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Bona Sforza of Aragona


Bona Sforza of Aragona

Polish Queen and Grand Duchess of Lithuania since 1518

(JPG) Vigevano, 2nd February 1494 - Bari, 19th Novembre 1557

Queen Bona Sforza of Aragona is a leading personality among the historical characters who affected the realationships between Italy and Poland She lived at the Italian courts in Milan and Naples during the Renaissance and brought with her the taste, culture and the courtesy of her land to the Northern European country where she was Sigismondo 1st Iagellone’s wife ; then she ended her life as a duchess in Bari. By means of her personal skills and power, she opened a cultural European path from the Mediterranean to the Northern countries. Gian Galeazzo Sforza and Isabella of Aragona’s daughter, she was born on 2nd February 1494. As she was obliged to leave the court in Milan by family-dynastic reasons ,she moved to Naples, the Aragonese kingdom, with her mother and then to Bari. In 1517, fiancée to Sigismondo 1st of Poland, she left for Cracow where she lived in a palace that she wanted to enhance with Italian paintings and tapestries. She also took along a small court of poets, musicians, doctors and astrologers who soon began cultural relations with the Poles

Bona was a religious woman but at the same time she loved life : thus elegant illuminated prayer books, books of psalms and also recipe books, books about perfumes and Mediterranean cooking were created for her.

When she was left a widow, she left Poland, because of the conflict with her son Sigismondo Augusto and moved to Bari where she lived until her death in 1557. When she settled in the Swabian Castle, she restored the central part which gives onto the inner court, in Renaissance style, and she dedicated the Chapel in the Castle to Saint Stanislaus, Patron Saint of Poland, as a clear tie to Cracow. After her death her daughter Anna Iagellona ordered to build a sepulchral monument in the apse of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas. The monument represents the Queen in prayer and by her sides there are two women : the allegories of Italy and Poland.

Bona Sforza exported some vegetables to Poland from Italy : that’s why some loanwords can be found as, for example : pomidor (tomato), cebula (onion) salata (lettuce) por (leek) karczochy (artichoke) kalafior (cauliflower) brokul (broccoli) fasola (beans) kapusta wloska (Italian cabbage) A bouquet of vegetables for the broth is called wloszczyzna, that is “Italian spirit”.

There was a period of very good relationships with the Italian region Apulia and the cultural exchanges were followed by commercial exchanges that allowed the Poles to know a lot of produces of the soil they did not have in their country. For example the Apulian farmers brought the potatoes in Poland and so the people learnt to cultivate them and from the potatoes they started the production of vodka. Many other vegetables were discovered as the cabbage that is still called Italian cabbage. Also the wines were imported from Italy as Poland can’t produce them because of the climate. The white wines from the Murgia of Bari, like the “ Locorotondo” and the red wines from the Salento arrived at the royal court ; while the Capitolo from the city of Ostuni (Bona Sforza’s feud) offered olive oil each year.

With the collaboration of Luisa Graziani (teacher of Italian, ITCG ‘Compagnoni’)

Publié le samedi 8 mars 2008

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