[*]Tim Carter ( is David G. Frey Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His books include the Cambridge Opera Handbook on Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (1987), Jacopo Peri (15611633): His Life and Works (1989), Music in Late Renaissance and Early Baroque Italy (1992), Music, Patronage and Printing in Late Renaissance Florence and Monteverdi and his Contemporaries (both 2000), Monteverdi’s Musical Theatre (2002), “Oklahoma!” The Making of an American Musical (2007), Understanding Italian Opera (2015), and (with Richard Goldthwaite) Orpheus in the Marketplace: Jacopo Peri and the Economy of Late Renaissance Florence (2013). He was also the co-editor, with John Butt, of The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Music (2005).

[1] For the probable date of Monteverdi’s appointment (and not 1591, as the composer seems to have suggested later), see Roger Bowers, “Monteverdi at Mantua, 1590–1612,” in The Cambridge Companion to Monteverdi, ed. John Whenham and Richard Wistreich (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 53–75, at p. 53.

[2] Ferdinando succeeded Francesco first in a regency, being crowned duke only in early 1616 (although he was invested with the title in October 1613), after he had resigned from the cardinalate in November 1615. He married Caterina de’ Medici in early 1617, but they had no issue (though Ferdinando had had a son by Camilla Faà in December 1616). Vincenzo’s precipitate marriage to the much older Isabella di Novellara in 1616 (while he was a cardinal) was also childless.

[3] For the events of summer 1612 in so far as they concerned Monteverdi and other musicians, see Susan Parisi, “‘Licenza alla mantovana’: Frescobaldi and the Recruitment of Musicians for Mantua, 1612–1615,” in Frescobaldi Studies, ed. Alexander Silbiger (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1987), 55–91; Parisi, “New Documents Concerning Monteverdi’s Relations with the Gonzagas,” in Claudio Monteverdi: Studi e prospettive; atti del convegno, Mantova, 21–24 ottobre 1993, ed. Paola Besutti, Teresa M. Gialdroni, and Rodolfo Baroncini, “Accademia Nazionale Virgiliana di Scienze, Lettere e Arti: miscellanea” 5 (Florence: Olschki, 1998), 477–511, at pp. 478–80.

[4] For Monteverdi’s letters (to which reference here is made by date), the standard editions are Claudio Monteverdi, Lettere, ed. Éva Lax, “Studi e testi per la storia della musica” 10 (Florence: Olschki, 1994); Claudio Monteverdi, The Letters of Claudio Monteverdi, trans. Denis Stevens, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995). All quotations in this paper follow Stevens’s translations save for minor changes in styling and the expansion of honorifics (e.g., “His Most Serene Highness”); I cite the original Italian (from Lax’s edition or elsewhere, and following their orthographies) only when it is useful to do so.

[5] I make quite deliberate use of the term “discharge” throughout this paper, given that despite the modern military overtones, it best captures the notion of a licenza, i.e., a license or permit to leave service. A licenza could be imposed (i.e., dismissal) or requested (i.e., resignation); it also mattered whether the licenza was, in effect, honorable (a statement of good conduct, as it were) or dishonorable. Leaving service without a licenza, however, was the equivalent of desertion (to continue the military analogy) that could have serious consequences, especially for a ducal subject who might therefore be blacklisted for employment elsewhere, or forced to return and pay some penalty. A “clean” record was usually of some concern to those recruiting individuals to their ranks, and “poaching” such recruits, while it undoubtedly occurred, was a clear breach of etiquette requiring some manner of remedy.

[6] See the fight with the bass singer Domenico Aldegati—who berated Monteverdi as a “thieving, fucking he-goat”—described by the composer in his letter to the procurators of St. Mark’s of June 9, 1637. The procurators of St. Mark’s also felt the need to bring Monteverdi to heel on several occasions, including his prolonged absences from Venice during his work in Parma in 1627–28, although they certainly gave him freer rein than might have been expected.

[7] Jonathan Glixon, “Was Monteverdi a Traitor?” Music and Letters 72, no. 3 (August 1991): 404–6. For the composer’s later relations with the Habsburgs, see Steven Saunders, “New Light on the Genesis of Monteverdi’s Eighth Book of Madrigals,” Music and Letters 77, no. 2 (May 1996): 183–93.

