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Marriage, sexual pleasure, and learned brides in the wedding orations of fifteenth century Italy *.


In Italian courts, all public events called for the exhibition of grandeur, wealth, and magnificence, but none as effectively as a wedding between two great families, each of a noble ancestry or pretensions to nobility; Elite wedding ceremonies became increasingly complex in the fifteenth century. (9) As rulers either consolidated or established their dynastic hold over Italian courts, they developed a taste for aristocratic display and sought to increase their influence through spectacle.

Even in republican Florence, weddings became occasions for excess. Leonardo Bruni complained about his own wedding in a 1412 letter to Poggio Bracciolini:

I have not just spent money on my marriage but almost entirely used up my patrimony on one wedding. It is unbelievable how much is spent on these new weddings; habits have become so disgusting. (10)

Another Florentine, Matteo Palmieri, decried what he saw as the decadence of the wedding procession:

Nowadays, in the midst of Christian observance, virgins are dressed up as much as possible, publicly displayed on horses, and painted with lascivious cosmetics. Trumpets go before them calling the people to come see the unbridled daring of meretricious passion. They take these brides-to-be to the jousting fields and circle them around the piazzas to show that they are going to lose their virginity. (11)

Such complaints, however, are generally limited to Tuscany. In his De re uxoria (ca. 1416) the Venetian humanist Francesco Barbaro used classical authorities to argue in favor of splendid wedding celebrations. (12) Almost a century later, the Neapolitan humanist Giovanni Pontano argued that weddings should be rich and magnificent events, since marriage is important for the welfare of cities and morality. (13)

Elite weddings in Italian courts were expected to be elaborate. Pontano described weddings with over thirty thousand guests, which featured banquets, fountains of wine, horse races, and hunting performances. (14) In a 1455 oration, Gabriel Paverius Fontana (1420-90) (15) described a courtly wedding in Milan:

If only you had been here earlier, Antonio, you would have seen the celebrations that Francesco Sforza prepared for his son Tristano's wedding. They were so sumptuous and extravagant and laid out with such splendor that no one could have or will ever do better ... Plutarch praised Lucullus for his banquets and Virgil imagined the magnificent games that Aeneas held for his father's funeral. Augustus instituted the Actean games after the defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra. But none of the great men of antiquity or any of those living can compete with Francesco Sforza. For their splendor is like that of the stars; the rising sun leaves them in the dark. But I shall describe to you the wedding, the bride, the banquets, and the games. For his own glory and that of his sons and daughters, as well as the court, our prince spent forty thousand gold pieces on the festivities. (16)

Classical models of extravagance were not only to be imitated but also surpassed. Fontana then recounted the numerous grand and extravagant weddings of the Sforza family, listing details such as what clothes and jewelry the brides wore, the seating arrangements, the processions, and musical performances. (17) The wedding oration was a focal point for these entertainments. (18) Similar festivities accompanied the wedding of Isabella of Aragon and Giangaleazzo Sforza in 1489. The courtier Giovanni II Tolentino described the procession, boats, musicians, triumphal arch, and the prince and noble guests, who all gathered to hear the nuptial oration. (19)

Orators were chosen on the basis of talent rather than social position, and more often than not lay humanists were selected over clerics. (20) When the Florentine ambassador Giannozzo Manetti (1396-1459) delivered an oration in Naples for the wedding of prince Ferrante, "the impression he made was so great that the king sat motionless on the throne, 'like a brazen statue, and did not even brush away a fly, which had settled on his nose at the beginning of the oration."' (21) Wedding orations served to entertain, like musical and theatrical performances. Such a display of eloquence created a sense of richness and learning and evoked an ancient imperial magnificence.

Epithalamia were delivered at banquets and sometimes in or in front of churches. (22) Orators would usually read out speeches that they had previously composed, but sometimes they had them memorized beforehand. (23) Some humanists delivered an oration in the volgare and then afterwards translated it into Latin. (24) In Venice, for example, Manetti reportedly delivered such an outstanding oration in the volgare that he afterwards had it written up in Latin. (25) Other humanists delivered a shorter volgare version after the Latin oration. (26) The extant works of the Sienese humanist Agostino Dati include seven wedding orations in Latin and thirteen in the volgare. (27) Most surviving epithalamia are short and formulaic, but some are quite long. (28) Orators generally followed a consistent rhetorical formula and used similar categories of praise. Most orations were constructed in the same way as Pandolfo Collenuccio's oration for the wedding of Costanzo Sforza and Camilla of Aragon in 1475, as described by an a nonymous contemporary:

All the ornately dressed guests, ambassadors, gentlemen, and ladies were ushered into a room and asked to be silent. There the famous doctor of law, Pandolfo Collenuccio of Pesaro, stood up on a prepared pulpit and delivered a most worthy oration, which lasted over an hour. He discussed marriage, praised the bride and groom, the Houses of Aragon and Sforza, the gentlemen and ambassadors in the audience, and the city. He said things that pertained to the act of marriage and prayed to God that it might prosper. (29)

The popularity of this practice is attested by other contemporary sources. (30) The fact that so many wedding orations have been preserved, often in multiple manuscript copies, is a further indicator of their popularity and importance in fifteenth-century society. (31) Since humanists became famous for their oratory, and orations were delivered at aristocratic weddings, widely circulated, and sometimes published, we can assume that they reflect something of the ideals of the audience, the author, and his subjects.


Before and during the fifteenth century, weddings were generally performed by a notary rather than a priest, who read out a short legal formula to the couple in front of witnesses. (32) The ceremony itself was usually brief and limited to demonstrating the consent of those involved. By the High Middle Ages, notaries could follow formulaic prescriptions for marriages in the numerous formularies of the ars dictaminis. (33) By 1200 demographic expansion and greater participation in communal politics created a need for manuals in speech writing, the ars arengandi. (34) Although this secular oratory was an important predecessor of later humanist rhetoric in general, no examples of secular wedding speeches survive before the fifteenth century, except for brief legal formulae. (35) When artes clictaminis do offer formulae for weddings they are succinct and limited to legal necessities. Guido Faba, a thirteenth-century master dictator, provides such an example in his summa dictaminis. (36) The late nineteenth-century Italian legal historian Francesco Brandileone attempted to find a similar legal function in humanist wedding orations. (37) He contended that the words and actions of orators were necessary to demonstrate that the marriage was consensual and legal. Brandileone documents his argument with a few speeches, including one by Guarino, in which the orator performs the exchanging of vows at the end of the oration. However, the majority of surviving wedding orations include neither the exchange of vows nor consistent legal formulae. (38) Extant marriage contracts are brief and formulaic and, unlike humanist epithalamia, do not follow the rhetorical dictates of classical oratory. (39) Wedding orations for the most part did not serve a legal function (though they did publicize the marriage) but were rather employed to entertain, to inform, and to reinforce a ruler's civic control through panegyric.

Wedding orations were built upon and indeed competed with the older tradition of marriage sermons. (40) Although humanist orations share many characteristics with sermons, they are different in form and content. This is not to say that the revival of ancient rhetorical forms did not affect sacred oratory. (41) Many fifteenth-century sermons are markedly classical. (42) Marriage sermons, however, are hortatory. Clerics seek to call their audience to virtue by preaching against adultery and fornication. Sermons are primarily based on biblical sources and limited in their didactic theological purpose. Both genres share commonplaces, such as the divine institution and prelapsarian sacrament of marriage, the harmony necessary between husband and wife, and the importance of offspring. In sermons, however, the belief in celibacy as a higher ideal is always implicit and sometimes explicit. (43) Wedding orators sometimes criticize the ideal of celibacy. (44) In keeping with the ancient erotic purpose of the genre, hum anist orators celebrate physical beauty and sometimes praise sexual pleasure. If preachers teach by reworking generalized themes and rely on authorities and syllogistic reasoning, orators impress through panegyric, figures of speech, and description. (45) The epideictic form and the festive context of epithalamia require that they be laudatory rather than admonitory.

Although there had long been a tradition of marriage sermons and notarial formulae in Italy, which continued throughout the fifteenth century, the humanist wedding oration differed in both form and content. By reviving the rules of ancient rhetoric and emphasizing the specific subjects of their speeches, humanists distanced themselves from the legal requirements of the ars dictaminis and the theological purpose of marriage sermons.

The earliest Renaissance wedding orations were written and delivered by Guarino Guarini da Verona (1374-1460) in Ferrara. (46) Under Guarino's direction, the Studium of Ferrara became an important center for the study of rhetoric and classical literature. (47) Ferrara was also home to the Byzantine scholar Theodore Gaza from 1446-49. (48) Gaza is of great importance for the history of marriage oratory since he was the first to translate into Latin the precepts for the epithalamium written by the ancient rhetorician pseudo-Dionysius of Halicarnassus. (49) The recovery of the handbook written by the third-century Atticist writer, Menander Rhetor, was also essential for the revival of marriage oratory in the Renaissance. (50) These two authors supplied the only surviving examples of ancient epithalamia in prose. (51) The structure and sources of many Renaissance wedding orations reveal the use of these ancient models. (52)

Guarini wrote and possibly delivered at least twenty-one wedding orations at the court of Ferrara. (53) He also trained his students to write and deliver wedding speeches for rulers and elites at the Este court. (54) His many students included Francesco Filelfo (1398-1481) (55) and Ludovico Carbone (1430-85). (56) Carbone, in particular, expanded on Guarini's models by using a larger pool of classical and contemporary sources, more elaborate arguments, and personal anecdotes in his numerous epithalamia.


Before the fifteenth century, marriage doctrine was dominated by the formulations of the early Church Fathers, Jerome and Augustine, who generally followed Paul in holding that marriage was necessary but that celibacy was by far the better state. (57) They considered marriage to be a distraction from religious and philosophical goals. In contrast to this monastic anti-marriage tradition, fifteenth-century humanists argued for the compatibility of marriage and wisdom. From newly available classical texts they found theoretical justification for devoting themselves to secular and civic activity instead of clerical and religious ideals. Following Aristotle, they saw marriage as the foundation of society and the first building block of civilization. (58) Marriage for them was a civic duty.

Like Florentine humanists, courtly orators present married philosophers as role models of responsible citizenship. (59) They repeat Cato the Censor's dictum that it is harder to be a good husband than a good senator. (60) Civic responsibility, they assert, begins in the home, the microcosm of the community and state. The hardships of domestic life are the training ground for politics and philosophy. The popular anti-marriage story about the torments Socrates suffered at the hands of his wife Xanthippe is turned upside down in wedding orations. Marriage is good, since, as Socrates explained, dealing with his wife is good practice for philosophy and an active involvement in politics. (61) While praise for the active life is usually seen as a particularly republican sentiment, the same ideals of marriage and the active life were praised in courts.

Courtly humanists often include in wedding orations discussions of whether the wise man should marry. (62) They flatter rulers by portraying them as philosopher kings who, they say, should marry. While Florentine humanists tend to emphasize married philosophers as role models, courtly humanists refer more to ancient emperors and living rulers. (63) At the wedding of Costanzo Sforza and Camilla of Aragon in 1475, Collenuccio uses anti-marriage sentiments as a starting point for his defense of marriage in an oration:

I am amazed at how many men are hostile to marriage, since they believe that wives are an impediment to work, studies, and the contemplation of the truth; these men, however, need to be informed of the ideas and lives of the philosophers. (64)

Collenuccio then delivers a lengthy discussion of all the great married kings, warriors, and philosophers of Antiquity; and concludes that, since nature cannot be denied, marriage should be wholeheartedly embraced:

There can be no happiness without a wife and no one should be judged wise, as Aristotle says, who spurns so great a good of nature, so great a pleasure of friendship, and the usefulness of so great a gift.... Wives have not stolen prudence from great statesmen nor battle glory from great generals nor fame and zeal from those philosophers whose writings we admire and whose learning we follow. What impious detractor of marriage then should be tolerated who dares to accuse and criticize petulantly the holiest pact? God established marriage; nature beckons us to use and enjoy it; peoples agree upon it; and individual cities have founded rites and solemn ceremonies for it. Kings, warriors, and philosophers have all embraced marriage and approved of it, so that the entire world accepts it. (65)

Collenuccio uses arguments similar to Florentine humanists to conclude that marriage is both divine and natural. (66) But, in addition to philosophers, he stresses that great kings and warriors marry.

Orators use specific contemporary examples of elites and rulers as models for reconciling wisdom and marriage. (67) It was above all a ruler's duty to marry and to have family members marry for the future of the kingdom. Marriage was seen as essential both for the preservation of the ruler's bloodline and for the promotion of civic harmony, since the family was the building-block of the state. (68) The Sienese orator Francesco Patrizi (1413-94) (69) praises Alfonso of Aragon for thinking about offspring and successors "so that there be nothing lacking for the stability of his kingdom and the promotion of peace." (70) Collenuccio concludes his wedding oration by presenting the ruler as a role model of the wise king who educates his citizens by marrying:

You have given us a model of this most holy Sacrament.... By this example, you have taught not only that wives should be married for public utility but even what kind of women and with what accoutrements they should be married. (71)

The wise man has become a king who marries for the benefit of his people.

As in earlier republican treatises, orators use classical and Christian arguments and exempla to defend marriage. But in courts the focus shifts from defending the lay intellectual to celebrating the marriage of the prince and persuading others to follow his example. The traditional catalogue of married philosophers is expanded to include ideal, historical, and living kings, warriors, and elites. Orators present marriage not only as compatible with the philosopher's way of life but also as a prerequisite for a wise prince, who marries in order to fulfill his role as pater familias and pater patriae.


In the fifteenth century, wisdom in marriage usually meant the very practical skill of choosing the right partner. Elite marriages in courts were more often than not contracted for political and economic reasons. The political expediency of a good marriage, however, was not an embarrassment to the orator or his audience but was openly celebrated. Like earlier humanists, orators claim that marriage helps one to meet and to cultivate the friendships of important men in one's community. (72) But unlike their republican counterparts, they openly praise marriage alliances between specific courtly families and cities in wedding orations.

First and foremost, as Guarini asserts, marriage brings peace.

Nothing disturbs and destroys human affairs more than mutual dissent and discord. By [marriage] innumerable grave enmities have been put down, seditions quelled, and battles broken off. There have been battle lines set up and wars between the most hostile peoples and countries. We see enemies, indeed the cruelest enemies who are bound by the same walls and the same homeland, share the same roof, the same food, the same room... so often joined by this bond [marriage] alone. (73)

Orators use examples from ancient history to show the conciliatory benefits of a marriage between rival or warring groups. The otherwise unknown orator Francesco de Arquara Bertalono refers to the rape of the Sabine women and the ensuing war between the Sabines and the Romans: "through marriage, the most inimical Sabines became allies." (74) The violence of this episode is apparently lost on Bertalono, who uses the forced marriage-rape to illustrate the pacific effects of marriage. (75) The Paduan humanist, Egidic Guido, in a 1435 epithalamium, similarly explains the political benefits of marriage.

