'Leaving hell and arriving in paradise': Between Victimhood and Agency in the Exilic Experience of Luisa Donati Strozzi (1434-1510).
Alessandro, however, was resistant to his mother's arguments. Having chosen a life of scholarship and practising as an artist, which 'displeased' his mother, he remained in Venice, where he probably died in 1531. (3) Luisa's thwarted attempts to turn back time and assert the markers of family and lineage identity (ancestor reverence and a hereditary sense of corporate and political distinction) offer an evocative entree to the complexities of exiled menfolk faced by the Strozzi widow. Taking her epistolary overtures to Alessandro as its starting-point, this article will examine the intimate exilic experience of Luisa Strozzi and the encounter between two worlds plotted in her correspondence to her sons (1471-1510): the world of the Florentine homeland that had disappeared, and another world formed in its place, with its changing contours of family identity. I will argue that the phenomena of resettlement, widowhood, and exile-without-return situated Luisa at a complex nexus between victimhood and agency. In considering Luisa's predicament of occupying the intersecting spaces between them, I want to extend the research that has focused primarily on Florentine women who, belonging to families of exiled male kin, remained behind in, or returned to, their natal cities (of which the case study of Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi is the most conspicuous example), and to probe the nature of exile for a woman removed permanently from her birthplace in late fifteenth-century Italy.
Tempting though it may be to concur that the 'double trial' of exiled menfolk and widowhood provided the 'setting for an exercise of heroic domesticity', exile could be a profoundly destabilizing experience for the women implicated. (4) Using Luisa's correspondence as a tightly focused case study, this article places particular interest on how exile both constricted and activated Luisa's agency: not, however, as the manifestation of volition by an 'unfettered' woman but, rather, as a hybrid form of suffering, reflexive feeling, and various means of strategic activity and expression by a woman deeply entangled in her family's predicament. (5) This concept of agency designates a wide spectrum of behaviour, 'not only action, but also subjective life', (6) and consists of two realms of meaning: intentionality and power. That is, the ways in which 'action is cognitively and emotionally pointed toward some purpose', on the one hand, while on the other, agency is about acting within relations of power, or 'relations of social inequality, asymmetry, and force'. (7) In the case of Luisa Strozzi, agency is never solely one or the other.
Analysing significant markers of change within the lineage as a point of entry into the Strozzi's turbulent family world, I examine how Luisa manoeuvred her way through and against the interests of her sons, and around the power differentials with which these were inherently laden. It is crucial to insist that the agency exercised by Luisa was not uniform, that her agency frequently contracted into choicelessness and constraint, and expanded into strategy and activity. Activating a plethora of resourceful and inventive coping strategies, Luisa carved out exceptional circumstances for herself in the Ferrarese hostland. Through lineage patronage networks that were ultra-municipal in nature, and operating away from the Florentine homeland in a foreign court, this emigree Strozzi woman was enabled to commission personal and maternal agency out of necessity and utility in very tangible ways, and to act not only upon her exiled sons, but also upon herself.
I. Women and the Exile-Trajectory in Fifteenth-Century Italy
The exile of Alessandro's paternal grandfather Palla di Nofri Strozzi (1372-1462) from Florence in 1434 marked a watershed in the lifecycle of the Strozzi lineage. (8) In November of that year the balia and pratica of a pro-Medicean Signoria dismembered the entire power group that had just been overthrown, following Cosimo de' Medici's newly triumphant return to Florence from exile in Venice. (9) Over seventy sentences of exile were issued against the oligarchs who opposed Cosimo's more popular faction. Struck more on account of their wealth and power than because of any factional activity of their own were two illustrious branches of the Strozzi, one of the largest and most ancient of Florentine patrician lineages. Matteo di Simone Strozzi took refuge in Pesaro with his wife Alessandra Macinghi and their brood. Meanwhile, Palla Strozzi, the most distinguished member of the lineage and the richest man in Florence, was exiled to Padua with his eldest son Onofrio, and much of his property confiscated by the government. (10) Periodical extensions to the ban followed. In 1458, the Medici government broadened the expulsion decrees against the original rebels of 1434 to include their male descendants. (11) While the forced ban on the male heirs of Matteo Strozzi was rescinded in 1466, the ban of exile remained in place for Palla's descendants. In the following year, Alessandro's father Giovanfrancesco Strozzi (1418-1478), as part of a nucleus of Florentine exiles, attempted to overcome the regime by armed force. For partaking in the abortive coup Giovanfrancesco was condemned as a rebel and outlaw in Florence, and a bounty was offered for his capture. (12) Any sense of hope for an amnesty under Medici hegemony, or that Giovanfrancesco would head the family following Palla's death and insure what remained of its depleted fortune in exile, was extinguished. Together with his brothers, and as their father had, Giovanfrancesco died in exile in 1478. (13) Indeed Palla's grandsons would receive no official pardon until after the expulsion of the Medici in 1494. By that time, however, it was too late to return to Florence. The protracted exile had cut the branch off from Florence and fated its members to a permanent settlement in northeastern Italy.
Luisa's life curve was subsumed into the exile of Palla and his lineage, and its trajectory of failure. Born a Donati in Florence in 1434, Luisa descended from an old Florentine magnate family, urban in origins and dating from the twelfth century. (14) Like a number of such magnate lineages, the Donati were excluded from most political offices, and Luisa's betrothal to Giovanfrancesco Strozzi in 1448 thus forged a politically impotent alliance. (15) Little older than an adolescent, Luisa left her native Florence for Padua. In August 1452 she gave birth to the second of her twelve children, at least five of whom were male. (16) Luisa and her infant children appear to have lived for some time in Palla's residence in Padua. (17) Although not in legal exile until 1458, Giovanfrancesco had accompanied his father into confinement. He was apprenticed as a banker in Venice, where he eventually established his own banking firm, presumably to set about renewing the family's fortune in exile. From 1445 or 1446 until about 1464 Giovanfrancesco operated several Venetian companies with his brother-in-law Giovanni Rucellai, trading in skins, leather, textiles, and slaves. (18) Dividing his time between his business interests in Venice and Ferrara, Giovanfrancesco probably brought the nineteen-year-old Luisa to the household in Ferrara he established in 1453. If the news received by Alessandra Strozzi is to be believed, a creditor who visited Giovanfrancesco's house in 1465 reported on a household numbering more than fifty people, 'what with stewards, slave men and women, and other people'. (19) Luisa began her thirty-two-year widowhood at the age of forty-four, assuming responsibility for the family's property and her children. She remained in Ferrara until her death in 1510. (20)
Of the vast number of letters penned by Luisa Strozzi, 212 letters, most of them autograph, and spanning nearly four decades of the exile and its aftermath, are extant (1471-1510). Although their existence was first pointed to by Cecil Clough in an early essay on the Archivio Bentivoglio in the State Archive of Ferrara, within which the greater number of Luisa's letters are deposited, the correspondence of this Strozzi woman has since remained neglected by scholars. (21) A significant proportion of the letters were written to her adult sons Roberto, Alessandro, and Carlo, with fewer surviving letters to Giovanfrancesco, other male and female relatives, estate factotums, and political elites. Luisa's letters form a part of the dense epistolary network of Palla Strozzi's dispersed sons and grandsons, who maintained a copious correspondence spread over many years from Ferrara and other centres. (22) Although an unknowable number of Luisa Strozzi's letters are no longer extant, the collection in the Archivio Bentivoglio, once brought together with letters dispersed throughout other archives in Venice, Mantua, Ferrara, Modena, Florence, and Rome, constitutes a coherent epistolary corpus. (23)
A distinct paucity of sources on exile and women in Renaissance Italy--in quantity as well as in variety--has meant that a gendered perspective on exile is still in its academic infancy. The work of a small group of scholars, among them Margery Ganz, Susannah Foster Baxendale and, more recently, Judith Bryce, begins to redress this gap. The evidence they have marshalled shows the price paid by Florentine women belonging to families of exiled male kin who, even though they did not endure removal from their homeland, were as much victims of exile as their men, enduring isolation, litigation, and material deprivation: all the while campaigning for the return of their menfolk. (24) Notably, Ganz suggests that their experience was often of longer duration and the price they paid as great if not greater than that of the men for political failure. (25) The fact remains, however, that very few letters from women of exiled families in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy are extant, and public sources, though pointing to their juridical fate, are silent about the personal fate of such women.
For this reason, the seventy-three surviving letters authored by Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi (c. 1406-1471) to her exiled sons have become a mainstay in studies on the family, motherhood, gender, and women's literacy and epistolary activities in Quattrocento Florence. (26) Scholars have given concerted attention over the last several decades to this cache of letters as a counterweight to the conception of Renaissance society as strictly patriarchal, and to the powerful prescriptive formulae of female weakness with their ideological 'caricatures' of docility and irrationality. (27) Throwing into bold relief the forms of negotiation and subversion utilized by the Strozzi widow to attenuate the rigours of patriarchal norms, their findings have invariably concluded that the complication of male kin's exile enlarged the agentic dimensions of Alessandra's maternal role. (28)
When Matteo Strozzi and three of their children died of plague, probably in 1435, Alessandra returned to Florence, widowed and pregnant at the age of twenty-eight, to raise her remaining four children alone. Knowing that her sons were likely to become subject to the ban once they reached maturity, Alessandra turned to Matteo's closest male relatives to help establish her young sons elsewhere in the peninsula and abroad. Staying behind in the city, with her substantial dowry immune from confiscation and taxation, Alessandra provided the wherewithal to keep herself and her family afloat. Prioritizing the fortunes of the lineage body, she utilized her disposable capital to launch the banking careers of her sons, transferring money from her dowry in the form of loans and investments to stimulate business activities in the collective endeavour, led by her eldest son Filippo, to restore the family's fortunes, and 'raise' the Strozzi lineage anew. (29) Moreover, anchoring her sons to the lineage, Alessandra was an indispensable instrument of family strategy on the ground, lobbying Strozzi contacts, and elaborating intelligent and practical approaches in her letters to her sons about how to have their exile repealed. When Filippo returned to settle in his native city in the 1460s, loaded with political ambitions, he came to be a symbol of triumphant repatriation. (30)
The case of Luisa Strozzi provides a compelling foil to the paradigmatic example of Alessandra Strozzi, and its tidy configuration of mother and sons working in consort to reclaim the status and prestige of the lineage in Florence. In some respects, it is a more volatile tale of consequences and conflict. The complication of Luisa's displacement and resettlement as a lasting experience to the Strozzi's banishment offers a useful analytical lens to investigate the agency of women who did not remain behind in their natal cities, but went into exile with their menfolk and settled permanently in foreign hostlands. By staying behind in Florence and making the goals and interests of the patrilineal family her own, Alessandra functioned in the capacity of an honorary Strozzi man. In this climate of thick consensus, motherly and fatherly duties and roles were entangled, and the widow was permitted to achieve a degree of, sometimes considerable, latitude in the executing of 'manly tasks' that only male heads of households had possessed. (31) Remaining behind, however, is only one side of the complicated story of exile for women with banished male kin in fifteenth-century Italy. With these ideas in mind, this article turns to the splintered consensus of Luisa and her sons reverberating throughout her correspondence, and how female agency struggled to manifest within this contested family context.