[8] For other examples, and the benefits that accrued, see Anne MacNeil, Music and Women of the Commedia dell’Arte in the Late Sixteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 80. I also draw on MacNeil for comments, below, on Duke Vincenzo’s sometimes familiar relationship with artists and performers in his household (as MacNeil suggests for the duke’s comici dell’arte).

[9] For the broader issues, see Mario Biagioli, Galilei, Courtier: The Practice of Science in the Culture of Absolutism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), which has influenced my thinking here. Gary Tomlinson compares the iconoclasm of Monteverdi, Galileo, and the poet Battista Guarini (1538–1612) in chapter 1 of his Monteverdi and the End of the Renaissance (Oxford: Clarendon Press [Berkeley: University of California Press], 1987).

[10] See Tim Carter and Richard Goldthwaite, Orpheus in the Marketplace: Jacopo Peri and the Economy of Late Renaissance Florence (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2013).

[11] As, for example, in Susan Parisi, “Ducal Patronage of Music in Mantua, 1587–1627: An Archival Study” (PhD diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1989).

[12] Paolo Fabbri, Monteverdi (Turin: EDT, 1985), trans. Tim Carter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), remains the standard biography of the composer; one might argue over whether the translation was weakened by the removal (at the request of the press) of much of Fabbri’s discussion of the music. It is also only fair to note that my blanket statement on “how” and “why” perhaps does an injustice to Fabbri, who certainly engages in interpretation, and also to, say, Denis Stevens’s editorial insertions in his translation of The Letters of Claudio Monteverdi, although the latter have sometimes generated controversy over their accuracy or plausibility.

[13] Claudio Annibaldi, “Per una teoria della committenza musicale all’epoca di Monteverdi,” in Claudio Monteverdi: Studi e prospettive (see ref. 4), 459–75. In the same year, Annibaldi published his “Towards a Theory of Musical Patronage in the Renaissance and Baroque: The Perspective from Anthropology and Semiotics,” Recercare 10 (1998): 173–82. For Annibaldi’s critique of earlier “music in …” studies, see his preface to Claudio Annibaldi, ed., La musica e il mondo: Mecenatismo e committenza musicale in Italia tra Quattro e Settecento (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1993), 9–42: his targets included Iain Fenlon, Music and Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Mantua, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980, 1982), and Lewis Lockwood, Music in Renaissance Ferrara, 1400–1505: The Creation of a Musical Centre in the Fifteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), to which one might add Allan W. Atlas, Music at the Aragonese Court of Naples (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985) and Reinhard Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985; rev. 1990). Annibaldi further pressed his case in polemical review-essays in Il saggiatore musicale 3 (1996): 361–91, and Early Music History 18 (1999): 365–98.

[14] Annibaldi, La musica e il mondo, 19: “Possiamo quindi riepilogare le considerazioni sin qui fatte sul côté antropologico, definendo ogni sorte di mecenatismo musicale praticato in quella società come uno scambio paternalistico-clientelare di protezione sotto sommissione, qualificato dalla competenze musicale del «cliente» nonché dall’uso che di tale competenza faceva il «padrino», al fine di simboleggiare il proprio rango sociale attraverso acconci eventi sonori.”

[15] Bowers then extended one of the more controversial aspects of his 2007 argument—that in addition to S. Barbara there was another consecrated space within the Gonzaga palace, the chapel of S. Croce in Corte, in which Monteverdi may have directed sacred music—in his “Claudio Monteverdi and Sacred Music in the Household of the Gonzaga Dukes of Mantua, 1590–1612,” Music and Letters 90, no. 3 (August 2009): 331–71. For an opposing view, see Jeffrey Kurtzman, “Monteverdi’s Missing Sacred Music: Evidence and Conjectures,” in Muzykolog wobec świadectw źródłowych i dokumentów: Księga pamiątkowa dedykowana Profesorowi Piotrowi Poźniakowi w 70. rocznicę urodzin/The Musicologist and Source Documentary Evidence: A Book of Essays in Honour of Professor Piotr Poźniak on his 70th Birthday, ed. Zofia Fabiańska et al. (Kraków: Musica Iagellonica, 2009), 187–208.

