Francesco Sperulo: Poet, Prelate, Soldier, Spy - Volume I
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.
Chapter 3: The Poet and ‘the Prince’: Francesco Sperulo and Cesare Borgia
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The Poet and ‘the Prince’: Francesco Sperulo and Cesare Borgia
Cesare Borgia (13 September 1475–12 March 1507) is infamous in the annals of history.1 Cesare has been singled out in the popular imagination as the Renaissance archetype of extreme violence and duplicity. In an age of extremes, where there was no contradiction between being cultured and participating in excessive brutalities, Cesare’s negative qualities have been emphasized to the exclusion of almost everything else.2 It is hardly acknowledged that Cesare kept a flourishing, if peripatetic, court that would compare favourably with those of other condottieri lords of Renaissance Italy. He ← 285 | 286 → was extremely well educated and enjoyed the company of painters, architects and men of letters.3 Leonardo da Vinci, the painter Pinturicchio, the sculptor Torrigiano4 and the musician Serafino de’ Cimminelli of L’Aquila (known as ‘the divine Aquilano’) were all employed, at one time or another, by Cesare. Poets also regularly formed part of his retinue.5 It was the task of these soldier-poets to compose occasional (often impromptu) verse both to entertain their lord and, later at leisure, to celebrate his victories, thereby lauding his achievements for posterity. The poet Pietro Francesco Giustolo of Spoleto accompanied Cesare upon his campaigns in the Romagna and composed twelve panegyrics on the progress of the war. In the dedication of a selection of his works addressed to Angelo Colocci, the poet recalls ← 286 | 287 → the difficult situation in which his verse was written:...
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