II. Maternal Psychodrama: At the Nexus between Victimhood and Agency
For Palla's descendants there was none of the reversal of fall from prosperity and affliction in Florence with good fortune's return that Filippo Strozzi would emblematize as the victorious fate of Matteo Strozzi's branch. Keyed to this contrast was an epidemic of crises and economic calamities that befell Palla's line during the period of exile. In a spate of failures of Florentine companies following the death of Cosimo de' Medici in 1464, the collapse of Giovanfrancesco's Venetian bank, and the great many debts accrued, guaranteed the family's wholesale loss of social status and honour, and his own infamy in Florence. (32) In describing this bankruptcy crisis, Alessandra noted with bitter irony in a letter to Filippo in 1465 that Giovanfrancesco had made the Strozzi house 'bloom again'. (33) Without her letters for the period, we cannot know how Luisa responded to this newest blemish on the branch, with its additional fruit of Giovanfrancesco's ignominy in Florence, or to the pitiless condemnation of her distant kinswoman. However, as Gregory has acutely underscored, Alessandra's censure of Giovanfrancesco 'revers[ed] the theme of resurgence of the lineage which she had applied in a positive sense to her son's own activities.' (34) Triply tainted by exile, conspiracy and bankruptcy, Giovanfrancesco's branch was cut off from Florence. Without any opportunity to rehabilitate themselves in Florentine public life, nor the collective incentive to generate the profit needed to do so, Luisa's sons were forced in new directions.
Two letters of Luisa written to Alessandro in Venice twenty-three years apart from each other capture some of the competing forces over time for other forms of affiliation. In a disconsolate epistolary moment in the winter of 1471, in the period of her pre-widowhood, Luisa recounted how Alessandro's brother, Pandolfo, had run away from home to the Monastery of San Girolamo in Pontremoli and become an Observant Franciscan friar. Not even Giovanfrancesco's direct appeal to the bishop of Padua was likely to get Pandolfo back. (35) In this blow of abandonment, Luisa railed out against her son: 'Pandolfo has shown little love for his father who made him', and little love, therefore, for his biological lineage. (36) When the nineteen-year-old Palla, the youngest of Luisa's five sons and last of her twelve children, also abandoned his kin and upbringing, choosing his Franciscan brethren over his lineage in 1494, she complained bitterly:
All my paths bring me trouble and distress. [Palla] has left me all alone, even considering I have been abandoned by all of you [...]. What a harsh thing, and cruel it seems to me, to have borne and brought up twelve children in hardship and suffering, and in my old age to find myself alone, with one servant and destitute [...]. (37)
By its end, the letter is mostly suffused with resignation to her lonely fate, and to the conversion of Palla into Fra Gian' Battista da Ferrara. (38) Where order in the family was unequivocally valued as a systemic whole, Luisa's twin lamentations, and their motif of abandonment, suggest a weakening in the Strozzi's history as a corporate identity. This ancestral loosening bore down upon Luisa's agentic potential. The years of her widowhood reveal the fragility of consensus between mother and sons, and the shifting degrees of manifested agency: fallen into fragments on some occasions, while tenuously held together on others.
Of the sons who remain to any degree visible to the historian's eye, no less than two embarked upon military careers. Carlo commenced training to become a priest, although this did not appear to evoke Luisa's opposition. (39) However, a position in the Church appears to have fallen away and Carlo pursued a career as a mercenary in the service of the Venetian Republic fighting the French in the Battle of Taro. (40) In 1509, he was employed by the Estensi in the war of the League of Cambrai fighting the Venetians. (41) Roberto was educated as a page in the court of Ercole d'Este, where, as was customary within the courtly environment, he could acquire military skills together with more pacific achievements. (42) When Roberto was recruited into the military service of Venice is unclear, but he served the republic until his death at thirty as a mercenary captain in the Battle of Taro, fighting as part of the Italian League led by Venice against Charles VIII in 1495. (43) Alessandro probably assisted his father in the banking business, though at the age of twenty-two he aspired to participate in the antiquarian ambient as his grandfather had. (44) Letters to his father in 1477 regarding the sale of part of Palla's important collection of Greek manuscripts, and other letters exchanged with Paduan poets, illustrate Alessandro's close association with a circle of humanists and scholars in Venice, Padua, and at the Este court. (45) In circumstances that are unclear, Pandolfo ultimately left the Franciscan monastery for the Este court, where he served as a chamberlain to Ercole d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, until his death in 1477. (46)
Entwined with the legacy of their father's impoverishment and the self-fashioning of a wholly un-mercantile, Florentine Strozzi identity--as courtier, soldier, scholar, and artist--the estranging forces of shifting lineage values and self-interest fostered a sometimes deeply adversarial relationship between mother and sons. Luisa was forced to manoeuvre to get her own way in a contest with these mature Strozzi men who sought to wrest financial control over property the widow regarded as her own, and assert full male authority over family affairs. In a letter to the procurators in Padua in 1499, regarding the judgement awarding her the restitution of rental income re-appropriated by Roberto prior to his death, Luisa made the following claim: 'Having over these past years loved my sons more than myself, and believing they would be grateful and faithful to me, I was reduced to giving them all my dotal possessions and goods'. But Luisa had found there was little filial obligation to provide the means for her everyday sustenance from her one permanent resource. (47) She had become a family dependent. '[F]or my sons', Luisa declared to Alessandro with mournful earnestness, 'I have stripped myself bare of all my property and there is nothing left for me to live on but 12 ducati, as if I were a servant'. And she warned him bluntly: 'God does not perform good acts for those who deceive their mother, as you have seen from Roberto's experience' (Roberto perished in a battlefield skirmish). (48)
Writing during the last stage of her life, in a letter to Carlo of 1503, Luisa foregrounded the desperate position into which a dependence on her son and his abuse of the dowry had forced her: 'you will make me die before my time, only by the anxieties and melancholy you bring upon me through your bad behaviour'. (49) In a letter to a Veronese nobleman, Guido de' Maffei, otherwise devoted to outlining the conditions of a bequest for a daily memorial mass to be performed in the Strozzi church of Santa Maria di Betlemme in Padua to commemorate, so Luisa instructed, 'my soul and the souls of all our dead', and which was to also include a yearly endowment to the convent, the Strozzi widow described the risk Carlo posed to her commemorative commission. He had objected to the amount of the bequest outright and Luisa feared her testamentary act would be dishonoured. (50) To amplify her plight, Luisa reported that Carlo had broken into her house and stolen 170 ducats. Moreover, he had falsified a document in order to gain full legal entitlement to his mother's property, including land and chattels. (51) Summing up her predicament in continually challenging her son's authority over property that she could never control, Luisa mourned her vulnerable status away from the support of the natal fold and the aid of Donati relatives to right an injustice to their kinswoman: 'I have neither brothers or relatives over here, as they are all in Florence, and I again find myself in such sorrow that I can't escape from being pestered to death by my son'. (52) The lament voices the particular expressive-emblematic elements of Luisa's correspondence: suffering and agency.
The maternal and filial tug-of-war played out between the Strozzi protagonists reveals a spectrum of emotions, when the dignity and rights to property Luisa should have been able to demand to care for herself and her remaining children were denied her. Importantly, Luisa was claiming a measure of this executorial and financial agency, not as a woman exercising autonomy free of constraints but, rather, as a widow defined in good part by her relationship to her sons and the conjugal lineage. (53) But when oppressed, agency could be a destabilizing force. Layering maternal rebuke with censure in an undated letter to Roberto for his contemptuous neglect of his mother and her 'poor puttini, Luisa utilized the only tool at hand, a threat: 'if you do not come with some money upon receiving this letter [...] I will hold you in as little esteem as you hold me [...]. And I have already made arrangements to send someone over there who is not afraid of you and has the face to confront you'. (54) Staying at the Ferrarese court for the pre-Lenten carnival period in 1487, Roberto dragged his feet anew over money earmarked for the needs of Luisa's remaining children under her care. She flung a bitter reproach his way, complaining that her efforts to extract payments left her with her 'hands full of flies and being led to understand white for black'. (55)
Roberto's nephew, Palla di Alessandro, would later describe in his ricordanza that the family patrimony had been unable to bear the strain of his uncle's pursuit of the profession of arms, that Roberto had squandered money on horses and fine clothing. (56) It is scant yet tantalizing evidence of Roberto's reckless spending habits. One suspects such, or similar, expenses moved Luisa to write another letter to her son in early 1487 regarding her grim predicament:
the facts about these children could not get any worse and I find myself, again, disgruntled that the rental incomes have been taken and that I have nothing, nor have I ever received anything from those small rents [...] the children are so poor that they have nothing I can pawn [...]. It would have been better if I had taken all that was mine, because now I have neither mine nor theirs [...] I am pleading with you to put an end to my distress and pain ['passioni'] that I will no longer have to write these troublesome letters to you [...]. (57)
The letter accentuates an elusive quarry: the impalpable, subjective experience of duress that financial hardship and dowry-digging sons could exert on the women of banished families. Yet this is also a very rhetorical text. Among Luisa's only weapons, a maternal psychodrama is compressed into the epistolary form. Deployed to push against filial agendas that pruned her right to demand her sustenance to live decently and enjoy the usufruct of the Strozzi patrimony, the semantic activity of ' passioni' suggests that its use here was also somatic.
By her own description, Luisa's body was a physical and psychological site upon which her manifestations of suffering were expressed. (58) Bouts of illness and their ensemble of symptoms accent the psychological limits in the widow's struggle to commission agency. In an undated letter to her factotum Francesco, Luisa requested a box of 'sugared anise seeds' to settle her stomach, complaining that she was having 'many visions' and suffering from unbearable insomnia. (59) These corporeal and emotional afflictions, blurring the somatic and psychological, accompanied the pawning of Luisa's possessions as security for a loan to start legal proceedings against her son Carlo. (60) The image of a body and wit shaped by conflict and weakening control over property persists in the correspondence, both as 'a medium of self-fashioning or somatic protest' where leverage might also, of course, be gained. (61)
In 1498, in the aftermath of the ban's rescinding, when it was suspected that Roberto's widow, Laudomia Acciaiuoli, would need her dowry of 2000 ducats back at her second marriage, Luisa feared the untenable consequences of refunding the dowry for family resources. Moreover, she dreaded the consequences for her little grandson Robertino, abandoned in poverty, and the ramifications of child custody for herself. (62) As far as it is possible to tell, Luisa was given guardianship of the orphan so that she was obliged to assume once more in her sixties the functions and role of a mother. Old and isolated from her sons in the country, and grandmaternal guardianship all but forced upon her, Luisa's body manifested sickness in a letter to Alessandro:
I have developed a strong pain in my mouth, with salty phlegm, and I have pain in all my teeth and jawbones that reaches right up to my temple, and I have so many little ulcers on my tongue that I am unable to sleep or chew. It is my bad luck that I am confined in the country house and can't be treated; and so I am begging you to speak with your doctor and make sure that he orders the syrups, and send them to me in a little sack and, likewise, a small flask of spa water because my liver is hot [.. .]. (63)
Displacement from filial support and consideration, vital to the commissioning of maternal agency, created another layer of exile for Luisa. Maternal agency was not a once-and-for-all defined capacity and condition. Rather, it was an unstable interactive familial force that could be disabled or enabled and, when thwarted, it gave way to melancholic lamentation through which Luisa enlarged upon the theme of her maltreatment. One occasion in 1496 carried a whiff of danger in the verbal violence directed at Luisa by Laudomia's father in a dispute over the country house in Villabona. (64) Luisa confided to Alessandro the perils of governing an extended family in which her authority was unrecognized, and which left her open to mistreatment and abuse, both verbal and physical: 'You would not believe that they threatened to throw me from the windows!'. (65) Alessandro graphically memorialized the threat and manhandling of Luisa in an entry in his Ricordi: 'Rafaele, Laudomia's father, threatening to throw my mother out of the windows, pushed her out of the room. Out of fear, she ran away to the house of a local labourer'. (66)
Driven from the Villabona property earlier in 1493, on account of Roberto's insolent demeanour and the irreverence of some visiting soldier companions, Luisa fled for the Badia. (67) Humiliatingly forced from the household she expected to be able to govern, Luisa later angrily rebuked her son in a letter addressed to him in Venice: 'I have left hell and arrived in paradise [...] where I no longer hear Our Lady being cursed, and where I feel my spirit and body are at peace', as if journeying within to a place of emotional exile from her troubled family, and the contest there between her victimhood and agency. (68)
Luisa is a sufferer suffering for her sons and this, after all, is precisely what she is determined to build into her letters. Certainly, her experience of suffering feeds into her own narrative arc and into the trajectory of the Strozzi's exile. (69) Indeed Luisa's plight is, perhaps, more typical of elite women's experience of exile, especially as a vulnerable widow in constant conflict with her marital family over dowry assets, than was Alessandra Strozzi's. (70) But victimhood is not the total sum of Luisa's experience. Though placing all her eggs in the patriarchal basket, Luisa was forced to negotiate two harsh realities. On the one hand, her sons, exiled-without-return, were becoming something other than Florentine Strozzi; while, on the other hand, the lack of concord over family goals and interests imperilled the patrimony upon which she had expected to rely in widowhood. Luisa was forced, therefore, to develop inventive strategies for survival. In other words, Luisa does more than shrink back and submit to her fate. Rather, falling into the greater doings of the Strozzi, suffering provided a powerful impetus that spurred Luisa on. Her letters are a salutary reminder about the 'double-edged nature of agency'--as an enabling and disabling force--in the lives of women of exiled menfolk. (71) Luisa was not merely a victim of the persecution of her male kin, but an active defender of Strozzi family interests. (72) The third section of the article will analyse how, in the crisis of banished menfolk and her own migratory circumstances, the Strozzi widow could not afford to ignore the need for support from a powerful kinship network in her host city of Ferrara; in particular at the Este court, in which Luisa carved out a potent space for her maternal agency.