[16] Mantuan monies are expressed here in Mantuan scudi (sc.) and lire (£), the latter subdivided into soldi (20s. = £1) and denari (12d. = 1s.); lire can be translated into scudi at the customary rate, for Mantua, of £6 = sc.1. Venetian monies are expressed here as ducats (du.), which are nominally similar to scudi (or to another monetary unit, the florin) although conversion rates would vary. Such monies were usually reckoned as monies of account that at the point of payment needed to be converted to coin (or goods in kind): in other words, someone noted in a set of financial accounts as receiving a payment expressed in Mantuan scudi was not necessarily, if at all, given a specific number of Mantuan coins called scudi. This is one reason why “money” could also circulate as paper (a credit note, a transferable IOU, a bill of exchange, or the like) or precious metal (e.g., a gold chain; see below), etc. For an overview of the issues (albeit focused on Florence), see Richard A. Goldthwaite and Giulio Mandich, Studi sulla moneta fiorentina (secoli XIII–XVI) (Florence: Olschki, 1994).

Monteverdi’s pension, based on income from the “captaincy of the piazza” (capitaniato della piazza;so the composer wrote in his letter to Annibale Chieppio of December 2, 1608), had been awarded earlier. We do not know when that occurred, but it may have been some means of recompensing Monteverdi for his loss of income on the death of Claudia Cattaneo, or perhaps it was a reward for Orfeo: in his letter to Duke Vincenzo of November 9, 1608 (Fabbri, Monteverdi, 149–50 [trans. Carter, 101–2]), Baldassare Monteverdi asks the duke to “donarli [Claudio] la pensione che li promise per boca del Serenissimo Signor prencipe [Francesco] et signor Chieppio” (Prince Francesco was, of course, the patron of Orfeo). For the confirmation of the pension and the salary increase in January 1609, see Parisi, “Ducal Patronage of Music in Mantua,” 463 (Parisi, passim, is also the source of the other salary information given in this paper).

One needs to be careful about salary amounts in this or any other court—quite apart from the issue of whether they were paid (as Monteverdi often complained they were not)—given that it is not always clear what they represent: the common term provigione suggests some kind of living expenses, but what that represents depends on what living costs were provided by other means, or in kind, which could vary quite significantly (see Carter and Goldthwaite, Orpheus in the Marketplace, 223–33). I would also be wary of Bowers’s negative conclusions (“Monteverdi at Mantua,” 64) on Monteverdi’s status at court on the basis of the nature and apparent source of his salary and other remuneration; the accounting systems operating in the Gonzaga household were complex, and not very transparent.

[17] For some Florentine examples, see Tim Carter, “Giulio Caccini (1551–1618): New Facts, New Music,” Studi musicali 16, no. 1 (1987): 13–31.

[18] Fabbri, Monteverdi, 47 (trans. Carter, 32–33).

[19] Monteverdi later also said Duke Vincenzo was the “cause” (cagione) of his marriage (in his letter to Annibale Iberti of November 6, 1615).

[20] In April 1604, Alessandro I Pico, Prince of Mirandola, wrote to Duke Vincenzo requesting the loan of “il Monteverdi suo musico con le sue donne per comporre et per recitare et cantare alcune cose nella festa ch’io preparo, delle quali non potrei con mio gusto esser servito da altri”; see Parisi, “New Documents Concerning Monteverdi’s Relations with the Gonzagas,” 487. The prince uses the polite third person (suo musico), so it is impossible to tell whether sue donne are the duke’s or Monteverdi’s. But either way, the composer appears to have been known for leading a group of two or more female singers, which would have included Claudia Cattaneo and the young Caterina Martinelli. For Monteverdi’s slightly later involvement with the Prince of Mirandola, see Stefano Patuzzi, “‘S’a questa d’Este valle’: Claudio Monteverdi and a ‘mascherata’ of 1607 in Mirandola,” Early Music 31, no. 4 (November 2003): 541–56.

