The Little Sister: Beatrice d'Este

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The Renaissance time period that lasted from the 14th century through the 16th century in Italy was known as an age of cultural rebirth and gave way to the introduction to humanist thinking while Medieval Europe transformed to Early Modern Europe. Humanism beliefs were the values that emphasized the agency of a human and stressed rationalism over faith. Humanists of the Renaissance tended to have great power in society and were highly scrutinized for being too ambiguous in their beliefs by later historians. One of whom, Joan Kelly, hypothesized that women were not given fair opportunities to grow intellectually while men experienced revival and did not prosper. The famed life of renaissance woman, Beatrice d’Este disproves Kelly’s controversial theory. D’Este was born in 1475 into the House of Este, who had control of Ferrara, Italy from the 13th to the 16th century. D’Este’s life demonstrated that the education, wealth, and marriage to a powerful man that she had access to resulted in a period of personal growth as a patron and political figure similar to her renowned sister, Isabella d’Este, and male counterparts, such as her husband, Ludovico Sforza. While her political and social achievements in the Renaissance world give cause to refute Joan Kelly’s arguments, there were limitations to her triumphs; the accomplishments and powers of her family and husband provided constrained how she lived her life.
The House of Este’s dynasty began in the 13th century when Obizzo II became a lord to Ferrara. He overcame differences with the papacy and gained power, managed to keep leadership within the House and eventually, his ancestors expanded their control over the papacy by way of Pope Paul II. Beatrice d’Este’s father, Ercole...

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...with bias towards women. There are primary sources in the form of letters to and from Beatrice d’Este and family members.

Patterson Meyer, Edith. First lady of the Renaissance : a biography of Isabella d'Este. Boston: Little, Brown, 1970.

A biography of Isabella d’Este, Beatrice’s older sister. Her interactions with the Pope are described in detail. Also, Beatrice is described as vivacious, and her relationship with Isabella is described as a political entity that would serve both cities well. I will use that claim as support that family was second and politics were first as it was the family name that was most important. Also will help with my argument that the d’Este parents focused more on Isabella than Beatrice because Beatrice’s future was described as “troublesome” while Isabella’s was “happy”. Includes primary sources as letters, to Ludovico Sforza.
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