Italian Women of Lisbon (and beyond): Agency, Private Lives, Education, between Portugal and the World, 1500-1650
David Salomoni is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Lisbon in the framework of the ERC project Rutter: Making the Earth Global. After receiving a PhD in History at the University of Avignon, and a PhD in History of Education and Pedagogy at the University of Rome III (both in 2017), he has conducted research on topics related to the schools of early modern religious orders, women’s agency in Renaissance Italy, and, more recently, on early modern globalization and the spreading of geographical literacy in Europe. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Rome III (2017-2019), and an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the University of Oklahoma History of Science Collections (2019).
The history of the Italian community in Lisbon between 1500 and 1650 was written predominantly adopting a male perspective, focusing on merchant dynasties. Among the most famous families we find the Marchionni, Bardi, Morelli, Nasi, Uguccioni, Strozzi, Affaitadi, Perestrello, Giraldi, Sernigi, Boccoli, Lomellini, and many others. Nonetheless, the life of the Italian merchants in the Portuguese capital was surrounded by a female universe composed of wives, sisters, daughters, and lovers. These women were not mere pawns in strategies planned by men, but important characters consciously acting on the international stage. The wives of these merchants were often actively involved in family affairs, making important economic decisions, and their daughters brought large estates as a dowry; their fate depended often on their intelligence on the social chessboard. This project aims at bringing forth from historiographical oblivion the role of women in the Italian community in Lisbon, answering questions such as: what was their margin for social action? From the economic point of view, who among the merchants’ wives, sisters, and daughters played roles of responsibility? Under what material, relational, and social conditions did their roles take place? This study will use the large amounts of documentary material found in the archives of Lisbon and the sources preserved in the archives of Florence and other Italian cities.