Written in Stone

Zones of Exclusion and Control in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Florence

Early Modern Florentine governments regulated public behaviour in a variety of ways – one of which was by embedding laws into the walls of buildings. These “stone laws” implored the public to behave decently around convents and other sacred areas.

Julia Rombough, formerly a graduate research assistant at DECIMA and currently assistant professor at Acadia University, produced the above map to demonstrate how the Florentine authorities segmented the streetscape into zones of licit and illicit activities. Her research is based on so-called ‘stone laws’ – wall-mounted tabled announcing the prohibition of certain activities like ball-playing and prostitution – some of which remain visible to the present day. Set in relief by DECIMA’s data on the residences inhabited by prostitutes, for example, Prof. Rombough’s Leggi in Lapide project looks into how these spreading zones of exclusion affected the lived experience of early modern Florence.

This research is drawn from Dr. Rombough’s broader project on the regulation of female spaces in early modern Florence. You can learn more about her work by reading:

This project is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Archivio di Stato di Firenze

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