Morata, Olimpia

(ca. 1530-1555)
   Italian humanist and Lutheran refugee. The daughter of Fulvio Pellegrino Morata, physi-cian to the duke of Ferrara in the early 16th century, she grew up at court under the influence of the duchess, Renée de France, daughter of King Louis XII, a reform-minded duchess who welcomed to her court a number of early French religious reformers, including Clé-ment Marot, Lyon Jamet, and John Calvin. Together with the daughter of the duchess, Olimpia studied Latin and Greek under a German tutor. She was familiar with classical literature and became active as a writer, producing poems, letters, and dialogues that were later edited and published (1558) by the humanist Celio Secundo Cu-rione. At first she did not share the interest in religious reform that motivated the duchess's circle, but the founding of the Inquisition in 1542 and the duke's hostility to his wife's religious ideas put Olimpia under pressure to conform to strict Catholic orthodoxy. Her own fa-ther, her future editor Curione, her German tutor Sinapius, and a young physician attached to the court, Andreas Grunthler, all were supporters of the German Reformers.
   After her father's death, Olimpia was dismissed from the court, probably because her orthodoxy was suspect. In 1550 she married Grunthler, and shortly afterward they moved to his home town of Schweinfurt in Germany. There the couple were openly Lutheran, and Olimpia wrote letters in Latin and Italian to friends back home, recommending Martin Luther's books; she also corresponded with Curione, who had settled in Basel, and Pier Paolo Vergerio, another Italian religious refugee, who was in Tübingen. When Schweinfurt was conquered during a religious war, she and her husband fled to Heidelberg, but the hardships of their flight undermined her health, and she died a year later.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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