Family in Renaissance Florence

In: Historical Events

Submitted By renaissancehelp
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Leon Battista Alberti’s book, The Family in Renaissance Florence, is a dialogue spanning a variety of topics including education, money, marriage and management of the household. Amidst a discussion reconciling the virtue of thrift with the necessity of dressing well, the character of Giannozzo Alberti reveals a clear distinction between the private and public spheres. Giannozzo declares that “good clothing for civic life must be clean, suitable and well made--that’s the main thing” (p.64) and that “very old clothing is only to be worn inside the house” (p. 64). There is a clear distinction of the private and public spheres; while in public, everyone must dress according to their rank and wealth. The manner and presentation of clothing acts as a visual identifier of class: “your clothes should bring you respect” (p.64). Clothing is seen as a clear measurement of honor in the public eye, yet in one’s home, old clothing may be worn. The allowance of letting old clothing be worn in the house implies that the house maintains an inherent privacy and, as such, is a place of refuge from societal customs. The ability to wear worn clothing suggests an absence of frequent visitors and guests and a respite from the constant competition of establishing one’s self in society. Giannozzo establishes a clear division between public and private life through the social acceptance of wearing different types of clothes inside and outside the house. In addition, there is a suggestion of inherent value placed upon thriftiness by the elite. People who are rich enough to afford “bright colors” and “good cloth” are not presented as wasteful. The rich are portrayed as economically responsible. As their clothes age and wear, they retire it to the private sphere instead of throwing it away. They utilize the good on which they spent their money in order to extend its lifetime for as long…...

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