Showing posts with label 1478. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1478. Show all posts

8 July 2019

Gian Giorgio Trissino – dramatist and poet

Innovative playwright spotted the potential of Palladio

Vincenzo Cateno's portrait of the  dramatist Gian Giorgio Trissino
Vincenzo Catena's portrait of the
dramatist Gian Giorgio Trissino
Literary theorist, philologist, dramatist and poet Gian Giorgio Trissino was born on this day in 1478 in Vicenza.

As well as his contribution to Italian culture, Trissino is remembered for educating and helping Andrea di Pietro della Gondola, a young mason he discovered working on his villa in Cricoli, just outside Vicenza.

He took the young man on two visits to Rome that profoundly influenced his development into a great architect and he gave him the name Palladio, after the Greek goddess of wisdom, Pallas Athene.

Trissino had been born into a wealthy family and was able to travel widely, studying Greek in Milan and philosophy in Ferrara. He was part of Niccolò Machiavellis literary circle in Florence before he settled in Rome, where he associated with the humanist and poet, Pietro Bembo. He became a close friend of the dramatist, Giovanni Rucella, and served Popes Leo X and Clement VII.

Trissino’s most important dramatic work was the blank verse tragedy Sofonisba, published in 1524 and first performed in 1562.

Andrea Palladio was Gian
Giorgio Tressino's protégé
The play was based on a story about the Carthaginian wars by the Roman historian Livy. It employed the dramatic techniques of Sophocles and Euripides. It was the first time blank verse had been used extensively in Italian drama and many later European tragedies were modelled on it. The play was translated into French and performed in 1556 at the Château de Blois.

Trissino later wrote a verse comedy based on a work by the Roman playwright Plautus. He wrote the first Italian odes modelled on the verse of the Greek poet, Pindar, and the first Italian versions of the Horatian ode.

Trissino died in Rome in 1550. An edition of his collected works was published in Verona in 1729.

Vicenza's Piazza dei Signori
Vicenza's Piazza dei Signori
Travel tip:

Vicenza, where Gian Giorgio Trissoni was born, has become known as the city of his protégé, Andrea Palladio, and the buildings the great architect designed are all around the city. There is a statue of Palladio close to Piazza dei Signori, the main square. Palazzo del Valmarana and Loggia del Capitaniato are examples of his work that can be seen close to the centre.

Andrea Palladio worked as a stonemason on the Villa Trissoni, which can be found at Cricoli, near Vicenza
Andrea Palladio worked as a stonemason on the Villa
Trissoni, which can be found at Cricoli, near Vicenza
Travel tip:

The Villa Trissoni is located at Cricoli, just outside the centre of Vicenza. Most of it was built in the 16th century and it is associated with Andrea Palladio, who worked on it as a mason. Since 1994 the villa has been part of a World Heritage Site designated to protect the Palladian buildings of Vicenza. Gian Giorgio Trissoni was personally responsible for organising the remodelling of the villa at Cricoli, which he had inherited from his father.

Read more:

Andrea Palladio - the world's famous architect

The poet who was Lucrezia Borgia's lover

Leo X - visionary Renaissance pope

More reading:

1593: The birth of painter Artemisia Gentileschi

1822: The death of the English poet Shelley

1918: American author Ernest Hemingway injured by Austrian mortar fire in the Veneto


13 July 2017

Giulio d’Este of Ferrara

Plots and prison ruin life of handsome son of Duke

Giulio d'Este, as he was said to have looked on his release from prison at the age of 81
Giulio d'Este, as he was said to have looked on his
release from prison at the age of 81
Giulio d’Este, who spent more than half of his life in prison for taking part in a failed conspiracy against his half-brother, the Duke of Ferrara, was born on this day in 1478 in Ferrara.

He was the illegitimate son of Ercole I d’Este, an earlier Duke of Ferrara, born as a result of an affair the Duke had with Isabella Arduin, a lady in waiting to his wife.

Giulio was often in conflict with his half-brothers, Alfonso and Ippolito, which led to him eventually playing his part in a plot to assassinate them.

He had grown up in the court of Ferrara and later lived in a palace on the Via degli Angeli in Ferrara.

The first major conflict between Giulio and Ippolito arose over a musician, Don Rainaldo of Sassuolo. Rainaldo was in the service of Giulio, but Ippolito, who had by then become a Cardinal, wanted him for his chapel and so in 1504 he abducted Rainaldo and held him in the Fortress of Gesso.

When Giulio discovered where he was being held, he went with a group of armed men and recovered the musician. In a sign of defiance, Giulio replaced him with the warden of the fortress.

Ferdinand Kingsley - son of the great British actor Ben Kingsley - played Giulio in the 2011 TV series Borgia
Ferdinand Kingsley - son of the great British actor Ben
Kingsley - played Giulio in the 2011 TV series Borgia
Ippolito complained about his actions to his brother, Alfonso, who had by then succeeded their father as Duke of Ferrara, and Giulio was exiled to Brescello – more than 100km (62 miles) away – as a result.

Lucrezia Borgia, Alfonso’s wife, and Isabella d’Este, his sister, eventually managed to persuade Alfonso to pardon Giulio.

The following year, Giulio and Ippolito discovered that they were both admirers of the same lady at the court, Angela Borgia, the cousin of Lucrezia, the Duchess.

