Rituals Change: Restraint of Male Grief in Late Medieval Italy
Thirteenth-century Italy saw a conscious effort to change mourning rituals, an effort that threw into sharp relief connections among urban politics, gender expectations, and understandings of emotionality. Court cases reveal that male elites were accustomed to mourning loudly and demonstratively at funerals. As many as a hundred men might gather in a town’s streets and squares to weep and cry out, even tear at their beards and clothing. Some of the same men enacted laws against such emotional display and then paid fines for violating their own legislation. Political theorists used gender norms to urge men to restrain their passions; histrionic grieving, like lust, was womanish. Lawmakers drew on gendered ideas about grief and public order to characterize governance in ways that linked the self and the state. They articulated them in terms of rules of decorum, how men and women need to behave in order to live in society.
Carol Lansing is Professor for Medieval Europe at the Department of History, University of California at Santa Barbara. 1984 Ph.D. University of Michigan, 2000 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, 2008 Robert Lehman Visiting Professor, Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti. Selected publications: The Florentine Magnates: Lineage and Faction in a Medieval Commune (1991); Power and Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy (1998); Passion and Order: Restraint of Grief in the Medieval Italian Communes (2007); A Companion to the Medieval World (ed. with Edward English, 2008).