Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan, 1475-1497
Author: Ady, Julia Mary Cartwright, 1851-1924
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan, 1475-1497" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



[Illustration: Bianca Sforza by Ambrogio de Predis. (Ambrosiana)]



BEATRICE D'ESTE

DUCHESS OF MILAN

1475-1497



_A STUDY OF THE RENAISSANCE_

BY

JULIA CARTWRIGHT

(MRS HENRY ADY)

_Author of_ "_Madame_," "_Sacharissa_," "_J. F. Millet_"



[Illustration]



1910
LONDON: J. M. DENT & SONS, LTD.
NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON & CO.



_First Edition, November, 1899_
_Second Edition, June, 1903_
_Third Edition, November, 1903_
_Fourth Edition February, 1905_
_Fifth Edition, July, 1908_
_Sixth Edition, May, 1910_


_All rights reserved_



PREFACE


During the last twenty years the patient researches of successive
students in the archives of North Italian cities have been richly
rewarded. The State papers of Milan and Venice, of Ferrara and Modena,
have yielded up their treasures; the correspondence of Isabella d'Este,
in the Gonzaga archives at Mantua, has proved a source of inexhaustible
wealth and knowledge. A flood of light has been thrown on the history of
Italy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; public events and
personages have been placed in a new aspect; the judgments of posterity
have been modified and, in some instances, reversed.

We see now, more clearly than ever before, what manner of men and women
these Estes and Gonzagas, these Sforzas and Viscontis, were. We gain
fresh insight into their characters and aims, their secret motives and
private wishes. We see them in their daily occupations and amusements,
at their work and at their play. We follow them from the battle-field
and council chamber, from the chase and tournament, to the privacy of
domestic life and the intimate scenes of the family circle. And we
realize how, in spite of the tragic stories or bloodshed and strife that
darkened their lives, in spite, too, of the low standard of morals and
of the crimes and vices that we are accustomed to associate with
Renaissance princes, there was a rare measure of beauty and goodness, of
culture and refinement, of love of justice and zeal for truth, among
them. As the latest historian of the Papacy, Dr. Pastor, has wisely
remarked, we must take care not to paint the state of morals during the
Italian Renaissance blacker than it really was. Virtue goes quietly on
her way, while vice is noisy and uproarious; the criminal forces
himself upon the public attention, while the honest man does his duty in
silence, and no one hears of him. This is especially the case with the
women of the Renaissance. They had their faults and their weaknesses,
but the great majority among them led pure and irreproachable lives, and
trained their children in the paths of truth and duty. Even Lucrezia
Borgia, although she may not have been altogether immaculate, was not
the foul creature that we once believed. And the more closely we study
these newly discovered documents, the more we become convinced that this
age produced some of the most admirable types of womanhood that the
world has ever seen. When Castiglione painted his ideal woman in the
pages of the "Cortigiano," he had no need to draw on his imagination.
Elizabeth Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino, and Isabella d'Este, Marchioness
of Mantua, were both of them women of great intellect and stainless
virtue, whose genuine love of art and letters attracted the choicest
spirits to their court, and exerted the most beneficial influence on the
thought of the day. Isabella, whose vast correspondence with the
foremost painters and scholars of the age has been preserved almost
intact, was probably the most remarkable lady of the Renaissance. The
story of her long and eventful life--a theme of absorbing interest--yet
remains to be written. The present work is devoted to the history of her
younger sister, Beatrice, Duchess of Milan, who, as the wife of Lodovico
Sforza, reigned during six years over the most splendid court of Italy.
The charm of her personality, the important part which she played in
political life at a critical moment of Italian history, her love of
music and poetry, and the fine taste which she inherited, in common with
every princess of the house of Este, all help to make Beatrice
singularly attractive, while the interest which she inspires is deepened
by the pathos of her sudden and early death.

If in Isabella we have the supreme representative of Renaissance culture
in its highest and most intellectual phase, Beatrice is the type of that
new-found joy in life, that intoxicating rapture in the actual sense of
existence, that was the heritage of her generation, and found
expression in the words of a contemporary novelist, Matteo
Bandello--himself of Lombard birth--when with his last breath he bade
his companions live joyously, "_Vivete lieti!_" We see this bride of
sixteen summers flinging herself with passionate delight into every
amusement, singing gay songs with her courtiers, dancing and hunting
through the livelong day, outstripping all her companions in the chase,
and laughing in the face of danger. We see her holding her court in the
famous Castello of Porta Giovia or in the summer palaces of Vigevano and
Cussago, in these golden days when Milan was called the new Athens, when
Leonardo and Bramante decorated palaces or arranged masquerades at the
duke's bidding, when Gaspare Visconti wrote sonnets in illuminated
books, and Lorenzo da Pavia constructed organs or viols as perfect and
beautiful to see as to hear, for the pleasure of the youthful duchess.
Scholars and poets, painters and writers, gallant soldiers and
accomplished cavaliers, we see them all at Beatrice's feet, striving how
best they may gratify her fancies and win her smiles. Young and old,
they were alike devoted to her service, from Galeazzo di Sanseverino,
the valiant captain who became her willing slave and chosen companion,
to Niccolo da Correggio, that all-accomplished gentleman who laid down
his pen and sword to design elaborate devices for his mistress's new
gowns. We read her merry letters to her husband and sister, letters
sparkling with wit and gaiety and overflowing with simple and natural
affection. We see her rejoicing with all a young mother's proud delight
over her first-born son, repeating, as mothers will, marvellous tales of
his size and growth, and framing tender phrases for his infant lips. And
we catch glimpses of her, too, in sadder moods, mourning her mother's
loss or wounded by neglect and unkindness. We note how keenly her proud
spirit resents wrong and injustice, and how in her turn she is not
always careful of the rights and feelings of her rivals. But whatever
her faults and mistakes may have been, she is always kindly and
generous, human and lovable. A year or two passes, and we see her,
royally arrayed in brocade and jewels, standing up in the great council
hall of Venice, to plead her husband's cause before the Doge and
Senate. Later on we find her sharing her lord's counsels in court and
camp, receiving king and emperor at Pavia or Vigevano, fascinating the
susceptible heart of Charles VIII. by her charms, and amazing Kaiser
Maximilian by her wisdom and judgment in affairs of state. And then
suddenly the music and dancing, the feasting and travelling, cease, and
the richly coloured and animated pageant is brought to an abrupt close.
Beatrice dies, without a moment's warning, in the flower of youth and
beauty, and the young duchess is borne to her grave in S. Maria delle
Grazie amid the tears and lamentations of all Milan. And with her death,
the whole Milanese state, that fabric which Lodovico Sforza had built up
at such infinite cost and pains, crumbles into ruin. Fortune, which till
that hour had smiled so kindly on the Moro and had raised him to giddy
heights of prosperity, now turned her back upon him. In three short
years he had lost everything--crown, home, and liberty--and was left to
drag out a miserable existence in the dungeons of Berry and Touraine.

"And when Duchess Beatrice died," wrote the poet, Vincenzo Calmeta,
"everything fell into ruin, and that court, which had been a joyous
paradise, was changed into a black Inferno."

Then Milan and her people become a prey to the rude outrages of French
soldiery. Leonardo's great horse was broken in pieces by Gascon archers,
and the Castello, "which had once held the finest flower of the whole
world, became," in Castiglione's words, "a place of drinking-booths and
dung-hills." The treasures of art and beauty stored up within its walls
were destroyed by barbarous hands, and all that brilliant company was
dispersed and scattered abroad. Artists and poets, knights and
scholars--Leonardo and Bramante, Galeazzo and Niccolo--were driven out,
and went their way each in a different direction, to seek new homes and
other patrons. But the memory of the young duchess--the _Donna beata_ of
Pistoja and Visconti's song--lived for many a year in the hearts of her
loyal servants, Castiglione enshrined her name in his immortal pages,
Ariosto celebrated her virtues in the cantos of his "Orlando Furioso,"
and far on in the new century, grey-headed scholars spoke of her as
"_la più zentil Donna d'Italia_"--the sweetest lady in all Italy.

And to-day, as we pace the dim aisles of the great Certosa, we may look
on the marble effigy of Duchess Beatrice and see the lovely face with
the curling locks and child-like features which the Lombard sculptor
carved, and which still bears witness to the love of Lodovico Sforza for
his young wife.

       *       *       *       *       *

In conclusion, I must acknowledge how deeply I am indebted to Signor
Luzio, keeper of the Gonzaga archives at Mantua, and to his able
colleague, Signor Renier, for the assistance which they have lent to my
researches, as well as for the help afforded by their own publications,
in which many of Isabella and Beatrice d'Este's most interesting letters
have already been given to the world. The State archives of Milan and
Mantua are the principal sources from which the information contained in
the present volume is drawn, and a list of the other authorities which
have been consulted is given below.


ITALIAN.

     Archivio di Stato di Milano, _Beatrice d'Este, Potenze
     estere_, etc.

     Archivio Gonzaga Mantova, _Copia lettera d'Isabella d'Este_,
     etc.

     A. Luzio and R. Renier, _Delle Relazioni di Isabella d'Este
     Gonzaga con Ludovico and Beatrice Sforza_. Archivio Storico
     lombardo, xvii.

     T. Chalcus, _Residua_. Milano, 1644.

     Archivio Storico Italiano, serie i. vol. iii.; Cronache
     Milanesi di G. A. Prato, G. P. Cagnola, G. M. Burigozzo, etc.;
     Serie iii. vol. xii., Serie v. vol. vi., Serie vii. vol. i.

     L. A. Muratori, _Italicarum Rerum Scriptores_, vol. xxiv.

     F. Muralti, _Annalia_.

     Paolo Giovio, _Storia di suoi Tempi_.

     Marino Sanuto, _Diarii, De Bello Gallico_, etc.

     Bernardino Corio, _Historie Milanese_.

     Rosmini, _Storia di Milano_.

     Fr. Guicciardini, _Storia a'Italia_. Rendered into English by
     G. Fenton. 1618.

     F. Frizzi, _Storia di Ferrara_, vols. iv. and v.

     P. Verri, _Storia di Milano_.

     Baldassare Castiglione, _Lettere_. Edizione Serassi.

     R. Renier, _Sonetti di Pistoia_.

     Giornale Storico di Letteratura Italiano, vols. v. and vi.

     Archivio Storico dell' Arte, vols. i. and ii.

     Renier, _Canzoniere di Niccolo da Correggio_.

     A. Campo Ghisolfo, _Storia delle Duchesse di Milano_. 1542.
     Rivista Storica Mantovana.

     Carlo Magenta, _I Visconti e Sforza nel Castello di Pavia_.

     F. Calvi, _Bianca Maria Sforza Visconti, Regina dei Romani,
     Imperatrice di Germania_.

     Marchese d'Adda, _Indagini sulla Liberia Visconti Sforzesca
     del Castello di Pavia_.

     Malipiero, _Annali Veneti_.

     Romanini, _Storia di Venezia_, vols. v. and vi.

     Imhoff, _Historia Genealogica Italiæ_.

     G. Uzielli, _Ricerche intorno a Leonardo da Vinci_.

     G. Uzielli, _Leonardo da Vinci e Tre Gentil donne Milanesi_.

     G. d'Adda, _Lodovico Maria Sforza_.

     L. Beltrami, _Il Castello di Milano, sotto il dominio degli
     Sforza_. 1450-1535.

     L. Beltrami, _Bramante poeta_.

     Padre Pino, _Storia genuina del Cenacolo_. 1796.

     B. Bellincioni, _Le Rime annotate da P. Fanfani_. Bologna.

     G. Tiraboschi, _Storia della Letteratura Italiana_, vols. vi.
     and vii.

     P. Molmenti, _La Vita Privata di Venezia_.

     A. Rusconi, _Lodovico il Moro a Novara_.

     F. Gabotto, _Girolamo Tuttavilla_.

     G. L. Calvi, _Notizie dei principali Professori di Belle Arti
     che fiorivano in Milano_.

     G. Mongeri, _L'Arte in Milano_.

     C. Amoretti, _Memorie Storiche sulla vita gli studi e le opere
     di Leonardo da Vinci_.

     Brigola, _Annali della Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano_.

     Carlo dell'Acqua, _Lorenza Gusnasco di Pavia_.

     P. Pasolini, _Caterina Sforza_.


FRENCH.

     Manuscrits Italiens, _Affaires d'état_. Bibliothèque
     Nationale.

     Pasquier le Moine, _MS. La Conquête du Duché de Milan_.
     Bibliothèque Nationale.

     Jean d'Auton, _Chroniques de Louis XII_. Edition publiée pour
     la Société de l'Histoire de France, par R. de Maulde La
     Claviere. 4 vols.

     Philippe de Commines, _Memoires_. Nouvelle edition publiée par
     la Société de l'Histoire de France.

     Vicomte Delaborde, _L'Expédition de Charles VIII. en Italie_.

     M. Eugène Müntz, _La Renaissance en Italie et en France à
     l'époque de Charles VIII_.

     M. Eugène Müntz, _Musée du Capitole_.

     M. Eugène Müntz, _Leonardo da Vinci_.

     C. de Cherrier, _Histoire de Charles VIII, Roi de France,
     d'après des documents diplomatiques inédits_.

     Louis Pélissier, _Louis XII. et Lodovico Sforza_. Recherches
     dans les Archives Italiennes.

     Louis Pélissier, _Notes Italiennes_.

     Louis Pélissier, _Les amies de Lodovico Sforza_. (Revue
     historique.)

     Edmond Gaultier, _Étude historique sur Loches_.

     Paravicini, _Architecture de la Renaissance en Italie_.

     Aldo Manuzio, _Lettres et Documents_. Armand Baschet.

     _Gazette des Beaux Arts_, vol. xvi.


GERMAN.

     Dr. Ludwig Pastor, _Geschichte der Päpste_, vols. v. and vi.

     Jacob Burckhardt, _Die Cultur der Renaissance in Italien_.

     Dr. W. Bode, Dr. Müller-Walde, _Jahrbuch der K. Preuss.
     Kunstsammlungen_. Vols. ix., x., and xviii.

     K. Kindt, _Die Katastrophe Lodovico Moro in Novara_.

     Dr. Müller-Walde, _Leonardo da Vinci_.


ENGLISH.

     _History of the Papacy_, by Dr. Creighton, Bishop of London.
     Vols. iv. and v.

     _The End of the Middle Ages_, by Madame James Darmetester.

     _The Renaissance in Italy_. J. A. Symonds.

     _Old Touraine_. T. Cook



CONTENTS


                                                                       PAGE
CHAPTER I
1471-1480

The Castello of Ferrara--The House of Este--Accession of Duke
Ercole I.--His marriage to Leonora of Aragon--Birth of Isabella
and Beatrice d'Este--Plot of Niccolo d'Este--Visit of Leonora to
Naples--The court of King Ferrante--Betrothal of Beatrice d'Este
to Lodovico Sforza, Duke of Bari--And of Isabella d'Este to
Francesco Gonzaga                                                         1


CHAPTER II
1451-1582

Lodovico Sforza--Known as Il Moro--His birth and childhood--Murder
of Duke Galeazzo Maria--Regency of Duchess Bona--Exile of the
Sforza brothers--Lodovico at Pisa--His invasion of Lombardy and
return to Milan--Death of Cecco Simonetta--Flight of Duchess
Bona--Lodovico Regent of Milan                                           11


CHAPTER III
1482-1490

Wars of Venice and Ferrara--Invasion of Ferrara--Lodovico Sforza and
Alfonso of Calabria come to the help of Ercole d'Este--Peace of
Bagnolo--Prosperity of Ferrara, and cultivation of art and learning
at Ercole's court--Guarino and Aldo Manuzio--Strozzi and Boiardo--
Architecture and painting--The frescoes of the Schifanoia--Music and
the drama--Education of Isabella and Beatrice d'Este                     27


CHAPTER IV
1485-1490

Isabella d'Este--Lodovico Sforza delays his wedding--Plot against
his life--Submission of Genoa--Duke Gian Galeazzo--The Sanseverini
brothers--Messer Galeazzo made Captain-General of the Milanese
armies--His marriage to Bianca Sforza--Marriage of Gian Galeazzo
to Isabella of Aragon--Wedding festivities at Milan--Lodovico
draws up his marriage contract with Beatrice d'Este                      40


CHAPTER V
1490-1491

Marriage of Isabella d'Este--Lodovico puts off his wedding--Cecilia
Gallerani--Her portrait by Leonardo da Vinci--Mission of Galeazzo
Visconti to Ferrara--Preparations for Beatrice's wedding--Cristoforo
Romano's bust--Duchess Leonora and her daughters travel to Piacenza
and Pavia--Their reception at Pavia by Lodovico                          50


CHAPTER VI
1491

City and University of Pavia--Duomo and Castello--The library of the
Castello--Wedding of Lodovico Sforza, Duke of Bari, and Beatrice
d'Este, in the chapel of the Castello of Pavia--Galeazzo di San
Severino and Orlando--Reception of the bride in Milan--Tournaments
and festivities at the Castello--Visit of Duchess Leonora to the
Certosa of Pavia                                                         60


CHAPTER VII
1491

Beatrice Duchess of Bari--Her popularity at the court of Milan--
Giangaleazzo and Isabella of Aragon--Lodovico's first impressions--
His growing affection for his wife--His letters to Isabella d'Este
--Hunting and fishing parties--Cussago and Vigevano--Controversy on
Orlando and Rinaldo--Bellincioni's sonnets                               75


CHAPTER VIII
1491

Relations between Lodovico and Beatrice--Cecilia Gallerani--Birth of
her son Cesare--Her marriage to Count Bergamini--Beatrice at Villa
Nova and Vigevano--The Sforzesca and Pecorara--Lodovico's system of
irrigation in the Lomellina--Leonardo at Vigevano--Hunting-parties
and country life--Letters to Isabella d'Este                             88


CHAPTER IX
1491-1492

Isabella of Aragon and Beatrice d'Este--Ambrogio Borgognone and
Giovanni Antonio Amadeo--Cristoforo Romano and his works at Pavia
and Cremona--The Certosa of Pavia--Illness of Beatrice--Her journey
to Genoa--Correspondence between Isabella and Lodovico Sforza--Visit
of the Marquis of Mantua to Milan                                        99


CHAPTER X
1491

Claims of Charles VIII. to Naples--Of the Duke of Orleans to Milan
--Intrigues of the Venetian Senate, of Pope Innocent VIII., and of
Ferrante and Alfonso of Naples--Visit of the French ambassadors to
Milan--Treasures of the Castello--Jewels of Lodovico Sforza--Isabella
of Aragon and her father--An embassy to the French court proposed--
Secret instructions of the Count of Caiazzo--_Fête_ at Vigevano
--Tournament of Pavia                                                   112


CHAPTER XI
1492

Intellectual and artistic revival in Lombardy--Lodovico and his
secretaries--Building of the new University of Pavia--Reforms and
extension of the University--The library of the Castello remodelled
--Poliziano and Merula--Lodovico founds new schools at Milan--
Equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza--Leonardo's paintings at
Milan--Lodovico as a patron of art and learning                         125


CHAPTER XII
1492

Beatrice d'Este as a patron of learning and poetry--Vincenzo
Calmeta, her secretary--Serafino d'Aquila--Rivalry of Lombard and
Tuscan poets--Gaspare Visconti's works--Poetic jousts with Bramante
--Niccolo da Correggio and other poets--Dramatic art and music at
the court of Milan--Gaffuri and Testagrossa--Lorenzo Gusnasco of
Pavia                                                                   141


CHAPTER XIII
1492

Visit of Duke Ercole to Milan, and of Isabella d'Este--Election of
Pope Alexander VI.--Bribery of the Cardinals--Influence of Ascanio
Sforza over the new Pope, and satisfaction of Lodovico--Hunting-
parties at Pavia and Vigevano--_Fêtes_ at Milan--Visit of Isabella
to Genoa--Lodovico's letters--Piero de Medici--King Ferrante's
jealousy of the alliance between Rome and Milan                         155


CHAPTER XIV
1493

Birth of Beatrice's first-born son--The Duchess of Ferrara at Milan
--_Fêtes_ and rejoicings at court and in the Castello--The court
moves to Vigevano--Beatrice's wardrobe--Her son's portrait--Letters
to her mother and sister--Lodovico's plans for a visit to Ferrara
and Venice                                                              166


CHAPTER XV
1493

Lodovico's ambitious designs--Isabella of Aragon appeals to her
father--Breach between Naples and Milan--Alliance between the Pope,
Venice, and Milan proclaimed--Mission of Erasmo Brasca to the king
of the Romans--Journey of Lodovico and Beatrice to Ferrara--_Fêtes_
and tournaments--Visit to Belriguardo, and return of Lodovico to
Milan--Arrival of Belgiojoso from France                                176


CHAPTER XVI
1493

Visit of Beatrice and her mother to Venice--Letters of Lodovico to
his wife--Reception of the duchesses by the doge at S. Clemente--
Their triumphal entry--Procession and _fêtes_ in the Grand Canal--
Letter of Beatrice to her husband--The palace of the Dukes of
Ferrara in Venice                                                       185


CHAPTER XVII
1493

_Fêtes_ at Venice in honour of the Duchess of Ferrara and Duchess of
Bari--Beatrice d'Este has an audience with the doge and Signory--
Explains Lodovico's position and his treaties with France and
Germany--Visit to St. Mark's and the Treasury--_Fête_ in the
ducal palace--The Duchess visits the Great Council--Takes leave of
the doge--Return to Ferrara                                             195


CHAPTER XVIII

1493

Return of Beatrice to Milan--Visit of Duke Ercole and Alfonso to
Pavia--Death of Duchess Leonora--Beatrice's _camora_ and
Niccolo da Correggio's _fantasia dei vinci_--Marriage of Bianca
Maria Sforza to Maximilian, King of the Romans, celebrated at Milan
--Letter of Beatrice to Isabella d'Este--Wedding _fêtes_ and journey
of the bride to Innsbrück--Maximilian's relations with his wife--
Bianca's future life                                                    205


CHAPTER XIX

1493-1494

State of political affairs in Italy--Vacillating policy of Lodovico
Sforza--Death of King Ferrante of Naples--Alliance between his
successor Alfonso and Pope Alexander VI.--Lodovico urges Charles
VIII. to invade Naples--Sends Galeazzo di Sanseverino to Lyons--
Cardinal della Rovere's flight from Rome--Alfonso of Naples declares
war--Beatrice of Vigevano--The Gonzagas and the Moro--Duchess
Isabella and her husband at Pavia                                       221


CHAPTER XX

1494

Arrival of the Duke of Orleans at Asti--The Neapolitan fleet sent
against Genoa--The forces of Naples repulsed at Rapallo--Charles
VIII. at Asti--Beatrice d'Este entertains him at Annona--The king's
illness--His visit to Vigevano and Pavia--His interview with the
Duke and Duchess of Milan--Last illness and death of Giangaleazzo
Sforza--Lodovico proclaimed Duke at Milan--Mission of Maffeo
Pirovano to Maximilian                                                  231


CHAPTER XXI

1494

Lodovico joins Charles VIII. at Sarzana--Suspicious rumours as to the
late duke's death--Piero de' Medici surrenders the six fortresses of
Tuscany to Charles VIII.--Lodovico retires in disgust from the camp
--Congratulations of all the Italian States on his accession--Grief
of Duchess Isabella--Her return to Milan--Mission of Maffeo Pirovano
to Antwerp--His interviews with Maximilian and Bianca--Letter to
Lodovico to the Bishop of Brixen--Charles VIII. enters Rome--His
treaty with Alexander VI. and departure for Naples                      246


CHAPTER XXII
1495

Visit of Isabella d'Este to Milan--Birth of Beatrice's son, Francesco
Sforza--_Fêtes_ and comedies at the Milanese Court--Works of
Leonardo and of Lorenzo di Pavia--Mission of Caradosso to Florence
and Rome in search of antiques--Fall of Naples--Entry of King Charles
VIII. and flight of Ferrante II.--Consternation in Milan--Departure
of Isabella d'Este                                                      258


CHAPTER XXIII
1495

Proclamation of the new league against France at Venice--Charles
VIII. at Naples--Demoralization of the victors--Charles leaves
Naples and returns to Rome--The Duke of Orleans refuses to give
up Asti--Arrival of the imperial ambassadors at Milan--Lodovico
presented with the ducal insignia--_Fêtes_ in the Castello--
The Duke of Orleans seizes Novara--Terror of Lodovico--Battle of
Fornovo--Victory claimed by both parties--The French reach Asti--
Isabella's trophies restored by Beatrice                                266


CHAPTER XXIV
1495

Ferrante II. recovers Naples--Siege of Novara by the army of the
League--Review of the army by the Duke and Duchess of Milan--Charles
VIII. visits Turin and comes to Vercelli--Negotiations for peace--
Lodovico and Beatrice at the camp--Treaty of Vercelli concluded
between France and Milan--Jealousy of the other powers--Commines at
Vigevano--Zenale's altar-piece in the Brera                             277


CHAPTER XXV
1496

The war of Pisa--Venice defends the liberties of Pisa against
Florence--Lodovico invites Maximilian to enter Italy and succour
the Pisans--The Duke and Duchess of Milan go to meet the emperor
at Bormio--Maximilian crosses the Alps and comes to Vigevano--His
interview with the Venetian envoys--His expedition to Pisa              287


CHAPTER XXVI
1496

Isabella d'Este joins her husband in Naples--Works of Bramante and
Leonardo in the Castello of Milan--The Cenacolo--Lodovico sends for
Perugino--His passion for Lucrezia Crivelli--Grief of Beatrice--
Death of Bianca Sforza--The Emperor Maximilian at Pisa--The Duke
and Duchess return to Milan--Last days and sudden death of Beatrice
d'Este                                                                  298


CHAPTER XXVII
1497

Grief of the Duke of Milan--His letters to Mantua and Pavia--
Interview with Costabili--Funeral of Duchess Beatrice--Mourning of
her husband--Letters of the Emperor Maximilian and Chiara Gonzaga--
Tomb of Beatrice in Santa Maria delle Grazie--Leonardo's Cenacolo,
and portraits of the duke and duchess--Lucrezia Crivelli                307


CHAPTER XXVIII
1497-1498

The Marquis of Mantua dismissed by the Venetians--He incurs Duke
Lodovico's displeasure by his intrigues--Isabella d'Este's
correspondence with the Duke of Milan--Leonardo in the Castello--
Death of Charles VIII.--Visit of Lodovico to Mantua--Francesco
Gonzaga appointed captain of the imperial forces--Isabella of
Aragon and Isabella d'Este--Chiara Gonzaga and Caterina Sforza--
Lodovico's will                                                         322


CHAPTER XXIX
1499

Treaty of Blois--Alliance between France, Venice, and the Borgias--
Lodovico appeals to Maximilian--His gift to Leonardo and letter to
the Certosa--The French and the Venetians invade the Milanese--
Desertion of Gonzaga and treachery of Milanese captains--Loss of
Alessandria--Panic and flight of Duke Lodovico--Surrender of Pavia
and Milan to the French--Treachery of Bernardino da Corte and
surrender of the Castello--Triumphal entry of Louis XII                 337


CHAPTER XXX
1499-1500

Louis XII. in Milan--Hatred of the French rule--Return of Duke
Lodovico--His march to Como and triumphal entry into Milan--Trivulzio
and the French retire to Mortara--Surrender of the Castello of Milan,
of Pavia and Novara, to the Moro--His want of men and money--Arrival
of La Trémouille's army--Lodovico besieged in Novara and betrayed to
the French king by the Swiss--Rejoicings at Rome and Venice--Triumph
of the Borgias--Sufferings of the Milanese--Leonardo's letter           352


CHAPTER XXXI
1500-1508

Lodovico Sforza enters Lyons as a captive--His imprisonment at
Pierre-Encise and Lys Saint-Georges--Laments over Il Moro in the
popular poetry of France and Italy--Efforts of the Emperor Maximilian
to obtain his release--Ascanio and Ermes Sforza released--Lodovico
removed to Loches--Paolo Giovio's account of his captivity--His
attempt to escape--Dungeon at Loches--Death of Lodovico Sforza--His
burial in S. Maria delle Grazie                                         367


CHAPTER XXXII
1500-1564

The Milanese exiles at Innsbrück--Galeazzo di Sanseverino becomes
Grand Ecuyer of France--Is slain at Pavia--Maximilian Sforza made
Duke of Milan in 1512--Forced to abdicate by Francis I. in 1515--
Reign of Francesco Sforza--Wars of France and Germany--Siege of
Milan by the Imperialists--Duke Francesco restored by Charles V.--
His marriage and death in 1535--Removal of Lodovico and Beatrice's
effigies to the Certosa                                                 375

INDEX                                                                   381



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


BIANCA SFORZA, BY AMBROGIO DE PREDIS                     _Frontispiece_
_From a photograph by_ SIGNOR D. ANDERSON, of Rome.

