David Rizzio at the Scottish Court

A series of workshops on Italian musician and courtier, David Rizzio, providing the first comprehensive account of the life and legacy of one of the most romanticised figures in Scottish history.

David Rizzio (1533-1566), musician and courtier, is a highly romanticised historical figure.

He has long been represented in the Scottish arts for his close relationship with Mary Queen of Scots, his murder at the hands of her husband and other Protestant lords, and his association with the religious conflicts that marked the Scottish Reformation.

Despite his fame, neither his political and cultural role nor his artistic influence have been studied in any scholarly detail.

Through a series of workshops, Dr Emanuela Patti is aiming to fill this gap, providing the first comprehensive account of Rizzio’s life, career and impact.

The project brings together experts from multiple disciplines, including:

  • History
  • Divinity
  • History of Art
  • Italian
  • Scottish Literature
  • Music

As well as uncovering the political role Rizzio played in religious conflict, it looks at his personal relationships with Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley and how they affected the dynamics of the 16th century Scottish Court.

It also looks at Rizzio's artistic contribution to Scottish literature and music, including how he has been appropriated and fictionalised in literature, cinema, music and theatre.

Working with schools, libraries and museums, the project asks what this legacy tells us about the cultural interpretation of Scottish history across time.

This project is funded by a Royal Society of Edinburgh Workshop Award from November 2022 to November 2023. The three workshops take place in March, April and October 2023.



About the lead researcher

Dr Emanuela Patti has been Lecturer in Italian at the University of Edinburgh since 2021. Her research lies at the intersection of literary, media, and cultural studies.

A significant part of Emanuela’s research focuses on the circulation of themes, stories, and characters across arts and media from the Middle Ages to the present. To date, she has published two monographs, four edited volumes, and several articles in leading journals.

Emanuela teaches on courses across all four years of our undergraduate MA Honours programmes in Italian Studies, including the honours-level course on Decentering Medieval and Renaissance Italy. She is open to PhD supervision enquiries.

Find out more about Dr Emanuela Patti

Find out more about studying Italian at Edinburgh