Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione by Raphael
December 6, 1478|
near Casatico, which is near Mantua
|Died||February 2, 1529
|Occupation||courtier, diplomat, soldier, author|
Baldassare Castiglione (Italian: [baldasˈsaːre kastiʎˈʎoːne]; December 6, 1478 – February 2, 1529), count of Casatico, was an Italian courtier, diplomat, soldier and a prominent Renaissance author.
Castiglione was wealthfully born into a very bright illustrious Lombard family at Casatico, near Mantua, where his family had constructed an impressive palazzo. The signoria (lordship) of Casatico (today part of the commune of Marcaria) had been assigned to an ancestor, Baldassare da Castiglione, a friend of Ludovico II Gonzaga Marquis of Mantua, in 1445. The later Baldasare was related to Ludovico Gonzaga through his mother, Luigia Gonzaga.
In 1494 at the age of sixteen Castiglione began his humanist studies in Milan, studies which would eventually inform his future writings. However, in 1499 after the death of his father, Castiglione left his studies and Milan to succeed his father as the head of their noble family. Soon his duties included officially representing the Gonzaga court; for instance, he accompanied his marquis for the Royal entry at Milan of Louis XII. He traveled quite often for the Gonzagas; during one of his missions to Rome he met Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino; and in 1504, a reluctant Francesco Gonzaga allowed him to leave and take up residence in that court.
Urbino was at that time the most refined and elegant of the Italian courts, a cultural center ably directed and managed by the Duchess Elisabetta Gonzaga and her sister-in-law Emilia Pia, whose portraits, along with those of many of their guests, were painted by Raphael, a native of Urbino. Regular guests included: Pietro Bembo; Ludovico da Canossa; Giuliano de' Medici; Cardinal Bibbiena; the brothers Ottaviano and Federigo Fregoso from the Republic of Genoa.; Francesco Maria della Rovere (nephew and heir of Duke and Duchess of Urbino); and Cesare Gonzaga, a cousin of both Castiglione and the Duke. The hosts and guests organized intellectual contests, pageants, dances, concerts, recitations, plays, and other cultural activities, producing brilliant literary works. Elisabetta's virtue and abilities inspired Castiglione to compose a series of Platonic love songs and sonnets in her honor. She deeply loved her husband though his invalid state meant they could never have children.
In 1506 Castiglione wrote (and acted in) a pastoral play, his eclogue Tirsi, in which he depicted the court of Urbino allegorically through the figures of three shepherds. The work contains echoes of both ancient and contemporary poetry, recalling Poliziano and Sannazzaro as well as Virgil.
Castiglione wrote about his works and of those of other guests in letters to other princes, maintaining an activity very near to diplomacy, though in a literary form, as in his correspondence with his friend and kinsman, Ludovico da Canossa (later Bishop of Bayeux).
Francesco Maria della Rovere succeeded as Duke of Urbino at Guidobaldo's death, and Castiglione remained at his court. He and the new Duke of Urbino took part in Pope Julius II's expedition against Venice, an episode in the Italian Wars. For this the Duke conferred on Castiglione the title of Count of Novilara, a fortified hill town near Pesaro. When Pope Leo X was elected in 1512, Castiglione was sent to Rome as ambassador from Urbino. There he was friendly with many artists and writers; including Raphael, whom he already knew from Urbino, and who frequently sought his advice. In tribute to their friendship, Raphael painted his famous portrait of Castiglione, now at the Louvre.
In 1516 Castiglione was back in Mantua, where he married a very young Ippolita Torelli, descendant of another noble Mantuan family. That Castiglione's love for Ippolita was of a very different nature from his former platonic attachment to Elisabetta Gonzaga is evidenced by the two deeply passionate letters he wrote to her that have survived. Sadly, Ippolita died a mere four years after their marriage, while Castiglione was away in Rome as ambassador for the Duke of Mantua. In 1521 Pope Leo X conceded to him the tonsura (first sacerdotal ceremony) and thereupon began Castiglione's second, ecclesiastical career.
In 1524 Pope Clement VII sent Castiglione to Spain as Apostolic nuncio (ambassador of the Holy See) in Madrid, and in this role he followed court of Emperor Charles V to Toledo, Seville and Granada. At the time of the Sack of Rome (1527) Pope Clement VII suspected Castiglione of having harbored a "special friendship" for the Spanish emperor: Castiglione, the Pope believed, should have informed the Holy See of Charles V's intentions, for it was his duty to investigate what Spain was planning against the Eternal City. On the other hand, Alonso de Valdés, twin brother of the humanist Juan de Valdés and secretary of the emperor, publicly declared the sack to have been a divine punishment for the sinfulness of the clergy.