I do not mention how often we have heard, read, or seen, doomed peoples, desolated states, and cities saved, reconciled, and restored by this bond [marriage]. The Romans supply us with many examples ... the Carians found peace through marriage, Caesar was bound to Pompey through it, and Alexander could not have joined Asia to Europe by any other means. (76)

The marriage of Caesar's daughter Julia to Pompey is often used to demonstrate the importance of this kind of alliance. (77) Had she not died, orators assert, she could have prevented the civil wars. (78)

After discussing historical proofs, Carbone refers to contemporary marriage alliances that ended conflict and prevented war.

But, why do we look to the distant past when we have current examples? I ask you, what would have been the state of Italy, how wretched the condition of things, how great would the upheaval have been, when Filippo Maria [Visconti] of Milan died without a male heir and only Bianca, like another Lavinia, upheld the Visconti house and its great holdings, if the great . . . Francesco Sforza had not been found worthy to receive that government by the right of marriage? (79)

Francesco Sforza, the condottiere, gained an empire and established a dynasty by marrying Bianca Maria Visconti in 1443.

Fifteenth-century Italian rulers used marriage to form alliances with other powerful families and to increase their influence. The Este of Ferrara were particularly successful at negotiating marriage alliances. They married into the Sforza family of Milan, the Gonzaga of Mantua, and the Aragonese of Naples. (80) By this Strategy, the Este managed to extend their influence over much of the Italian peninsula. They formed ties with the most powerful families in the fifteenth century and were able to ease their financial troubles with the income from dowries.

In wedding orations, marriage is often praised for establishing such political alliances. Filelfo refers to the marriage between Bona Sforza and Alfonso d'Este as an "alliance [societas], which for both princes will be the greatest adornment and of no slight utility." (81) The Milanese orator and physician Giovanni Marliani (82) similarly praises the foresight of Lodovico Sforza in planning to marry his daughter into the Corvinus family of Hungary in 1487.

Although Ludovico Sforza has done many worthy things, it is especially praiseworthy that he has arranged the marriage of the young Bianca to the son of the Hungarian king ... He seeks nothing except the safety of his state and its increasing dignity. By his effort, the Hungarian and Milanese states have been joined so that they will be of the greatest help to each other. (83)

Such alliances were so common that Erasmus later complained about princes who coldly sent their daughters to far-off lands for political motives and, in doing so, more often than not created greater problems. (84) Sometimes brides would not have seen their future husbands before or even at the wedding. (85) Erasmus' remarks were probably pertinent to many arranged courtly marriages, but in orations such practices are always portrayed as positive, even selfless, ways of helping the state and ensuring social and political harmony. Of course, it would have been inappropriate to criticize courtly marriage alliances at a wedding, but it is revealing that orators did not gloss over but instead openly celebrated such political motives.

Humanists at court were often called upon to write histories of family alliances through marriage. Giorgio Merula and Mario Equicola both emphasize the mutually beneficial marriages between the Visconti and the Este families in their histories. (86) The importance of marriage for forming alliances is the main focus of Antonio Trivulzio's oration at the wedding of Giangaleazzo Sforza and Isabella of Aragon in 1489. (87) The orator begins with the first alliance of the two families, which was created by the marriage of Francesco Sforza's daughter Ippolita to Ferdinand of Aragon's son Alfonso II. (88) He then goes on to praise the present alliance:

Now both families are wisely reinforcing their bond with the marriage of Giangaleazzo and Isabella...For, as Aristotle told Alexander, a king must cultivate friendships and alliances with powerful neighbors so that each may aid the other...[Your] two kingdoms are so connected that we can justly call the borders of one the boundaries of the other. Even though many have experienced how great your power is ... who is there who does not tremble at your command? (89)

Orators pronounced such declarations of power before what were sometimes large groups of foreign dignitaries and local elites.

Wedding orations served to promote diplomatic relations between powerful ruling families by publicizing alliances formed through marriage. While orators stress ideals to be desired in marriage such as love, harmony, beauty and learning, they also unabashedly praise political motives. These motives, however, are not presented as a necessary evil. They are instead presented as a sort of Roman republican ideal, a self-sacrifice for civic concord and public utility. While humanists in republics advocated marrying well-connected families for political advantage, orators in courts praise the marriage-formed alliances between ruling families and states that are sometimes verging on war. Marriage alliances between rulers not only benefited their immediate families but also ensured the survival of signorial cities.


Wedding orators, like earlier Florentine humanists, explicitly praise wealth both as a good in general and as a virtue in specific families. (90) Against the tradition of Christian poverty, humanists often present riches not only as a prerequisite for good deeds but as a virtue in themselves. Fifteenth-century Italian courts were often in financial straits. Many rulers only survived with great difficulty. (91) When taxes or mercenary earnings could not provide the necessary funds, the salaries of court officials, administrators, artists, and humanists (including orators) were suspended indefinitely. (92) Dowries were essential for the survival of elite families and were celebrated openly in marriage orations.

An anonymous author offers the following advice: "In choosing a wife four things are to be considered: beauty, nobility, habits, and wealth." (93) Marriages often rested on the size of a future bride's dowry. Filelfo criticized this practice in his Satyrae (IX, 8):

Without a heavily gilded dowry no girl thinks she can please a man. Neither birth nor good morals are sought; gold decides it and proves that her beauty is good. (94)

Some orators caution against this cynical view. The duty of a wife, the otherwise unknown Paduan Giacobbe de Bodolono reminds us in a wedding oration, consists in high morals and modesty, not superficial things like gems and gold. (95) An anonymous orator calls wealth a wifely virtue but then criticizes those who choose a wife solely on this basis: "because of their avarice they do not consider other factors and, in the end, they appear to desire not a wife but money." (96) Of course potential husbands were also considered for their wealth. With typical self-reference and humor Carbone criticizes the marriage practice of his day in a wedding oration:

The reason why so many naturally suited youths avoid marriage is that they see young girls who are worthy to embrace the greatest orator and to kiss a divine poet given to those who are not even deserving of life . . . A young virgin like Venus or Pallas Athena is married off to a rough and foolish idiot, who snores night and day. But I, a lover of the Muses, on account of my hard work will get a freckled redhead with an upturned nose and a weasel-like complexion, whom you would not want to meet in the middle of the night. If only I had never read literature! 0 the great ignorance of parents who do not understand the saving advice of Ennius, who preferred to give his daughter to a man lacking money rather than to money lacking a man. (97)

In Carbone's story, it is taken for granted that parents arrange marriages for their children. The importance of wealth in marriage was so accepted that it was the basis for jokes. The inclusion of such satirical complaints also demonstrates the freedom that orators had in the composition of wedding orations.

Great wealth is often listed in wedding orations as if it were a virtue. In his praise of Isabella of Aragon at her wedding to Giangaleazzo Sforza in 1489, Antonio Trivulzio proclaims: "There is so much wealth in the groom's family that you envy no one and ... you surpass the common beliefs about Croesus and Darius with your wealth." (98) Being rich is also a quality in which one attempts to surpass the ancients. At the wedding of Anna Maria Visconti and Alfonso d'Este in 1477, Filelfo declares:

Concerning the wealth and riches of both families, they [riches] are very useful for many and great matters, and are wholly necessary for ruling in peace and for finishing a war. The parents of the bride and groom [both infants] are so rich that whenever some violence of fortune or wilder chance might occur or they might wish to oppose the treachery of men, they dare to hire armies and sustain them however long they wish. (99)

Filelfo asserts that wealth is not subject to fortune, as was generally believed; rather it allows one to control fortune. The wealth of marrying families is often linked to their good deeds and constitutes an important attribute of aristocracy.

While it is nor surprising that money was so important for the success of rulers or that marriages were often arranged for financial gain, the forthright way in which humanist orators praise wealth and the riches of their elite subjects is remarkable. Without any sign of Christian humility or any concern about offending the bride and groom by attributing mercenary motives to them, humanists promote the joys and practical advantages of wealth. The classical virtue of magnificence has subsumed the Christian ideal of poverty. While earlier humanists in republics had defended the uses of wealth for practicing virtue, orators assert the practical need of money to raise armies, put down plots, and display princely magnificence.


Even though most aristocratic marriages were arranged for political and economic motives, humanist orators still present an ideal of romantic and sometimes overtly sexual passion. In antiquity the epithalamium served as a prelude to the erotic pleasures of the wedding night. (100) Italian orators continued this tradition. In Renaissance epithalamia, orators describe in detail the physical attributes of both brides and grooms. They often use Platonic arguments to defend corporeal beauty. They contend that outward beauty is not superficial, but is a sign of inner character and a reflection of truth.

Against the ascetic tradition, which held beauty to be an enticement to sinful lust, they argue that physical beauty is important since it gives pleasure to viewers and leads to legitimate sexual pleasure.

In fifteenth-century anti-marriage works, female beauty is presented as a temptation to vice. In his Oration in Disgust of Women, for example, the Venetian humanist Lionardo Giustiniani (1389-1405) (101) paints a grim picture of women:

The beauty and wiles of females distract men from the toils of virtue. They entrap us in their snares and we fall headlong into ruin. For even the coarsest female beauty is enough to destroy the human race, let alone all of their other enticements. This beauty subdued Adam, Paris, and Hercules. Women are steadfast enemies of human liberty. Therefore, young men, see female beauty as the burning of Troy! Beware of their wiles, arts, and traps, the wicked hissing and colored skins hidden under their golden and purple clothes. Be free and refuse to submit to such an untamed and indignant animal. If this does not disturb you, then at least let their unbridled habits excite fear in you and make you more cautious of their embraces. (102)

Woman is the great temptress, a devious and sensual snake, who seduces men from the path of virtue. Female beauty is false. Rather than revealing inner virtue or character, it hides under the artifice of gold and expensive clothes. (103)

In direct opposition to this misogyny, wedding orators praise the virtues of female beauty. Carbone begins a wedding oration with an adaptation of a story from Boccaccio. (104) In the story, Sylvester, distraught over the loss of his beloved wife, resolves to lead a celibate life and to have no further dealings with the world. He moves to the forest with his two year-old son Pandion and builds a little chapel. For fourteen years, Sylvester shelters Pandion from the secular world and teaches him only about God. When Pandion turns sixteen, Sylvester allows him to accompany him on his weekly trips to the city market. Pandion is amazed at everything he sees in the city but is most interested in a group of women. He says that they are the sweetest and loveliest creatures that he has ever seen and refuses to leave without one. (105) Carbone offers his own moral to Boccaccio's story:

Even though he had not yet experienced their pleasant embraces or sweet services, Pandion was still so moved by only the sight of women, by their glances, and by their dignity and beauty. He burned so much that he put aside all else and thought only of a woman. If a man educated in the woods acted like this, it is no wonder that, having been nourished on abundant delights, we so fervently pursue such a celestial and divine animal. (106)

Rather than concluding from this story that women are a temptation to lust and that human nature is fallen, Carbone celebrates female beauty and Pandion's natural instincts.

In his dialogue, On Pleasure, the humanist Lorenzo Valla (1407-57) has his Epicurean character praise beauty in women:

What is more pleasing, more delightful, and more lovable than a gorgeous face? Nor are women graced only with beautiful faces but with hair, breasts, thighs, and an entire body, whether they be tall, white-complexioned, luscious, or well-proportioned. (107)

Valla's character, in fact, is so convinced of the utility of beautiful women that he advocates that they should be allowed to walk about the city naked or half-naked in the summer. (108) "Why did nature's genius create such great bodily beauty?," he continues,

So that it might wither with age and, like an old grape, lose all its juice and charm, while we men are consumed with desire at the sight of such great enticements? If this is the case it would have been better not to have made women beautiful. Beauty is not just to be admired but used and enjoyed, not only by men but by women as well. For in the same way we look at women, so do they pursue the handsome among us with eager eyes. Will anyone deny that men and women are born pretty and are especially inclined to mutual affection, so that they can get pleasure in seeing each other, living together, and passing their lives together? (109)

For Valla's Epicurean character, beauty is not vanity but the main source of a cohesive society. People are attracted to the beauty in others. They crave to satisfy the natural desires that beauty excites and, in doing so, they obtain pleasure. Families are formed to perpetuate this pleasure and governments to protect it. Pleasure then is not a subversive force but the foundation of social and civic harmony. (110)

In fifteenth-century Italy many aristocratic brides and grooms would not have seen each other before the wedding. (111) Marriage orators were, accordingly, particularly concerned with praising the beauty of both bride and groom. In his wedding oration, Manfredo de Iustis describes the bride as "having golden hair, a calm face, radiating with lively colors, and a perfect body..." (112) In praising Ippolita Sforza, the orator Francesco Bertini (d. 1475) (113) declares to the audience: "Look at the appearance and charming beauty of her body," and quotes some flattering verses from Virgil (Aen. 12, 67-69), "her reddish lips like ivory and lilies.. " (114) While such descriptions have an explicit erotic purpose, orators also emphasize physical beauty in order to demonstrate unseen qualities. Concerning the bride Phillipa, Carbone states, "It is impossible that there is not an outstanding character and bright virtue in such a beautiful body. For nature usually reveals inner feelings by certain external signs." (115 ) In another oration, Carbone wrote that the sweet and dignified appearance of Eleanor of Aragon reveals the purity of her mind. (116) This kind of beauty was appreciated in males as well as females. Carbone says of the groom, Zarabinus the Turk, that the "noble brilliance and beauty of his body indicates as well a wondrous virtue of mind.,, (117) In praising the groom Niccolo Speradeo, Carbone compares his beauty, perhaps inappropriately, to the Hippolytus of Greek tragedy.

You yourselves can see how kindly nature has treated him. Who, after diligently observing him and contemplating the dignity of his beauty, would not think that so decorous a face, such joyful eyes, [and] so happy a look do not signify and promise a noble and unheard of generosity of spirit? I have always been of the opinion that those who stand out with an exceedingly beautiful body are endowed with a certain divine character and adorned by nature herself with every kind of elegance, which ... is clearly in this young man. For in his tender and beautiful body he has a certain wondrous modesty, so that in this virtue he not only stands out among his equals but we can compare him even to that famous Hippolytus. (118)

It may seem odd that Carbone equates physical beauty with modesty; since it is often associated with lust and crimes of passion. But Carbone, who cites Plato in other contexts, subscribes to the Platonic ideal of beauty. In the Symposium, Socrates explains that bodies are beautiful because inner souls radiate outward beauty. (119) For Carbone beauty is not a deceitful snakelike skin but the true mirror of inner virtue.

In describing Ippolita Sforza, Bertini asserts that there are many benefits of a pleasing appearance.

Ancient philosophers thought a beautiful body to be the greatest help in obtaining love and reverence. As it matures, it brings with it a certain majesty by which weak minds are moved to obey superior. Often it is the grace and reverence of the body rather than its power that protects men. (120)

Even for a woman, Ippolita Sforza, a beautiful body is a tool with which to command.

