Ortensio Lando, a forgotten feminist

What struck me about Ortensio Lando (Milan 1508/13? – Naples 1558) – a man who had an adventurous, short and troublesome life – was his having been a Renaissance genius in literature. But despite the originality of his works, since the XVII century, they had been largely forgotten. It is about time to resurrect him…
Perhaps his most famous and original work, a book which went through several reprints, contained letters written by famous Italian women, with the intent of demonstrating that they were as good, if not better, than those written by men. This should be seen as a proto-feminist book:

LETTERE DI/ molte valorose/ donne, nelle qvali. chiaramente appare/ non essere ne di eloqven/tia ne di dottrina alli/ hvomini inferiori./ [fleuron]/ con privilegio./ [marque : della mia morte eterna vita vivo – semper eadem]/ in vinegia appresso Gabriel/ Giolito de Ferrari./ mdxlviii.

It contains 263 letters penned by: de Madama la Grande, la comtesse Maddalena Affaità Bia, Cecilia Agnelli, Isabetta Agnelli, Lucrezia Agnelli, Maddalena degli Alberti, Lucrezia Ali Crotti, la duchesse d’Amalfi, Caterina Anguissola] marquis Gonzaga, Dina countess d’Arco, Emilia d’Arco, Livia d’Arco, Alvigia Asinelli, Filenia Augusta, Laura Averolda, la comtesse Avogadro, Angela B., Ottavia Baiardo, Maddalena Barattieri, Catherina Barbisona, Livia Beltrami, Maria de’ Benedetti, Elena Bentivoglio Rangoni, Marzia Benzoni, Margarita Bernardini, Agnesa di Besta, Ippolita Birago Lampugnano, Sulpizia Birago, Clarizia Bonelli, Antonia Borelli, Caterina Bonvisi, Lucrezia Borgia, Ippolita Borromeo, Isabella Borromeo Trivulzio, Maria Brachale, Emilia Brambata Solcia [Brembati Solza], comtesse Minerva Brembata, Cecilia da Cà Pesaro Tridapalo, Maria Cadorna [sic pour Cardona] marquise della Palude, Barbara Cal. Alberisi, Ippolita Calcatera, Maddalena Calzavela, Amilla Cap.Stanga, Camilla Caracciolo Villa, Alvigia Carolea, Francesca Carrettona, Pilestrina da Castello, Violante da Castello, Isabetta Castiglioni Gonfaloniera, Paula Castiglioni, Angela Castrucci, Ippolita Catta, Margherita comtesse Cauriola, Dorotea Cauriola Averolda, Giovanna Cavalleria, Girolama Cavalleria, Isabella Cavalleria Gualenghi, Taddea Centani, Celestina Ceregna, Diana de’ Contrari, Veronica Coradelli, sor Barbara da Correggio, Francesca da Correggio Mainoldi, Lucrezia Corsa, Ippolita Crema, Lucrezia Cuoca, Caterina Dati, Franceschina da Dressina [sic pour Trissino], Leonarda d’Este, Lucrezia d’Este di Coreggio, Chiara Federici comtesse Martinengo, Giulia Federici, Isabella Federici Martinengo, Giulia Ferreto, Leonora Fiasca, Teodora Fisogni Calini, Creusa Florida, comtesse Prata, Catherina G. Foresta, Leonora Foresta, Lucia dal Forno, Petronia Franca, Catherina Fregoso countess Avogadro, Maddalena G. Brembati, Violante Galassina, Demetria Gallerita, Violante da Gambara, Emilia countess da Gambera, Leonora Gambera da Galera, Lucrezia Gambera Visconti, Virginia da Gambera, Lodovica Gavardo, Giulia Gelmini, Lucrezia Gigli, Claudia Glizeria, Isabetta Gonfaliera, Laura Gonfalonieri, Giulia Gonzaga, Giulia Gonzaga contessa d’Arco, Isabella Gonzaga, Isabella Gonzaga di Puvino, Leonora Gonzaga duchesse d’Urbin, Lucrezia Gonzaga, la comtesse de Guastalla, Lucia Guinigi, Flavia Lampugnano, Caterina Landesa [Landi] Trivulzio, Lucrezia da Lando, Isabetta Lunardi, countess de Monte L’Abbate, comtesse Isabella de Luna Affaita, Pantesilea Lunardi Giordani, la cavaliera Luzardi, Geronima Luzzago, Giulia Luzzago, Aurelia Magio, Fregosa Maggi, Orsola Maggi, Caterina Malacria, Benedetta countess Malaspina, sor Lucrezia Malaspina, la marquise Malaspina Nicella, Taddea Malaspina, Ginevra Malatesta, Ippolita Marchese Sanseverino, Margherita Maria, Camilla Martinengo Averoldo, sor Lionella Martinengo, Lucrezia Martinengo coutess Beccaria, Lucrezia Martinengo countess of Porcilia, Lucrezia Masippa, Violante Maurizzi comtesse Gambara, Laura Meli Piccinardi, Porzia Melita, la marquise de Meregnano, Camilla N., F.N., Clara de’ Nobili, the countess de Nola, the countess Caterina Nogarola, Costanza de Nuvolara, Costanza degli Obizzi Scotti, Caterina degli Oldra, Giustina Orsini Martinengo, Antonia Pallavicino Rangoni, Camilla Pallavicino, Catherina Panzarasa, Armelina Pavera, Giovanna Pavera, Onorata Pecchi, Margherita Pellegrini Cor., Maria Pergoli, Maria Perula, Beatrice Pio, Martia Piacenza Benvenuti, Lucrezia Pico Rangoni, Lucrezia Picinardi Crotti, Cornelia Piccolomini comtesse d’Aliffe, Margherita Pobbia, Serpentina Politi, Pazienzia Pontremoli, Lucia Quadrio, Argentina comtesse Rangoni, Emilia Rangoni comtesse de Sarmato, Polissena Rangoni, Lucrezia Reloggia, Mamma Riminalda, Giulia Rosa, Alessandra Rossetta, la cavaliera Rovati, Paula Rovati Caurioli, Apollonia Rovello, Francesca Ruvissa, Righetta Sanseverino, la comtesse de Scandiano, Artemisa Scotti, Olinda Scotti, Sibila Sevatolo, Isabella Sforza, Lavinia Sforza comtesse de Borgo Novo, Lucietta Soranzo, Catherina Spada Bonvisi, Marta Stella Barbisona, Camilla Suardo Martinengo, Camilla Susia, Caterina Susia, Pace Tassi, la comtesse Tassoni Petratti, Camilla Testa, Dorothea Thiene, la comtesse Leonora Todesca, Collaltina Tracca [Trecco], Paola Trecco, Barbara Trivulzio, Francesca Trivulzio comtesse de Mirandola [40], Giulia Trivulzio comtesse de Vigevano, Nicola Trotti, Virginia Trotti, Margherita Uberti Stanga, Margherita degli Uberti, Susanna Valente, Barbara Valentini, Cecilia Valeri, la comtesse Aurelia Verdelli, Leonora Vertema [Vertemate], Francesca Vidaschi, Marta Vidaschi, Caterina Vigeri, Ginevra Villa Fuora, Isabella Villamarino princess of Salerno, Caterina Visconti, countess de Compiano, Caterina Visconti, countess Landessa, Lodovica Zilioli, Margherita Zaffardi.

