Letters to Francesco Datini by Margherita Datini
Translated by Carolyn James and Antonio Pagliaro.
The letters of Margherita Datini (1360-1423) to her husband Francesco, here translated in English for the first time, provide a wealth of information about the societies of Prato and Florence, between which the Datinis divided their time. Even more remarkably, the letters tell us a great deal about Margherita herself. In them, she reveals her political views and the influence she could exert within Florentine patronage networks by virtue of her aristocratic connections. She also comments in detail on her household, the tasks her husband delegated to her, and the activities and personalities of the relatives and friends with whom she socialized. The complex portrait of everyday life and social relationships in the urban environments of late-medieval Tuscany that emerges from Margherita’s letters is dramatically different from the static, limited view of women’s lives presented in the prescriptive texts of her period.
“The letters of Margherita Datini to her husband are virtually impossible to put down. Margherita is never obsequious, and never holds her tongue as she chastises Francesco for staying up too late, asks about a case before the Eight of Florence, beseeches him to help friends in prison, worries over financial transactions, and updates him on his business, the harvests, and his illegitimate child (whom she cares for) when he is away. Rich emotional life and historical particulars, the letters are a unique window into late medieval Tuscany and women’s ‘work.’”
Jane Tylus – Professor of Italian Studies and vice provost for academic affairs, New York University.
To view an excerpt of this work, please click here (PDF).
Carolyn James is Cassamarca Senior Lecturer in the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, Monash University. She completed her doctorate in 2000 at the University of Melbourne. She has published two books on the fifteenth-century Bolognese writer Giovanni Sabadino degli Arienti, and is presently engaged in an Australian Research Council funded study of women’s letter writing practices in the late medieval and Renaissance periods.
Antonio Pagliaro graduated from Melbourne University with majors in Italian and Classical Greek and subsequently completed post-graduate studies at both Melbourne University and Rome University (La Sapienza). He is currently honorary research associate at La Trobe University where he was appointed lecturer-in-charge of the Italian Division in 1975.