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Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies

Victoria University in the University of Toronto
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Early Modern Interdisciplinary Graduate Forum V

January 18, 2018 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


Kristina Francescutti (History): “Inheritance, Widowhood, and Class Conflict: What We Can Learn from Sumptuary Law”

Benjamin Woodford (English): “Satanic Freedom in Milton’s Paradise Lost


Kristina Francescutti (History). Throughout the sixteenth century, Venice built empire through imposing itself in neighbouring territories – first Treviso, followed by Friuli, and in the span of the century, swaths of the Veneto, Lombardy, and Romagna. Much is known about the latter three territories in academic scholarship. However, the integration of Friuli is strangely overlooked. This integration happened differently – for instance, Friuli’s parliament, one of the oldest in Europe, was left relatively autonomous. In this paper, I will argue that this unique sumptuary case complicates and challenges the nature of Venetian empire building. This relationship is best illustrated by a civil case brought against a widow named Giulia de Urbanis in 1548. Giulia’s crime was dressing above her station, wearing clothing which resembled that of the nobility, when in fact she had been the wife of a popular merchant. The case includes a detailed inventory of her problematic accoutrements. Unpacking the case gives us valuable insight into the world of sixteenth century Udine, touching on politics, inheritance, gender, widowhood, and class conflict.

Benjamin Woodford (English). Throughout Milton’s epic poem, Satan espouses a version of freedom that dictates both his own behavior and his relationship with his followers. Satanic freedom is institutional, which means that freedom is only possible through the leadership of someone, in this case Satan, who understands the angels’ true nature. To be free in these terms, the rebel angels must submit to Satan’s leadership and entrust him with all their decisions. This version of freedom differs from God’s freedom, which stresses free will and individual choice. Following Satanic freedom, both Satan and the rebel angels sacrifice their free will to achieve a higher goal, but in doing so, they enslave themselves to this faulty goal. The principles of Satanic freedom appear in Paradise Lost when Satan first gathers the rebel angels, during the rebellion itself, during the debate in the parliament of hell, and when Satan travels to Eden.


January 18, 2018
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm