Strozzi, Alessandra Macinghi ca.1407–1471 Florentine Letter Writer
Strozzi, Alessandra Macinghi
ca.1407–1471 Florentine letter writer
Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi of Florence wrote an extensive and unique collection of letters to her sons during the mid-1400s. These letters provide a firsthand account of the life of a Renaissance woman, as well as a glimpse of the social and political climate of Florence during that time.
Born into an upper-class Florentine family, Alessandra received the basic education common for women of her standing. In 1422 she married a merchant named Matteo Strozzi. After 12 years of marriage and several children, her husband was exiled to the Italian city of Pesaro for being a political opponent of the ruling Medici family. His family followed him into exile, and soon afterward Matteo and three of the couple's children died of the plague*. Alessandra returned to Florence a few months later. She never remarried, and she spent a great deal of her time trying to arrange good marriages for her children and to establish her sons in business.
Seventy-three of Alessandra's letters to her sons in other cities survive today. A keen observer, Alessandra reported on current political events and circumstances. She also offered ordinary details such as food prices and the family's financial situation. Alessandra's letters show that she was a devoted mother, though like most Renaissance mothers, she was closer to her sons than to her daughters. As one of few large collections of correspondence written by a woman, these letters provide an intimate look into the life of a Florentine family that few other sources can offer.
- * plague
highly contagious and often fatal disease that wiped out much of Europe's population in the mid-1300s and reappeared periodically over the next three centuries; also known as the Black Death