Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Federico da Montefeltro

Federico da Montefeltro, also known as Federico III da Montefeltro (June 7, 1422 – September 10, 1482), was one of the most successful condottieri of the Italian Renaissance, and lord of Urbino from 1444 (as Duke from 1474) until his death. In Urbino he commissioned the construction of a great library, perhaps the largest of Italy after the Vatican, with his own team of scribes in his scriptorium, and assembled around him a great humanistic court in one of the great architectural gems of the early Renaissance, the Ducal Palace of Urbino, designed by Luciano Laurana and Francesco di Giorgio Martini.

Federico, nicknamed "the Light of Italy", is a landmark figure in the history of the Italian Renaissance for his contributions to enlightened culture. He imposed justice and stability on his tiny state through the principles of his humanist education; he engaged the best copyists and editors in his private scriptorium to produce the most comprehensive library outside of the Vatican; he supported the development of fine artists, including the early training of the young painter Raphael. He ordered for himself the famous Studiolo di Gubbio, eventually purchased by and brought in its entirety to The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Federico took care of soldiers who might be killed or wounded, providing, for example, dowries for their daughters. He often strolled the streets of Urbino unarmed and unattended, inquiring in shops and businesses as to the well-being of the citizens. All citizens, regardless of rank, were equal under the law. His academic interests were the classics, particularly history and philosophy.

All his personal and professional achievements were financed through mercenary warfare. Through dedication to the well-being of his soldiers, his men were enormously loyal and, incredibly, he never lost a war. He was decorated with almost every military honor including the English Order of the Garter.

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