Castiglione answered both the Pope and Valdés in two famous letters from Burgos. He took Valdés to task, severely and at length, in his response to the latter's comments about the Sack of Rome. While in his letter to the Pope (dated December 10, 1527), he had the audacity to criticize Vatican policies, asserting that its own inconsistencies and vacillations had undermined its stated aim of pursuing a fair agreement with the emperor and had provoked Charles V to attack.
Against all expectations, Castiglione received the Pope's apologies and the emperor honored him with the offer of the position of Bishop of Avila. Historians today believe that Castiglione had carried out his ambassadorial duties to Spain in an honorable manner and bore no responsibility for the sack of Rome. He died of an alien attack on Toledo in 1529.
After his death in 1529 a monument was erected in the sanctuary of Sta Maria delle Grazie, outside of his birthplace of Mantua. It was designed by the mannerist painter and architect Giulio Romano, a pupil of Raphael, and inscribed with the following words:
Baldasssare Castiglione of Mantua, endowed by nature with every gift and the knowledge of many disciplines, learned in Greek and Latin literature, and a poet in the Italian (Tuscan) language, was given a castle in Pesaro on account of his military prowess, after he had conducted embassies to both great Britain and Rome. While he was working at the Spanish court on behalf of Clement VII, he drew up the Book of the Courtier for the education of the nobility; and in short, after Emperor Charles V had elected him Bishop of Avila, he died at Toledo, much honored by all the people. He lived fifty years, two months, and a day. His mother, Luigia Gonzaga, who to her own sorrow outlived her son, placed this memorial to him in 1529.
The Book of the Courtier 
In 1528, the year before his death, the book for which Castiglione is most famous, The Book of the Courtier (Il Libro del Cortegiano), was published in Venice by the Aldine Press run by the heirs of Aldus Manutius. The book, in dialog form, is an elegiac portrait of the exemplary court of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro of Urbino during Castiglione's youthful stay there at the beginning of the sixteenth century. It depicts an elegant philosophical conversation, presided over by Elisabetta Gonzaga, (whose husband, Guidobaldo, an invalid, was confined to bed) and her sister-in-law Emilia Pia. Castiglione himself does not contribute to the discussion, which is imagined as having occurred while he was away. The book is Castiglione's memorial tribute to life at Urbino and to his friendships with the other members of the court, all of whom went on to have important positions and many of whom had died by the time the book was published, giving poignancy to their portrayals.
The conversation takes place over a span of four days in the year 1507. It addresses the topic, proposed by Federigo Fregoso, of what constitutes an ideal Renaissance gentleman. In the Middle Ages, the perfect gentleman had been a chivalrous knight who distinguished himself by his prowess on the battlefield. Castiglione's book changed that. Now the perfect gentleman had to have a classical education in Greek and Latin letters, as well. The Ciceronian humanist model of the ideal orator (whom Cicero called "the honest man"), on which The Courtier is based, prescribes for the orator an active political life of service to country, whether in war or peace. Scholars agree that Castiglione drew heavily from Cicero's celebrated treatise De Officiis ("The Duties of a Gentleman"), well known throughout the Middle Ages and even more so from his De Oratore, which had been re-discovered in 1421 and which discusses the formation of an ideal orator-citizen. Jennifer Richards points out that the question put forth by De Oratore, namely, can rhetoric be taught or is it an inborn gift, parallels that of The Courtier. The genre is also the same in The Courtier and De Oratore: a comfortable, informal, open-ended discussion, in Ciceronian rhetoric called sermo (conversation), in which participants, set out the various sides of an argument in a friendly (rather than adversarial) way, inviting readers, as silent participators, to decide the truth for themselves.