SFORZA MS. ILLUMINATED                                   _To face p. 83_
_From a private photograph._

ALTAR-PIECE, ASCRIBED TO ZENALE, WITH PORTRAITS OF
LODOVICO SFORZA, BEATRICE D'ESTE AND THEIR SONS         _To face p. 284_
_From a photograph by_ SIGNOR D. ANDERSON, of Rome.

GALEAZZO DI SANSEVERINO, BY AMBROGIO DE PREDIS          _To face p. 304_
_From a photograph by_ SIGNOR D. ANDERSON, of Rome.

TOMB OF LODOVICO SFORZA AND BEATRICE D'ESTE IN THE
CERTOSA OF PAVIA                                        _To face p. 389_
_From a photograph by_ FRATELLI ALINARI, of Florence.



BEATRICE D'ESTE



CHAPTER I

The Castello of Ferrara--The House of Este--Accession of Duke Ercole
I.--His marriage to Leonora of Aragon--Birth of Isabella and Beatrice
d'Este--Plot of Niccolo d'Este--Visit of Leonora to Naples--The court of
King Ferrante--Betrothal of Beatrice d'Este to Lodovico Sforza, Duke of
Bari--And of Isabella d'Este to Francesco Gonzaga.

1471-1480


In the heart of old Ferrara stands the Castello of the Este princes. All
the great story of the past, all the romance of medieval chivalry, seems
to live again in that picturesque, irregular pile with the crenellated
towers and dusky red-brick walls, overhanging the sleepy waters of the
ancient moat. The song of Boiardo and Ariosto still lingers in the air
about the ruddy pinnacles; the spacious courts and broad piazza recall
the tournaments and pageants of olden time. Once more the sound of
clanging trumpets or merry hunting-horn awakes the echoes, as the joyous
train of lords and ladies sweep out through the castle gates in the
summer morning; once more, under vaulted loggias and high-arched
balconies, we see the courtly scholar bending earnestly over some
classic page, or catch the voice of high-born maiden singing Petrarch's
sonnets to her lute.

St. George was the champion of Ferrara and the patron saint of the house
of Este. There year by year his festival was celebrated with great
rejoicings, and vast crowds thronged the piazza before the Castello to
see the famous races for the _pallium_. It is St. George who rides full
tilt at the dragon in the rude sculptures on the portal of the
Romanesque Cathedral hard by; it is the same warrior-saint who, in his
gleaming armour, looks down from the painted fresco above the portcullis
of the castle drawbridge. And all the masters who worked for the Este
dukes, whether they were men of native or foreign birth--Vittore
Pisanello and Jacopo Bellini, Cosimo Tura and Dosso Dossi--took delight
in the old story, and painted the legend of St. George and Princess
Sabra in the frescoes or altar-pieces with which they adorned the
churches and castle halls.

The Estes, who took St. George for their patron, and fought and died
under his banner, were themselves a chivalrous and splendour-loving
race, ever ready to ride out in quest of fresh adventure in the chase or
battle-field. Men and women alike were renowned, even among the princely
houses of Italy in Renaissance time, for their rare culture and genuine
love of art and letters. And they were justly proud of their ancient
lineage and of the love and loyalty which their subjects bore them. The
Sforzas of Milan, the Medici of Florence, the Riarios or the Della
Roveres, were but low-born upstarts by the side of this illustrious race
which had reigned on the banks of the Po during the last two hundred
years. In spite of wars and bloodshed, in spite of occasional
conspiracies and tumults, chiefly stirred up by members of the reigning
family, the people of Ferrara loved their rulers well, and never showed
any wish to change the house of Este for another. The citizens took a
personal interest in their own duke and duchess and in all that belonged
to them, and chronicled their doings with minute attention. They shared
their sorrows and rejoiced in their joys, they lamented their departure
and hailed their return with acclamation, they followed the fortunes of
their children with keen interest, and welcomed the return of the
youthful bride with acclamations, or wept bitter tears over her untimely
end.

Of all the Estes who held sway at Ferrara, the most illustrious and most
beloved was Duke Ercole I., the father of Beatrice. During the
thirty-four years that he reigned in Ferrara, the duchy enjoyed a degree
of material prosperity which it had never attained before, and rose to
the foremost rank among the states of North Italy. And in the troubled
times of the next century, his people looked back on the days of Duke
Ercole and his good duchess as the golden age of Ferrara. After the
death of his father, the able and learned Niccolo III., who first
established his throne on sure and safe foundations, Ercole's two elder
half-brothers, Leonello and Borso, reigned in succession over Ferrara,
and kept up the proud traditions of the house of Este, both in war and
peace. Both were bastards, but in the Este family this was never held to
be a bar to the succession. "In Italy," as Commines wrote, "they make
little difference between legitimate and illegitimate children." But
when the last of the two, Duke Borso, died on the 27th of May, 1471, of
malarial fever caught on his journey to Rome, to receive the investiture
of his duchy from the Pope, Niccolo's eldest legitimate son Ercole
successfully asserted his claim to the throne, and entered peacefully
upon his heritage. Two years later, the next duke, who was already
thirty-eight years of age, obtained the hand of Leonora of Aragon,
daughter of Ferrante, King of Naples, and sent his brother Sigismondo at
the head of a splendid retinue to bring home his royal bride. After a
visit to Rome, where Pope Sixtus IV. entertained her at a series of
magnificent banquets and theatrical representations, the young duchess
entered Ferrara in state. On a bright June morning she rode through the
streets in a robe glittering with jewels, with a stately canopy over her
head and a gold crown on her flowing hair. Latin orations, orchestral
music, and theatrical displays, for which Ferrara was already famous,
greeted the bridal procession at every point. The houses were hung with
tapestries and cloth of gold, avenues of flowering shrubs were planted
along the broad white streets, and ringing shouts greeted the coming of
the fair princess who was to make her home in Ferrara. The happy event
was commemorated by a noble medal, designed by the Mantuan Sperandio,
the most illustrious of a school of medallists employed at Ferrara in
Duke Borso's time, while Leonora's refined features and expressive face
are preserved in a well-known bas-relief, now in Paris. Ercole and his
bride took up their abode in the Este palace, a stately Renaissance
structure opposite the old Lombard Duomo, a few steps from the Castello,
with which it was connected by a covered passage.

The charm and goodness of the young duchess soon won the heart of her
subjects. From the first she entered eagerly into Ercole's schemes for
ordering his capital and encouraging art, and brought a new and gentler
influence to bear on the society of her husband's court. There, too, she
found a congenial spirit in the duke's accomplished sister, Bianca, that
Virgin of Este, who was the subject of Tito Strozzi's impassioned
eulogy, and whose Latin and Greek prose excited the admiration of all
her contemporaries. This cultivated princess had been originally
betrothed to the eldest son of Federigo, Duke of Urbino, but his early
death put an end to these hopes, and in 1468 she married Galeotto della
Mirandola, a prince of the house of Carpi, who lived, at Ferrara some
years, and afterwards entered the service of Lodovico Sforza and served
as captain in his wars.

On the 18th of May, 1474, the duchess gave birth to a daughter, who
received the name of Isabella, always a favourite in the house of
Aragon, and was destined to become the most celebrated lady of the
Renaissance. A year later, on the 29th of June, 1475, a second daughter
saw the light. Her appearance, however, proved no cause of rejoicing, as
we learn from the contemporary chronicle published by Muratori--

"A daughter was born this day to Duke Ercole, and received the name of
Beatrice, being the child of Madonna Leonora his wife. And there were no
rejoicings, because every one wished for a boy."

No one in Ferrara then dreamt that the babe who received so cold a
welcome would one day reign over the Milanese, as the wife of Lodovico
Sforza, the most powerful of Italian princes, and would herself be
remembered by posterity as "la più zentil donna in Italia"--the sweetest
lady in all Italy. At least the name bestowed upon her was a good omen.
She was called Beatrice after two favourite relatives of her parents.
One of these was Leonora's only sister, Beatrice of Aragon, who in that
same year passed through Ferrara on her way to join her husband,
Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, and whose presence, we are told by
the diarist, gave great pleasure to both duke and duchess. The other
Beatrice was Ercole's half-sister, the elder daughter of Niccolo III.,
who had long been the ornament of her father's court, when she had been
known as the Queen of Feasts, and it had become a common proverb that to
see Madonna Beatrice dance was to find Paradise upon earth. In 1448, at
the age of twenty-one, this brilliant lady had wedded Borso da
Correggio, a brother of the reigning prince of that city, and, after her
first husband's early death, had become the wife of Tristan Sforza, an
illegitimate son of the great Condottiere Francesco Sforza, Duke of
Milan. Although her home was now in Lombardy, Beatrice d'Este remained
on intimate terms with her own family, and her son Niccolo da Correggio
was known as the handsomest and most accomplished cavalier at the court
of Ferrara. He had accompanied his uncle Duke Borso on his journey to
Rome, and had been one of the escort sent to conduct Duchess Leonora
from Naples.

In the summer of the year following Beatrice's birth, the hopes of the
loyal Ferrarese were at length fulfilled, and a son was born to the duke
and duchess on the 21st of July, 1476. This time the citizens abandoned
themselves to demonstrations of enthusiastic delight. The bells were
rung and the shops closed during three whole days, and the child was
baptized with great pomp in the Chapel of the Vescovado, close to the
Duomo. The infant received the name of Alfonso, after his grandfather,
the great King of Naples, and a "beautiful fête," to quote one
chronicler's words, "was held in honour of the auspicious event in the
Sala Grande of the Schifanoia Villa." On this occasion a concert was
given by a hundred trumpeters, pipers, and tambourine-players in the
frescoed hall of this favourite summer palace, and a sumptuous banquet
was prepared after the fashion of the times, with an immense number of
_confetti_, representing lords and ladies, animals, trees, and castles,
all made of gilt and coloured sugar, which our friend the diarist tells
us were carried off or eaten by the people as soon as the doors were
opened.

But a few days afterwards, while Duke Ercole was away from Ferrara, his
wife was surprised by a sudden rising, the result of a deep-laid
conspiracy, secretly planned by his nephew, Niccolo, a bastard son of
Leonello d'Este. Niccolo's first endeavour was to seize on the person of
the duchess and her young children, an attempt which almost proved
successful, but was fortunately defeated by Leonora's own courage and
presence of mind. The palace was already surrounded by armed men, when
the alarm reached the ears of the duchess, and, springing out of bed
with her infant son in her arms, followed by her two little daughters
and a few faithful servants, she fled by the covered way to the
Castello. Hardly had she left her room, when the conspirators rushed in
and sacked the palace, killing all who tried to offer resistance. The
people of Ferrara, however, were loyal to their beloved duke and
duchess. After a few days of anxious suspense, Ercole returned, and soon
quelled the tumult and restored order in the city. That evening he
appeared on the balcony of the Castello, and publicly embraced his wife
and children amid the shouts and applause of the whole city. The next
day the whole ducal family went in solemn procession to the Cathedral,
and there gave public thanks for their marvellous deliverance. A
terrible list of cruel reprisals followed upon this rebellion, and
Niccolo d'Este himself, with two hundred of his partisans, were put to
death after the bloody fashion of the times.

A year later, when the danger was over and tranquillity had been
completely restored, Leonora and her two little daughters set out for
Naples, under the escort of Niccolo da Correggio, to be present at her
father King Ferrante's second marriage with the young Princess Joan of
Aragon, a sister of Ferdinand the Catholic. The duchess and her children
travelled by land to Pisa, where galleys were waiting to conduct them to
Naples, and reached her father's court on the 1st of June, 1477. Here
Leonora spent the next four months, and in September, gave birth to a
second son, who was named Ferrante, after his royal grandfather. But
soon news reached Naples that war had broken out in Northern Italy, and
that Duke Ercole had been chosen Captain-general of the Florentine
armies. In his absence the presence of the duchess was absolutely
necessary at Ferrara, and early in November Leonora left Naples and
hastened home to take up the reins of government and administer the
state in her lord's stead. She took her elder daughter Isabella with
her, but left her new-born son at Naples, together with his little
sister Beatrice, from whom the old King Ferrante refused to part. This
bright-eyed child, who had won her grandfather's affections at this
early age, remained at Naples for the next eight years, and grew up in
the royal palace on the terraced steps of that enchanted shore, where
even then Sannazzaro was dreaming of Arcadia, and where Lorenzo de'
Medici loved to talk over books and poetry with his learned friend the
Duchess Ippolita. Beatrice was too young to realize the rare degree of
culture which had made Alfonso's and Ferrante's court the favourite
abode of the Greek and Latin scholars of the age, too innocent to be
aware of the dark deeds which threw a shadow over these sunny regions,
where the strange medley of luxury and vice, of refinement and cruelty,
recalled the days of Imperial Rome. But the balmy breath of these
Southern climes, the soft luxuriant spell of blue seas and groves of
palm and cassia, sank deep into the child's being, and something of the
fire and passion, the mirth and gaiety, of the dwellers in this
delicious land passed into her soul, and helped to mould her nature
during these years that she spent far from mother and sister at King
Ferrante's court.

In these early days many personages with whom she was to be closely
associated in after-years were living at Naples. There were scholars and
poets whom she was to meet again in Milan at her husband's court, and
who would be glad to remind her that they had known her as a child in
her grandfather's palace. There was Pontano, the founder of the Academy
of Naples, who was busy writing his Latin eclogues on the myrtle bowers
of Baiae and the orange groves of Sorrento. There was her aunt, the
accomplished Ippolita Sforza, Duchess of Calabria, who had learnt Greek
of the great teacher Lascaris in her young days at Milan, and whose
wedding had brought the magnificent Lorenzo to the court of the Sforzas.
And for playmates the little Beatrice had Ippolita's children: the boy
Ferrante, whose chivalrous nature endeared him to his Este cousins, even
when their husbands joined with the French invaders to drive him from
his father's throne; and the girl Isabella, who was already affianced to
the young Duke Giangaleazzo, who was in future years to become her
companion and rival at the court of Milan. Here, too, in the summer of
1479, came a new visitor in the shape of Duchess Ippolita's brother,
Lodovico Sforza, surnamed _Il Moro_, himself the younger son of the
great Duke Francesco. On his elder brother Sforza's death, the King of
Naples had invested him with the duchy of Bari, and now he promised him
men and money with which to assert his claims against his sister-in-law,
the widowed Duchess Bona and the minions who had driven him and his
brothers out of their native land. In June, 1477, only a few days after
Leonora and her children left Ferrara, the exiled prince had arrived
there on his way to Pisa, and had been courteously entertained by Duke
Ercole in the Schifanoia Palace. Since then he had spent two dreary
years in exile at Pisa, fretting out his heart in his enforced idleness,
and pining for the hour of release. That hour was now at hand. Before
the end of the year, Lodovico Sforza had, by a succession of bold
manoeuvres, driven out his rivals and was virtually supreme in Milan.
The first step which the new regent took was to ally himself with the
Duke of Ferrara. The houses of Sforza and Este had always been on
friendly terms, and Ercole's father Niccolo had presented Francesco
Sforza with a famous diamond in acknowledgment of the services rendered
him by the great Condottiere. When Francesco's son and successor, Duke
Galeazzo Maria, was murdered in 1476, his widow, Duchess Bona, had
renewed the old alliance with Ferrara, and a marriage had been arranged
between her infant daughter Anna Sforza and Duke Ercole's new-born son
and heir Alfonso. In May, 1477, this betrothal was proclaimed in Milan,
and a fortnight later the nuptial contract was signed at Ferrara. The
union of the two houses was celebrated by solemn processions and
thanksgivings throughout the duchy, and the infant bridegroom was
carried in the arms of his chamberlain to meet the Milanese ambassador,
who appeared on behalf of the little three-year-old bride. Seven years
afterwards, Duchess Leonora sent a magnificent doll with a trousseau of
clothes designed by the best artists in Ferrara, as a gift to the little
daughter-in-law whom she had not yet seen.

In 1480, Lodovico Sforza formally asked Ercole to give him the hand of
his elder daughter Isabella, then a child of six. Lodovico himself was
twenty-nine, and besides being a man of remarkable abilities and
singularly handsome presence, had the reputation of being the richest
prince in Italy. Duke Ercole further saw the great importance of
strengthening the alliance with Milan at a time when Ferrara was again
threatened by her hereditary enemies, the Pope and Venice.
Unfortunately, his youthful daughter had already been sought in marriage
by Federico, Marquis of Mantua, on behalf of his elder son, Giovanni
Francesco; and Ercole, unwilling to offend so near a neighbour, and yet
reluctant to lose the chance of a second desirable alliance, offered
Lodovico Sforza the hand of his younger daughter, Beatrice. The Duke of
Bari made no objection to this arrangement, and on St. George's Day,
Ercole addressed the following letter to his old ally, Marquis
Federico:--


"MOST ILLUSTRIOUS LORD AND DEAREST BROTHER,

"This is to inform you that the most illustrious Madonna Duchess of
Milan and His Illustrious Highness Lodovico Sforza have sent their
ambassador, M. Gabriele Tassino, to ask for our daughter Madonna
Isabella on behalf of Signor Lodovico. We have replied that to our
regret this marriage was no longer possible, since we had already
entered into negotiations on the subject with your Highness and your
eldest son. But since we have another daughter at Naples, who is only
about a year younger, and who has been adopted by his Majesty the King
of Naples as his own child, we have written to acquaint His Serene
Majesty with the wish of these illustrious Persons, and have asked him
if he will consent to accept the said Signor Lodovico as his kinsman,
since without his leave we were unable to dispose of our daughter
Beatrice's hand. The said Persons having expressed themselves as well
content with the proceeding, out of respect for the King's Majesty he
has now declared his approval of this marriage, to which we have
accordingly signified our consent. We are sure that you will rejoice
with us, seeing the close union and alliance that has long existed
between us, and beg your Illustrious Highness to keep the matter secret
for the present.

                                         "HERCULES, DUX FERR., ETC.[1]

_Ferrara, 23rd April, 1480._"

It is curious to reflect on the possible changes in the course of
events in Italian history during the next thirty years, if Lodovico
Sforza's proposals had reached Ferrara a few months earlier, and
Isabella d'Este, instead of her sister Beatrice, had become his wife.
Would the rare prudence and self-control of the elder princess have led
her to play a different part in the difficult circumstances which
surrounded her position at the court of Milan as the Moro's wife? Would
Isabella's calmer temperament and wise and far-seeing intellect have
been able to restrain Lodovico's ambitious dreams and avert his ruin?
The cordial relations that were afterwards to exist between Lodovico and
his gifted sister-in-law, the Moro's keen appreciation of Isabella's
character, incline us to believe that she would have acquired great
influence over her lord; and that so remarkable a woman would have
played a very important part on this larger stage. But the Fates had
willed otherwise, and Beatrice d'Este became the bride of Lodovico
Sforza. Her royal grandfather, old King Ferrante, gave his sanction to
the proposed marriage, although he refused to part from his little
grandchild at present, and when, five years later, Beatrice returned to
Ferrara, she assumed the title and estate of Duchess of Bari, and was
publicly recognized as Lodovico's promised wife. She had by this time
reached the age of ten, and her espoused husband was exactly
thirty-four.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Luzio-Renier in Archivio Storico Lombardo, xvii. 77.



CHAPTER II

Lodovico Sforza--Known as Il Moro--His birth and childhood--Murder of
Duke Galeazzo Maria--Regency of Duchess Bona--Exile of the Sforza
brothers--Lodovico at Pisa--His invasion of Lombardy and return to Milan
--Death of Cecco Simonetta--Flight of Duchess Bona--Lodovico Regent of
Milan.

1451-1582


Lodovico Sforza was certainly one of the most remarkable figures of the
Italian Renaissance. He has generally been described as one of the
blackest. "Born for the ruin of Italy," was the verdict of his
contemporary Paolo Giovio, a verdict which every chronicler of the
sixteenth century has endorsed. These men who saw the disasters which
overwhelmed their country under the foreign rule, could not forget that
Charles VIII., the first French king who invaded Italy, had crossed the
Alps as the friend and ally of Lodovico Moro. They forgot how many
others were at least equally guilty, and did not realize the vast
network of intrigues in which Pope Julius II., the Venetian Signory, and
the King of Naples all had a share. Later historians with one consent
have accepted Paolo Giovio's view, and have made Lodovico responsible
for all the miseries which arose from the French invasion. The bitter
hatred with which both French and Venetian writers regarded the prince
who had foiled their countrymen and profited by their mistakes, has
helped to deepen this sinister impression. The greatest crimes were
imputed to him, the vilest calumnies concerning his personal character
found ready acceptance. But the more impartial judgment of modern
historians, together with the light thrown upon the subject by recently
discovered documents, has done much to modify our opinion of Lodovico's
character. The worst charges formerly brought against him, above all,
the alleged poisoning of his nephew, the reigning Duke of Milan, have
been dismissed as groundless and wholly alien to his nature and
character. On the other hand, his great merits and rare talents as ruler
and administrator have been fully recognized, while it is admitted on
all hands that his generous and enlightened encouragement of art and
letters entitles him to a place among the most illustrious patrons of
the Renaissance. To his keen intellect and discerning eye, to his fine
taste and quick sympathy with all forms of beauty, we owe the production
of some of the noblest works of art that human hands have ever
fashioned. To his personal encouragement and magnificent liberality we
owe the grandest monuments of Lombard architecture, and the finest
development of Milanese painting, the façade of the Certosa and the
cupola of Sta. Maria delle Grazie, the frescoes and altar-pieces of the
Brera and the Ambrosiana. Above all, it was at the Milanese court, under
the stimulating influence of the Moro, that Leonardo da Vinci's finest
work was done.

