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Distributed for Iter Press

Duchess and Hostage in Renaissance Naples

Letters and Orations

This volume presents in translation 100 previously unknown letters of Ippolita Maria Sforza (1445–1488), daughter of the Duke of Milan, who was sent at age twenty to marry the son of the infamously brutal King Ferrante of Naples. Sforza’s letters display the adroit diplomacy she used to strengthen the alliance between Milan and Naples, then the two most powerful states in Italy, amid such grave crises as her brother’s assassination in Milan and the Turkish invasion of Otranto. Still, Ippolita lived as a hostage at the Neapolitan court, subject not only to the threat of foreign invasion but also to her husband’s well-known sexual adventures and her father-in-law’s ruthlessness. Soon after Ippolita’s mysterious death in 1488, the fraught Naples-Milan alliance collapsed.

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"In Duchess and Hostage in Renaissance Naples: Letters and Orations, Diana Robin and Lynn Westwater offer a riveting new volume for the Other Voice series. They provide consistently excellent translations of Sforza’s distinctive and sometimes downright peculiar Italian and Latin originals. Readers will also find meticulous historical contextualization in the editors’ analytical introduction, and in the individual summaries that begin each section of texts. Ippolita Maria Sforza adds a different type of protagonist to the growing roster of 'other voices,' showing us an Italian noblewoman maneuvering with confidence and dexterity not only in the literary domain but also in that of formal politics."

Sarah Gwyneth Ross, Boston College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xv
Introduction 1
Illustrations 41
Letters (1453–1486)
Table: Source Texts of Translated Letters 57
1. Travels in Lombardy: Letters 1–22 (1453–1465) 61
2. Marriage and Betrayal: Letters 23–28 (1465–1466) 80
3. Between Milan and Naples: Letters 29–36 (1466–1467) 89
4. Galeazzo’s Marriage and Bianca Maria Visconti’s Death: Letters 37–45 (1467–1468) 97
5. The Ambassadors: Letters 46–67 (1469–1475) 108
6. Cholera: Letters 68–75 (1475–1476) 127
7. Assassination and the Struggle for Succession: Letters 76–83 (1477–1479) 134
8. Pazzi Conspiracy and the Ottoman Invasion of Otranto: Letters 84–93 (1479–1482) 145
9. Ippolita and Lorenzo: Letters 94–100 (1482–1486) 156
Orations (1455–1465)
Wedding Oration for Tristano Sforza and Beatrice d’Este (1455) 173
Oration for Pope Pius II (1459) 185
Oration for Bianca Maria Visconti (1465) 191
Glossary of Names 197
Chronology 205
Bibliography 211
Index 219

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