Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

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Count Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (24 February 1463 – 17 November 1494) was an Italian Renaissance philosopher.[1] He is famed for the events of 1486, when at the age of 23, he proposed to defend 900 theses on religion, philosophy, natural philosophy and magic against all comers, for which he wrote the famous Oration on the Dignity of Man which has been called the "Manifesto of the Renaissance",[2] and a key text of Renaissance humanism.



Giovanni was born at Mirandola, near Modena, the youngest son of Francesco I, Lord of the Mirandola and Count of Concordia (1415–1467), by his wife Giulia, daughter of Feltrino Boiardo, Count di Scandiano.[3] The family had long dwelt in the Castle of Mirandola (Duchy of Modena), which had become independent in the fourteenth century and had received in 1414 from the Emperor Sigismund the fief of Concordia.The Mirandola was a small province in the region of Emilia-Romagna near Ferrara, but the Pico dynasty ruled it as independent sovereigns rather than as noble vassals, gradually aggrandizing power in northern Italy. The Pico della Mirandola were closely related to the Sforza, Gonzaga and Este dynasties, and Giovanni's siblings wed the scions of the hereditary rulers of Corsica, Ferrara, Bologna and Forlì.[3]

Born twenty-three years into his parents' marriage, Giovanni had two much older brothers, both of whom outlived him: Count Galeotto I (1442–1499) continued the dynasty, while Antonio (1444–1501) became a general in the Imperial army.[3] The Pico family would reign as dukes until Mirandola, an ally of Louis XIV of France, was conquered by his rival, Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1708 and annexed to Modena by Duke Rinaldo d'Este, the exiled male line becoming extinct in 1747.[4]

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