III. The Intersection of Lineage Agency with Female Agency at the Este Court
In two recent studies, Lorenzo Fabbri has analysed the 'ultra-municipal dimensions' of the dispersed Strozzi; that is, the clustering of lineage nuclei in the court environments of various Italian principalities (particularly Mantua and Ferrara) from 1385, and the rooting of the branches under the protection and largesse of the Este and Gonzaga princes. (73) Tracing the stratagems deployed to defend their interests by exploiting blood ties between kinsmen fanned out across the peninsula and strategic alliances forged with the elites of their host societies, Fabbri has underscored how exiled men could be both victims and victors of political forces. (74)
The establishment in the early 1470s of a close political alliance between Ferrara and Naples, secured by the marriage of Eleonora d'Aragona, daughter of King Ferdinand I, and Ercole d'Este was a watershed for the Strozzi. It inaugurated a pivotal patronage relationship for the family lines in Ferrara. Their exiled kinsman Filippo Strozzi, through his loyal financial services to the King, and from whom Ferdinand had borrowed substantially in the war of the barons' revolt, gained considerable influence at the Neapolitan court. Through this favour of the King and, more importantly still, his close personal association with Ferdinand's daughter Eleonora, Filippo came to occupy a special role as leader and benefactor to the diffused Strozzi branches. As Fabbri has shown, these advantageous alliances were turned to good use by the Strozzi men in Ferrara: invariably to obtain the indulgence of the duke or the intercession of his wife. Luisa Strozzi's correspondence, however, yields interesting new evidence that the exploitation of this matrix of relations to defend family interests was not the preserve of the Strozzi men alone. Rather, the family could be shielded in exile through a combination of both male and female efficacies. The letters suggest that even the serious needs or claims of women in this big and dispersed lineage were the business of Filippo's particular type of lineage patronage. (75) Indeed Luisa herself lubricated the 'ultra-municipal strategies' upon which this labyrinthine network depended. (76)
With these ideas in mind, the article turns to the manifold ways in which Luisa utilized the Strozzi's political and dynastic networks crisscrossing the courts of Mantua, Ferrara, and Naples. There can be little doubt that the favourable situation in Ferrara was of decisive importance to the establishment of Giovanfrancesco's household in the city, where he was offered citizenship in 1477. (77) Like her menfolk, Luisa capitalized on the profitable relationship between Filippo and the Aragonese: in particular, his close relationship with Eleonora d'Aragona, the Duchess of Ferrara. The tense relations between Ercole d'Este and King Ferdinand installed Eleonora at the helm of this critical patronage relationship, and she became a vital conduit at court for Luisa to all manner of patronage, intercession and aid. Further still, the bonds between the houses of Este and Gonzaga, reaffirmed through the marriage of Isabella d'Este, daughter of the Duke of Ferrara, and Francesco Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, enabled Luisa to widen the scope of her activities and strategies. Operating outside a Florentine-centric world-view, Luisa was central to her sons in rather different ways to Alessandra Strozzi. Negotiating migration as a process inextricably bound up with family dynamics, (78) Luisa activated strategies of survival that were ultra-municipal in nature, and in which women figured prominently: a two-pronged strategy where lineage agency and female family agency, enabled by female bonds, intersected.
When Roberto Strozzi was accused of committing murder in Ferrara in 1476, for instance, the various branches of the Strozzi mobilized to obtain the intercession of the Duke and Duchess of Ferrara. Giovanfrancesco petitioned Filippo Strozzi's younger brother Lorenzo in Naples to assist him in seeking the indulgence of Ercole d'Este, and in writing a letter to Teofilo Calcagnini, a favoured courtier of the duke and intimate of the court. The timing was opportune. The request coincided with the visit to Ferrara of Beatrice d'Aragona, the duchess's sister, on her way to join her future husband Matthias Corvinus, the King of Hungary. (79) No letters of Luisa survive for the period and so her own lobbying activities in this crisis during her pre-widowhood are veiled. However, in a letter to his mother on the matter, and suggesting a calculated cross working with her, Alessandro reported on the strategy of having Roberto's plight communicated directly by Lorenzo to Teofilo in Naples. (80)
It is probable that something more complicated is to be understood here about Teofilo Calcagnini's involvement.Teofilo's marriage to Marietta Strozzi, Giovanfrancesco's niece, and with whom she had lived as a ward following the death of her parents, provided Luisa with an important familial connection at the Este court. Among formal male links in the court environment, Marietta was a valuable, exclusive channel to influence seeking and favour petitioning. Presumably, the connection must have enabled Luisa to exert a modicum of influence over Teofilo himself. Months earlier in February, Marietta was among a small delegation accompanying Eleonora and her brother-in-law Sigismondo d'Este (81) on a visit to the Venetian doge and Signoria. (82) Marietta's inclusion in this intimate circle linked Luisa into distinctly female patronage coalitions at court. The information set forth very deliberately by Alessandro in his letter for his mother suggests an intriguing set of key female coordinates composed of Luisa, Marietta, and Eleonora, and which included Teofilo, within the wider grid of the Strozzi's strategic associates and allies among the ruling elites of the Italian states.
There is, however, something more besides burrowed into Alessandro's letter. Delineating Eleonora and Sigismondo's travels to Corbola, southwest of Venice, to coincide with Beatrice's passage to Ferrara by boat, Alessandro reported on Teofilo's own travels to Corbola to visit the duchess 'immediately' following his return from Naples. Enabling his mother to navigate the network in operation through his letter, Alessandro included that he had had reliably confirmed that Lorenzo Strozzi had spoken with Teofilo in Naples 'regarding the case of Roberto', which would be 'pressed and brought to an end' in Ferrara. (83) That Teofilo's urgent visit with the duchess occurred in the wake of this discussion in Naples suggests an important causal connection and means of intervention on Eleonora's part in Roberto's affair to which Luisa would have been acutely attuned.
Roberto was pardoned but it is unclear through precisely whom the pardon was obtained. An important clue suggesting Eleonora's direct hand in the matter is offered in the pardon she obtained for Lionardo di Niccolo Strozzi a year earlier in 1475. In a case not dissimilar from Roberto's, Lionardo had been imprisoned for wounding a citizen of Ferrara. (84) To obtain the duke's indulgence, Lorenzo Strozzi, Marietta's brother, petitioned Filippo Strozzi to procure a forceful letter from Lorenzo de' Medici addressed to the Duke and Duchess of Ferrara. Moreover, Lorenzo enjoined Filippo to ask the Cing of Naples to write to the duke and to the duchess, his daughter. (85) Lorenzo pointed out that Eleonora had offered to do all that she could out of the love she bore for the Strozzi and for Filippo. (86) Of this circle of powerbrokers, the duchess was first to obtain a pardon for Lionardo before letters requesting the pardon arrived from the dignitaries in Florence and Naples. (87)
Tantalizing insights into Luisa's integration into court society and adjustment to the culture of her hostland emerge in her correspondence, revealing the immediate proximity of this emigree widow to the ruling family, which was vital in forging strategies of personal and family advancement and survival. This is observable in a long anecdote from a letter of 1489 to Roberto Strozzi in which Luisa, accompanying Isabella d'Este and 'the other putte' of the court, was entertained to dinner with Sigismondo d'Este. A description of court festivities is masterfully corralled to underscore Luisa's inclusion in the courtly milieu. Unable to attend to her other letter-writing labours, Luisa reported that she had suffered the symptoms of 'a great fever' over night, having caught her 'death of cold' upon leaving Sigismondo's palace and its 'rooms with great fires', and stepping out 'into the wind and rain' of the night. (88) The cursory treatment of her dining companions implies a well-established familiarity with this elite community, though the decorum of courtly society could be testing. Luisa grumbled that, weary of court festivities, she was 'no longer any good at performing these favours and courtesies because every evening they dance up to the eighth hour': an endless round of musical evenings and banquets the widow's elderly body and chronic rheumatic ailments rendered difficult for her to partake in. (89) In the spring of 1490, Luisa joined a bird hunting party at the ducal hunting park, the Barco, as part of a courtly circle of women, which included Isabella d'Este's younger sister Beatrice, the future Duchess of Milan. A letter of Luisa's to Isabella, written in a secretarial hand, reported on the activities of the hunt and on the women's gossip and chatter about the absent marchesa, whom they all sorely missed. (90) The letter shows Luisa's affection for the marchioness and the intimate access to a network of female influence and power at court upon which she was able to rely.
A wider documentary base than is presently available is required to recover various kinds of female bonding that must have worked to construct other female associations with older married or other widowed female companions at court. Nevertheless, the extant evidence does allow a partial reconstruction of the practicable and supportive measures Luisa's allegiances at court furnished her with and, importantly, the ways in which these connections could be exploited by her sons. An important salaried position at the Este court from 1480 to 1490 as a governess to the two young daughters of the Duke and Duchess of Ferrara, Isabella and Beatrice d'Este, was a crucial source of this patronage. On the circumstances surrounding Luisa's appointment, Alessandro included in his Ricordi that on 11 January 1480, 'Our mother came to Ferrara to stay at court with the Duchess Eleonora, on a salary, and solicited earnestly by the Este Signoria to look after her two daughters'. (91)
The court provided Luisa, widowed and her dowry the object of protracted conflict, with the opportunity to earn her own money. Entries recording Luisa's salary in the extant rolls of the Bolletta de' Salariati of the Camera Ducale for 1484 and 1488 demonstrate that she enjoyed particular benefits, drawing a salary both in money and in kind, or provisione, (92) which could consist of regular provision of foodstuffs and domestic goods, cloth, footwear, and clothing. (93) Her inclusion in this particular register, notably for permanent members of the court, reveals that Luisa enjoyed a desirable condition: the security of life at court, which could neutralize the vulnerability and impoverishment of widowhood in the exiled family. 'I am pleased that what our mother will receive from Madama', Roberto confided, somewhat ironically, to Alessandro in 1481, 'will be sufficient to meet her needs.' (94) Though asserting ownership over this position and money were other matters entirely. The listing of two payments advanced to Palla Strozzi in the entry for his mother's money salary in 1488 suggest that he could utilize his mother's court position for financial, or other, gain. (95) Certainly, the use of her appointment by Roberto to help assimilate himself into courtly society led Luisa to snappily scold him for extravagant expenses associated with his jousting tournaments in 1489, which amounted to a 'great disgrace' and which, presumably, she was left to resolve with the court. (96) When the grandmother of Roberto's bastard children sought to claim part of the investment Luisa had made with her earnings in 1509, she confided angrily in a female relative: 'I earned this money at court as my allowance and it is mine'.
