A Mattress Maker's Daughter: The Renaissance Romance of Don Giovanni de' Medici and Livia Vernazza

A Mattress Maker's Daughter: The Renaissance Romance of Don Giovanni de' Medici and Livia Vernazza

by Brendan Dooley


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A Mattress Maker's Daughter richly illuminates the narrative of two people whose mutual affection shaped their own lives and in some ways their times. According to the Renaissance legend told and retold across the centuries, a woman of questionable reputation bamboozles a middle-aged warrior-prince into marrying her, and the family takes revenge. He is Don Giovanni de' Medici, son of the Florentine grand duke; she is Livia Vernazza, daughter of a Genoese artisan. They live in luxury for a while, far from Florence, and have a child. Then, Giovanni dies, the family pounces upon the inheritance, and Livia is forced to return from riches to rags. Documents, including long-lost love letters, reveal another story behind the legend, suppressed by the family and forgotten. Brendan Dooley investigates this largely untold story among the various settings where episodes occurred, including Florence, Genoa, and Venice.

In the course of explaining their improbable liaison and its consequences, A Mattress Maker's Daughter explores early modern emotions, material culture, heredity, absolutism, and religious tensions at the crux of one of the great transformations in European culture, society, and statecraft. Giovanni and Livia exemplify changing concepts of love and romance, new standards of public and private conduct, and emerging attitudes toward property and legitimacy just as the age of Renaissance humanism gave way to the culture of Counter-Reformation and early modern Europe.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674724662
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/10/2014
Series: I Tatti Studies in Italian Renaissance History , #12
Pages: 480
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Brendan Dooley is Professor of Renaissance Studies at University College Cork.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Preface xi

Prologue 1

1 The Family Business 13

2 The Mattress Maker's Daughter 66

3 The Heart of Combat 100

4 Writing the Passions 151

5 A Place for Things 183

6 Mind over Matter 216

7 Durable Goods 246

8 Time and Memory 282

Postscript 315

Notes 323

Acknowledgments 433

Index 435

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