Memory, Family, and Self

Tuscan Family Books and Other European Egodocuments (14th-18th Century)


The family book, a kind of diary written by and about the family for its various members, was established by scholars as a genre in Italy in the 1980s. Although initially regarded as an Italian genre, the family book can also be found in other parts of Europe. Nevertheless, the genre can be traced back to Florence, where it first emerged and consequently flourished with the lavish production of such documents. This abundance springs from the social structure of the city, where such texts were essential for establishing and cultivating the basis for the social promotion of Florentine families. This book presents a reconstruction of the evolution and persistency of Tuscan family books, as well as a study of several aspects of social history, including: reading and private libraries, domestic devotion, and the memory of historical events. Starting with the Renaissance, the investigation then broadens to the 17th-18th centuries and considers other forms of memory, such as private diaries and autobiographies. A final section is dedicated to the issue of memory in the egodocuments of early modern Europe.

This book was translated by Susan Amanda George.

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Giovanni Ciappelli is Associate Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Trento. His many publications on Renaissance and early modern Italy include Carnevale e Quaresima. Comportamenti sociali e cultura a Firenze nel Rinascimento (Rome 1997), Un ministro del Granducato di Toscana nell'età della Restaurazione. Aurelio Puccini (1773-1840) e le sue “Memorie” (Rome 2007), and Fisco e società a Firenze nel Rinascimento (Rome 2009). Together with Patricia Lee Rubin he has edited Art, Memory and Family in Renaissance Florence (Cambridge 2000).
Editorial note
List of abbreviations

Introduction: Memory, family, identity in early modern Italy and Europe

1. Family books in Florence: evolution and involution of a genre

2. Books and readings in Florence in the 15th century. “Ricordanze” and the reconstruction of private libraries

3. Memory of historical events in Florentine “ricordanze” (14th-15th century)

4. Domestic devotion in Florentine “ricordanze” (13th-16th century)

5. The family books of the Castellani

6. The “ricordi” of the Medici

7. Collective memory and cultural memory. The family between ancient and early modern

8. Family memory in the early modern age. The case of Tuscany

9. The evolution of family memory models: Tuscan family books (16th-18th century)

10. Family memory in Florence in the time of Giuseppe Pelli Bencivenni

11. Collective and individual identity in Florence (16th-18th century). The family book of Gianni

12. Family memory and individual memory. Florentine private diaries and family books of the early modern period

13. The edition of Tuscan sources for family history in the Middle Ages and the early modern period

14. Is there a main road in the study of autobiography?

15. Memory and egodocuments in early modern Europe


All those interested in Renaissance and early modern cultural and social history, especially Italian, and in the history of memory and egodocuments.