Bettisia Gozzadini

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Bettisia Gozzadini
lithograph of a young woman in a mediaeval head-dress
Nineteenth-century lithograph depicting Gozzadini; no life portraits are known
Died2 November 1261
Known forReputedly the first woman to lecture at a university

Bettisia Gozzadini (1209 – 2 November 1261)[1]: 11  was a jurist who lectured at the University of Bologna from about 1239.[2] She is thought to be the first woman to have taught at a university.


Gozzadini was born in Bologna, in central Italy, in 1209; her parents, Amadore Gozzadini and Adelasia de' Pegolotti, were of the nobility. Gozzadini studied philosophy, and then studied law under Giacomo Baldavino and Tancred of Bologna at the Studium of Bologna, where she also received encouragement from Odofredo.[1]: 6  As a young woman she dressed as a man; it is not known whether this was because of social pressures, or was from personal choice.[2]

She graduated from the university in 1237, and for two years taught law at her home.[3] She was offered chair at the Studium, which at first she declined, but later accepted.[1]: 9  According to legend, she had to wear a veil when teaching, to avoid distraction to her students; however, the same legend is also attached to Novella d'Andrea, and it is not known which – if either – it belongs to.[4] Gozzadini was a noted orator, and on 31 May 1242 she gave the oration at the funeral of the Bishop of Bologna, Enrico della Fratta.[1]: 9 

Gozzadini died with two other women and four students on 2 November 1261, when flooding of the Idice caused the collapse of the house where they had taken refuge after fleeing from her villa on the river between Mezzolara [it] and Riccardina, now in the comune of Budrio to the east of Bologna.[1]: 11  There was general mourning in the city, and the schools were closed. Her funeral was held at the church of the Padri Serviti.[1]: 11 


Gozzadini is thought to be the first woman to have taught at a university.[4][5]: 218  A terracotta bust of her, one of a series of twelve representations of notable Bolognese women by the un-named "Scultore di Casa Fibbia", dates from the late seventeenth century.[2] It was originally in the Salone d'Onore of Palazzo Fibbia Fabbri – now Palazzo Masetti Calzolari – and is now in the Museo della Storia di Bologna in Palazzo Pepoli. Gozzadini is the earliest of the twelve women depicted.[5]: 218 

Her writings, on the Digest and on the lex omnes populi, are believed lost.[1]: 8 


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Carolina Bonafede (1845). Cenni biografici e ritratti d'insigni donne bolognesi (in Italian). Bologna: Sassi.
  2. ^ a b c Busto di dama bolognese illustre - Bettisia Gozzadini (in Italian). Museo della Città di Bologna. Accessed April 2016.
  3. ^ Murphy, Caroline P. (1999). "'In praise of the ladies of Bologna': the image and identity of the sixteenth-century Bolognese female patriciate". Renaissance Studies. 13 (4): 440–454. doi:10.2307/i24412712)&searchuri=/action/dobasicsearch?query=doctorate&filter=iid%3a10.2307%2fi24412712&ab_segments=0/basic_syc-5187_syc-5188/5187&refreqid=fastly-default:00c836c7598d5140817b27c7406c32c6&seq=6#metadata_info_tab_contents. ISSN 0269-1213.
  4. ^ a b Umberto Eco ([s.d.]). Bettisia Gozzadini e Novella D'Andrea (in Italian). Enciclopedia delle donne. Accessed April 2016.
  5. ^ a b [Genus Bononiae] (2014). Palazzo Pepoli: Da residenza cittadina a Museo della storia di Bologna (in Italian). Firenze: Giunti; Milano: Touring Club Italiano. ISBN 9788809786356.