[Conversion and Family in Two Italian Literary Texts of the Seventeenth Century]. In seventeenth Century Italy Scotland became one of the most powerful symbols of persecution of Catholics by Protestants. This was in large part thanks to the tragic story of Mary Queen of Scots being related in a myriad of historical texts, tragedies, oratorios and poems. In this context two “biographies” were published in Italy in 1644 and 1677 that narrated the vicissitudes of the lives of two Scottish capuchins in which the topic of religious identity is closely intertwined with gender issues. The first, written by the Archbishop of Fermo Giambattista Rinuccini and entitled Cappuccino Scozzese (Scottish Capuchin) (1644) tells the story of the noble George Leslie (d. 1637) who, born into a Protestant family, after his conversion to Catholicism in France, entered the Capuchin Order in Rome. The second, written by the Sicilian writer Antonio Lupis and entitled Marchesa d’Hunsleij (Marchioness of Huntley) (1677), relates the story of John Forbes (1571–1606), son of a Catholic mother and a Protestant father who decides to follow his maternal religion. Both biographies, which enjoyed outstanding editorial success, are true stories though take some liberties with historical reality. The central themes of both biographies are conversion and family conflict. And in both biographies one of the main figures is the mother of the capuchin. In one case the child leads to his mother’s conversion while in the other the mother pushes her son to conversion. If Lupis’ book, as evidenced by the title, is actually the biography of Forbes’ mother, this is also the case of Rinuccini’s Cappuccino Scozzese where the fulcrum around which revolvs the story is really the conversion of Leslie’s mother. In the comparison between historical truth and fiction the essay investigates how the two authors have addressed the theme of “conversion” from a gender point of view.
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