As a man, Lodovico Sforza is profoundly interesting. Burckhardt has
called him the most complete among the princely figures of the Italian
Renaissance, and there can be no doubt that alike in his virtues and in
his faults, he was curiously typical of the age in which he lived.
Guicciardini, who was certainly no friend to him, and regarded him as
the inveterate foe of Florence, describes him as "a creature of very
rare perfection, most excellent for his eloquence and industry and many
gifts of nature and spirit, and not unworthy of the name of milde and
mercifull;" and the Milanese doctor Arluno, the author of an unpublished
chronicle in the Biblioteca Marciana at Venice, says, "He had a sublime
soul and universal capacity. Whatever he did, he surpassed expectation,
in the fine arts and learning, in justice and benevolence. And he had no
equal among Italian princes for wisdom and sagacity in public affairs."
Contemporary writers describe him as very pleasant in manner and
gracious in speech, always gentle and courteous to others, ready to
listen, and never losing his temper in argument. He shared in the
laxity of morals common to his age; but was a man of deep affections as
well as strong passions, fondly attached to his children and friends,
while the profound and lasting grief with which he lamented his dead
wife amazed his more fickle contemporaries. Singularly refined and
sensitive by nature, he shrank instinctively from bloodshed, and had a
horror of all violent actions. In this he differed greatly from his
elder brother Galeazzo Maria, who was a monster of lust and cruelty,
intent only on gratifying his savage instincts, and as callous to human
suffering as he was reckless of human life. Lodovico, as his most
hostile critics agree, was emphatically not a cruel man, and rarely
consented to condemn even criminals to death. But, like many other
politicians who have great ends in view, he was often unscrupulous as to
the means which he employed, and, as Burckhardt very truly remarked,
would probably have been surprised at being held responsible for the
means by which he attained his object. Trained from early youth in the
most tortuous paths of Italian diplomacy, he acted on the principle laid
down by the Venetian Marino Sanuto, that the first duty of the really
wise statesman is to persuade his enemies that he means to do one thing
and then do another. But in these tangled paths he often over-reached
himself, and only succeeded in inspiring all parties with distrust; and,
as too often happens, this deceiver was deceived in his turn, and in the
end betrayed by men in whom his whole trust had been placed. Another
curious feature of Lodovico's character was the strain of moral
cowardice which, in spite of great personal bravery, marked his public
actions at the most critical moments. This sudden failure of courage, or
loss of nerve, that to his contemporaries seemed little short of
madness, absolutely inexplicable in a man who had faced death without a
thought on many a battle-field, ultimately wrought his own downfall as
well as that of his State.

And yet, in spite of all his faults and failings, in spite of the
strange tissue of complex aims and motives which swayed his course,
Lodovico Sforza was a man of great ideas and splendid capacities, a
prince who was in many respects distinctly in advance of his age. His
wise and beneficial schemes for the encouragement of agriculture and the
good of his poorer subjects, his careful regulations for the
administration of the University and advancement of all branches of
learning, his extraordinary industry and minute attention to detail,
cannot fail to inspire our interest and command our admiration. In more
peaceful times and under happier circumstances he would have been an
excellent ruler, and his great dream of a united kingdom of North Italy
might have been well and nobly realized. As it was, the history of
Lodovico Moro belongs to the saddest tragedies of the Renaissance, and
the splendour of his prosperity and the greatness of his fall became the
common theme of poet and moralist.

The story of Lodovico's childhood is one of the pleasantest parts of his
strangely chequered career. He was the fourth son of Francesco Sforza,
the famous soldier of fortune who had married Madonna Bianca, daughter
of the last Visconti, and reigned in right of his wife as Duke of Milan
during twenty years. On the 19th of August, 1451, a year and a half
after the great captain had boldly entered Milan and been proclaimed
Duke, Duchess Bianca gave birth at her summer palace of Vigevano to a
fine boy. This "_bel puello_," as he is called in the despatch
announcing the news to his proud father, received the name of Lodovico
Mauro, which was afterwards altered to Lodovico Maria, when, after his
recovery from a dangerous illness at five years old, his mother placed
him under the special protection of the Blessed Virgin. On this occasion
Bianca vowed rich offerings to the shrine of Il Santo at Padua, and in
discharge of this vow, her faithful servant Giovanni Francesco Stanga of
Cremona was sent to Padua in February, 1461, to present a life-size
image of the boy richly worked in silver, together with a complete set
of vestments and of altar plate bearing the ducal arms, to the ark of
the blessed Anthony. In documents still preserved in the Paduan archives
the boy is twice over mentioned as _Lodovicus Maurus filius quartus
masculus_, but the silver image itself bore the inscription, "_Pro
sanitate filii_. Lodovici Mariæ, 1461."[2] There can, however, be little
doubt that Maurus was the second name first given to Lodovico, and that
this was the true origin of the surname _Il Moro_ by which Francesco
Sforza's son became famous in after-years. The most ingenious
explanations of this name have been invented by Italian chroniclers.
Prato and Lomazzo both say that Lodovico was called Il Moro because of
the darkness of his complexion and long black hair. Guicciardini repeats
the same, but Paolo Giovio, who had seen Lodovico at Como, asserts that
his complexion was fair, and he owed this surname to the mulberry-tree
which he adopted as his device, because it waits till the winter is well
over to put forth its leaves, and is therefore called the most prudent
of all trees. As a matter of fact, there is no doubt that the surname
was given to Lodovico by his parents. "He was first called Moro by his
father Francesco and his mother Bianca in his earliest years," writes
Prato, and we find the same expression in the verse of a Milanese court
poet: "_Et Maurum læto patris cognomine dictum_." The name naturally
provoked puns. The dark-eyed boy with his long black hair and bushy
eyebrows went by the nickname of Moro, and as he grew up, adopted both
the Moor's head and the mulberry-tree as his badge. These devices in
their turn supplied the poets and painters of his court with themes on
which they were never tired of exercising their wit and ingenuity. Moors
and Moorish costumes were introduced in every masquerade and ballet, a
Moorish page was represented brushing the robes of Italy in a fresco of
the Castello of Milan, while mulberry colour became fashionable among
the ladies of the Moro's court, and was commonly worn by the servants
and pages in the palace. Lodovico early gave signs of the love of
literature and the great abilities which distinguished him in
after-life. His quickness in learning by heart, his extraordinary
memory, and the fluency with which he wrote and spoke Latin amazed his
tutors. And he was fortunate in receiving an excellent education from
the first Greek scholars of the day. Madonna Bianca, the only daughter
of Filippo Maria, the last Visconti who had betrothed her before she was
eight years old to Francesco Sforza, proved herself the best of wives
and mothers. By her courage and wisdom she helped her husband to gain
possession of her dead father's duchy, and won the hearts of all her
subjects by her goodness. While Francesco was engaged with affairs of
state, she directed the studies of her children, and gave her six sons
an admirable training in learning and knightly exercises. "Let us
remember," she said to her son's tutor, the learned scholar Filelfo,
"that we have princes to educate, not only scholars." We find her
setting the boys a theme on the manner in which princes should draw up
treaties, and desiring them in her absence to write to her once a week
in Latin. Several of these letters are still preserved in the archives
of Milan. There is one, for instance, in which Lodovico, then sixteen
years old, tells his mother that he is sending her seventy quails, two
partridges, and a pheasant, the result of a day's sport in the forest,
but takes care to assure her that the pleasures of the chase will never
make him neglect his books.

Many are the pleasant glimpses we catch of the family circle, whether in
the Corte vecchia or old ducal palace of the Viscontis at Milan, in the
beautiful park and gardens of the Castello at Pavia, or in their country
homes of Vigevano and Binasco. We see Duke Francesco riding out with his
young sons through the streets of Milan, visiting the churches and
convents that were rising on all sides, the new hospital, which was the
object of Madonna Bianca's tender care, the oak avenues and gardens with
which she loved to surround her favourite shrines. We find the boys at
home, helping their mother to entertain her guests with music and
dancing, and accompanying her on visits to the noble Milanese families.
One day their grandmother, Agnese di Maino, came to see the duke's sons
with an old gentleman from Navarre, who went home declaring that he had
never seen such wise and well-educated children; another time we hear of
a Madonna Giovanna coming to spend the day at the palace, and dancing
all the evening with Lodovico Maria; and when the duchess took her
younger children to visit Don Tommaseo de' Rieti, general laughter was
excited by the little four-year-old Ascanio, the future cardinal, who
walked straight up to a portrait of the duke, exclaiming, "There is my
lord father!" When the newly elected Pope Pius II., who as Eneas Sylvius
Piccolomini had often been in Milan, came to visit the duke in 1457, he
found Galeazzo reading Cicero, and his little brothers with their
cherub faces sitting round their tutor, intent on his discourse; while
on one occasion their sister Ippolita, the pupil of the great
Constantine Lascaris, pronounced a Latin oration in honour of His
Holiness. On Christmas day, a festival which was always celebrated with
much pomp at Milan, each of the duke's four elder sons came forward and
recited a Latin speech, and Lodovico delighted all who were present by
the ease and grace of his bearing, and the eloquent periods in which he
extolled his father's great deeds in peace and war.

The duke himself always singled out Lodovico for especial notice, and
said the boy would do great things. It was, no doubt, his sense of the
youthful Moro's talents that made Francesco choose him, at the age of
thirteen, to be the leader of the body of three thousand men which were
to join in the Crusade preached by Pope Pius II. On the 2nd of June,
1464, the ducal standard, bearing the golden lion of the house of Sforza
and the adder of the Visconti, was solemnly committed to the charge of
the young Crusader, before the eyes of the whole court, on the piazza in
front of the old palace, which was gaily decorated for the occasion with
garlands and tapestries. But the Pope died, and the idea of the Crusade
was abandoned. Lodovico, however, was sent by his father to Cremona, the
city which had been Duchess Bianca's dowry, and whose inhabitants were
among the most loyal subjects of the Sforza princes. Here he lived
during the next two years, enjoying his foretaste of power, and making
himself very popular with the Cremonese. In 1465, his accomplished
sister was married to Alfonso, Duke of Calabria, and Lorenzo de Medici
came to Milan for the nuptials. Then these two men, who in days to come
were to be so often named together as the most illustrious patrons of
art and letters in the Renaissance, met for the first time, and
discovered the mutual tastes which in future years often brought them
into close relation.

The sudden death of Duke Francesco in 1466 brought a change in
Lodovico's position, and the ingratitude with which the new duke,
Galeazzo, treated his widowed mother, naturally irritated his brothers.
In October, 1468, Bianca retired to Cremona, where she died a week
after her arrival--"more from sorrow of heart than sickness of body,"
wrote her doctor. The good duchess was buried by her husband's side in
the Duomo of Milan, and was long and deeply lamented both by her
children and subjects, and by none more than her son Lodovico, who
always remembered his mother with the deepest affection. But he remained
on good terms with Galeazzo, and was deputed by the new duke to receive
his bride, Bona of Savoy, when the princess arrived at Genoa, from the
French court, where her youth had been spent with her sister, the wife
of King Louis XI. During the next ten years Lodovico lived in enforced
idleness at the Milanese court, and, freed from the restraint of his
parents' authority, abandoned himself to idle pleasures. All we have
from his pen at this period are two short letters. In one, written from
Milan and dated April 19, 1476, he asks the Cardinal of Novara to stand
godfather to the illegitimate son whom his mistress, Lucia Marliani,
Countess of Melzi, had borne him, and who was to be baptized at Pavia.
The other is an affectionate letter addressed from Vigevano a year later
to Lucia herself, rejoicing to hear of her well-being, and looking
forward to seeing her after the feast of St. George. Whether the son was
Leone Sforza, afterwards apostolic protonotary, or whether he was the
child whose death Lodovic lamented a few years later, does not appear,
but all his life the Moro retained a sincere regard for the mother,
Lucia Marliani, and left her certain lands by his will.

Meanwhile, in the conduct of his elder brother Galeazzo he had the worst
possible example. Once in possession of supreme power, the new duke gave
himself up to the most unbridled course of vice and cruelty. The
profligacy of his life, and the horrible tortures which he inflicted on
the hapless victims of his jealousy and anger, caused Milanese
chroniclers to describe him as another Nero. He was commonly believed to
have poisoned both his mother and Dorotea Gonzaga, the betrothed bride
of whom he wished to rid himself when a more desirable marriage
presented itself. These charges were probably groundless, but some of
his actions went far to justify the suspicions of madness which he
aroused in the minds of his contemporaries. When, for instance, he
ordered his artists to decorate a hall at the Castello at Pavia with
portraits of the ducal family in a single night, under pain of instant
death, the Ferrarese Diarist had good reason to describe the new Duke of
Milan as a prince guilty of great crimes and greater follies. At the
same time, Galeazzo showed himself a liberal patron of art and learning.
He founded a library at Milan, invited doctors and priests to the
University of Pavia, and brought singers from all parts of the world to
form the choir of the ducal chapel. During his reign a whole army of
painters and sculptors were employed to decorate the interior of the
Castello of the Porta Giovia at Milan, which his father had rebuilt when
he gave up the ground in front of the old palace to the builders of the
Duomo, and which now became the chief ducal residence. Under his
auspices printing was introduced, and the first book ever produced in
Italy, the Grammar of Lascaris--a Greek professor who had taken refuge
at the court of the Sforzas on the fall of Constantinople--appeared at
Milan in 1476. The splendour of his court surpassed anything that had
been yet seen. Great rejoicings took place in 1469, when Lorenzo de
Medici came to Milan to stand godfather to the duke's infant son, and
Galeazzo was so delighted at the sight of the costly diamond necklace
which the Magnificent Medici presented to Duchess Bona on this occasion,
that he exclaimed, "You must be godfather to all my children!" The
wealth and luxury displayed by the duke and duchess when they visited
Florence two years later with a suite of two thousand persons,
scandalized the old-fashioned citizens, and, in Machiavelli's opinion,
proved the beginning of a marked degeneracy in public morals.

For a time the Milanese were amused by the _fêtes_ provided for them,
and dazzled by the sight of all this splendour; but retribution came in
time, and on the Feast of St. Stephen in the winter of 1476, Duke
Galeazzo was assassinated at the doors of the church of S. Stefano by
three courtiers whom he had wronged. The Milanese chronicler Bernardino
Corio gives a dramatic account of the scene, which he himself witnessed,
and relates how Bona, who was haunted by a presentiment of coming evil,
implored her lord not to leave the Castello that morning, and how three
ravens were seen hovering about Galeazzo's head on that very morning,
when, in his splendid suit of crimson brocade, the tall and handsome
duke entered the church doors, while the choir sang the words, "_Sic
transit gloria mundi_."

"The peace of Italy is dead!" exclaimed Pope Sixtus IV. when the news of
Galeazzo's murder reached him. And the issue proved that he was not far
wrong. In her distress, the widowed duchess, who seems to have been
fondly attached to her husband, in spite of his crimes and follies,
addressed a piteous letter to the Holy Father owning her dead lord's
guilt, and asking him if he could issue a bull absolving him from his
many and grievous sins. In her anxiety for Galeazzo's soul, she promised
to atone as far as possible for his crimes by making reparation to those
whom he had wronged, and offered to build churches and monasteries,
endow hospitals, and perform other works of mercy. The Pope does not
seem to have returned a direct answer to this touching prayer, but he
took advantage of Bona's present mood to hurry on the marriage of
Caterina Sforza, the duke's natural daughter, with his own nephew,
Girolamo Riario, which had been arranged by Galeazzo, and which took
place in the following April. Lodovico was absent at the time of
Galeazzo's assassination, and with his brother Sforza, Duke of Bari, was
spending Christmas at the court of Louis XI. at Tours. They had not been
banished, as Corio asserts, but, tired of idleness and fired with a wish
to see the world, they had gone on a journey to France, and, after
visiting Paris and Angers, were on their way home when the news of the
duke's murder reached them. But if any hope of obtaining a share in the
government had been aroused in Lodovico's heart, it was doomed to speedy
disappointment. Cecco Simonetta, the able secretary and minister who had
administered the state under Galeazzo, kept a firm hold on the reins of
government, ruled the Milanese in the name of Duchess Bona and her young
son Gian Galeazzo. The Sforza brothers soon found their position
intolerable, and the intervention of a friendly neighbour, the Marquis
of Mantua, was necessary before they could obtain any recognition of
their right. At his request, Bona agreed to give each of her
brothers-in-law a suitable residence in Milan, as well as a portion of
12,500 ducats from the revenues of their mother's inheritance, the city
of Cremona. Filippo Sforza, the second of the brothers, who is described
as weak in intellect and a person of no account, was content to live
peaceably in Milan, where his very existence seems to have been
forgotten by his family, and where the only mention of him that occurs
again is that of his death in 1492. The other brothers were sent to
Genoa, where an insurrection had broken out, and succeeded in subduing
the rebels and restoring peace. But when they returned to Milan at the
head of a victorious army, with their kinsman the valiant Condottiere
Roberto di Sanseverino, a movement was set on foot among the old
Ghibelline followers of Duke Francesco to obtain the regency for Sforza,
Duke of Bari. Cries of _Moro! Moro!_ began to be heard in the streets of
Milan. Simonetta, becoming alarmed, threw Donato del Conte, one of the
Ghibelline leaders, into prison, upon which Sanseverino and the Sforzas
loudly demanded his release. Simonetta gave them fair words in return,
and induced the dissatisfied chiefs to meet in the park of the Castello,
where they agreed to lay down their arms. But Sanseverino, suspecting
treachery, set spurs to his horse, and, riding with drawn sword in his
hand out of the city through the Porta Vercellina, crossed the Ticino,
and did not pause until he was in safety. His companions soon followed
his example. Ottaviano Sforza, the youngest of the family, a brave lad
of eighteen, was drowned in crossing the swollen Adda, and his three
remaining brothers were condemned to perpetual exile. Sforza was
banished to his duchy of Bari, in the kingdom of Naples, Ascanio to
Perugia, and Lodovico to the city of Pisa.

During the next eighteen months Lodovico lived at Pisa, fretting his
heart out in exile and wasting the best years of his life, as he
complained to Lorenzo de Medici. His friend could only counsel patience,
for, sympathize as he might with the banished prince, Lorenzo was
closely allied with the rulers of Milan, and Lodovico soon saw that his
only hope of seeing his native land again was to be found in the support
of Ferrante, King of Naples, the sworn foe of the Medici. This monarch
looked on Simonetta as a traitorous villain who had taken advantage of
Bona's weakness to usurp the supreme power in Milan, and wrote to King
Louis XI, begging him to come to his kinswoman's help and assist in
restoring the Duke of Bari and his brother to their rights. But the
French king had no wish to be drawn into the quarrel, and when Ferrante
endeavoured to obtain the restoration of his exiled kinsmen by fair
means and had failed, Sforza and Lodovico resolved to try the fortunes
of war once more. Roberto di Sanseverino, whose mother had been a niece
of Duke Francesco, and who had large estates of his own in Lombardy,
placed his sword at their disposal, and they knew they could reckon on
the secret support of their Sforza and Visconti kinsmen in Milan. Among
these, Lodovico had a devoted partisan in Beatrice d'Este, the sister of
Duke Ercole of Ferrara, who had lately been left a widow for the second
time by the death of her husband, the brave soldier Tristan Sforza, and
who kept up a secret correspondence with the exiled princes. Early in
February, 1479, the Sforza brothers and Roberto di Sanseverino landed in
Genoa and boldly raised the standard of revolt. Simonetta retaliated by
confiscating their revenues and proclaiming them rebels, while he hired
Ercole D'Este and Federigo Gonzaga to join the Florentines in resisting
the advance of the Neapolitan forces. In the midst of these warlike
preparations, Sforza Duke of Bari died very suddenly at Genoa. His death
was attributed, after the fashion of the day, to poison secretly sent
him from Milan; but, as Corio remarks, many persons thought that his
excessive stoutness was the true cause of his decease. Lodovico, whom
the King of Naples immediately invested with the dukedom of Bari in his
brother's stead, now crossed the Genoese Alps and boldly invaded the
territory of Tortona. But the enterprise was a perilous one, and the
allied forces of Milan were preparing to crush his little army, when an
unexpected turn of fortune altered the whole condition of affairs.
Duchess Bona, a very beautiful woman, but, as Commines remarks, "_une
dame de petit sens_" had become infatuated with a certain Antonio
Tassino, a Ferrarese youth of low extraction, whom Galeazzo had
appointed carver at the royal table, and who, after the duke's death,
had made himself indispensable to his mistress. The _liaison_ had
created a coolness between the duchess and her prime minister, of which
Beatrice d'Este and some of the Sforza party cleverly availed
themselves to widen the breach. They deplored the growing arrogance of
Simonetta, and lamented the success of his intrigues against Lodovico,
who was his sister-in-law's nearest relative and rightful protector.
Acting on their suggestion, Bona took a sudden resolve. She sent a
messenger to invite Lodovico to return to Milan in his nephew's name,
and late in the evening of the 7th of October, 1479, the Moro, leaving
the camp at Tortona, arrived in Milan, and was secretly admitted into
the Castello by the garden door. The duchess and her son, Gian Galeazzo,
a boy of ten, received him with open arms, and great was the joy among
all the Ghibellines of Milan, when they heard to their surprise that
Duke Francesco's son was once more among them. Simonetta looked grave,
as he well might, when he heard the news. "Most illustrious duchess," he
said to Bona the next day, "do you know what will happen? My head will
be cut off, and before long you will lose this state." But he proceeded
to congratulate Lodovico on his return, and was received by him in the
most courteous manner. When the news of these events reached the rival
camps outside Milan, a truce was proclaimed, and the leaders on either
side disbanded their armies. The object of the expedition was attained,
and Lodovico restored to his rightful place at Milan. But neither
Roberto di Sanseverino nor the other Ghibelline leader could be content
while their hated rival Simonetta was still at large. They sent
messengers to Lodovico, imperiously demanding his summary punishment,
and declaring that they would never lay down their arms until he and his
confederates were imprisoned. After some delay, Lodovico yielded to
their demand; Bona's faithful secretary was arrested and sent to Pavia
with his brother, while the fickle populace sacked their houses.
Congratulations poured in from all the kinsfolk of the Sforza family.
Caterina Sforza, the illegitimate daughter of Duke Galeazzo, who had
been brought up by Bona with her own children, wrote from Rome, where
she was living with her husband, Girolamo Riario, Count of Imola and
Forli at the papal court, to rejoice with her brother the young duke
over the fall of the hated minister; "_quelo nefandissimo Cecho_ the
murderer of our family and our flesh and blood." Now at length, he
adds, she will be able to visit Milan and see her beloved mother once
more in peace and safety. And her husband's uncle, Pope Sixtus IV.,
himself wrote to congratulate both duke and duchess on the arrest of
Simonetta and the restoration of peace and tranquillity. Lodovico was
now formally associated with Duchess Bona in the regency, and his
brother Ascanio was recalled and advanced to the dignity of Archbishop
of Pavia. Before many months were over peace was concluded with
Florence, and with the full approval of King Ferrante, the Duke of
Ferrara accepted Lodovico Sforza as his future son-in-law.

Meanwhile party feeling still ran high in Milan, and the Ghibellines,
with Sanseverino and Pusterla at their head, never ceased to clamour for
Simonetta's head. People began to complain that Lodovico, who had been
brought back to power by the Ghibellines, was after all a Guelph at
heart, and a traitor to his party. In vain the Moro advocated milder
measures, and wrote a letter to Simonetta, offering to release him on
payment of a ransom. The old secretary, who was upwards of seventy years
of age, refused, saying that he was ill and weary of life, and had no
fear of death. At length Lodovico, vexed by the continual recriminations
of his Ghibelline followers, reluctantly gave way. Bona signed the death
warrant of her old servant, and on the 30th of October, 1480, Simonetta
was beheaded in the Castello of Pavia. His brother Giovanni, an able and
learned scholar, was released, and lived to write the famous Sforziada,
or history of Duke Francesco's great deeds, which he dedicated to his
son Lodovico.

Already one-half of the unfortunate minister's prophecy had come true;
the other half was soon to be fulfilled. For a few months Bona rejoiced
in her freedom from the cares of state, and left all to Lodovico, "who
could do her no greater pleasure than not to speak of these things,"
says Commines. She herself was treated with the utmost respect, and
spent her time in feasting and dancing, and loaded her favourite with
honours. Tassino lived in rooms next to her own, and rode out with the
duchess on pillion behind him. But her favourite, encouraged by the
folly of his mistress, became every day more indolent, until one day he
kept Lodovico Sforza and the chief officers of state waiting at the door
of his room while he finished his toilet. Yet nothing could cure Bona's
infatuation, and she went so far as to beg Lodovico to appoint her
minion's father to be governor of the _Rocca_ of Porta Zobia (Giovia),
as the Castello of Milan was called. Fortunately Eustachio, who had been
appointed to the post by Duke Galeazzo, and solemnly charged to hold it,
in case of his own death, until his son was of age, refused to give up
the keys; and the young duke and his brother Ermes were conducted into
the Rocca, while at the same moment Tassino received an order from the
Council to leave Milan. This he did without delay, taking with him a
large sum of money and many valuable pearls and jewels which he had
received from the duchess. When Bona heard of her favourite's flight she
flew into a frantic rage, and, "forgetful alike of honour and maternal
duty," as Corio writes, she renounced her share of the regency, saying
that she placed her son in his uncle's care, and left Milan. "Like some
demented woman," continues Corio, she fled as far as Abbiategrasso,
where she was detained by Lodovico's orders, and not allowed to proceed
to France as she had intended. In the end, however, she effected her
purpose, and retired to her brother-in-law's Louis XI.'s court, where
she remained during the next few years, vowing vengeance against
Lodovico, and bitterly repenting her weakness in having consented to his
return. So Lodovico Moro, "that hero of patience and cunning," as
Michelet calls him, at length attained his object, and found himself
sole Regent of Milan. _Merito e tempore_ was the motto which he had
chosen for his own, and which he placed in golden letters on his shield,
and illuminated on the vellum pages of his favourite books, in the firm
belief that all things come to the man who can learn to bide his time.
Henceforth his head appeared together with that of his younger nephew on
all coins and medals, and the words _Lodovico patrue gubernante_
inscribed below.