In addition to inspiring awe, beauty can act as an incentive to virtue. Like Valla, Carbone argues in wedding orations for the utility of the pleasure that is to be had from beautiful women. He praises the wisdom of the ancients:

[The ancients] used beauty to excite youths to virtue, the liberal arts, and the love of letters. Among other prizes, they decided that the most charming bodies of the prettiest girls should be distributed and given to orators and poets to be embraced and kissed. Nowadays this good practice is, unfortunately, no longer preserved. (121)

Carbone wittily reminds us that beauty inspires virtue. It is the prize and pleasure that we obtain as a reward for our toils.

While women receive great praise for their physical beauty in wedding orations and other humanist writings, fifteenth-century anti-marriage works often depict women as lustful creatures without sexual restraint. In the dialogue of the otherwise unknown Domenico Sabino, On the Conveniences and Inconveniences of Wives, his character Hypolitus declares that "it is much easier to defend an unfortified citadel on a low plain than to keep a wife free from shameless lust." (122) "It is almost impossible," he continues,

to protect what everybody desires. Some seduce women with beauty and elegance, others with song, and still others with continuous gifts. Women, however, are by nature and will so inclined toward lust that even if men did not rely on these devices they would easily succeed in seducing them. (123)

The anonymous thirteenth-century work, On Not Marrying a Wife, which exists in several fifteenth-century manuscripts, is particularly vivid about female sexual desire. (124)

One woman can exhaust an entire people. Her insatiable vulva wears out her husband, who can never hope to satisfy or please his wife; and yet he must always be careful since too much copulation leads to death. On account of this, most wives become unfaithful and their husbands get bored with life, since they can not satisfy their wives' desire. (25)

In this image, women are portrayed as bottomless pits of sensuality. In contrast to wedding orations in which humanists argue that beauty creates a cohesive society, here female libido tears apart the lives of men and destroys civilizations.

While anti-marriage writers usually condemn women as the cause and object of lust, they sometimes portray men as having even less self-control. In Sabino's dialogue, Emilia, speaking in defense of women, criticizes male lust.

Why is it strange then that wives sin according to nature, since men are sinning against and in defiance of nature? We are all equal in sinning according to nature. But since the female vice is doing something natural, women deserve some leniency. The wicked deeds of men, however, are so great that they far surpass women in every kind of vice and disgrace... Men are not satisfied with servant girls, mistresses, or prostitutes, but resort to boys in order to relieve their wild and mad lust. (126)

Emilia's defense of women is remarkable, since rather than arguing for female modesty, she claims that women and men are both equal in sinning. Yet, while women are only following their passionate nature, men sin against nature. Sodomy is a greater sin than adultery.

Fifteenth-century preachers decry the woes of sodomy and proclaim marriage as the only effective cure. (127) The Franciscan preacher Bernardino of Siena believed that men who did not marry when they had the opportunity were or were destined to become sodomites. He accordingly demanded that single men should not be allowed to hold office and that, after a certain age, they should be exiled from the city. The government of Florence even passed laws to this effect. (128) Wedding orators similarly stress the importance of marriage for public office holders by praising the Spartan Lycurgus and ancient Roman legislators for passing laws against celibacy. (129) In Poggio Bracciolini's dialogue, Whether an Old Man Should Marry (1437), celibacy is synony-mous with adultery, fornication, and sodomy. (130) Orators follow ancient models in arguing that celibates have no self-control; their intemperance is a danger to society. (131)

Wedding orators present marriage as a way to transform lust into legitimate sexual pleasure. Following Paul (1 Corinthians VII), Saint Augustine had seen marriage as primarily a cure for lust. (132) In epithalamia the sexual urge is similarly viewed as a powerful force, which must be controlled and made legitimate through marriage. (133) As the orator Pietro Parleo (1400-63) (134) asserts, "that which was before very disgusting, becomes immediately honorable in marriage..." (135) Marriage, Guarino argues, confines the enjoyment of sexual pleasure, so that the married couple can no longer delight in the embraces of others. (136) Once lust and promiscuity are eliminated, orators argue, the married man can focus on increasing his household and caring for his family. (137) Marriage tames the libido and fosters social stability.

A few orators condemn sensual pleasure even within marriage. After declaring that a chaste marriage is the best way of life, Mario Filelfo (1426-80), (138) son of the more famous Francesco, declares:

Those who strive after the pleasures of the body serve anger rather than reason. They do nothing praiseworthy nor anything for future honor. They completely ignore the furnishing of their minds and punish them with eternal exile as the greatest evil. They prefer to follow emotions rather than counsel and strive after titillating pleasures rather than immortal glory. (139)

The author reiterates the traditional opposition between corporeal pleasure and cerebral activity. Sensual pleasure leads to madness as reason is submitted to the whims of the body. Like the sinners in Dante's fifth circle of Hell, those who forsake reason for the flesh are doomed to serve the flesh. (140) Similarly, an author of a fifteenth-century treatise in praise of marriage discusses at length sinful copulation. He wonders whether there can be sexual pleasure without sin and offspring without sexual pleasure and concludes that sex should not be necessary for procreation, citing the spontaneous regeneration of bees, the efficacy of miracles, and the Virgin Birth. (141) Such views, however, appear more often in sermons and other clerical writings. The joys of licit sensuality are a commonplace in the great majority of wedding orations.

Legitimate passion within marriage is not only tolerated as an alternative to worse vices, but also praised as a good in itself. Against the anti-marriage and ascetic traditions many humanists celebrate sexual pleasure not as base animalistic lust but as a natural and necessary part of human life.

For most humanists, sexual pleasure within marriage is natural and to be enjoyed (at any rate by the groom). (142) As Carbone says of a man marrying for the second time,

He wisely marries another wife, which he would not do unless he clearly realized that marriage contains the most pleasing and unutterable pleasure, which only those who experience it can understand. For he would not be so insane as to marry voluntarily for a second time, if he knew that there were any bitterness in marriage ... He understands that man's life is nothing without sexual intercourse, the pleasure for which we were born. (143)

For Carbone, sexual pleasure is essential for happiness and only those who have experienced it know how important it is. What, an anonymous orator proclaims, can be "more pleasing to a husband than to feel himself joined to his wife?" (144)

Physical descriptions and praise of sexual pleasure in epithalamia have a distinct erotic purpose. Humanists, in fact, sometimes conclude orations by telling either bride or groom to hurry into the bedroom. (145) Orators also sometimes recall the first moment of erotic attraction between spouses. In an epithalamium at the court of Rimini, Parleo described the effects of beauty on Sigismondo Malatesta when he saw his future bride for the first time:

When the queen of the Amazons, Thalestris, saw the regal majesty of Alexander the Great, she at once desired to sleep with him and bear his children. In the same way did Sigismondo react when he saw Isotta's lineage and beauty, heard her voice and laughter, and observed her approach. He thought that there must be the spirit of kings within her body and something more than human in her mortal person. He burned with an unbelievable fire of love and longed that Isotra might burn with an equal flame so that they might be joined in joyous and perpetual love. (146)

Parleo told this story in an oration at the wedding of Antonio Atti, who was Isotta's brother. Even if the majority of aristocratic marriages in fifteenth-century Italy were contracted for political and economic reasons, romantic passion was at least a polite fiction. In this story, Sigismondo is in love with Isotta's beautiful body and longs to have sexual intercourse with her. (147) Parleo emphasizes that both sexes should feel passion by comparing Sigismondo's desire with that of an Amazonian queen's. That Sigismondo wants her to desire him with equal passion is indicative that, at least in theory, female as well as male pleasure was important for a successful marriage and the procreation of children. Such stories and rhetorical evocations of physical charms created an atmosphere of romance. Orators sought to excite groom and bride to the sensual pleasures of the wedding night.

In their defense of passionate love, humanist orators adopt ideas prominent in the literature of medieval courtly romance which, in contrast to traditional Christianity, held that earthly love can be a positive force. (148) Humanists differ, however, in that the passion that they praise is not adulterous, but can and should be found within marriage. Rather than being furtive, incomplete, and divisive, this kind of sexual passion completes the person and does not involve the pain and torment of illicit love. Dante vividly described these torments in the fifth circle of Hell, in which Paolo and Francesca tell how they were seized by this fury while reading a medieval romance. (149) Love in medieval romance leads to pain since it is either unrequited or, if accepted, adulterous and punished. Instead, humanists offer an elegant oration as a prelude to the wedding night and the legitimate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. There is no shame in discussing this almost public performance.


While wedding orators praise brides for their wealth, status, physical beauty, and ability to provide legitimate sexual pleasure, they also sometimes present them as intellectuals. Like humanists in republics, courtly orators defend women against the long misogynistic tradition, which was central to anti-marriage arguments. (150) But while republican humanists such as Barbaro and Alberti tend to limit their praise of women to the domestic sphere, some courtly orators praise specific women for their political acumen, humanist learning, and rhetorical ability. (151)

Wedding orators often follow Aristotle and Xenophon in praising traditionally feminine virtues. (152) In a wedding oration, for example, Carbone complains that he needs a wife to be his housekeeper:

If a marriage goes well and prospers, then that is the happiest life; but when it does not work, life is wretched inside and outside the house. I myself am the best witness of this since I am alone... Whatever I see in my little home is confused and disorganized. I often think, O Lodovico, if only some kind and pretty girl were to befall you, all would be in order, arranged correctly, clean, polished, and bright. She would wash your clothes, shake out the dust, throw out the dirt, wash the dishes, make the bed, decorate your study, and free you of your worries with her sweet conversation. (153)

Carbone and other orators praise wives for keeping the house clean, saving the money that their husbands earn, and taking care of their husbands when they are sick and depressed. (154) Lists of devoted females from ancient literature provide them with examples of virtuous wives who sacrificed all for their husbands. (155) Although they advocate the traditional domestic role, orators also emphasize that the highest form of friendship is the conjugal bond. (156) Ideal wives work and clean, but are also friends and counselors.

Orators also argue against negative stereotypes of women. Carbone states:

Even if Medea and Circe used poison and magic, and Cleopatra and Pasiphae were libidinous and mad, we should not condemn the entire female sex as wicked. For there have been many faithful, honest, noble, and modest women. Nor have all men been good. If you call up the Metelli, the Fabii, and Cicero as great patriots, I can give you Cinna, Mario, and Caesar as parricides. In fact, if we thought about it, we would find not only modest women, but women outstanding in every virtue ... I therefore think it not unjust that women complain against us for depriving them of the prize of their labor. (157)

The "prize of their labor" for Carbone is not only praise for their modesty and chastity, but also for their intellectual accomplishments. (158)

In general, elite women in the princely courts of northern Italy had greater freedom for cultural and intellectual pursuits than their republican counterparts. (159) Wedding orators often present wisdom and learning as ideals in prospective brides. After stating that whatever might be lacking in the great Francesco Sforza could be found in his remarkable wife, Marliani calls Bianca Maria Visconti a woman "of great counsel and mind ... flowing with so many goods of mind and body that ... everybody thought that she was somehow divine." (160) Francesco Patrizi emphasizes Ippolita Maria Sforza's intellect:

You are outstanding in the sharpness of your mind and in your literary studies, which rarely shine in your sex. You not only surpass young ladies, but are to be compared with the most eloquent men. No one surpasses you in corporeal beauty and success. (161)

Carbone has the bride Anna Guererius speak about herself:

If you should like to talk about me, you will not find things lacking. The dignity and beauty of my body have given me no small comeliness, so that I think myself not inferior to many whom your poets celebrate. But what is dearer to me [is that] I am strong in the gifts of the mind, [and] I have always judged nothing to be more beautiful than virtue. (162)

Carbone finds a precedent for intelligent women in the prophets of antiquity. The sibyls of Greece and Rome predicted the fall of Troy, Alexander's reign, Rome's power, and Christ's coming. (163) These women were intelligent, virtuous, and powerful. They were the polar opposite of the lustful she-beasts of the anti-female and anti-marriage tradition of Theophrastus and Jerome.

In the Quattrocento, women's education was for the most part confined to the vernacular. (164) Some men and women criticized scholarly women and felt that they should not be taught classical letters and rhetoric. (165) In the curriculum Leonardo Bruni set up for Battista da Montefeltro, he asserted that the practice of rhetoric was unbecoming in a woman because of its public, performative, and argumentative nature. (166) Eloquence and erudition, however, appear quite often on the list of a noble bride's attributes. Many elite women in courts, including Battista herself, did not follow Bruni's advice and shun the fora. (167)

Eleanor of Aragon is often praised as a model wife in wedding orations both for her devotion to her husband and for her intellectual abilities. (168) She took an active role in the administration of Ferrara. (169) Carbone compares her eloquence to that of the ancients:

We saw her (speaking) before many great men, citizens, masters, princes, cardinals, and the Pope. She spoke with such great dignity that the Holy Father was greatly awed by so noble a talent in a girl, a talent that approached the eloquence of the ancient orators. I do not wonder that the Neapolitans are most upset that she is leaving... A wondrous work is in her, a man's mind in a female sex. (170)

Since rhetoric was considered a male domain, Eleanor's success at this art proved that she had "a man's mind in a female sex." (171) Learned women were often complimented for their virile minds. Rather than hurting their marriage prospects, however, a command of classical rhetoric was presented as a desirable accomplishment for a courtly bride.

Ippolita Sforza also received accolades for her public display of erudition. After Bertini praises the beauty of her body, he turns to her humanist learning.

What should I say about her literary training and learning, in which she has so well succeeded and made the ancient Romans and Christians so familiar to her that she has attained an extraordinary skill at speaking and writing? I saw her a few years ago at the assembly of Christian princes in Mantua [probably in 1459]. She spoke before the Pope with such great eloquence that he [Pius II] who is considered the best at every kind of learning not only praised her but also was in awe of her and called her the greatest glory and pride of our age. Women who know Latin letters should be all the more praised, since they are rarer. Just as the Greeks boast of Aspasia, Diotima, and Macrina, and our Roman ancestors of Proba, Aemilia Africana, Hortensia, and others, so do we in our time rejoice that Ippolita has been born in Italy and has been taught literature. (172)

Delivering a Latin oration before the Pope and many princes requires a good deal of training and talent in a fourteen-year old girl. (173) Of course, there were not many Ippolita Sforzas, but the praise that she receives for her learning suggests that Italian court society was at least sympathetic to female learning for an elite few.

In a wedding oration for a Ferrarese couple, Carbone praises women for their learning in literature and rhetoric.

