Skip to main content

Cornazono, Antonio

Antonio Cornazano



Master of Many Arts.

Because dance was only one of many arts practiced in the courts of late medieval Italy, it is important to recognize that those engaged in it were not necessarily professionals. Indeed, as the concept of the "Renaissance man" developed, what was most admired was an individual's ability to move easily from one art to another as a cultivated amateur (that is, one who loves a subject but does not make a living from it). Thus, although Antonio Cornazano taught dancing and wrote a dance manual, it would be inaccurate to refer to him as a dancing master. He was not himself a choreographer—his manual contains only choreographies by Domenico da Piacenza—and he was not a professional dancer, as were all the other dancing masters. He is better described as a poet, humanist, and statesman; at his appointment to the household staff of Duke Francesco Sforza, he was described as "counselor, secretary, chamberlain, and teacher of the Duke's children." Cornazano was born into one of Piacenza's leading noble families and, similar to other young men of his status, received a broad education that included ancient and modern languages, the theory and practice of military arts, and politics. He learned dancing from Domenico, whom he later referred to as "my only teacher and colleague." In 1454 he entered into service in Milan at the Sforza court where a year later he dedicated the first version of his treatise, Libro dell'arte del danzare (Book on the Art of Dancing), to his young student Ippolita Maria Sforza. Following the death of Duke Francesco in 1466, Cornazano moved to Venice where he spent eleven years as military adviser to General Bartolomeo Colleoni, leader of the Venetian military forces.

Interrelated Arts.

Cornazano was married to Taddea de Varro, a member of an old noble Ferrarese family, and in 1479 he entered the court of Ericole I d'Este in Ferrara, where he spent the remainder of his life. He was noted as an excellent and prolific poet who was also skilled at extemporizing poetry. His writings include La Sforzeide in praise of Francesco Sforza, a set of poems divided into 36 chapters, written in the style of Vergil's epic The Aeneid. His works also include Vita di Nostra Donna (Life of our Lady), a book of poems on the life of the Virgin Mary, dedicated to Ippolita Maria Sforza; and Opera bellissima de l'arte militare (The Most Beautiful Work of Military Art), a treatise on the art of war. Though to us the combination of the "arts of war" and the arts of poetry and dance might seem unusual, this was not the case in fifteenth-century courts, where dance, like poetry and the performance of music, was an activity of great interest to almost everyone and was always included as one of the skills required of a successful courtier.


The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. 29 vols. 2nd ed. (New York: Grove's Dictionaries, 2001).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Cornazono, Antonio." Arts and Humanities Through the Eras. . 24 Nov. 2017 <>.

"Cornazono, Antonio." Arts and Humanities Through the Eras. . (November 24, 2017).

"Cornazono, Antonio." Arts and Humanities Through the Eras. . Retrieved November 24, 2017 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.