Pandolfini, the Florentine ambassador, who had watched his course with
profound interest, sent a minute report of the latest developments of
public events to Lodovico's friend, the Magnificent Medici. A year
before, when Lodovico had just returned to Milan, the envoy remarked,
"Signor Lodovico is very popular here, both with the people and with
Madonna." Again, a little later, he wrote, "Madonna trusts much in
Messer Lodovico's good nature." Now he added, "The whole government of
the kingdom is placed in Lodovico's hands." He could not refrain from an
expression of admiration at the peaceable manner in which this
revolution had been accomplished. "With what ability and skill he has
effected this sudden change!" And he added, "I tell him, if he uses his
opportunities well, he will become the arbiter of the whole of Italy."

FOOTNOTES:

[2] Caffi in A. S. L., xiii.



CHAPTER III

Wars of Venice and Ferrara--Invasion of Ferrara--Lodovico Sforza and
Alfonso of Calabria come to the help of Ercole d'Este--Peace of Bagnolo
--Prosperity of Ferrara, and cultivation of art and learning at Ercole's
court--Guarino and Aldo Manuzio--Strozzi and Boiardo--Architecture and
painting--The frescoes of the Schifanoia--Music and the drama--Education
of Isabella and Beatrice d'Este.

1482-1490


Such was the prince to whom Duke Ercole had betrothed his younger
daughter, and who had suddenly become one of the chief personages in
North Italy. But more than ten years were to elapse before the
child-bride even saw her affianced husband. During that time both Milan
and Ferrara passed through many vicissitudes, and at one moment
Beatrice's father and his state were reduced to the utmost extremity.

The Venetians availed themselves of the troubled state of Lombardy and
the civil strife that divided the house of Sforza, to attack their old
enemy the Duke of Ferrara. In 1482 Roberto di Sanseverino, the valiant
captain who had been one of the chief instruments in restoring his
kinsman Lodovico Sforza to his country, left Milan in a rage, because he
did not consider his salary sufficient, and offered his services to the
Republic of Venice. With his gallant sons to help him, he invaded the
territory of Ferrara at the head of an army of seventeen thousand men,
and carried all before him. The Pope as usual took up the quarrel of the
Venetians, in the hope of sharing the spoil, and while Ercole's ally,
King Ferrante of Naples, was engaged in resisting the papal forces, the
Genoese, who had revolted against Duchess Bona in 1478, and elected a
doge of their own, occupied Lodovico Sforza's attention. The Ferrarese
troops were completely defeated in a battle under the citadel of
Argenta, many of the Ferrarese leaders were slain, and the duke's
nephew, Niccolo da Correggio, and three hundred men were taken prisoners
to Venice. Sanseverino made good use of his advantage, and his son
Gaspare, better known by his nickname of Fracassa, marched to the very
gates of Ferrara, and planted the Lion of St. Mark on the peacocks'
house in the ducal park. Meanwhile the plague had broken out in Ferrara,
and so great was the scarcity of wheat in the beleaguered city, that
Battista Guarino, the tutor of the young Princess Isabella, applied to
her betrothed husband Francesco Gonzaga for a grant of corn to save him
from starvation. Worse than all, Duke Ercole himself lay dangerously ill
within the Castello, and a report of his death was circulated through
the city. At this critical moment Duchess Leonora once more showed her
courage and presence of mind. Seeing the greatness of the danger, she
sent her children with a safe escort to Modena, and calling the
magistrates together, she harangued them from the garden loggia, and
bade them be true to their old lords of the house of Este. The citizens,
moved to tears at the sight of Leonora's majesty and courage, shouted
with one voice, "Diamante!"--the watchword of the house of Este, and
vowed to die for their duke. In their enthusiasm, the people broke open
the palace doors, and rushing into the chamber where Ercole lay on his
sick-bed, covered his hands with kisses, and would not be satisfied
until they had heard his voice again and knew him to be alive. After
this outburst of loyalty, they rallied bravely to the defence of the
city. Every man who could bear arms in Ferrara helped to man the walls,
and the country-folk, rising in thousands, harassed the invading army
and cut off their supplies. Fortunately, help was at hand. On the one
hand, Lodovico Sforza's troops checked the advance of the Venetians on
the side of Modena; on the other, Ercole's brother-in-law, Alfonso, Duke
of Calabria, himself rode at the head of fifty horsemen and a troop of
infantry to the help of the beleaguered city.

Throughout the long struggle that followed, Lodovico Sforza proved
himself a wise and faithful friend of the house of Este, and it was
chiefly owing to him that Ferrara preserved her independence. But the
duke and his people had to make great sacrifices on their part, and at
the peace of Bagnolo, which was finally concluded in 1484, seven towns
were ceded to Venice, and the fertile district of Rovigo in the
Polesina, "_un petit pays_," in the words of Commines, "_tout environné
d'eau et abondant a merveille en tous biens_."

A period of renewed peace and prosperity followed upon these disastrous
wars. Ercole, although in his early youth he had proved himself a
valiant soldier, had in reality far greater taste for the arts of peace
than for those of war, and now devoted himself to the more congenial
task of adorning Ferrara and cultivating letters. His father Niccolo
III. had been the first prince in Northern Italy to take part in the
revival of Greek learning that had been set on foot in Naples and
Florence. He it was who, in 1402, revived the ancient University of
Ferrara, and invited the best scholars of the day to give lectures to
its students. At his prayer, the Sicilian Hellenist Aurispa, who had
travelled to Greece and Constantinople in search of Greek manuscripts,
fixed his residence at Ferrara; while Battista Guarino of Verona became
the tutor of Niccolo's own son Leonello, and inspired the young prince
with that ardour for learning which made him the most accomplished ruler
of his time. It was Niccolo, again, who invited the celebrated Paduan
doctor, Michele Savonarola, to fill the chair of medicine at the
University of Ferrara. Michele's son became court physician to Ercole,
and his grandson, the famous Dominican friar, Fra Girolamo Savonarola,
who had forsaken the study of medicine to take the vows of a preaching
brother, delivered his first course of Lent sermons in Ferrara during
that troubled year 1482.

The General Council held at Ferrara in 1438 brought some of the first
Greek Oriental scholars together in that city, and Niccolo d'Este
himself assisted at many of the discussions held by these learned
professors. His son Leonello, besides encouraging students by his own
example, devoted great pains and expense to the University library which
he founded, while his successor, Duke Borso, pensioned poor students,
who were clothed and fed at his cost. Ercole now followed in his
father's and brother's steps with so much success that under his reign
the University of Ferrara became the foremost in Italy, and boasted no
less than forty-five professors, while the number of students reached
four hundred and seventy-four. In those days the most renowned scholars
of the age flocked from all parts of Italy to hear Guarino lecture; and
Aldo Manuzio, the great printer, and his illustrious friend Pico della
Mirandola, the phoenix of the Renaissance, came to Ferrara to sit at the
feet of this revered teacher. Here Aldo acquired the passion for Greek
literature which made him inscribe the word Philhellene after his name
on his first printed books. Here, in his own turn, he lectured on Greek
and Latin authors to the cultured youth of Ercole's court, and here he
would have set up his printing-press, under his friend Duchess Leonora's
patronage, if the Venetian war had not forced him to leave Ferrara. Both
from the court of Alberto Pio at Carpi, where he found refuge with a
kinsman of the Estes, and at Venice, where he founded his famous
printing-press, he kept up frequent communications with the duke's
family, and dedicated books to young Cardinal Ercole, and bound and
printed choice editions of Petrarch and Virgil for his sister Isabella
d'Este. But if Duke Ercole emulated the zeal of his predecessors in the
encouragement of classical learning, he surpassed them all in his love
of travel, of building, and of theatrical representations. During the
next twenty years he indulged freely in all of these favourite pursuits.

His opportunities of travel, indeed, were limited by the duties of his
position; but whenever he could find leisure, he gratified his roving
taste by paying frequent visits to Milan or Venice, where the
magnificent palace bestowed upon his ancestor Nicolas II. in the last
century, but confiscated during the war with Ferrara, had been restored
to him at the peace of Bagnolo. In 1484, he took Duchess Leonora there
with a suite of seven hundred persons. On this occasion the palace
originally decorated by Duke Borso was sumptuously restored, and the
Doge and Senate entertained their guests with princely hospitality. A
more distant pilgrimage to the shrine of S. Jago of Compostella in
Spain, which Ercole had planned in 1487, had to be abandoned, owing to
the opposition of Pope Innocent VIII.; but eight years later the duke
paid another visit to Florence, on the pretence of discharging a vow
which he had made to Our Lady of the Annunziata. To the last the
adventurous disposition of the Estes, the love of seeing and hearing new
things, marked his character and governed his actions.

Meanwhile his imagination found plenty of food for activity at home, and
nothing interfered with his love of building or with the delight which
he took in the stage. Under him, Ferrara became one of the finest cities
in Italy. Her broad streets and spacious squares, her noble statues and
imposing monuments, the stately symmetry of her well-kept ways, made a
deep impression on Lodovico Sforza when he visited his wife's home. At
the beginning of his reign Ercole had sent to Florence to borrow
Alberti's Treatise on Architecture from Lorenzo de' Medici, and had
carried out his improvements on the principles advocated by the
Renaissance architect. On every side new churches and palaces rose into
being, a lofty Campanile was added to the ancient Lombard Cathedral, an
equestrian statue of Niccolo III. and a bronze effigy of Duke Borso
adorned the piazza in front of the Castello. Soon Ercole's subjects
caught their duke's passion for building, and vied with him in erecting
new and sumptuous houses. His brother, Cardinal Sigismondo, raised the
Palazzo Diamante, that magnificent Renaissance structure in the Via
degli Angeli. The Trotti and the Costabili, the Strozzi and Boschetti,
all followed suit and built palatial residences in the neighbourhood.

These fine buildings were surrounded with spacious gardens. One of
Ercole's first improvements had been to lay out the noble park outside
the town, and to people it with stags and goats, with gazelles and
antelopes and the spotted giraffes which Niccolo da Correggio describes
in his poems; and on the gates leading from the city were marble busts
carved by the hand of Sperandio, the famous medallist who had worked so
long for the ducal house, and who has left us portraits of all the chief
personages at the Ferrarese court. The courtyard of the ancient Este
palace was adorned with wide marble staircases, the villa of Belfiore
was enlarged and beautified, while that of Belriguardo, twelve miles
from the city, on the banks of the Po, became celebrated as the most
sumptuous of all the stately pleasure-houses in which Renaissance
princes took delight. No pains or expense were spared in the decoration
of these luxurious country houses. The terraced gardens and marble
loggias were adorned with fountains and statues, the halls were hung
with costly tapestries and gold and silver embroideries. Eastern carpets
and carved ivories, cameos and intaglios, precious gems and rare
majolica from Urbino and Casteldurante were brought together in the
Camerini of the Castello and the halls of the Schifanoia palace, that
favourite Sans-Souci of the Este princes close to the court-church of S.
Maria in Vado and to the convent of Leonora's friends, the nuns of S.
Vito. In this charming retreat, where Borso and Ercole alike loved to
escape from the cares of state, we may still see the remnants of these
splendid decorations which once adorned these halls: the painted
arabesques and stucco frieze of children playing musical instruments,
the barrel-vaulted ceilings, and marble doorways with their rows of
cherub heads and dolphins. There the unicorn which Borso took for his
device, figures side by side with the imperial eagle granted him by
Frederic III when he came to visit Ferrara, and the fleur-de-lis of
France, which the Estes were privileged to bear on their coat-of-arms.
There we still see fragments of the frescoes on the months and seasons
of the year which Cossa and his scholars painted at the bidding of
successive dukes. Borso is there on his white horse as he rides out
hunting, attended by falconers and pages leading his favourite
greyhounds in the leash; or looking on at the races of St. George's Day,
surrounded by scholars and courtiers, dwarfs and jesters, and fair
ladies clad in glittering robes of cloth of silver and gold. All the
pageant of court-life in old Ferrara, as it was in the days when Duke
Ercole reigned and Isabella and Beatrice d'Este grew up under the good
Duchess Leonora's care, passes again before our eyes, as we linger in
these low halls of the little red-brick palace among the fruit trees of
this deserted quarter.

Niccolo III. and his elder sons had all been liberal patrons of art, and
had invited the best artists they could find from other parts of Italy.
Vittore Pisanello and Jacopo Bellini had both of them visited Ferrara
and painted portraits of the Este princes--that of Leonello, with his
long hooked nose and low forehead, is still preserved at Bergamo, and
Piero de' Franceschi, the mighty Umbrian, is said to have supplied a
design for Duke Borso's tomb. But it was in later years, under Ercole's
reign, that this little group of native artists arose, and that Cosimo
Tura and his followers founded the school which gradually spread to
Bologna and Modena and boasted such masters as Lorenzo Costa and
Francia, or helped to mould the genius of a Raphael and a Correggio.
Tura himself remained at Ferrara all his life, painting altar-pieces for
Duchess Leonora's favourite churches, as well as frescoes in the duke's
villas and portraits of the different members of the ducal family in
turn. In 1472, before the Duke's marriage, he painted the portrait of
Ercole--strange to say--together with his illegitimate daughter Lucrezia
d'Este, to be sent as a present to his bride, Leonora of Aragon, at her
father's court of Naples. Again, in the summer of 1485, he was called
upon in his capacity of court painter to paint the likeness of the
youthful Isabella for her affianced husband, Francesco Gonzaga; and
before the year was out he had to perform the same task for the other
little bride, who had just returned from Naples. The following paper in
the Ferrarese archives fixes the exact date of the portrait, which was
evidently sent as a Christmas gift to Lodovico Sforza at Milan. "On the
24th of December, 1485, Cosimo Tura received four gold florins from the
duke, for painting from life the face and bust of the Illustrissima
Madonna Beatrice, to be sent to Messer Lodovico Maria Sforza, Duca di
Bari, consort of the said Beatrice--Carlo Continga taking it to him."
Unfortunately, both of these portraits have perished, and the only
representation of Beatrice as a girl that we have is the sculptor
Cristoforo Romano's well-known bust in the Louvre.

While the native schools of painting became active and prosperous under
Ercole's auspices, a flourishing school of arts and crafts arose in
Ferrara under the immediate patronage of the duchess. From the day of
her marriage, Leonora not only showed that intelligent love of art and
learning which might have been expected in a princess of the house of
Aragon, but a warm interest in the well-being of her subjects, together
with excellent sense and a strong practical bent. At her invitation,
tapestry-workers from Milan and Florence came to settle at Ferrara, and
skilled embroiderers were brought over from Spain. The duchess herself
superintended these workers, selected the colours and patterns, and
became an authority in the choice of hangings and decoration of rooms.
While Ercole had an insatiable passion for gems and cameos, antique
marbles and ivories, Leonora showed an especial taste for gold and
silver metal-work. Silver boxes and girdles curiously chased and
engraved were constantly sent to the duchess by Milanese goldsmiths, and
among the workers in this line whom she frequently employed was
Francesco Francia, the goldsmith painter of Bologna. In 1488, this
artist sent her an exquisite chain of gold hearts linked together, which
excited general admiration, and may perhaps have been intended as a
bridal gift for Elizabeth Gonzaga, the sister of Isabella's betrothed
husband, who visited Ferrara that spring, on her way to Urbino.
Leonora's own jewels were said to be the finest and most artistic owned
by any princess of her day, and, as in the case of other Renaissance
ladies, formed no inconsiderable portion of her fortune; and, in
consequence, they were frequently pawned to raise money for her
husband's wars. The duchess's famous necklace of pearls, we learn, was
repeatedly lent by the duke to bankers or goldsmiths in Rome and
Florence as pledges for the repayment of loans advanced during the war
with Venice.

Music was another of Ercole's favourite pastimes, and the choir of his
court chapel at one time rivalled that of Milan, which was held to be
the best in Italy. Violinists and lute-players were brought from Naples
to Ferrara, French and Spanish tenors were included among the singers
who accompanied the duke on his journeys. A still more distinctive
feature of his court were the theatrical representations, which became a
prominent part of all the palace festivities, and which undoubtedly owed
much to the duke's taste for dramatic art. Under his directions, a
spacious theatre was fitted up in the old Gothic Palazzo della Ragione
on the cathedral square. Here Latin comedies were performed before an
audience which included the most learned classical scholars of the day,
and Italian dramas were seen for the first time upon the stage. In 1486,
an Italian version of the _Menæchimi_, translated by Ercole himself,
was acted here, with interludes of masques and morris dances, violin
music, and recitations. This was followed, a year later, by a
performance of _Cefalo_, one of the oldest of Italian dramas, a pastoral
play composed by Niccolo da Correggio, chiefly taken from Ovid's
"Metamorphoses," and which is said to have suggested the subjects of
Correggio's famous frescoes in the Abbess of San Paolo's parlour at
Parma. Each Christmas and carnival these theatrical representations were
repeated, and many were the distinguished visitors who came to Ferrara
to witness these celebrated performances. The _Amphitryon_ and _Cassina_
of Plautus were frequently given. On one occasion, a play adapted from a
dialogue of Lucian's by Matteo Boiardo was acted. Another time, at the
wedding of a Marchese Strozzi, a Latin comedy written by the
bridegroom's brother, Ercole Strozzi, was performed before the whole
court. Sometimes, by way of variety, sacred subjects were placed upon
the stages. Tableaux of the Annunciation and the history of Joseph were
introduced, accompanied with recitations and music. While the duke was
known to have a strong preference for classical plays, the duchess and
her daughters took pleasure in lighter forms of literature, and
encouraged the songs and romances which courtly poets wrote for their
benefit in the _lingua vulgare_. A new school of Italian poets sprang up
at Ferrara in the last years of the century. Antonio Tebaldeo, the
friend of Castiglione and Raphael--"our Tebaldeo," whom Pietro Bembo
declared Raphael had painted in so lifelike a manner that he was not so
exactly himself in actual life as in this portrait--had his home at
Ferrara in these early days, and enjoyed the favour of the Marchioness
Isabella in his later years. While the elder Strozzi, Tito, had the
reputation of being the best Latin poet of the day, his son Ercole
belonged to the circle of younger scholars, and, like his friends Bembo
and Ariosto, wrote elegant Italian verses as well as Latin epistles and
orations. Then there was the blind poet Francesco Bello, the author of
the "Mambriano," that heroic poem on the favourite Carlovingian legend;
Andrea Cossa of Naples, who sang his own _rime_ and _strambotti_ to the
music of the lute; Niccolo da Correggio, called by Isabella d'Este and
Sabba da Castiglione "the most accomplished gentleman of the age, the
foremost man in all Italy, in the art of poetry and in courtesy," who
devoted his muse to the service of gentle ladies, and composed _canzoni_
and _capitoli_ or set Petrarch's sonnets to music for Isabella and
Beatrice's pleasure. And among Ercole's courtiers at Ferrara there was
one still greater, Matteo Boiardo, Count of Scandiano, who was intimate
with both duke and duchess, and held many high posts at court. He was a
member of the splendid suite sent in 1473 to escort Leonora from Naples
to Ferrara, and afterwards held the important post of Governor of Modena
during many years. But in the midst of official labours and court
duties, Matteo was all the while engaged in writing his great work
of the "Orlando Innamorato," that wonderful epic in which classic and
romantic ideas are mingled together as strangely as in Piero di Cosimo
or Sandro Botticelli's paintings. The first cantos of his poem, begun in
1472, were published at Venice in 1486, with a dedication to Duke
Ercole, and the work was continued at intervals throughout his life, and
was only interrupted by the death of the poet. This took place in 1494,
when the first French armies were first seen descending upon Italy, and
the sweet singer of high romance broke off abruptly with a prophetic
note of warning in his last accents--"While I am singing, I see all
Italy set on fire by these Gauls, coming to ravage I know not how many
fresh lands, alas!"

In this city which was at once the home of Italian epic and Italian
drama, at this court where the boy Ariosto was to take up the song that
dropped from the lips of Boiardo, and to wear the laurel in his turn,
the young princesses of Este grew up. There were three of them, for
Lucrezia, the duke's illegitimate daughter, had found a kind mother in
the duchess, and was brought up with her young step-sisters Isabella and
Beatrice, until in 1487, she became the wife of Annibale Bentivoglio,
and went to live in Bologna. Under Leonora's careful and vigilant eyes,
these maidens were trained in all the culture of the day. Their
classical studies were directed by Battista Guarino, the son of the
learned Verona humanist, the same who begged the Marquis of Mantua for a
grant of wheat that he might the better be able to teach his betrothed
bride Madonna Isabella during the famine at Ferrara. With him they
learnt sufficient Latin to read Cicero and Virgil, as well as Greek and
Roman history. Music and dancing were taught them almost from infancy.
They learnt to play the viol and lute, and sang _canzoni_ and sonnets to
the accompaniment of these instruments. Beatrice, we know, was
passionately fond of music. She employed the great Pavian Lorenzo
Gusnasco to make her clavichords and viols of the finest order, and like
her father, she never travelled without her favourite singers. Isabella
herself had a beautiful voice, and sang with a sweetness and grace which
charmed all hearers. The most accomplished poets of the Renaissance,
Pietro Bembo and Niccolo da Correggio, Girolamo Casio and Antonio
Tebaldeo, were proud to hear her sing their verses, and the Vicenza
scholar Trissino, forestalling Waller in this, wrote a _canzone_
addressed to "My Lady Isabella playing the lute."

Messer Ambrogio da Urbino began to give Isabella dancing lessons almost
as soon as she could walk. Later on a certain Messer Lorenzo Lavagnolo,
who had taught Elizabeth and Maddalena Gonzaga, the young sisters of the
Marquis of Mantua, and had afterwards been sent to the court of Milan to
teach Duchess Bona's daughters, came to Ferrara. This master, who was
commended to the Duchess of Milan by the Marchioness Barbara of Mantua
as superior to all other professors of the art of dancing, gave lessons
to Isabella and her sisters, as we learn from a letter which she wrote
to her affianced husband, thanking him in her sister's name and her own
for having sent so excellent a teacher to undertake the task, and
recommending this faithful and devoted servant to His Excellency's
notice. A bill for making dresses and scenery that were employed in a
"_festa_" composed by Messer Lorenzo for the duke's daughters is
preserved in the Gonzaga archives, and at Lucrezia's wedding, in 1487,
this renowned master travelled to Bologna to direct the _fêtes_ given in
honour of her marriage.

Some knowledge of French seems to have formed part of an Italian lady's
education at this period, but even Isabella, with all her quickness and
talent, was never able to speak French fluently, and Beatrice had
recourse to interpreters when she received the visit of King Charles
VIII. at Asti, and was required to make civil speeches in reply to his
compliments. But they read Provençal poetry and translations of Spanish
romances from the rare volumes, sumptuously bound in crimson velvet with
enamelled and jewelled clasps and corners, that were among the most
precious treasures of Duchess Leonora's cabinet. Above all, they took
delight in French romances, such as "_I reali di Francia_"--that book
which was so popular with Italian ladies, and became familiar with the
exploits of Roland and the paladins of Charlemagne's court. As they bent
over their embroidery-frames at their lady mother's side, in the painted
camerini of the Castello, or under the acacias and lemon-trees of the
Schifanoia villa, they listened to the wonderful fairy tales which
Matteo Boiardo recited, and heard him tell how Rinaldo of Montalbano was
pelted with roses and lilies and made captive by Cupid's dames. Now and
then, on summer evenings, they were allowed to join in the water-parties
at Belriguardo, and float down the stream in the ducal bucentaur to the
sound of the court violins, or else take part in those hunting
expeditions for which Beatrice developed a passionate taste in
after-years. As the frescoes of Schifanoia show, hunting was always a
favourite pastime at the court of Ferrara. The duke kept many hundred
horses in his stables, and the greatest care was bestowed upon his breed
of dogs and falcons. When Borso went to Rome in 1471, he took in his
retinue eighty pages, each leading four greyhounds in a leash; and when
he entertained the Emperor Frederic III. at Ferrara, he presented him
with fifty of his best horses. Ercole often received gifts of Barbary
horses from the Sultan of Tunis or the famous Gonzaga stables that were
reckoned the best in Italy, and bought Spanish jennets and steeds of
Irish race to improve his own breed. And Duchess Leonora owned a special
breed of greyhounds which were held in high esteem, and a pair of which
she sent to Caterina Sforza, Madonna of Forli, at the humble request of
this adventurous lady.

