Tullia of Aragon

compiled by Elizabeth Pallitto

Portrait of Tullia d’Aragon as Salome, ca. 1537; painting by Moretto da Brescia. (Wikimedia commons)


Most scholars agree on a 1510 birthdate. Julia L. Hairston suggests that Tullia d’Aragona was born between 1501 and 1505.




Rome, 1556


Roman Catholic
Personal Information


Tullia d’Aragona; Tullia di Aragona; Tullia of Aragon (in Hays, Female Biography]

Date and place of birth

Most scholars agree on a 1510 birthdate for Tullia d’Aragona. Julia L. Hairston suggests that Tullia d’Aragona was born between 1501 and 1505 in her book Poems and Letters of Tullia d’Aragona and Others (Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014). Tullia’s birth is illegitimate; so official records might have been redacted or lost. Cardinal Luigi d’Aragona was a widowed priest whose marriage was annulled to facilitate his rapid rise in the Church. Promotion to cardinal at such a young age is due, no doubt, to his direct descent from Ferdinand I. The kings of Aragon, rulers of Naples and Sicily, were instrumental in the chess game of power politics at the beginning of the sixteenth century. 

Death and place of death

Rome, 1556.


Mother: Giulia Campana, also known as Giulia Ferrarese (from Ferrara), a courtesan and the companion of Cardinal Luigi d’Aragona, 1474-1519. She was officially married to Costanzo de Palmieri (d’Aragona) of Naples. This marriage, some speculate, made it possible to give Tullia the surname d’Aragona, thereby “legitimizing” her natural daughter. [Giulia’s original surname may be Pendaglia; in which case she also is said to have been the widow of an Africano Orlandini.]

Father: Firstborn of Enrico, Marquis of Gerace, natural son of the King of Naples, Ferdinando I, and of Polissena Genteglia, of the Marquis of Crotone, born in Naples in 1474. Upon the death of his father in 1478, Luigi inherited the Marquisate and the office of Protonotary of the Realm. As part of an agreement between Pope Innocent VIII and the Neapolitan court, Ferdinand d'Aragona married his grandson to the Pope’s “niece,” Battistina Usodimare Cybo. The wedding, well-documented for its pomp, splendor, and exceptional pageantry, was celebrated the 3rd of June, 1492, was attended by the highest nobility of the Church and the Realm.

Marriage and Family Life

Tullia’s father died in 1519, leaving her in the care of her mother. Giulia trained her daughter Tullia as a courtesan, and they are listed in the register as such at the time of the 1527 Sack of Rome. They spent time in Ferrara and in Venice; Tullia also lived in Siena and eventually Florence, where she was most successful. 

Tullia d’Aragona married Silvestro Guiccardi in 1543, although we have little information about the marriage. Girolamo Muzio dedicated his treatise on marriage “Trattato del matrimonio” to her upon this occasion. Little is known about this marriage, which did not last, but Muzio, a lifelong friend, would continue to dedicate poetry to Tullia, his Rime and Egloghe (eclogues), during her lifetime and even posthumously.

Penelope d’Aragona (1535-48), possibly her daughter, was known as Tullia’s sister. Born on a trip back to her mother Giulia’s native Ferrara, this young girl was educated by Tullia, whose care for her young charge is described by Muzio as “maternal.” His elegiac eclogue to Signora Penelope as Argia depicts the Tullia figure as a maestra to the young and gifted Penelope. Tragically, she died at age 13, of causes yet unknown. Tullia’s will mentions a son, Celio, who survived her.


