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Katherine M. Bentz
St. Anselm College (Manchester, NH 03102-1310)
Prelates, Health and the Villa in Early Modern Rome, 1550-1620

Research and writing leading to a book on how concerns about health influenced the conception and design of gardens in country villas near Rome during the 16th and 17th centuries.

“Prelates, Health and the Villa in Early Modern Rome, 1550-1620” examines sumptuous villa gardens built by popes and cardinals during the seemingly austere period of the Counter-Reformation. While elaborate gardens provided prelates with luxury and prestige, they also served as places for the salubrious recreation and exercise considered essential for healthy living. Maintaining good health was a political imperative for these churchmen, for disease could threaten the very stability of the Church. By exploring the culture of preventative medicine in early modern society, I show how ideas about health and hygiene shaped villa design and use. I thus offer new conclusions about the crucial role gardens played in Roman and Italian society, and a new perspective on how early modern society conceived of the relationship between their bodies and the environment. The NEH Summer Stipend will support the completion of a chapter of this project during a critical moment in its development.

Project fields:
Architecture; Art History and Criticism; Renaissance History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2020 – 8/31/2020