In Palazzo Pitti an exhibition was recently inaugurated which marks the culmination of the studies on a decisive figure in the nascent Duchy of Florence, in the first half of the sixteenth century. And this figure is exceptionally a woman, Donna Leonor Álvarez de Toledo, Spanish, daughter of the viceroy of Naples don Pedro, who in 1539 married the new duke of Florence, Cosimo.
Eleonora shifted over the years from being simply “the wife of” to an all-round figure, a decidedly new kind of duchess, especially in the Florentine panorama of the time, but not only. She was emancipated, also economically autonomous (she was in fact much richer than her husband), she was well read, managed her assets, took care of her children. Unusually, the duke delegated many family matters to her, from the purchase of land to the collection of money and the signing of contracts. Eleonora had autonomy of action, which was rare for her time. She participated in almost every aspect of the political and cultural life of the duchy, and determined not only the fate of her children but also of the future of the state.