Our time is not lacking in outstanding women who deserve praise. Who has not heard about Battista Malatesta, who delivered a fine oration before Pope Martin? Or Paula, Gianfrancesco Gonzaga's wife, who was so generous and high-spirited that advice was sought from her on the most important matters? We saw her daughter Margarita, who married Leonello [d'Este] ... she was so prudent and well-read that all were astounded. Who does not know that in Barbara, Lodovico Gonzaga's wife, there was such great constancy, magnanimity, and wisdom that she shared the concerns of the kingdom with her husband and governed like a prince? You, O most gentle prince, can certainly boast since your sister Bianca, who has added an unsurpassed fame of Greek and Latin letters to the Este family,... even wishes to read my orations and to listen to me delivering them. Therefore, let those who accuse women of not desiring great things look at this and confess that very many and great goods come from wives. (174)

This list of contemporary learned women reveals that intellectual ability, if not essential, was appreciated in courtly wives. (175) Carbone is humorously boastful in praising Bianca's learning by saying that she enjoys reading his orations and listening to him. He praises another bride for her literary accomplishments in a similar way:

An elegant and generous girl, Leona is distinguished no less by the Romea family than by the Patrata family, yet she is even more renowned for her modesty and matronly bearing. She is learned as well; in fact, she was my student. How often she used to recite before me those verses that I once wrote about you, O Borso. (176)

Leona, according to Carbone, was not only learned, but was learned in the ways of courtly flattery. Orators no doubt praised learning in women out of self-interest, since a humanist could find employment teaching elite daughters as well as sons. But rather than presenting this learning as an end in itself, a mere ornament such as "fine needlepoint or musical skill," orators often equate women's excellence in classical oratory with the practical training needed for ruling. (177) If, as Joan Kelly argued, noblewomen in fifteenth-century Italy had less economic and political power than they would have had in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, they were nevertheless praised for their prudence and contribution to government. (178) Through panegyric, wedding orators offered an ideal public image of women who were learned and at least peripherally involved in politics.

Although some learned women encountered hostility from both men and women for their scholarly pursuits, courtly ladies received praise in wedding orations for literary and rhetorical accomplishments and political acumen. While humanists defended marriage and women both in republics and in courts, courtly orators, unlike Florentine humanists, affirmed that the public display of humanistic learning was an appreciated attribute in prospective brides, an ideal for courtly women, if not often a reality.


Wedding orations offer a vivid picture of marriage ideals in fifteenth-century Italian courts. Orators added to the pomp and classical atmosphere of weddings with their rhetorical performances and promoted a particular conception of marriage that was drawn more from pagan antiquity than from the Christian tradition. Orators were not pagan in a Burckhardtian sense, as they did not reject Christianity. Humanists usually include prayers to God at the end of their epithalamia and often refer to the sacrament of marriage. The distinctively classical element in wedding orations is the focus on a social and political conception of marriage. Both in sermons and in orations marriage is good from the perspective of Christian morality as a cure for lust and a source of procreation. But, unlike priests and like the ancients, orators also stress that marriage helps rulers achieve personal ambitions. Through marriage, rulers strengthen and expand their empires and gain the economic resources essential for achieving and mai ntaining political power. Marriage also fulfills the natural desire for physical beauty and sexual pleasure. Orators support such essentially anti-ascetic arguments with the works of Aristotle, Xenophon, Cicero, Livy Lucan, and other classical authors.

Since epithalamia are panegyrics, orators chose classical and contemporary examples that would be flattering to specific living rulers, brides, grooms, and families, who were usually present in the audience. In praising the political and economic benefits of marriage, orators cite the rape of the Sabines, the marriage of Caesar's daughter Julia, and the recent marriage of Francesco Sforza and Bianca Visconti to demonstrate the utility of marriage for ending wars, forming alliances, and saving kingdoms. To prove that marriage is useful to men in power, they refer to the classical examples of Alexander the Great, Caesar, and Augustus, as well as to contemporary models, such as Alfonso of Aragon and Francesco Sforza. By adopting the vocabulary and examples of Greek and Roman antiquity and comparing them to contemporary history, wedding orators assert a continuous imperial tradition and present living rulers as equal and often superior to the ancients. They also select a variety of examples from antiquity to prai se courtly accomplishments in women. While humanists in republics restrict wives to a domestic role and emphasize female silence as an ideal, many wedding orators praise brides for their eloquence and refer to women in power as role models. To demonstrate the excellence of women, they compare learned brides to accomplished women of antiquity and to contemporaries such as Battista Malatesta, Barbara Gonzaga, and Ippolita Sforza. In epithalamia, classical role models and panegyric are used to praise actual courtly practices and to encourage ideal courtly virtues.

While there were clearly different expectations for men and women in Italian courts, brides and grooms are often praised in surprisingly similar ways. Orators praise both brides and grooms for their physical beauty, their virtues, and their families' wealth and position. When describing the political expediency of marriage, orators create the impression that both bride and groom are equally powerless in choosing a mate. However, by posing the question of whether the male philosopher or king should marry and making it a central part of orations, they imply that the decision is wholly the man's. In arguing against the anti-marriage and anti-female tradition of Theophrastus, Juvenal, and Jerome, orators present a more positive image of women. If some orators support the traditional domestic role of women, others praise wives for their learning and the assistance that they can provide rulers. While they praise both male and female learning, it is still seen as an essentially masculine accomplishment, so that learned women are seen to have "male minds in female bodies." While some orators limit their praise of sexual pleasure to the groom, others suggest that brides should also experience passionate longing for the marriage bed. At least in theory in fifteenth-century Italian courts both ideal brides and ideal grooms were wealthy, powerful, beautiful, learned, and passionate, if not always equally so.

* I wish to thank the following for their invaluable criticisms, comments, and suggestions on drafts of this article and in discussions: James Hankins, Steven Ozment, John O'Malley, Ronald Witt, Kenneth Gouwens, Christopher Celenza, John Monfasani, Paul Grendler, Jill Kraye, and my wife, Una. Research and writing of this article was made possible by grants from the US Fulbright Foundation, Harvard University, and the Warburg Institute. All translations are my own unless otherwise noted.

(1.) For a preliminary finding list see D'Elia, 230-92.

(2.) After praising the orations of Pius II and Giannozzo Manetti, Burckhardt, 157, writes: "Many orators, on the contrary, would seize the opportunity, not only to flatter the vanity of distinguished hearers, but to load their speeches with an enormous mass of antiquarian rubbish ... Most of Filelfo's speeches are an atrocious patchwork of classical and biblical quotations, tacked on to a string of commonplaces, among which the great people he wishes to flatter are arranged under the head of the cardinal virtues, or some such category, and it is only with the greatest trouble, in his case and in that of many others, that we can extricate the few historical notices of value which they really contain." Burckhardt is referring to humanist rhetoric in general. His condemnation of nuptial oratory is based on one or two epithalamia by Francesco Filelfo. Referring to this criticism of humanist oratory, in a 1942 conference Kristeller emphasized that humanist speeches were composed for specific occasions and served a vital social function. Kristeller's comments are published in Monfasani, 2000, 1173.

(3.) This list does not include anonymous orators and humanists whose epithalamia are cited only once in this article.

(4.) Recent bibliography on this subject is vast. Most scholarship has centered on Florence and Venice. See, for example, Diefendorf; Klapisch-Zuber, 1985b; Molho.

(5.) See, for example, Giannozzo Manetti's wedding oration in Naples and Alamanno Rinuccini's 1477 speech in Naples. Bracciolini, 1964-66a, was never delivered. Some shorter anonymous pieces could also be Florentine, but these speeches are more notarial than humanistic. The practice was more popular in Siena, as Agostino Dati's fourteen extant epithalamia in Latin and Italian attest. Although no epithalamia seem to have been delivered in Venice, some survive from Padua. See, for example, the 1447 oration by Giordano Orsini delivered in Padua.

(6.) Ludovico Carbone, an orator at the Este court in Ferrara, for example, refers in epithalamia to members of the audience and sometimes to brides and grooms as his former students. See his praise for Leona Patrata below and for Victor Pavonius in Carbone(h), fols. 162v-163r. The orator Giacobbe de Bodolono, fols. 51v-52r, praises an unknown groom for his humanistic studies under Guarini.

(7.) See Brandileone, 1895, 1906, with further references. For his arguments see below.

(8.) de Nichilo. His study is for the most part limited to published sources.

(9.) After 1450 court festivals seem to become more chivalric and even regal in tone, as noted by Strong, 42-62. Rodocanacchi, 71-78, and Burckhardt, 262-63, mention and briefly describe some courtly wedding festivities. In Ferrara, Borso and then Ercole d'Esre used feast days and carnival as political propaganda, as noted by Rosenberg. For earlier wedding celebrations, see Giovanni Toscanella's description of Leonello d'Este and Bianca Maria of Aragon's 1444 wedding in Aurispa, 105, and a description in an early fifteenth-century epithalamium, Anonymous(j).

(10.) Bruni, Epistolario, I:93, quoted by Guidi, 2:88, "Ego enim non matrimonium dumtaxat sed patrimonium insuper unis nuptiis consumpsi. Incredibile est quam multa impendantur his novis er iam ad fastidium usque deductis moribus."

(11.) Palmieri, Della vita civile, quoted by Guidi, 2:88, "oggi nel mezzo dell'osservanzia cristiana, le vergini publicamente a cavallo ornate quanto piu possono, e dipinte d'ogni lascivia, con le trombe innanzi chiamando il popolo a vedere la sfrenata audacia del meretricio ardire, ne portano al campo della desiderata giostra, intorniando le piazze e faccendo mostra ne vanno a non essere piu vergini."

(12.) Barbaro, 38: "Sponsaliorum vero splendorem qui reprehenderit, neminem, qui laudaverint, multos invenio."

(13.) Pontano, 112-13, "lure igitur nuptiae eta principibus et a privatis hominibus tam antiquis quam nostris temporibus magno in honore sunt habitae, iure in illis celebrandis singularis quidam splendor et magnificentia adhibenda."

(14.) Pontano, 113-14.

(15.) Fontana, who was from Piacenza, taught Latin rhetoric in Milan for twenty years, as noted in Cosenza, 2:1444.

(16.) Fontana, fols. 50v-52r, "Vellem profecto his superioribus, Antoni vir clarissime, die-bus apud nos fuisses ... quod facillime in illustris Tristani eius filii nuptiis perspici licuit quas eo sumptu luxuque, eo apparatus splendore, eo denique ordine prosecutus est, ut alius unquam nemo melius nec prorsus hercle prolyxius acceperit, ludosque aut iucundiores aut spectaculo digniores indixerit et celebraverit. Laudatur sane L. Lucullus ille Romanus a Plutarcho Chaerenensi cum propter multas singularis virtutes, tum imprimis ob convivia splendide parata. Aeneas vero Troianus a Marone nostro poeta Mantuano fingitur ludos in Sicilia magnificos ad patris tumulum concelebrasse quos in caelum laudibus effert. Augustus Octavianus devictis Marco Antonio et Cleopatra apud urbem Nicopolim ludos instituit Actiacos qui ab omnibus itidem praedicantur. Verum ii et omnes omnis antiquitatis maiores coaetaneique qui in huiusmodi rebus ullam sunt gloriam adepti, nulla ex parce cum Francisco Sfortia sunt conferendi. Illorum n anque haud secus splendorem ac syderum sol exoriens praestat, vincit, obscurat. Et ... nuptiarum apparatum, nuptae desponsationem, conviviorum et ludorum exhibitionem, veluti singulos est actum dies brevi et carptim describere decrevi .... Multa princeps noster invictissimus amplissima ad sui ipsius filiorum filiarumque necnon aulicorum decus domesticorum paraverat qui pro horum dumtaxat dierum festorum (ut fertur) dignitate aureum quadraginta millia erogavit."

(17.) Ibid., fols. 52r-6l v.

(18.) Ibid., fol. 61v, "Franciscus Philelphus eques auratus ac poeta laureatus praeceptor meus clarissimus omniumque oratorum et poetarum qui hac floreant tempestate florueruntque a Christiana resurrectione citra limen, splendor et decus maximum, orationem habuit luculentissimam in qua acute et subtiliter de matrimonii nobilitate bonisque disseruit."

(19.) Tolentino's description is reproduced in Pyle, 110-12. For weddings in Milan see also Calco.

(20.) Burckhardt, 153-56; McManamon, 25.

(21.) Burckhardt, 149. His source, Vespasiano da Bisticci, 1970, 492, does nor indude this anecdote. The oration is published, ed. Sandeus.

(22.) The Sienese humanist Agostino Dati, for example, delivered wedding orations in churches and at banquets, as noted in Patetta, 29 & passim. Dan was a student of Francesco Filelfo from 1434-38 and taught rhetoric in Siena. He was married and had three children, as noted in Viti, 1987, 16.

(23.) Vespasiano da Bisticci, 1970, 1:452-53, recounts that Ambrogio Traversani lost his place while delivering an oration at the Council of Basel, but was able to consult a written copy in his sleeve, find his place, and finish the speech without further problem. Galletti, 564, also refers to this.

(24.) Galletti, 548. Some examples of form wedding speeches in Latin followed by Italian versions include Anonymous (k, l, m, n, o, p). Vernacular speeches differ for the most part only in language, not content.

(25.) "essendo cosa nuova e inusitata, l'ha lasciata iscritto ed motto degna: benche la facesse in volgare l'ordino poi in latino," quoted in Galletti, 548. The English translaton by George and Waters, 382, does not include this passage nor does the Auto Greco edition, 1970.

(26.) See Palazolis, who states at the end of his Latin oration, fol. 77v, "Nunc autem pro more verusto marerno sermone ad utrumque sponsum me convertam."

(27.) Dati's fourth Latin and fourth vernacutar orations were delivered by his ten year-old (great)grandson, as noted by Patetta, 26. The Milanese canon Pier Leone di Cavaglia had his four year-old niece deliver an oration at the wedding of Beatrice of Portugal and Carlo III duke of Savoy in 1521, "Epithalamion habitum per me Veronicam Luciam de Leonibus quattuor annos natam," as noted in Ibid., 31. The many instances of children detivering Latin orations in the fifteenth century demonstrate a fondness for child prodigies and a belief in the difficulty and importance of a classical education in Italian society At weddings child orators perhaps also served to emphasize procreation. For other examples of young female orators see below.

(28.) Some epithalamia by Carbone, Collenuccio, and Marliani fill thirty manuscript folios.

(29.) Anonymous(a), fols. 14v-15r, "Conducti adunque domenica mattina circa le xi hore in questa sala li signori sposi e tum li signori ambassiadori cum el poputo tutti ben vestiti e ornati homini e donne facto silentio: monto in uno pergolleto apparechiato li per questo lo ctarissimo doctore di leggie meser Pandolpho Collenuccio da Pesaro e li fece una oratione degnissima che duro una hora e piu. Dove disputo del matrimonio, laudo li sposi, casa di ragonia e sforescha e li signori e embassiatori e la citra dicendo cose pertinente a quello acto e pregando dio che prosperasse quel matrimonio cum feticita de tutta la terra." Cottenuccio was active in the courts of Milan and Ferrara in the late fifteenth century. On him, see Melfi and Varese, 149-286.