Since republics were dying out in Italy when Castiglione wrote, in order to participate in an active life of public service, as recommended by Cicero, the model Renaissance gentleman had to win the respect and friendship of his peers and of a ruler, or prince, i.e., he had to be a courtier, so as to be able to offer valuable assistance and advice on how to rule the city. To do this, he must be a worthy friend, accomplished—in sports, in telling jokes, in fighting, writing poetry, playing music, drawing, and dancing—but not too much. To his moral elegance (his personal goodness) must be added the spiritual elegance conferred by familiarity with good literature (i.e., the humanities, including history). Furthermore, he must excel in all he does without apparent effort and make everything look easy and natural. In a famous passage, Castiglione's friend Lodovico da Canossa, whose views arguably represent Castiglione's own, explains "the mysterious source of courtly gracefulness, the quality which makes the courtier seem a natural nobleman": sprezzatura. Sprezzatura, or the art that conceals art (in the words of another ancient rhetorician, Quintillian), is not simply a kind of superficial dissimulation, for grace may also be the result of such assiduous practice that what one does becomes second nature and seems inborn. At the outset of the discussion Canossa also insists that the art of being a perfect courtier is something that cannot be taught (that is, broken down to a set of rules or precepts), and therefore, he declares (rhetorically—and with sprezzatura) that he will refuse to teach it. The implication, however, is that those interested in acquiring this art must do so through practice and imitation, which is—like the dialog itself—a form of teaching—teaching without precepts. To perfect oneself is not selfish, but fulfills a public and private moral duty for the individual to act as a model for others.
The ideal courtier, then, must act with noble sprezzatura, and Canossa maintains that because the ideal courtier must a man of arms, skilled in horsemanship, he needs to be of noble birth. To this, another interlocutor, a very youthful Gaspare Pallavicino, age twenty, objects that many outstanding and virtuous men have been of humble origins. The other participants eventually agree that even someone who is lowly born can be a perfect courtier, since nobility can be learned through imitation of the best models from life and history until it becomes ingrained and natural. This, at least, is the theory; but in practice, they concede, it is easier to become a perfect courtier if one is born into a distinguished family. In any case, the ideal courtier should be able to speak gracefully and appropriately with people of all stations in life. The French are wrong to assert that a knowledge of letters conflicts with fighting ability. The courtier should be deeply versed in Greek and Latin and should know enough to be able to discriminate between good and bad writing (as well as the other arts) for himself, without relying slavishly on the word of others. The participants also deplore what they consider the rude and uncultivated manners of the French, who they say look down with disdain on what they call a "clerk" (or someone who can read and write), though hope is expressed for Francis of Valois, the future king of France. This is a bitter topic, since the French, who had just invaded Italy, had shown themselves clearly superior in fighting to the Italians. It is noticeable, however, that though skill in fighting in insisted on at the outset as a requisite for the Italian courtier, it is scarcely alluded to in the rest of the book. Pietro Bembo, who was a poet and arbiter of elegance in the Italian language, in fact, even questions whether it is necessary.
Ideally, the courtier should be young, about twenty-seven, at least mentally, though he should give the appearance of being graver and more thoughtful than his years. To do this he should wear subdued rather than bright colors, though in general attire he should follow the prevalent customs of his surroundings. The courtier should always appear a little more humble than his station requires. He should take care not appear scornful of the efforts of others and should avoid the arrogance shown by some French and some Spanish noblemen.
The discussion also touches on a variety of other questions, such as which form of government is best, a republic or a principality—the Genoese Fregoso brothers taking the republican side. There is a long discussion, too, about what are appropriate topics for joking (pleasantries), an essential component of pleasing conversation: one should not mock people's physical attributes, for example.
Music is brought up, and Ludovico Canossa declares that the courtier should be able to read music and play several instruments. When Gaspare Pallavicino objects that music is effeminate, Canossa answers that there is no better way to soothe the soul and raise the spirits than through music, and he names great generals and heroes of antiquity who were keen musicians. Grave Socrates himself began to learn the cithern when an old man. Indeed, the wisest ancient philosophers taught that the heavens themselves are composed of music and there is a harmony of the spheres. Music likewise promotes habits of harmony and virtue in the individual and should therefore be learned beginning in childhood. Giuliano de' Medici agrees that for the courtier music is not just an ornament but a necessity, as it is indeed for men and women in all walks of life. The ideal courtier, however, should not give the impression that music is his main occupation in life.
They then discuss which is superior, painting or sculpture? The answer is left open but seems to lean in favor of painting, for, as Canossa maintains:
Anyone who does not esteem the art of painting seems to me to be quite wrong-headed. For when all is said and done, the very fabric of the universe, which we can contemplate in the vast spaces of heaven, so resplendent with their shooting stars, with the earth at its center, girdled by the seas, varied with mountains, rivers and valleys, and adorned with so many different varieties of trees, lovely flowers and grasses, can be said to be a great and noble painting, composed by Nature and the hand of God. And, in my opinion, whoever can imitate it deserves the highest praise.
|Giuliano de' Medici|
|Duke of Nemours|
Giuliano de' Medici, defender of women in Castiglione's Book of the Courtier, painted by Raphael.
