Courts and Courtiers in Renaissance Northern Italy: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Courts and Courtiers in Renaissance Northern Italy

1st Edition

By Stephen Kolsky


350 pages

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New in Paperback: 9781138375529
pub: 2018-09-27
Hardback: 9780860789291
pub: 2003-12-16

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The extraordinary cultural Renaissance in the northern Italian courts of the late 15th and early 16th centuries is the subject of this volume. It starts with Baldessar Castiglione's Book of the Courtier (1528) which encapsulates this sense of renewal: his experiences at court and their subsequent rewriting form the backbone of the work. The author then addresses questions of biography, gender, genre, and the varied roles of the courtier, expanding the perspective of Castiglione's text to include the lives and writings of other courtiers and patrons. What was it like to be a courtier? What were the problems associated with such a lifestyle? The importance of women in court circles is also highlighted in studies of one of the most notable of female patrons Isabella d'Este (1474-1539) and of the theoretical developments in writing about gender, stimulated by such women. Stephen Kolsky's analysis of both well-known and comparatively obscure texts brings out the diversity of practices that constituted court society and their centrality to our understanding of the Renaissance.


'Although in some ways a highly specialized collection this is also a suggestive and rewarding one deserving attention from scholars interested in the Italian contribution to European concepts of courtly manners.' Journal of Early Modern History '… an array of fascinating and detailed insights into the world portrayed so memorably by Castiglione and into the development of ideas and cultural attitudes in one of the crucial texts of the western canon.' Parergon

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Castiglione's Book of the Courtier: Before the nunciature: Castiglione in fact and fiction; Women through men's eyes: the third book of Il Cortegiano; Making and breaking the rules: Castiglione's Cortegiano; Graceful performances: the social and political context of music and dance in the Cortegiano; Old men in a new world: Morello da Ortona in the Cortegiano; Learning virtue, teaching politics. Some notes on Book Four of the Cortegiano; Equicola and Other Courtiers: Did Mario Equicola write Il novo corteggiano?; 'The good servant': Mario Equicola. Court and courtier in early 16th-century Italy; Appunti sulla biografia di Mario Equicola; The courtier as critic: Vincenzo Calmeta's Vita del facondo poeta vulgare Serafino Aquilano; Lelio Manfredi traduttore cortigiano. Intorno al Carcer d'Amore e al Tirante il Bianco; Gender at Court: Images of Isabella d'Este; An unnoticed description of Isabella d'Este's Grotta; Theorizing pleasure in the Renaissance; Male descriptions, female inscriptions (Orlando furioso, XLII, 73-96); Men framing women: Sabadino degli Arienti's Gynevera de le clare donne reexamined; Index.

About the Author

Stephen Kolsky is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Italian, University of Melbourne, Australia

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General