[21] In his letter to Annibale Chieppio of December 2, 1608, Monteverdi referred to Claudia Cattaneo receiving £47 per month (sc.94 per year), which stopped at her illness and death despite the duke’s promise to have it continue. In fact, this seems to have been £47.4s.6d.; see Parisi, “New Documents Concerning Monteverdi’s Relations with the Gonzagas,” 485–86n18, which reports two somewhat confusing ducal orders made on November 6, 1606: one that Claudia Cattaneo should be placed on the salary lists at £94.9s. per month, and a second that the £94.9s. that “sino al presente” had been paid jointly to Giacomo and Claudia Cattaneo should be divided so that Giacomo Cattaneo received separately his share, i.e., £47.4s.6d.

[22] The rise of Giulio Caccini in Florence offers a parallel example (see Carter, “Giulio Caccini”): he was the son of a carpenter/woodworker (legnaiolo) from Montópoli in the Valdarno (midway between Florence and Pisa). Monteverdi’s father, Baldassare, is variously described as an apothecary, a (barber-)surgeon, and a doctor.

[23] In fact, sc.25 per month, although sc.5 were for housing Francesco Campagnolo, which Monteverdi refused to do. Thus his salary increase in January 1609 restored these sc.5 on Monteverdi’s own account, but that is not necessarily (as it has been construed) a sign of parsimony on Duke Vincenzo’s behalf: it was still “new” money so far as the composer was concerned.

[24] Tim Carter, “E in rileggendo poi le proprie note: Monteverdi Responds to Artusi?” Renaissance Studies 26, no. 1 (February 2012): 129–46.

[25] The attentive reader will have noted that this short sentence packs a couple of mischievous punches (and quite apart from my reluctance to render oratione and armonia in English, which is quite hard to do). First is the spelling of pratica, which is correct in both seventeenth-century and modern Italian; it is also the spelling consistently used by Monteverdi himself in the present context (e.g., in his statement in the Fifth Book, and in his letter to Giovanni Battista Doni of  October 22, 1633). Giulio Cesare Monteverdi tends to prefer prattica in the “Dichiaratione,” which is a common case of hypercorrectness (caused by the stress on the first syllable), but there is no reason to adopt it, just as one would not adopt other early modern spellings such as praticha, etc.

Second is my rendering of the famous catchphrase in Giulio Cesare Monteverdi’s “Dichiaratione” that in the seconda pratica, “l’oratione sia padrona del armonia e non serva.” This is commonly rendered as the oratione being the mistress, not the (maid)servant, of the armonia. Padrona and serva are gendered feminine because they apply to the feminine (in the grammatical sense) nouns oratione and armonia (later in the “Dichiaratione,” Giulio Cesare Monteverdi also uses the feminine noun signora in a similar context). Consider, however, the statement in Monteverdi’s letter to Alessandro Striggio of September 10, 1627, in reference to Duke Vincenzo II Gonzaga, that “His Most Serene Highness will always be my lord and master” (Sua Altezza Serenissima sempre sarà signora e padrona di me—Stevens translates it as “…my master and patron”). Here signora and padrona are feminine to agree with Altezza, but would always be translated in the masculine. There is no reason not to do the same with the seconda pratica catchphrase unless we wish to infer some further gendering of the English words (harmony, music, etc., being “she” in the manner of ships).

The issue might seem trivial were it not for the modern connotations of the word “mistress” as distinct from a more archaic usage (as in, say, the mistress of the house), and while this might seem a case of political correctness run rife, enough of us have experienced discomfort in the classroom when dealing with the issue. “Master” is also gendered, of course, although it is also accepted as gender-neutral (thus we do not distinguish the terminology of M.A. degrees by the gender of their recipients). To avoid the problem altogether, one could use some version of another opposition adopted by Giulio Cesare Monteverdi: comandata/comandante, i.e., the oratione is to command the armonia and not be commanded by it. This is still gendered in the Italian (inevitably), but not in the English.

