Giannozzo and His Elders <i>Alberti’s Critique of Renaissance Patriarchy</i>

John M. Najemy

in Society and Individual in Renaissance Florence

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780520232549
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928220 | DOI:
Giannozzo and His Elders Alberti’s Critique of Renaissance Patriarchy

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter presents a new interpretation of Leon Battista Alberti's dialogue, Della famiglia, that contradicts recent readings of the work as a patriarchal text and argues that the author instead reveals the “shaky foundations” of patriarchal ideology. Giannozzo Alberti has recently become a notorious figure. The chapter proposes that Della famiglia can be read as a parody of Renaissance patriarchy and, more specifically, as a critique of the oppressiveness of the power that fathers exercised over their sons, and of the resulting fears and resentments that led these sons to anxious attempts later in life to control every aspect of their lives, including their wives. Alberti's Giannozzo seems equally, though more quietly, skeptical about his connection to the rest of the family and in particular to the Alberti elders. To suggest that Alberti linked misogyny to the oppressive rule of fathers over their sons does not make him a feminist.

Keywords: Leon Battista Alberti; Giannozzo; Della famiglia; patriarchal ideology; Renaissance patriarchy; fathers; sons; elders

Chapter.  13392 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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