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Moderata Fonte

Moderata Fonte (1555–1592) was the pseudonym of Venetian poet and writer, Modesta dal Pozzo.

Fonte was born in Venice in 1555 and was orphaned at the age of one. The large inheritance bequeathed to her upon her parents’ death caused disputes within her family. She therefore spent several years in a monastery to which she had been brought in secret. At the age of nine she returned to live with her maternal grandparents. A precocious child with a prodigious memory, she was encouraged to study and pursue her interest in poetry and literature by several family members. Fonte has been identified as one of the earliest advocates for the independence of women, arguing in her first published work, Tredici canti del Floridoro [Thirteen Cantos of Floridoro] (1581), that the differences between men and women are not biological in nature, but rather determined by the differences in their education.

She is best known, however, for her dialogue Il merito delle donne [The Worth of Women] published posthumously in 1600 by her uncle, Giovanni Nicolò Doglioni (1548–1629). Doglioni—who was involved in the founding of the Venetian Academy known for its programmatic philogyny—also wrote a biography of his niece, Vita della signora Modesta Pozzo di Zorzi nominata Moderata Fonte [Life of Madam Modesta Pozzo di Zorzi named Moderata Fonte]. The biography was published alongside Il merito delle donne in 1600. Il merito delle donne explores the contemporary condition of women at length in a dialogue which features seven women conversing in an idyllic setting free of men. La resurrettione di Giesu Christo nostro Signore, che segue alla Santissima Passione, descritta in ottava rima [The Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Saviour, which follows the Holy Passion, described in ottava rima], was also published under the pseudonym Moderata Fonte in 1592. [1]

Fonte died in childbirth in 1592.



Romanello, Marina. “Doglioni, Giovanni Nicolò.” In Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani volume 40 (1991), (accessed August 3nd, 2016)

Vigilante, Magda. “Dal Pozzo, Modesta.” In Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani volume 32 (1986), (accessed August 2nd, 2016)

Zaja, Paolo. “Marinelli, Lucrezia.” In Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani volume 70 (2008), (accessed June 2, 2016)



[1] Fonte died in November 1592; the dedication of La resurrettione is dated March 28th.