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Urbino was a papal state. Under the rule of the condotierri Duke Federico da Montefeltro and his son Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, Urbino was one of the most cosmopolitan places in Europe in the mid to late 15th century. Federico was a great patron of the arts as well as a soldier of great renown.

The Book of the Courtier was written by Baldassare Castiglione in 1528, inspired by events and debates that occurred in Urbino.