Luisa's court appointment imbued her position in the family with a symbolic capital and practical power that could be converted into tangible outcomes for the benefit of her sons, whose competing demands were the concern of their mother. '[R]egarding my matter with the duke,' Roberto informed Alessandro in a letter in 1481, 'I have written about it to our mother requesting that she speak with Madama: that she go to her and seek advice as to what I should do [...] and the sooner the better'. (98) Although the particulars of the affair do not emerge, Roberto's strategy offers an insight into how Luisa's agency in court life could act to the advantage of her sons, and how they, in turn, exploited their mother's capacity to operate through Eleonora. Roberto vigorously pressed his mother anew in 1492, that she 'must speak with Madama' and 'make her' write a letter to the tax officials in Ferrara on his behalf, explicitly requesting the commission to favourably consider his tax treatment; that 'one word' from Luisa would suffice to obtain the intervention of the duchess. (99) In a letter to Roberto in 1489, Luisa reported that the duke and Eleonora had written separately to Pope Innocent VIII on his brother Carlo's behalf seeking a Ferrarese benefice following his entering the Church. (100)
A salaried appointment associated with the court: what must have been a distinguished position, at least in the hierarchy of child-care at the court, provided Luisa with some status, prestige, and honour. Moreover, the role enabled Luisa to lay claim to an intimacy with the duchess, to ask for favours without being dependent on intermediaries, and to deploy levels of influence stemming from proximity to the ruling family, and her care of the princesses, in a variety of ways to support her sons. (101) Presumably, too, Eleonora's own emigree status in Ferrara rendered her sympathetic to the plight of other refugees in the city, which must have fostered a mutual sympathy with Luisa. To understand how these particular forms of leverage created spaces of maternal agency at court for the Strozzi widow, and exerted a symbolic and practical power, it is worth exploring one episode in some detail.
When Roberto Strozzi, fighting in the War of Rovereto in 1487, was among those soldiers in Venetian service besieged in the castle of Rovereto by the Duke of Austria's troops, Eleonora wrote to Francesco Gonzaga, the Marquis of Mantua, on 17 May. As he was betrothed to her daughter Isabella, and exploiting the close bonds between the houses of Este and Gonzaga, Eleonora requested Francesco's intervention on behalf of 'the generous and noble Madonna Luisa of the Strozzi' to secure the safety of her son. The significance of the request was made explicit. Luisa Strozzi was 'in charge of the care of her Ladyship Isabella, consort of [his] Lordship', and found herself 'completely grief-stricken and full of sorrow and suffering' at the prospect that her eldest living son would be killed in the citadel. (102) That same day Luisa herself dictated a letter addressed directly to the marquis, reiterating urgently the request of the duchess. (103)
Although not directly involved in the war, Francesco was very much concerned and informed about it. Not wanting to antagonize the Republic of Venice in its conflict with the duke, and having links and interests with both sides, only by observing strict neutrality could Francesco find a role in the war. (104) Perhaps intuiting that her request would not force the marquis to compromise this position while enabling him to act in good faith with Venice, Eleonora pleaded with Francesco to intervene and 'provide help and relief to the disconsolate widow'. (105)
Petitioning him to write to any of his German relatives who were in the opposing army, Eleonora pressured the marquis to instruct that, in the case of the capture of the castle, 'no harm whatsoever' was to come to 'the poor young man', who was 'to be treated well and liberated'. (106) Not least, Eleonora reasoned, was 'the virtue and goodness along with the merits of this noblewoman', demonstrated towards the duchess and her family, deserving of 'every favour and assistance, and even a great deal of compassion'. (107) The marquis replied that he would do all that was possible, but he could not discover with certainty whether any of his relatives were among the German invaders of Rovereto. (108) He set forth his strategy to find out in a detailed letter to Giulio Cesare Varano, lord of Camerino and, at that point, the principal commander for Venice. Elucidating the specifics of the unusual rescue mission to be mounted, which he took nearly verbatim from Eleonora's letter, Francesco outlined the dispatch of a German trumpeter, reared in the Gonzaga household, to the beleaguered castle, requesting that he be given free passage in order to discover if any relatives of the Gonzagas were serving with the anti-Venetian forces. Were they to be discovered, the trumpeter was to insist 'in the Gonzaga name that, in the event of an assault on the castle, the life of this young man is to be spared, and he is to be given to us freed and alive'. (109) The plan perhaps conveyed to her by Eleonora, Luisa gushed gratitude to Francesco in a letter of 31 May for 'sending your trumpeter to the battlefield to carry out the salvation of my son Roberto'. But she was anxious that, since then, she had 'not heard any further news about what the trumpeter had reported back', and Luisa entreated the marquis to 'not leave my son abandoned by your help and favour, without which I cannot see him able to be saved from danger'. (110)
Whether the trumpeter passed through the lines and the mission was implemented is uncertain. Shortly after Luisa's letter, the town of Rovereto had fallen and by 10 June, the castle also. (111) Roberto was indeed spared but it is not known precisely how. Nevertheless, Eleonora's urgent missive, with its emotionally waged campaign, and the rescue operation devised by her future son-in-law epitomize the tangible political influence elicited on Luisa's behalf through her domestic role at the Este court, and the considerable utility and importance the merits of her service could offer: both to herself and her sons. In countering crisis in her family, Luisa tapped into a deep vein of close and profitable connections that the male members of the various exiled Strozzi branches had cultivated at the courts of Ferrara and Mantua, and without which her maternal agentic potency would not quite have been able to do.
To return in the end, on a sort of circular path, to the letters with which this article began: unlike execution, exile was a reversible punishment, but not completely. In looking forward by looking back, Luisa brings into focus her awareness of long-term change in the family and the evidence of it all around her in the loss of the world left behind: a homeland receded into memory for the Strozzi widow, and an un-memory for her son who had endured a double exile from the ancestral city he had never really known. Writing amid the in-betweenness of her natal city and place of resettlement, Luisa's nostalgia in these particular letters and, what must ultimately have been, her resignation to Alessandro's resistance are important signifiers of the ongoing dynamics of redefinition and reconstitution played out in the wider corpus of her correspondence. Luisa Strozzi's exile experience, with its epilogue of eventual detachment from Florence, constructs a rather different legacy from the one left behind by her kinswoman Alessandra. What is more, it brings into close contact the operation of long exile on an emigree woman. With its subplots of widowhood and dowry-greed, the pressures for Luisa to adapt were strong. And the letters reveal a self-contained site of maternal suffering in the cause of Strozzi motherhood. However, Luisa's victimhood within the exiled family belied something more profound: the construction of agency in and through suffering. Carrying lineage values throughout, Luisa both suffered and acted in managing mothering in her complex family life.
In one of her last letters to come down to us, written to her cousin Leona Strozzi in 1510 three months before she died, it is evident that Luisa never stopped claiming her financial rights. Her specific anxieties about a dishonoured property agreement with Borso Calcagnini, the son of Teofilo and Marietta, centre on the widow's ability to make a final commemorative bequest to Santa Maria di Betlemme. (112) Seeking some measure of epistolary security for her claim and wishes, Luisa outlined the conditions of the bequest, including landed investment advice for the nuns, and provisions for the burial of her body and masses to be performed for her soul. Importantly, the aged patrician lady was explicit that the money she was claiming was 'not from her dowry' but money she had 'earned at court' during the ten years she had been employed there. (113) Luisa clearly knew the capital and symbolic value of her agency. In this final act of remembrance, in which her economic agency would guarantee the reinvestment of her memory among the dead and living Strozzi, (114) Luisa's court salary acts as a last reward for her long struggle in the family.
Queen Mary University of London
Lisa Di Crescenzo (*)
(*) I wish to express my gratitude to the staff of the Archivio di Stato, Ferrara for their valuable assistance during my many visits with the Strozzi papers in the Archivio Bentivoglio, as well as to the ACIS Cassamarca Foundation for supporting some of the research on which this article is based. I should also like to thank Carolyn James for her comments on an early draft of this essay, and Kate Lowe under whose supervision the final version of the article was prepared for publication. I am grateful to the journal's two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and corrections. Aspects of this article are drawn from my PhD dissertation (Queen Mary University of London). A version of this article has also been given at the Monash University Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Inaugural Annual Symposium (2015): 'Tied with indissoluble chains': Languages of Exile and Imprisonment in Medieval and Renaissance England and Italy. All transcriptions are my own. I have preserved original spelling, including errors, irregularities, and orthographic variations. For ease of reading, however, punctuation, accent marks, and capitalization are modernized. Truncated personal pronouns have been punctuated. I have sought to retain Luisa's many long and convoluted sentences. To this end, I have followed Cesare Guasti's tendency to use commas, colons, and semicolons in his nineteenth-century editing of the correspondence of Alessandra Strozzi. All abbreviations are expanded. Portions of the text I omit are shown by ellipses. Square brackets signal an offered but uncertain transcription where damage to the manuscript has occurred. All translations from Italian are my own.
(1) Archivio di Stato, Ferrara, Archivio Bentivoglio (hereafter ASFe, AB), Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [37.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Alessandro Strozzi, 28 March 1495: 'I' no' so se se' del pensiero mi dicesti qui che volevi ire a Paschua a Fireze: la qualchosa te ne chonforto, perche, sendo imborsato, porai avere degli ufizi che ti sara utile e onore, piu che stare chosti. Non ai facende niuna e aspeti la pagha da 2; chosi ti sarano rimesi a Fireze [...] e li e bella istanzia e buo' vivere e buone chose e buon'aria e no' pagherai fitto di chasa e, sechondo mi dice Bardo, tu ai benivoleza asai, e a que' da Fireze ti tenghono umano e no' dubito ve arai buona grazia e sarai ben visto.'
(2) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [40.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Alessandro Strozzi, 30 June 1495: 'A me no' pare tu faci buona lezione a stare di chosta, chonsiderato che a Firenze no' pagheresti fitto di chasa e aresti degli ufizi, che se' istato trato de 2 ufizi e, per non esere, li ai persi, ch'era buoni [...] e staresti cho' riputazione e ala tua patria e pieresti l'amore dele persone'.
(3) Whether Alessandro practised as an amateur or professional artist in Venice is unclear, but Luisa made her displeasure known in a letter to Roberto Strozzi on 24 February 1489: 'Dispiacemi Alesandro si sia meso a dipigniere'. ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [25.sup.r]. In 1474, Alessandro made an archaeological drawing of Rome in a codex, which contains a sylloge of antique inscriptions drawn from the collection of Ciriano d'Ancona. The panoramic drawing appears on two of seventeen vellum folios of the codex now in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Redi 77). On its significance as a document of architectural interests and activity in fifteenth-century Florence, see Gustina Scaglia, 'The Origin of an Archaeological Plan of Rome by Alessandro Strozzi', Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 27 (1964), 137-63.
