Giulia Gonzaga

A Gentlewoman in the Italian Reformation

Susanna Peyronel Rambaldi
Translated by Richard Bates
Collana: Viella History, Art and Humanities Collection, 11
Pubblicazione: Aprile 2021
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pp. 300, 15,5x23 cm, hardback
ISBN: 9788833137636
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The life of Giulia Gonzaga – a leading figure in a delicate time of transition in 16th-century Italian political, cultural and religious history – brings this period and its dramatic turning-points alive. A favoured disciple of Juan de Valdés and at the centre of his group of followers, as well as a loyal friend of the protonotary Pietro Carnesecchi, who was condemned for heresy and executed, Giulia Gonzaga was strongly tied to her class, her powerful dynasty and to family and political intrigues. Under the shadow of her family, she enjoyed a heterodox experience shared by many others, men and women alike, who were protagonists of an intellectual and spiritual dissent that was harshly repressed by the Church of Rome.

Through the life of a woman, this book recounts the shifts in the political balance of power in Italy in the early years of Spanish dominion and how they mixed with religious dissent and with attempts to change the direction of the Church. It also recounts the relationships, friendships and solidarities of an aristocracy, male and female, that sought to play a role in the bitter conflicts that had emerged in Italian society as the Reformation spread throughout Europe.

  • Preface
  • 1. Born in Gonzaga
    • 1. “Warlords”
    • 2. “Rich of soul and of noble, antique blood”
    • 3. The “matriarch” Antonia del Balzo
    • 4. A network of marriages
    • 5. Weaknesses and powers
    • 6. Small courts
    • 7. A culture to “pass the time”
    • 8. In the midst of the “Italian wars”
  • 2. “The real golden age”
    • 1. Alliances
    • 2. The marriage of Giulia Gonzaga
    • 3. The County of Fondi
    • 4. “Oh, the lands of Fondi and Traetto were so blessed”
    • 5. Portrait of a lady
    • 6. The Ippolito de’ Medici affair
    • 7. “To take charge of vassals”
    • 8. Juan de Valdés, “solicitador” for Giulia Gonzaga
  • 3. Naples, “most loyal”
    • 1. Giulia in Naples
    • 2. “Preaching the Gospel calms and pacifies the conscience”
    • 3. In palace and convent
    • 4. “S.to Francesco di Napuli”
    • 5. “Curiosity”
    • 6. Protections
    • 7. Aristocratic circles and ecclesiastic elites
    • 8. The 1550s
  • 4. Ruling from the Convent
    • 1. Ferrante Gonzaga, “lord and brother”
    • 2. A “ruined kingdom”
    • 3. Her “son” Vespasiano
    • 4. A good “match-maker”, though a little “phlegmatic”
    • 5. Politics and affections
    • 6. Pietro Carnesecchi
  • 5. Female Patronage and Heretical Networks
    • 1. Isabella Bresegna, “the dearest friend I have in the world”
    • 2. “You preferred the insults of Christ to the riches and delights of Egypt”
    • 3. Chiavenna
    • 4. “Important ladies”: more problems for the House of Gonzaga
    • 5. Lucrezia Gonzaga and the network of heretics in the Veneto and Po
  • 6. Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index of Names
  • Index of Places

First published in Italian as Una gentildonna irrequieta. Giulia Gonzaga fra reti familiari e relazioni eterodosse, Rome 2012

Cover illustration: Portrait of a Lady (Giulia Gonzaga?), artist unknown, 16th century, Frankfurt, Städelsches Kunstinstitut.

Susanna Peyronel Rambaldi

Susanna Peyronel Rambaldi lectured in Modern History and History of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation at Milan University. She focused mainly on political-religious history in the 16th and 17th centuries, the history of the Italian Reformation, the history of the Inquisition in Italy, and, more recently, the political and religious activity of the ladies of the great Italian family courts. Her previous works include a volume she edited together with Letizia Arcangeli, Donne di potere nel Rinascimento (Viella, 2008) and the original Italian edition of this book, Una gentildonna irrequieta. Giulia Gonzaga fra relazioni familiari e relazioni eterodosse (Viella, 2012).

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