Lidia Lanza

Lidia Lanza (Porto)

The Early Modern Italian Specula Principum (1550-1660)

The aim of my project is to study the more than sixty mirrors for princes written in Italy between the second half of the sixteenth century and the middle of the seventeenth century. Though that period saw the re-emergence of this literary genre, no analysis has yet been made of this corpus as a whole or indeed of the great majority of these specula separately considered. This is all the more surprising given the number of extant Italian specula, which is considerably higher than for specula written in other countries at the same period. The focus of my research is to investigate how Italian authors delineated the figure of the prince. While the mirrors for princes were vehicles to express courtly culture and impose certain patterns of behaviour on that same culture, they were chiefly devoted to offer an image of kingly power and of the prince, by establishing the virtues and political attributes required of the ruler. This image could fit any kind of ruler, including Renaissance princes, local lords and podestà of Italian city-states, which explains the enormous success of this literary genre. I am currently preparing a volume which will include in appendix the first catalogue of all the mirrors for princes written in Italy between 1550 and 1660 extant in both manuscript form and early printed editions.