(4) As drawn from Mark Phillips' gloss of Vespasiano da Bisticci's scheme of praise for women afflicted by widowhood and exiled male kin in fifteenth-century Florence, and included in the Florentine bookseller's little known Il libro delle lodi delle donne, ed. by Giuseppe Lombardi, (Rome: Vecchiarelli, 1999). Mark Phillips, The Memoir of Marco Parenti. A Life in Medicean Florence (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987; repr. Orchard Park, NY: Broadview Press, 2000), pp. 75-76.
(5) Sherry B. Ortner, Anthropology and Social Theory, Power and the Acting Subject (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), pp. 130, 151-52; and Chandra Mukerji, review of Ortner, Anthropology and Social Theory (2006), in American Journal of Sociology, 115 (2009), 560-63 (p. 560).
(6) Elizabeth S. Cohen, 'Evolving the History of Women in Early Modern Italy: Subordination and Agency', in Spain in Italy: Politics, Society, and Religion 1500-1700, ed. by Thomas James Dandelet and John A. Marino (Leiden: Brill, 2007), pp. 325-54 (p. 331).
(7) Ortner, Anthropology and Social Theory, pp. 134, 139.
(8) The term 'lineage', the consorteria of contemporary Florentine usage, will be used to describe a patrilineal descent group: a clearly defined group of kinsmen bearing the same family name and tracing descent in the male line from a common ancestor. Francis William Kent, Household and Lineage in Renaissance Florence: The Family Life of the Capponi, Ginori, and Rucellai (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), p. 6.
(9) The Signoria was the cornerstone of Florence's communal structure. Its nine priors were primarily responsible for the formulation of policy and the administration of government. See Nicolai Rubinstein's magisterial volume, The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434-1494) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966). The balia, literally 'special powers', could be granted to military or judicial offices. It is also the term used to designate an emergency ruling committee with complete powers to replace the normal legislative councils for a limited period, and to draw up and pass constitutional measures. The pratica, or consultative committee of prominent citizens, was called on to provide assistance to the Signoria in its decision-making and policy formulation. See Rubinstein, The Government of Florence, chapter 4; and The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434-1494), 2nd edn (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), Appendix XIII.
(10) For details, see Archivio di Stato, Florence (hereafter ASF), Otto di Guardia e Balia, 224, fols [46.sup.v]-[48.sup.r], [85.sup.v]-[89.sup.v]. Palla's wife Marietta did not join her husband and sons in exile until 1448. Heather Gregory argued strongly that, alongside his wealth and prominence, Palla was exiled because of his possession of a network of anti-Medicean kinsmen and marriage alliances. Heather J. Gregory, 'Palla Strozzi's Patronage and Pre-Medicean Florence', in Patronage, Art and Society in Renaissance Italy, ed. by F. W. Kent and Patricia Simons (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), pp. 201-20 (p. 211).
(11) The decrees were also extended for a further twenty-five years. ASF, Otto di Guardia e Balia, Repubblica, 224, fols [85.sup.v]-[89.sup.v].
(12) The sentence is in ASF, Otto di Guardia e Balia, 224, fol. [146.sup.v]. The condemnation was also recorded by the Florentine silk merchant and Strozzi son-in-law Marco Parenti in his 'Ricordi politici': 'Giovanfrancesco di Messer Palla degli Strozzi confinato prima co'l padre a Padova per dare favore a detti usciti in quel che e poteva, a di 18 detto hebbe bando di rubella'. Biblioteca Nazionale, Florence, Fondo Magliabechiano (hereafter BNC, Magl.), XXV 272, fol. [77.sup.v].
(13) Giovanfrancesco Strozzi died on 28 October in the Badia, as recorded by his son Alessandro in his 'Ricordi'. Biblioteca del Museo Correr, Venice (hereafter BCV), Provenienze Diverse, C, busta 309, fascicolo XII, fol. [2.sup.r]. Palla Strozzi died in Padua on 8 May 1462, aged ninety.
(14) In the records of the Monte Comune Luisa Caterina Donati's date of birth was given as 10 February 1434. She was born to Manno di Manno Donati and Tancia Velluti. ASF, Monte Comune, 3734, fol. [36.sup.r]. An entry in a short diary written by Palla di Alessandro Strozzi records that his grandmother was born at 'three o'clock in the middle of the night'. BCV Provenienze Diverse, C, busta 309, fascicolo XII, fol. [10.sup.r].
(15) A Papal dispensation to marry was granted in July 1448 for the betrothed couple, who were related in cases of both third and forth degrees of consanguinity, which the Lateran Council of 1215 defined as marital incest and which would have otherwise prevented the couple from marrying. ASFe, Seria Patrimoniale, Libro 4, fol. [8.sup.r]. Palla di Alessandro Strozzi recorded in his diary that the marriage of his grandparents Giovanfrancesco and Luisa was publicly celebrated on 21 January 1449 in Verona. The betrothal took place on 1 June 1448 in Bologna. Giovanfrancesco was given a dowry of 1000 florins to be paid on Luisa's behalf by the Monte delle Doti, Florence's dowry fund, and worth 1200 florins at maturity on 1 April 1453. BCV, Provenienze Diverse, C, busta 309, fascicolo XII, fol. [10.sup.r].
(16) Giovanfrancesco and Luisa had twelve children between 1450 and the year of Giovanfrancesco's death in 1478. Their known sons were: Roberto, Pandolfo, Alessandro, Carlo, and Palla. Pompeo Litta includes biographical material on only four of Giovanfrancesco and Luisa's children: Giacinta, Carlo, Alessandro, and Pandolfo. See Pompeo Litta, Famiglie celebri d'ltalia, vol. 4 (Milan, 1837), tav. IX. Heather Gregory, on the other hand, briefly discusses the following Strozzi sons: Alessandro, Carlo, Pandolfo, Palla, and Roberto. Heather J. Gregory, 'A Florentine Family in Crisis: The Strozzi in the Fifteenth Century' (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of London, 1981), p. 278.
(17) Giovanfrancesco to Francesco Caccini in Florence, 27 June 1450: 'tornai ieri da Padova, dove son' stato alchun di cho' la donna, che la si truova chon Messer'. Biblioteca Riccardiana (hereafter Ricc.), Florence, 4009 (unfoliated).
(18) F. W. Kent, 'The Making of a Renaissance Patron of the Arts', in Giovanni Rucellai ed il suo Zibaldone, II: A Florentine Patrician and His Palace, ed. by F. W Kent and others (London: Warburg Institute, 1981), pp. 9-95 (p. 35).
(19) 'sta in casa con piu di cinquanta bocche, tra fattori e schiavi e schiave e altre genti'. Alessandra Strozzi to Filippo Strozzi, 13 September 1465. Alessandra Macinghi negli Strozzi, Lettere di una gentildonna fiorentina del secolo XVaifigluoli esuli, ed. by Cesare Guasti (Florence: Sansoni, 1877), p. 473.
(20) Luisa's date of death on 31 October 1510 was recorded by her grandson Palla in his diary. BCV, Provenienze Diverse, C, busta 309, fascicolo XII, fols [10.sup.r], [17.sup.v].
(21) Luisa Strozzi's letters are preserved in ASFe, AB, Lettere. Cecil H. Clough, 'The Archivio Bentivoglio in Ferrara', Renaissance News, 18.1 (1965), 12-19 (p. 15). One exception is a short reference to Giovanfrancesco Strozzi's marriage to Luisa Donati and her magnate birth. Lorenzo Fabbri, 'Da Firenze a Ferrara. Gli Strozzi tra Casa d'Este e antichi legami di sangue', in Alla Corte degli Estensi. Filosofia, arte e cultura a Ferrara nei secoli XV e XVI. Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi, ed. by Marco Bertozzi (Ferrara: Universita di Ferrara, 1994), pp. 91-108 (p. 99 and n. 47). The doctoral thesis of Heather Gregory briefly discusses the letters of Luisa Donati Strozzi: 'A Florentine Family in Crisis', pp. 108, 225, 231, 277-80.
(22) A large number of the Strozzi's letters are preserved within several archival collections across northern and central Italy: principally, ASFe; ASF; Biblioteca Comunale Ariostea, Ferrara (hereafter BCA); Ricc.; Archivio di Stato, Modena (hereafter ASMo); Archivio di Stato, Venice, and the BCV. The bulk of the manuscripts are preserved in the Archivio Bentivoglio in Ferrara. Nine parcels of vernacular personal correspondence contain over 1500 original letters; the chronological parameters are 1459 to 1566.
(23) The extant letters of Luisa Donati Strozzi are also to be found in the BCV; Archivio di Stato, Mantua, Archivio Gonzaga (hereafter ASMn, AG); BCA; ASMo; Archivio della Fondazione Horne, Florence (hereafter AH), though this collection is unfoliated; and the Biblioteca Nazionale, Rome.
(24) Susannah Foster Baxendale, 'Exile in Practice: The Alberti Family In and Out of Florence, 1401-1428', Renaissance Quarterly, 44.4 (1991), 720-56; Judith Bryce, 'Introduction', in Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi, Letters to Her Sons (1447-1470), ed. and trans. by Judith Bryce (Toronto: Iter Academic Press; Tempe, AZ: ACMRS, 2016), pp. 1-28; Ann Crabb, 'How To Influence Your Children: Persuasion and Form in Alessandra Macigni Strozzi's Letters To Her Sons', in Women's Letters Across Europe, 1400-1700: Form and Persuasion, ed. by Jane Couchman and Ann Crabb (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), pp. 21-41; Crabb, The Strozzi of Florence: Widowhood and Family Solidarity in the Renaissance (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000); Crabb, 'How Typical Was Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi of Fifteenth-Century Florentine Widows?', in Upon My Husband's Death. Widows in the Literature and Histories of Medieval Europe, ed. by Louise Mirrer (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992), pp. 47-67; Margery A. Ganz, 'Paying the Price for Political Failure. Florentine Women in the Aftermath of 1466', Rinascimento, 34 (1994), 237-57; Heather Gregory, 'Introduction', in Alessandra Strozzi, Selected Letters of Alessandra Strozzi, trans. by Heather Gregory (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), pp. 1-25.
(25) Ganz, 'Paying the Price', p. 238.
(26) Alessandra Strozzi's letters are found in ASF, Carte Strozziane, Series 3 (hereafter ASF, C. Strozz., Ser.). Seventy-three letters are all that survive of what was clearly a vaster correspondence. By far the most important published edition of her letters is the first: Strozzi, Lettere di una gentildonna fiorentina, ed. by Guasti. Heather Gregory published a dual language edition of some of the letters, Selected Letters of Alessandra Strozzi. More recently, Judith Bryce has edited and translated the letters in their entirety into English: Strozzi, Letters to Her Sons.
(27) Thomas Kuehn, 'Understanding Gender Inequality in Renaissance Florence: Personhood and Gifts of Maternal Inheritance by Women', Journal of Women's History, 8 (1996), 58-80 (p. 60).
(28) For modern studies of Alessandra Strozzi and her letters, see note 24 above. Additional studies include: Maria Luisa Doglio, 'Scrivere come donna: fenomenologia delle lettere familiari di Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi', in Doglio, Lettera e donna: Scrittura epistolare al femminile tra Quattro e Cinquecento (Rome: Bulzoni, 1993); Manuela Doni Garfagnini, 'Conduzione familiare e vita cittadina nelle lettere di Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi', in Per lettera. La scrittura epistolarefemminile tra archivio e tipografici. Secoli XV-XVII, ed. by Gabriella Zarri (Rome: Viella, 1999), pp. 387-411; Fulvio Pezzarossa, '"Non mi pesera la penna". A proposito di alcuni contributi su scrittura e mondo femminile nel Quattrocento fiorentino', Lettere italiane, 41 (1989), 250-60; Pietro Trifone, 'Sul testo e sulla lingua delle lettere di Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi', Studi linguistici italiani, 15 (1989), 65-99; Alessandro Valori, '"Da lei viene ogni utile e ogni onore". Le lettere di Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi ai figli e la tutela del "patrimonio morale" della famiglia', Archivio storico italiano, 156 (1998), 25-72.