(30.) On the popularity of epithalamia and works on marriage, see Palazolis, fol. 76r, "Huius argumentum cum a multis nostri temporis late copioseque disputatum sit et ego dumtaxat breviter attingam." An anonymous satire of a wedding oration, Anonymous(i), also indicates the genre's popularity. The revival and enthusiasm for public eloquence in general in the first decades of the fifteenth century no doubt created an atmosphere that allowed for the slightly later revival of the wedding oration. On the revival and political uses of humanistic training in rhetoric, see Witt, 1990, 180-81, and especially Witt, 2000, 447-94.

(31.) See D'Elia, 229-93. On the reception of humanist oratory in general see Kristeller, 1974, 11.

(32.) Before the Council of Trent ecclesiastical control of marriage was limited, and notaries performed nuptial rites more often than priests. See, for example, Brucker, 73, Klapisch-Zuber, 1985b, 181-96, and Witthoft. The question of Church approval of secular weddings, however, is problematic, as demonstrated by D'Avray, 1998, 107-15.

(33.) The ars dictandi was specifically concerned with letter writing and the training of notaries, chancellors, and secretaries of church and state in practical administrative communication. On the ars dictaminis in general, see Murphy, 194-268; Kristeller, 1990, 234-36; and Monfasani, 1988, 174-77. On the ars dictaminis as a precursor of humanist rhetoric, see Kristeller, 1979, 93-95; and Witt, 1988. Since letters were meant to be read our loud, the rules of the ars dictaminis were focused on oral presentation and in this way formed the basic background for humanist rhetoric, as discussed in Witt, 2000, 352, 358.

(34.) Witt, 2000, 354, 359-61.

(35.) Kristeller, 1990, 241, mentions secular orators who delivered wedding speeches, referring specifically to the thirteenth-century Remigio de' Gitolami. Kristeller cites Galletri, 16668, 503-06, who offers no source for his information. The thirteenth-century dictator, Matteo dei Libti, provides sixty-six form speeches for advising ambassadors on various occasions but does not include weddings. His three different summae artis dictaminis offer model letters for various legal situations but not for weddings, as is evident in the subject titles published in Kristeller, 1951. Two concern marriage: no. 214, where the author offers advice on marrying a foreign wife, and no. 275, in which the author advises a friend to marry the sister of his beloved, who is already married. On Libri see also Witt, 2000, 35 5-56.

(36.) Faba, unpaginared, "Ego Guido peto B. in uxorem, quam iuravi ac desponsavi ac in facie ecclesiae cum coniunctis multis parentibus vestram iusticiam peto." On Faba, see Murphy, 256-58; Faulhaber; and Witt, 2000, 354-55. Notaries were especially important in Siena where similar legalistic wedding formulae are extant; see Anonymous (q, r).

(37.) Brandileone, 1895, 624-29, 656-58; Ibid., 1906, 115-38.

(38.) Orations that do include such legal formulae as verbum de presenti, me orante, and ad stipulationis verba accedere, are short and not humanistic. Patetta, 31, similarly criticized Brandileone's emphasis on the legal role of wedding orators.

(39.) Patetta, 3-71, has published a number of these short formulae.

(40.) On medieval marriage preaching, see Murphy, 269-355; and D'Avray and Tausche. Preaching manuals first appeared in large numbers in the early 1200s under Pope Innocent III, as discussed in Witt, 2000, 356.

(41.) Among other preachers, Bernardino or Siena and Alberto da Sarreano attended lectures in classical rhetoric by Guarini, as noted in Carbone, 1952, 400; and Sabbadini, 1896, 140. Mormando, 7-12, argues that Bernardino's training in classical rhetoric did not influence his preaching, since the Franciscan believed that secular oratory was an inappropriate form for the Christian message. Nevertheless, Bernardino adopts classical rhetorical techniques in his vivid descriptive portraits and in his appeals to emotions. See, for example, Bernardino, 1954; and his vernacular marriage sermons, 1880-88, 1:sermons 24-25; and, 1934, 2:sermons 19-21. Bernardino's ideas on marriage are discussed in Guidi, 2:87-93; Paton, 210-64; Origo, 43-76; Brooke, 27-32; and Herlihy, 1995.

(42.) Preachers at the papal court, in particular, integrated the rules of classical rhetoric in the form and style of their sermons. On this see O'Malley, 1974 and 1979; and McManamon, 1976 and 1989.

(43.) The thirteenth-century preacher Alanus de Insulis, for example, begins his sermon Ad coniugatos by quoting Saint Paul (1 Cor. 7), "Let each man have his own wife on account of fornication" and "It is better to marry than to burn." Alanus then shifts tone, "How great is the worth of marriage, which had its beginning in paradise, which removes the evil of incontinence, which embraces within itself a heavenly sacrament, which preserves the faith of the marriage bed, which maintains between the husband and wife an undivided life together, which preserves children from dishonour, which frees carnal intercourse from guilt." Alanus then uses biblical exempla to warn against adultery; translation in D'Avray and Tausche, 71-119. Although Leclercq, 1994, 29-37; 1983, 20-25, 93-105; and 1981, shows that thirteenth-century French preachers presented marriage positively, their praise is still limited by their strict adherence to biblical sources and their religious and moral purpose.

(44.) For anticlericalism in nuptial oratory, see D'Elia, 167-94.

(45.) The main purpose of a thematic sermon was to teach, whereas "[e]pideictic, even as it taught by 'impressing ideas' upon its listeners, was intensely concerned to move and to please, thereby more effectively fulfilling the prescriptions of the indivisible triad of classical [rhetorical] theory -- docere, movere, delectare," O'Malley, 1979, 44. See McManamon, 1996, 43-49, for a comparison of traditional funeral sermons with the classicizing oratory of Pier Paolo Vergerio's funeral orations. See also McManamon, 1989, 2-35, esp. 21; and Witt, 2000, 357.

(46.) de Nichilo, 26, has dared Guarini's first epithalamium as early as 1422.

(47.) See Carbone, 1952; Sabbadini, 1891, 29-33; and Garin, 1967, 69-106. For Guarini's teaching methods see the provocative discussion in Grafton and Jardine, 1-28.

(48.) Monfasani, 1994.

(49.) Ibid., 1983, 179-80. On Guarini's use of Dionysius and Gaza's translation, see Brandileone, 1895, 620; and Sabbadini, 1896, 67.

(50.) For seven manuscripts of Menander dating from the early fifteenth century, see Menander, xl-xlvii. Some of Menander was translated into Latin, as a copy dated September 13, 1423 in the Vatican and a later translation in Perugia attest. These translations are discussed in Harsting.

(51.) Menander; pseudo-Dionysius of Halicarnassus. See also Marrou, 201; and Kennedy, 225. For verse epithalamia in Greece and Rome, see Keydell.

(52.) On the importance of these authors for marriage oratory, see Brandileone, 1895, 612; Forster, 96-97; and de Nichilo. Epithalamia at courtly weddings became popular just after these Greek rhetorical works were available in the mid-fifteenth century.

(53.) See D'Elia, 268-74. Sabbadini, 1896, 67, assserts that twenty-three of Guarini's wedding orations survive, but cites no reference for his information. Giuliari, 250, 261-63, lists the titles of eighteen orations, referring only to the libraries which held them without shelf marks. For a similar estimate, see Galletti, 562.

(54.) The Ferrarese humanist Podocataro wrote a dedication for his wedding oration, in which he thanked his teacher Guarini and said that he had ordered him to produce the oration: "Timebam, mihi preceptor humanissime, ludos meos edere quos tamen tu ludos existimandos non esse dicis... dulcissime mi preceptor... Mitto ad te igitur orationem quam ut ederem hesterna vespera iusseras." An anonymous fifteenth-century Ferrarese orator similarly says in two nuptial orations that his teacher had ordered him to compose and possibly to deliver the pieces: Anonymous(c), fol. 128r, "Ad hoc igitur opus tam laudabile, tam honestum viri singulares impulsus maxime a meo singulari preceptore;" and, Idem, fol. 129r, "... me tantam non suscepturum fuisse provinciam nisi a preceptore meo compulsus fuissem." Burckhardt, 155, mentions that Guarini trained pupils to deliver orations at the court.

(55.) Filelfo wrote at least seven wedding orations. See D'Elia, 282-83, for details. Rosmini, 12-13, reports that Filelfo went to Poland to deliver a wedding oration in 1424. 1 have not found this oration. On Filelfo in general, see Viti, 1997; and Robin. After short sojourns in Constantinople and Florence, Filelfo spent most of his life working for the Visconti and later the Sforza in Milan.

(56.) Carbone wrote at least twenty-one wedding orations. See D'Elia, 253-60, for details. On Carbone in general, see Paoletti; for updated bibliography, see Pasquazi, 1994. Carbone also studied with Theodore Gaza when the latter was in Ferrara, as noted in Monfasani, 1994, 7.

(57.) For the early Church Fathers on marriage and celibacy, see Brown, 61, 373, 375-76, 402-03, and passim. For the marriage and philosophy debate in pagan antiquity, see Deming.

(58.) Politics I. 1252a-1253b; 1259b-1260b.

(59.) For Florentine humanists, see, for example, Coluccio Salutati's letter in defense of his marriage and the dialogues of Bracciolini, 1964-66b, and Scala. In his Life of Dante, Bruni, 1928, similarly affirms that Dante followed all the greatest philosophers by marrying. For the marriage question and Florentine civic humanism, see D'Elia, 31-57. In general, see Baron, 1955, I:286-87, 295-96; II:577, n. 82; Garin, 1965, 39-41; Herlihy and Klapisch-Zuber, 228-31.

(60.) Maturanzio, fol. 110r, "quo fit ut cum multa bene et sapienter ad comunem hominum utilitatem inventa et constituta sint, nihil tamen sive priscorum poetarum et gentilium sive theologorum nostrorum scripta intuearis melius, nihil humano generi aptius, nihil magis necessarium matrimonio esse existimetur quod quanti Cato ille Censorius fecerit vel ex hac una eius sententia comprehenditur, qua longe sibi difficilius videri predicare solebat bonum maritum quam bonum senatorem agere."

(61.) See, for example, Carbone(b), fol. 205v, "Socrates ipse, qui, diximus, duas eodem tempore uxores accepit, qui cum omnium incuriosi tractarent et hac de re ab amicis obiurgaretur quod nimia eius patientia mulieres abuterentur, rendere solebat hanc sibi viam optimam esse ad philosophiae exercitationem: sic eum consuescere ad tolerandas fores contumelias si prius domi perferre didicisset."

(62.) The earliest reference to the wise man question in a wedding oration is in 1437 by the otherwise unknown orator Duodus, fols. 118v-119r, "Quaestionis fuit, sapientissimi patres, iam multum temporis inter priscos, an sapiens duxerit uxorem, cuius dubii Greci peregrinique philosophi diversa sentientes profunde super hac re altius atque altius speculati decertarunt."

(63.) The Sienese humanist Agostino Dati refers to King Solomon as an example of wisdom and happiness in marriage, but he does not list ideal rulers or refer to living rulers as wise men who marry. See Dati, fol. 106v (numbering confused), " tanto approvo il matrimonio che in uno tempo insieme hebbe due donne e uxorato si chiamo piu felice, benche superato longamente dallo sapientissimo Salomone il quale non fu contento a septecento mogliete."

(64.) Collenuccio, 49-50, "Unde et illud admirari non satis possum plerosque ob eam se maxime causam nuptiis infensos esse dictitare, quod rebus agendis ac studiis contemplationique veritatis impedimento sint uxores, quos non eius modo quem supra memoravi ac reliquorum philosophorum sententiae sed omnium qui unquam fuerunt clarissimorum virorum exempla commonefacere debuerunt."

(65.) Ibid., 49 and 52, "Cum utique sine uxore foelicitas esse non possit, nec ulla ratione sapiens iudicandus (ut idem auctor est Aristoteles) qui tantum naturae bonum, tantam amicitiae iocunditatem, tanti muneris utilitatem aspernatur ... Quod si neque magnis in administranda re publica prudentiam, neque summis imperatoribus in bellis gerendis gloriam, neque illis ipsis philosophis quorum scripta admiramur, quorum doctrinam sequimur, famam studiumve uxores surripuerunt, quis tandem impius accusator ferendus est qui sanctissimum foedus accusare, qui eam rem criminari petulantius audeat? Guius institutionem deus usum fructumque natura, consensum gentes ritum solemnesque cerimonias singulac sibi civitates constituere; approbarunt reges, sequuti duces, philosophi complexi sunt; totus denique terrarum orbis accepit."

(66.) See, for example, Bracciolini, 1964-66a.

(67.) In his 1418 letter Guarini, 1915-19, 214, used Chrysoloras as a living contemporary example of a married wise man. Chrysoloras, of course, was a teacher and philosopher.

(68.) There could be tension when a ruler did not marry. Borso d'Este who ruled Ferrara from 1450 until 1472 did not marry and may have been homosexual, as noted by Gundersheimer, 1980b, 44-45. Perhaps Borso compensated for his lack of a wife and heirs by promoting excessive self-flattery in orations and art.

(69.) Patrizi was bishop of Gaeta (1460-94). On him, see Battaglia and Cosenza, 3:2632-34.

(70.) Patrizi, fol. 196r. "De nepotum eriam sobole cogitavit, ne quid omitterer quod ad stabilitatem regnorum suorum ac ad tranquiliratem ac pacem propagandam ulla ex parte attinere possit."

(71.) Collenuccio, 52-53, "Sanctissimi huius sacramenti dedisti nobis exemplum vixque bene susceptis rerum gubernaculis. Incipiente virture matrimonii te legibus tradidisti et primo aeratis tuae flare maritalem animum formasri. Docuisti in quo exemplo tuo non modo ad publicam utilitatem uxores ducendas esse sed et quales quibus quae ornamentis instructis duci opportet."

(72.) See, for example, Anonymous(s), fol. 18v, "Quid illa censenda est commoditas quae egregiorum te civium affinitate complectatur et nobilium virorum amicitiam coniugis et gravissimorum hominum familiaritate magis ac magis ornat. Quorum hominum ordinem hoc in loco frequente adstare video." This is an ancient argument. The late-antique nuptial orator pseudo-Dionysius of Halicarnassus, 367, for example, declares: "Marriage too must enlarge family connections. From marriage arose, first joint households, then villages, then cities." (Translated in Russell and Wilson.) Dionysius is paraphrasing Aristotle (Politics 1.1252a 17 -1253a 39; Nicomachean Ethics 8.1162a 16-19) and Stoics such as Antipater and Musonius. On this see Deming, 54, and passim. For the importance of marriage for forming political alliances in Florence, see Molho, 128-78, and passim.

(73.) Guarini, 1939, 23, "Nam cum nihil adeo res humanas agiter, adeo conficiat, annihilet quam dissentiones mutuae et discordiae, ostenderem innumerabiles hac una re depositas esse capitales inimicitias, extinctas nominarem seditiones, praelia dirempta proferrem. Compositae accederent hostiles et ardentes in se animis acies extarent, sublata penitus inter infestissimas gentes ac nationes bella videremus, denique hostes ipsos et crudelissimos hostes isdem moenibus, eadem patria, eodem medius et fidius tecto, cibo, cubili omni denique victu, arctissima necessitudine, hoc solo vinculo saepenumero fuisse coniunctos."

