1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sordello

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SORDELLO, a 13th-century Italian troubadour, born at Mantua, who is praised by Dante in the De vulgari eloquio, and in the Purgatorio made the type of patriotic pride. He is also the hero of a well-known poem by Robert Browning. The real Sordello, so far as we have authentic facts about his life, hardly seems to justify these idealizations, though he was the most famous of the Italian troubadours. About 1220 he appears at Florence in a tavern brawl; and in 1226, while at the court of Richard of Bonifazio at Verona, he abducts his master's wife, Cunizza, at the instigation of her brother, Ezzelino da Romano. The scandal resulted in his flight (1229) to Provence, where he seems to have been for some tune. He entered the service of Charles of Anjou, and probably accompanied him (1265) on his Naples expedition; in 1266 he was a prisoner in Naples. The last documentary mention of him is in 1269, and he is supposed to have died in Provence. His didactic poem, L'Ensenhamen d'onor, and his love songs and satirical pieces have little in common with Dante's presentation, but the invective against negligent princes which Dante puts into his mouth in the 7th canto of the Purgatorio is more adequately paralleled in his Serventese (1237) on the death of his patron Blacatz, where he invites the princes of Christendom to feed on the heart of the hero.

For Sordello's life and works see the edition of Cesare de Lollis (Halle, 1896); for Browning's poem see Stopford Brooke's Browning (1902).