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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Honorata Rodiana

Flourished circa 1450, Italy

What little is known about the artist-warrior Onorata Rodiana is first recorded in 1590 by Conrado Flameno in his Storia di Castelleone. While working on a fresco commission in the palace of Cabrino Fondulo (1370–1425), lord of Cremona, Onorata killed a courtier who had attempted to rape her, and then fled the town. The enraged Gabrino tried and convicted her in absentia, but by then she had found refuge with a band of professional soldiers (condottieri) and soon took up arms herself. For the next thirty years, she operated as a mercenary, eventually commanding her own troop. She died while defending her hometown of Castelleone against Venetian invaders. Her death date is variously given as 1452 and 1472. Although some elements of this story may be factual, it has been embellished over the centuries and smacks of legend.