 Biographer Salvatore Bongi describes Tullia’s education in the humanities as “aristocratic” (signorile). Tutors provided by her father gave her an education that included music, geometry, philosophy, theology, literature and languages (Latin and Greek). These subjects are reflected in her work, as is her literary knowledge; she is well-versed in Dante and is said to have known Petrarch’s poems by heart. Tullia’s musical and classical education went far beyond the courtesan’s skills of dancing, reciting, and lute-playing, although we know that she studied music in Rome. “She who obtained the head of John the Baptist by her dancing” is a translation of the enigmatic Latin inscribed within her 1537 portrait L’Erodiade by Moretto da Brescia. Evoking Salomé, this classic Renaissance portrait emphasizes her status as a poet (laurel leaves) and her regal lineage (ermine, sceptre, pearls) rather than her ability to dance, play music, or seduce. 

One source writes, “Educated women like Tullia “understood poetry and music, played the mandolin/lute, recited poetry, and the more intelligent ones also wrote [poetry].” “Si intendevano di poesia e di musica, spesso suonavano la mandola, recitavano versi; le più intelligenti li scrivevano. » Tullia’s education and abilities, which include the composition of poetry as well as the ability to understand and recite it, far exceed the repertoire of the cortigiana onesta, an educated (if not also honored) courtesan.


[Allegedly] the illegitimate daughter of a Roman cardinal, Tullia d’Aragona had a unique relationship to the Church. Nominally Roman Catholic, she disputed philosophy, literature, and theology with Academy member Benedetto Varchi; suggesting a radically classical interpretation of Neoplatonism in her Dialogue on the Infinity of Love. Her Dialogo della Infinità di amore interrogates and then provides a corrected Neoplatonism, hewing more closely to Plato than did her Renaissance contemporaries, particularly Marsilio Ficino. Translator of Plato’s Symposium (Convivio de amore) into Latin and Italian, Ficino also gave the work a Christian interpretation; Tullia argument with Ficino and the Florentine Academy is based upon nature, reason, and her “experience in matters of love.”


 Tullia d’Aragona and her mother Giulia lived through the 1527 Sack of Rome the internecine wars in Siena and Florence, the Reformation, and the Italian Counter-Reformation. As the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy cardinal and powerful prince, d’Aragona’s life stood in sharp contrast to the profession of courtesan for which her mother trained her. In the preface to her epic Il Meschino, she laments her loss of innocence, but this “knowledge of the world” also informs her poetry and other writing. Her life might have resembled that of Lucretia Borgia, but she strove less for outward drama and more for an image of virtue. Harnessing her talent and ambition, she created a network of illustrious literati and political figures who memorialized her brilliance and her beauty in verse. She used her albeit-illegitimate connections through the Spanish royal family of Aragón to take refuge in the court of Cosimo de’ Medici and his Spanish wife. Eleonora and Cosimo, duke and duchess of Florence and patrons of culture at the height of the Renaissance, are praised in her Rime. Thus, Tullia d’Aragona secured a place at court, becoming known as a cortigiano (courtier) more than a cortigiana.

Contemporaneous Network(s)

Domenico Zanrè writes of the salon that Tullia d’Aragona held at her apartments. She was not permitted, as a woman, to the Accademia Fiorentina, the Platonic academy of Florence; however, some of its members would meet at her home for discussions of philosophy and poetry. Penelope d’Aragona makes a brief cameo appearance in the Dialogue on the Infinity of Love, with the implication that one day she will become such an intellectual figure. This was not to be, however, due to her early death at the age of thirteen.

Clusters of women with shared interests, productions, intellectual frameworks, even if not from the same culture, era, or language.

Unfortunately, few women were available as a network to Tullia d’Aragona; however, her network of illustrious men is well-documented in her Rime and in her Dialogue.

Referenced in other female biographies

Mary Hays writes an entry on Tullia d’Aragona in Female Biography. This entry, while containing errors, is nevertheless a fascinating attempt to shed light on the relationship of d’Aragona’s epic Il Meschino to the Italian literary tradition. I have compared Hays’s portrait of d’Aragona to an imperfect mirror in an essay, “A Mirrored Hall of Fame: Reading Mary Hays Reading Tullia d’Aragona” in The Invention of Female Biography, ed. Gina L. Walker (Oxon: Routledge, 2018).

