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Disease and Public Health

Seminar Tutor

Rosa Salzberg


Seminar Questions

  • What was the impact of diseases on Renaissance Venice?
  • What steps were taken to control diseases and to support the afflicted?
  • How did Venice's approach to plague and public health differ from that of Florence?
  • In what ways did state and charitable institutions address the problems caused by poverty and disease in Venice?

Key Texts


Chambers, David, and Brian Pullan (eds), Venice: A Documentary History 1450-1630 (Oxford, 1992; rept. Toronto, 2001) , pp. 105-19, 295-321.

Stevens Crawshaw, Jane L., 'Introduction' in Plague Hospitals: Public Health for the City in Early Modern Venice (Farnham, 2012), pp. 1-38. EBL e-book

Henderson, John, ‘“Filth is the mother of corruption”: plague, the poor and the environment in early modern Florence’, in Plague and the City, eds, L. Englemann, J. Henderson, C. Lynteris (London, 2018), pp. 69-90. E-book.

McGough, Laura, 'Gender and Institutions: Hospitals and Female Asylums', in Gender, Sexuality, and Syphilis in Early Modern Venice (Basingstoke, 2010), pp. 102-35. Palgrave Connect e-book


Further Reading

Ball, J.G., ‘Poverty, charity and the Greek community’ Studi veneziani, n.s., 6 (1982).

Bonuzzi, Luciano, ‘Medicina e sanità’, in Storia di Venezia, vol. 5, Il Rinascimento. Società ed economia, ed. Alberto Tenenti and Ugo Tucci (Rome, 1996)

Chambers, D.S., and B. Pullan (eds.), Venice: A Documentary History, 1450-1630.

Chojnacka, M., ‘Women, Charity and Community in Early Modern Venice: The Casa delle Zitelle’, Renaissance Quarterly 51 (1998), 68-91.

D'Andrea, David, 'Charity and Confraternities', in Eric R. Dursteler (ed.), A Companion to Venetian History 1400-1797 (Leiden, 2013), pp. 421-48. Brill e-book

Gullino, G., (ed.), La chiesa di Venezia tra riforma protestante e riforma cattolica.

Henderson, John. Florence under seige. Surviving plague in an early modern city (New Haven, 2019).

McGough, Laura, ‘Women, private property, and the limitations of state authority in early modern Venice’, Journal of Women’s History 14.3 (2002), 32–52. Project Muse

Mackenney, R., ‘Devotional confraternities in Renaissance Venice’, in W.J. Sheils and D. Wood (eds.), Voluntary Religion (Oxford, 1986)

Mackenney, Richard, 'The Scuole Piccole of Venice: Formation and Transformations' in Nicholas Terpstra (ed.), The Politics of Ritual Kinship (Cambridge, 2000), pp. 172-89.

Mueller, R., ‘Charitable institutions, the Jewish community and Venetian society’, Studi veneziani 14 (1972)

Muir, Edward, Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice (Princeton, 1981)

Nichols, Tom, ‘Secular Charity, Sacred Poverty: Picturing the Poor in Renaissance Venice’, Art History 30 (2007), 139-69.

Pullan, Brian, Rich and Poor in Renaissance Venice: the Social Institutions of a Catholic State to 1620 (Oxford, 1971). ACLS Humanities e-book

Romano, Dennis, ‘L’assistenza e la beneficenza’, in Storia di Venezia, vol. 5, Il Rinascimento. Società ed economia, ed. Alberto Tenenti and Ugo Tucci (Rome, 1996)

Romano, Dennis, ‘Charity and Community in Early Renaissance Venice’, Journal of Urban History 11 (1984), 63-81.

Romano, Dennis, Patricians and Popolani: The Social Foundations of the Venetian Renaissance State (Baltimore, 1987)

Scarabello, G., ‘Strutture assistenziali a Venezia nella prima metà del ‘500’, in M. Tafuri, Renovatio Urbis: Venezia nell’età di Andrea Gritti.

Vian, G. (ed.), La chiesa di Venezia tra medioevo ed età moderna.

Wurthmann, W.B., ‘The Council of Ten and the Scuole Grandi in early Renaissance Venice’, Studi veneziani, n.s., 18 (1989).