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Sofia Sartor. Quite a lady, don't you think? Polylingual, multicultural, hyper-intelligent, and mature beyond her years. We know she was born in Constantinople sometime around 1476, and lived there with her family until the beginning of the Ottoman-Venetian war. That was 1499, a really bad year for Venetians living inside the Empire. Sofia's parents dragged her back to Venice, but she could never forget the city where she was born. What's that saying? You can take a girl out of Constantinople, but you can't take Constantinople out of the girl. Something like that...

And that painting of her, I could stare at it for days. That's by Albrecht Durer, the well-known German artist. It's a masterpiece, glowing with warmth and color. Sofia's father offered Durer a ridiculous sum to paint a portrait of his daughter, but when the painter finally saw his model in person, he declined all payment. He claimed the honor of rendering her would be reward enough. Right. Only hot-shot artists can get away with sap like that.

Though her interests were broad, Sofia's primary passion was for literature, a love made possible by the invention of the printing press half a century earlier. For the first time in history books were quite cheap and available to almost everyone. Sofia loved the democratizing effect of books, and made it her life's work to make sure everyone else did too.

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