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In 1728, Venice’s Executors against Blasphemy, a secular morality court, heard about a mysterious libertine harassing honourable young women in churches across the city. Their relatives had tried for months to catch him, to no avail, and finally turned to the court. Within 7 months, the court had found the mysterious harasser, though he claimed it was a case of mistaken identity. This paper unravels the story of the hunt for the harasser, along the way examining the ways that Venetians moved through the city and why the control of behaviour, even in supposedly safe spaces, was so difficult.

Celeste McNamara is assistant professor of early modern history at Dublin City University. She is the author of The Bishop’s Burden: Reforming the Catholic Church in Early Modern Italy. Her current project is entitled ‘Sin in the Serenissima: Policing Illicit Sexuality in 18th-Century Venice’, supported by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend, but booking is required.