In Pursuit of Honor: The Balance between Widowhood and Motherhood in the Letters of Alessandra Strozzi
Wagner College Forum for Undergraduate Research, Volume VIII, Number 2, Spring (2010)
A popular conception of a widow is a woman who is, from the time of her husband’s death on, relegated to a life of mourning. Alessandra Strozzi was most certainly not this type of woman. Seventy-three of Alessandra’s letters to her sons remain, and act as a testament to her active life after her husband’s death. Her letters are composed mostly out of necessity in conducting business with her merchant sons and give valuable insight into the life of a Renaissance widow. After her husband’s death, she made the choice to dedicate her life to continuing the legacy of her husband’s family and to her children, specifically her sons. Alessandra Strozzi was an intelligent woman, even though she received no formal education. She effectively balanced practicality and emotion in her letters to her sons, and was successful at using the power she had as a widow to manage her finances, preserve her husband’s lineage through her sons and establish herself as an honorable widow.