Feminism/Social Activism

Tullia d’Aragona, in the preface to her epic Il Meschino, entitled “To the Readers,” envisions a readership of women from all status categories (and “honorable men”). She addresses these readers, considers their pleasure, as well as their struggles for self-determination. A feminist ante litteram, she advocates for reading as an empowering means of acquiring agency, but pointedly criticizes works that objectify and insult women. She urges women to exercise this agency rather than be inscribed by the male pen or defined by the male gaze. 

In a poem to Piero Manelli, XVIII of her Rime, d’Aragona uses Aristotelian categories to declare that the Creator has endowed her– and other female artists – with the same potential as their male counterparts. Her noble desire “to leave her name on earth with renown” is fulfilled with the publication of her 1547 Rime and with its subsequent editions and translations.

The Dialogue on Love, published as Il Dialogo della Signora Tullia d’Aragona della infinità di amore, and in English translation as the Dialogue on the Infinity of Love, edited and translated by Rinaldina Russell and Bruce Merry (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997) is perhaps the most overtly feminist of her works. Featuring elements of Lucianic satire and Socratic reasoning, the “Tullia” character argues with Benedetto Varchi about the concept of infinity as applied to eros. Sprinkled throughout are quotations from Petrarch, folk idioms, and references to fields of learning as diverse as mathematics and theology. She even bests him, using “proofs” from geometry, Aristotelian and Neoplatonic philosophy, and theology. Perhaps d’Aragona’s most important contribution in this dialogue is its subversive wit and its Bahktinian role reversal: “Tullia” begins as a humble pupil of the great master Varchi and ends up as the Diotima to his Socrates.



Under the patronage of Cosimo de’ Medici and Eleonora di Toledo, Tullia published her collected poems, Le Rime della Signora Tullia di Aragona et di diversi a lei in 1547. Sonnets (and a sestina) by Tullia are complemented by poetry written to her by illustrious male poets, praising her intellect, beauty, and virtue. D’Aragona also published Il Dialogo della Signora Tullia d’Aragona della infinità di amore (Dialogue on the Infinity of Love), a philosophical treatise in the form of the Renaissance dialogue, in 1547. Benedetto Varchi, a lecturer at the Florentine Academy, and other contemporaries appear as characters in the work. Using wit, mathematics, philosophy, and poetry, d’Aragona argues against Aristotle’s concept of female inferiority and for an intellectual component to love between men and women. Unlike her Neoplatonist contemporaries, she believes in an integrated love that incorporates the entire human being.

Contemporaneous Identifications


D’Aragona’s works were reprinted many times in her lifetime and afterwards; one can view the dates at 


With the unification of Italy in the nineteenth century, scholarship on Tullia and other women poets surged. Cultural figures became important to Italy’s identity, but male editors had difficulty with the so-called “courtesan poets” like Tullia d’Aragona and Gaspara Stampa. Often the articles on Tullia focus more upon the biography than her literary work; critics such as Benedetto Croce imply that Tullia did not writer her own poems. Reading her entire oeuvre, a distinct style emerges, along with a proto-feminist point of view. Contemporary critics reframe d’Aragona’s farsighted ideas into “femminismo teoretico” as opposed to “femminismo pratico,” the practice of feminist principles. What is striking are her female characters with agency, her rhetorical, stylistic, and literary ability, and her utopia of women readers.

Legacy and Influence

Her legacy is less in public sight and more in the Republic of Letters. I would like to bring Tullia d’Aragona into every curriculum, along with Laura Bassi and Marie Curie; Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul; Rosa Parks, Cora Scott King, and Toni Morrison; Malala Yousafzai.