I am posting below a brief biographical essay by William E. A. Axon (1846-1913) on Ortensio Lando:

ORTENSIO LANDO, A HUMORIST OF THE RENAISSANCE.

WILLIAM E. A. AXON, F.R.S.L.

TRANSACTIONS K.S.L., VOL. XX.

THE Renaissance was a period of revolt of the human intellect against the formalism and benumbing spirit of authority that dominated the Middle Ages,
the period when the buried literature and art of the ancient world was recovered, the period when human daring and ingenuity discovered a world beyond the sea and worlds beyond the sky, when Columbus and Copernicus, the humanists and the reformers, were filling the minds of men with new and transforming forces in every department of human thought and action was necessarily a time favourable for the development of individuality and strongly marked character.

Popes, princes, scholars, warriors, pass in stately procession, some stained with many crimes and vices, some endowed with magnificent talents, but all instinct with exuberant individuality. To the later stages of this wonderful movement belongs Lando. His first book was not printed until some years after the sack of Rome, and he disappears from our view in the middle of the sixteenth century, when the Renaissance was practically complete in literature, in art, and in religion.

Ortensio Lando was born at Milan somewhere about the beginning of the sixteenth century, but the precise year has eluded research. His father,
Domenico Lando, was a member of the noble family of Landi of Piacenza, several of whom have attained distinction. His mother was a Milanese, Oaterina
Castelletti. He names amongst his teachers Bernardino Negro, Celio Rhodogino, and Alessandro Minuziano. He went from the University of Milan to that of Bologna, where he studied medicine, and at a later period recieved a Doctorate in Medicine.

The complete essay by Axel can be found here:

https://archive.org/details/ortensiolandohum00axoniala

 

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