Alessandra Strozzi wrote many letters to her children which can convey to us the importance of family in Florence during the Renaissance. Alessandra’s husband Matteo died, and so these letters are written from the perspective of a widow, not a married woman. In Women of the Renaissance by Margaret L. King, it states that widows of the Renaissance could dispose of the family wealth themselves and were also able to carry on their husband’s trade. In this case, Alessandra took on the responsibility of finding spouses for her children.
The following letter is written from Alessandra to her son Filippo concerning finding him a wife and shows how much thought was put into finding a spouse during this period. Alessandra states that it is her deepest wish to live with Filippo and that nothing could give her more comfort. This statement shows us how important family unity was as Alessandra states just how much she wants to live with her son. She then says that if she did live with him it would be a much bigger comfort to her than it would be to him because she needs him more than he needs her.
Alessandra then states, “And the reason is because I can only do badly without you, but you can do everything without me. ” These two similar statements show just how important Filippo is to Alessandra and how she believes that he no longer needs her help to succeed in life. In the next paragraph Alessandra begins addressing the topic of finding Filippo a wife. She states that if Francesco di Messer Guglielmino Tanagli were to give Filippo his daughter, then they would be a good match. Alessandra believes that she is the best option available.
This is clearly important as it tells us who Alessandra wishes for her son to marry. Alessandra then mentions the da Vernia match, but that from what she’s heard she is clumsy and looks like a peasant. This shows how honest Alessandra is with her son about potential wives, which once again speaks to the importance of finding the correct spouse in Renaissance Florence. She returns to discussing the match with Francesco’s daughter and states that she likes the fact that Francesco has participated in government, even if his positions have not been important ones.
This statement conveys how much of a factor status and power were when considering a spouse and the spouse’s family. Next, Alessandra answers the question of why Francesco would give his daughter to an exile. The first reason she mentions is because there is a shortage of young men from good families who have abilities and money. This is another statement that shows us how status, power, and money were all much bigger factors in finding a spouse than they are today. Her second reason was that she only has a small dowry. Once again, this statement speaks to the importance of money in the Renaissance period.
The third reason that Alessandra gives is that Francesco has a big family and that this would help them get settled. This statement once again shows the importance of family unity to Renaissance Florence families. In the next paragraph Alessandra mentions that she saw Mona Lucrezia di Piero had sent him a nice letter for thanking him for the flax that he sent to her. Alessandra then says she should reward him with kind words about Filippo to Piero. This is basically saying that Alessandra thinks Mona should put in a good word for Filippo. This shows us just how much power the Medici family had during this period.
In the last paragraph, Alessandra mentions that two gentlemen from Don Federigo’s retinue visited her and praised Filippo a lot. She then says that she is letting him know so that he can thank them when he has the opportunity. This shows us the sense of community that they had during the Renaissance period in Florence. Overall, Alessandra Strozzi’s letter to her son Filippo can tell us quite a lot about Renaissance Florence and also about the situation that the Strozzi family was in at the time. The major themes of this letter are the importance of family unity and how carefully calculated spouse selection was at the time.
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