Séminaire : Lisa Di Crescenzo, « Questions of Émigrée Agency : A Florentine Governess at the Este Court, 1480–1491 », Londres, Senate House, 2 mars 2023

This paper spotlights Luisa Strozzi (1434–1510), Florentine-born patrician émigrée in Ferrara, to examine her decade-long court appointment during widowhood to the household of Eleonora d’Aragona, duchess of Ferrara, as governess for her daughter Isabella d’Este. Foregrounding her closeness to Eleonora and the duchess’s connection with the Strozzi in Naples, as well as Eleonora’s important capacity as regent, I argue that Luisa shrewdly exploited her position as governess and presence at court to intervene on behalf of her exiled sons, while negotiating her own needs of survival as a widowed refugee. Tapping into a deep vein of close and profitable connections that diffuse branches of the exiled Strozzi lineage had cultivated at the Este and Gonzaga courts, and with the Aragonese monarchy in Naples, Luisa’s instrumentalisation of both the Strozzi’s networks and her proximity to Eleonora d’Aragona reveals the intricate mechanics of an émigré woman’s agency: a matrix of authority, power, and collective action, where male lineage agency and female familial agency, enhanced by female patronal and diplomatic power, intersected. This is almost unique evidence, the paper contends, of how elite female networks operated alongside and independently of male ones in fifteenth-century Italy.


Lisa Di Crescenzo recently completed her PhD at Queen Mary University of London. Her dissertation, Gender, Agency, and Life Cycle in the Italian Émigrée Experience: The Letters of Luisa Donati Strozzi, 1466–1510, provides the first critical analysis of the vernacular-authored correspondence of Luisa Strozzi as a case for the study of an elite émigré woman in fifteenth-century Italy, and the permutations of political catastrophe that shaped her trajectory. Lisa has published on the exilic experience of Luisa Strozzi, and is currently working on a monographic study of the Strozzi widow and her corpus of letters. Drawing on the themes of women, gender, and power; transnational nobility and cultural encounter; and consumption and material culture, Lisa’s postdoctoral research will examine the activities, influence, and political agency of ladies-in-waiting at the courts of the northern Italian principalities and the southern monarchy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Contact : ihr.events@sas.ac.uk. Email only

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Camille Dugast (2023, 26 février). Séminaire : Lisa Di Crescenzo, « Questions of Émigrée Agency : A Florentine Governess at the Este Court, 1480–1491 », Londres, Senate House, 2 mars 2023. Collectif d'Historiens de l'Art de la Renaissance. Consulté le 16 juin 2024, à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/mp4a

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