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Reviews 205 Anabaptism cross-referenced to developments in the Reformation in general and in politics and society, extensive endnotes and bibUography, and an index. John Tonkin Department of History The University of Western Australia Gregory, Heather, ed. and trans., Selected Letters of Alessandra Stroz (BibUoteca ItaUana 9). BUingual Edition, with Introduction and Notes, Berkeley/Los Angeles/London, University of CaUfornia Press, 1997; paper; pp. ix, 252; R.R.P. US$16.00, £12.95. The letters of the fifteenth century Florentine widow Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi to her extfed sons have been used extensively by historians—since the pubUcation of a scholarly edition in 1877 by Cesare Guasti—having been cited in a number of discussions on various aspects of fifteenth-century Florentine life including marriage, the position of w o m e n , famtfy structures, attitudes to death, political events and, of course, the Strozzi themselves. These letters are, indeed, in Richard Goldthwaite's words: 'one of the most appealing social documents of the era' (Private Wealth in Renaissance Florence, 1968, p. 263). Unfortunately, only a small sample of the 73 extant letters have been avaflable in EngUsh translation up until now, preventing students from fuUy appreciating their richness and breadth of concerns. N o w , with the publication of 35 (in whole or part) of Alessandra Strozzi's letters, they wiU become k n o w n to a far wider audience than has hitherto been possible. It is unfortunate that not aU 73 could have been translated in their entirety. (A Ust of the letters omitted, by date, and a brief summary of their contents would, therefore, have been useful). Heather Gregory is superbly w e U placed to have undertaken this task. Her o w n work on the Strozzi family in the fifteenth century has made a substantial contribution to our understanding of their experience of exile and the reasons behind the successful rehabilitation of Alessandra's sons, FiUppo and Lorenzo. The translations of Alessandra's often idiosyncratic and sometimes 206 Reviews ungrammatical prose (as Gregory notes on p. 8) are both easily readable in English and true to the flavour of the original Tuscan idiom. Gregory's extensive knowledge of f he Strozzi and of fifteenthcentury Florentine social history is evident in her introduction, selected bibUography and explanatory notes to this bilingual edition. She begins by stressing the importance of Alessandra's letters as 'autobiographical materials . . . from fifteenth-century Florence', foUowed by a detaUed account of what is known about Alessandra's life and that of her husband, sons and other family members. This biography is expertly recounted and documented, and aU the whUe Alessandra's life is placed within the context of contemporary events and social mores in Florence. A discussion of the letter coUection itself follows with Gregory explaining her choice of letters to be included: 'Fust, it was important that the letters included were those which carried forward the story of Alessandra's life.... Second, letters were chosen for inclusion because of the extent to which they iUustrate the range of attitudes, concerns and activities which were characteristic of their author' (pp. 7-8). She then proceeds to discuss the range of themes evident in the letters, such as marriage, family relationships, including Alessandra's own attitudes towards her sons and daughters, money, death, her personal reUgious concerns and poUtics. Gregory states that in choosing the letters for this edition no letter omitted was chronologicaUy isolated (p. 7) and m a n y of those not included were from a period in which a number of letters survive. For example, twenty-five out of the thirty-seven not included come from the period April 1464 to February 1466. (pp. 7-8) The selection of letters does meet these two criteria and is broadly representative of the whole. But Gregory's omission of m a n y letters from the poUticaUy turbulent period of 1464 to 1466 means that the extent of Alessandra's efforts to ensure her sons' return, as well as her astute understanding of Florentine poUtics, could be under-estimated. Alessandra's poUtical skiUs and her level of involvement in efforts to rehabiUtate her sons would have been m u...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 205-207
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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