This has a bearing on the reading in Suzanne G. Cusick, “Gendering Modern Music: Thoughts on the Artusi-Monteverdi Controversy,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 46, no. 1 (Spring 1993): 1–25 (and compare the exchange between Cusick and Charles S. Brauner in Journal of the American Musicological Society 47, no. 3 [Fall 1994]: 550–63), although it does not necessarily vitiate it.

[26] Giulio Cesare Monteverdi uses the aphorism by Erasmus (Adagia 2.1.74): purpura iuxta purpuram diiudicanda (“purple ought to be judged against purple”). For the broader issues, see Tim Carter, “Artusi, Monteverdi, and the Poetics of Modern Music,” in Musical Humanism and Its Legacy: Essays in Honor of Claude V. Palisca, ed. Nancy Kovaleff Baker and Barbara Russano Hanning (Stuyvesant, N.Y.: Pendragon Press, 1992), 171–94.

[27] I discuss this further in my “E in rileggendo poi le proprie note”: the issue also hinges on Duke Vincenzo’s apparent wish to make Mantua a successor to Ferrara (which had now seceded to the Papal States). For compatible readings around the same theme, see also the essays in the present issue by Ulrich Siegele and Jeffrey Kurtzman.

[28] See the discussion in Biagioli, Galilei, Courtier, 60–84.

[29] Artusi’s initial discretion (leaving Monteverdi unnamed) was out of conventional politeness, it seems, though he later complained (writing as Antonio Braccino da Todi in the Discorso secondo musicale [Venice: Giacomo Vincenti, 1608])—after Monteverdi outed him, as it were, in 1605—that the composer initially hid behind anonymous defenders and refused to engage directly with him, despite numerous invitations to do so.

[30] I discuss Ferrari’s two poems, and those in Artusi’s 1600 treatise to which they apparently respond, in my “Cerberus Barks In Vain: Poetic Asides in the Artusi-Monteverdi Controversy,” Journal of Musicology 29, no. 4 (Fall 2012): 461–76.

[31] The classic study is Norbert Elias, Die Höfische Gesellschaft: Untersuchungen zur Soziologie des Königtums und der höfischen Aristokratie mit einer Einleitung: Soziologie und Geschichtswissenschaft, “Soziologische Texte” 54 (Berlin: H. Luchterhand, 1969), trans. by Edmund Jephcott as The Court Society (New York: Pantheon Books, 1983).

[32] Tim Carter, “Improvised Counterpoint in Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers,” in “Uno gentile et subtile ingenio”: Studies in Renaissance Music in Honour of Bonnie J. Blackburn, ed. M. Jennifer Bloxam, Gioia Filocamo, and Leofranc Holford-Strevens (Turnhout [Belgium]: Brepols, 2009), 29–35. The 1610 Missa … ac vespere appeared just five weeks after, and from the same printer as, Stefano Nascimbeni’s Concerti ecclesiastici a dodeci voci divisi in tre chori (Venice: Ricciardo Amadino, 1610; the dedication to Giovanni Battista Biglia, Bishop of Pavia, is dated July 27).

[33] Of the twelve surviving letters by Monteverdi from 1601 to 1611, eight are addressed to the duke or his sons (which is not to say that they were not filtered by their secretaries on receipt). The other four to court secretaries do not vitiate my point: the composer would respond to whomever wrote to him, and that may have been a secretary acting on the duke’s (etc.) instructions. Of Monteverdi’s 115 letters written after his arrival in Venice (the vast majority to Mantua), only thirteen are to one or the other of the Gonzagas, and usually for reasons that can readily be identified. For the composer’s later use of high-ranking intermediaries in Mantua (in particular, Alessandro Striggio), and the motivations behind it, see my “Winds, Cupids, Little Zephyrs, and Sirens: Monteverdi and Le nozze di Tetide (1616–17),” Early Music 39, no. 4 (November 2011): 489–502.