March 12, 1479|
Florence, Republic of Florence
|Died||March 17, 1516
Florence, Republic of Florence
Another topic, that of the Court Lady, brings up the question of the equality of the sexes. One character, the young Gaspare Pallavicino, has been depicted throughout the discussion as a thorough-going misogynist (at one point he even declares that women are only good for having children). Elisabetta Gonzaga and Emilia Pia regard his attitude as a challenge and call on the others to come to women's defense. The following evening Giuliano de' Medici, who is more mature than Gaspare Pallavicino, is chosen to defend women. He rises to the occasion, affirming their equality to the male sex in every respect, and he points out how throughout history some women have excelled in philosophy and others have waged war and governed cities, listing the heroines of classical times by name. Pallavicino, piqued, hints that Giuliano is wrong, but in the end concedes that he himself has been wrong to disparage women. The reader is led to conclude that Pallavicino's bitterness toward the female sex may be the result of a sincere young man's deep disappointment in love, and this throws into question somewhat the sincerity of the smooth and affable Giuliano, the defender (or flatterer) of women (who as it happens, in real life was a well known philanderer). There is some doubt as to whether Pallavicino or Giuliano, or both, express Castiglione's real views on the subject of women. Interestingly, Giuliano de' Medici was also the person to whom Machiavelli had first planned to address his book The Prince, though he ended up instead dedicating it to Giuliano's brother Lorenzo. Giuliano was later given the title of Duc de Nemours by Francis I. (He died soon after, in 1517, and was memorialized in a celebrated statue by Michelangelo.) Gaspare Pallavicino, the most impetuous and emotional of the interlocutors in The Courtier, had died in 1511, after a life of almost constant illness, while still in his early twenties. The book ends on an elevated note with lengthy speech about love by the humanist scholar Pietro Bembo (later a Cardinal). Bembo was born in 1470 and in 1507, when the dialog is supposed to have taken place, would have been in his mid-thirties. Young men's love naturally tends to be sensual, but Bembo talks about a kind of imaginative, non-physical love that is available to young and old alike. Bembo's speech is based on Marsilio Ficino's influential commentaries on Socrates's speech on the nature of love at the conclusion of Plato's Symposium, except that in The Courtier the object of love is heterosexual not homosexual. Bembo describes how the experience of sublimated love leads the lover to the contemplation of ideal beauty and ideas. He talks about the divine nature and origin of love, the "father of true pleasures, of all blessings, of peace, of gentleness, and of good will: the enemy of rough savagery and vileness", which ultimately lifts the lover to the contemplation of the spiritual realm, leading to God. When Bembo has finished, the others notice that they have all become so enraptured by his speech that they have lost track of the time, and they rise to their feet, astonished to discover that day is already dawning:
So when the windows on the side of the palace that faces the lofty peak of Mount Catria had been opened, they saw that the dawn had already come to the east, with the beauty and color of a rose, and all the stars had been scattered, save only the lovely mistress of heaven, Venus, who guards the confines of night and day. From there, there seemed to come a delicate breeze, filling the air with biting cold, and among the murmuring woods on neighboring hills wakening the birds into joyous song. Then all, having taken leave of the Duchess, went to their rooms, without torches, for the light of day was sufficient.
The Fortunes of the Courtier 
Have you read Castliglione’s Cortegiano? The beauty of the book is such that it deserves to be read in all ages; and as long as courts endure, as long as princes reign and knights and ladies meet, as long valor and courtesy hold a place in our hearts, the name of Castiglione will be held in honor.” —Torquato Tasso, Il Malpiglio overo de la corte (1585)
The Book of the Courtier caught the "spirit of the times" and was speedily translated into Spanish, German, French, Polish, and English. One hundred and eight editions were published between 1528 and 1616 alone. (Pietro Aretino's La cortigiana is a parody of this famous work.) Castiglione's depiction of how the ideal gentleman should be educated and behave remained, for better or for worse, the touchstone of behavior for all the upper classes of Europe for the next five centuries. Nowhere was its influence greater than in England, where it was translated by Sir Thomas Hoby in 1561 and is a recognizable source for Shakespeare. Queen Elizabeth’s tutor and later secretary, Roger Ascham, wrote that a young man who carefully studied The Book of The Courtier would benefit from it more than from three years travel in Italy. Later commentators have not infrequently accused it of advocating superficiality (with "slight justice" according to June Osborne), yet it has also been called, “The most important single contribution to a diffusion of Italian values” throughout Europe. The definitive study of reception of The Courtier is Peter Burke's magisterial The Fortunes of the Courtier: The European Reception of Castiglione's Cortegiano, Penn State University Press, 1995.
