restricted access 'Leaving hell and arriving in paradise': Between Victimhood and Agency in the Exilic Experience of Luisa Donati Strozzi (1434–1510)


The correspondence of the Florentine patrician woman Luisa Donati Strozzi (1434–1510) has remained curiously neglected by scholars. Different from the intensively studied epistolary case of Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi, Luisa's letters to her sons from the hostland of Ferrara document the interplay between the victimhood and agency of this widowed émigrée during the exile of her menfolk. On the one hand, the letters reveal the suppression of female agency and the suffering occasioned. But Luisa's victimhood was neither passive nor monolithic. Rather, out of the crucible experience of exile, Luisa created a potent space for her agency at the Este court.