[34] Dinko Fabris, ed., Mecenati e musici: Documenti sul patronato artistico dei Bentivoglio di Ferrara nell’epoca di Monteverdi (1585–1645), “ConNotazioni” 4 (Lucca: Libreria Musicale Italiana, 1999), 247: “Qui non si sente ancora mutazione alcuna in effetto: ma si aspetta grandissima al principio di quaresima. Dicesi, che Sua Altezza si è dichiarata di non voler altro consigliere che Monsignor il Vescovo Abate di Santa Barbara [Annibale Francesco Gonzaga]. Tutto il rimanente vuol ch’habbiano titolo di segretari. Ed in somma credesi che la corte si riformerà secondo lo stile di Savoia. Dicesi anche che tutti i servitori del padre saranno licenziati, e poi, se sarà dimandato il servizio, a quelli sarà conceduto, che dal giudicio di Sua Altezza col parer della Serenissima Infante saranno eletti. Tutte queste cose si dicono da gli speculatori, che non credo, che nessuno parli de auditu. Staremo a vedere.”

[35] For example, on March 26, 1611, he sent Prince Francesco a Dixit Dominus setting and two motets, as well as promising “a couple of madrigals and anything else that I understand may be to Your Most Serene Highness’s taste.” In my “‘Every Friday evening music is performed in the Hall of Mirrors…’: Claudio Monteverdi and the Rituals of Courtly Exchange in Early Seventeenth-Century Italy,” in Musical Text as Ritual Object, ed. Hendrik Schulze (Turnhout [Belgium]: Brepols, 2015), 137–50, I read this as Monteverdi’s attempt to remind the prince of his skills in sacred and chamber music at the same time as his brother, Giulio Cesare, was working on a theatrical entertainment, Il rapimento di Proserpina, soon to be performed in Casale Monferrato.

[36] For Duke Francesco’s letter to Cardinal Ferdinando of July 6, 1612, see Parisi, “‘Licenza alla mantovana,'” 78–79 (extracts are also given in Parisi, “New Documents Concerning Monteverdi’s Relations with the Gonzagas,” 479–80). Parisi translates the last clause as “either to ruin me or for some other reason, they have rebelled,” but per farmi saltare probably means “to make me jump,” i.e., to take precipitate action. What could have caused the Monteverdis to mutiny, if they did, remains unclear: it may have been the festivities held in Mantua to celebrate the succession of Emperor Matthias on July 19–23, 1612 (but originally planned for earlier in the month), or perhaps there was some intrigue over S. Barbara, where Nascimbeni may also have been falling into disfavor (see Bowers, “Monteverdi at Mantua,” 74). Already in late 1611, the musician Amante Franzoni had submitted to Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga (via Cardinal Bonifazio Caetani) a petition requesting the S. Barbara position, although the duke put it on hold because he was not currently considering a new appointment; see Parisi, “Ducal Patronage of Music in Mantua,” 583n281.

[37] Biagioli, Galileo, Courtier, 35.

[38] Fabbri, Monteverdi, 176 (trans. Carter, 122–23).

[39] On September 10, 1613, Ferdinando expressed his preference for Monteverdi’s Arianna over Orlandi’s Galatea; see my “Monteverdi, Early Opera, and a Question of Genre: The Case of Andromeda (1620),” Journal of the Royal Musical Association 137, no. 1 (May 2012): 1–34, at p. 20.

[40] When Monteverdi’s father appealed to Duke Vincenzo for his son’s honorable discharge on November 9, 1608, he allowed the possibility of strings being attached to it: such a discharge would enable the composer to support his sons financially by being in good standing to serve another prince, but if the duke wished to limit his future employment solely to the church, that would be acceptable (poi che da la gratia de la libera sua licencia nas[c]erà che se servirà a prencipe, so che sarà per tal rispetto sempre ben visto; se anche l’Altezza Vostra Serenissima comandarà solamente che serva a la chiesa tanto farà, perché anche da questa via…verrà a avanzare qualche cosa per li filioli s[u]oi); here I follow the corrected reading in Annibaldi, “Per una teoria della committenza musicale all’epoca di Monteverdi,” 467. Most scholars have interpreted the latter part of this statement (the limitation on Monteverdi serving only in the church) as a request for the composer to be given a position just in S. Barbara (as would soon come vacant with the death of Gastoldi), or perhaps in one or more ecclesiastical institutions in Mantua such as the cathedral of S. Pietro or S. Andrea. However, Annibaldi reads the limitation—rightly, I think—as consequent upon the first part of Baldassare’s request: he asks for his son’s discharge from Mantua so that he would be free to serve either some other prince or (should the duke impose the condition) just in some church—in either case (it is implied) not in Mantua but elsewhere. As Annibaldi notes, if a similar condition was made explicit or implicit when Monteverdi was forcibly discharged from Mantuan service in the summer of 1612, then this explains why Monteverdi was still able to move to St. Mark’s, Venice, in 1613. It may also underpin the composer’s tendency (noted below), whenever actual or potential connections specifically with court service later emerged, to be very careful with the Gonzagas in handling them.

