By the mid-sixteenth century, Florentine families and courts agreed: financially reckless individuals were not just bad decision makers, they were, in fact, quite mad. Their madness, moreover, was dangerous. While the prodigal madman was not likely to begin raving violently or perform lewd acts in public, he was as dangerous as mad men who did, for he threatened the stability of Florentine economics and undermined the sacrosanct concept of patrimony. This intriguing consensus reached by Florentine society reflects just one facet of the complicated negotiations among individuals, families and civic authorities over the management of the mad in late medieval and early modern Tuscany. Exploring these negotiations lies at the heart of Elizabeth Mellyn’s book, Mad Tuscans and Their Families , a study that proves to be an engaging and timely look at the ways in which families dealing with madness sought protection in the courts – protection for their mad loved ones and protection for their money. If the recent spate of publications, symposia and conference panels on madness, intellectual disability and emotional health is anything to go by, the history of premodern madness is undergoing a rather energetic reformation. It is a welcome move forward in
Early Science and Medicine – Brill
Published: Apr 9, 2015
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