Tullia was born in Rome in 1510. Her mother,Giulia Ferrarese, was also a courtesan. Her father was Cardinal Luigi d’Aragona. He was very fond of his little girl and provided for her a classical education usually reserved for wealthy boys. Tullia was gifted, a prodigy really. Her grasp of learning came very early and so her parents loved showing off at parties. She could recite poetry and discuss philosophy with adults when she was 6 years old.
Tulia had her a debut as a courtesan at 18, a bit late compared to others. She also became famous as a writer and an intellectual. She travelled extensively for several years and visited with poets and other learned men often. In 1531 Filippo Strozzi the Florentine banking magnate became her patron. You may remember him from the collection of men who owned the House at Pio. He has previously had a relationship with Camilla of Pisa. Strozzi was so beguiled by her that he shared state secrets with her and had to flee back to Florence in shame.
Emilio Orsini founded the Tullia Society, a group of six cavaliers who protected Tullia d’Aragona’s honor. We honor their spirit by calling KWC members who contribute time and effort to the group as members of a courtesans household Tullians.
In 1535 when Tullia was 25, her daughter, Penelope d’Aragona was born. When she was 30 Tulia moved to Venice and began a relationship with Bernardo Tasso, a courtier and celebrated poet.
In 1536 she was in Ferrara. She achieved her greatest fame here. A capital of Arts and Culture, Ferrara celebrated her for her brilliance and sharp wit. Girolamo Muzio, a literary rockstar of sorts, wrote no less than five eclogues in her honor. Another famed writer of the day, Ercole Bentivoglio, carved her name in a tree. When she left Ferrara four years later, more than one man attempted suicide. 1n 1543 she married Silvestro Guicciardi of Ferrara. This marriage was in name only and allowed her to exempt herself from living in the neighborhoods designated for prostitutes and to skirt the sumptuary laws. At some point after the marriage she had a son, Celio, but the father was unknown. In 1546 she became an attendant in the court of Cosimo I de Medici the Grand Duke of Tuscany. While she was there she composed her 1st volume of philosophy, Dialogues on the Infinity of Love (1547). At the same time she wrote a series of sonnets in praise of the Florentine noblemen of the time.
At 40 Tullia continued writing and, with the patronage of the philosopher Benedetto Varchi, she opened a philosophical academy in her home. Tulia died in Rome in 1556. After her death her literary works continued to be published right up to the 21st c.