Making Stories in Early Modern Italy and Beyond: Essays in Honour of Elizabeth S. Cohen and Thomas V. Cohen

Edited by John Christopoulos and John M. Hunt ~ ES59

Skip to product information
1 of 2
Regular price $59.95 CAD
Regular price Sale price $59.95 CAD
Sale Coming Soon


Everyone told stories in the early modern era—from witnesses in the courtroom to neighbors gossiping in public squares and taverns, from preachers in the pulpit to humanists and other professional writers in their books and letters. Stories molded the realities of their tellers and their audiences. They held the power to build or dismantle public personas and reputations, strengthen or fracture communities, and guide audiences through truth or lies. Stories informed every aspect of early modern life.

This volume pays tribute to Elizabeth S. Cohen and Thomas V. Cohen, esteemed scholars of the social history of early modern Rome, who have dedicated their four decades-long careers to unraveling the tales and experiences of ordinary people through the meticulous study of court records. Inspired by their innovative and interdisciplinary approaches, the authors in this collection explore the importance of early modern story-telling, revealing new histories of identity, notions of gender, honour, community, and trust, and emphasizing the importance of a vernacular culture shared by both commoners and elites.

John Christopoulos is an Associate Professor of History at the University of British Columbia. His first book, Abortion in Early Modern Italy (2021), won the American Society for Legal History's Peter Gonville Stein Book Award and the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health Book Award. He is currently working on the development of forensic medicine in early-modern Rome. 

John M. Hunt is an Associate Professor of History at Utah Valley University (Orem, UT). He is the author of The Vacant See in Early Modern Rome: A Social History of the Papal Interregnum (2016). He is currently working on two monographs, a history of the papacy from Peter to Francis, and a study of the culture of gambling in early modern Italy

268 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-7727-1086-4
Published: 2024 


John Christopoulos and John M. Hunt "Introduction"

Elizabeth S. Cohen and Thomas V. Cohen: A Bibliography

1. Barry Torch "'Do I Have a Book for You!' The Friendship of Theodore Gaza and Giovanni Bussi, and a Gifted Book"

2. Julia L. Hairston "Tulia d'Aragona and the Tribunals of Siena: A Dowry Story"

3. Elena Brizio "The Tale of a Sixteenth-Century Woman who Accompanied her Family into the Future"

4. Alessia Meneghin "'Per Nome e Battezzata Desideria': Stories of Abandoned Children in Sixteenth-Century Fabriano"

5. Sara Beam "She Said, He Said in a Seventeenth-Century Infanticide Trial"

6. Marlee J. Couling "The Rector and the Alehouse Women: A Tale of Sex, Madness, and the Courts in Seventeenth-Century Chester"

7. Bernard Dov Cooperman "Shylock's Daughter-in-Law. Telling Stories of Jewish Love and Adultery in Early Modern Rome"

8. Claire Judde de Lariviere "At the Neighbour's Window: From Gossip to Social Knowledge in Sixteenth-Century Venice"

9. Eric Dursteler "'Worse than A Public Brothel': Sex and Diplomacy in Early Modern Istanbul"

10. Konrad Eisenbichler "A Good Story Gets Even Better (With a Bit of Imagination): The Episode of 'The Valiant Women Of Siena'"

11. Irene Fosi "Tales of Justice and Pardon in Early Modern Rome"

12. Kenneth Stow "An Illicit Community: Some Stories Don't Change"


This fascinating volume collects the stories of individuals, male and female, Christian and non-Christian, old and young, and examines how they strove to justify their actions. Contributors employ the tools of social, gender, religious, and microhistory to contextualize early modern hopes and needs, offering new insights into the complexity and creativity of lives from across the social spectrum. — Jennifer Mara DeSilva, University of Toronto

A dazzling collection peering deep into the lives of early modern women and men: foundlings, courtesans, cardinals and diplomats, humanist students and teachers of rabbinic law, criminals on their way to execution and women deftly rescuing families from their world's turmoil. A fitting tribute to Tom and Libby Cohen, who have taught us the heuristic power of storytelling both as a didactic tool and as a significant element of the way people lived in the sixteenth century and beyond. Filippo de Vivo, University of Oxford

As decoded by historians with a quick ear and deft touch, the storytellers in this volume are scoundrels and paragons, young and old, women and men, poor and rich from England to Constantinople. These essays bring early modern people to life in all their human passions, pleasures and predicaments.Laurie Nussdorfer, Wesleyan University