Matteo Maria Boiardo Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Matteo Maria Boiardo (boh-YAHR-doh), count of Scandiano, was the essence of Italian nobility, a successful courtier, soldier, and scholar. Born near Reggio nell’ Emilia in 1440 or 1441, he found a patron in a wealthy family and was educated at the University of Ferrara. In 1478, he was appointed governor of Reggio. He held several high military posts and took part in the wars against the Venetians. Boiardo did most of his writing to amuse the court of Duke Hercules d’Este at Ferrara, and he was acclaimed as the “Italian Homer.”

The primary influence on Boiardo’s Italian sonnets and lyrics, the Amorum Liber, or book of loves, was the writing of the ancients, chiefly Herodotus and Apuleius. A skilled scholar in Latin and Greek, he wrote several eclogues in Latin as well as a comedy, Timone, in five acts. His major work was the Orlando innamorato, of which he wrote only the first two books, the rest being written by Niccolo degli Agostini after Boiardo’s death in 1494. Boiardo’s verse romance—apparently adapted from a popular romance sung by cantastorie, or story-singers, of the time—is outstanding in early Italian literature and has a richness of characterization and a variety of scene that provided a basis for the more famous Orlando furioso of Ludovico Ariosto. Boiardo’s poem is remarkably ironic and farcical; it is his own rather cynical treatment of the romance and its courtly love tradition. It is nonetheless quite humorous and fresh, if rough in comparison to the more stately Ariosto.

Ariosto’s work, written in puristic Tuscan tradition, became the more popular after its appearance in 1515. In 1541, Francesco Berni’s revised edition of Orlando innamorato was better received. Some modern critics have claimed that Boiardo’s poem is superior to Ariosto’s, a judgment made possible by the discovery of Boiardo’s manuscripts in the nineteenth century. In any event, the poem, along with Boiardo’s many sonnets and shorter poems, is part of the grand tradition of fifteenth century poetry, as was his courtly life a model of the existence of the fifteenth century Italian nobleman.


(European Poets and Poetry)

Matteo Maria Boiardo was born in 1440 or 1441 at the family castle in Scandiano, near Reggio in the Emilia Romagna region of northern Italy. He was the eldest of five children and the only son of Giovanni Boiardo and Lucia Strozzi, sister of poet Tito Vespasiano Strozzi. Boiardo’s grandfather, Feltrino Boiardo, count of Scandiano, was a major influence on the young poet’s life. A knight who had served the duke of Ferrara, Niccolò III d’Este, during the late Crusades, Boiardo’s grandfather was a well-educated courtier who had written poetry and executed translations from classical literature. Boiardo would follow in his grandfather’s footsteps with great success.

Boiardo’s grandfather brought the young Boiardo into the d’Este court during the reign of Niccolò’s successor Leonello (ruled 1441-1450), providing him with the opportunity to receive an excellent education. In Ferrara, Boiardo, as a member of the nobility, was privately tutored, allowed access to the well-stocked d’Este library, introduced to scholars, and exposed to chivalric traditions, including jousting tournaments. Boiardo’s grandfather, after Giovanni Boiardo’s death around 1451, arranged for his grandson to inherit his title. When Boiardo’s grandfather died in 1456, the title passed first to Boiardo’s uncle, Giulio Ascanio Boiardo. When his uncle died in 1460, Boiardo duly became count of Scandiano during the reign of Duke Borso d’Este (ruled 1450-1471) and...

(The entire section is 586 words.)