Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, an Eighteenth-Century Miniaturist and Portrait Painter

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (born 11 April 1749)


Adélaïde Labille was the daughter of Claude-Edme Guilard and Marie-Anne Saint-Martin, the last of their eight children to be born. Claude-Edme was a successful marchand du corps de la mercerie--a haberdasher--his fashionable Parisian boutique, À la Toilette, attracting an elite clientele.

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard with pupils,
detail of Self-Portrait, 1785
Little is known of Adélaïde's early life, though it is likely she spent at least some time in a convent, learning to read and write there.

As far as her formal instruction as an artist, her experience differs from that of many of the women artists about whom I've written in this blog, who were trained by their fathers.

Without this opportunity, Adélaïde was tutored instead by a family friend, François Elie Vincent, a miniaturist whose shop was located near À la Toilette.

As an adolescent, she thus learned and practiced the traditionally "feminine" media of miniatures and pastels. She would later study oil painting with Vincent's son, François-André Vincent.*

While studying with François Elie Vincent, Labille was also able to join the Académie de Saint-Luc, a painter's guild joined by many artists who were not accepted as members of the more prestigious Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. Unlike the Royal Academy, which severely limited women members, the Academy of St. Luke was open to female artists, including not only Labille but also her contemporary, Marie-Louise-Élisabeth Vigée.

In 1769, after the death of her mother, Labille married Louis Nicolas Guiard, a clerk in the office of the Receiver General of the the Clergy of France. Her marriage contract, signed in August of that year, notes her status as a professional painter and member of the Academy of St. Luke.

In 1774, Labille-Guilard exhibited there publicly for the first time. The 1774 Academy of St. Luke exhibition was so successful that the Royal Academy engineered the dissolution of its rival--a royal edict issued in March 1776, abolished all "guilds, brotherhoods, and communities of arts and crafts"--excepting the Royal Academy itself, of course. At the time the Academy of St. Luke was dissolved in 1777, there were 130 women among its members.**

Marie Adélaïde de France, a pastel portrait (1786-7)
of one of the princesses of France,
 Labille-Guiard's royal patrons
The closure of the Academy of St. Luke prompted Labille-Guiard to study oil painting--mastering this medium would, perhaps, allow her to become a member of the Royal Academy, which required an oil painting be submitted as part of an application for admission.

In the mean time, Labille-Guiard separated from her husband (while separation was legal, divorce was not). She continued her work in pastels as well as painting in oil, exhibiting both pastels and oil paintings in the Salon de la Correspondance, which opened in 1778, and was tolerated for just a few years before it too was dissolved.

Labille-Guiard exhibited at the Salon in 1781 and 1782 before she was, at last, admitted to the Royal Academy on the same day, 31 May 1783, that her contemporary,  Marie-Louise-Élisabeth Vigée, was also admitted. Both women were, by this time, well-accomplished and successful artists, and both had royal patrons, Vigée-Le Brun enjoying the patronage of Marie Antoinette, Labille-Guiard the Peintre des Mesdames, the official painter of Louis XVI's aunts, the princesses Marie Adélaïde and Victoire-Louise, and of Élisabeth, the king's sister. Their royal clients thus came from different court factions.

Whether it can be attributed to politics or misogyny--or both--these two women artists, Labille-Guiard and Vigée, were immediately cast as vicious rivals. As Laura Aurrichio describes it: 
The two debuted at the Salon amid a flurry of controversy, and were greeted by a libelous pamphlet filled with sexual and ethical innuendo. Vincent, for instance, was said to have “touched up” Labille-Guiard—referring both to her paintings and her person. Another quip punned that she had 2,000 lovers, because vingt cents (“20 hundreds”) sounds like “Vincent.” Labille-Guiard initiated legal proceedings by appealing to a well-placed patron. “One must expect to have one’s talent ripped apart,” she wrote in a rare extant letter, but “who can plead on behalf of women’s morals?” 
Contemporaries not only smeared both with sexual innuendo but with suggestions that their work was not their own, but "aided" by men, in Labille-Guiard's case, the claim was that she presented work by François-André Vincent as her own.

In his essay on Labille-Guiard in the Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800, Neil Jeffares acknowledges that  the "rivalry between the two [women artists] was intense." That observation seems to place whatever rivalry may have existed in the right context: as professional rather than personal. On the other hand, as the brief note on Labille-Guiard at the Getty Museum website observes, 
Labille-Guiard was often described as a bitter rival of the best-known woman painter of the time, Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Le Brun, but this rivalry was in fact the invention of male artists and critics threatened by their female competitors. 
Whatever the state of the "rivalry" of these two women artists, both women suffered for their association with royal patrons as a result of the French Revolution. While Vigée-Le Brun spent much of the time outside of France, Labille-Guiard was a supporter of the Revolution and remained in Paris. In the Paris Salon of 1791, she exhibited a series of portraits of members of the National Assembly, including that of Robespierre.

Portrait of the Marquise de Lafayette,
oil, 1790
Nevertheless, despite her republican sentiments, her commissions dwindled, and in 1793, she was forced to destroy her largest, most ambitious work, a large group portrait that had been commissioned by the king's brother, The Reception of a Knight of St. Lazare by Monsieur, Grand Master of the Order.

The Royal Academy itself was suspended, by order of the National Assembly, in the same year, 1793 (it resumed three years later, in 1796). She left Paris during the Reign of Terror, retreating to the countryside with François-André Vincent. 

She returned to Paris two years later, in 1795, recognized as one of the nation's savants et artistes awarded a "national recompense," or pension, probably as compensation for damages she had sought after the destruction of her large oil portrait in 1793. At the same time, she was granted an artist's apartment in the Louvre, which she set up as a studio, accepting only women students. (Her petition for such a space had previously been denied because female pupils would "distract" the male artists in residence.)

Meanwhile, after Revolutionary legislation permitted divorce in 1793, she was finally able to divorce Louis Nicolas Guiard. In 1800,  Labille-Guiard married François-André Vincent. She exhibited portraits at the Paris Salon until 1800, and she continued to teach and paint until her death, 24 April 1803.

By the way, the post-Revolutionary successor to the Royal Academy accepted no female members.

A gallery of work by Labille-Guiard is available at The Athenaeum, which you can access by clicking here.