Aristotelian philosophers, especially those educated at Padua, persisted in a biological and social view of women that was even obsolete by the standards of then-contemporary science.  The tenet of female inferiority, especially intellectually, was argued even by Tullia d’Aragona’s friend Benedetto Varchi in his lectures at the Platonic Academy in Florence. Tullia d’Aragona approaches gender ontology, equality between the sexes, and even integrated love in her Dialogo and in her poetry. Writing the epic Il Meschino altramente detto il Guerrino was a sort of litmus test for poets, the romanzo genre being an accomplishment in itself. In this lengthy, witty work in ottava rima, d’Aragona creates a female narrator who is a type of the woman warrior and a male protagonist who makes his way in the world without the benefit of noble blood. The picaresque travels of the character Meschino involve Dantean itinerary of afterlife reward and punishment as well as travels throughout the known and unknown geography of the time. Bradamante come to life in the figure of the narrator, who can wield the sword and the lance “although I am a woman.”

New and unfolding information and interpretations

In the #MeToo era, questions of sexuality and boundaries continue to populate our discourse. A woman like Tullia could be considered to espouse an ante litteram version of the idea of human rights and by extension, , women’s rights. From an aristocratic background yet illegitimate, Tullia uses her poetry to make her mark at a time when Venetian publishers were just discovering women poets; she is anthologized by Ludovico Domenichi and [Girolamo] Ruscelli. Rather than being beaten down by what she calls her evil fate (rea sorte), this sixteenth-century proto-feminist writes a declaration of the equality and agency of women, long before Olympe de Gouges or Mary Wollstonecraft or Virginia Woolf. My work on Tullia d’Aragona aims to situate her with respect to literary tradition and history and classical philosophy in its Renaissance reception. Of particular importance, the egalitarian aspect of Plato’s teachings is recuperated and restored by d’Aragona’s trattato on love. 

Contemporaneous context

Tullia d’Aragona raised ideas that are carried further in the work of Baruch Spinoza, Judah Abravanel, and the Enlightenment philosophers. Writings and contributions by Tullia and other Italian Renaissance women inspired English proponents of women’s rights such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Virginia Woolf. Philosophers of selfhood, feminist ethos, and redefined classics such as Simone de Beauvoir, Nell Noddings, and Martha Nussbaum owe a debt to Tullia d’Aragona. Even gender ontology, intellectual equality, and the glass ceiling are issues raised by d’Aragona as she dances verbal circles around her interlocutor in the Dialogue on Love. If she were alive today, she might well fight FGM, human trafficking, and join the fight. 



Primary (selected):

Aragona, Tullia d’.Dialogue on the Infinity of Love. Translated and edited by Rinaldina Russell and Bruce Merry. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

—Il Dialogo della Signora Tullia d’Aragona della infinità di amore.Venice: Giolito, 1547.

— Il Meschino, altramente detto il Guerrino.Venice, G. B. & Melchior Sessa, 1560.

— Le Rime della Signora Tullia di Aragona et di diversi a lei. Venice: Giolito, 1547.

Celani, Enrico. Rime della Tullia d’Aragona, cortigiana del secolo XVI. Bologna, Romagnoli dall’Acqua, 1891. [The order, punctuation, and presentation of this edition do not follow that of d’Aragona’s 1547 Rime. See Pallitto, Sweet Fire, and Hairston, Poems and Letters.]

Beatis, Antonio de. The Travel journals of Antonio de Beatis. Germany, Switzerland, the Low countries and Italy, 1517-18. Trans. J.R. Hale and J.M.A. Lindon. Ed. J.M.A. Lindon. London: The Hakluyt Society. [This narrative portrait of Cardinal Luigi d’Aragona by his secretary, Antonio de Beatis, documents his diplomatic visits to European princes, dukes, and heads of state.] 

See also the French version of these journals: Chastel, André. Le cardinal Louis d'Aragon: un voyageur princier de la Renaissance. Paris: Fayard, 1986. 

Muzio, Girolamo. Egloghe de Muzio Iustinapolitano, divise in cinque libri. Venice, Giolito, 1550.

-- Lettere. Venice: Giolito, 1551.

-- Mentite Ochiniane. Venice: Giolito, 1551. 

-- Rime per Tullia D'Aragona; commento di Anna Maria Negri. Pavia: Croci, 1996.