(74.) Bertalono, fol. 13lv, "Haec sane res est quac plerumque hostes facit amicos. Hoc enim coniugali federe Romanis Sabini ob nupras mulieres infestissimi una die hostes amici fiunt." See also Carbone's treatment of this theme in Carbone(h), fol. 165v. Castiglione, 235-36, has Giuliano de' Medici similarly praise the role of the Sabine women in ending the war and saving Rome.

(75.) Livy (I.9-13), Ovid (Fasti 3.199-228), and Plutarch (Vita Romuli II.14-19) relate the rape of the Sabines. The story was central to Marcantonio Altieri's discussion of marriage rituals in Rome, Li nuptiali (ca. 1500), as noted in Klapisch-Zuber, 1985a, 254-55, 258. The rape of the Sabines is a common pictorial theme on fifteenth-century cassoni, as discussed in Baskins, 103-27.

(76.) Guido, fol. 28v, "Taceo quoties perituros populos, desolatas res publicas, civitates, vicos, castra hac necessitudine placaros, conciliatos, restitutos audivimus, legimus, vidimus. Romanos nobis exemplo faciam quos si quid hystoriarum scriptoribus credirum est, una dies et hostes et amicissimos cives Sabinis hoc vinculo coniunxit. Cares hac necessirudine inter se placari sunt. Caesar Pompeio summo in amore devinctus est. Alexander ille superbissimus bello Europae Asiam haud aliter coniungere potuir."

(77.) The most common source for Julia's story was Lucan, De bello civili I:111-20. He saw her early death as one of the causes of the civil war.

(78.) Carbone ends his list of saving marriages with such an hypothetical statement: Carbone(d), fol. 8v, "Quotiens, inquam, gravissimas inimicitias sustulir, acerrima odia sedavit, pernitiosissima bella restrinxit hac coniugali copula. Cyrus cum finitissimis suis Chaldeos inimicissimos placavit. Hac ratione magnus Alexander Asiam Europae veluri quodam validissimo ponte coniunxir. Et Romae eadem die Sabini eriam hastes et cives fuerunt. Quod si Juliae marronae prudentissime longior vita data esset, Pompeium et Cesarem in amore continere ac mirigare potuisset. Er si Cato ille durissimus paulo ad humaniratem propensior fuisset et Caio Caesari Serviliam sororem suam quam ille maxime oprabar despondere voluisset, non essent forsitan conflata tot misera atque funesta bella civilia." See also Carbone(h), fol. 165v.

(79.) Ibid., fol. 165v, "Sed cur tam longe petimus exempla cum succurrere nobis possint facta recentissima? Quaero a vobis, viri praestantissimi, quisnam futurus erat Italiae status? Quam miserrima rerum conditio? Quanta perturbatio cum Mediolani princeps Philippus Maria sine ulla virili prole diem suum obiisset et sola Diva Bianca, tanquam altera Lavinia, Vicecomitum domum et tantas sedes servaret, nisi magnanimus et post hominum memoriam fortissimus imperator Franciscus Sfortia dignus esset inventus qui id gubernaculum iure coniugii exciperet."

(80.) For the Este's strategic use of marriage, see Pardi, 41-66. The Aragonese similarly used marriage to form alliances with the Esre and the Sforza, as discussed in Pontieri, 57-96. See also Martines, 1979, 240.

(81.) Filelfo, fol. 17r, "ut pro mutua benivolentia beneficiisque quam plurimis citro ultroque collatis ad perpetuam societatem utriusque principatus Anna Maria ducis Bonae filia et loannis huius Galeacii ducis soror coniugatur per legitimi ius matrimonii Alphonso Herculis ducis filio primogenito."

(82.) Marliani taught astrologia and medicine in Pavia and Milan. In 1472 Galeazzo Maria Sforza appointed him court physician. On him, see Schmitt, Kraye, et al., 826.

(83.) Marliani, fols. 25v-26r, "Cum autem Ludovicus multa gesserit maxima digna laude, hic tamen summopere laudandum videtur, quod illustrissimam pulcherrimam ac probissimam virginem Blancam Hungarorum regis filio despondi curaverit. Declarat vel hoc uno argumento se nihil aliud magis animo suo meditari quam ut loanni Galeacio duci nostro ea omnia paret quibus status sui incolumnitas servetur simulque dignitas clarior reddatur. Quare opera sua ac consilio effectum est ut Hungarorum ac Mediolanensium status coniuncti sint, qui cum nobilissimi sint et potentissimi sibi invicem quibuscumque in rebus maximo adiumento sunt futuri."

(84.) Erasmus, 243, reveals a remarkable sensitivity to the plight of the young brides: "1 shall not talk about the heartless effect (the result of these alliances) on the girls themselves who are sometimes sent away into remote places to [marry] men who have no similarity of language, appearance, character, or habits, just as if they were being abandoned to exile. They would be happier if they could live among their own people, even though with less pompous display."

(85.) At the wedding of Ippolita Maria Sforza and Alfonso of Aragon, Duke of Calabria, in 1465, Patrizi addresses the bride: "You have been promised in marriage to Alfonso, the Duke of Calabria ... You can see an example of his beauty and dignity in his most illustrious brother Federico ... He is like your groom, only older and larger in body." Patrizi, fol. 197r, "Alphonso Ferdinandi regis filio Calabriae duci disponsata ... Eius formae ac dignitatis exemplum ante oculos habes illustrissimum fratrem suum Fredericuin ... Similem sibi sponsum tuum videbis, quamvis etate maior er corpore procerior."

(86.) Merula; Equicola. While eleven manuscript copies of Equicola's Genealogia survive, it was never printed, as noted in Kolsky, 1991, 238, 318-19.

(87.) Trivulzio, fols. 47r-50r.

(88.) Ibid., fol. 47r-v, "Prudentissime te semper rebus ruis consuluisse, Ferdinande rex, atque prospexisse cognovimus. Sed illud sapienter etiam omnino feliciter fecisti, cum societatem et Ferdinandus cum Francisco Sfortia patre patriae nostrae verius quam duce iunxisti eamque amicitiam arctissima necessitudine firmasti. Domi recepta eius filia Hippolita quae et tibi Nurus optima et Alphonso prima genito tuo sanctissima integerrimaque uxor iucundissimas nepotes regnique successores daret."

(89.) Ibid., fols. 47v-48r, "Rursus nunc quoque sapienter agi dicemus, cum Hippolitae filia Isabella novum multiplicande necessitudini vinculum Joanni Galeatio regulo nostro accersit...Aristotelici iudicii et sapientie esse qui ad summum fastigium tendenti Alexandro dixit amicitiam et necessitudinem regi cum iis esse comparandum qui et non procul abessent et essent potentissimi ut alter alteri presto adesset, et mutuo presidio facillime iuvari posset.... Ira haec duo regna commitrunrur ut fines unius alterius rerminos dicere merito possimus. Potentia vero quanta vestra sir, et si singillatim multi experti sunt,... quis esr sub celi ambitu qui ad nutum vestrum non contremiscat?"

(90.) For praise of wealth in Florence, see Baron, 1988. In general, see Celenza, 71-80.

(91.) Wars, weddings, state visits, the purchasing of titles, and numerous other occasions of display were very costly, as noted in Martines, 1979, 225. On taxes and court finances in genera!, see Ibid., 222-25.

(92.) In 1469, for example, the Comune of Ferrara withheld officials' salaries, as noted in Paoletti, 700; and Bettoni, 110-14. Carbone is particularly frank about his financial problems even in his wedding orations, as noted in D'Elia, 160-66.

(93.) Anonymous(d), fol. 80r, "Quatuor sunt consideranda in uxore accipienda: pulchritudo, nobilitas, boni mores, et divitiae."

(94.) "Nam sine dote quidem quam multum ponderet aurum / Nulla placere putet posse puella viro. / Non genus aut probitas in sponsa quaeritur: aurum / Haec facit, et formam comprobat esse bonam." Quoted in Garin, 1956, 548.

(95.) Bodolono, fol. 52r, "Sponsa vero Francisca moribus prudentia pudicitia... decorata est... tamquam in muliere pudica et honesta, non autem in gemis et auro, rei uxorie munus existat."

(96.) Anonymous(e), fol. 26v. "Addebat divitias quibus sepissime quidam impulsi his omnibus neglect(am) uxorem sibi deligunt, horum autem certo quoddam avarice signum indicant. Hi quidem non uxorem sed nummos cupere videntur."

(97.) Carbone(g), fols. 132v-133r, "At si benigne veritatem audire velitis, dicam breviter quod sentio, exponam vobis certissimam causam quae plerunque retardare, remorari, deterrere ingeniosos adolescentes a liberali coniugio solet. Vident enim puellas quae dignae fuerunt eximii oratoris amplexu aut divini poetae osculis detrudi ad eos qui ne vitam quidem merebantur ... An belluto cuidam fatuo, insulso, srertenti noctesque diesque Virgo aliqua iungetur Veneri aut Palladi persimilis. Mihi vero Musarum amatori ob labores meos dabitur una ruffa, sparso ore, aduncis naribus, colore mustelino et cui per mediam nolles occurrere noctem, mallem equidem nunquam legisse litteras! O magnam parentum insciriam qui Ennii salutare consilium non intelligant qui filiam suam locare maluit viro qui pecunia egeat quam pecuniae quae viro indigeret."

(98.) Trivulzio, fol. 48v, "Ad ea quoque que reliqua ad perfectissimum marrimonium custodiendum requiruntur intuenda, procedam pulchritudinem, genus, probitatem, divitias, que tam absoluta in vobis perspicimus ut quem anreponam habeam neminem ... Porro divitiae tam multae inter vos sunt ut et nemini invideatis et cum vultis Croesi quoque et Darii sparsas vulgo opiniones rebus deprimatis."

(99.) Filelfo, fol. 17v, "circa utriusque partis opes divitiasque versatur quae cum aliis multis in rebus ac maximis plurimum valent: turn in parando, gerendo conficiendoque bello necessariae sunt omnino, Hae vero tales tantaeque existunt in huius sponsae sponsique parentibus ut cunctos Italiae exercitus quandocunque fortunae aliqua vis turbulentiorve casus ingruerit aut hominum insidiae voluerint adversari, minimo cum labore conducere audeant et quamdiu voluetint sustinere."

(100.) Menander, 143-47. Forster, 98, 106-15, argues that epithalamia became increasingly erotic in the sixteenth century.

(101.) Although Giustiniani was famous for his love poetry in the Venetian vernacular, he turned to devotional and spiritual writing in his later years. He was married. On him, see Cosenza, 2:1874-77; Dazzi; and King, 1986, 383-85.

(102.) Giustiniani, fol. 29r, "His igitur tot et talibus ab eorum aliquo sepissime capiuntur spectatores egregii, quibus plus cure oblectatio voluptatis est quam virtutis labor. Qui dii advertentes, quas ipsi confecimus catenas confringere nequamus, in exitium sepissime ruimus; heu mihi satis erat ad perniciem humani generis, rudis forma, nisi tot superadderentur ministeria. Ea forsan captus est primus homo, his captus est Paris, captus Egistus, et Sanson...grandis pro ceteris Hercules...occupatus est...Ergo in tam validas humanae libertatis hostes, velim iuvenes, reservatis mentium oculis, dum formarum muliebrium arbitrii ad spectacula praesident, Troianum intueantur1 incendium... earum meditentur ingenium, arres er laqueos, er mentis intueantur acie, quot et quae nepharia etiam vulturibus aborrenda sibilla oris, collorata pigmentis pellicula, sub vestibus aureis atque purpureis abscondantur. Insuper qui sint et ad quid perspicerent, liberique et indignanti animali tam indomito subiicere recusarent, et si he c non moveant, saltem efrenati mores earum timorem iniciant, et cautiores ab earum amplexibus faciant."

(103.) The author follows the anti-female pronouncements of Jerome and Tertullian, who in some of their writings represent women as basely corporeal and false on account of their use of cosmetics and ornament, as discussed in Bloch, 37-63.

(104.) Carbone appropriates Filostrato's story in the introduction to Day IV of Boccaccio's Decameron. Among other differences, in Carbone's version the names are different and Borso's Ferrara replaces the original Florentine setting. For the possible Near Eastern and late classical era origins of the story, see Lee, 110-16.

(105.) Carbone(j), fols. 174r-175r.

(106.) Ibid., fol. 175r, "Si ergo Pandion, homo educatus in silvis, solo aspectu, solo motu oculorum, sola personae dignitate, sola formae vetustate commotus, qui nondum suaves amplexus, nondum coetera mulierum officia dulcissima expertus erat, adeo tamen exarsit ut, posthabitis omnibus aliis, de sola muliere cogitaret, mirandum credo erit si nos abundantibus deliciis enutriti, tam coeleste, tarn divinum animal tantopere appetamus."

(107.) Valla, 96-98, "Nam quid suavius, quid delectabilius, quid amabilius venusta facie?...Nec vero facie bona tantum ornate sunt femine sed crinibus, quos tantopere Homerus in Helena et multis aliis laudat, sed pecrore, sed femore, sed toto denique corpore, si procere, si candide, si succi plene sint, si proportio membrorum assit," (My translation is adapted from Lorch's translation and the Latin text she provides.)

(108.) Ibid., 362, "Ausim medius fidius affirmare, nisi fede simul et emerite mulieres reclamarent ac velut facto agmine impetum facerent, utpote que numero vincunt formosas vel nudas vel seminudas, per urbem utique in estace incessuras, quod utinam, ut pro me dicam, hoc a viris fieri permitteretur." Valla edited this passage out of later editions, as noted in Larch, 1985, 303, n. 27. She uses the deletion as proof of the seriousness of Valla's intention for the work as a whole.

(109.) Valla, 98, "Quid sibi voluit tanta membrorum venustas miro nature ingenio fabricata? Credo ut vetustate defloresceret et quasi uva in vitibus ad mediam usque hiemem remanens succum omnem gratiamque deperderet simulque nos mares tantis illecebris videndis conficeremur desiderio. Ita satius fiserar pulchras feminas non fecisse ... Nam ut nos eas, sic ipse nos ut lepidissimi sumus aspectu ita ardentissimis oculis prosequuntur. Et negabit aliquis mares feminasque ideo conspicuos nasci preserrim in muruam benivolentiam proclives nisi ut videndo, una contubernium habendo ac simul vitam traducendo oblecrentur?"

(110.) Lorch, 1985, 87, 102-03.

(111.) See note 85 for an example of a wedding by proxy.

(112.) de Iustis, fols. 40v-41r, "Et primo tu sponsa viro aetate nostra matura ante omnes virgines merito pre ellecta, crinibus aureis coronata, vultu placida, colore vivido radiata, corpore perfecta, moribus et virtute dotata, ut si fax est poli sideribus comparanda."

(113.) Bertini was educated at Padua before going to work in the court of Naples, as noted by Walter.

