Accounting for Affection: Mothering and Politics in Rome, 1630-1730


ACLS Fellowship Program


Italian Studies and History


What mothers do (or fail to do) appears in many public debates as an important measure by which political ideologies are legitimated. How did mothering become entangled in politics? Its roots were already evident in seventeenth-century Rome, where an expanding monarchy created a politically fluid situation in which mothers had recourse to the judicial system. In their petitions and private letters, mothers demonstrated a combination of emotional tenderness and legal tenacity to succeed in their struggles. This mater litigans model had a long and complex future. This study employs a microhistorical approach in order to analyze the seventeenth-century evolution of politics and mothering. A wide range of judicial and epistolary sources map the political effects on motherly affect in Rome.