Veronica Gambara

Veronica Gambara (1485–1550). Painting by Antonio da Correggio about 1517–1520, The Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Veronica Gambara (November 30, 1485 – June 13, 1550) was an Italian poet, stateswoman and political leader.


Born in Pralboino (now in the Province of Brescia), in Lombardy, Italy, Gambara came from a distinguished family, one of the seven children of Count Gianfrancesco da Gambara and Alda Pio da Carpi.[1] Her family contained a number of distinguished female intellectuals, including her great-aunts, the humanist poets Ginevre and Isotta Nogarola.[2]:164 Veronica was also a niece of Emilia Pia, the principal female interlocutor of Baldessare Castiglione's Il Cortegiano.[3]:160–61

Gambara received a humanist education, studying Latin, Greek, philosophy, theology and scripture.[3]:160[2]:170 In 1502, at the age of 17, she began corresponding with the leading neo-Petrarchan, Pietro Bembo, who became her poetic mentor two years later when she began sending him her compositions.[3]:161[2]:170

In 1509, at the age of 24, she married her cousin, the 50-year-old widower Giberto X, Count of Correggio, in Amalfi.[1] They had two sons, Ippolito was born in 1510 and Girolamo in 1511.[1] After Giberto's death in 1518, she took charge of the state (including management of Correggio's condottieri), as well as the education of her two sons and step-daughter Costanza.[4]:23[2]:171

Under Gambara's rule, the small court of Correggio became something of a salon, visited by such important figures as Pietro Bembo, Gian Giorgio Trissino, Marcantonio Flaminio, Ludovico Ariosto, and Titian.[2]:170[4]:25 Previously aligned with French king, Francis I, Gambara allied Correggio with Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.[1] She personally received Charles V at her estate in 1530, when he signed a treaty guaranteeing Correggio would not again be besieged, and a second time in 1533.[1] The treaty was broken, however, in 1538 when Galeotto Pico II, Count of Mirandola and Concordia, launched an attack on Correggio.[4]:24 Gambara organized a successful defense of the city, and between 1546 and 1550, saw that Charles V paid for improved fortifications.[4]:24[1]

She died on June 13, 1550, in Correggio, Italy.[1]

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