Eleonora Cappuccilli

Eleonora Cappuccilli

Andrew W Mellon Fellow
Charismatic movements. A Transnational History of Women's Prophetic Experience between the Reformation and Counter-Reformation
eleonora cappuccilli


Eleonora Cappuccilli (Ph.D, University of Bologna, 2016) has worked at the University of Oslo on the international project The Legacy of Birgitta of Sweden. Women, Politics and Reform in Renaissance Italy. In 2019 she was visiting fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on women’s political and religious thought in early modern Europe, feminist theory and the history of patriarchy. Her most recent publications include ‘In the steps of Birgitta of Sweden. The reluctant authority of Paola Antonia Negri (1508-1555)’ in Renaissance Studies (2021); La critica imprevista. Politica, teologia e patriarcato in Mary Astell (2020); and La strega di Dio. Profezia politica, storia e riforma in Caterina da Racconigi (2020).

Project Summary

What happens if we look at the struggle for the control of the future from the perspective of Renaissance prophetic women? This project explores female prophecy in Italy, Spain and England between the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation as a key to understanding crucial political concepts such as authority/authorship, discipline, spirituality, spiritual/political/pastoral power, agency and expectation. The great abundance and variety of female prophecies means our investigation of the discourses and experiences of women prophets should begin by asking what it is that made female prophecy in particular so popular as a way to engage with political and ecclesiastical authorities in order to assert the need for change (in the social, religious and political spheres) in Europe. The project will delineate how prophetic charisma allowed women to engage with secular or spiritual institutions, express critical views of princely and priestly behavior, and exert power in their religious and civic communities and religious orders. The analysis will focus on the Italian ‘living saints’ Lucia Brocadelli da Narni and Caterina de’ Ricci; the Spanish beatas María de Santo Domingo and Lucrecia de León; and the English visionaries Anne Askew and Mary Ward. This project is the first attempt to reconstruct female prophecy from a transnational perspective in this era of extensive religious mobility.