But it was only on very rare occasions that the young princesses of Este
were allowed to leave their studies, which occupied their whole days,
and, as we learn from their different preceptors' letters, absorbed
their whole attention. Nor, we may be quite sure, was their religious
education neglected under the eye of their mother, a sincerely devout
and pious woman, who took pleasure in the converse of learned Dominicans
and Carmelites, and paid frequent visits to S. Vito, close to the
Schifanoia villa, and to the Convent of Corpus Domini, in which church
she was buried. Her many charitable works, the liberality with which she
helped her poorer subjects, relieved their wants, and gave dowries to
virtuous maidens, as well as her munificence in adorning altars and
churches with rich ornaments, are recorded by every Ferrarese historian.
Sabadino degli Arienti places her high among the illustrious women of
the age, and says her deeds cannot fail to have opened the adamant doors
of Paradise, while Castiglione speaks of her excellent virtues as known
to the whole world, and pronounces her worthy to have reigned over a far
larger state. With the pattern of this admirable mother before their
eyes, with all that was choicest in art and fairest in nature around
them, Leonora's daughters grew up to womanhood, and insensibly acquired
that enthusiasm for beauty in all its varied forms, that fine taste and
perception which distinguished them above their contemporaries, which
made Isabella at the end of her long life still the most attractive
woman of her day, and which caused the bravest soldiers and the wisest
scholars to lament the untimely death of the youthful Duchess Beatrice.
In all the difficult and tangled ways which they were separately called
upon to tread, the breath of scandal, the slander of idle tongues, never
sullied their fair names. Both princesses held fast to the ideal of
their girlhood, and, leading the same pure and spotless life, left the
same gracious memory behind them, alike in the old Mantuan city on the
banks of the classic Mincio, where Isabella's presence lingers like some
delicate perfume about the _Camerini_ of the ancient Castello, and in
that grander and more splendid court where Beatrice reigned for a few
brief years by the Moro's side at Milan.



CHAPTER IV

Isabella d'Este--Lodovico Sforza delays his wedding--Plot against his
life--Submission of Genoa--Duke Gian Galeazzo--The Sanseverini brothers
--Messer Galeazzo made Captain-General of the Milanese armies--His
marriage to Bianca Sforza--Marriage of Gian Galeazzo to Isabella of
Aragon--Wedding festivities at Milan--Lodovico draws up his marriage
contract with Beatrice d'Este.

1485-1490


Isabella d'Este, the eldest of Ercole's and Leonora's two daughters,
early displayed the striking beauty and great qualities that
distinguished her in after-years. Her regular features and delicate
colouring, her ready wit and gracious manners, charmed all the visitors
to Ferrara. The letters of princes and ambassadors were full of her
praises. The Mantuan envoy who was sent to Ferrara in 1480, to arrange
the terms of the marriage contract, was amazed at the little bride's
precocity. The six-year-old child not only danced charmingly before him,
but conversed with a grace and intelligence which seemed to him little
short of miraculous. All her teachers told the same story. Whatever
Madonna Isabella did was well done. Her quickness in learning, her
marvellous memory, and application to her studies were the theme of
every one at court. She was the apple of her father's eye, her mother's
most sweet and cherished companion--"_la mia carissima e dolce figliuola
sopra altre_." When she married and left home for Mantua, her poor old
tutor shed tears at the loss of his favourite pupil, and wandered
through the castle recalling her every word and movement; while for
weeks the good duchess could not bear to enter the room or open the
windows of the room which her darling child had occupied, and which was
now left empty and desolate.

By the side of this brilliant creature, her younger sister, the little
Beatrice, passed comparatively unnoticed. Her name is scarcely ever
mentioned in the records of the period. Yet she was only a year younger
than Isabella, and if all had gone well, the double wedding of the two
sisters was to have been celebrated at the same time in February, 1490.
But Lodovico Sforza had shown no inclination to press the matter. He
professed the most cordial friendship for the Duke of Ferrara, who had
every reason to be grateful for his help in the Venetian wars, and
entertained Ercole magnificently when, in 1487, he paid a visit to
Milan. But when the question of her marriage was mooted, he made excuses
and suggested further delay. The extreme youth of the bride, the urgency
of affairs of state, were all brought forward as excellent reasons for
putting off the marriage until a more convenient season. During the ten
years after his return to Milan, Lodovico's time and thoughts had been
fully occupied. The internal as well as the external affairs of his
state, the attacks of public enemies and private foes, alike demanded
his whole energies. But so far Fortune had favoured him in a wonderful
way. An attempt was made by Duchess Bona's confessor to assassinate him
on the steps of Saint Ambrogio at Christmas, 1485, but fortunately
failed, because that day Lodovico entered the church by a side door to
avoid the crowd. The sympathy excited by this cowardly attempt on his
life, and by his recovery from a dangerous illness which brought him to
the point of death, helped to strengthen his position at home, while
complete success attended his arms and diplomacy. On the one hand,
Venice was forced to accept his terms of peace; on the other, Genoa,
sorely pressed by her old rival Florence, appealed to the Regent of
Milan for assistance, and once more recognized the supremacy of Gian
Galeazzo Sforza. A cardinal's hat was obtained for Ascanio Sforza, in
whom Lodovico found an able and loyal supporter both in Rome and Milan.
And when, in 1488, Lodovico's niece, Caterina Sforza, turned to him for
help against the conspirators who had murdered her husband and seized
the Rocca of Forli, a Milanese army under young Galeazzo di Sanseverino
was promptly sent to her assistance. The citadel was besieged and
captured, and the rights of Caterina and her son Ottaviano were
triumphantly vindicated. Thus on every side the house of Sforza was
restored to its former dignity, and the great Condottiere's name was
respected and honoured. The Milanese once more enjoyed a period of peace
and prosperity, and Lodovico was able to devote himself to his favourite
pursuits, the encouragement of learning and of the fine arts. Even at
the most anxious and busiest times, in the midst of the war with Venice
and the negotiations for the league against her, Lodovico had found time
to carry on his brother's schemes for the decoration of the Castello of
Milan, and to help forward the works of the Duomo and the Certosa of
Pavia. He had begun to rebuild the palace of Vigevano on a splendid
scale, and had set on foot a vast system of irrigation for the
improvement of the ducal estates. Besides encouraging the rising school
of native artists, he had invited the best foreign architects and
painters, sculptors and poets, to his court. Already Bramante of Urbino
was the chief architect at the ducal court, and now Lorenzo de' Medici
sent a young Florentine master to Milan who played the lute divinely,
and whose varied talents might prove serviceable to his friend Lodovico.
So Leonardo da Vinci came to the court of the Moro, and found in him so
genial and understanding a patron, so generous and kindly a friend, that
he settled at Milan, and remained in the duke's service for the next
sixteen years. Thus Lodovico Sforza had shown himself a wise and
excellent regent, and had earned the gratitude of both prince and
people, while the young duke in whose name he governed was growing up to
man's estate. From his birth Gian Galeazzo had been a frail and sickly
child, subject to constant feverish attacks, and in the year 1483 was so
dangerously ill that at one moment his doctors despaired of his
recovery. As he grew older, it became plain that his mind was as feeble
as his body. He was utterly incapable of applying himself to serious
business, far less of administering state affairs. His whole days were
spent in idleness and pleasure, in hunting and drinking. Horses and dogs
were the only objects in which he took any interest. Under these
circumstances, it became plain that Lodovico would remain the actual
ruler of Milan even though his nephew bore the title of duke. All
outward respect was paid to Gian Galeazzo; he lived in great state, with
a household and officers of his own, and was surrounded by regal pomp on
public occasions. Clad in ducal robes, he appeared seated on a throne
erected in front of the Duomo when the Genoese patricians arrived at
Milan, and received their homage as duke of the principality of Genoa.
His brother Ermes, his sisters Bianca and Anna, shared his state, and
when Bianca's betrothed husband the young prince of Savoy died, she was
formally affianced in the Duomo to the eldest son of Matthias Corvinus,
King of Hungary. But the real sovereign of Milan was Lodovico Duke of
Bari. Here and there a jealous or discontented Milanese nobleman might
grumble, but the majority of the duke's subjects felt that in these
troublous days a strong hand was needed at the helm, and knew that they
had this strong man in the Moro.

By degrees Lodovico removed those governors of cities and fortresses
whose loyalty he had reason to suspect, and replaced them by
confidential servants. Filippo Eustachio, captain of the Castello of
Milan, a brave and honest man, Corio tells us, who had refused to yield
up the keys of the Rocca to Bona's minion, but whose brothers had been
implicated in the plot against Lodovico's life, was one day arrested by
the duke's orders, and imprisoned at Abbiategrasso; he was afterwards
released, no evidence of his guilt being produced, but his post was
filled by one of the Moro's servants. Chief among the trusted captains
in whom Lodovico placed his confidence were the Sanseverini brothers, "i
gran Sanseverini," as they were called in the court poet's verses, as
much on account of their great strength and stature as of the exalted
position which they held at the Milanese court. Their father, that
turbulent soldier Roberto, after making three desperate attempts to
unseat the prince whose return to power he had effected, and being three
times proclaimed a rebel and outlaw at Milan, had taken service under
Pope Innocent VIII. and led the campaign against Alfonso of Calabria, as
Captain-general of the Church. But before long he quarrelled with the
Pope and returned to the service of the Venetian Republic, until in
August, 1486, at the age of seventy, he fell fighting with heroic valour
against the Imperialists in the battle of Trent. Of his twelve sons,
four entered the service of their kinsman, Lodovico Sforza, and rose to
high honour and dignity. All of them were mighty men of valour like
their father before them, while a fifth, Cardinal Federigo, was to prove
a staunch adherent of the Sforzas in days to come. He inherited the
giant stature as well as the martial tastes of his family, and at the
consecration of Pope Alexander VI. is said to have lifted Borgia in his
arms and placed him on the high altar. The eldest of the brothers,
Giovanni Francesco, Count of Caiazzo, succeeded to his father's estates
in Calabria, but lived at Milan, and became one of Lodovico's chief
captains. Both Gaspare--the gallant soldier known by his surname of
Captain Fracassa--and Antonio Maria, the husband of the fair and learned
Margherita Pia of Carpi, a beloved friend and cousin of the Este
princesses, were prominent figures at the Milanese court. But the most
famous and popular of all the brothers was Galeazzo. This brilliant and
accomplished cavalier, who was to play so great a part at the Milanese
court, early attracted the notice of Lodovico by his personal charm and
rare skill in knightly exercises. As a rider and jouster, he was without
a rival. Wherever he entered the lists, at Milan or Venice, at Ferrara
or Urbino, he invariably carried off the prize, and was proclaimed
victor in the games. And to this prowess in courtly exercises he joined
a love of art and learning which especially commended him to the Moro.
Unlike his brother Captain Fracassa, who refused Caterina Sforza's
invitation to join in dance and song, saying that war was his trade and
he sought no other, Galeazzo was a model of courtesy and grace. All fair
ladies had a smile for him. Isabella d'Este and Elisabetta Gonzaga
honoured him with their friendship, and Beatrice d'Este found in him the
truest of friends and best of servants. Three kings of France, Charles
VIII., Louis XII., and Francis I., singled him out for special
distinction, and after enjoying the highest honour at Lodovico Sforza's
court, he lived to become Grand Ecuyer of France in the next century.
French Italian chroniclers alike own the fascination of his handsome
presence and extol the _gentilezza_ of this very perfect knight.
Leonardo da Vinci and Luca Pacioli the mathematician had in him a noble,
generous patron, and Baldassare Castiglione, who knew him in his youth
at Milan, has enshrined his memory in the pages of his "Cortigiano." It
was this rare union of qualities which endeared the young Sanseverino to
the Moro, who chose him for his intimate friend and companion. On his
return from his successful campaign against the Forli rebels, Lodovico
appointed him Captain-general of the Milanese armies, a step which
naturally excited great jealousy among his rivals, and mortally wounded
the pride of Messer Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, an older captain in the same
service. Short of stature and rude of speech, with the big nose and
rugged features that are familiar to us in Caradosso's medal, this able
soldier presented a curious contrast to the brilliant and courtly Messer
Galeazzo, whose rival he remained to the end of his life. Yet he knew
how to appreciate genius, and after his triumphant return to Milan in
1499, employed Leonardo to paint his portrait and design his tomb.
Although a Guelph by birth, Trivulzio, up to this time, had been one of
Lodovico's most active supporters. But when he saw a younger rival
preferred to him, he left Milan in disgust and retired to Naples, where
he entered King Ferrante's service, and became from that time a bitter
enemy of the Sforza's. Meanwhile the Moro loaded his favourite Galeazzo
with honours and rewards. He gave him the fine estate of Castelnuovo in
the Tortonese, which had once belonged to his father, the great
Condottiere Roberto, as well as a house in Pavia near the church of San
Francesco and a palace in Milan, near the Porta Vercellina, and allowed
him to build a villa and extensive stables in the park of the Castello.
As a last and crowning honour, he bestowed upon this fortunate youth the
hand of his illegitimate daughter Bianca, a beautiful and attractive
child to whom he was fondly attached. Of her mother we have no certain
knowledge, but she is generally supposed to have been some mistress of
low origin, and Bianca herself is described by a contemporary writer as
"_figlia ex pellice nata_." The wedding was solemnized with great
splendour in the chapel of the Castello di Pavia, on the last day of the
year 1489, but the young princess was still a child, and Galeazzo had to
wait five years before he took home his bride. After his marriage he
adopted the name of Sforza Visconti, and was treated by Lodovico as a
member of his family.

Another wedding which took place about this time was that of the young
duke, Gian Galeazzo. He had already entered his twentieth year, and the
Princess Isabella of Aragon, to whom he had been betrothed in his
father's lifetime, was turned eighteen, so that the marriage could no
longer be delayed. In November, 1488, his brother Ermes was sent to
Naples with a suite of four hundred persons, who entered King Ferrante's
capital sumptuously arrayed in silk brocade, and amazed even his
luxurious courtiers by the splendour of their gold chains and jewelled
plumes. At least Isabella's father, Alfonso, who had little love for his
brother-in-law, and had already found Lodovico more than a match for his
own cunning, could not complain that his daughter had not been
honourably treated. After a rough passage in the depth of winter, which
sorely tried the patience of the court poet Bellincioni, who was a
member of the Milanese suite, the bride landed on the 7th of February,
and travelled by land to Genoa and Tortona. There her bridegroom, the
young Duke of Milan, was awaiting her, with his uncle Lodovico, and a
banquet as memorable for ingenuity as for splendour was given in her
honour. Each course was introduced by some mythological personage. Jason
appeared with the golden fleece, Phoebus Apollo brought in a calf stolen
from the herds of Admetus, Diana led Actæon in the form of a stag,
Atalanta followed with the wild boar of Calydon, Iris came with a
peacock from the car of Juno, and Orpheus carried in the birds whom he
had charmed with his lute. Hebe poured out the wines, Vertumnus and
Pomona handed round apples and grapes, Thetis and her sea-nymphs brought
every variety of fish, and shepherds crowned with chaplets of ivy
arrived from the hills of Arcady, bearing jars of milk and honey to the
festive board. At Milan fresh wonders were awaiting the bridal pair. The
court of the Castello was hung with blue drapery and wreaths of laurel
and ivy, above which the ducal arms, designed in antique style, were
seen, supported by figures of Centaurs. Under a seven-columned portico
adorned with crimson-and-gold hangings, the duke's sister, Bianca Maria
Sforza, received the bride, and led her to a richly decorated chamber in
the Camera della Torre. On the following day the wedding was solemnized
with great pomp in the Duomo. The duke and duchess, clad in white,
walked hand-in-hand up the great aisles of the church, and finally, were
escorted to the rooms prepared for them in the Rocca, and after the
Milanese fashion, hung with pure white satin. But the most memorable
part of the wedding festivities, and that to which Lodovico himself
devoted especial attention, was the performance of an operetta composed
by the court poet Bellincioni for the occasion. "It was called _Il
Paradiso_" adds the chronicler to whom we owe these details, "because
Maestro Leonardo Vinci, the Florentine, had with great art and ingenuity
fabricated a paradise or celestial sphere, in which the seven planets
were represented by actors in costumes similar to those described by
those poets of old, who each in turn spoke the praise of Duchess
Isabella."

The festivities were interrupted by the illness of the young duke, who
was so much exhausted by the fatigues of these successive
entertainments, that he was unable to leave his bed for some weeks. But
in the following summer two splendid tournaments were held at Pavia, at
which Messer Galeazzo, as Sanseverino is always styled in Milanese
annals, appeared with twenty followers in golden armour, mounted on
chargers with gold trappings and harness, and, having unhorsed no less
than nineteen of his opponents, bore off the first prize, a length of
costly silver brocade. The duke and duchess were present with their
whole court, but the Ferrarese ambassador remarked that the crowd all
shouted, "Moro! Moro!" and that Signor Lodovico was by far the most
popular personage with the citizens of Pavia.

"He is a great man, and intends to be what he is in fact
already--everything!" he wrote in his despatches to Ferrara. "And yet
who knows? In a short time he may be nobody."

Gian Galeazzo, however, showed no signs of interfering with his uncle in
the management of public affairs. On the contrary, he gave full rein to
his pleasure-loving tastes, seldom came to Milan, and spent his days at
Pavia or Vigevano in the company of his young wife and a few favourites.
Duchess Isabella, as time showed, was a woman of strong character and
deep feeling, but she never seemed to have acquired any influence over
her feeble husband, and found herself powerless to arouse him to any
sense of his position, "_La dicte fille_" says Commines, "_etoit fort
courageuse et eut volontier donné crédit à son mary, si elle eut pu,
mais il n'etoit guère saige et révélait ce qu'elle lui disait_."
Lodovico treated both his nephew and niece with the utmost respect, and
discussed the situation freely with the Florentine ambassador
Pandolfini, saying that King Ferrante's envoy had lately gone so far as
to suggest that, since this young man could never rule for himself, his
uncle might as well assume the title, as well as the cares, of the head
of the state. But this, Lodovico declared, was a crime of which he would
never be guilty. "If I were to attempt such a thing," he exclaimed, "I
should be infamous in the eyes of the whole world!"

For the present the sense of power, the knowledge that he was the actual
ruler, sufficed him, and, as the King of Naples himself recognized, no
one could have governed Milan more wisely or well than Lodovico did in
his nephew's name. The birth of Duchess Isabella's son, in December,
1490, may have been a blow to his hopes. But the happy event was
celebrated with due rejoicings, the costly presents from the city of
Milan and court officials were displayed in the Castello, and the infant
heir of the house of Sforza received the name of his renowned
great-grandfather, Francesco, together with the title of Count of Pavia.

Meanwhile Lodovico felt that it was time to think of his own marriage,
and to keep the troth which he had pledged to the child-princess of
Este. His actions, as he well knew, were narrowly watched at the court
of Ferrara. Duchess Leonora was beginning to feel anxious about her
daughter's future, and the marriage of Anna Sforza with young Alfonso
d'Este had also to be arranged. Accordingly in May, 1489, when the Duke
of Milan's wedding was safely over, the Ferrarese envoy Giacomo Trotti
was sent back to his master duly acquainted with Signor Lodovico's
wishes and intentions respecting these important matters.

On the 10th of May, the articles of the marriage contract were finally
drawn up and signed at the Castello of Ferrara. They were on the same
basis as the marriage treaties which had lately been drawn up between
the Marquis Mantua and Isabella d'Este and the Duke and Duchess of
Milan. Lodovico was to receive 40,000 gold crowns and 2000 more in
jewels as Beatrice's portion. A sum equal to three-parts of the bride's
dower was to be chargeable on the goods and lands of Signor Lodovico. If
the most illustrious Madonna were to die without children, this dowry
was to be returned, as was stipulated in the case of the Duchess of
Milan. With regard to the choice and arrangement of the bride's
household, and the number of her women, Lodovico was content to leave
all particulars to the Duke and Duchess of Ferrara, trusting to their
goodness and prudence to settle all these matters on a scale suitable to
the birth and rank of a princess of this illustrious house. But he
especially begged Duke Ercole to see that Madonna Beatrice was well
supplied with clothes and other necessary articles of toilet fitting the
position which she would occupy at Milan as wife of the Duke of Bari and
Regent of the State. Last of all, the date of the marriage was
positively fixed for the month of May, 1490, Lodovico promising to
defray all the expenses of the wedding festivities. At the same time it
was also decided that Madonna Anna's marriage should take place in July,
1490, by which time Signor Alfonso would have completed his fourteenth
year, and the sum due to Messer Lodovico for Beatrice's dowry was to be
deducted from that of his niece, who, as a princess of Milan, was to
receive a portion of 100,000 crowns.

So Beatrice d'Este's wedding-day was at length fixed, and Duchess
Leonora rejoiced in the happy prospect of seeing both her daughters
married in the course of the following year.



CHAPTER V

Marriage of Isabella d'Este--Lodovico puts off his wedding--Cecilia
Gallerani--Her portrait by Leonardo da Vinci--Mission of Galeazzo
Visconti to Ferrara--Preparations for Beatrice's wedding--Cristoforo
Romano's bust--Duchess Leonora and her daughters travel to Piacenza and
Pavia--Their reception at Pavia by Lodovico.

1490-1491


The young Marquis of Mantua, Gian Francesco Gonzaga, had proved himself
a more ardent lover than Lodovico Sforza. He frequently exchanged
letters and compliments with his youthful bride, or sent Isabella
presents and verses written in her honour by Mantuan poets. After his
father's death in 1484, he visited Mantua, and brought Duchess Leonora a
Madonna painted by the hand of the great Paduan master, Andrea Mantegna,
the court painter of the Gonzagas. In the autumn of the same year,
Leonora took her daughter to Mantua for a short visit, where she first
met Gian Francesco's sister, Elizabeth Duchess of Urbino, who was to
become her dearest friend and constant companion in the early days of
her married life. Four years afterwards, the same Elizabeth, the
peerless Duchess of Castiglione and Bembo's adoration, stopped at
Ferrara on her wedding journey to her new home of Urbino, and received
an affectionate welcome from Leonora and her daughters. The duchess, she
wrote, treated her as a mother, while in the Marchesana she had already
found a loving sister and friend. On the 11th of February, 1490,
Isabella's own wedding was celebrated at Ferrara, and the following
morning the bride rode through the streets of the city, with the Duke of
Urbino on her right and the Ambassador of Naples on her left hand. On
the 12th, the bride set out for Mantua, travelling by water up the
river Po in a stately bucentaur presented to Isabella by Duke Ercole,
adorned with rich carving and gilding. Her parents and three brothers,
Alfonso, Ferrante, and the boy Ippolito, afterwards well known as
Ariosto's patron, Cardinal d'Este, with a large suite, accompanied her
to the gates of Mantua, where a magnificent reception awaited her. The
young marquis had made great preparations to welcome his bride, and,
after the fashion of the days, had borrowed gold and silver plate,
carpets, and hangings from all his friends and relations, including the
famous tapestries of the Trojan war, which were the chief ornaments of
the palace of Urbino. The _fêtes_ passed off brilliantly, the crowds
which assembled in the streets of Mantua were enormous, and the utmost
enthusiasm was excited by the youth and loveliness of the bride. The
only drawback was the absence of Mantegna, whom Pope Innocent had
detained in Rome, in spite of his master's urgent request that the
painter might return in time to arrange the wedding festivities.

The void which Isabella left in her old home was keenly felt alike by
her mother and sister. The duchess could not console herself for her
daughter's absence, and after spending a delightful week with her
sister-in-law Elizabeth on the lake of Garda, among the lemon-groves and
gardens of those sunny shores, Isabella and her husband returned to
Ferrara in April. Here she found that Beatrice's marriage had been again
put off by Signor Lodovico's wish until the summer, and Isabella agreed
to return to Ferrara early in July, and accompany her mother and sister
to Milan. But when July came and the young marchioness reached Ferrara,
she found to her surprise that all these plans had been suddenly
changed. Lodovico had once more found it impossible to keep his
engagement, and pleaded urgent public affairs and unavoidable pressure
of business to excuse his apparent apathy. This time the duke and
duchess were seriously annoyed, and began to doubt if Lodovico ever
intended to wed their daughter. The question was gravely discussed
during Isabella's visit, and a messenger from Milan suddenly reached
Ferrara late one evening. It was no other than Messer Galeazzo Visconti,
one of Lodovico's most trusted envoys, who had ridden from Milan in
great haste, with letters from his lord. The contents of these letters
remained unknown. One thing only was clear: they gave the duke great
dissatisfaction. And Messer Galeazzo departed the next day, as quickly
as he came. "I have tried in vain," wrote Benedetto Capilupi, the
Marquis of Mantua's agent at Ferrara, "to discover the reason of all
these disturbances. Every one is out of temper, and the duke seems to be
very much displeased. M. Galeazzo has left suddenly."

