22 Facts About Baldassare Castiglione


Baldassare Castiglione, Count of Casatico, was an Italian courtier, diplomat, soldier and a prominent Renaissance author.

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Baldassare Castiglione wrote Il Cortegiano or The Book of the Courtier, a courtesy book dealing with questions of the etiquette and morality of the courtier.

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Baldassare Castiglione was born in Casatico, near Mantua into a family of the minor nobility, connected through his mother, Luigia Gonzaga, to the ruling Gonzagas of Mantua.

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In 1494, at the age of sixteen, Baldassare Castiglione was sent to Milan, then under the rule of Duke Ludovico Sforza, to begin his humanistic studies at the school of the renowned teacher of Greek and editor of Homer Demetrios Chalkokondyles, and Georgius Merula.

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In 1499, Baldassare Castiglione's father died unexpectedly and Baldassare Castiglione returned to Casatico to take his place as the male head of the family.

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Elisabetta's virtue and abilities inspired Baldassare Castiglione to compose a series of Platonic love songs and sonnets in her honor.

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Baldassare Castiglione's was played to her husband though his invalid state meant they could never have children.

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In 1506 Baldassare Castiglione wrote a pastoral play, his eclogue Tirsi, in which he depicted the court of Urbino allegorically through the figures of three shepherds.

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Baldassare Castiglione wrote about his works and of those of other guests in letters to other princes, maintaining an activity very near to diplomacy, though in a literary form, as in his correspondence with his friend and kinsman, Ludovico da Canossa .

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In 1516 Baldassare Castiglione was back in Mantua, where he married a very young Ippolita Torelli, descendant of another noble Mantuan family.

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Sadly, Ippolita died a mere four years after their marriage, while Baldassare Castiglione was away in Rome as ambassador for the Duke of Mantua.

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In 1527, at the time of the Sack of Rome, Pope Clement VII suspected Baldassare Castiglione of having harbored a "special friendship" for the Spanish emperor: Baldassare Castiglione, the pope believed, should have informed the Holy See of Charles V's intentions, for it was his duty to investigate what Spain was planning against the Eternal City.

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Baldassare Castiglione answered both the pope and Valdes in two famous letters from Burgos.

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Baldassare Castiglione took Valdes to task, severely and at length, in his response to the latter's comments about the Sack of Rome.

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Against all expectations, Baldassare Castiglione received the pope's apologies and the emperor honored him with the offer of the position of Bishop of Avila.

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In 1528, the year before his death, the book for which Baldassare Castiglione is most famous, The Book of the Courtier, was published in Venice by the Aldine Press run by the heirs of Aldus Manutius.

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The book, in dialog form, is an elegiac portrait of the exemplary court of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro of Urbino during Baldassare Castiglione's youthful stay there at the beginning of the sixteenth century.

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Scholars agree that Baldassare Castiglione drew heavily from Cicero's celebrated treatise De Officiis, well known throughout the Middle Ages, and even more so from his De Oratore, which had been re-discovered in 1421 and which discusses the formation of an ideal orator-citizen.

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Baldassare Castiglione must be a worthy friend, accomplished—in sports, in telling jokes, in fighting, writing poetry, playing music, drawing, and dancing—but not too much.

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Baldassare Castiglione should take care not appear scornful of the efforts of others and should avoid the arrogance shown by some French and some Spanish noblemen.

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Baldassare Castiglione died soon after, in 1517, and was memorialized in a celebrated statue by Michelangelo.

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Baldassare Castiglione produced a number of Latin poems, together with an elegy for the death of Raphael entitled De morte Raphaellis pictoris and another elegy, after the manner of Petrarca, in which he imagines his dead wife, Ippolita Torelli, as writing to him.

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