(29) For examples of the money Alessandra Strozzi sent her sons, see Strozzi, Lettere, pp. 128, 136, 170; BNC, Magl., II, IV 197, fol. 50; ASF, C. Strozz., Ser. 3, 131, fol. 29, and 249, fols 97, 103; ASF, C. Strozz., Ser. 5, 15, fol. 27, XXVII. Cited in Crabb, The Strozzi, p. 126 n. 1. Alessandro Strozzi to Filippo Strozzi, 8 February 1450: 'secondo m'ha detto Niccolo (Strozzi), che portandoti bene a questo punto, e faccendo il debito tuo come t' ha ordinate, ti dara ta' luogo e aiuto, che tu rileverai la Casa tua, e me fara' contenta'. Strozzi, Lettere, p. 68. In 1446, after informing Alessandra that the Strozzi cousins, through their successful banking house abroad, had the potential to double their capital worth in three years, Filippo encouraged his mother to view the future of the lineage more optimistically: 'che ancora ho pensiero di rifare la nostra casa'. ASF, C. Strozz., Ser. 3, 131, fol. [29.sup.r]. Quoted in Heather Gregory, 'The Return of the Native: Filippo Strozzi and Medicean Politics', Renaissance Quarterly, 38.1 (1985), 1-21 (p. 6). Bryce has similarly underscored the leading position occupied by Filippo Strozzi in the collective enterprise to reconstruct the family's fortunes. Bryce, 'Introduction', p. 23.
(30) F. W Kent, '"Piu superba de quella de Lorenzo": Courtly and Family Interest in the Building of Filippo Strozzi's Palace', Renaissance Quarterly, 30.3 (1977), 311-23 (p. 313).
(31) Giulia Calvi, '"Cruel" and "Nurturing" Mothers. The Construction of Motherhood in Tuscany (1500-1800)', L'Homme, 17.1 (2006), 75-92 (p. 84).
(32) Raymond de Roover, The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank, 1397-1494 (New York: Norton, 1966), p. 359.
(33) Alessandra Strozzi to Filippo Strozzi in Naples, 3 January 1465: 'E dipoi arete inteso di Giovanfrancesco; ha rifiorito la casa nostra'. Strozzi, Lettere, p. 342. Giovanfrancesco's 'great many debts' in Florence, and the news that he had suspended payments and would default on his loans to his Florentine creditors in retaliation for the republic's persecution of his father, prompted Alessandra to comment worriedly in another letter to her sons: 'E di poi ci e stato quest'altra picchiata di Giovanfrancesco, che alla casa ha dato un gran' tracollo [...] se non fara quello che potra enverso de' creditori, ricevera danno e vergogna, che ancora la casa ne sentira'. Alessandra Strozzi to Filippo and Lorenzo Strozzi in Naples, 12 January 1465, and published in Strozzi, Lettere, p. 354. In a later letter to Filippo of 26 January 1465, Alessandra reported that the pratica had discussed Giovanfrancesco, saying that if he refused to do his duty, 'he could be declared a rebel and a price put on his head'. Strozzi, Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi, p. 145.
(34) Gregory, 'A Florentine Family in Crisis', p. 201.
(35) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [3.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Alessandro Strozzi, 2 December 1471: 'sono in tanta amaritudine e dispiacere, quanto potesi esere, che t'aviso ch'el nostro Pandolfo c'a lasciati ch'e govedi. Da matina, a buon'ora, si parti solo a pie' e andone a Este e guse a 22 ore e tolse una barcha e andonne la note a Padova, ed e fato frate di San Fracescho d'Oservanza in nu' munistero che si chiama San Girolamo ch'e a Potemuli; e govedi, a l'adore a tavolo, chiama Pandolfo e cercha e no' si truova. Tuo padre gli fu deto da uno lo trovo per la via [...] e intese div'era ado. E priore gli dete una letera chonfortando tuo padre avesi pazienzia e tuo padre, chome disperato, gli e ito drieto e no' so se lo potre' piu riavere. Fara quelo potra cho'l veschovo.'
(36) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [3.sup.r]: 'Pandolfo a dimostro poch'amore a chi l'a fato'.
(37) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [34.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Alessandro Strozzi, 8 March 1494: 'Tuta via mea da molesta e pena. El m'abi lasciata chosi sola, chosiderando esere da tutti voi altri abadonata [...]. Che dura chosa, e crudele mi pare, avendo fatto 12 fiol[i] cho' fatiche e pene, e in la mia vechieza trovarmi sola chon una masara e in miseria'. Two years after he joined the order, Palla fell irremediably ill of catarrh and died of it on 1 November 1496. BCV, Provenienze Diverse, C, busta 309, fascicolo XII, Carte 219, fol. [4.sup.r].
(38) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [4.sup.r]: 'Fra Marcho da Rimino, Generale de la Provicia, cho' gra' solenita vesti Palla e cho' gra' divozione, Palla, chofesato e chomunichato, riveve l'abito e a nome [...] Fra Gan' Batista da Ferara'.
(39) Perhaps the learned and respectable life an ecclesiastical career could provide was appealing to Luisa. ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [25.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Alessandro Strozzi, 24 February 1489: 'a vol esere prete biosgnia esere doto e i per me saria chontenta, ma bisognia li sia la sua voluta e no' la mia'.
(40) An entry in a family ricordanza, intriguingly written in a hand I am unable to identify, describes Carlo's unstudious nature, making him ill-suited to a Church career. Instead, Carlo 'dicendo volere fare il mestieri del soldo, dove di continuo il mantenne con cavalli et famii, facendolo un homo'. BCV, Provenienze Diverse, C, busta 309, fascicolo XII, Carte 219, fol. [16.sup.v].
(41) Litta, Famiglie celebri d'ltalia, TV, tav. IX.
(42) Thomas Tuohy, Herculean Ferrara: Ercole D'Este (1471-1505) and the Invention of a Ducal Capital (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 248.
(43) Though he does not cite his sources, Pompeo Litta describes the death of Roberto Strozzi on 6 July 1495: 'Certamente il suo cadavere coperto di ferite, fu trovato in mezzo a' corpi de' nemici'. Litta, Famiglie celebri d'ltalia, IV, tav. IX.
(44) Gustina Scaglia has pointed to Alessandro's acquisition of a manuscript that contains the epigraphic sylloge at this age, and his transcribing the notations from ancient authors. Scaglia, 'The Origin of an Archaeological Plan', p. 158.
(45) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fols [117.sup.r]-[130.sup.v]. These letters of Alessandro to Giovanfrancesco Strozzi are also discussed by Gregory, and three of his letters are published in her essay: 'A Further Note on the Greek Manuscripts of Palla Strozzi', Journal of theWarburg and Courtauld Institutes, 44 (1981), 183-85. For the letters from Paduan poets, Tifi Odassi and Niccolo Lelio Cosmico, see Vittorio Rossi, 'Di un poeta maccheronico e di alcune sue rime italiane', Giornale storico della letteratura italiana, 11 (1888), 1-40 (p. 8-9) and Vittorio Rossi, 'Niccolo Lelio Cosmico, poeta padovano del secolo XV', Giornale storico della letteratura italiana, 13 (1889), 101-58 (pp. 150-51), both cited in Scaglia, 'The Origin', pp. 158-59. A short ricordanza kept by Alessandro's adult son Palla contains an intriguing reference to his father's court career, but he does not elaborate about it: 'in questi tenpi di bele venture, si in corte de Roma come in corte a Ferara, et oltra de questo per i mexi prese de 'andare in Levante et con utilita, si con provixione de' boni zentilomini come li altri citadini di Venetia, et aquistato honore'. BCV, Provenienze Diverse, C, busta 309, fascicolo XII, fol. [10.sup.r].
(46) Giovanfrancesco proudly referenced Pandolfo's service in the ducal household, as the personal 'chameriero' of Ercole d'Este, in a letter to Lorenzo Strozzi. ASF, C. Strozz., Ser. 3, 133, fol. [54.sup.r]: Giovanfrancesco Strozzi to Lorenzo Strozzi, 17 August 1476. Pandolfo Strozzi also appears in the list of disbursements in the account books of the Camera Ducale in Ercole d'Este's list of chamberlains and equerries for 1476 as camerlengo to the duke, with a monthly salary of 'lire 30 de marchesani'. Ugo Caleffini, Croniche, 1471-1494, ed. by Franco Cazzola and others (Ferrara: Deputazione Provinciale Ferrarese di Storia Patria, 2006), p. 148.
(47) BCV, Provenienze Diverse, C, busta 309, fascicolo XII, Carte 219, fol. [31.sup.v]: 'Havendo nelli anni passati amada piu miei fioli che me propria, et fidandomi etiam dovesseno esser' gratti et fidelli verso di me, fui riducta a farle de tutti li mei beni dotali, che io mi trovavo haver' in diversi loghi [...] pocha obligatione de darmi certa provicione [...] a l'anno per li bisogni et sustentatione del viver' mio'.
(48) AH, Ms. Inv. 2858; segn. E. VII.1: Luisa Strozzi to Alessandro Strozzi, 25 January 1498: 'e sai che per i fioli mi sono ispoiata de ogni mia fachulta e no' me rimerimasto di provisione, se no' 12 ducati, come se fusi una masara. [...] e Dio no' ne fa di bene a chi inghana la madre, che n'ai visto la sperienzia di Ruberto.'
(49) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 3, 8-3, fol. [31.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Alessandro and Carlo Strozzi, 25 March 1503: 'I' so' disperata in tante brighe mai lasciato e dicho che ti richordi di chofesarti di tante pene e manichone dai a tu' madre [...] e mi farai morire innazi a ora, solo per le pene e manichonie mi dai per i tua mali ghoverni'.
(50) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 3, 8-3, fol. [42.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Guido Antonio de' Maffei, 22 February 1505: 'ch'el dovesi dare ale suore di Santa Maria di Betale da Padova, dove i nostri morti e dove voio ire anchora mi, ducati 12 l'anno per tenere u' prete dizesi ogni zorno una mesa perpetua per mi e per i nostri morti, e sta 16 formeto ale suore; di che el sopradito mio fiolo no' vole e dize che vale ducati 250 e che li darala qua'chosa. So' zerta no' li dara mai'.
(51) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 3, 8-3, fol. [42.sup.r]. 'esendo mi fuori di chasa, me a rotto la chiava dura de la chasa e rubatomi ducati 170, dove per questo disonesto ato mi sono informata [...] e tra di questo ela fa iscrivere in sulo stromento che tuto quelo [aquistasi] sia suo, che no' disi mai questo ed e falso'.
(52) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 3, 8-3, fol. [42.sup.r]: 'siche Magnifico Messer, i non o frateli ne pareti di qua, che sono a Fireze, e mi ritruovo in tanta pena che non o riposo d'esere asasinata da mio fiolo'.
(53) Thomas Kuehn, 'Memoria and Family in Law', in Art, Memory and Family in Renaissance Florence, ed. by Giovanni Ciappelli and Patricia Lee Rubin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 262-74 (p. 271).
(54) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [29.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Roberto Strozzi (undated, though marked 1486 on the reverse of the manuscript in a later hand): 'El e pasato e termini e promesioni dete per ti dopiamente di tempo e no' si viene a nisuno buono efeto per mi ne per i mia poveri puttini, e questa ti schrivo per l'utima; e no' venedo tu cho' danari a l'auuta di questa [...] no' faro choto di te piu che tu faci di me [...]. E za o provisto di mandare chosti una persona che non ara paura di te e che sapra mostarti el volto.' If the letter was indeed written in 1486, Luisa's youngest son Palla would have been eleven in that year.
