Poggibonsi and the difficult loves of the girls of the 1700s

Something is moving in the eighteenth century regarding the rights and status of women, however, in spite of the new ideas and the reforming work of some sovereigns, the woman still remains in a situation of clear inferiority to the man. This refers not only to the common modus vivendi, but to the thinking of most of the same exponents and theorists of the Enlightenment, who, even when they speak of equality, are not very convinced that this concept can be extended to the women.

Eighteenth-century archival documents are full of episodes and situations that testify to this difficult female condition. Girls are often abused, offended or beaten, often seduced and then abandoned with a false promise of marriage, there are also cases of single mothers who, in addition to the obvious financial difficulties, also have to face shame, dishonor, discriminated women at work, and so on.

Love and marriage are especially conditioned or contrasted by the customs of the time. Three simple episodes, among the many we could mention about the life of the women of Poggibonsi in the seventeenth century, confirm this.

In June 1769 the Fiscal Auditor of Florence, top judicial authority at the time, sends a letter to the local lawyer asking him to investigate whether the young Rosa Del Conca is really willing to marry this Pietro Noferi or if he is pushed to this step by the will of the brothers. . In the writ, the Auditor asks the judge to summon the girl, but to find a way to hear her alone, without the presence of her siblings, in order to check her “sincere feelings.” The episode makes us understand how often marriages, especially at the level of the middle and upper bourgeoisie or nobility, were united with the family, according to heritage. Not to mention the marriages of the peasants, who had to take into account the balance between family members, the extent of the farm and the labor force.

We are instead in 1743, exactly on November 10th, when a frustrated love ends in a fight and a stabbing. The episode takes place in the Boschetto della Fontaccia, Podere delle Piazze, worked by a certain Giovanni Cinatti, who has with him a girl, a certain Maria Domenica Perilli, as a “boy”, with various tasks, including monitoring pigs. so that they do not invade the field. The girl, in the field, is sometimes seen with a certain Giovanbattista Burroni, a worker on the Cavalle farm. That day the two meet again and start talking, according to the report, in an “act of flirting”. Cinatti does not want to risk losing the child and from the window of his house, watching the scene, calls Burroni to leave, but does not give up. Then Cinatti leaves the house enraged, and when he arrives at the place, he pulls Burroni to make him leave. The latter rebels and fights. The two roll on the ground and here Burroni, after seeing a knife stuck to the waist of Cinatti’s pants, pulls him out and stabs him in the side, which, according to the report of surgeon Giovanni Damiani and the mayor from San Giusto to Villore Antonio Franchi, two wounds “the size of two peeled almonds”. The case, of course, then ends on the table of the vicar of Certaldo, who instructs a trial against Burroni for stabbing.

The third episode, very significant, refers to the year 1757 and takes place in the Comunello di S.Maria in Casagliola, diocese of Volterra, but in the Municipality and Potesteria of Poggibonsi. Here it happens that the prior, a certain Teodoro Galassi, suspects, based on rumors received by some gossip, that a local girl, a certain Agata Renzi, may be pregnant, out of wedlock, by the work of a certain Gaetano di Giuseppe Pistolesi . The prior does not think so much and, taking paper and pen, writes a letter to the Auditor of Florence in which he sets out the case, “to remove any scandal which may arise in his charge.” An unmarried pregnant girl was considered, in fact, a great scandal and as soon as there were suspicions in this regard, accusations and allegations began, anonymous or not. In fact, the girl in question had been attending Pistolesi for some time, sometimes even showing up near her home, although for a time the two boys had preferred to see each other elsewhere, as the prior suggests. on demand. that Pistolesi “petula wherever he goes.” The problem, for the prior, is that, despite these acquaintances, nothing had happened between the two of them and the girl was not at all pregnant. They liked each other, they were well together and they went out, maybe making plans about their future. The Auditor of the Treasury, having made the appropriate conclusions, thus responds to the prior that, being a “simple love correspondence”, in the future it is “more prudent when listening to the talk and he is not carried away by zeal too indiscreetly. ” Demonstration of common sense by the Tuscan justice and a figure not exactly exemplary by the prior who, in silence, grabs the good ear.

Franco Burresi

In the picture: JFMillet “Shepherdess with her flock”

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Published June 12, 2022

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