d'Aragona, Tullia (ca. 1510–1556)

views updated

d'Aragona, Tullia (ca. 15101556)

A celebrated courtesan, musician, and author, Tullia d'Aragona was known to nobles, artists, philosophers, and princes as one of Renaissance Italy's most fascinating women. She was the daughter of Giulia Ferrarese, herself a courtesan of great beauty, and was educated by Cardinal Luigi d'Aragona, who may have been her father. She left her birthplace of Rome for Siena in 1519, and returned to Rome in 1526 to enlist as a professional courtesan, a woman engaged by wealthy men for entertainment, witty conversation, and physical pleasure. Among her clients were the banker Filippo Strozzi of Florence; Emilio Orsini, scion of a powerful Roman family; and the poet Bernardo Tasso. She married Silvestro Guiccardi in 1543 and several years later joined the Florentine court of Duke Cosimo de' Medici. She was denounced for defying the dress code for courtesans in Siena, and in Florence, but escaped trial both times through her connections to influential men. Forty-nine of her poems were collected in the book Rime della Signora Tullia d' Aragona. She wrote Dialogues on the Infinity of Love in 1547 and found a publisher for the book almost immediately in Venice. This work boldly gave a woman's perspective on love, and relations between the sexes, a viewpoint extremely rare in the literature of Europe before the modern age. She also composed sonnets and an epic poem, Il Meschino, Detto Il Guerrino. Gathered poets and philosophers to her side at the Medici court, she prevailed over the intellectual life of Florence at a time when women were held as morally and intellectually inferior to men.

About this article

d'Aragona, Tullia (ca. 1510–1556)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article