Gender, war, and the State: The military management of Alda Pio Gambara during the Italian Wars

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


During the Italian Wars (1494-1559) a significant number of women were entrusted with household and estate management in northern Italy in the absence of their husbands or other family members involved in warlike activities (primarily as mercenaries). Building on models of the household and estate as a site for war-related activities which involved men and women, this paper posits the development of the role of the female military manager who drew on her experience to contribute to war. This experience of household and estate management and its entanglement with the military sphere is reconstructed on the basis of a remarkable cache of letters written by Alda Pio Gambara whose natal and conjugal families found themselves heavily involved in war. The letters reveal the extent of Alda’s estate management and the ways in which she ensured her husband and his company were fitted for war, by providing supplies and equipment including armour. They also reveal the ways in which she managed the war in and around Brescia by raising troops and sappers and by working closely with the Venetian and then French authorities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationShadow Agents of Renaissance War
Subtitle of host publicationSuffering, Supporting, and Supplying Conflict in Italy and Beyond
EditorsStephen Bowd, Sarah Cockram, John Gagné
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Feb 2022


  • Gambara
  • Venice
  • Brescia
  • gender
  • war
  • military
  • soldiers
  • sappers
  • artillery
  • France
  • Italian Wars


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