In the early 1530s, Guidobaldo Della Rovere, the son of the Duke of Urbino, commissioned a lavish portrait of himself resplendent in his Milanese armour. At this time, the 18-year-old nobleman was in conflict with his father who wanted him to marry the nine-year-old Giulia Varano for dynastic reasons. However, Guidobaldo had his heart set on another.<sup>1</sup><br><br>Around this time, an influential work <em>The Book of the Courtier</em> (1528) by courtier and diplomat Baldassare Castiglione had emerged in Urbino. Among other things, the book set out the ideals of masculinity to which all noblemen should aspire.<br><br>According to Castiglione, a nobleman’s principal profession ‘must be that of arms’ and he should be a ‘very bold, stern’ individual who is ‘always among the first when the enemy is to be seen’.<sup>2</sup> Castiglione also suggests feminine clothing could negatively affect military success.<sup>3</sup> With these masculine ideals established in the Urbino court, Guidobaldo’s stern gaze, confident stance and choice of armour is unsurprising. <br><br>Aside from Guidobaldo’s armour, the gold-embellished codpiece is an equally striking focal point. A codpiece was a Renaissance ornamentation worn over the crotch to emphasise the male genitalia. It is not only a prominent assertion of Guidobaldo’s sexual maturity but also a statement of his body’s important political function in producing a legitimate heir to a wealthy and influential family.<sup>4</sup><br><br>In book IV of <em>The Book of the Courtier</em>, the discussion turns to love and it is agreed that ‘rational love’ is superior to ‘sensual love’.<sup>5</sup> By 1534, Guidobaldo had duly softened his stance and consented to his arranged marriage<sup>6</sup> — further evidence of his desire to truly embody the ideals of the late medieval courtier.