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Italian Nobility: The Lesser Princely Courts

The princely courts of Italy sparkled with art, intellect, and opulence as the Black Death claimed huge numbers of lives in the lands all around them. From the mid-13th to the late-16th century, Italy was a honeycomb of these courts, the grandest of which were centered in Rome, Milan, and Naples, with lesser-known but equally ambitious courts in Padua, Verona, Rimini, and Bologna. The courts served as cultural centers whose signori dispensed patronage, bought jewels, hosted banquets, and staged sumptuous festivals both secular and religious. It was in Verona in 1308 that Dante found refuge from Florentine politics and wrote his Divine Comedy. Even in the era of plague, patronage in the grand style continued. We will examine the political and cultural significance of the princely courts in their proper historical context through a literary lens. Readings include Dante’s Inferno, Burckhardt’s “The State as a Work of Art” in The Civilization of the Renaissance, Cellini’s Autobiography, and Boccaccio’s Decameron.

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You'll Walk Away with

  • An understanding of the cultural and political dynamics of the princely courts of Italy
  • Familiarity with Dante’s Inferno and Boccaccio’s Decameron in historical context

Ideal for

  • All members of the community—working, retired, and in between
  • Those with an interest in literary, cultural, and European history
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.