Domestic space and identity: artisans, shopkeepers and traders in sixteenth-century Siena

Paula Hohti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Historians of early modern Italy have traditionally viewed the city's public spaces, such as streets, quarters, taverns and marketplaces, as the chief locations in which claims to identity were launched into the broader urban community. Recent studies on the domestic interior, however, have shown that the distinction between 'public' and 'private' in the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century urban space was much more complex. In this period, private urban houses became sites for an increasing range of social acitvities that varied from informal evening gatherings to large wedding banquets. Focusing on this 'public' dimension of the private urban house, this article explores how the middling classes of artisans and shopkeepers used the domestic space to construct identities and to facilitate social relations in sixteenth-century Siena. The aim is to show that in providing a setting for differing forms of economic and social activity, the urban home together with its objects and furnishings may have provided an increasingly important physical location for craftsmen, shop-owners and traders to negotaite individual and collective identities within the broader communities of the city.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-385
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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