Elana Cassandra Tarabotti

Kate Lindemann's 

Women Philosophers


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Elana Cassandra Tarabotti (Baratotti, Galerana, pseudonym) was forced into a convent because her father thought her not to be marriageable since she had a physical disability. Her life is a testament to the determination of a woman. She turned to writing and the intellectual life and contributed much to our understanding of her times.


1604 Elana Cassandra Tarabotti was born in Venice, Italy. She was the eldest of 10 children and was disabled from birth.

1615 - She was sent to a convent boarding school.

1618 - Against her will she was entered into a Benedictine convent in Venice. (Her father considered her unmarriageable and such placement of daughters was not uncommon at the time.)

1620 She was clothed in the habit, a sign of acceptance into a religious community, and it appears that she used all the resources available to her to educate herself. (Monasteries often had ample libraries and remained a source of education for members of a community. For women, monasteries and the schools/classes they offered for children in the surrounding area were the mainstay of education since most European university systems did not welcome women. Although Italy was an exception to this rule, relatively few women were admitted to universities in Italy.

1623 Elana Tarabotti, took her vows as a Benedictine sister and was henceforth called Arcangela

1630's Arcangela became acquainted with a Venetian society of intellectuals and free thinkers, Accademia degli Incogniti (Academy of the Unknowns).

1640 - 1642 She circulates copies of two of her works La tirannia paterna (Paternal Tyranny), and L'inferno monacale (The Tonastic Hell) both of which express criticisms born of her circumstances.

1643 She completes Il paradiso monacale (The Monastic Paradise).

1644 sister Arcangela published Antisatira d'A[rcangela]T[arabotti] in risposta alla satira Menippea contro il lusso donnesco di Francesco Buoninsegni which was a reply to a work published a few years earlier that mocked women for being vain.

1650 She enters into wider correspondence with intellectuals of the day: Smaƫl Boulliau, with Martherel and other members of the court of Prince Leopold and the French Ambassador, N-B de Gremonville as well as friend Boulliau.

1651 Elana Cassandra Tarabotti (Arcangela) Che le donne siano della spetie degli uomini. Difesa delle donne de Galerana Barcitotti [pseudonym] contro Horatio. (Women are no less Rational than Men: In Defense of Galerana Barcitotti against Horace.)

1652 - Elana Cassandra Tarabotti dies in Venice at the age of 48.


1644 Antisatira  published anonymously by DAT [donnaAntisatira d'A[rcangela]T[arabotti] in risposta alla satira Menippea contro il lusso donnesco di Francesco Buoninsegni .

 Arcangela Tarabotti] in F. Buoninsegni, Contro il lusso donnesco, satira menippea

1650 Lettres familiarie de complimento

1651 Che le donne siano della spetie degli uomini. Difesa delle donne de Galerana Barcitotti [pseudonym] contro Horatio Plata

1654 La semplicita ingannata (written in 1634 as La tiranna paterna.) Leida: Gio. Sambix.

1654 L'inferno monacale a single manuscript in the private collection of Count Giustiani

1663 - Il paradiso monacale. Venezia: Gugliemo Oddoni. 

Modern translations:

Paternal Tyranny. Letitia Panizza, ed. Chicago: University of Chicgo Press, 2004.  

Secondary sources: Labalme, Patricia H., "Women's roles on Early Modern Venice: an Exceptional Case" in Beyond their Sex: Six Learned Women of the European Past Patricia H. Labalme, ed. (New York, 1980)

Zanatte, Emilio, Suo Arcangela monaca del Seicento  (Rome-Venice, 1960)

Italian women Writers: Elana Cassandra Tarabotti

I wish to acknowledge the work of DR ROBERT A. HATCH - UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA and his web site on the Scientific Revolution. For additional bibliography use his Elana Cassandra Tarabotti.

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