Bossinensis and Bartolomeo Tromboncino,
Ricercar e frottola: "Non peccando altri ch'el core"
fifteenth century was the era of the court in Renaissance
Italy. For principalities and cities ruled by lords, the court
served as the expression of the power, good sense, and style of
the prince. It was as much the location where the work of government
took place as the lord's tool for self-advertisement. A large,
well-attended, and glamorous court was a testimony to the resources
that the prince or lord could draw upon. It could attract supporters
and overawe potential enemies.
The Palace at Urbino.
Courtier is staged as a series of imaginary conversations taking
place in the palace in March 1507.
of the Palace at Urbino.
music: Pavana "La cornetta" (anon)
Listening room call number: CD 498r
to one historian of the Renaissance, "luxurious ostentation
at the courts was a display of power." The primary display of
"luxurious ostentation" was the number of people in attendance
on the prince. Urbino was the smallest of the important courts.
Nevertheless, with nobles in attendance, and courtiers and court
ladies, lawyers and other skilled servitors, soldiers, servants,
and attendants, some 500 people were more or less permanently
attached to the court.
patronage--of courtiers, artists and scholars--was also a form
of ostentatious display and an advertisement of power. Princes
sought to attach the most prestigious artists and humanists to
their courts. Works of art testified to the good taste of the
prince. They often spoke to the prince's power as well, depicting
him as a conqueror, as a majestic figure, or surrounded by his
favorites. Scholars wrote of his importance. Courtiers urged the
prince to, as one scholar put it, "grab what he could, [and] to
bestow favors and graces."
from a Palace window out into the Countryside.
Raphael, Prob. 1514-15, canvas.
rewards, particularly for a few favorites, could be enormous.
The costs of angering the prince could be great too. The Duke
of Mantua was so angry at Castiglione for leaving his court for
Urbino, that Castiglione had to avoid Mantua for several years!
da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, and his son Guidobaldo da Montefeltro.
built the magnificent palace at Urbino, and made the court and the
city a center of culture and patronage. He is shown here as both
soldier and scholar, dressed in armor and reading a book, to celebrate
both his humanistic and military achievements. On the left is Federico's
young son Guidobaldo. Guidobaldo was duke during the first part
of the twelve year period Castiglione served at the court (1504-1516).
It was life in the court palace of Urbino under Guidobaldo and his
wife Elisabetta Gonzaga that Castiglione memorializes in The