Isabella returned to join her husband at Mantua, leaving affairs in this
unsatisfactory state. Beatrice's wedding seemed further off than ever,
and doubts as to her union with Signor Lodovico began to be openly
expressed. It was well known at Ferrara, where everything that happened
at the court of Milan was minutely reported to Duke Ercole by his
faithful envoy, Giacomo Trotti, that Lodovico Sforza had a mistress to
whom he was fondly attached, and whom he had for many years past treated
with the respect and honour due to a wife. This was Cecilia Gallerani,
afterwards the wife of Count Lodovico Bergamini, a young Milanese lady
of noble birth, as distinguished for her learning as for her beauty. She
spoke and wrote Latin fluently, composed sonnets in Italian, and
delivered Latin orations to the theologians and philosophers who met at
her house. Contemporary writings abound in allusions to the rare virtues
and learning of "la bella Gallerani," the Sappho of modern times.
Scaligero wrote epigrams in her honour, Ortensio Lando classes her with
Isabella d'Este and Vittoria Colonna among the most cultured women of
the age. The novelist Matteo Bandello, himself a friar of the Dominican
convent of S. Maria delle Grazie at Milan, is never tired of singing
Cecilia's praises, and of describing the pleasant company who met at the
countess's palace in Milan or at her villa near Cremona. There, he tells
us, all the finest wits, all the most distinguished strangers in Milan
assemble, and you may hear valiant captains reasoning with doctors and
philosophers, or look at paintings and designs by living artists and
architects, and listen to the playing and singing of the best musicians.
As a young girl, Cecilia's charms captured the heart of the Moro, who,
as early as 1481, bestowed the estate of Saronno, which he had inherited
from his brother Sforza, upon her by a deed of gift, in which he
extolled her learning and excellence, and at the same time recalled the
merits and services of her ancestors. Soon after Leonardo da Vinci's
arrival in Milan, Lodovico employed him to paint the portrait of his
fair young mistress, and we have more than one proof of the admiration
which the Florentine master's work excited among his contemporaries. In
the _Rime_ of the court-poet, Bellincioni, we find the following sonnet
evidently inspired by this picture and bearing the inscription: "On the
portrait of Madonna Cecilia, painted by Maestro Leonardo." The poet
seeks to appease Dame Nature's wrath at the sight of this portrait, in
which the painter has represented the lovely maiden "listening, not
speaking," but so full of life and radiance, that the sun's beams grow
dim before the brightness of her eyes. And instead of envying art, he
bids her rejoice that this living image of so beautiful a form will be
handed down to future ages, and give thanks to Lodovico's wisdom and
Leonardo's genius for having preserved this fair face to be the joy and
wonder of posterity. "Thine, O Nature," he cries, "is the honour! the
more living and beautiful Cecilia shall appear in the eyes of
generations to come, the greater will be thy glory! For long as the
world endures, all who see her face will recognize in Leonardo's work
the close union of Art and Nature."

    "Che lei vedrà, così ben che sia tardo,
    Vederla viva, dirà: basti ad noi
    Comprender or quel che è natura et arte."

On the 26th of April, 1498, a year after Beatrice d'Este's death, her
sister the Marchioness Isabella herself wrote to the Countess Bergamini
from Mantua, begging her for the loan of the portrait which Leonardo had
painted of her and which she had formerly seen in Milan. "Having to-day
seen some fine portraits by the hand of Giovanni Bellini, we began to
discuss the works of Leonardo, and wished we could compare them with
these paintings. And since we remember that he painted your likeness; we
beg you to be so good as to send us your portrait by this messenger whom
we have despatched on horseback, so that we may not only be able to
compare the works of the two masters, but may also have the pleasure of
seeing your face again. The picture shall be returned to you
afterwards, with our most grateful thanks for your kindness, and
assuring you of our own readiness to oblige you to the utmost of our
power, etc.

                                                     "ISABELLA D'ESTE.

From Mantua."

Cecilia sent the precious picture by the courier to Mantua, with the
following note in reply:--


"MOST ILLUSTRIOUS AND EXCELLENT MADONNA AND VERY DEAR LADY,

"I have read your Highness's letter, and since you wish to see my
portrait I send it without delay, and would send it with even greater
pleasure if it were more like me. But your Highness must not think this
proceeds from any defect in the _Maestro_ himself, for indeed I do not
believe there is another painter equal to him in the world, but merely
because the portrait was painted when I was still at so young and
imperfect an age. Since then I have changed altogether, so much so that
if you saw the picture and myself together, you would never dream it
could be meant for me! All the same, your Highness will, I hope, accept
this proof of my good-will, and believe that I am ready and anxious to
gratify your wishes, not only in respect to the portrait, but in any
other way that I can, since I am ever Your Highness's most devoted slave
and commend myself to you a thousand times.

                                   "Your Highness's servant,
                                        CECILIA VISCONTA BERGAMINA,[3]

From Milan, the 29th of April, 1498."

Since that day when the great Florentine first painted her, Cecilia
Gallerani had developed into a handsome matron, and as Lodovico Sforza's
recognized mistress she enjoyed a position of great honour at court. For
some years she occupied a suite of rooms in the Castello of Milan, where
her lover constantly visited her and took the greatest delight in her
company. His passion for this beautiful and intellectual woman only
seemed to increase 108 with years. She had already borne him one son,
the Leone, whom he was known to love so well that his courtiers did not
dare tell him the sad news when the child died suddenly in 1487. The
Duke of Bari, it was even said, intended ere long to make her his lawful
wife, and thus to render her future issue legitimate.

Under these circumstances, it can hardly be wondered if Lodovico Sforza
showed some reluctance in keeping the troth which he had plighted to the
young princess of Este, while Duke Ercole's vexation was the more
pardonable. For a time it seemed as if a rupture between the two houses
was inevitable, and all thought of a union between them must be
abandoned. But soon a change came over Il Moro's dream. The difficulties
in the way of a closer union with Cecilia Gallerani were great, and must
invariably lead to jealousies and quarrels of a serious order. His own
position in Milan would be endangered, and fresh hindrances placed in
the way of his future designs. At the same time, the alliances with
Ferrara and Mantua were both of great importance to the state, and could
not be lightly thrown away. So he determined to sacrifice his
inclinations to political exigencies, and make Beatrice d'Este his wife.

Accordingly, at the end of August he sent another ambassador, Francesco
da Casate, to Ferrara with a magnificent gift for his bride, in the
shape of a necklace of large pearls set in gold flowers, with a very
fine pear-shaped pendant of rubies, pearls, and emeralds. This costly
jewel was duly presented to Beatrice in the name of her affianced
husband, and Duchess Leonora wrote forthwith to give her daughter
Isabella the good news, informing her that Signor Lodovico hoped she
would accompany her mother and sister to Milan that autumn for the
wedding. The young marchioness was delighted to accept this invitation,
and in the course of a few days she paid another visit to Ferrara, to
assist in the preparations for her sister's marriage. Messer Galeazzo
Visconti was sent there again to learn the duke and duchess's pleasure
as to their daughter's journey, and, after making the final
arrangements, left Ferrara on the 26th of November. The bride's
departure was fixed for the last day of the year, and the wedding, it
was decided, should take place in the chapel of the Castello of Pavia on
the 16th of January.

Isabella hurried to Mantua to buy horses and clothes, jewels and plate
for her journey, and announced her intention of taking upwards of one
hundred persons in her suite, with ninety horses and trumpeters.
Afterwards, however, she reduced the number to fifty persons and thirty
horses at the request of Lodovico, who begged her to bring as few
attendants as possible, owing to the large number of guests who were
expected at Milan. Her husband, the Marquis Gianfrancesco, had naturally
been included in the invitation, but as a close ally of the Venetians he
did not think it politic to appear at the wedding of Lodovico Sforza.
The Signory of Venice were known to look coldly on this alliance between
Ferrara and Milan, and entertained the deepest distrust of Lodovico's
policy. So Isabella decided to join her mother and sister on their
journey up the river, and proceed with them to Pavia and ultimately to
Milan. Meanwhile another emissary from Milan had arrived at Ferrara.
This was the young sculptor, Cristoforo Romano, who was sent to Signor
Lodovico to carve a bust-portrait of his bride before she left her
father's home. The son of a Pisan sculptor who had settled in Rome,
Cristoforo's genius had attracted attention when he was quite a boy, and
he had been sent to Milan by Cardinal Ascanio Sforza. The young Roman
master was one of those brilliant and versatile artists who especially
commended themselves to Lodovico. He sang and played the lute admirably,
while his literary tastes made him the intimate friend of Bembo and
Castiglione, and a great favourite with the cultured princesses of
Mantua and Urbino. He takes a leading part in the dialogues of the
Cortigiano, and is frequently mentioned as worthy to rank with Michael
Angelo, whose fame he might have rivalled had he not suffered from
continual ill health. As it is, the few works which he left behind him
are marked with singular grace and refinement. His bust of Beatrice, now
in the Louvre, where for many years it passed as the work of Leonardo,
is at once remarkable for its truth and charm. The somewhat irregular
features of the maiden of fifteen years are admirably given, the
roundness of her cheeks, the pouting lips and slightly _retroussé_ nose,
and the curling locks are faithfully represented; yet we realize the
force of character that lies under this soft, child-like face, and the
frank joyousness which made her so attractive. Each stray lock of hair
is rendered with delicate accuracy, the brocaded bodice of her gown and
the scarf lightly thrown over her shoulders are elaborately adorned with
the triangular diamond and other favourite devices of the house of Este.
The quaint figure of the two hands holding a veil, from which
fertilizing dust falls on the open flower, is supposed to be an emblem
of marriage, and is said to signify that Beatrice was already an
affianced bride. But since the words "Herculis filiæ" are cut in the
marble, it is plain that Cristoforo carved the bust while the young
duchess was still in her father's home, and probably took it home with
him that autumn to Milan.

That year the winter set in with unusual severity. The bitter frost and
cold which man and beast endured that January were long remembered, both
in Mantua and Ferrara. On Christmas night it began to snow, and so heavy
and continuous was the fall, that by noon on the next day the snow lay
three feet deep in front of the Vescovado, or Bishop's house, opposite
the Este palace. The Po was frozen over, and the ice on the river never
thawed until the first week in February, while the snow lasted till the
12th of March, and some patches might still be seen in the streets of
Ferrara on the 20th of that month.

In the midst of these unwonted rigours, the wedding-party set out on
their long journey. The royal brides of these days seem to have been
singularly unlucky in the matter of weather. For one thing, they always
travelled in the depths of winter. Elizabeth Gonzaga almost died of
exhaustion after the sufferings of her journey from Mantua to Urbino in
a violent tempest, which kept her ship tossing on the waves of the Po
for several days and nights. The fleet which conveyed Isabella and her
escort from Naples to Leghorn, narrowly escaped shipwreck off the coast
of Tuscany. Bianca Sforza had to ride in December over the roughest
roads across the Alps of the Valtellina, to join her Imperial lord at
Innsbrück. And now Leonora and her daughters were called upon to brave
the terrors of an Arctic winter on their way to Milan.

"On the 29th of December, 1490," writes the diarist of Ferrara,
"Madonna Beatrice, daughter of Duke Ercole, went to Milan to marry
Signor Lodovico Sforza, accompanied by her mother, Leonora Duchess of
Ferrara; and also by Messer Sigismondo, her uncle"--the duke's younger
brother, Cardinal d'Este--"and her brother, Don Alfonso, who went to
bring home his bride, Madonna Anna, sister of the Duke of Milan and
daughter of Galeazzo, and he rode in a sledge because the Po was
frozen."[4]

The ladies of the party travelled in rude country carts--"_carrette_"--as
far as Brescello, where the Po was navigable, and they were able to
continue their journey by water to Pavia. Here Messer Galeazzo Visconti
was awaiting them with a fleet of boats and three bucentaurs, by which
pompous name the rude barges in which these high-born personages travelled
were glorified. The many discomforts and the actual cold and hunger which
the Este ladies endured during the five days which they spent on board
these vessels are graphically described in a letter addressed to Isabella's
husband by her Ferrarese lady-in-waiting, Beatrice de' Contrari, after the
travellers had reached Pavia. The boat which bore the provisions for the
party was delayed by stress of weather, so that the travellers were left
with but scanty breakfast and no dinner. When at length they anchored near
the shore of Toresella at three o'clock at night, the Marchesana and her
ladies were in a starving condition. "If it had not been for the timely
help of Madonna Camilla, who sent us part of her supper from her barge, I
for one," writes the lively lady-in-waiting, "should have certainly been
by this time a saint in Paradise." As for going to bed, all wish for
sleep was put out of their heads by the rocking of the ship and the
uncomfortable berths, and the poor Marchesana was so cold and wretched
without a fire that she wished herself dead, and her lady-in-waiting
could not keep back her tears. However, at length these miseries were
ended, Piacenza was safely reached, on the 12th of January, and the
royal ladies and their companions were hospitably entertained by Count
Bartolommeo Scotti, and enjoyed the luxury of warm fires and comfortable
beds!

"And now that we have arrived," wrote Beatrice de' Contrari to her lord,
the marquis, "and are beginning to enjoy these weddings for the sake of
which we have suffered so many discomforts, I am thinking seriously of
making my last will and testament."[5]

After a day's rest at Piacenza, the bridal party continued their journey
up the river, and reached Pavia at half-past four on Sunday afternoon.
Here Signor Lodovico was awaiting them on the banks of the river Ticino,
which joins the Po a few hundred yards below the city, with a gallant
company of Milanese lords and gentlemen, and himself conducted first
Beatrice and then her mother and sister to the shore. Together they rode
on horseback over the covered bridge which spans the river, and passed
through the long streets until they reached the goal of their journey,
and entered the gates of the far-famed Castello of Pavia.

FOOTNOTES:

[3] G. Uzielli, _Leonardo da Vinci e Tre Gentil donne Milanesi_, p. 23.

[4] A Muratori, R. I. S., xxiv. 282.

[5] Luzio-Renier in A. S. L., xvii. 85.



CHAPTER VI

City and University of Pavia--Duomo and Castello--The library of the
Castello--Wedding of Lodovico Sforza, Duke of Bari, and Beatrice d'Este,
in the chapel of the Castello of Pavia--Galeazzo di San Severino and
Orlando--Reception of the bride in Milan--Tournaments and festivities at
the Castello--Visit of Duchess Leonora to the Certosa of Pavia.

1491


The ancient city of Pavia, the capital of the Lombard kings before the
conquest of Charlemagne, still presents a picturesque and imposing
appearance to the traveller, who sees the red-brick walls and gates of
the old fortifications and the slender bell-towers of its Romanesque
churches rising out of the green plains on the banks of the broad and
swift Ticino. But it was a far grander and more beautiful sight in the
days when Lodovico Sforza's bride landed near the chapel on the bridge,
and in the fading light of the short winter afternoon rode at his side
through the chief streets of the old Lombard capital, or, as it was
proudly called, the city of a hundred towers. On the princely cavalcade
wound, amid a dense crowd of people shouting, "_Moro! Moro!_" up the
long Strada Nova, with its marble palaces, and newly painted loggias
adorned with busts and frescoes, in front of the stately _Ateneo_ with
its halls and porticoes for the different schools, which had the
reputation of being the finest university in all Italy, and past the
rising walls of the new Duomo which Lodovico was building on the site of
the ruined basilica of Charlemagne's time. A few months before, the
renowned Sienese architect, Francesco Martini, had arrived at Pavia on
horseback to give his advice as to the cupola of the new cathedral,
accompanied by His Excellency's servant, Magistro Leonardo, the
Florentine, and a vast train of servants, and had been entertained at
the public expense. Martini had soon left again for Milan, after giving
the architect of the Duomo, Bramante's pupil Cristoforo Rocchi, the
benefit of his advice, and promising to send him a model of the cupola;
but Leonardo had remained at Pavia all the summer and autumn, turning
over old manuscripts in the library of the Castello, and discussing
anatomical problems with the professors and surgeons of the university,
until a peremptory summons had reached him from the governor of the
Castello at Milan, desiring him to return immediately and assist in
decorating the ball-room for the wedding _fêtes_. Another visitor, a
citizen of Beatrice's own city of Ferrara, had also been at Pavia a few
months before--the Dominican friar, Girolamo Savonarola, who had visited
the Certosa and Castello of Pavia on his way from Brescia to preach at
Genoa, before he was summoned at Pico della Mirandola's request to begin
his famous course of Lent sermons in St. Mark's of Florence. But now the
duke's painter and the humble friar had both gone their separate ways,
Fra Girolamo to startle the scholars of the Medici circle with his
thunders, and Leonardo to paint cupids in the halls of the Castello at
Milan, and to resume his labours at the great equestrian statue of
Francesco Sforza, which Signor Lodovico was longing to see finished. All
unconscious of their existence, the young bride of the powerful regent
rode at her lord's side and entered the wide courtyard through the great
gateway, under the lofty towers of the famous Castello which for over a
hundred and fifty years had been the home of Viscontis and Sforzas.

After the cold and fatigue of the long journey in this snowy winter
season, the bridal party were thankful to reach the end of their journey
and to enjoy a day's rest before the wedding ceremony, which, after
consultation with Messer Ambrogio da Rosate, the chief court physician
and astrologer, had been fixed for Tuesday, the 17th of January, this
being the day of Mars, and therefore especially propitious for the
marriage of a lord, who above all things desired the birth of a son.
Throughout his life Il Moro, like many of his contemporaries, had a
blind belief in the stars, and placed the most implicit confidence in
Messer Ambrogio, who was said to have saved his life during his
dangerous illness at Vigevano three years before, and who had been
lately called upon to cast the horoscope of Pope Innocent VIII. at the
earnest entreaty of His Holiness. "Maestro Ambrogio has been suddenly
called to fly to Vigevano," wrote Giacomo Trotti to Ferrara one day in
1489, "because he is a professor of astrology, by which this excellent
Signor orders all his actions." The date of Lodovico's journeys, the
hour of all important court ceremonies, and even the movements of his
armies in time of war, were regulated by the course of the stars. Messer
Ambrogio, consequently, became a most important personage at the court
of Milan. "Without him," wrote Beatrice's maid of honour to the
Marchioness Isabella, "nothing can be done here."

The beautiful park and gardens at Pavia lay deep in snow, their lakes
and fountains were all frozen over, but there was plenty to interest and
amuse the visitors within the walls of this great Castello, of which
they had heard so much, and which was said to be the grandest of royal
houses in the whole of Europe. Three or four generations of masters had
been employed by successive Visconti dukes to rear this glorious fabric,
which in its palmy days must have been a noble monument of Lombard
architecture. The long colonnades of low round arches went back to
Romanesque days and the times of the first Visconti lords of Pavia; the
Gothic windows of the banqueting-hall and upper stories had been
finished in the reign of the great Giangaleazzo, and were enriched with
slender marble shafts and exquisite terra-cotta mouldings similar to
those that we admire to-day in the cloisters of the Certosa. The vaulted
halls were painted with the finest ultramarine and gold, and the arms of
Sforzas and Viscontis, the lilies of France and the red cross of Savoy,
appeared on the groined roof between planets and stars of raised gold.
The vast Sala della Palla, where the dukes and their courtiers indulged
in their favourite pastime of "pall-mall," which Burckhardt calls the
classic game of the Renaissance, was decorated with frescoes by the best
artists of Pavia or Cremona, representing fishing and hunting scenes.
Portraits of the dukes and duchesses were introduced, together with
lions and tigers, wild boars and stags flying before the hounds, in the
forest shades or on the open moor. The ball-room was adorned with
historic subjects from the lives of the earlier Viscontis. The poet
Petrarch, who had once filled a chair in the university, was seen
delivering an oration before the duke; and Giangaleazzo, the founder of
the Duomo of Milan and of the Certosa, was represented seated at a
festive board laden with gold and silver plate, entertaining foreign
ambassadors, with his armour-bearer standing at his side, and his
cupbearer pouring out the wine, while huntsmen and falconers with horses
and dogs awaited his pleasure. Of later date were the frescoes in the
duchess's rooms, representing the marriage of Galeazzo Sforza at the
French court and the reception of Bona of Savoy at Genoa, while the
paintings which adorned the chapel had only lately been completed by
Vincenzo Foppa and Bonifazio da Cremona.

Signor Lodovico was very proud, as he might well be, of this his
ancestral home, and of the famous library which he had done so much to
improve. He led his guests from room to room, and showed them all the
rare and curious objects--the armoury with its store of ancient coats of
mail and hauberks, of swords and helmets of ancient design, and its
choice specimens of the engraved and damascened work; the breastplates
and greaves that were a _specialité_ of Milanese armourers at this
period; the wonderful clock of copper and brass worked by wheels and
weights, upon which Giovanni Dondi had spent sixteen years of ceaseless
thought and toil, and which not only had a peal of bells, but a complete
solar system, showing the movement of sun, moon, and planets as set
forth by Ptolemy. After Dondi's death, Duke Galeazzo had to send to
Paris for a clockmaker who could regulate the works of this elaborate
machine, which was so much admired by Charles V. when he visited Pavia
in 1530, that he commissioned a mechanician of Cremona to make a similar
one for him to take back to Spain. And Messer Lodovico showed them also
what he himself held to be his greatest treasures--the precious books
adorned by exquisite miniatures from the hand of Fra Antonio da Monza
and other living artists, the Sforziada and the Chant de Roland, and the
rare Greek and Latin manuscripts which he had been at such infinite
pains to collect; the _codici_ brought from Bobbio by Giorgio Merula,
and the manuscripts which Erasmo Brasca had discovered when _Il Moro_
sent him to search for missing texts in the convents of the South of
France. For Lodovico himself spared no expense and grudged no time or
trouble in order to enrich what he felt to be a great national
institution. Two years before he had addressed a letter to the son of
Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary--the prince who was to have wedded
Bianca Sforza--begging him to have a rare manuscript by Festus Pompeius
copied for him, and deploring the "decay of the knowledge of the Latin
tongue in Italy, and the loss of so many priceless classical works which
the barbarians have carried away."

The sight of these precious and varied treasures were fully appreciated
by the cultivated Duchess Leonora, who had grown up among the scholars
of her royal father's academy at Naples, and by her daughter, the
accomplished Marchesana Isabella, ever eager, as she says in one of her
letters, to see and learn some new thing, "_desiderosa di cosa nova_."
And Signor Lodovico proved himself the most courteous and pleasant of
hosts, conversing with graceful ease on a thousand subjects, and
gratifying his new sister-in-law by the marked attention and courtesy
with which he treated her.

"I find myself highly honoured and caressed by Signor Lodovico," she
wrote to her husband from Pavia; and the discerning eyes of the
Ferrarese ambassador, Giacomo Trotti, noticed how much pleasure His
Excellency already took in the company of Madonna Beatrice and the
Marchesana. On that first day which they spent together at the Castello,
Trotti wrote to Duke Ercole, "Signor Lodovico is always at his wife's
side, speaking to her and watching her most attentively. And he tells me
that it would be impossible for her to give him greater pleasure or
satisfaction than she does, and never ceases to praise her."

The first impression which the youthful bride made on her husband was
evidently favourable. By all accounts, Beatrice was a singularly lovely
and fascinating child. Without the regular features and distinguished
air of her sister Isabella, there was a distinct charm in her sparkling
dark eyes and jet-black hair, her bright colouring and gay smile. The
contemporary chronicler Muralti describes her in his Annals as "of
youthful age, beautiful in face, and dark in colouring, fond of
inventing new costumes, and of spending day and night in song and
dancing and all manner of delights." In these early days at Pavia and
Milan there was, indeed, Trotti tells us, a certain shyness and reserve
about her that was only natural and might well be ascribed to maiden
shyness and timidity, but in the freedom and gaiety of her new life this
soon gave way to the irrepressible mirth and joyousness of youthful
vivacity. From the first she seems to have become sincerely attached to
Lodovico, who, although considerably older than herself, and already
thirty-nine years of age, was a very handsome and splendid-looking man,
of imposing stature and striking countenance, with courteous manners and
gentle ways. And however often he may have excited her jealousy or
wounded her feelings, his young wife never wavered in her love for him,
but proved, as he himself confessed, the best and most devoted of
companions.

On Tuesday, the 17th of January, the long-delayed wedding finally took
place, in the Castello of Pavia. A small but very brilliant company was
assembled that day in the ancient chapel of the Visconti. The official
festivities were to be celebrated at Milan, where the duke and duchess
and their court were awaiting the bride's arrival, and the Ferrarese
ambassador was the only foreign envoy present at the wedding. But
Lodovico's personal friends and retainers mustered in force, as well as
those captains and courtiers who could claim kinship with the house of
Este. Niccolo da Correggio was there, as one nearly related to both
bride and bridegroom, and was universally pronounced to be the
handsomest and best dressed of all the cavaliers who were present that
day. There, too, was Galeotto Prince of Mirandola, the husband of the
gifted Bianca d'Este, and Rodolfo Gonzaga, the Marquis of Mantua's
uncle, and, conspicuous by their lofty stature and martial air, the four
Sanseverino brothers.

The bride, arrayed in a white robe sown with pearls and glittering with
jewels, was led to the altar by the Duchess of Ferrara and Marchioness
of Mantua, supported by the young Don Alfonso, his uncle Sigismondo,
and a select retinue of Ferrarese courtiers and ladies. It was rumoured
that the Marquis Gianfrancesco Gonzaga had himself been seen in the
crowd assembled in the courtyard of the Castello, and, much to
Isabella's surprise, Lodovico asked the marchioness, at the banquet
which followed, if this report were true. But Isabella could only reply
that if her husband were at Pavia, she was unaware of the fact, and it
was not until the last day of the tournament at Milan that the marquis
appeared in public.

"The nuptial benediction was pronounced, and the act of espousals
confirmed by the ring which Signor Lodovico placed on the bride's
finger, and that night the marriage was consummated," were the words of
the official proclamation that was made in Milan the next day, and duly
notified to the magistrates of the different cities in the duchy as well
as to the duke's ambassadors at foreign courts.

