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

Allan, Judith Rachel (2010). ‘Alma diva leggiadra Simonetta’: culture and politics in literary representations of Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci. University of Birmingham. M.Phil.


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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: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Phil.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Phil.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Modern Languages
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
P Language and Literature > PC Romance languages
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/1136


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