Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Veiled ambitions

The Economist reviews Nuns: A History of Convent Life by Silvia Evangelisti. The book focuses on 16th and 17th century Europe.
Noble girls were sent there because it was cheaper and easier than finding a husband for them: the dowry due was sometimes as little as one-tenth of the average marriage-portion in a wealthy house. The girls trooped in in crowds. In Florence, between 1500 and 1800, almost half of the female elite lived in convents; in Milan, three-quarters of the daughters of the aristocracy could be found with rosaries and wimples, piously enclosed.

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