The most extensive discussion of Labille-Guiard's work available online is the essay by Neil Jeffares in Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800, accessed by clicking here. Barbara Morgan's entry on Labille-Guilard, in Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia, is available here.

For a full-length study, I like Laura Auricchio's Adélaïde Labille-Guiard: Artist in the Age of Revolution.

*The younger Vincent had studied painting at the Académie de France. In 1768 he was awarded the Prix de Rome, a scholarship awarded by the prestigious Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. The Royal Academy prize allowed him to study at the Villa Mancini in Rome for a period of three to five years. 

**By contrast, the Royal Academy accepted only 15 women as members in its 145-year history, from 1648 until it was disbanded and reorganized after 1793--during that time there were 450 male members. The first woman artist accepted into the French Royal Academy, founded in 1648, was Catherine Duchemin, on 14 April 1663. The few women artists who made it into the Royal Academy were not accepted on equal status with their male contemporaries--they could not swear the formal oaths male artists did, upon their membership, vowing to uphold the rules of the Academy (aside from marriage vows, women were precluded from swearing oaths), nor could they follow the usual system of apprenticeship and admission. Even their acceptance as members was exceptional--rather than following usual procedures for application, they were granted special admittance. For the best overview of women in the Royal Academy, see Mary D. Sheriff's comments in the Dictionary of Women Artists, pp. 45-48 (click here).
  

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Thomas/sine Hall, "Changed into the Fashion of a Man"

Thomas/ine Hall (appearance in court, 25 March 1629)


According to the records of a 1629 trial in the General Court of Jamestown, Virginia, Thomas Hall claimed to be both a man and a woman--but his/her neighbors were in some doubt. While some agreed that Hall was both man and woman, others claimed that Thomas was a man, still others insisting she was a woman.

The colony of Virginia, 1624
According to the testimony Thomas Hall offered on that occasion, he had been born "at or near Newcastle upon Tyne" around the year 1603. 

Under examination by a Virginia court, Hall said that he was christened as "Thomasine" and was dressed "in women's apparel" as a child. As a girl, she had been sent from Newcastle to live with an aunt in London when she was twelve years old. 

Hall spent the next ten years living in the city, continuing her life as a girl, then young woman, until an older brother was forced into military service, at which point Thomasine Hall became Thomas Hall. 

Thomas Hall testified that when he was twenty-two years old, he "Cut of[f] his heire and Changed his apparell into the fashion of man," following his brother into the British army and fighting in France in the 1627 campaign against Catholic suppression of the Huguenots.

Returning home after his stint in the military, Hall began living once more as a female, this time in Plymouth--in his words, he "'changed himself into woeman's apparell" and worked in female-dominated trades, making "bone lace" and doing "other worke with his needle." 

But then Hall moved on again, deciding to travel to the colony of Virginia; as Hall describes it, he once more changed "his apparel into the habit of a man and so came over into this country." Arriving in  Jamestown, probably around 1627, when he would have been twenty-four years old, Hall seems once again to have lived and worked at least some of the time as a woman, before relocating to Warrosquyoacke, a small settlement across the river from Jamestown where tobacco planters were in need of workers--preferably male workers. In Warrosquyoacke, Thomasine Hall once again became Thomas Hall. 

This transformation triggered rumors among his neighbors (especially his female neighbors), particularly focused on Hall's sexuality, and there were reports of Hall's having "layen with a mayd of Mr. Richard Bennetts."

To settle the case, Hall was examined first by a group of women, and after a physical "searching" of Hall's body, the three women agreed that "hee was a man." But John Tyos, Hall's "master," disagreed with these findings, insisting that the women were wrong and that Hall was, in fact, a woman. 

These conflicting views of Hall's sexual identity--and his body--produced the statement that confounded his initial examiner in Warrosquyoacke. When Hall was brought for further examination by Captain Nathaniel Bass, Bass asked Hall directly whether "he" were a man or, in fact, a woman. Hall replied "he was both man and woman."

At this point, Hall offered Bass a description of his genitals. He had "a peece of flesh growing at the . . . belly as bigg as the topp of his little finger [an] inch long," but that "hee had not the use of the man's p[ar]te." That is, he had a penis, but this penis did not work. Bass decided that, if Hall's penis didn't work, or work correctly, that physical evidence was decisive. Bass ordered Hall to wear women's clothing.

But Bass's decision didn't end the matter. While Hall's new employer, John Atkins, remained convinced that Hall was a woman, the women who had examined Hall weren't satisfied. The group examined Hall's body once more, this time without his consent. As Hall slept, the women inspected Hall's body, confirming their original findings: Hall was a man. And they went further, insisting that Atkins examine Hall's body for himself.

Yet Atkins seemed to be so convinced that Hall was a woman--and thus, certain that for him to examine "her" body was inappropriate--when the sleeping Hall (whom Atkins described as "shee") moved in her sleep, Atkins decided he couldn't remove a woman's clothing or inspect her body underneath her clothing and refused to investigate Hall any further. 

Since the case was still unclear, the group decided that there had to be a third inspection of Hall's body, to take place on the following Sunday. On this occasion, Atkins did inspect Hall's "peece of flesh," and after doing so, asked Hall "if that were all hee had." Perhaps Atkins, like Hall himself, doubted the significance of the small "peece of flesh." 

Hall then revealed to Atkins that he also had "a peece of an hole." Atkins told Hall to "shew" what he assumed was evidence that Hall was, indeed, a woman, but when the group was unable to find a vulva, Atkins concluded that Hall was, after all, a man, ordering him to "bee put into" men's clothing. 

Atkins also urged Captain Bass to punish Hall for his "abuse," and Bass decided to reverse his earlier ruling--he proclaimed also Hall a man. Hall's situation was, if possible, even worse--now other members of the colony felt free to examine Hall's body for themselves.

Two men, Francis England and Roger Rodes, had heard that Hall, as a man, "had layen with a mayd," Bennet's servant named "Great Besse." (This is the rumor that had first triggered the investigation into Hall.) As Rodes said, "Hall thou hast beene reported to be a woman and now thou art p[ro]ved to bee a man, I will see what thou carriest." The two men wrestled Hall onto his back. As Rodes later testified, when he "felt the said Hall and pulled out his members," he found him to be "a perfect man."