(55) AH, Ms. Inv. 2858; segn. E.VII.1. Luisa Strozzi to Roberto Strozzi, 23 February 1487: 'e per 2 volte ch'i'o mandato Benedeto in Padovana a rischoso ducati 15 e spesi uno mezzo, e mi ritruovo cho' le ma' piene di mosche e datomi a 'ntendere el biacho per el negro'.
(56) BCV, Provenienze Diverse, C, busta 309, fascicolo XII, fol. [10.sup.r]: 'fece el mestier' del soldo con gran' spexa et danno de caxa nostra, consumando, come ognun' sa, si in cavali [...] et in [...] vestir' come fa i soldadi'.
(57) AH, Ms. Inv. 2858; segn. E. VII.1. Luisa Strozzi to Roberto Strozzi, 20 November 1487: 'I' t'aviso che i fati di questi putti no' poriano andare pego e ritriovome male chotenta de avere tolto que' fitti che non o niete e mai o auto di que' fiti pizoli niete, e no' si li puo tore pegni tanto so' povereti [...]. Saria meglio i' avesi tolto el mio, che ora non o ne mi ne loro [...]. Ti priegho meta fine ale mia pasioni che piu no' t'abia a scrivere queste letere fastidiose'.
(58) Sylvia Bowerbank and Sara Mendelson employed the descriptor 'physical and psychological body' to describe the site through which Margaret Cavendish's vulnerabilities in her own exile were expressed. Sylvia Bowerbank and Sara Mendelson, eds, Paper Bodies:A Margaret Cavendish Reader (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2000), p. 12.
(59) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [13.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Francesco, undated: 'mande per Grighoro una schatola de anizi chofete per lo stomacho, che o tante fantasie; no' dormo la note e no' patischo'.
(60) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [13.sup.r]: 'Ora o pegni ogni cosa per piatire.'
(61) Michael Stolberg, Experiencing Illness and the Sick Body in Early Modern Europe (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), p. 3.
(62) AH, Ms. Inv. 2858; segn. E. VII.1. Luisa Strozzi to Alessandro Strozzi, 4 June 1498: 'Qua s'e dito che Ladomine pia per dota ducati 2000 [...] saria ingusta chosa che i proquratori lo chomportasi che toiesi al pupilo per dare al marito'.
(63) AH, Ms. Inv. 2858; segn. E. VII.1: 'El m'e venuto u' gran male in bocha, ch'e u' chataro salso e duolmi tutti e denti e le mascele infino ale tenpie, e la ligha piena di boligine in modo no' poso ne dormire ne mastichare. E la mi mala fortuna m'a chonfinata in vila che no' mi poso far' medicine; dove ti priegho vogli parlare al tuo medicho e fa ch'el ordini i scilopi, e mandamelo in n'una zucheta e, chosi, u' fiascheto de aque rifreschative perche o el fighato chaldo'.
(64) The sources are not entirely clear as to the precise location of the Strozzi's country house; however, a letter of Giovanfrancesco Strozzi to Lorenzo Strozzi in 1476 describes the position of the house as situated on the border of Verona. ASF, C. Strozz., Ser. 3, 133, fol. [54.sup.r].
(65) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [53.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Alessandro Strozzi, 26 July 1496: 'mi dise Charlo i' dovesi ire a Vilabona e tenere 2 famii e chomandarli ghuardano i formeti in sul'ara che non adasi male e ch'i' ne tenesi chonto. I' t'o iscrito piu volte de' portamenti mi fanno [...] e no' credi dicesino di butarmi gu de le finestre'.
(66) BCV, Provenienze Diverse, C, busta 309, fascicolo XII, fol. [6.sup.r]: 'Rafael, padre di Laldomina, manaciando mia madre di butarla dalle fenestre et pinsela di camera. Lei, per paura, fugite in casa uno lavorente e la note vene alla Bbadia ch'e stata alcuni giorni'. An annotation alongside this entry, also in Alessandro Strozzi's hand, details Rafaele's destructive behaviour following Luisa's flight: 'Fugitta nostra madre da Villabona; rompero el muro con pal' di fero e la porta di camera [...] rupon' case di scriture, come parla la querela'.
(67) Unfortunately, the sources are unclear as to precisely which Badia Luisa here refers, though it is more than likely that it was the same Badia to which her husband Giovanfrancesco retired. Gregory, 'A Further Note', pp. 183-84. As cited by Cesare Guasti in the introduction to his edition of Alessandra Strozzi's letters, it is plausible that Luisa refers to the Badia Polesine, near Lendinara, and located in Rovigo in the Veneto. Guasti, 'Proemio', in Strozzi, Lettere, pp. 7-45 (p. 15).
(68) AH, Ms. Inv. 2858; segn. E. VII.1. Luisa Strozzi to Roberto Strozzi, 8 January 1493: 'che sono uscita del'iferno e venuta al paradiso [dove] no' seto bestemiare la Nostra Donna e seto riposo per l'anima e per el chorpo.' This episode of Luisa's maltreatment is recorded by Alessandro in an entry for 1493 in his Ricordi: 'Da poi, pochi giorni, esendo nostra madre a Villabona in casa sua dove stava Roberto, per le mali sui portamenti et la poca reverentia li portava i soldati di Ruberto, li fu for[c]ia andar' a star' alla Bbadia, ch'e stata qualche giorno'. BCV, Provenienze Diverse, C, busta 309, fascicolo XII, fol. [4.sup.r].
(69) Thanks to the numerous annotations Alessandro made on the backs of his mother's letters, it would appear that he preserved many of them. If, as James Daybell has recently argued, the 'archiving and preservation of women's letters was often part of wider strategies of family memorialisation', then Alessandro's annotations, which include details of his mother's maltreatment by her sons, would suggest that the memory of Luisa's suffering in the family was preserved. James Daybell, 'Gender, Politics and Archives in Early Modern England', in Gender and Political Culture in Early Modern Europe, 1400-1800, ed. by James Daybell and Svante Norrhem (London: Routledge, 2016), pp. 25-46 (p. 31). Among the examples preserved by Alessandro, there is his annotation on the back of Luisa's letter to Roberto Strozzi, dated 23 February 1487: 'Lamenti che la trata male'. AH, Ms. Inv. 2858; segn. E. VII.1.
(70) The work of Isabelle Chabot on fifteenth-century Italy and Giulia Calvi on the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries has emphasized the factors that made women potential or actual victims of a process of impoverishment following the death of their husbands. In particular, they have devoted attention to the complex conflict of interests between the property rights of the widow and those of her children. Isabelle Chabot, 'Lineage Strategies and the Control of Widows in Renaissance Florence', in Widowhood in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by Sandra Cavallo and Lyndan Warner (London: Longman, 1999), pp. 127-44; Chabot, '"La sposa in nero": La Ritualizzazione del lutto delle vedove fiorentine (secoli xiv-xv)', Quaderni Storici, 29.86 (1994), 421-62; Chabot, 'Widowhood and Poverty in Late Medieval Florence', Continuity and Change, 3.2 (1988), 291-311; and Giulia Calvi, 'Widows, the State and the Guardianship of Children in Early Modern Tuscany', in Widowhood in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, pp. 209-19.
(71) A descriptor utilized by Dana Wessell Lightfoot to describe the dualistic nature of the agency of widows in fifteenth-century Valencia. Dana Wessell Lightfoot, Women, Dowries and Agency: Marriage in Fifteenth-Century Valencia (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), p. 3.
(72) In her review of Geert H. Janssen's study of Catholic exiles in the Protestant Reformation, Christine Kooi accents the importance of agency in the lives of these exiles, and the transcending of their victim-status in fashioning their religious identity. Christine Kooi, review of Geert H. Janssen, The Dutch Revolt and Catholic Exile in Reformation Europe (2014), in Renaissance Quarterly, 4 (2015), 1467-68 (p. 1468).
(73) Lorenzo Fabbri, 'The Memory of Exiled Families: The Case of the Strozzi', in Art, Memory and Family in Renaissance Florence, ed. by Giovanni Ciappelli and Patricia Lee Rubin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 253-61; and 'Da Firenze a Ferrara', pp. 91-108.
(74) At the court of Ferrara, for instance, the voluntary exile Nanni di Carlo Strozzi was in Este service by 1394, and his sons were important condottieri and nobles. Fabbri, 'The Memory', p. 254, and 'Da Firenze', pp. 92-97.
(75) Two essays, by Kent and Fabbri, have focused on the business of Strozzi males in Filippo's lineage patronage. F. W Kent, '"Piu superba de quella de Lorenzo"', and Fabbri, 'The Memory'.
(76) The phrase is utilized by Fabbri, 'The Memory', p. 259.
(77) The matter of Giovanfrancesco's citizenship is raised in a letter of Alessandro to his father in 1477: 'Voglion' veder' in Cancelleria se havete acietato la civilita'. ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [122.sup.r]: Alessandro Strozzi to Giovanfrancesco Strozzi, 14 February 1477.
(78) Raingard Esser, ' Out of Sight and on the Margins? Migrating Women in Early Modern Europe', in Women on the Move: Refugees, Migration and Exile, ed. by Fiona Reid and Katherine Holden (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010), pp. 9-24 (p. 14).
(79) ASF, C. Strozz., Ser. 3, 133, fol. [54.sup.r]. Giovanfrancesco Strozzi to Lorenzo Strozzi, 17 August 1476: 'preghandoti chome buono parente tu vogli ado preare, chon i modi in quali saprai molto ben' fare, che la reina d'Ugheria in questa sua venuta, quando sera a Ferrara dala Excellentia del Signore, lo vogli dimandare di grazia a la sua Signoria lo fassi libero dal tal' sospenzione ed'esendo ito in bando lo vogli ribandera [...] e sichuro a Messer Teofilo costi a[n]basadore, a chui io scrivo'.
(80) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [111.sup.r]: Alessandro Strozzi to Luisa Strozzi, 30 September 1476: 'Bacio mi dicie che Messer Lorencio gli a detto che a parlato con Messer Teofilo sopra il caso di Roberto'.
(81) Sigismondo d'Este (b. 1433) was Ercole's slightly younger and devoted brother. Ercole relied on Sigismondo more than anyone except his wife Eleonora, whom incidentally he was deputed to escort from Naples to their wedding in 1473. Tuohy, Herculean Ferrara, p. 41.
(82) The visit, which took place on 9 February 1476, is recorded in Zambotto, Silva Cronicarum (Biblioteca di Ferrara, cod. 470), and is also cited in Edmund G. Gardner, Dukes and Poets in Ferrara. A Study in the Poetry, Religion and Politics of the Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Centuries (NewYork: Haskell House, 1968), p. 142.
(83) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [111.sup.r]. Alessandro Strozzi to Luisa Strozzi, 7 October 1476: 'La reina non si sa quando viene perche, come per la mia vi scrivo, vien' per mare e per via di Schiavonia perche e parechi giorni che Madama e Messer Sigismondo son' iti in Corbola aspetando venghi, e Messer Teofilo torna infin' la loro di da Napoli per terra e stete un giorno qui e poi subito se ne ito a trovar' Madama in Corbole. Bacio mi dicie che Messer Lorencio gli a detto che a parlato con Messer Teofilo sopra il caso di Roberto, di che dicie che non siando ispaciata di la [...] ma che di costa si soleciti detta cossa venghi a fine'.
(84) Lorenzo di Lorenzo Strozzi in Ferrara to Filippo Strozzi in Florence, 1 October 1475, ASF, C. Strozz., Ser. 3, 133, fol. [40.sup.r], and cited in Crabb who describes the letter's contents. The Strozzi, p. 228.
