Bettisia Gozzadini

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Bettisia Gozzadini (1209 in Bologna, Italy - died 1261, also in Bologna) flourished around 1250, and lectured in law at the University of Bologna. She reputedly obtained her education disguised as a man and taught from behind a screen so that she would not distract the students.[1][2][3] She was probably the first woman to hold a post at a university.[2]


Bettisia was born into a noble family, the daughter of Amadore Gozzadini and Adelasia of Pegolotti. She excelled at scholarship from childhood.[3] Her intelligence impressed Giacomo Baldavino and Tancredi Arcidiacono at the University of Bologna and they pushed for her to take a doctorate for which she got the highest award possible, graduating in law on 3 June 1236.[3]

She began teaching from her home and then at local schools. Her great style of oratory led her eventually to be offered a chair at the University. She at first refused this, but later accepted it and held it until her death.[3] Her lessons eventually became so popular that she could not hold them in the Studium (classroom) but had to deliver them in a public square.[4] In 1242, on account of her skills in oratory, she gave the funeral oration at the funeral of Enrico della Fratta, Bishop of Bologna.[3] She died in November 1261, due to the collapse of the house where she lived on the bank of the River Idice. Details of her life were recorded by Pompeo Delfi.[3] A portrait of her exists in Bologna.[5]


  1. ^ Brooklyn Museum
  2. ^ a b Lienhard
  3. ^ a b c d e f Bologna Municipality biography
  4. ^ Zappi
  5. ^ Marriotti


  • Brooklyn Museum Dinner Party Database of notable women. Accessed January 2008
  • Women in the Academy Engines of Our Ingenuity by John H. Lienhard. University of Houston. Accessed January 2008
  • A Celebration of Women Writers "Italy." by Eva Marriotti (or Mariotti). From Elliott, Maud Howe, ed. (1854-1948) Art and Handicraft in the Woman's Building of the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893. Chicago and New York: Rand, McNally & Company, 1894. pp. 264-270.
  • Zappi History Part 5 Zappi Family Trust. Accessed January 2008
  • Gozzadini, Bettisia Municipality of Bologna at the MEMO history site, (French). Accessed January 2008. (Translation)