On the following morning Lodovico left for Milan, to complete the
arrangements for the bride's reception early in the following week.
Nothing, he was determined, should be left undone to do honour to his
nuptials or to make the occasion memorable both in the eyes of the
people of Milan and throughout Italy. During the summer and autumn
preparations had been actively going on, and a whole army of painters,
goldsmiths, and embroiderers were at work, decorating the suite of rooms
in the Rocca, or inner citadel of the Castello of the Porta Giovia,
adjoining the Corte Ducale, where the Moro and his bride were to take up
their abode. "Here all hands are busy," wrote the Ferrarese envoy to his
master, "and Lodovico takes care that for the duchess nothing is done by
halves." When the date of the wedding had been finally determined, every
nerve was strained to complete the works within the Castello, and an
imperative summons was issued by Messer Ambrogio Ferrari, the chief
ducal commissioner, to the governors of Cremona, Piacenza, and Pavia,
commanding the immediate return of the painters who were absent in these
cities. Among the masters especially mentioned in these letters, we find
the names of Bernardino da Rossi, Zenale and Buttinone di Treviglio,
Treso di Monza, and Magistro Leonardo. This was none other than the
great Florentine, then absent at Pavia, who was required to give his
advice, if not to assist, in the actual decoration of the _Sala della
palla_ on the first floor of the Castello. The vaulted roof of this
spacious hall, which was to serve as ball-room on this occasion, was
painted in azure and gold to imitate the starry sky, while the walls
were hung with canvases representing the heroic deeds of the great
Condottiere, Francesco Sforza, whose glorious memory his son Lodovico
was always eager to celebrate. At the entrance of the hall, an effigy of
the hero on horseback was placed under a triumphal arch, with an
inscription recalling his greatness, and saying that by virtue of these
mighty exploits his children now triumph and hold festival in his
honour.

At the same time, orders were sent in the duke's name to the seneschals
of the castles and towns between Pavia and Milan to see that the roads
and bridges were repaired and widened, in order that the bridal party
might be able to travel without hindrance or inconvenience. On the 18th
of January, invitations were issued to the chief lords in the state, as
well as to those foreign princes who were connected by marriage with the
Sforza and Este families, the Marquis of Montferrat, the Marquis of
Mantua, Giovanni Bentivoglio of Bologna, and others, requesting them to
honour with their presence a three-days' tournament to be held on the
great _piazza_ in front of the Castello, during the last week in
January.

While Lodovico was personally superintending the final arrangements,
seeing that the last touches were given to the frescoes in the duchess's
_Camerino_, or discussing to the masques and comedies that were to be
performed, with Bramante and Leonardo, his bride remained at Pavia with
her family and friends. The princesses of Este were well content, for
not only were all the treasures of the Castello and library at their
disposal, but they had the best of company in the person of Messer
Galeazzo di Sanseverino, who had been charged by his father-in-law,
Signor Lodovico, to supply his place during the interval of his enforced
absence. And certainly no better squire of dames could have been found
than this courteous and brilliant cavalier. He took Isabella and
Beatrice out riding in the park, and showed them some of the beauties
of that wide domain, which in the French chronicler's eyes seemed more
like the garden of Eden than any earthly spot. They could not, it is
true, admire those flowery lawns watered by crystal streams, and groves
of plane and cypress and myrtle, which charmed the travellers from the
north, and made Commines exclaim there was no other region in the world
as divinely beautiful as the Milanese land. But they could visit the
pleasure-houses and pavilions in the gardens, and hunt the stags and red
deer that ran wild in the park. For their amusement Messer Galeazzo let
fly some of those good falcons of his, with their jewelled hoods and
silver bells, and chased the herons and water-fowl along the lake, while
the ducal huntsmen followed in their suits of green velvet embroidered
with gold, and blew their golden bugles. Indoors they laughed and sang
together, and turned over the leaves of the illuminated missals or the
rare folios of the library. And as they talked of Messer Matteo
Boiardo's famous new poem and of the old French romances, a lively
discussion over the respective merits of the paladins, Roland and
Rinaldo di Montalbano arose between the two princesses on the one hand,
and Messer Galeazzo on the other. Isabella and Beatrice were all in
favour of the knight of Montalbano as the type of Italian chivalry,
while Sanseverino, who had kinsmen at the court of France and took
delight in French costumes and French literature, was as much at home in
France as he was at Milan, and defended the matchless glory of his hero,
Orlando. The quarrel waxed warm between them in those idle days, and in
the fulness of their youth and high spirits they amused themselves,
crying out, "Rolando! Rolando!" on the one side, and a "Rinaldo!" on the
other, until one afternoon Messer Galeazzo was acknowledged victor, and
even Isabella took up his cry of Roland, but soon returned to her old
allegiance, and declared boldly that she would allow no rival to the
wronged knight of Montalbano. The controversy was to be prolonged for
many a day, and was to become the theme of more than one merry letter
and gay challenge between the Marchesana Isabella and the handsome
Sanseverino, who soon won over Duchess Beatrice to his side. So the days
flew by until the week was almost over, and the time came to start for
Milan. Every hour fresh news reached Pavia of the new wonders and
marvellous entertainments that were awaiting them at the Milanese
capital, and Isabella's spirits rose high with eager expectation and
delight.

"You ought to be here," this lively princess wrote to her youngest
brother-in-law, Giovanni Gonzaga, who had stayed behind at Mantua, and
was absent from the wedding _fêtes_. And she told him of all the jousts
and banquets and balls that were to succeed each other at Milan, this
wonderful city which she was longing to see for herself. "And among
other _fêtes_," she added, "there will be three of the finest theatrical
representations that have ever been seen. But one thing which will make
you still more envious is that from Milan we mean to go and visit that
glorious city of Genoa, where you have never been! Only think how many
new places and lands we shall have seen by the time of our return! We
wish you all good things, but fear our wishes will profit you little,
and are sure my letter will make your mouth water."

On Saturday the 21st the bridal party set out from Pavia, and, leaving
the Certosa on the right, travelled across the Lombard plain to Binasco,
where they spent the night at the feudal castle of the Visconti, the
ruins of which may still be seen on the heights above the little town.
On Sunday morning the procession entered Milan, and the bride was
received by her cousin, Isabella of Aragon, wife of the reigning duke,
who had ridden out to meet her at the suburban church of S. Eustorgio,
where the bones of the martyred friar, S. Pietro Martire, repose in
their shrine of sculptured marble. At the gates Duke Gian Galeazzo and
his uncle met them, followed by a brilliant company of Milanese nobles,
and Lodovico, clad in a gorgeous mantle of gold brocade, rode through
the streets at the side of his youthful bride. A hundred trumpeters
marched before them, filling the air with strains of martial music, and
the crowds, who had assembled from all parts of Lombardy, thronged
around to gaze on the duchess and her daughters, and more especially on
the Moro's bride.

The street decorations that day were on the grandest scale. Lodovico had
given orders that no expense should be spared, and the magnificence of
the pageant amazed the foreign ambassadors and visitors from Mantua and
Ferrara. Not only were the walls and balconies hung with red and blue
satin or brocades, while wreaths of ivy were twined round the columns
and doorways, but one whole street where the armourers had their shops
was lined with effigies of armed warriors on horseback, entirely clad
with chain-armour and plates of damascened steel. "Every one took these
mailed figures to be alive," says Tristan Calco, the admiring chronicler
to whom we owe these details. The procession halted on the _piazza_ in
front of the Castello, and the heralds gave a loud blast of music as the
bride was lifted from her horse, and received under the grand portal by
the duchess-mother, Bona of Savoy, and her two daughters, Bianca Maria
and Anna Sforza. Bona herself had returned to Milan at the French king's
request soon after her son's marriage, and had consented to an outward
reconciliation with her brother-in-law, Lodovico. Her daughter Anna's
marriage with the heir of the house of Este had always been one of the
objects of her fondest wishes, and now she gave Duchess Leonora and her
daughters a cordial welcome to her son's court.

On the following day the marriage of Alfonso d'Este and the princess
Anna was privately solemnized in the ducal chapel, but the final nuptial
benediction was deferred until their return to Ferrara, a month later.
Meanwhile the bride's sumptuous trousseau and jewels, as well as the
splendid presents received by her, were displayed during the next week
in the Castello, before the courtiers who came to pay their homage to
the newly wedded Duke and Duchess of Bari. Of Anna Sforza herself we
hear little, but her beauty and gentleness are praised by more than one
contemporary chronicler, and endeared her especially to her uncle
Lodovico, who was sincerely grieved by her early death. She and her
husband paid frequent visits to Milan after her marriage, and were very
happy in the society of Beatrice, whom she only survived a few months,
dying at the birth of her first babe, to the great sorrow of her
father-in-law, Duke Ercole. "She was very beautiful and very charming,"
writes the Ferrarese diarist, "and there is little to tell about her,
because she lived so short a time."

The most splendid _fêtes_ were yet to come. On the 24th of January, the
day after Alfonso and Anna's wedding, three tribunals were erected on
the piazza, the one occupied by a group of heralds and trumpeters, the
other loaded with precious bowls and dishes of gold and silver plate,
the gifts of the magistrates of Milan and other cities to Signor
Lodovico and his bride. The new duchess, accompanied by the other
princes and princesses, arrayed in their richest robes and literally
blazing with precious jewels, writes an eye-witness, ascended the third
tribunal erected in the centre, and received the homage of the deputies
of the city; after which two cavaliers, a Visconti and a Suardi, bending
on one knee before the bride, took from her hand two lengths of cloth of
gold, which were hung in the courtyard, as prizes to be given to the
victor in the tournament. That evening two hundred Milanese ladies of
high rank were invited to the great ball, or _festa per le donne_, given
in the Sala della palla. On this occasion peasant girls from all parts
of Italy, clad in the red, white, and blue of the Sforza colours, danced
before the court, and "the palm of Terpsichore," we are told, was
awarded to a Tuscan maiden.

On the 26th, the Giostra, which was to be the crowning event of the
week's festivities, began. At the tournament held in Pavia in honour of
Giangaleazzo's wedding, the knights had for the most part appeared in
their ordinary attire; but this time, to add greater splendour to the
occasion, they entered the lists in companies, clad in fancy costumes
and bearing symbolical devices after the fashion of the day. First of
all came the Mantuan troop of twenty horsemen clad in green velvet and
gold lace, bearing golden lances and olive boughs in their hand, with
Isabella's kinsman, Alfonso Gonzaga, at their head. Then came Annibale
Bentivoglio, the young husband of Lucrezia d'Este, with the Bologna
knights, riding on a triumphal car drawn by stags and unicorns, the
badge of the House of Este. These were followed by Gaspare di
Sanseverino, with a band of twelve riders in black and gold Moorish
dress, bearing Lodovico's device of the Moor's head on their helmets and
white doves on their black armour. Last of all came a troop of wild
Scythians, mounted on Barbary steeds, who galloped across the _piazza_,
and then, halting in front of the ducal party, suddenly threw off their
disguise and appeared in magnificent array, with the captain of the
Milanese armies, Galeazzo di Sanseverino, at their head. He planted his
golden lance in the ground, and at this sign a giant Moor, advancing to
the front, recited a poem in honour of Duchess Beatrice.[6]

These pageants and masques formed an important feature of Renaissance
_fêtes_, and were evidently regarded as such by the chroniclers of these
wedding festivities, but to us the chief interest of this tournament
lies in the knowledge that the Scythian disguise assumed by Galeazzo di
Sanseverino and his companions was designed by no less a personage than
Leonardo da Vinci. Some of the drawings of savages and masks which we
see to-day on the stray leaves of his sketch-books may relate to these
figures, but we know for certain that he was actually employed by Messer
Galeazzo to arrange this masquerade. In a note in his own handwriting,
on the margin of the "Codex Atlanticus," we read, "Item, 26 of January,
being in the house of Messer Galeazzo di San Sev^o, ordering the festa
of his Giostra, certain men-at-arms took off their vests to try on some
clothes of savages, upon which Giacomo" (the apprentice whom he had
already caught thieving at Pavia) "took up a purse which lay on the bed
with their other clothes, and took the money that was inside it." The
actual share which the great Florentine took in the preparation of the
wedding festivities has often been discussed, and we are never likely to
know how much of the duchess's cabinet he painted, or what part he took
in the decoration of the city, but at least this characteristic note on
the lad whose honesty he had reason to suspect, proves that he was
present in Milan at the time, and was the authority to whom Lodovico's
son-in-law naturally turned for advice in planning this masquerade.
Incidents of this kind help us to realize how many and varied were the
offices Leonardo was called upon to discharge in his master's service,
and how frequent were the interruptions which interfered with the
painting of his pictures or the modelling of his great horse.

After this pageant, the serious business of the Giostra began, and the
tilting-matches lasted during three whole days. Among the foremost
knights who distinguished themselves on this occasion, the chronicler
and court poet mention the Marquis of Mantua, who entered the lists in
disguise; young Annibale Bentivoglio, who wounded his hand badly, but
refused to leave the ground; the Marchesino Girolamo Stanga, one of
Isabella d'Este's especial friends and of Beatrice's most devoted
servants; and Niccolo da Correggio, who was universally admired in his
suit of gold brocade. All four Sanseverini brothers fought in the lists
with their wonted skill and valour, but once more Messer Galeazzo,
_Gentis columen_, came off the victor and proved himself unrivalled in
courtly exercises, both as jouster and swordsman. On the last day of the
tournament the prizes were given away, and Messer Galeazzo was conducted
triumphantly to the Rocca, and there received the _pallium_ of gold
brocade from the bride's own hand.[7] As soon as Lodovico recognized the
Marquis of Mantua, he sent him a pressing invitation to take his place
with the ducal party; and Gianfrancesco, unable to refuse so courteous a
request, joined his wife and sat down with the rest of his kinsfolk to
the family banquet, which was held that night in the Castello.

A curious letter, addressed by the Duke of Milan to his uncle Cardinal
Ascanio Sforza in Rome, gives a full and minute account of this
tournament, which Giangaleazzo describes as one of the most important
events of his reign, and which he begs may be fully reported to His
Holiness Pope Innocent. He dwells on the extraordinary magnificence of
the sight, on the number and size of the lances used, which were more
numerous and larger than ever before seen on these occasions, and ends
with a splendid tribute to Messer Galeazzo, who both in valour and
fortune surpassed all others. On the other hand, we recognize the
cunning of Lodovico in the despatch addressed on this occasion by the
ducal secretary to the Milanese envoy at Bologna. Here the incidents of
the Giostra are briefly recounted, and great stress is laid on the
valour displayed by Messer Annibale Bentivoglio, who, notwithstanding
his wounded hand, broke many lances, and, in spite of his great youth,
proved himself as skilled a jouster as any, and won no less glory than
if he had borne off the prize, which he would certainly have done if
fortune had served him as well as he deserved.

The wedding festivities were now brought to a close, and were
unanimously pronounced to have passed off with brilliant success.
Nothing now remained for the bride's mother but to take leave of her
daughter and return home. Accordingly, on the 1st of February, Duchess
Leonora set out on her homeward journey, with her son and his newly-made
bride and the Marchioness Isabella, accompanied by an escort of two
hundred Milanese gentlemen, with Anna's brother, Ermes Sforza, and the
Count of Caiazzo--Gianfrancesco, the eldest of the Sanseverino brothers
--at their head. Both Leonora and Isabella were anxious to see the
Certosa, of which they had heard so much, on their way back to Pavia,
and Lodovico, glad to do the honours of this famous abbey, in which he
took a just pride, sent a courier with the following letter to inform
the prior and brothers of the Duchess of Ferrara's visit:--

"Since, besides the other honours which we have paid to the illustrious
Duchess of Ferrara, we are above all anxious to show her the most
remarkable things in our domain, and since we count this our church and
monastery to be among the chief of these, we write this to inform you
that the said duchess will visit the Certosa on Wednesday next, on her
return home. And we desire you to give her a fitting reception, and to
prepare an honourable banquet for the duchess and her company, which
will number about four hundred persons and horses. No excuse on your
part can be allowed, since this is our will and pleasure. And above all
you will see that an abundant supply of lampreys is prepared. But we are
quite sure that you will do your best to pay honour to the duchess,
since otherwise we should feel obliged to do a thing that would be
displeasing to you, and send our chamberlain to provide for her
honourable entertainment."[8]

The prior and brothers of the Certosa knew their own interest too well
not to comply with this somewhat imperious missive, and left nothing
undone which could gratify their illustrious guests. Isabella's
curiosity for the beautiful and marvellous was amply gratified, and in
Lodovico's future letters to his sister-in-law we find more than one
allusion to "our church and convent of the Certosa, which you saw when
you were at Pavia." After spending the following night at the Castello
di Pavia, the duchess and her large party embarked on the bucentaurs
that were awaiting them at the junction of the Ticino and the Po, and
reached Ferrara on the 11th of February, there to begin a new series of
splendid entertainments in honour of Don Alfonso's marriage with this
Sforza princess.

FOOTNOTES:

[6] Porrò in A. S. L., ix. 501, etc.

[7] T. Chalcus, _Residua_, 90.

[8] C. Magenta, _I Visconti e Sforza nel Castello di Pavia_, i.



CHAPTER VII


Beatrice Duchess of Bari--Her popularity at the court of
Milan--Giangaleazzo and Isabella of Aragon--Lodovico's first
impressions--His growing affection for his wife--His letters to Isabella
d'Este--Hunting and fishing parties--Cuzzago and Vigevano--Controversy
on Orlando and Rinaldo--Bellincioni's sonnets.


1491


We have seen how the childhood and early youth of Beatrice d'Este had
been spent, first at her grandfather the King Ferrante's court at
Naples, afterwards in her own home at Ferrara. Under the watchful eye of
a wise and careful mother, she had been trained in all the learning and
accomplishments of the day, but had been allowed little liberty or
opportunity of revealing her strong individuality. Her charms and
talents had been thrown into the shade by the superior beauty and
intellect of the Marchioness Isabella, and until the day she landed at
Pavia she had been regarded in the comparatively insignificant light of
the younger and less gifted sister. Now all this suddenly changed. At
the age of fifteen, Beatrice d'Este found herself the wife of the ablest
and most powerful prince in Italy, released from all the restraints
hitherto imposed upon her and placed in a position of absolute freedom
and independence. From the quiet regularity of the sheltered life which
she had led at Ferrara by her mother's side, she suddenly found herself
transplanted to the gayest and most splendid court in Italy, surrounded
by every luxury that wealth could give and every beautiful object that
taste could devise. The bravest captains and the most accomplished
artists of the day were at her feet, ready to obey her orders and
gratify her smallest fancy. Leonardo and Bramante were at hand to
arrange pageants and masquerades, to paint _amorini_ on her mantelpiece
or mythological fables along the frieze of her rooms, to build elegant
pavilions, or lay out labyrinths and lakes in her garden. Bellincioni
and a dozen other poets celebrated her name and recorded her words and
actions in verse; learned scholars and commentators read Dante to her
when she cared to listen. Niccolo da Correggio not only wrote sonnets
and canzoni for her to sing but invented new patterns for her gowns; and
Cristoforo Romano laid down the sculptor's chisel to play the lyre or
viol for her pleasure. For her the wise man of Pavia, Lorenzo Gusnasco,
fashioned cunningly wrought instruments, lutes and viols inlaid with
ebony and ivory, and organs inscribed with Latin mottoes; and the
wonderful tenor, Cordier, the priest of Louvain, sang his sweetest and
most entrancing strains in the ducal chapel. For her amusement the court
jesters laughed and chattered and played their foolish tricks--Diodato,
who had followed her from Ferrara, and the witty clown Barone, the
petted favourite of Isabella d'Este and Veronica Gambara and a dozen
other great ladies. And Messer Galeazzo was ready to risk his life and
ruin his best clothes, all for the sake of his duchess. From the moment
of Beatrice's arrival at the Milanese court she won all hearts, less by
her beauty than by her vivacity and high spirits, her bright eyes and
ringing laugh, her frank gladness and keen enjoyment of life. How
favourable was the first impression which the young duchess made upon
those around her, we learn from the letters which the Ferrarese envoy
and ladies-in-waiting addressed almost daily to her anxious parents,
during the first few weeks after her marriage. Every little incident,
each word or act that is likely to please Duchess Leonora, is faithfully
reported by these good servants, in their eagerness to allay the natural
fears of the loving mother for the absent child in her brilliant but
difficult position. The demeanour of Signor Lodovico towards his wife,
all he said and thought of her, was narrowly watched by Giacomo Trotti,
and duly repeated in his letters to Ferrara. For the present this was
eminently satisfactory. "Signor Lodovico," writes the ambassador during
the wedding festivities at Milan, "has nothing but the highest praise
both for his wife and the Marchesana. He is never tired of saying how
much pleasure he takes in their company.

"Here jousting and tilting, feasting and dancing, are the order of the
day. Signor Lodovico is delighted with his wife's appearance, and
to-day, when she gave away the prizes, he kissed her repeatedly in the
eyes of all the people."

And again a few days later, when the festivities were ended and the
ducal family were enjoying a little rest before the party broke up, he
writes--

"Whenever Lodovico Sforza is wanted, he is always to be found in the
company of his wife, of the Marchesana, of Don Alfonso and Madonna Anna,
with whom he is never tired of talking and laughing, exactly as if he
were a youth of their own age."

On the 6th of February, after the departure of the duchess and her
children, Trotti wrote again, remarking, "Signor Lodovico seems to think
of nothing but how best to please and amuse his wife, and every day he
tells me how dear she is to him."[9]

Among the Ferrarese ladies who had remained at Milan, in attendance on
the young duchess, was her cousin, Polisenna d'Este, who, being
considerably older and more sedate, and no longer either young or
beautiful, had for these very reasons been placed by Leonora in her
daughter's household, and desired to keep her informed of all that
happened. Early in February this lady-in-waiting wrote the following
letter to Isabella d'Este, in terms that were well calculated to
reassure both the anxious sister and mother as to Beatrice's happiness
and her husband's behaviour:--


"MOST ILLUSTRIOUS MADONNA AND DEAR MARCHESANA,

"Since I have remained here after your Highness's departure from Milan,
continually in the company of your sister, the illustrious Duchess of
Bari, and of her husband, Signor Lodovico, I will no longer delay to
discharge my duty in sending you some comforting words as to the
well-being and happiness of the said duchess. I cannot express how happy
she is to see herself every day more affectionately caressed and petted
by her husband, who seems to find his sole delight in giving her every
possible pleasure and amusement. It is indeed a rare joy to see them
together and to realize what cordial love and good-will he bears her.
God grant it may last long! And I felt that I must write this good news
to your Highness, knowing that it would give you especial satisfaction.
I will only add that the air here seems to suit her particularly well,
and that she is certainly very much improved and stronger in appearance,
and seems every day to grow more beautiful. I beg of your Highness to
commend me to Madonna Beatrice and Collona.

                                   "Your Highness's servant,
                                                     POLISSENA D'ESTE.

From Milan, 12th of February, 1491."

And Beatrice herself wrote to Isabella in answer to her letter from her
sister, describing the festivities at Ferrara, where her presence had
been sadly missed by her affectionate relatives.

"I leave you to imagine how much content and delight your letter of the
17th has given me. For in it you give me so full and vivid a description
of the successful _fêtes_ in honour of the wedding of Madonna Anna, our
brother's wife and dearest sister, that I seem to have been present
there myself. And since you know well how much I love and respect you, I
am sure you will understand how glad I was to hear from you. Your
letter, indeed, gave me greater pleasure than any which I have received
since you left here, and I am quite sure that all of these pageants and
spectacles were distinguished by the utmost beauty and gallantry, as you
say, since they were all planned and arranged by our dear father, who
orders these things with consummate wisdom and perfection. I can well
believe that my absence has been a real grief to you, and that these
_fêtes_ have given you but little pleasure, since I was not there. For
my own part, I cannot deny that, now I am without your company, I feel
not only that I am deprived of a very dear sister, but that I have lost
half of myself. And if it were not for the new and continual amusements
which my illustrious husband provides every day for my pleasure, I
should have been inconsolable until I could be once more with you. But
since our hearts and thoughts are still one, and we are able to exchange
letters constantly, I beg you to take comfort as I do, and rest content
in feeling that, now these ceremonies are all over, we can at least speak
to each other by means of letters, written with our own hands, as you
have promised me."[10]

This simple, warm-hearted letter, which breathes all the frankness and
affection of Beatrice's nature, is written, like most of her early
letters, in her own hand. The words are often badly spelt, and her
handwriting is larger and less formed than that of Isabella, which it
otherwise resembles. But owing to the multiplicity of interests and
occupations that claimed her time after the first years of her married
life, the young duchess generally employed a secretary, and has left
comparatively few letters. Lodovico himself addressed several letters to
his sister-in-law, to whom he was sincerely attached, and in order to
facilitate the intercourse between the two sisters, and as he said, to
leave Isabella no excuse for not answering his communications, he sent a
courier regularly every week to Mantua, with orders to await the
Marchesana's pleasure and bring back her letters.

"Loving you cordially as I do," he writes, a fortnight after her
departure, "and, knowing that I have in you a very dear sister, nothing
can give me greater pleasure than letters from your hand. I thank your
Highness most sincerely for all that you tell me, and most of all for
your warm expressions of affection and for saying how sorry you were to
leave us, and how not even the splendid _fêtes_ in Ferrara could console
you for being deprived of our presence. All I beg of you is to write
often, and I will see that your letters are brought here."