(85) The mobilization of the Strozzi following the arrest of their kinsman in Ferrara, and the correspondence from which the case can be reconstructed, namely, ASF, C. Strozz., Ser. 3, 133, fols [40.sup.r] - [44.sup.v] and [50.sup.r], are also discussed by Fabbri, 'The Memory', pp. 258, 261 n. 22.
(86) Lorenzo di Lorenzo Strozzi in Ferrara to Filippo Strozzi, 1 October 1475, ASF, C. Strozz., Ser. 3, 133, fol. 40, and cited by Crabb, p. 228.
(87) This important point is made by Crabb, The Strozzi, p. 228.
(88) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [28.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Roberto Strozzi, 10 December 1489: 'di Ghuido [...] che no' poso rispodere ala sua letera, che, sta note, o auuto una gra' febre che presi fredo morte di sera che andai cho' la machesana e le atre putte a cena cho' Messer Gismodo da Este, e uscia de le chamere cho' gra' fuchi e poi veni cho' veto e piova.'
(89) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [28.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Roberto Strozzi, 10 December 1489: 'I' no' so piu buona a questi finestri, che ogni sera si sta infino a 8 ore a balare [...] o una doia in una ispala che mi pia tuto el braco e ga' 3 mesi, e ogni di pegoro cho no' mi lascia dormire la note.'
(90) ASMn, AG, Busta 231, fol. [859.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Isabella d'Este, 8 March 1490: 'senonche in ogni piacere la Signora Vostra e racordata e niuna cossa de delecto par' che gusti ad alcuna persona per non vedirsegli Vostra Signora. Questi di siamo stati cum la Duchessa, Vostra sorella, al Barco per due fiate a caza de' ocelli e de' cani, e sempre se e ragionato de la Signora Vostra'. I am grateful to Carolyn James for bringing this, and the letters below from the Archivio Gonzaga, to my attention.
(91) BCV, Provenienze Diverse, C, busta 309, fascicolo XII, Carte 219, fol. [2.sup.r]: 'Vene nostra madre a Ferrara a star' in corte con Madama a provisione, pregata asai da sua Signoria per governo di dua suo figliole'.
(92) The entries are recorded in 'Extrato de la Boleta de li Salariati dela Camera Ducale: 1484': ASMo, Camera Ducale Estense, Bolletta dei Salariati, 1456-1796, No. 9, and 'Bolleta di Salariati de la Camara [sic] de lo Illustrissimo Nostro Signore Ducha, 1488': ASMo, Camera Ducale Estense, Bolletta dei Salariati, 1456-1796, No. 11. An entry in the register for 1494 reveals that Luisa was still receiving financial support from the court. 'Bolleta de li Salariati de la Camera de' l'anno 1494': ASMo, Camera Ducale Estense: Bolletta dei Salariati, 1456-1796, No. 12.
(93) Guido Guerzoni, 'The Demand for Arts of an Italian Renaissance Court: The Case of d'Este of Ferrara (1471-1560), in Markets for Art, 1400-1800, ed. by Clara Eugenia Nunez (Seville: Secretariado de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Sevilla, 1988), pp. 55-70 (p. 57).
(94) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 2, 8-2, fol. [139.sup.r]. Roberto Strozzi to Alessandro Strozzi, 24 May 1481: 'Piacemi nostra madre abi inteso quello avere da Madama potra soplire molto bene ali bisogni sua'.
(95) ASMo, Camera Ducale Estense, Bolletta dei Salariati, 1456-1796, No. 11.
(96) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [28.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Roberto Strozzi, 10 December 1489: 'Al fato del tuo gostrare per tuo onore e fama mi saria charo, ma non arai tu ti debitasi tanto, ch'e stato una gra' disgrazia.'
(97) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 3, 8-3, fol. [57.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Leona Strozzi, 15 March 1509: 'questi danari aveo ghuadagnia in chorte di mia provigione e so' mia, e quando ne volesi far' parte ai fioli de la buona memoria di Ruberto, faria'.
(98) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [138.sup.r]. Roberto Strozzi to Alessandro Strozzi, 20 May 1481: 'I'o ricev[e]ti la tua in resposta de la mia con la letera del conte Lodovicho, per la qual' mia facenda con el Signore ne o scripto a nostra madre ne parli con Madama. Andera da lei e darami aviso quelo ara fato, azo io sapia quelo o a fare e quando piu presto meglio.'
(99) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. 146 (v). Roberto Strozzi to Luisa Strozzi, 18 January 1482. Although the letter is addressed to Luisa, Roberto peculiarly refers to her in the third person throughout. 'Io scrivo a nostra madre apieno e scriveli deba parlar' a Madama e far' scriver' una letera a questa comunita che non mi debino innovar' graveza niuna piu del'usato, perche vorebono meterme ale graveze [...] e fa parli a Madama e otenga una letera a questa comunita che non me debino innovar' graveza niuna piu del'usato, che non dubito l'ara con una parola.'
(100) ASFe, Lettere, Mazzo 1, 8-1, fol. [25.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Roberto Strozzi, 24 February 1489: 'Proveremo d'avere u' benifizio [...] e aremo letere del Signore e di Madama al Papa'.
(101) This important argument regarding the superior position occupied by the governess in the early modern French court, which might be extended to the Italian example, is advanced by Susan Broomhall in her Women's Medical Work in Early Modern France (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), p. 187.
(102) ASMn, AG, 1184, fol. E. XXXI. Eleonora d'Aragona to Francesco Gonzaga, 17 May 1487: 'La generosa Madona Aloysa de li Strozi, che e al governo de la Illustrissima Isabella, consorte del Vostra Illustrissima Signoria, come lascia se ritrova tuta amaricata e piena di cordoglio e affanno: havendo adviso che ritrovandosse ne la Rocha del Rovereto, che oppugnano al presente signori del'Alamagna, uno suo figliolo chiamato Roberto, che e squadrero della Illustrissima Signoria de Venezia, e e ne la compagnia del conte Bernardino da Montone, che epsi signori non voleno permettere che lui, ni li soldati che sono mandata Rocha, se rendino a panchi, ma che li voleno far' morire, expugnandola; de la qual' cosa la non po ritrovare riposo, perche questo e il maiore figliolo ch'el habia e quello dal quale la se spiera piu bene cha da li altri'. Eleonora d'Aragona's letter to Francesco Gonzaga is discussed briefly by D. S. Chambers, but the 'Ferrarese court lady' on whose behalf the marquis is asked to intervene remains unidentified in his analysis. D. S. Chambers, Individuals and Institutions in Renaissance Italy (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998), pp. 84-85. The quotation from Chambers is on p. 84.
(103) Luisa Strozzi's letter to Francesco Gonzaga, dated 17 May 1487, is in ASMn, AG, b. 1231, fol. [569.sup.r].
(104) Chambers, Individuals and Institutions, pp. 83-84.
(105) ASMn, AG, 1184, fol. E. XXXI: 'et per aiutare e soccorrere la sconsolata vedoa'.
(106) ASMn, AG, 1184, fol. E. XXXI: 'noi preghiamo la Illustrissima Signoria Vostra che, per amore nostro e per salvatione d'il povero zovene, la voglia far' scrivere efficacemente ad de' quelli signori presenti che sono suoi parenti e mandareli le lettere per suo cavallaro a posta che, accadendo il caso che piglino epsa Rocha del Rovereto, che vogliano havere recommandata la persona sua e non li fare nocumento alcuno, ma tractarlo bene e liberarlo'.
(107) ASMn, AG, 1184, fol. E. XXXI: 'che certo la virtude e bontade cum li meriti di questa zentildona appresso noi meritano ogni favore e aiuto, e anche il caso haver' mese assai compassione'.
(108) This is according to letters of 20 May 1487 in ASMn, AG, b. 2902 lib. 129, fols [59.sup.v] - [60.sup.r]. Also cited in Chambers, Individuals and Institutions, p. 85.
(109) ASMn, AG, b. 2902, lib. 129, fol. [60.sup.r]. Francesco Gonzaga to Giulio CesareVarano da Camerino, 20 May 1487: 'Siamo certificati che in la rocca di Rovereto, a l'oppugnatione de la quale se retrova lo exercito alemanico, e uno Roberto, filiolo de la magnifica Madonna Aloysa de li Strozzi, la quale e al governo de la Illustrissima Isabella, nostra dilectissima consorte, e lui e squadreto de la Illustrissima Signoria de Venetia in la compagnia del magnifico conte Bernardino da Montone; e dubitando che, pervenendo la terra e rocca in potesta de li alemani, non usino crudelita, come se demonstranno volere fare contra chi sonno a quello presidio, nui, quali per ogni respecto haveressimo molestissima la morte del dicto Roberto, per aiutarlo in qualunche caso, mandiamo al canto de la Zohanne nostro trombone, alevo de casa nostra e de la natione germanica, ch'el vedi se a quella impresa se retrovassero alcuni di parenti nostri signori alemani, e cum loro signorie procurare et instare in nome nostro che, accadendo lo caso de la expugnatione, volianno conservare questo giovene, e donarcelo in modo ch'el resti libero e salvo'. This letter is also published in Chambers, Individuals and Institutions, p. 85 n. 67.
(110) ASMn, AG, 1231 E XXXI 3, fol. [574.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Francesco Gonzaga, 31 May 1487: 'Io exportava a rendere gratie ad uno tracto a Vostra Excellentia di tanta humanita che l'ha usato verso me in mandare quello suo trombeta in campo per praticare la salvatione de Ruberto, mio figliolo. Ma poi, ch'io non sento l'altra nova; cioe, di quello ha riportato dicto trombeta [...]. Et supplica che, quando la intenda qualche cossa del stare de [...] mio figliolo, la voglia darmine adviso. Et non abandonarlo del' adiuto e favore suo, senza il quale non vedo poterlo campare.'
(111) Gasparo da Sanseverino, who displaced Giulio Cesare Varano as the principal commander for Venice, wrote to Francesco Gonzaga on 1 June to inform him that Rovereto had fallen. ASMn, AG, b. 1596, and cited in Chambers, Individuals and Institutions, p. 85 n. 68. The storming of the castle by 10 June is recorded in Anonimo Veronese, Cronaca di anonimo Veronese dal 1446 al 1488, ed. by Giovanni Soranzo (Venice: Deputazione veneta di storia patria, 1915), p. 449.
(112) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 4, 8-4, fol. [2.sup.r]. Luisa Strozzi to Leona Strozzi, 23 July 1510: 'vi mandai lo stromento che mi fe' fare elo Illustrissimo Signore Ducha Erchole [...] fra el chonte Borso Chalchagnini e mi de una posisione chomperai [...] da Madonna Marietta e suo fiolo chon pati che la volevano apropiare e mi pa[ga]vono de uso ogni ano 5 perzento, e parechi ani no' m'ano dato usi nisu''.
(113) ASFe, AB, Lettere, Mazzo 4, 8-4, fol. [2.sup.r]: 'siche, chugina mia, questi danari no' so' dia dota e li vo' lasciare per l'anima mia una parte dove va el mio chorpo a Padova ale monache di Santa Maria di Betale [...] questi sono danari ch'i o ghuadagniati in chorte di mia provigione in diezi ani li steti'.
(114) Sharon Strocchia has argued that memorial masses commissioned for dead relatives were an 'act of remembrance, which reinvested the memory of dead kin among the living on a regular and formal basis': even for women in fifteenth-century Italy. Sharon Strocchia, 'Remembering the Family: Women, Kin, and Commemorative Masses in Renaissance Florence', Renaissance Quarterly, 42.4 (1989), 635-54 (p. 636).
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|Author:||Di Crescenzo, Lisa|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2017|
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