La nobiltà delle Donne


I was introduced to Lodovico Domenichi's La nobiltà delle Donne two years ago by my Italian Humanism and Renaissance professor. And let me be honest, I was not too keen on getting to know his work. Although I absolutely love the Renaissance, our assignment was to transcribe 7 pages from one of the books (there are a total of five) in La nobiltà. So, really, no one was too keen on this, especially since in manuscripts from the time pages are numbered differently: one page is actually the whole sheet double sided. Page one is the recto of the first page and the verso, meaning we had to transcribe 14 pages.


Then, to top it all off, we even had to understand it: we were divided into groups and assigned a book that we would present to the class. Needless to say, we were completely lost the first time we attempted to read it. But, amazingly, it got easier pretty quickly. Now I can even read it on the shaking metro, with all its smells and sounds, without any problems.


And guess what? I really enjoy it. Enough to spend the semester researching and writing a twenty-page paper on it.


First I bought a lifetime supply of post-its because this thing is 500+ pages long. Then I emptied out the Concordia Library's stock on Renaissance dialogue/feminism/masculinity/etc. Now I have to raid a few more libraries, roll up my sleeves and get to the real work ahead. Here's a little bit of information on this text and my research:


La nobiltà was written as a dialogue between Violante Bentivoglio, a noblewoman from Northern Italy, and various men over the period of five days (hence, five books) during the wedding celebrations for her son, Mutio Sforza, and Faustina in Piacenza in 1546. It was published in Venice by an influential printer, Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari (who, on a side note, has a beautiful logo). Although the dialogue is fictional, the interlocutors were real people. Over these five days, they discussed and debated on the nobility of women. The term, in this case, was used to define the nobility of character and not of birth or social class. Using examples from mythology, religion and history, they debated whether or not women were of equal, or even superior, value to men.


This type of text wasn't uncommon at the time: many male authors contributed similar works. Actually, Domenichi's text hasn't really been studied or taken seriously because he was accused of plagiarism for many years.


So, by analysing Domenichi's La nobiltà delle Donne and using the research that has been done on similar work, I'm trying to answer these questions:


~Why did Domenichi write this text?

~Who is the intended audience?

~Does Violante Bentivolgio play a significant role in the debate? ~Was Pierfrancesco Visconte (an interlocutor depicted as an enemy of those Domenichi cast as sensible, gentlemanly defenders of the female sex) right in saying that honouring women was "più cerimonioso, che necessario" (more ceremonious than necessary)?


#research #history #italianrenaissance #feminism #feministhistory #lodovicedomenichi #lanobiltadelledonne #querelle #artistorian