-- Rime Diverse del Mutio. Venice: Giolito, 1551.

--“Trattato del Matrimonio (for Tullia d’Aragona).” Operette Morale. Venice: Giolito, 1553.

Sperone Speroni, I Dialoghi di Messer Sperone Speroni. Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1542.

Secondary (selected): 

Allaire, Gloria. ‘Tullia d’Aragona’s Il Meschino as Key to a Reappraisal of Her Work.’ In Quaderni d’Italianistica 16, no. 1, 1995, 33-50.

--Andrea da Barberino and the Language of Chivalry. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997.

Antes, Monika, Tullia d’Aragona. Cortigiana e Filosofa. Florence: Mauro Pagliai Editore, 2011.

Basile, D. “ ‘Fasseli gratia per poetessa’: Duke Cosimo I de’Medici’s Role in the Florentine Literary Circle of Tullia d’Aragona.” The cultural politics of Duke Cosimo I de’Medici.  Ed. Konrad Eisenbichler. 135-148. Aldershot, UK; Burlington, VT.: Ashgate, 2001. 

Benson, Pamela and Victoria Kirkham. Strong Voices, Weak History: Early Women Writers & Canons in England, France & Italy. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 2005. 

Biagi, Guido. “Un’etèra romana. Tullia d’Aragona.” Nuova antologia III, 4, no. 16 (1886): 655-711.

Bongi, Salvatore. Annali di Gabriel Giolito de’Ferrari. Rome: presso i principali librai, 1890.

– "Documenti senesi su Tullia d’Aragona." Rivista critica della letteratura italiana IV, no. 6 (1887): 86-88.

Celani, Enrico. Rime della Tullia d’Aragona, cortigiana del secolo XVI. Bologna, Romagnoli dall’Acqua, 1891. [The order, punctuation, and presentation of this book do not follow d’Aragona’s 1547 Rime; thus Elizabeth Pallitto aims to restore the original and correct Celani’s heavy-handed editing in Sweet Fire: Tullia d’Aragona’s Poetry of Dialogue and Selected Prose. On over-editing early modern women, see Ann R. Jones, “Bad Press.”]

Cox, Virginia. Women’s writing in Italy, 1400-1650. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

– “Seen but not Heard.” Women in Italian Culture and Society. Ed. Letizia Panizza. Oxford: Legenda, 2000.

Croce, Benedetto. Poeti e Scrittori del Pieno e Tardo Rinascimento. Bari: G. Laterza, 1952-1958. [Croce’s negative portrait of Tullia d’Aragona’s life (and his inattention to her work) becomes the unfortunate model for late nineteenth-century criticism. See Jones’s “Bad Press.”]

de la Croix, Jean François. Dictionnaire historique portatif des femmes célèbres, 3 vols. Paris, 1769.

Domenichi, Ludovico. Rime diverse d’alcune nobilissime e virtuosissime donne. Venice, 1559.

Enciclopedia Italiana di Scienze, Lettere, & Arti, vol. XII, Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana, 375. Rome, 1949.

“Tullia d’Aragona.” Encyclopedia of Women in the Renaissance. Eds. A. R. Larsen, C. Levin, and D. Robin. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2007. 26-30.

Hairston, Julia L., ed., The Poems and Letters of Tullia d’Aragona: A Bilingual Edition. Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2014.

— “Out of the Archive: Four Newly-Identified Figures in Tullia d’Aragona’s Rime della Signora Tullia di Aragona et di diversi a lei (1547” MLN 118 (2003): 257-63.

–“Tullia d’Aragona: Two New Sonnets,” P. Renée Baernstein and Julia L. Hairston, MLN 123 (2008): 151-59.

Hays, Mary. “Tullia of Aragon.” Female Biography; or Memoirs of Illustrious and Celebrated Women of all Ages and Countries Volume I. London: R. Phillips, 1803.

