Shakespeare’s Narrative Sources: Italian Novellas and Their European Dissemination

Masuccio Salernitano (Tommaso Guardati)


Masuccio Salernitano is the pen name of Tommaso Guardati, of the noble family of the Guardati from Sorrento. Although his father was from Sorrento, Masuccio was probably born around 1410 in Salerno, which gained him his nickname. He studied as a clergyman but abandoned the religious career in order to become a government official. He then moved to Naples where was part of the city’s intelligentia as well as the nobility and the court (at the time, Naples and most of Southern Italy were ruled by the Anjou-Valois branch of the French monarchy). He married with Cristina de Pandis with whom he had five children. After 1463, Masuccio went back to Salerno where he became the secretary of the prince Roberto Sanseverino. He died in 1475 in Salerno, however news about the exact collocation of his grave are scarce, since he probably did not receive a religious funeral because of the anti-clerical nature of his works. In 1476 his only known work, Il Novellino, a collection of fifty novellas, was published. The book was included in the first Index of Prohibited Books in 1557.