But Angela favoured Giulio and told Ippolito, who despite being a Cardinal was a ladies’ man, that ‘Giulio’s eyes were worth more than Ippolito’s whole person.

Ippolito ordered his servants to kill Giulio and tear out his eyes and when they discovered Giulio on his own, returning to Ferrara from a trip, they surrounded him, beat him brutally and stabbed his eyes.

Although he was not killed he was badly scarred, lost the eyesight in one eye and was left with blurred vision in the other.

Giulio's palace in the Via degli Angeli is now the headquarters of the Prefecture of Ferrara
Giulio's palace in the Via degli Angeli is now
the headquarters of the Prefecture of Ferrara
Alfonso then organised a formal truce between Giulio and Ippolito, but Giulio bore a grudge against his half-brother for the loss of his eyesight and his good looks. He was also angry with Alfonso for not punishing Ippolito.

Another of his half-brothers, Ferrante, aspired to replace Alfonso as Duke and Giulio and other men hostile to Alfonso helped him organise a plot to eliminate Alfonso and Ippolito.

The conspirators waited at night in the street with poisoned daggers but failed to encounter Alfonso. Ippolito’s spies gathered evidence about the plot for him but, before he could relay it to Alfonso, Lucrezia and Isabella urged Giulio to flee to Mantua to be protected by Francesco Gonzaga.

The conspirators were tried in Giulio’s absence and along with his half-brother, Ferrante, and three other men, Giulio was found guilty and condemned to death.

Alfonso threatened to take his army to recover Giulio and eventually Francesco had to hand him over. The other conspirators were executed, but the sentences for Giulio and Ferrante were reduced to life imprisonment.

Ferrante died in prison at the age of 63 after 34 years of incarceration, but Giulio was freed by Alfonso II d’Este - his great nephew - at the age of 81 after he had spent 53 years in prison.

Giulio caused a stir when he was first seen out in the streets of Ferrara again because despite his years in prison he was said to have retained his charm and erect posture and he was still dressed in the fashion of 50 years before.

The Este Castle dominates the centre of Ferrara
The Este Castle dominates the centre of Ferrara
Travel tip:

Ferrara is a city in Emilia-Romagna, about 50 km (31 miles) to the north-east of Bologna. It was ruled by the Este family between 1240 and 1598. Building work on the magnificent Este Castle in the centre of the city began in 1385 and it was added to and improved by successive rulers of Ferrara until the end of the Este line.

Travel tip:

Giulio d’Este’s palace in Via degli Angeli is now the headquarters of the Prefecture of Ferrara. It was designed by Renaissance architect Biagio Rossetti and was given to Giulio by his natural father, Ercole I, Duke of Ferrara. After Giulio’s imprisonment, it was taken over by his arch enemy and half brother, Ippolito. The palace became the property of the Province of Ferrara in 1932.

6 December 2015

Baldassare Castiglione – courtier and diplomat

Writer left a definitive account of life at court in Renaissance Italy

Baldassare Castiglione, the author of the Italian classic, The Book of the Courtier, was born on this day in 1478 near Mantua in Lombardy.
The portrait of Castiglione can be seen in the Louvre gallery in Paris
Raphael's portrait of Castiglione
now housed in the Louvre in Paris

His book about etiquette at court and the ideal of the Renaissance gentleman, has been widely read over the years and was even a source of material for Shakespeare after it was translated into English.

Castiglione was born into a noble household and was related on his mother’s side to the powerful Gonzaga family of Mantua. After studying in Milan he succeeded his father as head of the family and was soon representing the Gonzaga family diplomatically.

As a result he met Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, and later took up residence in his court, which was regarded as the most refined and elegant in Italy at the time and received many distinguished guests.

The court was presided over by the Duke’s wife, Elisabetta Gonzaga, who impressed Castiglione so much that he wrote platonic sonnets and songs for her.

During this time he also became a friend of the painter, Raphael, who painted a portrait of him.

Castiglione later took part in an expedition against Venice organised by Pope Julius II during the Italian wars and was then sent by Pope Clement VI as a papal ambassador to Madrid. He died after contracting the plague in Toledo in 1529.

His book, Il Libro del Cortegiano, The Book of the Courtier, was published in 1528, the year before he died. It was written in the form of an imaginary dialogue between Elisabetta Gonzaga and her guests. Some readers have seen it as a guide to how to behave in society, while others have interpreted it as a philosophical work. But Castiglione has undoubtedly left us with a definitive and fascinating account of Renaissance court life.

Travel tip:

Mantua, the capital of the art-loving Gonzaga dukes, is an atmospheric city in Lombardy with many interesting things to see. The highlight is the magnificent Ducal Palace, which dominates the northern part of the city. It has about 500 rooms, which include the remarkable Camera degli Sposi, adorned with frescoes by Andrea Mantegna.

The imposing Ducal Palace in Urbino
Photo by Florian Prischi (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Travel Tip:

Urbino, which is inland from the Adriatic resort of Pesaro, is a majestic city on a steep hill.  It was once a centre of learning and culture, known not just in Italy but also in its glory days throughout Europe. The Ducal Palace, a Renaissance building made famous by Castiglione’s 'The Book of the Courtier', is one of the most important monuments in Italy and is listed as a Unesco World Heritage site.