Unsure of what punishment Hall should suffer for his transgressions, officials in Warrosquyoacke sent Hall to the General Court in Jamestown--which decided not to inspect Hall's body. Instead, the Court decided to hear the testimony of Francis England and John Atkins and then to hear Hall's story as he told it. 

After hearing the evidence, the Court decided that Hall should be compelled to wear men's clothing--but that to men's "breeches," he must also wear "a Coyfe and Croscloth with an Apron before him"--that is, that he, like a woman, must cover his head with a coif and that he wear a woman's garment, an apron, over his male clothing. 

Historian Kathleen Brown describes the final judgment of the Court:
Both the evidence gathered by the community and Hall's own historical narrative of identity figured in the General Court's sentence of Hall. Compelling Hall to don men's breeches, the court acknowledged the weight of the physical manifestations of sex that were of such importarnce to the diligent matrons of Warrosquyoacke. . . . But the court did not find the physical evidence or the sentence of an imposed (and permanent) male identity sufficient.
Thus his "identity" as a man was to be overlaid with signs of womanhood.  

On the one hand, this punishment seems not as harsh as it might have been. Fornication was a crime, but nothing came of Hall's purported sexual act with "Great Besse." Hall's possible sexuality was further confused when he told Francis England, who wanted to know why he sometimes dressed as a woman, "I go in woman's apparel to get a bit for my cat," by which he could mean that he "dressed as a woman in order to obtain sexual access to a man," or, as Brown suggests, that he dressed as a woman so he could money as a prostitute.

Hall could have been charged with an even more serious crime: cross-dressing was a capital offense, punishable by death. But Hall was not prosecuted for this crime either. 

On the other, the punishment ordered by the Court was not designed to accommodate Hall's identity as "both man and woman" but, rather to "publish" Hall's case so that "all the Inhabitants there may take notice thereof"--and, of course, to insure his "good behavior" until the Court decided to "discharge him." And the punishment meant Hall could no longer move back freely and freely between identities as male or female, as he might desire or circumstances, like employment opportunities, might dictate. Nor, dressed in this way, would Hall be able to maintain privacy within the community

After the 1629 General Court case, Thomas/sine Hall disappears from the record. 

For this account of Thomas/sine Hall, I have relied on Kathleen Brown's "Changed . . . into the Fashion of Man": The Politics of Sexual Difference in a Seventeenth-Century Anglo-American Settlement, Journal of the History of Sexuality 6, no. 2 (1995): 171-93. This essay, alone with the original documents of the 1629 examination of Hall, is included in Kathy Peiss's Major Problems in the History of American Sexuality: Documents and Essays.


An excellent summary of the case and original documents is at Outhistory. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Catalina de Erauso, "the Lieutenant Nun"

Catalina de Erauso (escapes her convent, 18 March 1600)


According to her autobiography, Catalina de Erauso was born in 1585, although the surviving record of her baptism notes a date of 1592--just a small indication of the confusion about many of the details of her tumultuous, adventure-filled life.

But, really, even if Erauso has exaggerated (or even misrepresented) some aspects of her life, what a life it was!

Catalina de Erauso, c. 1626,
attributed to  Juan van der Hamen
Born in the Basque town of San Sebastián, Catalina was the daughter of Miguel de Erauso, a captain in the Spanish army, and of Maria Pérez de Gallarraga y Arce.

When she was four years old (she gives the year as 1589 in her autobiography), the girl and her two sisters were sent to be educated at the Dominican convent of San Sebastián el Antiguo, where her mother's sister was prioress. 

Catalina says nothing more about convent life, noting only that, when she was fifteen, she had a series of increasingly heated encounters with members of the community. Finally, seeing a chance of escape, she took it, fleeing the convent on the night of 18 March 1600 and entering a world that she "had never seen before." 

At that point, she changed her identity. "I don’t know where I headed," she writes, "but I ended up in a chestnut grove out behind the rear of the convent. There I hid out for three days tracing and cutting clothing. I made myself a pair of trousers from a skirt of blue cloth that I had, and a shirt and leggings from the green shift that I wore underneath. Not knowing what to make of the rest of my habit, I left it there. I cut off my hair and threw it away."

From this moment on, Catalina de Erauso lived much, but not all, of her life as a man. Her decision seems at first purely practical, a way to avoid being identified and returned to convent life, but also a way to avoid the perils of traveling alone as a woman. At the same time, however, her life as a uman seems also to correspond to other needs and desires as well. 

As you can well imagine, gender and sexuality scholars have focused a great deal of attention on the both the "real" life of Catalina de Erauso (as it can be reconstructed) and the written (and constructed) life of Catalina de Erauso, la monja alférez ("the lieutenant nun)

Catalina de Erauso first came to my attention in 1996, when Lieutenant Nun: Memoir of a Basque Transvestite Nun in the New World, translated by Michele Stepto and Gabriel Stepto, was published. In her introduction to the volume, gender theorist Marjorie Garber focuses the attention of the reader on difficulties of addressing questions of gender and identity in Catalina de Erauso's autobiography. "How can we assess the erotic, social, and political effects of cross-dressing at a remove of almost four centuries, in the context of a culture very different from our own, and as described in a Spanish-language text?" asks Garber. "The short answer, of course, is that we can't," she answers.
When Catalina de Erauso fights duels, steals money, leads soldiers into battle, rescues a woman in distress, evades the marriage plans of hopeful widows and their daughters, and marches across league upon league of uncharted Peruvian terrain, it is tempting to see in her tale an allegory of early modern woman's emergent subjectivity. . . . When Catalina flirts with two young women, "frolicking" and "teasing," it might seem intriguing to read this as lesbianism avant la lettre, an instance of female homosexuality or, at the very least, love play between women. Yet all these readings are allegorical--that is to say, they are readings of her story as a story about something else--as indeed saints' and others' lives have been offered in the literary annals of her time and ours--as exempla, as indications of deeper or higher truths.
In 1996, when this English translation of Erauso's autobiography was published, the identification of this seventeenth-century figure as "transvestite" was controversial and contested. Now, more than twenty years later, the discussion is still complicated, with many scholars of gender and sexuality suggesting Erauso was transgender, still others continuing the debate about trying to understand the identity of a seventeenth-century person using twenty-first century concepts.