Jones, A. R. The Currency of Eros: Women’s Love Lyric in Europe, 1540-1620. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990. 79-117. 

–“Bad Press: Modern Editors versus Early Modern Women Poets (Tullia d’Aragona, Gaspara Stampa, Veronica Franco).” Strong voices, weak history: Early women writers and canons in England, France, and Italy.  Eds. Pamela Joseph Benson & Victoria Kirkham, 287-314.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005.

Jones, Ann Rosalind. The Currency of Eros: Women’s Love Lyric in Europe, 1540-1620. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.

Larivaille, Paul. La vie quotidienne des courtisans. Paris: Hachette, 1978.

Lochman, Daniel T., Maritere López and Lorna Hutson. Discourses and Representations of Friendship in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1700. Farnham, Surrey; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011.

Masson, Georgina. Courtesans of the Italian Renaissance, 89. New York: St. Martin’s 1975.

Mayne, Ethel Colburn. Enchanters of Men. New York, London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1925.

Migiel, Marilyn and Juliana Schiesari. Refiguring Woman: Perspectives on Gender and the Italian Renaissance. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991.

Pallitto, Elizabeth. A. Sweet Fire: Tullia d’Aragona’s Poetry of Dialogue and Selected Prose. New York: George Braziller, 2007.

— “Laura’s Laurels: Re-Visioning Platonism and Petrarchism in the Philosophy and Poetry of Tullia d’Aragona.” PhD dissertation, Graduate Center, City University of New York, 2002.

— “Mastery and Maternity: Tullia d’Aragona’s Reconstruction of Procreation and Creativity in the Renaissance.” Journal of Culture and the Arts, Proceedings, KHU Lecture Series 2008-10 (2011).

—“Maestra and Pupil: Images of Tullia and Penelope d’Aragona in Muzio’s Eclogues,” Elizabeth A. Pallitto, Journal of Italian Translation, Vol. VIII, No. 1, Spring 2013, 214-233.

— “Tullia of Aragon.” Mary Hays, Female Biography; or, Memoirs of Illustrious and Celebrated Women, of All Ages and Countries, 1803. Chawton House Library Series: Women’s Memoirs, ed. Gina Luria Walker, Memoirs of Women Writers Part II. Pickering & Chatto: London, 2013, vol. 5, 312-14, editorial notes, 458.

Robin, Diana. Publishing Women: Salons, the Presses, and the Counter-Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Italy. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Russell, Rinaldina (ed.). The Feminist Encyclopedia of Italian Literature, 254-6. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997.

Schulman, Carol Leotta Moore. Lost & Found: Rediscovering Women Poets of the Italian Renaissance. Philadelphia, PA: Laughing Contessa Press, 2006.

Smarr, Janet Levarie and Daria Valentini. Italian Women and the City: Essays. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003.

Smarr, Janet Levarie. Joining the Conversation: Dialogues by Renaissance Women. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005.

Stortoni, Laura Anna and Mary Prentice Lillie. Women Poets of the Italian Renaissance: Courtly Ladies and Courtesans. New York: Italica Press, 1997.

Toffanin, G.Storia letteraria d’Italia, edited by Franco Flamini,13 0. Milan: Casa Editrice, 1898-1902.

Wilson Katharina. An Encyclopedia of Continental Women Writers,48-9. New York: Garland, 1991.

Zanrè, Domenico. Cultural non-conformity in early modern Florence. Aldershot, UK; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004.

Archival resources (selected): 

Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze.

Aragona, Tullia : d'. Dialogo della signora Tullia D'Aragona della infinità di amore

In Vinegia [Venice]: appresso Gabriel Giolito de Ferrari, 1547. 79, [1] c. ; 8°. [Ed.] Girolamo Muzio.

Collocazione: MAGL.3.6.439./2.  Inventario: CF005637351.  

Collocazione: RIN.D.13.  Inventario: CF005809714   1 esemplare, già De Gu.B.2.66

Aragona, Tullia: d', Rime della signora Tullia di Aragona; et di diuersi a lei. 

