The Book of the Courtier

The Book of the Courtier is the definitive account of Renaissance court life.First printed in Venice in 1528 it rapidly became the go to book for young men and women who were looking to become the perfect courtiers and ladies. One of the most widely distributed books of the 16th century, it had editions printed in six languages.Written in the form of a dialogue it captures conversations between some of the most influential courtiers of sixteenth century Italy, including the Venetian scholar Pietro Bembo, Guiliano de Medici who was at that time exiled from Florence, Elisabetta Gonzaga, wife of Guidobaldo di Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, and many more.Their conversation, set at the court of Urbino in 1507, was spread over four evening where each member attempted to describe the perfect gentleman of the court, in the process debating the nature of nobility, humor, women and love.During the first evening they discuss whether a courtier should be militaristic or literary. The second evening involves a discussion of the courtier’s pastimes and manners. The third covers what it is to be a perfect Renaissance lady of the court, and the fourth discusses the role that the courtier should have in politics.The Book of the Courtier remains a fascinating work for understanding the Renaissance court. The British historian Denys Hay stated that it was “The most important single contribution to a diffusion of Italian values”.Baldesar Castiglione, count of Casatico, was an Italian courtier, diplomat and soldier. The Book of the Courtier was his most famous work as an author. He frequently worked closely with the popes of the age, fighting in Pope Julius II’s expedition against Venice and serving as Apostolic nuncio to Spain for Pope Clement VII. He eventually died in Spain at the age of fifty in 1529. The translator of this edition was Leonard Eckstein Opdycke who died in 1914. This edition was published in 1903.

Book Details

Book Title: The Book of the Courtier

Book Author: Baldesar Castiglione

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