In the second half of the 15th century, Venetian, Greek, Albanian, Dalmatian, and Jewish merchants settled in the Southern Italian region of Puglia. Here they played a major role in the organization of maritime networks, operating commerce along both Adriatic and Eastern Mediterranean routes. In spite of the unstable political situation in the Aragonese Kingdom of Naples, the favorable economic conditions and the political protection of Venice triggered a flourishing of cultural activity on the Italian Adriatic coast, fueled by the rich intellectual exchange between local religious communities. Vibrant descriptions of this multicultural society are displayed in Hebrew and Italian poems composed by Jewish and Christian authors, and consecrated to two queens of Naples, Isabella Chiaromonte (ca. 1424-1465), and Isabella Del Balzo (1468-1533). In this talk, Fabrizio Lelli (Hebrew Language and Literature, University of Salento) illuminates the poetic trends shared by Southern Italian authors of different faiths and cultural traditions and shows how these poems allow us to better understand the multilayered society of early Renaissance Puglia.
Fabrizio Lelli is Professor of Hebrew language and literature at the University of Salento in Lecce, Italy. His research activity focuses mainly on the mystical and philosophical literature produced by Italian Jews in the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. In his studies on Yohanan Alemanno (c. 1434–c. 1506), Elijah Hayyim of Genazzano (c. 1440–c. 1510), Abraham De Balmes (c. 1460–c. 1523), Elijah Menahem Halfan (late 15th c.– c. 1541), he has focused upon these Renaissance authors’ thought as well as upon their relations with contemporary Jewish and non-Jewish milieus. He is currently working on traces of the Jewish Apulian legacy in the Balkans and on written and oral testimonies of the Jewish refugees sheltered in post-WWII Apulian DP transit camps.
Funding for this CMRS Lecture is provided by the Armand Hammer Endowment for the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
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