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‘Alma diva leggiadra Simonetta’: culture and politics in literary representations of Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci

Allan, Judith Rachel (2010)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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This thesis examines literary representations of the noblewoman Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci (c. 1453- 1476) written in the Florentine vernacular in the mid- 1470s and 1480s. Composed during the reign of Lorenzo de’ Medici, de facto ruler of Florence from 1469- 1492, these portrayals of Simonetta, in Angelo Poliziano’s Stanze, Lorenzo’s Comento de’ miei sonetti, and works by Bernardo Pulci, Luigi Pulci, Girolamo Benivieni and an anonymous poet, respond to the city’s interest in both its vernacular and classical roots, and its changing political landscape. In my thesis I argue that Simonetta is the means through which a new ideal of femininity is created that reflects these developments and becomes symbolic of them, combining the beauty and virtue of the female figures of Stilnovistic and Petrarchan poetry with attributes inspired by ancient literature, philosophy and mythology. Due to her ‘relationship’ with Giuliano de’ Medici, she is also a useful tool for praising the family in verse and winning their favour, in a city controlled by Lorenzo’s patronage networks. Moreover, she allows Lorenzo to portray himself as a just and wise ruler. In addition, her links with Naples mean that she becomes part of Florence’s policy of cultural diplomacy towards the city.

Type of Work:M.Phil. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Hemsoll, David E. and Mac Carthy, Ita
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Italian Studies
Subjects:PQ Romance literatures
PC Romance languages
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1136
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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