What follows here is just a brief summary of Catalina's life. After leaving the convent, Erauso has a series of adventures in a number of Spanish cities, serving a variety of masters in a variety of roles under a number of different names, including Pedro de Orive, Francisco de Loyola, Alonso Diaz Ramirez de Guzman and Antonio de Erauso. At times Erauso either meets or serves some members of her own family--cousins, her aunt, even her father--who never recognize her.

At last Erauso decides to travel to the Americas, where, as a man, he lives a riotous life, the autobiography recounting all kinds of madcap adventures, fights and brawls, and sexual misadventures. At one point, "he" is almost forced to marry a woman, at another, "he" is dismissed when caught in a compromising position with a young woman.

Eventually Catalina joins the Spanish army, using the name Alonso Díaz Ramírez de Guzmán. As a man, Erauso serves in Chile, Peru, and Bolivia, eventually earning the rank of lieutenant, recognized for brutality and efficiency. After another dizzying array of adventures and misadventures--he is promoted, he is suspended, he is imprisoned, he deserts the army, he commits heinous crimes, including murder, for which he is condemned to death and then reprieved--in 1623 Erauso is forced to reveal "her" identity as a woman. Her revelation is a last desperate act; about to be executed, she "confesses" to the local bishop, Francisco Verdugo Cabrerathat she is not only a woman but that she is a virgin, having been brought up in a convent.

As she tells the story in her memoir, the "truth" is this: "I am a woman; that I was born in such-and-such a place, daughter of such-and-such man and woman; that I was placed at a certain age in such-and-such a convent with my aunt so-and-so; that I grew up there, took the habit and became a novice; that, about to take the vows, I ran off; that I went to such-and-such a place, stripped, dressed myself as a man, cut off my hair, travelled here and there, went to sea, roamed, hustled, corrupted, maimed, and murdered, until coming to end up here at his Lordship’s feet.”

Sent back to Spain, Catalina gains notoriety and attempts to get a military pension, in recognition for her years of service. The documents in her petition include her relación de méritos y servicios ("account of merits and services") and a number of testimonies of witnesses. These records from her 1625-26 appeal preserve a great deal of the verifiable information about her. It is during this same period that she is said to have written or dictated (accounts vary) her memoir. 

Catalina de Erauso is eventually awarded her military pension. In addition, she is also granted another, more unusual request: she asks to be allowed to continue living as a man, and she receives official permission to do so. In 1630 Erauso returns to the Americas, living the last twenty years of his life in Mexico as Antonio de Erauso. 

Notions about Catalina de Erauso's gender and sexuality are thus confused and confusing. In the memoir, she uses female pronouns to refer to herself when she is living as a woman, male pronouns for her life as a man, a practice I've tried to reproduce here, though I remain unclear about which pronouns to use--if she were transgender, I would use the pronoun s/he uses--but I'm not at all sure about what "correct" usage might be in Erauso's case.

There are also questions about the genre of Catalina's work--is it autobiography? Or confession? Or an adventure story? Is it "true" at all, in any sense of that word?

1829 edition of Catalina de Erauso's
memoir
And there are questions about the authenticity of the memoir, which wasn't published until the nineteenth century. Did Catalina de Erauso "write" this story of her life? There is no surviving manuscript, nor is there any copy of a supposed seventeenth-century printed edition. There is a reference to a supposed manuscript copy in the eighteenth century, a copy of which was eventually published in France in 1829. 

I don't know the answer to any of these questions, though I do enjoy the lively scholarly debate about Catalina de Erauso and the memoir attributed to her. And, while I never taught this text, I did share it with a number of students in the years that I taught, for one of whom it proved to be a transformative text.

I could see the young woman in my class was struggling--she was absent far too many days, she wasn't doing the course reading, and she was missing assignments. She also missed the day students signed up for topics for an independent research assignment--when she came by my office, she was uninterested in the few remaining topics on the list. So I handed her a copy of the 1996 English translation of Erauso's memoir--maybe she'd be interested in this, I suggested.

She took the book. I'd like to say it saved her life--she didn't do all that well in the course, but she did complete it, and she didn't commit suicide, which is what she was threatening to do (and what I feared).

And two years later, happy, writing like mad, and active in the gay and lesbian group on campus, she stopped by my office one day to say thank you. The story of Catalina de Erauso had been an inspiration. 

The 1996 English translation of Catalina de Erauso's memoir is still in print--you can access it by clicking here. And, if you search "lieutenant nun" on the Amazon website, you will see a number of critical works, focusing on gender and sexuality, about Catalina de Erauso, and while they seem to be out of print, used copies are available.

For an introduction to the critical issues, I recommend Isabel Hernández's essay, "From Spain to the Americas, from the Convent to the Front: Catalina de Erauso's Shifting Identities," originally published in L'Homme, available online through Eurozine (click here).

While you can buy a copy of the memoir, you can also access it freely online. In English, the memoir is available through the Early Americas Digital Archive; the translation, by Dan Harvey Pedrick, can be accessed by clicking here. For a Spanish edition, available through the Biblioteca virtual de Miguel Cervantes, click here.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Mary Anning, Fossil Hunter

Mary Anning (died 9 March 1847)


Born in 1799 in Lyme Regis, a coastal down in Dorset (England), Mary Anning was the daughter of Richard Anning and Mary Moore. (Of the ten children born to the couple, only Mary and her brother, Joseph, survived to adulthood.)

Mary Anning with her dog, Tray
Richard Anning was a carpenter and cabinetmaker by trade, but in order to supplement the family's income, both Richard and his wife searched for fossils on what is now called the "Jurassic Coast"--the southern coastal cliffs and beaches of England noted for the fossil remains found there. These "curiosities" were sold on to those visiting the area.

Not much is known about Anning's childhood, and she seems to have received little formal education beyond learning to read and write.

But she learned a great deal about fossil-hunting from her family's expeditions, and Anning would later teach herself geology, paleontology, anatomy and scientific illustration.

After Richard Anning's death in 1810, the family's need was dire--at the time of his death, Richard left his two young children and his pregnant wife without means of support beyond charity and fossil-hunting, work which both Mary and her brother undertook. 

Together the siblings discovered the first complete Ichthyosaurus in 1811, with Richard finding what he believed was a crocodile skull and then, several months later, the twelve-year-old Mary finding the remainder of the skeleton. She excavated the entire fossil remains, which were then sold. 

