Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Italian Studies

Reader 1

Corey Tazzara

Reader 2

Sabrina Ovan

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Rights Information

© 2017 Leah R Jeffers


Fashion in the Renaissance became intensely political, highly gendered, and anatomized (i.e. emphasizing human anatomy rather than masking it). Court culture placed a particular emphasis on the body of the courtier, as skills such as dancing and dressing fashionably became crucial to political success in states throughout Europe. In sixteenth-century Florence, the Medici attempted to install a duchy in what was at the time a republican city (with strong republican heritage). Florentine fears of foreign domination and resentment towards non-republican forms of government made the Medici’s task nearly impossible. Fashion became a primary pillar of the Medicean political agenda, as the first members of the Medici family to hold official power in the Florentine Grand Duchy (and their wives) dressed quite modestly in comparison to other sixteenth-century heads of state, so as not to appear to have imperial or monarchical pretensions and thus arouse dangerous levels of antipathy from their Florentine subjects. The first Grand Duchess, Eleonora di Toledo, and the second, Giovanna d’Austria, faced an additional challenge as foreign brides marrying into the Medici duchy, as they were themselves representatives of the influence of imperial power in Florentine politics. They both were faced with countless factors to consider as they made choices about how to dress, and each choice had political, social, and economic implications and consequences.