Norwegian version of this page

The Legacy of Birgitta of Sweden: Women, Politics, and Reform in Renaissance Italy

What are women’s contributions to European textual cultures and knowledge production? The main objective of this research project is to approach this question by offering a new, profound understanding of a period in European intellectual history when women played a significant role as cultural agents for the very first time.

Women playing chess. Painting.

Sofonisba Anguissola, The Chess Game (1555)

About the project

European and American scholars have lately uncovered the extraordinary surge of women writers and philosophers in early modern Italy (1350–1700), a number that by far surpasses that of women writers in other countries during the Renaissance. In the same period, Birgitta of Sweden’s literary oeuvre circulated widely in Italy. Latin manuscripts of Birgitta’s work Revelaciones (Celestial Revelations) were copied in Italian scriptoria, translated into Italian vernacular, incorporated in compilations, and printed in Latin and Italian editions. However, the legacy of Birgitta’s extensive literary production and its possible impact on female writers and intellectuals in Renaissance Italy has hitherto not been explored. The purpose of this project is to fill this gap.


The project pursues a three-fold aim:

  • By mapping the Italian and Latin manuscripts and early print editions of Birgitta’s literary work, the project aims to achieve a systematized overview of the extant materials that were produced and circulated in Italy in the Renaissance.
  • By creating a database (including bibliographies, maps, biographies, and links to manuscripts and to early printed editions), the project will prepare the ground for a series of innovative case studies.    
  • Tracing the networks connected to the production and transmission of manuscripts and print editions (in courts, cities, convents and publishing houses), the project will explore the extensive legacy of Birgitta of Sweden in Italy. A central question is how Renaissance and early modern female writers may have fashioned their authorial voice on Birgitta’s Revelaciones.  


  1. Mapping Birgitta of Sweden’s Network in Italy
  2. The Early Renaissance
  3. The Reform Movement in the 1530s and 1540s
  4. The Impact of Birgitta after the Council of Trent                              

The Database created as part of the project.




The project is funded by The Research Council of Norway (FRIPRO).

Logo for The Research Council of Norway,


Tags: Birgitta of Sweden, Women Writers, Italian Renaissance, Renaissance studies, History of Ideas, Book History
Published Jan. 19, 2018 12:29 PM - Last modified May 20, 2022 3:06 PM