narratives of individual lives with thoughtful, informed accounts of the major cultural and political currents that formed the framework not only of those lives but also of relations between the Venetian and Ottoman empires.

A gem. Beautifully written, creatively crafted, and thoroughly researched, this is an erudite book, written with verve. It brings to life the richness and vitality of Mediterranean societies in early modern times. It also highlights the lack of historical grounding of some recent popular views about the alleged religious and cultural differences that separate Christian from Islamic societies.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
5.5
x
8.5
Pages
240
ISBN
9781421400723
Illustration Description
7 halftones, 3 line drawings
Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Fatima Hatun née Beatrice Michiel
2. Elena Civalelli / Suor Deodata and Mihale / Catterina Šatorovic
3. Maria Gozzadini and Her Daughters—Aissè, Eminè, Catigè
Conclusion
Geographi

Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Fatima Hatun née Beatrice Michiel
2. Elena Civalelli / Suor Deodata and Mihale / Catterina Šatorovic
3. Maria Gozzadini and Her Daughters—Aissè, Eminè, Catigè
Conclusion
Geographic Equivalents
Abbreviations
Notes
Glossary
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio