My Last Duchess Historical Context

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Browning's poem, which is set in Renaissance Italy, may tell us less about the Renaissance itself than about Victorian views toward the period. The incident the poem dramatizes comes from the life of Alfonso II, a nobleman of Spanish origin who was Duke of Ferrara in Italy during the sixteenth century. Alfonso's first wife was Lucrezia, a member of the Italian Medici family and the daughter of Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Although she died only two years into the marriage - to be replaced, as the poem suggests, by the daughter of the Count of Tyrol - Lucrezia transformed the court of Ferrara into a gathering place for Renaissance artists, including the famous Venetian painter Titian. As a result, Ferrara became exemplary of the aesthetic awakening that was taking place throughout Italy.

The term Renaissance, from the French word, actually means "rebirth," and the...

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This section contains 585 words
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Poetry for Students
My Last Duchess from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.