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Working Women of Early Modern Venice

'Working Women of Early Modern Venice' cover image

Working Women of Early Modern Venice

In this groundbreaking book, Monica Chojnacka argues that the women of early modern Venice occupied a more socially powerful space than traditionally believed. Rather than focusing exclusively on the women of noble or wealthy merchant families, Chojnacka explores the lives of women—unmarried, married, or widowed—who worked for a living and helped keep the city running through their labor, services, and products.

Among Chojnacka's surprising findings is the degree to which these working women exercised control over their own lives. Many headed households and even owned their own homes; when necessary, they also took in and supported other women of their families. Some were self-employed, while others had jobs outside the home. They often moved freely about the city to conduct business, and they took legal action in the courts on their own behalf. On a daily basis, Venetian women worked, traveled, and contested obstacles in ways that made the city their own.