The Annings' discovery "was used as the basis for the first ever scientific paper written about the ichthyosaur, published in 1814 by Everard Home." While the British physician received wide recognition for his work, the contribution of Mary and Joseph Anning was not acknowledged. (Not all of their contacts ignored their contributions, however--in 1821, recognizing the family's continued poverty, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas James Birch, a wealthy collector, auctioned off all the fossil specimens he had purchased from the Annings in order to secure their financial situation.)

By 1816, Joseph Anning began working as an apprentice to an upholsterer, leaving the "family business" of fossil-hunting to Mary. In 1823, she is credited with having discovered the first intact Pleisiosaurus skeleton, and in 1828, she discovered the first British pterosaur specimen, later known as a Pterodactulus. In 1829, she discovered and excavated a Squaloraja, a fossil fish.

Anning's 1824 sketch of a Pleiiosaur

In addition to her discoveries, Anning read (and copied) scientific papers, including their illustrations, carried out dissections, and became an expert anatomist. She was consulted by geologists and paleontologists and made innumerable contributions to the work of men of science--more often than not without acknowledgment or recognition. 

As one of her friends and companions, Anna Pinney, noted, "She says the world has used her ill. . . [T]hese men of learning have sucked her brains, and made a great deal of publishing works, of which she furnished the contents, while she derived none of the advantages."

As a woman, Anning could not claim membership in the British Association for the Advancement of Science (founded in 1831) or the Geological Society of London (founded in 1807), but in 1838 members of these scientific associations raised money to provide an annuity for her support.  

Fossil-hunting was both physically taxing and dangerous--Manning was nearly killed by a landslide in 1833 (a disaster that resulted in the death of her "old faithful dog," Tray, who accompanied her on her dangerous excavations). She spent the last years of her life suffering from a variety of illnesses, eventually dying from breast cancer at the age of forty-seven. 

The assessment of her life and work offered by the Lyme Regis Museum, which exhibits some of her fossil finds, provides an excellent insight into her scientific contributions:
Mary Anning’s discoveries were some of the most significant geological finds of all time. They provided evidence that was central to the development of new ideas about the history of the Earth. Her opinions were sought and she was acknowledged as an expert in many areas, including the rather unglamorous coprolites (fossil faeces). She played a key role in informing the work of her learned, male contemporaries, notably William Buckland, Henry de la Beche and William Conybeare. By the time of her death, geology was firmly established as its own scientific discipline.
Mary’s contribution had a major impact at a time when there was little to challenge the biblical interpretation of the story of creation and of the flood. The spectacular marine reptiles that Mary unearthed shook the scientific community into looking at different explanations for changes in the natural world.
And while I usually bitch to anyone who will listen about the deficiencies of the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica when it comes to their treatment of notable women, the EB does contain an entry for Mary Anning. The essay, by John P. Rafferty, concludes, 
After [Mary Anning] died of breast cancer in 1847, the president of the Geological Society eulogized her in his annual address, even though the first women would not be admitted to the organization until 1904. In 2010 she was recognized by the Royal Society as one of the 10 most influential women scientists in British history.
Today there is an excellent account of Mary Anning's life and work at the Natural History Museum in London--which is where I first encountered her!

There are several biographies about Mary Anning, but they all seem to be children's books . . . Sigh.


Anning display at the Natural History Museum, London





Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Joan Carlile, England's First Professional Female Artist

Joan Palmer Carlile (buried 27 February 1679)


Not much is known about the life of Joan Palmer, who was the daughter of William Palmer, a official of the royal parks of St. James's and Spring Gardens (under James I), and his wife, a woman named Mary. 

Joan was likely born about the year 1606, and in 1626 she married the poet and playwright Lodowick Carlile (sometimes "Carlell") who was, like her father, an official in the Royal Parks system, in his case Keeper of the Great Forest in Richmond Park. He was also a courtier, Gentleman of the Bows for Charles I and a groom to the King and Queen's Privy Chamber.

The Stag Hunt, by Joan Palmer Carlile--
Carlile, her husband, and two children (left)
are painted along with the family of Sir Justinian Isham,
in Richmond Park
While she had no formal training--or, at least, we do not know how she acquired the rudiments of painting technique--Carlile soon distinguished herself as an amateur painter.

Her work attracted the attention of King Charles I, and she seems to have begun her professional life as an artist by copying original Italian paintings and reproducing them as miniatures.

She and her "mentor," Sir Anthony Van Dyck, who must have provided her with some kind of encouragement, if not instruction, are known to have received an impressive gift from the king of ultramarine paint, said to be valued at £500.

While she may have begun as an untrained amateur copying the original work of others, Carlile and her husband did relocate from Richmond to Covent Garden, which was then a center of artistic production. She also gained some measure of recognition for her work. In his 1658 work on contemporary artists, Sir William Sanderson wrote about Carlile in his Graphice, the Excellent Art of Painting, noting that she "excelled" in "oil colors." 

She did produce a number of portraits which seem to have been influenced by Van Dyck's court paintings. A relatively small number of these paintings, only ten, are now known, including a portrait of Lady Dorothy Browne and her husband, Sir Thomas Browne, now in the National Portrait Gallery; a portrait of Elizabeth Murray, countess of Dysart and duchess of Lauderdale, in Thirlestane Castle; a portrait of Elizabeth Murray, countess of Dysart, with her husband (her first husband) and her sister, Margaret Murray, lady Maynard, National Trust, Ham House; and The Stag Hunt (reproduced above), Lamport Hall. (To view and learn more, I'll link you to the Art UK website here.) 

Carlile's Portrait of an unidentified woman,
wearing a white satin dress
In 2016, the Tate Britain acquired Portrait of an Unknown Lady. When this painting was first offered for sale at auction in 2014, it was assumed to be the work of a male artist and offered as such, but art historian Bendor Grosvenor (one of my current crushes--who doesn't love a smart, diffident, quietly funny man?) recognized the painting as Carlile's work: "When it was listed for auction the painting was thought to have been by a bloke, but I recognised it as Carlile's from the sale notice as her style is quite recognisable if you know what it looks like." (For The Telegraph's article on the acquisition of Carlile's work by the Tate, click here.)

Carlile is now recognized as the "first professional female painter" in England. (See Grosvenor's article on Carlile in Art History News, for example.)

