One of the most important characteristics of Castiglione's perfect noble, or courtier, is what is known in Italian as "sprezzatura," the art of making all one's actions appear completely effortless and natural. Skill at arms, wit and personal beauty, as well as artistic and physical gifts are also ideal characteristics.
The ideal courtier is skilled in the use of arms, according to Castiglione, and wields them with vigor. To balance these military skills, the ideal courtier is also knowledgeable about the humanities. He has studied Latin and Greek, as well as poetry in the more modern languages. The ideal courtier is also familiar with the study of history and is particularly adept at writing in his mother tongue.
In addition, Castiglione's ideal noble possesses great wit, as well as physical beauty. Loyalty, magnanimity and prudence are also important characteristics, as are temperance and ardour. The Renaissance courtier is skilled in various arts, such as music and painting. Physical activity is also important for the courtier, who should excel in wrestling and equestrian sports. Hunting is also a key pastime for the courtier.
Castiglione's Book of the Courtier was one of the most influential texts of Renaissance Europe. It was first published in Italy in 1528.