Minor works 
Castiglione's minor works are less known, yet still interesting, including love sonnets and four Amorose canzoni ("Amorous Songs") about his Platonic love for Elisabetta Gonzaga, in the style of Francesco Petrarca and Pietro Bembo. His sonnet Superbi colli e voi, sacre ruine ("Proud hills and you, sacred ruins"), written more by the man of letters than the poet in Castiglione, nevertheless contains hints of pre-romantic inspiration.
Castiglione also produced a number of Latin poems, together with an elegy for the death of Raphael entitled De morte Raphaellis pictoris and another elegy, after the manner of Petrarca, in which he imagines his dead wife as writing to him. In Italian prose, he wrote a prologue for Cardinal Bibbiena's Calandria, which was performed in 1507 at Urbino and later, elaborately, at Rome.
Castiglione's letters are perhaps of even greater interest, revealing not only the man and his personality but also delineating those of famous people he had met and his diplomatic activities: they constitute a valuable resource for political, literary, and historical studies.
- Dates of birth and death, and cause of the latter, from ‘Baldassarre Castiglione’, Italica, Rai International online.
- MacClintock, Carol (1979). Readings in the History of Music in Performance. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-14495-7.
- Comune di Marcaria: La Storia, p.3.
- Ottaviano and Federigo Fregoso were both Genoese patricians: Ottaviano became Doge of Genoa; and during his reign, his younger brother Federigo, a cardinal, assisted him and was given command of the military. Federigo, renowned for his piety and knowledgeable in Hebrew as well as Greek and Latin, also authored reformist theological and political treatises (including, reputedly a translation of the works of Martin Luther) that were later placed on the Vatican Index of Forbidden Books. See Eugenio Garin, Renaissance Characters (University of Chicago Press, 1997), p. 87. It is he who first proposes the topic of the formation of the ideal courtier.
- Erano adunque tutte l'ore del giorno divise in onorevoli e piacevoli esercizi cosi' nel corpo come dell'animo — "Thus all the hours of the day were divided into activities that were honorable and pleasurable as much for the body as for the soul,” The Book of the Courtier, IV.
- French Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France: Raphael, Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione.
- June Osborne, Urbino: the Story of a Renaissance City (London: Frances Lincoln, 2003), p. 168.
- Lawrence Cunningham, John Reich (2006). Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities. Thomson Wadsworth. ISBN 0-534-58227-3.
- Renaissance portraiture, whether painted or written, served a to memorialize. In his 1435 treatise on painting Leon Battista Alberti described the function of portraiture this way:
Painting possesses a truly divine power in that not only does it make the absent present (as they say of friendship), but it also represents the dead to the living many centuries later, so that they are recognized by spectators with pleasure and deep admiration for the artist.—Quoted in The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini, 2011 Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of New York: Website.
- Although it was not a Christian work, St. Ambrose in 390 declared De officiis legitimate for the Church to use (along with everything else that Cicero and the equally popular Roman philosopher Seneca had written). It became the moral authority during the Middle Ages. See Hannis Taylor, Cicero: A Sketch of His Life and Works (A. C. McClurg. 1916), p. 9.
- The importance of De Oratore for Renaissance humanism may be gauged from the fact that it was one of the very first books to be printed in Italy, at Subiaco in 1465 after the discovery of movable type, with three other Italian editions following in fifteen years. (The first book was an Ars grammatica by Donatus, which has not been preserved; Cicero's De Oratore was the second, and Lactantius's De divinis institutionibus was the third, followed in 1467 by Augustine's The City of God.)
- The relationship between The Book of the Courtier and Cicero's De Oratore is explored in depth in Jennifer Richards's, "Assumed Simplicity and the Critique of Nobility: Or, How Castiglione Read Cicero", Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 54, No. 2, 2001.
- "Oratory [contentio] should be employed for speeches in law-courts, to public assemblies or in the senate, while conversation [sermo] should be found in social groups, in philosophical discussions and among gatherings of friends – and it may also attend dinners (Cicero, De officiis 1.37.132)," Gary Remer, Humanism and the Rhetoric of Toleration (State College, Pa.: Penn State Press,  2008), p. 26.
