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Journal > Volumes > 46 (2015) / 2 (Summer)
When the Yellow Emperor Visited Urbino: Lodovico Arrivabene’s Il Magno Vitei (1597)
Kyle Anderson
Centre College


In 1597, Lodovico Arrivabene, Mantuan archpriest and literary light of the Gonzaga, published Europe’s first chivalric romance focused entirely on the exploits of Chinese and Asian knights. Since that time, Il Magno Vitei has remained mostly a footnote in Italian and world literary history. This essay offers, for the first time, a closer look at the content and literary, political, and historical contexts that make the Vitei a significant moment in Europe’s early imagination of its eastern counterparts. Special attention is paid to examining Arrivabene’s inclination to exalt Chinese rulers as paradigms of human civilization, as well as explore the significance of the author’s relationship to Francesco Maria II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, to whom the author dedicated his exceptional text.

Pages: 269 - 290