In her will, Carlile refers to other works, now lost (or unrecognized as hers): "the princess in white satin" (which may be the Portrait of an Unknown Lady--the unknown woman in the painting is wearing a dress of what looks like white satin) and "the little St. Katherine and the Mercury." So there may be more works emerging at some point. We can dream . . . 

The best information for Carlile comes from the Historical Dictionary of British Women; you can access the entry by clicking here.

One of Joan Carlile's miniatures,
possibly a portrait of Barbara Villiers







https://books.google.com/books?id=pDtEe4FKolUC&q=Carlile#v=snippet&q=Carlile&f=false

Friday, February 23, 2018

Milburgha of Wenlock, Patron Saint of Birds

Milburgha of Wenlock (died 23 February 715)


Milburgha (or Mildburh) of Wenlock was the daughter of Merwald (or Merewalh), a minor king in Mercia, one of the seven kingdoms in Anglo-Saxon Britain, and of his wife, "Domina Aebbe" (Lady Aebbe)--according to legend, Queen Aebbe was the granddaughter of Eadbald, king of Kent from 616 to 640. 

An imagined portrait of Milburgha of Wenlock,
painted in the seventeenth century by
Juan de Roelas
Milburga's mother was one of three sisters who became saints--she is most frequently referred to as St. Ermenburga, although this seems to be the name of her sister . . .

The three sisters--Milburga's mother and two aunts--are St. Ermenburga (more properly St. Aebbe), perhaps the founder of a double Benedictine abbey in Thanet;* St. Ermengitha, who served as a nun in the abbey at Thanet; and St. Etheldreda of Kent (there's another, earlier and much better known St. Etheldreda as well, but she's not this one).

As for Milburga, she was also one of three sisters, the eldest of the daughters born to Merwald and Aebbe--like her mother and her two sisters, Milburga and her two sisters were dedicated to the religious life, and all three became saints. 

As her story goes, Milburgha was much sought after as a wife by a neighboring prince--and he refused to take no for an answer. Resorting to violence, he attempted to take the young woman by force, but she fled from him and his invading army. She managed to cross a river, and her pursuer was foiled when the river became impassable. 

After her fortunate escape, she seems to have been in France, where she was educated at Chelles Abbey, a Benedictine double monastery near Paris. 

According to at least one account of Milburgha's life, she returned to England and founded the nunnery of Wenlock (now Much Wenlock), with the assistance of endowments provided by her uncle, the king of Mercia, and by her father. But other sources offer different information--that Milburgha did become a nun at Wenlock, but that the double monastery had been founded by her father and Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury and was, at the time of her entry, headed by a French abbess, Liobinde of Chelles. In this account, Milburgha succeeded her predecessor as head of the monastery. (On its web page, the village of Stoke-St. Milborough offers several versions of Milburgha's origins, the incident with the would-be husband, and her entrance into the religous life--to access it and its four "versions" of her story, click here.)

The convent flourished under Milburgha, not least because of her remarkable power over birds--she could keep them from damaging crops. Noted for her humility, Milburgha was also credited with restoring sight to the blind and with the gift of healing. 

Milburgha died on 23 February 715. Milburgha's Wenlock was destroyed by the Danes, but the site was rebuilt in the twelfth century by Cluniac monks, who also believed that they had located Milburgha's bones--they established their rebuilt monastery as a pilgrimage site.

The ruins of Wenlock are of the later Cluniac Abbey, built on the site
of Milburgha's Wenlock, destroyed by the Danes. 

As for Milburgha's sisters: Saint Mildred (or Mildred) became abbess of Thanet, her mother's abbey, while Saint Mildgith seems to have first entered the religious life in a monastery in Kent before succeeding Mildred as abbess of Thanet.


*According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, a double monastery is a religious institution
comprising communities of both men and women, dwelling in contiguous establishments, united under the rule of one superior, and using one church in common for their liturgical offices. The reason for such an arrangement was that the spiritual needs of the nuns might be attended to by the priests of the male community, who were associated with them more closely than would have been possible in the case of entirely separate and independent monasteries.
This form of monastic foundation was frequently seen in Anglo-Saxon England, where the institutions of monks and nuns were governed by abbesses, such as the renowned Hilda of Whitby


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Back to the Future, Part 8: Killing Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Back to the Future, Part 8: Another School Shooting 

Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Feminist, Environmentalist, Writer


It seems cruelly ironic that the latest mass killing in America happened at a school named for Marjory Stoneman Douglas, who dedicated herself to improving lives. 

Cruel and ironic, but then, what do we expect?

Marjory Stoneman Douglas,
Photo credit: Friends of the Everglades
The shooting spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School occurred on day 45 of the year 2018--day 45 of the new year, Valentine's Day, in fact, but already the 18th school shooting of the year.

In other words, during 2018, we have experienced one school shooting every 60 hours. Put in still other terms, we have a school shooting every 2.5 days. 

And that's "only" counting school shootings. There have already been 30 mass shootings in 2018. 

And we are only in the 7th week of the year.

For this year's statistics, check out the Gun Violence Archive--there have been 6,621 "incidents" involving gun violence this year in the United States, resulting in 1,835 deaths. On Day 45 of 2018.

I've written before about gun violence on this blog, many times, in fact. (I'm linking here only to the most recent post, from last November, on the occasion of, what else, a mass shooting.)

But today, instead of focusing on young, angry, white men, often with ties to white nationalism, who commit the majority of these atrocities, I thought I'd focus instead on some other aspect of their crimes. 

In this case, as news reports unspooled online and on the television screen, I wondered about the woman for whom Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was named. Who was she, I asked myself

Was that just avoidance? If so, the time I spent answering my question was not time ill-spent.

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 7 April 1890, Marjory Stoneman would later recall an incident from her early childhood that was a sign of the course her life would take. She said that when she was five years old, her father read Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha to her.  When Hiawatha commanded a birch tree to give him its bark so that he could make a canoe, she broke into "loud sobs," asking her father "why should the birch tree have to give up his bark just because Hiawatha wanted to build a canoe?" 

"I couldn't stand it," she said. (I also love her reflections on her lost childhood copy of Alice in Wonderland: "Some fiend in human form must have borrowed it and not brought it back.") Reflecting on her memory about Hiawatha, she later concluded that it was her "first really independent thought." 

Stoneman's parents divorced not long after. her father moving to Florida while Stoneman and her mother headed to Taunton, Massachusetts, where they would live with her mother's family.

