Postgraduate Roundtable in Prato

On Tuesday 11 December a roundtable of postgraduate presentations with responses from Prato Consortium members will take place at the Monash Prato Centre. If you’re in town, why not drop by to hear this interesting program?


Prato Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Programme for Roundtable: Tuesday 11 December 2011

 09.30 am – Welcome and Introduction: Peter Howard

09.45 – Lisa di Crescenzo: Letters in Exile, and Beyond: The Correspondence of Luisa Donati Strozzi to Her Sons, 1471-1510.

10.00 – Luke Bancroft: An uneasy alliance: Florence in the Commentaries of Pius II.

10.15 – Serena Masolini: Peter de Rivo, reader of Aristotle: first sketches.

10.30 – Coffee break

11.00 – Roslyn Halliday: Santa Maria delle Carceri: Religious Behaviour and Civic Identity in Renaissance Prato.

11.15 – Irene Mariani: The Vespucci family: artistic patronage revisited.

11.30 – Hannah Fulton, Monash University:  ‘Persons of good quality’: the search to find employers, husbands and caretakers for the children of the Ospedale degli Innocenti.

11.45 – Response and comment (Prof. Kate Lowe, tbc).

12.00 – Renaissance Studies – present and future directions: brief interventions from members of the PCMRS.

12.25 – ‘Wrap-up’ – Peter Howard

12.45 – Lunch for participants and audience.



Luke Bancroft, Monash University: An uneasy alliance: Florence in the Commentaries of Pius II.

Based on the assumption that Pius’ Commentaries were an attempt to grapple with the variety of personal and political conflicts that confronted his papacy, this paper reflects on the critical role Florence, and specifically, Cosimo de’ Medici, plays in his narrative.

Lisa Di Crescenzo, Monash University: Letters in Exile, and Beyond: The Correspondence of Luisa Donati Strozzi to Her Sons,  1471-1510.

In the general purge of prestigious patrician lines ordered by Cosimo de’ Medici following his return to Florence in 1434, the exile of Palla di Nofri Strozzi destined his branch to a forced settlement in Padua, Ferrara, Venice, and other northeastern centres of Italy.  The interior plot of their decline and recovery has been, largely, eclipsed in the scholarship by the fall and rise of Matteo di Simone Strozzi’s branch. The seventy-three extant letters of Matteo’s widow, Alessandra Macigni Strozzi, to their exiled sons, have been a much-exploited epistolary source for autobiographical insights into family, gender and exile.  In contrast, the epistolario of Palla Strozzi’s daughter-in-law, Luisa Donati Strozzi, has attracted little scholarly attention. Wedded to Giovanfrancesco Strozzi by 1449, Luisa, differently from Alessandra, married into exile and lived out her widowhood, distanced from her native city, in Ferrara.  The rich and substantial collection of Luisa Strozzi’s correspondence to her sons, dated 1471 to 1510, is the subject of this short paper, which introduces the experience of this patrician woman during the familial crisis of judicial exile and beyond, following its repeal in 1494.  The epistolary evidence is currently being examined for new insights provided into the familial relationships of kin scattered by political persecution, their registers of feeling, and the material and psychic role of a wife, widow and mother, and her epistolary offerings, as the patrilineal family was reorganized and revived across northern Italy over a forty-year period.

Hannah Fulton, Monash University: “‘Persons of good quality’: the search to find employers, husbands and caretakers for the children of the Ospedale degli Innocenti.‟
In his letters to Cosimo I, the Duke of Florence, Vincenzo Borghini, the Prior of the Ospedale degli Innocenti from 1552 to 1580, suggested that the significance of the institution went beyond the saving of children from the consequences of their abandonment. A study of the management of spaces within these walls allows the historian to consider the importance of liminal spaces and thus recognise the nature of the threat from outside the hospital.  Furthermore, the transition from inside the walls of the institution to become an apprentice, a servant or a wife was neither smooth nor final, in effect making the outer walls of the hospital porous and open to the manipulation of persons who were not of good quality. 

Ros Halliday, Monash University: Santa Maria delle Carceri: Religious Behavior and Civic Identity in Renaissance Prato.

Alongside the more famous Virgin’s girdle housed in Prato’s cathedral, the frescoed image of Santa Maria delle Carceri in the city’s medieval prison was a major focus of pilgrimage and devotion in the late fifteenth-century. This paper will discuss how the changing physical context of the image impacted upon the development of the cult as well as examining the broader significance of Santa Maria delle Carceri to Prato’s religious and civic life.

Irene Mariani, University of Edinburgh: The Vespucci family: artistic patronage revisited.

Focusing on the notion of artistic patronage, my research aims at understanding the role the Vespucci family played as art patrons in Laurentian Florence and the impact its members had in the social, political, and intellectual aspects of the city. The lack of research on the family and the will to underpin the life and activity of fascinating personalities such as Amerigo and Simonetta Vespucci, contributed to the creation of “false myths” about the family. Through the analysis of Botticelli’s Mars and Venus my talk will present some of the problematic aspects that surround the Vespucci, showing how much can be learned about less documented patrons through archival research and the analysis of history and art history literature.

Serena Masolini, University of Leuven, and Associate, PCMRS: Peter de Rivo – reader of Aristotle: first sketches.

Peter de Rivo (d.1500) was one of the most remarkable figures working at the nascent University of Leuven. Hiscontribution to the quarrel over future contingents was known all over Europe in his own time, as well as to modern historians of philosophy and theology. Although he proved himself to be a rigorous and brilliant author, only those of Peter’s works associated with the dispute – and not all of them – have been hitherto edited and studied, whilst the rest of his writings still remain ignored. The purpose of the Petri de Rivo Opera Omnia Project is to provide a critical edition of all the known writings of the Belgian master, as well as a complete dossier on the future contingent debate. What are going to be displayed here, are the first steps of a study which is part of that global enterprise: starting with the edition of some Peter’s academic philosophical works, an inquiry into an obscure chapter on the reception of Aristotle in fifteenth century Europe.