LETTER OF LAURA CERTA


Aristocratic women of the Renaissance were often educated as can be evidenced from the following:

Laura Certa, "Letter to Bibulus Sempronius, 13 January 1488"


You [Bibulus] brashly and publicly not merely wonder but indeed lament that I am said to possess as fine a mind as nature ever bestowed upon the most learned man. You seem to think so learned a woman has scarcely before been seen in the world. You are wrong .... for you have ceased to be a living man, but become animated stone; having rejected the studies which make men wise, you rot in torpid leisure. The explanation is clear: women have been able by nature to be exceptional, but have chosen lesser goals. For some women are concerned with parting their hair correctly, adorning themselves with lovely dresses, ... or standing at mirrors to smear their lovely faces. But those in whom a deeper integrity yearns for virtue, restrain from the start their youthful souls, reflect on higher things, harden the body with sobriety and trials, and curb their tongues, open their ears, compose their thoughts in wakeful hours, their minds in contemplation to letters bonded to righteousness. For knowledge is not given as a gift, but [is gained] with diligence. Nature has generously lavished its gifts upon all people, opening to all the doors of choice through which reason sends envoys to the will .... You pretend that I alone am admirable because of the good fortune of my intellect. But I, compared to other women who have won splendid renown, am but a little mousling. You stumbled half-blind with envy on a wrongful path that leads you from your manhood, from your duty, from God.


Source: Margret L. King and Albert Rabil, Jr. Her Immacluate Hand (Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Stuides; SUNY Binghampton, 1983).


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