(114.) Bertini, 122, "Corporis habitudinem ac venustatem intuemini: / Indum sanguineo veluti violaverit ostro. / Si quis ebur vel mista rubent ubi lilia multa / Alba rosa: tales virgo dat ore colores" [Virgil, Aen. 12, 67-69].

(115.) Carbone(j), fol. 175v, "Is Phillipam genuit ex cuius decore ac venustate, pudorem quoque ac animi moderationem possumus agnoscere. Nam fieri non potest ut in tam formoso corpore non sit etiam praeclara indoles et candida virtus. Solet enim natura exterioribus quibusdam signis interiores affectus indicare."

(116.) Ibid. (c), fol. 223v, "Ex cuius gravissimo simul et dulcissimo conspectu satis aperte intelligi datur intus habitare praeclarissimum quendam animum nihil humile nihil abiectum nihil vile cogitantem."

(117.) Ibid. (k) fol. 223v, "Is genuit Zarabinum sponsum, dignum profecto tali parente filium, cuius egregia forma corporisque praestantia miram quoque animi virtutem indicat."

(118.) Ibid.(e), fol. 112r, "Quam benigne cum eo natura egerit vos ipsi perspicere potestis. Quis est qui cum hunc paulo diligentius intueatur, eius formae dignitatem contempletur, non iudicet tam decoram faciem, tam laetos oculos, tam hylarem vultum significare ac polliceri nobis egregiam et inauditam animi generositatem? Meum semper fuit iudicium, qui eximia corporis pulchritudine praestarent esse quoque divino quodam ingenio praeditos et ab ipsa natura institutos ad omne genus elegantiae, quod cum in aliis multis videre liceat, tum in hoc adolescente perspicuum est. Habet enim in tenero et formoso corpore admirabilem quandam pudicitiam ut non solum inter aequales hac virtute putetur excellens, sed eum eriam Hippolyto illi comparare possimus."

(119.) In Plato's Symposium (201d-207a), Socrates relates what he heard from the wise woman Diotima about beauty and love. Plato's Charmides (154-159a) is also a source for defenses of physical beauty. In the dialogue Socrates is enthralled by the beauty of a young boy. On the reception of these works in the fifteenth century, see Hankins, 1990a, 1:80-81, 313, and passim.

(120.) Bertini, 122, "Tametsi formae quoque non parvae laudes a veteribus tribuantur, quod ei vires ac robur natura cedere eiusque imperio subiicere crediderunt. Quidam etiam non ignobiles veterum philosophorum corporis pulchritudini quandam felictitatem inesse putaverunt, magnam siquidem venustati et dignitati gratiam inesse iudicantes, quod qui rebus iis praestarent alios facile ad se amandos, ad se verendos allicerent, quibus aetate crescente veneranda quaedam maiestas accedere videtur, qua inferiorum animi incredibiliter ad parendum maioribus moventur, magisque interdum homines corporis gratia et veneratio quam vires ipse tuentur. Cuius rei multa superiorum ac nostrorum temporum exempla commemorarem, nisi res ipsa haec omnia luce clariora reddidisset."

(121.) Carbone(j), fol. 175r, "Laudanda est profecto maiorum nostrorum sapientia qui, ut adolescentes ad virtutem, ad bonas artes, ad litterarum amorem excitarent, inter coetera praemia id quoque statuerunt ut digerentur venustissima formosissimarum puellarum corpora mitterenturque oratoribus et poetis amplexanda et exosculanda. Sed nunc bonae consuetudines non servantur."

(122.) Sabino, fol. 110v, "Arque hoc quidem confirmare audeo . . . defendere multo facilius esse arcem nec natura nec opere munitam tutam praestare ab hostibus quam ut uxoris forma omni labe impudicitiae careat."

(123.) Ibid., "Nec hoc quidem mirum est. Nam id difficillime custoditur quod omnes fere facillime concupisciant. Hic enim pulchritudine et elegantia, hic cantu, hic crebris muneribus, quibus fere plerumque capiuntur animi muliebres, ad id sua sponre proclives facile allicit et nisi omnibus hiis rebus viri perseverantia consultant tam mollis est tamque ad libidinem propensus et labilis."

(124.) The poem, De conjuge non ducenda, is published in Map?, 77-85. It is discussed in Wilson and Makowski, 124-32. Fifteenth-century copies exist in Florence, Seville, and Uppsala. In Florence, it is preserved in the same volume as many wedding orations. Alberti(b), who never himself married, translated into Italian a similar medieval misogynistic piece by Walter Map. For medieval misogynistic works, see also Leclercq, 1970.

(125.) Map?, 83, "Omnem recipiet femina masculum / omnemque subditum vincet testiculum / Quis potuit coniugis implere vasculum? / nam una mulier fatigat populum / insatiabilis vulva non deficit / Nec unam feminam vir unus reficit / idcirco mulier se multis subicit / et adhuc sitiens non dicit sufficit. / Quis satisfaciet illi per cohitum? / qui nimis coheunt incurrunt obitum / ei non serviet quisquam ad libitum / ut reddat totiens carnale debitum. / Idcirco plurimae fiunt adulterae / (t)edetque plurimos maritos vivere / cum nullus feminae possit sufficere / dico quod nemini expedit nubere."

(126.) Sabino, fols. 114r-115r, "Quid mirum est, inquam, mulieres aliquid peccare secundum naturam cum illud idem mares peccent adversante ac repugnante natura. Nam licet viri complures qui non modo incontinentes sed ne pudici quidem quia in eo quod peccatur secundum naturam pares sumus ... Tam enim vobis incontinentia quam nobis impudicitia, dedecori ac probro iure optimo tribuenda est. Cum vero id vitium quod mulierum est proprium cuiusque qui naturale quoddam faciunt aliqua venia digne sunt, etiam mares usurpent, tantus cumulus accedit avirorum scelerum ut mulieres a viris in omni vitiorum ac flagitii genere longissime superentur ... Vagatur liber animus mariti, solutus legibus. Non illi satis ancille sunt, non pellices, non deinique meretrices et postribule pro nephas. Et impudici pueri ad explendam furentem atque insanam libidinem adhibentur." See fol. 113v for a similar tirade.

(127.) Marriage sermons and orations often stress the need for marriage in order to control contra naturam cravings. In the later Middle Ages contra naturam was broadly interpreted to mean any non-reproductive sexual behavior, including heterosexual behavior, as noted in Rocke, 11. For the Stoic and Platonic origins of the Christian concept of nature, see Boswell, 145-56.

(128.) On this see Rocke, 36-44; and Herlihy, 1995, 183, 187. Mormando, 130-42, discusses the causes of sodomy according to Bernardino, including celibacy, female cosmetics, wealth, poverty, self-indulgence, abusive upbringing, and effeminizing mothers.

(129.) Guarini, 1939, 22, (after praising Lycurgus): "Idem et maiores nostri magna cum diligentia fecerunt. Censoribus enim inter cetera edictum erat ut cos graviter multarent qui aetatem suam longo tempore caelebem duxissent, non ignari civitatem brevi petituram si id omnibus impune licuisset." Anonymous(c), fol. 68r, "Apud Romanos gravissima pena mulctabantur qui celibes ad senectutem usque pervenissent." This is a commonplace in many orations. Others include Anonymous (t), fol. 69r; Duodus, Fols. 1 119r-120v; Campano.

(130.) Bracciolini, 1964-66, 692, "Quid quod matrimonio qui abstinet vel adulter vel fornicator evadet, aut alteri vitio detestabiliori involvetur. Neque tu mihi vitae continentiam prae re feras et quidem pauci admodum existunt qui eam virtutem amplectantur. Itaque propter honestiorem quoque vitam uxoris muneri haerendum est." Poggia wrote this dialogue to defend his own marriage at age 56 to a much younger Vaggia di Ghino di Manente dei Buondelmonti. On Poggio's marriage, see Martines, 1963, 210-14; and Fubini, 291, n. 195.

(131.) In his model epithalamium pseudo-Dionysius of Halicarnassus, 366, writes: "Marriage at once gives men a reputation for temperance, and such persons are thought to have given up promiscuous sex and to look each to his own wife and to her alone." (Translated in Russell and Wilson.)

(132.) De Genesi ad litteram, 2:9.VII, 77-78. In general see Brown, 387-427. Medieval and Renaissance preachers also subscribed to this view, as noted in D'Avray and Tausche; and Paton, 210-64. For scholastic views on the remedial nature of marriage, see Payer, 64-65.

(133.) This is a commonplace in wedding orations. See, for example, Anonymous(h), fol. 4r, (41) Quidem siquis matrimonii causas inquirar, intelliget ipsum vitandae in primis fornicationis gratia constitutum ease;" Visso, fol. 1 100r, "Incontinens libidio compescererur;" and Anonymous(g), fol. 6r, "coniugium ... institutum ur homines non luxu aut voluptate seu more ferino sed sacra er laudabili humanitate viverent."

(134.) Pietro Perleone (Parleo) studied under Filelfo, then worked in his native Rimini for Sigismondo Malatesta, and later taught rhetoric and classical literature at the Scuola di San Marco in Venice. On him, see King, 1986, 416-17.

(135.) Parleo(a) fol. 344r, "Quod per se antea turpissimum fuit, in matrimonio starim fiat honestum. . . cumque adulterio ac reliquis illicitia coeundi libidinibus ex summa benevolentia in gravissima odia plerumque incidamus, per coniugium turpia ex municitiis atque benevolentia srabilirur... Quod corporis voluptates cum a sapientissimis semper improbatae sint, iudicatumque nihil turpius, nihil foedius, nihil immanius homini ease posse. coniugii voluptatem liberorum procreandorum causa comprobarunt modo pulchramque honestam omnes voluerunt; sed magnam et excelsam ease virtutem affirmarunt. Nam cum circa voluptates arcendas, temperantia maxime versetur, in ipsa coniugii voluptate arbitrantur nosease temperantes. Cumque omnem sine matrimonio coeundi voluptatem leges poena aut ignominia damnent, addito coniugio premiis et honoribus afficiunt."

(136.) Guarini, fols. 55v-56r, "In ipso quoque coniugio prima societas est, ex qua cum plures propinqui, cum propagatio et soboles quae rea praetera pudicitia, continentia, castitas, ac pessimorum custodia flagitiorum, suas edea, sua templa, suas arces collocavit. Cum intra viri et uxoris affectus circumscripta ac conclusa voluptas [sic], in alienos erumpendi complexus licentiam amisit."

(137.) See, for example, Anonymous(b), fols. 285r-v, "Ut antea per lasciviam et iuvenilem intemperantiam etatem egit suam, tunc demum ducta uxore vitam suam honestissimis exercitiis accomodare eaque omnia facere quae ad rei familiaris amplificationem pertinent. Omnes enim cogitationes suas ad sua suorumque commoda confert ut ea sibi more boni patris familias paret quibus sese er uxorem suam liberosque suos honeatissime alat er vestiat."

(138.) First born of Francesco Filelfo and Teodora Chrysoloras, the daughter of Francesco's teacher. On him, see Pignatti.

(139.) M Filelfo, fol.141v, "Corporeis vero bonis studerent illi quibus ira quam ratio magis inserviret, nec quicquam gerent quod sibi laudem vendicaret posteriique ornamento futurum esset. Animorum autem supellectilem pentius a se pellerent, aeternoque veluti maximum nefas multarent exilio, malentes perturbationibus quam consiliis obtemperare voluptatesque potius titillantes quam immortalem gloriam appetentes."

(140.) "Intesi ch'a cosi fatto tormento / enno dannati i peccator carnali, / che la ragion sommettono al talento," Dante, Inferno, V:37-39.

(141.) Anonymous(f), fol. 10y, "Poterat esse in utroque sexu etiarn sine tali commixtione alterius regentis, alterius obsequentis. Amicat quaedam et germana coniunctio. Si non peccassent, eam mortis conditionem corpoream peccando minuerunt. Nec esse concubitus nisi mortalium corporum possit. Plures de hac re sententiae diversacque extiterunt ... sive ... sine coeundi complexu sive aliquo alio modo si non peccarent, habituri essent filios e munere omnipotentissimi creatoris qui potuit etiam ipsos sine parentibus condere, qui potuit carnem Christi in utero virginali formare, ut iam ipsis infidelibus loquar, qui potuit apibus prolem sine concubitu dare, sive ubi multa mystice ac figurate dicta sunt."

(142.) See, for example, Leonardo Bruni's 1411 account of his sexual exploits, translated in Hankins, 1990b, 14. In a 1445 letter to his father, Aeneas Piccolomini, 1909, 190, the fixture pope Pius II, praises his youthful seduction and impregnation of an innkeeper's daughter. See also the advice to a groom on his wedding night in Valvasor. The author encourages the groom to please his bride, because the following day all the matrons of the city will see what kind of a man he is from his and his bride's faces.

(143.) Carbone(h), fol. 164v, "Et quisquam invenietur amplius qui neget sapienti uxorem esse ducendam, cum vir sapiencissimus Victorius iam alteram ducat, quod profecto non faceret, nisi manifestissime perspiceret inesse coniugio liberali iucundissimam et inenarrabilem voluptatem quam ii soli percipiunt qui experiuntur? Non enim ita demens esset ut, si quid amaritudinis in re uxoria cognovisset, iterum in eam sponte sua vellet incidere postquam naturae beneficio sive dei cuiuspiam indulgentia illa molestia caruisset, sed certe intelligit id quod res est nullam esse hominis vitam sine copula coniugali, sine voluptate ad quam nati sumus.

(144.) Anonymous(b), fols. 285v-286r, "Quid dicam quod iocundius quoque voluptarius sit marito cum se mulieri coniunctum sentit." This is, however, followed by a reference to the wife's good morals, fol. 286r, "cum sepe sibi spectata sit multis in rebus fides atque probitas."

(145.) Simonetti, fols. 103v-104r, "I foelix, alacris et corde iocundo, ingredere thalamum elegantissimi doctoris quam plurimum te iuvabit Joannis Philippi dulcis sponsi tui, luces etiam in tanta luce Lucia."

(146.) Parleo(b), fol. 346r-v, "Namque ut quondam Thalestris amazonum regina impulsa magni Alexandri nomine cum ad eum videndi causa venisset, regis maiestate conspecta concubitum ad sobolem ex eo generandam concupivit. Ita Sigismundus cum Isottae genus, formam, risum, vocem denique ipsam atque incessum intueretur indicaretque in privato corpore animum inesse regum, inque mortali homine aliquid plus quam humanum latere, incredibili amoris face incensus exarsit concupivitque, pari in se flamma Isottam incendi quo felici ac perpetuo amore iungerentur."

(147.) lsotta had already been Sigismondo's mistress for many years before he married her in 1456. A love poem addressed to her from Sigismondo survives from 1445, when she was only twelve or thirteen years old, as noted in Jones, 213. See also Campana. Although Amazons were often described as manly in arms and virtue, it is, nevertheless, odd that Parleo compares the virile Sigismondo to a female, Thalestris. For Amazons in literature and on cassoni, see Baskins, 26-49.

