RSA 2024

RSA Panel on Aristocratic Women

Organized by the Medici Archive Project

Chair: Sheila ffolliott

Contact: Carla D’Arista.

Behind Every Great Man is a Strong Woman:

Noble Wives and Courtly Mistresses in Early Modern Europe

With the exception of select patronage and portrait studies, the lives and legacies of the wives, mothers, consorts, and mistresses of the Medici and other aristocratic dynasties in early modern Europe have received relatively short shrift. This panel seeks to fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge of such figures as Clarice Orsini, Taddea and Ricciarda Malaspina, Pacifica Brandani, Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne, Filiberta of Savoy, Maria Salviati, Camilla Martelli, Maria Maddalena of Austria and Marguerite Louise d’Orléans. Archival studies and a closer examination of visual and material evidence of the roles of these women as social and political mediators would complement existing studies of their representations in Italian art. This panel invites submissions on individuals as well as related issues of the dynastic and political strategies associated with these unions. Treatment of the upbringing of children born of those relations are also welcome.