[41] One might usefully express the matter in terms Monteverdi adopted in his letter to Alessandro Striggio of September 10, 1627. Striggio had evidently reminded the composer of his obligations to Duke Vincenzo II Gonzaga, which Monteverdi heatedly affirmed, “without any expectation on my part other than His Most Serene Highness’s good grace, since I know for sure that he would not consent to my ruin or unhappiness,” although he moves immediately on (but a paragraph break in Stevens’s translation misses the point) to the very great security of his life in Venice in contrast to what might pertain in Mantua (senza altra mia pretensione che la bona grazia di Sua Altezza Serenissima, purre sapendo di certo che non consentirebbe mia ruina e mia inquietudine, atteso che quel mi trovo, me lo trovo in vita sicurissimo…). In retrospect, at least, Monteverdi presumably associated his Mantuan discharge with his “ruin” and “unhappiness,” just as he complained (to Annibale Iberti: November 6, 1615) that he had left Mantua with only sc.25 in his pocket (i.e., one month’s salary), and claimed to Alessandro Striggio (March 13, 1620) that his salary payments in Venice were far more secure than those from a court treasury “which dry up on the death of a duke or at his slightest ill-humor” (che mancano alla morte del principe o a suo minimo disgusto).

[42] Parisi, “New Documents Concerning Monteverdi’s Relations with the Gonzagas,” 503–7. Parisi finds this action “puzzling” (506): “In 1623 no contractual obligations, as far as is known, required Monteverdi to have the Gonzaga’s permission in order to change employment. Perhaps it was merely a formal courtesy on his part to say so, indeed flattery.” However, it makes perfect sense in the light of the courtly obligations discussed in this paper. Monteverdi later (in a letter to Alessandro Striggio of June 13, 1627) referred to Taroni in what might be read as somewhat derogatory terms (un tal Tarroni che conduce musici in Pollonia); it is possible that Taroni was assuming too much when writing to Duke Ferdinando in 1623. However, Monteverdi certainly provided musical service for Sigismund III’s son, Crown Prince Władysław, on the latter’s visit to Venice in March 1625; see the composer’s letter to Ercole Marliani of March 15, 1625.

[43] See, for example, Monteverdi’s letter to Striggio of September 10, 1627, which adopts an extremely defensive tone about the Farnese commission, presumably because Striggio had asked some awkward questions about it.

[44] Biagioli, Galilei, Courtier, 41. Denis Stevens slightly misses the point in his “Monteverdi’s Necklace,” Musical Quarterly 59, no. 3 (July 1973): 370–81, by reading the chain as, precisely, a “necklace” and ignoring the currency issue. But as Stevens notes, the composer did indeed use the chain as security for a loan of the money he needed to bail his son, Massimiliano, from arrest by the Inquisition in Mantua in September 1627.

[45] This brief paper (presented in July 2009) was intended, and remains constructed, as a prelude to a much larger project on rethinking Monteverdi’s biography and related issues, the fruits of which are also apparent in my “Winds, Cupids, Little Zephyrs, and Sirens; “E in rileggendo poi le proprie note“; “Monteverdi, Early Opera, and a Question of Genre”; and “‘Every Friday evening music is performed in the Hall of Mirrors….’ I am grateful to Jeffrey Kurtzman for his perceptive comments on an earlier draft.