(148.) Lewis, 16-17. Lewis focuses on Andreas Gapellanus, De arte honeste amandi. For criticism of Lewis' views on courtly romance, see Bloch and Miller.

(149.) Inferno, V:l00-05.

(150.) Anti-marriage tracts often rely on Jerome's Against Jovinian (393AD) as a compilation for descriptions of wicked women. Jerome cites many classical authors on marriage including Juvenal and Theophrastus. See Bloch, 37-63. The fifteenth-century inquisitors, Heinrich Kramer and James Spranger, 41-47 and passim, compiled numerous Biblical pronouncements against women and marriage in the popular witch manual, the Malleus maleficarum (1486?). Renaissance anti-marriage works also reflect the influence of Boccaccio's Corbaccio (ca. 1356). In the Corbaccio a rejected lover is cured of his passion by a spirit in a dream who maligns women. On this and other misogynistic works, see D'Elia, 205-11.

(151.) For republican discussion of wives, see Alberti, 1960-66a, 241 and passim; and Barbaro. Kolsky, 1998, has come to a similar conclusion in his study of fifteenth-century biographies of women in courts.

(152.) See, for example, Collenuccio, 46-47. For the Renaissance interpretation of Aristotle on women, see Maclean, 47-67. In addition to drawing directly from Xenophon's Oikounomia humanists may have read Alberti, 1960-66a, 216ff, who draws on Xenophon to discuss the ideal wife. On the inferior role of the wife in the Renaissance, see King, 1991, 35-42.

(153.) Carbone(g), fol. 132r-v, "Nuptiae, Euripides inquit, si cui bene ac prospere cesserint beatissima vita est. Quibus vero infeliciter eveniant, domi forisque miserrimi, huius rei testis peroptimus ego esse videor qui cum domi solus sim, et quaecumque in aedicula mea sunt confusa et perturbata conspiciam. Saepenumero eiuscemodi verba mecum loquar, heu Lodovice, si qua nunc tibi lepida et delicata puella contigerit, omnia protinus ordine collocata, omnia rite disposita, omnia munda, omnia candida, omnia perpolita reddentur, illa vestimenta purgabit, illa pulverem excutier, illa sordes eiiciet, illa vasa deterget, illa lectulum sternet, illa studiolum adornabit, illa curas, illa molestias, illa solicitudines dulci sermone 1evabit. Idcirco mirari non debemus si non modo civiles homines, verum etiam gravissimi philosophi coniugalem sanctimoniam adamarunt."

While such self-reference is entirely in keeping with the ancient genre, Carbone was no doubt sincere in his longing for a wife. On this ancient trope, see Menander, 151. Carbone wrote numerous love poems to Francesca Fontana in an unsuccessful attempt to woo her. Three are published in Pasquazi, 1966, 164-69. Sometime after this, between 1466 and 1471, Carbone married another woman, as discussed in Paoletti, 701.

(154.) For example, see Carbone(i), fol. 167v, and Collenuccio, 47.

(155.) See, for example, Collenuccio, 47-49.

(156.) Ibid., 49; Nicomachean Ethics 8.1162a.

(157.) Carbone(h), fols. 164v-165r, "Nam etsi Medea venefica, si Circe magicas artes exercuit, si libidinosa Cleopatra, si incesta ... Semiramis, si crudelis Hippia, si impudica Messalina, si insana Pasiphe, non propterea universum genus femineum arguendum cum proba Thamyris, fidelis Antonia, honesta Lucretia, pia Julia, prudens Fulvia, gravis Octavia, casta Dido, pudica Martia fuisse dicatur. Nec omnes viri boni fuerunt. Nam si mihi protuleritis Fabios, Metellos, Tonquatos, Decios, Brutos, Cicerones, patriae amatores, vobis ego adducam Cinnas, Marios, Sullas, Catalinas, Lentulos, Cerhegos, Vargunteos, Antonios, Cae sares, parricidas. Immo si recta via nobiscum deputemus non solum modestas feminas verum etiam in omni virtute praestantes reperiemus ... Unde non iniusta mihi videtur mulierum adversus nos querimonia quod eas laborum suorum praemio fraudaremus."

(158.) Carbone's defense of women, however, is not as forceful as Bartolommeo Goggio's De Laudibus mulierum, dedicated to Eleanor of Aragon in the late 1480s. In this vernacular treatise, Goggio attempts to prove that women are superior to men in every way. See Gundersheimer, 1980a; and King, 1991, 183. Carolyn James, 75-76, 69-92, criticizes Gundersheimer for not recognizing what she interprets as satire and misogyny in Goggio's treatise. For a comparison of Mario Equicola's and Agostino Strozzi's defenses of women, see Kolsky, 1991, 70-77. See also Castiglione, 239-45.

(159.) Kolsky, 1998; King, 1991, 160-64, 181-85; Wiesner, 68-75; Maclean, 5, 20-23, 56. See the praise of courtly ladies in Castiglione, 205-86. See also Kelly, 33 and passim, who sees the role of women in Castiglione as reduced: "[F]or the woman, charm had become the primary occupation and aim."

(160.) Marliani, fol. 23v, "Quod si aliquid erat quod in Francisco desyderaretur id in Blanca Maria eius coniuge facillime poterat inveniri .... fuit inquam mulier magni consilii magnique animi ... tot denique animi et corporis bonis affluens ut cum humanissima esset multum tamen divini et inesse omnes iudirent."

(161.) Patrizi, fol. 197r, "Illustris ac speciosissima Hyppolita Maria tibique vehementer gratulor ... Tu omni bonis quae precipue habenda sunt pudore, pudicitia, integritate, pietate, plurimum praestans. Tu acumine ingenii et litterarum studiis quae raro in vestro sexu elucent. Virgines non modo antecellis, verum disertissimis quibuscumque viris comparanda es. Tu corporis fortunaeque bonis nulli cedis. Nam genere, valitudine, forma, venustate admiranda es omnibus et Alphonso Ferdinandi regis filio Calabriae duci disponsata es, cui vittute ac genere raro parem in omni terrarum orbi invenire possis." Ippolita Sforza, who married the Duke of Calabria in 1465, was the main binding force between Milan and Naples until her death in 1489. On her, see Welch.

(162.) Carbone(f), fol. 116r, "De me parcius loquendum quoniam me satis maiorum meorum nobilitas illustrat. Quod si quid etiam de nobis velis dicere non deerunt quae verissime possis praedicare. Nam et corporis dignitas et formae venustas mihi non parum tribuit decoris ut me non inferiorem multis existimem quae a vestris poetis celebrantur. Sed quad mihi est carius animi dotibus polleo iudicavi semper nihil esse virtute formosius."

(163.) Ibid.(h), fol. 165r, "Satis superque nobis feminei sexus dignitatem ostendunt Sibyllae decem, ve1 ut Augustinus sentire videtur duodecim quae divino spiritu afflatae Troianum excidium, Alexandri regnum, Romanorum potentiam, Christi optimi maximi adventum dilucide praedixerunt."

(164.) Most women who knew Latin were in convents, as noted in King, 1991, 172-75.

(165.) The eloquent Isotta Nogarola was accused of loose morals and incest in an anonymous 1438 pamphlet, as discussed in Jardine, 1999, 56-58; and King, 1991, 195-97. See also Laura Cereta's invective "Against women who disparage educated women," translated in 1997, 80-82; Latin original in 1981, 95-96.

(166.) Bruni, 1987, 244: "For why should the subtleties of ... rhetorical conundrums consume the powers of a woman, who never sees the forum? The art of delivery ... [is] so far ... from being the concern of a woman that if she should gesture energetically with her arms as she spoke and shout with violent emphasis, she would probably be thought mad and put under restraint. The contests of the forum, like those of warfare and battle, are the sphere of men." This is also quoted in King, 1991, 194. In his Instruction of a Christian Woman, Juan Luis Vives similarly asserted that girls should not study rhetoric, as noted by Wiesner, 127. For other criticisms of public and politically active women see Baskins, 126-27. Both Aristotle, Politics, I.I.3 (1260a 20) and III.4 (1227b 20), and Plutarch, Mulierum virtutes, wrote that silence was a female virtue, as discussed in Maclean, 54.

(167.) Perhaps the peculiar context of a signorial court allowed women to have greater access to rhetorical training than they would have had in the political culture of a republic. Many women in courts had to perform public roles.

(168.) See, for example, Garbone(c), fol. 223r-v, for a lengthy digression on Eleanor's devotion to Ercole.

(169.) Chiappini has published numerous letters that demonstrate Eleanor's devotion to her family and leadership on behalf of her kingdom. On Eleanor's religious and secular activities, see Gundersheimer, 1980b, 51-53.

(170.) Carbone(c), fol. 223v, "Eius animi magnitudinem, matronalem prudentiam, liberalitatem, eloquentiam in toto illo ... cum in magnorum virorum conspectu veniebamus, ipsam legatis, ipsam civis acum rectoribus, ipsam principibus, ipsam cardinalibus, ipsam Pontifici summo, cum tanta dignitate rendit ut miraretur vehementer pater ille sanctissimus tam nobile adulescentulae ingenium ad priscorum oratorum facunditatem proxime accedens. Non miror ... si Neapolitani omnes eius discessus aegerrime tulerunt. Quotiens mihi ingrelantes deplorantesque dixerunt: Vos omnem iocunditatem nostram vobiscum asportatis, vos singulare bonum nobis eripitis. Sed visum in ea opus admirabile sed in femineo sexu virilem animum collocaret."

(171.) Gundersheimer, 1980b, 54, insists on "the relatively minor impact of humanist learning in her intellectual formation." He also writes: "[t]hough there were some exceptions ... secular and classical learning was left to the more catholic interests of her husband and eldest daughter."

(172.) Bertini 122-23, "Quid autem de litterarum institutione et doctrina loquar, in quibus tamen profecit atque adeo sibi veteres Latinos praesertim Christianos familiares effecit ut non mediocrem dicendi scribendique vim et copiam compararit? Vidi ego superioribus annis, cum conventus Christianorum principum Mantue celebraretur, hanc adhuc adolescentulam apud Pium Romanum Pontificem tanta facundia ac elegantia orantem ut ille qui omni doctrinae genere ac ingenio excellentissimus haberetur earn non commendaret solum verum etiam admiraretur et maximum aetatis nostrae decus ac ornamentum appellaret. Quo enim rariores, eo maiore sunt dignae laude, si quae modo Latinarum litterarum non ignarae reperiuntur ut quemadmodum Greci Aspasia, Diotima et non minus sancta quam docta femina Macrina, magni Basilii sorore, ac maiores nostri Proba, Emilia Africana, Hortensia et reliquis foeminis peritioribus glorientur, ita nos Hyppolitam nostris temporibus in Italia natam ac litteris institutam esse laetemur, nec ingenio tan tum et doctrina verum etiam maiorum gloria, modestia, pudore, pietate ac pulchritudine claram, et quasi Pandoram illam Hesiodi in quam dei deaeque omnes omnis formae omnisque virtutis decus congessissent admiremur."

(173.) Ippolita's short oration has been translated and published in Her Immaculate Hand, 47-48. See also Cornazano, fol. 9r, who compares Ippolita Sforza to the Virgin Mary, because like the Virgin she enjoyed literature: "Principalmente in lettere haveva dilecto."

(174.) Carbone(h), fol. 165r-v, "Non desunt etiam mihi huius temporis mulietum exempla clarissima, quarum testimonio convincerem muliebrem praestantiam omnium litteris monumentis praedicacione decorandam, sed paucas retulisse sufficiat. Quis enim non audivit Baptistam i11am ex genere Malatestarum ad Martinum pontificem sapientissimum orationem luculentissimam habuisse? Aut Paulam, Joannis Francisci primi Mantuae Marchionis uxorem, tam generoso et alto animo extitisse ut ab ea de summis rebus consilium peteretur. Vidimus ipsi Margaritam eius filiam quae Leonello nostro in matrimonio collocata Nicolaum hunc lepidissimum adolescentulum tanquam coeleste lilium protulit, paternam mansuetudinem ore ac gestibus referentem, tanta fuisse prudentia et litteratura ut omnes obstupescerent. Quis ignorat in Barbara Lodovico principi digne coniuncta (nam profecto Mantuani principes in uxoribus fortunatissimi fuerunt) tantum superesse constantiae, magnanimitatis, sapientiae ut regni curas cum viro suo partiatur et imperiose administret? Incredibilia sunt quae de virgine illa mihi renuntiantur. Tu quoque, mitissime dux, gloriari certo potes quod tibi soror contigerit diva Bianca quae ad illustrissimam Aestensem familiam ornamenta litterarum splendorem adiunxit non latinarum modo, verum etiam graecarum, in quibus ira excellit ut nemini omnino concedat, quae etiam orationes meas legere voluit et me orantem audire desyderavit. Facessant hinc igitur qui mulieres ut rerum magnarum non appetentes accusant, fateanturque plurima et maxima ex re uxoria commoda provenisse, opera matronarum gravissimas inimicicias sublatas, capitalia odia sedata, perniciosissima bella restincta."

(175.) Catalogues of illustrious women were popular in Italian courts. Authors generally followed the example of Boccaccio's De claris mulieribus, as noted in King, 1991, 182-83. Like Christine de Pizan (1405), the humanist Laura Cereta argued against Boccaccio's emphasis on exceptional women, which she thought implied that the majority of women were inferior; 1981, 68-69, 101-02; and 1997, Letters XVII-XVIII, 65-80 and Introduction, 10-11.

(176.) Carbone(a), fol. 204v, "Huic tanto viro in matrimonium collocatur lepida et generosa puella Leona non minus Romica quam Patrata gente clara sed pudicitia et matronali gravitate insignior. Litterata etiam est haec puella. Fuit enim discipula mea. Quotiens in conspectu meo cantavit versus illos quos olim de te feci, inclite dux: Aethera diversi turbabant undique venti / Tollebant clarum nubila densa diem / Borsinum sidus disiecit ab aere nubes / Borsius adveniens omnia laeta facit / Borsius aeternos olim meriturus honores / Borsius exemplum nobile iusticiae."

(177.) Jardine, 1985, 816, writes: "Within the humanist confraternity (sic) the accomplishment of the educated women (the 'learned lady') is an end in itself, like fine needlepoint or the ability to perform ably on lute or virginals. It is not viewed as a training for anything, perhaps not even for virtue."

(178.) Kelly, 31-36 and passim. Kelly's assessment of the courtly lady in the Renaissance is based almost exclusively on Castiglione's Cortegiano. Davis, 169-71, argues that women in courts tended to have more political influence than women in oligarchical republics. In response to Kelly, Herlihy, 1985, concludes that at least one group of women, female saints, did have a Renaissance.



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-----(j). Untitled. MS: Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. Lat. 8750, fol. 35r. Kristeller, 1963-92, 2:385-86.

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