This thesis explores the relationship between the many literary texts referring to the deaths of Ugo d'Este and Parisina Malatesta, who were executed in Ferrara in 1425 in accordance with an order by Niccolò III d'Este after he discovered their incestuous relationship. The texts are divided in three categories: (1) the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italian novellas and their translations; (2) the seventeenth-century Spanish tragedy; and (3) the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Romantic works. Although these categories divide the various texts chronologically, they also represent a thematic grouping as the texts within each category share common themes that set them apart from those in the other groups. While the various texts all tell the same story, each approaches the tragedy slightly differently based largely on the audience for which it was intended. Thus, the time and place of each text greatly affects its telling. Still, the fact that substantial differences exist between texts that were produced in both geographic and temporal proximity suggests that these are not all-determining factors. Although scholarship exists analyzing individual texts, a comprehensive study of the literary accounts relating to the tragedy has never been undertaken. Rather than detracting from the story, the differences put forth in each of the literary texts enrich the global reading experience by offering many perspectives on the tragedy. In addition, these differences influence how the reader reacts to each of the other texts. Familiarity with one version of the story changes the way a reader approaches the others. A parallel reading of the different versions of the story also shows the power culture has on interpretation. Texts referring to a singular event from one time and place sharply contrast with those that are the product of other circumstances.



College and Department

Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese



Date Submitted


Document Type





Matteo Bandello, Anton Francesco Grazzini, il Lasca, François de Belleforest, Pierre Boaistuau, Lope de Vega, Lord Byron, Gaetano Donizetti, Tomás Giribaldi, Felice Romani, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Pietro Mascagni, Niccolò III d'Este, Parisina Malatesta, Ugo d'Este, Histoires Tragiques, El castigo sin venganza, La Parisina, Parisina d'Este, Ferrara, Le Cene