Mothers & Children

The role of mothers in the life of their children has been greatly analyzed in past and present literature.

I am interested in deepening the knowledge between mothers and children in a particularly difficult time of life: when fathers passed away and children became orphans.

Using Sienese documentation, I try to clarify and understand the role of mothers (now widows, even temporarily) as legal tutors over their children.

While legally the tutela [guardianship] over orphans was a masculine duty, there is evidence that in many cases mothers were chosen as tutors despite the existence (and resistance) of male relatives belonging to the paternal family of the orphans.

While not all the mothers wanted to assume the tutela (and that opens up striking questions about the difficulties of family life), other Sienese mothers fought to protect their children.