In Vinegia [Venice]: appresso Gabriel Giolito de Ferrari, 1547. 40 c. ; 8°.  

Collocazione: PALAT.  Inventario: CF990982933.

Aragona, Tullia : d', Il Meschino, altramente detto il Guerrino, fatto in ottaua rima dalla signora Tullia D'Aragona. Opera, nella quale si veggono & intendono le parti principali di tutto il mondo, & molte altre diletteuolissime cose, da esser sommamente care ad ogni sorte di persona di bello ingegno. In Venetia [Venice]: appresso Giouan Battista, et Melchior Sessa fratelli. [4], 194, [2] c. : ill. ; 4°.

Collocazione: RARI.Landau Finaly 143. Inventario: CF002586955   1 esemplare var. B.

Collocazione: RARI.Palat.E.6.6.8. Inventario: CF990999373   1 esemplare, var. B

Hairston, Julia L. Poems and Letters of Tullia d’Aragona, mentions the archives of

Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana.

--«Out of the Archive», MLN, Vol. 118, No. 1, Italian Issue (Jan., 2003), 257-263.

In this article, Hairston mentions consulting , the same source mentioned above as MAGL (Magliabechiano): “Magliabechiano VII 1185, a manuscript containing twenty-two sonnets, sixteen of which are included in the [1547] Rime [della Tullia di Aragona et di diversi a lei].”

Web resources (selected): 

Elizabeth Pallitto, “Tullia d’Aragona (c.1510-1556).”


Hairston, Julia L., “Tullia d’Aragona.” Biography for the Chicago Italian Women Writers Project. http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/efts/IWW/BIOS/A0004.html, 2005.


Le rime della Signora Tullia di Aragona et di diversi a lei (Venice: Giolito, 1547), translated by Elizabeth A. Pallitto, as:

Sweet Fire: Tullia d’Aragona’s Poetry of Dialogue and Selected Prose, ed. and trans. Elizabeth A. Pallitto, (New York: George Braziller Publishers, 2007)



Tullia d’Aragona, Dialogue on the Infinity of Love, ed. and trans. Rinaldina Russell and Bruce Merry (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997)



Tullia d’Aragona, Il Meschino,altramente detto il Guerrino


Issues with the sources. 

Problems with the sources on Tullia d’Aragona is a fertile area for scholarship. Ann Rosalind Jones, in her article “Bad Press: Modern Editors versus Early Modern Women Poets (Tullia d’Aragona, Gaspara Stampa, Veronica Franco),” has begun a conversation that decries the misrepresentation of these early modern poets while posing a challenge to scholars of women’s writing. Pre-existing stock character roles – the penitent Magdalene, the demi-mondaine poetess, and the unrepentant brash courtesan – are assigned to these and other women writers while their intellectual output is ignored or miscategorized. 

For example, Enrico Celani inserts the epithet “courtesan of the sixteenth century” into the title page of the 1891 edition of d’Aragona’s Rime. The original title classifies Tullia as “Signora (Lady) d’Aragona” because her status was officially recognized by Duke Cosimo de’ Medici in a decree that exonerated her from the garments of a courtesan as well as the status of one. D’Aragona herself, neither hiding her history nor passively accepting her fate, argues that women who become courtesans often do so through misfortune or error. She laments her early loss of innocence, just as Veronica Franco would advise the mother of an aspiring courtesan that the outward glamor of this life gave the lie to its dangers, both to the mind and to the body. We can appreciate how closely Gaspara Stampa’s poetry adheres to the Petrarchan idiom; however, a female poet writing to an unattainable love becomes an object of scorn while a male poet pining for his distant or deceased lady marks the troubadour-stilnovist (dolce stil novo) canon.

Addressing this problem with her usual wit in her Dialogue, “Tullia” quips:  “If Madonna Laura had written such poems to Petrarch as he wrote to her, what a different story we would have.”