Isabella d’Este, Marchioness of Mantua (1474-1539), is one of the most studied figures of Renaissance Italy, as an epitome of Renaissance court culture, and as a woman having an unusually prominent role in the politics of her day. An intelligent, independent-minded woman, she acted as regent for her husband when he was away on campaign and for her son, Federico, when he succeeded as a minor in 1519. She also travelled extensively, on business and pleasure, Her enduring fame rests in large part on her exquisite apartments in the Gonzaga palace in Mantua, their decoration and the works of art and antiquities she commissioned and collected to fill them. Her fame also rests on the fortunate survival of her extensive correspondence, thousands of letters to and from her, which reveal all aspects of her life, personal, political and cultural.
This book provides a rounded account of the full range of her activities and interests, and is grounded in an understanding of the context of the Italy of her day. The author covers Isabella d’Este’s life from her childhood to her years as a dowager, her relations with her parents and siblings as well as with her husband and children, her interest in literature and music as well as painting and antiquities, her political and diplomatic activities, her concern with fashion and jewellery, her relations with other women, and her love of travel, for business and pleasure. The author writes about her as a woman of her time and place, not as an icon, and distinguishes what was typical in her interests and activities and behaviour, for a woman of her status in Renaissance Italy, from what was exceptional about her. The thematic structure would help students looking for information on particular aspects to find their way more easily.
As one of the most famous figures of Renaissance Italy, this book will be of great interest to students of history, art history and gender studies.
Introduction: "Isabella d’Este
Chapter 1: A Child in Ferrara
Chapter 2: Wife and Consort
Chapter 3: Always an Este
Chapter 4: Patron and Collector
Chapter 5: The First Lady
Chapter 6: The Traveller
Chapter 7: The Dowager