The Study of Honor in the Renaissance Period

1442 Words Jun 15th, 2008 6 Pages
The study of honor in Renaissance cities presents an intriguing paradox. On the one hand, honor seemed ‘more dear than life itself’, and provided one of the essential values that shaped the daily lives of urban elites and ordinary city folk. For wealthy merchants and aspiring artisans, honor established a code of accepted conduct against which an individual’s actions were measured by his or her peers, subordinates and social superiors. Possessing honor helped to locate a person in the social hierarchy and endowed one with a sense of personal worth. The culture of honor, which originated with the medieval aristocracy, directed the everyday activities of urban-dwellers of virtually all social groups from at least the fourteenth century on. …show more content…
The wide array of ritual behaviors in word and deed reveals both the creativity of those who had different lines of access to honor resources, as well as the conditionality of the code of honor itself.
Rituals marked important sites for the creation of gender identity. Ritual activities provided the stage settings for women and men to carry out socially appropriate behaviors marking key points along the moving edge of their life course. In the process, rituals posited a set of gender expectations that were complicated by the realities of everyday life, for ritual practices embodying definitions of masculinity and femininity were alive to other variables such as age, class, personal circumstances, or changing political relationships. Men and women constructed both each other’s honor and gender identity by means of a complicated ‘network of oppositions and dependencies’. Shows a view of gender constructs alongside the practical relationships and tasks that bound men and women together.
Three types of ritual activity inflected the relationship between gender and honor in different ways and involved different sets of participants. Honor was gendered in rites of passage rooted in kinship, specifically nuptial rites – events that helped anchor a family’s reputation in the