Women in early modern Florence

Cristina di Lorena

Aristocratic women exerted unprecedented political and social influence in Florence throughout the late 16th and early 17th century; during this period convents flourished and female members of the powerful Medici family governed the city for the first and only time in its history.

These women also helped shape the city’s aristocratic life, commissioning works of music, art, and theater that were inscribed with their own concerns and aspirations. Through commissions, patrons sought to promote a vision of the world and their place in it. The unique social norms, laws, educational background, and life experiences of female patrons meant the expression of a worldview that differed significantly from that of their male counterparts.

This according to Echoes of women’s voices: Music, art, and female patronage in early modern Florence by Kelley Harness (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006).

Above, Cristina di Lorena, Grand Duchess of Tuscany, a patron of Marco da Gagliano; below, Gagliano’s Bel pastor.

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  1. If you like this, try also Anna Beer, Sounds and Sweet Airs (2016)