What's love got to do with it? Dynastic politics and motherhood in the Letters of Eleonora of Aragon and her Daughters

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This article analyses interpretations of motherhood in letters from the duchess of Ferrara, Eleonora d Aragona, to her daughters, Isabella and Beatrice d Este. Following the girls marriages in 1490 and 1491, the duchess used letters to maintain a close surveillance and authority over them, as well as to offer advice and direction as they established intimacy with their spouses, faced the rigours of childbirth and took on new political responsibilities. In their side of the correspondence, Isabella and Beatrice reveal their anxieties about marriage and transfer to a new environment. The author argues that despite the constraints of writing mainly through secretaries and according to formulaic epistolary conventions, the women communicated effectively, revealing both their struggle to adhere to conventional interpretations of filial and maternal duty and the personal costs borne by them for the sake of their family s dynastic and political survival.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528 - 547
Number of pages20
JournalWomen's History Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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