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Patterns of Patronage in Renaissance Rome

Francesco Sperulo: Poet, Prelate, Soldier, Spy - Volume I


Paul Gwynne

This book is also available as a set, together with Volume II.
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Patterns of Patronage in Renaissance Rome is the first full-length study of the life and works of Francesco Sperulo of Camerino (1463–1531). In a remarkable career during which the poet progressed from serving as a soldier of fortune in the service of Cesare Borgia to an Italian bishopric, Sperulo produced a significant body of Latin poetry, here presented in a critical edition for the first time. An impressive array of contemporary figures including Leonardo da Vinci, Isabella d’Este, Raphael and Baldassare Castiglione appear in his verse. By placing his work within the larger historical, literary, political and social context, this study, published in two volumes, sheds light on the role played by neo-Latin poetry at the papal court and documents the impact of classical culture in Rome during the period usually referred to as «the High Renaissance».
Volume I reconstructs Sperulo’s life and circle of contacts by placing the poet’s works in chronological order and setting them within the political and social circumstances of their composition. Archival documents scattered across Italy, penitentiary records from the Vatican Archives and a voluminous correspondence with the Duke of Urbino and members of the Varano family of Camerino show that Sperulo was intimately involved in papal politics and intrigue; indeed, he was almost assassinated for his involvement. A selection of this correspondence is included here to supplement the poet’s biography.

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The research for this book grew from a small contribution to the on-line Neo-Latin Anthology of the Society for Neo-Latin Studies. I submitted three short epigrams which Sperulo had written for Cesare Borgia. These not only presented an interesting narrative (the discovery of an abandoned baby girl; her baptism and puns around her name) but also offered a different perspective upon one of the most notorious figures of the Italian Renaissance. This anthology also required a short biography of the poet to preface the works selected. At the time I offered only the most rudimentary outline of the poet’s life. I found Sperulo’s work for Cesare Borgia, however, to be of such interest that I decided to pursue the research. This book is the result.

There remains the pleasant duty of recording debts of thanks. My research has profited from the advice of many friends and colleagues. My thanks for answering questions, for discussion, for various kinds of help go to Albrect Burkardt, David Chambers, Tracy Cosgriff, Ann Giletti, Jeffery Glodzik, Luke Houghton, Jakub Koguciuk, John Law, Rosie Lehmann, Frances Muecke, Marianne Pade, Alessandro Pagliara, Isabel Porcu, Ellie Reeve and Bernhard Schirg. Pete Sheppard and Sarah Yates provided unbounded antipodean hospitality and access to their library. Jean Schofield, once again, admirably fulfilled the role of Gentle Reader. Franziska Wallner Romana obtained volumes and articles that would otherwise have been inaccessible. Rosa Fusco, Daniele Torri and Gianluca Ariodante of the IT department of The American University of...

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