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Early Modern English cover of the Book of the Courtier.

The Book of the Courtier (Italian: Il Cortegiano) was written by Baldassare Castiglione over the course of many years beginning in 1508 and published in 1528 just before his death. The Courtier addresses the subject of what constitutes a perfect courtier, and in its last installment, a perfect lady.

To this day, The Book of the Courtier remains the definitive account of Renaissance court life. Because of this, it may possibly be considered one of the most important of Renaissance works.

Contents

Principles

The book is organized as a series of fictional conversations that occur between the courtiers of the Duke of Urbino in 1507 (when Baldassare was in fact part of the Duke's Court). In the book, the courtier is described as having a cool mind, a good voice (with beautiful, elegant and brave words) along with proper bearing and gestures. At the same time though, the courtier is expected to have a warrior spirit, to be athletic, and have good knowledge of the humanities, Classics and fine arts. Over the course of four evenings, members of the court try to describe the perfect gentleman of the court. In the process they debate the nature of nobility, humor, women, and love.

Sources

Further reading

  • Burke, Peter (1995). The Fortunes of the Courtier: the European Reception of Castiglione's "Cortegiano". Oxford: Polity. ISBN 9780745611518.  

See also

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