Life with her mother's family was difficult--her mother's mental health was unstable, and the family criticized Stoneman's father for his unsuccessful business ventures. About this period in her childhood, Stoneman concluded that the "dislocation" of her life "made me something of a skeptic and a dissenter."

But she loved her education, begun at Barnam Street Elementary. Stoneman noted that, because employment opportunities were so limited for women in the 1890s, she had excellent (female) teachers and instruction. "There wasn't much that literate women could do except teach school," she observed, "maybe that accounted for the wonderful teaching we had."

By the age of sixteen, she had also begun her writing career, receiving a Gold Badge from St. Nicholas Magazine for her contribution in the category of "puzzle-making." Her puzzle was, as she described it, "Double the Headings and Curtailings." 

Just six months later, in June 1907, she was awarded a junior writing prize by the Boston Herald for her short story, "An Early Morning Paddle," about a young boy on a camping trip who paddles out to the middle of a late one morning in order to watch the sun rise.

By 1908, Stoneman had graduated high school and enrolled in Wellesley College, where she would major in English. She graduated four years later, in 1912, the same year as her mother's death. Although she had a college degree, Stoneman found that there were still few employment opportunities for the educated woman, and so she enrolled in a training program that would qualify her to teach salesgirls and do a bit of "personnel work."

She finished the course, which enabled her to take a job at a department store in St. Louis, where her job was "to make out sales slips and to teach the cash girls some grammar." If one of these "girls" ran into trouble, Stoneman was also supposed "to straighten her out."

After a few months, she moved on to Bamberger's department store in Newark, where she became the "educational director"--though, as she notes, "why department stores had educational directors I never really understood." 

Lonely and drifting aimlessly, Stoneman met Kenneth Douglas, a tall, thin, good-looking man who was an "ordinary dresser with good manners"--as she describes him--and thirty years older than she was. Within three months of their first meeting, on 18 April 1914, they were married. 

Marjory Stoneman, now Marjory Stoneman Douglas, does not shy away from telling about her disastrous marriage in her autobiographical Voice of the River, which I've quoted from here. Kenneth Douglas proved to be both a conman and a fraud (and possibly a bigamist)--by the fall of 1915, Marjory was persuaded to divorce him, and she moved to Miami, Florida, reunited with her father, whom she had not seen since her childhood.

(While Stoneman Douglas does discuss her marriage, a more complete account, including sordid details Marjory had not included in her autobiography, is found in Jack E. Davis's An Everglades Providence: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the American Environmental Century.)

In Florida, Stoneman Douglas joined the staff of her father's newspaper. Frank Stoneman had gone to work for The Miami Evening Post, which had been purchased in 1910 and renamed the Miami Herald. Stoneman Douglas began her career in journalism as a society columnist, but soon her life changed once more.

In 1917, the Herald arranged for Stoneman Douglas to meet and write a story about the first Florida woman to enlist in the U. S. Naval Reserve. Although the woman never showed up for her interview (or her enlistment), Stoneman Douglas still got the story, reporting to the Herald, "I got the story on the first woman to enlist. It turned out to be me." 

Stoneman Douglas served during from 1917 to 1918, but, not finding the routine much to her liking, she volunteered to serve in the American Red Cross. In her work in Europe, she traveled to France, England, Italy, Belgium, and the Balkans, reporting on conditions for war refugees.  

When she finally returned to Miami, she again joined the Herald, where she had a column from 1920 to 1923. But then she quit the paper--she worked as a freelance reporter from 1923 until 1990, an astonishingly long career. (Stoneman Douglas did not die until 1998, at the age of 108!!)

In addition to her writing, Marjory Stoneman Douglas became an activist. Proud of her family's abolitionist ties (she was related to the anti-slavery Coffin family), she was a charter member of the first chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union in the American south, and she worked to improve living conditions in racially segregated Coconut Grove.

She was a supporter of the women's suffrage movement and of the Equal Rights Amendment. She was also a supporter of the Florida Rural Legal Services group, whose aim was protecting migrant laborers.

Stoneman Douglas is best known today for her environmental work on behalf of the Florida Everglades, joining the fight to preserve the Everglades as a national park. In 1947, she published The Everglades: River of Grass, a work that "significantly impacted the environmental history of Florida by redefining the Everglades as a source of free flowing fresh water essential to both the people and wildlife of the region." 

First edition cover, 1947

In her lifetime, Marjory Stoneman Douglas published news articles and editorials, short stories, a play, and non-fiction environmental writing. Works by and about her are available at the Internet Archive. A useful bibliography is available at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas: Writer and Conservationist website; you will find it by clicking here. This website also offers an incredible digital archive of Stoneman Douglas's papers, including book manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, diaries, newspaper articles, photographs, and correspondence.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas is also a subject in Ken Burns's documentary series The National Parks: America's Best Idea. You can access a companion biographical essay, with links, by clicking here.

I've learned a lot in these last few hours by reading about the life and work of Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Unfortunately, when you Google her name, what now comes up is link after link to a horrible mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Many lives have been lost in yet another senseless tragedy--including that of Marjory Stoneman Douglas.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Alfonsina Orsini, Regent of the Republic Florence

Alfonsina Orsini, regent of Florence (died 7 February 1520)


Born in 1472, the daughter of Roberto Orsini and Catherine Sanseverino, Alfonsina Orsini was raised at the court of Ferrante of Naples (her father, who died of plague in 1479, served as a captain in Ferrante's army, and his daughter was named after Ferrante's father and his son, both named Alfonso). The year of Alfonsina's birth is calculated based on a reference in a diplomatic letter to Lorenzo de'Medici from Naples, which describes her as having "more than fourteen years."

She married to Piero  di Lorenzo de' Medici, the eldest son of Lorenzo "il magnifico" ("the Magnificent")--though Piero was known by a much less happy honorific than his father--he was known as Piero "the Unfortunate"!

A Botticelli portrait believe to represent
Alfonsina Orsini

Political motives--and the potential for a huge dowry--lay behind the Medici negotiations for Alfonsina's marriage to the son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who hoped to strengthen his ties with Naples and with the powerful Orsini family, one of the most influential in Rome. 