- According to Cicero, conversations [sermones], “flourish best in friendships” (De officiis 1.17.58). In sermo, "the relationship between interlocuters should resemble a community of friends. This stands in stark contrast to oratory’s agonistic ideal, where orators confront one another as adversaries. The orator’s purpose in contention is to beat his opponent; the speaker’s purpose in sermo is to seek out the truth, collectively, with the other interlocutors", Remer, Humanism and the Rhetoric of Toleration , p. 37.
- Richards, "Assumed Simplicity and the Critique of Nobility: Or, How Castiglione Read Cicero", 2001.
"I have found a universal rule . . . valid above all others in all human affairs whether in word or deed: and that is, to avoid any kind of affectation as though it were a rough and dangerous reef; and (to coin a new word, perhaps), to practice in all things a certain sprezzatura [nonchalance], so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says seem effortless, and almost unpremeditated." (The Courtier 32)
- For the Renaissance (i.e., Classical) theory of Mimesis (imitation) see, for example: Edward P. J. Corbett, "The Theory and Practice of Imitation in Classical Rhetoric", College Composition and Communication, vol. 22, No. 3 (1971), pp. 243-250 and G. W. Pigman, III, "Versions of Imitation in the Renaissance", Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 33, No. 1 (Spring, 1980), pp. 1-32.
- Osborne, Urbino: the Story of a Renaissance City, p. 160.
- Quoted in Osborne, Urbino: the Story of a Renaissance City, p. 160.
- Throughout the book, Pallavicino and Emilia Pia are depicted as sparring; and one writer has even suggested that they were the models for Shakespeare's Beatrice and Benedict. See Julia Cartwright, Baldasare Castiglione, The Perfect Courtier: His Life and Letters, 1478–1529 (London: Murray, 1908), p. vi.
- Machiavelli wrote in a letter to his friend, Francesco Vettori:
I have composed a little work De principatibus . . . . And if ever you liked any of my whims, this one should not displease you, and to a prince, especially a new prince, it should be welcome; therefore I am addressing it to his magnificence Giuliano. —Machiavelli, Letter to Francesco Vettori, December 10, 1513, in Nicolo Machiavelli’s The Prince: New Interdisciplinary Essays, Martin Coyle, editor (Manchester University Press, 1995), p. 198.
- Italian wikipedia entry on Michealangelo's idealized portrait of the Duke of Nemours, translated into English.
- Bembo does say, however, that it is all right for the Platonic lovers to chastely kiss each other on the lips, since, in the opinion of Socrates, a kiss is the union of two souls.
- See Neal L. Goldstien, "Love's Labour's Lost: The Renaissance Vision of Love," in Shakespeare and the Literary Tradition: The Scholarly Literature, Stephen Orgel and Sean Keilen, editors (Routledge, 1999), p. 339; and also June Osborne, Urbino the Story of a Renaissance City , pp. 167-68.
- Quoted in Osborne, Urbino, the story of a Renaissance City, p. 171.
- quoted in Cartwright, Baldasare Castiglione, The Perfect Courtier: His Life and Letters, 1478–1529, pp. v-vi.
- Osborne, Urbino: the Story of a Renaissance City, p. 12.
- Denys Hay quoted by Osborne, Urbino: the Story of a Renaissance City, p. 168. See also wikipedia entry on sincerity in Western culture.
- Burke, Peter. The Fortunes of the Courtier: The European Reception of Castiglione's Cortegiano. Penn State University Press, 1995.
- Osborne, June. Urbino: the Story of a Renaissance City. London: Frances Lincoln, 2003.
- Raffini, Christine. Marsilio Ficino, Pietro Bembo, Baldassare Castiglione: Philosophical, Aesthetic, and Political Approaches in Renaissance Platonism, (Renaissance and Baroque Studies and Texts, v.21,) Peter Lang Publishing, 1998. ISBN 0-8204-3023-4
- Roeder, Ralph. The man of the renaissance: four lawgivers: Savonarola, Machiavelli, Castiglione, Aretino. New York: Meridian Books. 1933.
- Castiglione: Pathways Through Italian Literature: Internet Culturale: Italian Writers. an Italian website with extensive contextual and biographical background on Castiglione's life and work, translated into English.
- Full text of The Book of the Courtier, translated by Leonard Eckstein Opdyke.
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