But Alfonsina and her future husband were related--Piero's mother was Clarice Orsini. Thus Alfonsino and her future mother-in-law were both Orsinis, though each belonged to a different "branch" of that family.*

Not only were Piero's mother and his bride both members of the large Orsini family, with its many lines of descent, but his grandmother, Maddalena Orsini, was the sister of Alfonsina's father. (Not to mention the fact that Maddalena and her husband, Jacopo Orsini, were cousins . . . Family values and "traditional marriage"!!! Yikes!)

And so Piero and Alfonsina needed a papal dispensation in order to ensure the validity of their marriage. And a papal dispensation, granted by Innocent VIII, was received.

Although Alfonsina and Piero's marriage, by proxy, took place in 1486, the two did not meet and begin their married life together until 1488, when they celebrated a lavish wedding in Rome in February before making their way to Florence, where Alfonsina arrived in May.

For the first years of her married life, Alfonsina performed her duties as a wife, giving birth to two children, a daughter, Clarice (b. 1489), and a son, Lorenzo (b. 1492), both named for Piero's parents, Lorenzo and Clarice (Orsini). Alfonsina may also have given birth to third child, Luisa (b. 1494), but there are no further references to her.

In addition to bearing children, Alfonsina, like other women in her marital family and of her social status, was a patron of religious charities and institutions, a patron of the arts, and an intercessor for those who appealed to her to with their requests for aid, for jobs, and for legal assistance. 

Alfonsina's father-in-law, Lorenzo, died in 1492; it was after Lorenzo's death that Alfonsina's  husband, who had been raised to become not only the head of the Medici family but also to follow his father as the de facto ruler of Florence, became "the unfortunate." 

A fifteenth- or sixteenth-century medal
in honor of Alfonsina Orsini
Unsuited to the role skillfully managed by his father, Piero was soon overwhelmed by events. After Charles VIII of France invaded Italy, Piero proved unequal to the political and military challenges to the Florentine state. Piero and other male members of the Medici family were banned from the city in 1494.

Despite a public revolt that resulted in the looting of the Medici palace, Alfonsina remained behind in Florence, attempting not only to defend Medici interests but her own. Her dowry had been seized as part of Medici assets.

In this crisis, Alfonsino's mother, Catherine Sanseverino, proved to be a crucial supporter. A contemporary chronicler describes her as "a woman of authority and management ability." Historian Natalie Tomas writes that "it may well have been Caterina di Sanseverino who took the lead with Alfonsina learning by example from this Neapolitan noblewoman who was politically experienced and astute."

The negotiations were ultimately a success, at least as far as Alfonsina's proclamation as a rebel, along with the Medici men, was concerned--the French king, Charles VIII, compelled the new government in Florence to allow Alfonsina to remain in the city.

However, her continued efforts to regain her assets resulted in growing condemnation by both the government and citizens of Florence, who saw her maneuvering negatively, not on behalf of her husband and children, but on her own behalf. She was condemned for greed and corruption.

In May of 1495, Alfonsina applied to the new government of the city for permission to leave Florence and go to Rome, but her appeal was denied. Months later, she left the city without permission, joining her husband in Siena. (Her mother remained in Florence, where she died in 1497.)

After Piero's death in 1503, Alfonsina's fortunes reversed themselves. She relocated to Rome and worked to rebuild support for the Medici family, then returned to Florence, though briefly, in 1507, so that she could reclaim her financial assets and negotiate for her daughter's marriage. With the assistance of her sister-in-law, Lucrezia de' Medici Salviati, an alliance with Jacopo Strozzi was arranged, bringing this family's political influence to her side in her negotiations with Florence.

In 1510, she was finally successful in recovering her dowry. As long as she remained in Rome, she was deeply involved in papal politics, always with the aim of improving the chances of her return to Florence and her son's return to some kind of authority in the city. 

In 1512 the Medici were allowed to return to the city, where Giuliano, third son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, assumed power, and in 1513, Giovanni de' Medici, second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, became pope. In 1515, Alfonsina herself was able to return to Florence to live, some nineteen years after she had left. 

Official documents show Alfonsina's success in influencing matters of state after her return to the city: marginal comments indicate, for example, "by the commission of the illustrious lady Alfonsina," "on order of Madonna Alfonsina," and "by order of Magnificent Lady Alfonsina."

When Giuliano died, Alfonsina's son, Lorenzo, was at last able to assume leadership, though with her son away from the city, leading Florentine troops, Alfonsina "in effect, 'ruled' in her son's stead." Of her actions at this time, her son-in-law noted, "She is always busy writing to Rome . . . or giving a hearing, which means that the house is always full, and from these visitors [she] has brought respect to the state, encouraged friends, and aroused fear in [the state's] enemies. She performs this office well, which would be impossible for another woman and easy for only a very few men."

As she governed Florence on behalf of her son, Alfonsina issued orders on matters of politics, the treatment of crime and criminals, taxation, property, and foreign affairs. She was also involved in many building projects in Florence as well as in Rome. 

Alfonsina's influence did not diminish after her son's return to Florence. There, in 1518, she was successful in arranging Lorenzo's marriage to Maddalena de la Tour d'Auvergne. Maddalena gave brith to a daughter, on 13 April 1519. She died just two weeks later, on 28 April. Lorenzo would not live much longer--he died on 4 May, just days after his wife and less than a month after his daughter was born.

After her son's death, Alfonsina could not, as a woman, inherit any power in Florence. Shortly after her son's death, she returned to Rome, but increasingly weak, she died on 7 February 1520. She was buried in the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo.

The façade of the Basilica of
Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome

Her granddaughter had been in Alfonsina's care after the death of Maddalena and Lorenzo. After Alfonsina's death, the child was placed in the care of Alfonsina's daughter, Clarice de' Medici Strozzi. She would remain there, protected by the influence of Clement VII, a Medici pope. 

In 1533, Alfonsina's granddaughter, Catherine de' Medici, was married to Henry, the  second son of the French king. She would become queen and regent of France.

The best account of Alfonsina Orsini is in Natalie R. Tomas's The Medici Women: Gender and Power in Renaissance Florence, from which I have quoted, above,

*Clarice (Orsini) de' Medici was a member of the branch descending from Rinaldo Orsini (the di Monterotondo line), Alfonsina (Orsini) de' Medici, a member of the branch descending from Roberto Orsini (the Conti di Pacentro e Oppido line).  For detailed information about the branches of the Orsini familyh, click here.