Besides her sister and brother-in-law and Madonna Polisenna, Isabella
had another correspondent at the court of Milan, in the person of Messer
Galeazzo di Sanseverino, with whom she had formed a warm friendship at
Pavia, and who had promised to give her frequent news of her sister,
while at the same time he still carried on the battle over Roland and
Rinaldo which had been started in the park of the Castello at Pavia. He
too, writing on the 11th of February, was able to assure the Marchesana
that all was going well, and that the relations between her sister and
Signor Lodovico left nothing to be desired.

"My Duchess," as he always calls the mistress to whose service he had
pledged his sword and life, "perseveres in showing Signor Lodovico an
affection which is truly beyond all praise, and, to put it briefly, I am
satisfied that there is such real attachment between them, that I do not
believe two persons could love each other better."

The presence of this young and joyous princess gave a touch of romance
to court life, and inspired men like Galeazzo and Niccolo da Correggio
with a chivalrous devotion to her person. Every one was ready to obey
her wishes, and eager to win her smiles and to earn her thanks.

Even Giangaleazzo, the feeble duke who seldom took pleasure in anything
but horses and dogs, and often treated his own wife in a brutal way,
felt the charm of this bright young creature, and was stirred out of his
usual apathy by the coming of Beatrice. In a letter which he addressed
to the Duke of Ferrara after the wedding festivities, he went out of his
way to express the affection with which this charming princess, his
wife's cousin and his uncle's wife, has inspired him.

"I cannot," he writes, "sufficiently express how much joy this marriage
has given me, and how glad I am to see the singular virtues and talents
of _Madonna la sposa_." And after formally congratulating the duke on
his daughter's marriage, and on the renewed alliance between the two
houses, he goes on to say how much he rejoices in his uncle's happiness,
which will, he feels sure, only increase his own. "For by means of this
marriage, besides the two sisters which God had already given us, we
have now gained a third, whom by God's grace we shall not love less than
the two who are ours by nature."

Giangaleazzo's own wife, Duchess Isabella, a virtuous and high-minded
princess whose own merits were sadly hampered by her husband's weakness
and folly, was much beloved by her own servants, but inherited the proud
reserve of the Aragonese race, and led a secluded existence with her
lord, who hated town life and seldom showed his face in Milan. But this
young wife of Lodovico, it was easy to see, would soon throw her into
the shade. Beatrice's presence lent a charm to the most tedious court
functions. Her high spirits and overflowing mirth threw new zest into
every pursuit. Grave senators and wise statesmen listened to her words
with interest, and grey-headed prelates tolerated her merry jokes and
smiled at her irrepressible laughter. She sang and danced, and played at
ball and rode races, and took long hunting and fishing expeditions to
the royal villas in the neighbourhood of Milan. "My wife," wrote
Lodovico to his sister-in-law three months after his marriage, "has
developed a perfect passion for horsemanship, and is always either
riding or hunting."

The regent himself was too deeply engaged in state affairs, and devoted
too much time and attention to the details of administration, to be able
to accompany his wife as a rule. But she had a devoted comrade in her
husband's son-in-law, whom he deputed to escort the duchess on her more
distant expeditions. Since his betrothal to Lodovico's daughter,
Galeazzo had enjoyed all the privileges of a son, and was already, what
the Moro had promised to make him, the first man in the state. He
assisted at all state audiences, and was the only person present when
Lodovico received foreign ambassadors. He shared the Moro's private
life, and always dined alone with the duke and duchess when there were
no other guests at their table. His letters to Isabella d'Este give
lively accounts of the expeditions which he took in Beatrice's company
during the first few months of her married life.

"This morning, being Friday," he writes on the 11th of February, 1491,
"I started at ten o'clock with the duchess and all of her ladies on
horseback to go to Cussago, and in order to let your Highness enter
fully into our pleasures, I must tell you that first of all I had to
ride in a chariot with the duchess and Dioda, and as we drove we sang
more than twenty-five songs, arranged for three voices. That is to say,
Dioda took the tenor part, and the duchess the soprano, whilst I sang
sometimes bass and sometimes soprano, and played so many foolish tricks
that I really think I may claim to be more of a fool than Dioda! And now
farewell for to-night, and I will try to improve still further, so as to
afford your Highness the more pleasure when you come here in the
summer."

But Messer Galeazzo's story does not end here. A day or two later he
takes up the thread of his discourse again, and describes the pleasant
day which the duchess spent at Cussago, one of Lodovico Sforza's
favourite villas on the sunny slopes of the Brianza, six miles from
Milan, on the way to Como.

"Having reached Cussago," he goes on, "we had a grand fishing expedition
in the river, and caught an immense quantity of large pike, trout,
lampreys, crabs, and several other good sorts of smaller fish, and
proceeded to dine off them until we could eat no more. Then, to make our
meal digest the better, directly after dinner we began to play at ball
with great vigour and energy, and after we had played for some time we
went over the palace, which is really very beautiful, and, among other
things, contains a doorway of carved marble, as fine as the new works at
the Certosa. Next we examined the result of our sport, which had been
laid out in front of the place, and took back as many of the lampreys
and crabs as we could eat with us, and sent some of the lampreys to his
Highness the duke. When this was done, we went to another palace and
caught more than a thousand large trout, and after choosing out the best
for presents and for our own holy throats, we had the rest thrown back
into the water. And then we mounted our horses again, and began to let
fly some of those good falcons of mine which you saw at Pavia, along the
river-side, and they killed several birds. By this time it was already
four o'clock. We rode out to hunt stags and fawns, and after giving
chase to twenty-two and killing two stags and two fawns, we returned
home and reached Milan an hour after dark, and presented the result of
our day's sport to my lord the Duke of Bari. My illustrious lord took
the greatest possible pleasure in hearing all we had done, far more,
indeed, than if he had been there in person, and I believe that my
duchess will in the end reap the greatest benefit, and that Signor
Lodovico will give her Cussago, which is a place of rare beauty and
worth. But I have cut my boots to pieces and torn my clothes, and played
the fool into the bargain, and these are the rewards one gains in the
service of ladies. However, I will have patience, since it is all for
the sake of my duchess, whom I never mean to fail in life or death."

[Illustration: SFORZA MS. ILLUMINATED _From a private photograph._]

Galeazzo was a true prophet, and in the British Museum we may still
admire the beautifully illuminated deed of gift, adorned with friezes of
exquisite cherubs and medallion-portraits of Lodovico and Beatrice, by
which the fair palace and lands of Cussago became the property of the
young duchess. This favourite villa of the Visconti had been left by
Francesco Sforza to his son Lodovico, who had employed a host of
architects and painters to adorn its walls. Bramante is said to have
reared the noble bell-tower and portico that are still standing, while
Milanese or Pavian sculptors carved the medallions bearing the Sforza
arms, and the portrait of Lodovico that may still be seen on the arcades
of the loggia. To-day the once beautiful country-house is a ruin; the
marble doorway which Galeazzo and Beatrice admired, carved it may be by
that same Cristoforo Romano to whom we owe the portal of the Stanga
palace, and that of Isabella d'Este's studio at Mantua, has disappeared.
Only the fragments of frescoes and the rich terra-cotta mouldings and
slender columns of the elegant _cortile_ recall the joyous day which
Beatrice d'Este and her ladies spent at the villa. But their memory
sheds a glamour on the scene, and in the story of those Renaissance
days, among so much that is dark and sinister, it is pleasant to recall
this picture of the young duchess and her gallant cavalier singing songs
for pure gladness of heart as they rode out together in the fair spring
morning.

"One thing only," wrote Messer Galeazzo, "was wanting to our pleasure,
and that was the sweet company of yourself, fair Madonna Marchesana."
And with a sigh he tells her how much she is missed in the Castello of
Milan, and how often he wishes he could find her in Madonna the Duchess
of Ferrara's rooms, having her long hair combed and curled by her
favourite maidens Teodora and Beatrice and Violante, to all of whom he
sends courteous greeting. Then he returns to the old controversy over
Orlando, and replies to a gay challenge which Isabella has sent him in a
letter to Signor Lodovico, only wishing she were here to defend Rinaldo
in person, or rather to be made to own the error of her ways, and to
confess that the knight of Montalbano is not to be compared to Roland!
But he warns her that if she perseveres in this heresy, he will draw up
such an indictment of Rinaldo's faults as will fill her with confusion,
and make her recognize with shame his inferiority to Roland, that baron
of immortal fame, of whom nothing but good can be said. Isabella,
however, stuck to her colours, and, a whole month later, Messer Galeazzo
sent her a long letter from Vigevano, in which he drew up an elaborate
parallel between the conduct of the two paladins, as recorded in
Boiardo's poem, and ended with a splendid eulogy of Roland.

"Roland the most Christian! Roland the pure and strong, prudent, just,
and merciful servant of Christ, the true defender of widows and orphans!
Of his valour I will say nothing, this being known to all the world; but
this I say, that when I think of my worship for Roland, however sad and
ill disposed I may be feeling, my heart rejoices, and I become glad of
heart and joyous again."

So he begs her, for the love that he bears her Highness, to try and
amend her ways and recant her errors, and do penitence in this Lenten
season for her fault, after the example of the great apostle St. Paul,
who was converted to the Christian faith, and became an elect son and
mighty preacher of the gospel, bringing many to righteousness and
enjoying the high favour of our Lord God. For Roland, the Marchesa may
know for certain, has his place in Paradise with the saints, "and in
serving him you will be serving God; but if, on the other hand, you
persevere in your false opinions, you will find that you are serving the
devil, who accompanied Rinaldo both in his life here and afterwards in
his death. And remember," he adds in conclusion, "when the blind lead
the blind, both fall into the ditch!"

Nothing daunted by this long harangue, Isabella retorted in an equally
lengthy epistle, flatly denying the charges brought against Rinaldo as
false and unsupported by a tittle of evidence. Galeazzo replied in
another bantering letter, assuming the part of a priest, and exhorting
the fair sinner to confess her faults in these holy days of Passiontide,
lest she should incur greater damnation, and drive her soul into the
devil's jaws.

"And since this is the hour of penitence and contrition," he concludes,
"I would once more beg and pray your Highness to return to the true
faith and devotion of Roland, having before your eyes the good example
of our most illustrious duchess, your sister, who has acknowledged her
errors, and become a sincere follower of Roland, as a good Christian,
and is now gone to Milan to obtain pardon.

                                "Your most humble and devoted servant,
                                             GALEAZ SFORTIA VICECOMES,
                                             _Armorum Capitaneus_.[11]

Vigevano, 30th of March, 1491."

Isabella, however, still remained obdurate, declaring that on no account
would she follow Beatrice's changeable conduct, and was ready to defend
her hero against a hundred thousand opponents. Upon which Galeazzo
reminded her that, for all her boastings, she had been constrained to
yield to his single-handed efforts in the park at Pavia, and had ended
by taking up his cry of "Roland." The more pity that she should turn her
back upon the good cause now, and prove the inconstancy of woman's
nature! But he consoled himself by reflecting that the Marchesana would
soon be back at Milan, when he would easily be able to make her give up
Rinaldo, and once more cry "Roland" as she had done before.

This letter was written by Galeazzo on the 13th of April, after which
the subject dropped for a while, until it was revived by a visit which
his brother, Gaspare Fracassa, paid to Mantua in the summer with his
wife, Margherita Pia, a great friend of the Marchesana and Duchess of
Urbino. Isabella could not resist the opportunity of returning the
charge, and sent Messer Galeazzo, by his brother's hands, a challenge to
battle, couched in approved terms, and indicating her choice of arms and
of the scene of action. Galeazzo replied in the most courteous language,
declaring himself absolutely at the service of his fair challenger, and
assuring her that her coming is awaited with the utmost impatience by
Signor Lodovico, the Duchess of Bari, and her humble servant.

Meanwhile Isabella prepared herself for the fray by collecting all the
information on the subject that she could possibly obtain. In that same
month of August, when Galeazzo sent her the last-named letter from his
villa at Castelnuovo, near Tortona, the Marchesana wrote to the Mantuan
ambassador at Venice, desiring him to send her all the poems and
romances concerning French paladins at the court of Charlemagne which he
could discover. At the same time she addressed a letter to her old
friend, Messer Matteo Boiardo, at Ferrara, requesting him to send her
the concluding cantos of his poem, the "Orlando Innamorato," which had
not as yet been given to the world. The poet replied that, to his great
regret, he was unable to comply with her wish, since the cantos in
question were not yet written; and Isabella could only beg him to let
her have a copy of the two earlier books, in order that she might
refresh her memory by reading them once more.

But the Marchesana's intended visit to Milan was, after all, put off,
and Messer Galeazzo was called away to more arduous duties in camp and
field. The debate, which had been prolonged with so much wit and
ingenuity on both sides, came to an abrupt ending. It was left to the
Florentine poet, Bellincioni, in whose verses the smallest incidents
that took place at court were faithfully reflected, to celebrate this
"praiseworthy and memorable duel of intellect between these two august
personages." At Beatrice's command Bellincioni wrote three sonnets
illustrating the arguments brought forward on either side. In the first,
he adopts Isabella's standpoint, and is all in favour of Rinaldo. In the
second, he sees a vision of Roland with the saints in Paradise, and
declares almost in the same language as Galeazzo, that whereas Rinaldo
was only a brave soldier, Roland was able and virtuous as well as
valiant. Finally, in the third, he exhorts the illustrious marchioness
to recant her errors, since the Scriptures tell us that it is human to
err, and not to follow the bad example of Pharaoh who hardened his
heart, but to see how immeasurably inferior Rinaldo was to his rival,
and to become, with Messer Galeazzo and others of his merit, a true
Christian and follower of Roland.

The whole controversy is a curious instance of the deep interest which
these great ladies of the Italian Renaissance and their courtiers took
in literary subjects, and especially in the romances of the Carlovingian
cycle. This interest was not confined to the upper circles of society,
but spread through all classes, and was no doubt largely increased by
the songs and the improvisations of strolling minstrels and Provençal
story-tellers. First of all the Florentine Pulci, and after him Boiardo
and Bello of Ferrara, sought inspiration in the same source, and later
on their example was followed by Ariosto and Tasso. And Poggio, writing
in the fifteenth century, tells us how in his day a worthy citizen of
Milan, after hearing one of these wandering _cantatores_ chanting the
story of Roland's death with dramatic action and effect, went home
weeping so bitterly that his wife and friends could hardly console him
or induce him to dry his tears. "And yet," remarks the grave historian,
"this Roland they tell of has been dead well-nigh seven hundred years."

Unfortunately, Isabella's share in this singular and interesting
correspondence has perished, and only Messer Galeazzo's letters survive.
These may still be seen in the Gonzaga Archives, where they were first
discovered by Signor Alessandro Luzio and Signor Rodolfo Renier. These
learned writers are in some perplexity as to the identity of the writer,
since the letters are signed Galeaz _Sfortia Vicecomes_, and internal
evidence will not allow them to have been written by any Galeazzo Sforza
or Visconti then living. But there can hardly be a doubt as to who the
writer actually was. Galeazzo di Sanseverino had been adopted by
Lodovico Sforza when he married his daughter Bianca, and from that time
used the surname of the ducal house, _Sfortia Vicecomes_, and very
frequently added his title of _Armorum Capitaneus_, captain of the
armies of Milan. His well-known patronage of artists and love of
letters, as well as his intimate connection with the duke and duchess,
all point in the same direction; and if any further proof were needed,
the mention of his brother Gaspare, and the allusion to Galeazzo by name
in one of Bellincioni's sonnets on the subject, and the fact that one of
the letters is dated from his own villa of Castelnuovo, near Tortona,
would be sufficient to settle the question. The champion of Orlando and
the faithful servant of Beatrice d'Este was, it is evident, none other
than the friend of Leonardo and Castiglione--that ideal knight, Galeazzo
di Sanseverino.

FOOTNOTES:

[9] G. Uzielli, _Leonardo da Vinci_, etc., p. 26.

[10] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 98.

[11] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 104.



CHAPTER VIII

Relations between Lodovico and Beatrice--Cecilia Gallerani--Birth of her
son Cesare--Her marriage to Count Bergamini--Beatrice at Villa Nova and
Vigevano--The Sforzesca and Pecorara--Lodovico's system of irrigation in
the Lomellina--Leonardo at Vigevano--Hunting-parties and country
life--Letters to Isabella d'Este.

1491

All these caresses and adulation, all the expeditions and hunting-parties
and _fêtes_ in her honour, were naturally very delightful to this young
princess of fifteen summers, who had till now hardly left home, and who
flung herself with such boundless enjoyment into every new form of
amusement. Life for her was full of mirth and rapture; a long prospect of
endless pleasures seemed to open before her as the first breath of spring
passed over the green Lombard plains, and the delicious gardens of the
Castello of Milan and the long avenues on the sunny terraces of Vigevano
burst into leaf. The world seemed waking into new bliss, and Duchess
Beatrice was the gayest and gladdest of its creatures. So at least she
appeared to those who saw her in the full enjoyment of chase or dance.
But there was a darker side to the picture. Lodovico looked on his young
wife as a joyous and fascinating child, as he told Giacomo Trotti,
"_lieta di natura et molto piacevolina_," and thought that as long as he
treated her with consideration and respect, and at the same time allowed
her every possible indulgence, he might continue to go on his own way and
take his pleasure in whatever form he chose. But he soon found out his
mistake. This young wife of his, full of mirth and high spirits as she
was, had a deeper nature and a stronger will than he suspected. If a
constant round of amusements could have satisfied her, she might have
accepted the playful caresses of her indulgent husband, and been content
with the share of affection which he bestowed upon her. But Beatrice
asked for more than this. She was bent on having sole possession of her
lord's heart--of reigning there at least without a rival. And when she
discovered that Lodovico had a mistress actually living in the Castello,
whom he visited constantly and loved passionately, her whole being rose
up in arms. Her proud spirit would not brook a rival, and she vowed the
duke must choose between his mistress and his wife. When the Ferrarese
envoy saw the newly wedded duke on his way to Cecilia Gallerani's rooms
within a month after his marriage, he was full of gloomy forebodings.
But Lodovico was perfectly frank with him, and did not attempt to conceal
his actions or the motives of his conduct. For a while Beatrice spent her
time riding or hunting about the country with Messer Galeazzo and her
ladies, and remained in happy ignorance of the true state of affairs. But
this could not last long. Soon a rumour of Cecilia's presence in the
Rocca reached her ears; she heard how often the duke was seen in her
company, and was told that before many weeks were over his mistress was
likely to bear him a child. The first intimation which we have of this
rude awakening which had come to the young duchess is in a letter
addressed by Trotti to Duke Ercole, which he sends in the strictest
confidence, begging his master to allow no one but our illustrious Madonna
to read it, and then to burn it without delay.[12] In this letter he says
that Beatrice has absolutely refused to wear a certain vest of woven gold
which her husband had given her, if Madonna Cecilia ever appeared in a
similar one, which it seems was also Lodovico's present. The duke himself,
he adds, had been to see him that day, and had promised faithfully that he
would put an end to his _liaison_ with Cecilia, and would either marry
her to one of his courtiers or desire her to become a nun. Lodovico, it
is plain, had realized that the situation had become impossible, and
that he could not keep up his relations with his old mistress without
causing open scandal. He was true to his promise, and that carnival he
broke off the connection which gave Beatrice so much pain, and wrote to
Giacomo Trotti from Vigevano on the 27th of March, informing him that he
had decided not to see Madonna Cecilia again, and that after her child's
birth she had agreed to become the wife of Count Lodovico Bergamini. This
strange compact was duly carried out.

On the 3rd of May, the duke's discarded mistress gave birth to a son,
who received the name of Cesare; and in the following July, Cecilia
Gallerani was married to Count Lodovico Bergamini of Cremona, one of the
Moro's most loyal servants and subjects. Her trousseau on this occasion
was of the most sumptuous description, and it was noticed that the
corbeille which held her gowns bore the ducal arms. At the same time the
Duke of Bari presented her with the stately Palazzo del Verme,
originally built by his ancestor, Filippo Maria Visconti, for the great
Captain Carmagnola, on the _piazza_ of the Duomo, as a token of his
regard and a heritage for her infant son. Court painters and sculptors
were employed to decorate the halls and porticoes with frescoes and
medallions of the finest marble, and at the time of the French invasion,
eight years later, Countess Bergamini's palace was described as the
finest private house in Milan. Cecilia devoted herself to the classical
studies in which she had taken delight from her earliest youth, and
entertained her learned friends in her town house or at her villa near
Cremona until she died in advanced old age, some years after the last of
Lodovico's sons had ceased to reign over Milan. Lodovico seems to have
kept his promise loyally, but always treated Cecilia and her husband
with marked favour, and acknowledged the boy Cesare as his own son.

A curious letter addressed to him by the poet Bellincioni, in February,
1492, when the duke was absent from Milan for a few days, begins by
informing Lodovico that he has given Duchess Beatrice a pastoral which
she wishes to send her husband, and goes on to say that he was dining
yesterday with Madonna Cecilia. He tells Lodovico how he had seen her
son Cesare, who had grown into a very fine child--"_quale è grasso, dico
grasso!_"--and how he had made the little fellow laugh. In the same
letter he complains of all that he has to suffer at the hands of envious
detractors, and by way of ingratiating himself with the duke, reminds
his Highness that he had always prophesied Madonna Cecilia's child would
prove to be a boy. Bellincioni himself composed several sonnets in
honour of Cesare's birth and of his accomplished mother. And among the
exquisite miniatures of the little Maximilian Sforza's Libro del Gesù in
the Trivulzian library, we find a picture of Lodovico and Beatrice's
child sitting at dinner with his mother and a lady bearing the name of
Cecilia, in whom tradition sees the duke's old mistress, Countess
Bergamini.

But although Cecilia remained at court, and even maintained friendly
relations with her famous lover, she never seems to have given Beatrice
cause for jealousy again, and her name is never again mentioned in
Giacomo Trotti's confidential despatches to his master. Only the
singular fact that Beatrice d'Este's portrait was never, so far as we
know, painted by Leonardo, the supreme master at her husband's court,
may well be owing to the remembrance that he had formerly painted
Cecilia Gallerani. The proud young duchess who would not wear a robe
similar to that bestowed upon his mistress by her husband, may naturally
enough have declined to have her portrait painted by the same artist,
however excellent a master he might be. But whether or no this was the
true reason of this strange omission, there was certainly no portrait of
Beatrice d'Este by Leonardo's hand in Milan a year after her death, or
her own sister Isabella would not have applied to Cecilia Gallerani for
the loan of her picture as an example of Leonardo's art. From this time,
however, the young duchess succeeded in winning her husband's heart, and
for many years to come retained undivided possession of his roving
affections. On the 20th of April, Trotti wrote to Ferrara that Signor
Lodovico had been to see him on the second or third day in Easter week,
and had spoken with the greatest warmth and affection of his wife, with
whom he spent his whole time, and whose charming ways and manners gave
him the greatest pleasure. Madonna Beatrice is, as he says, not only of
a joyous nature, but of noble and elevated mind, and at the same time
very pleasing and no less modest. And in May, when Cecilia's son was
born, the duke himself told his wife the news, repeating his
determination never again to renew the old connection. His letters to
Isabella d'Este abound in the same expressions of genuine love and
admiration for his young wife. He is never tired of dwelling on her
perfections, on her courage and fine horsemanship, and looks on with an
indulgent smile at her wildest freaks and escapades.

Early in March he and Beatrice went to Vigevano, accompanied as usual by
Messer Galeazzo and a few courtiers and ladies. All his life Lodovico
retained especial affection for this old Lombard town, where he had been
born, and which he had greatly improved and beautified during the last
few years. By his care the streets were paved, and new houses erected;
the buildings of the ancient Forum, which dated back to Roman times,
were restored; and the church repaired and adorned with pictures, and
decorated by the hand of the sculptor Cristoforo Romano.

"At Vigevano," writes the contemporary Milanese chronicler Cagnola, "a
place very dear to the house of Sforza, Lodovico made a fair and large
_piazza_, and adorned it with many noble buildings and a fine park,
which he filled with beasts of prey for the pleasure of the ducal
family. He also laid out some most beautiful gardens, and since all this
country was very dry and arid, he constructed aqueducts with great
artifice and ingenuity, and brought water into the place in such
abundance that these lands, which had hitherto been sterile and barren,
bore fruit in great quantities. And so entirely did he improve and alter
the whole place that, instead of Vigevano, it might well be called
_Citta nova_."

At the same time Lodovico rebuilt on a magnificent scale the old castle
which crowns the heights above the valley of the Ticino, and employed
Bramante to design the lofty tower and the arcaded courts with delicate
traceries and terra-cotta mouldings in the finest Lombard style. This
favourite palace of the Moro's has been turned into a barrack, and
little remains of its former splendour; but Bramante's tower is still
standing, and on the north gate of the keep we may read a significant
inscription placed there by the citizens of Vigevano, recording the many
benefactions of this most illustrious duke, who loved his native city so
well, and was never tired of heaping benefactions on her people. "By his
care not only was this splendid house raised from the ground, and the
square of the old Forum restored to its pristine shape, but the course
of rivers was turned, and flowing streams of water were brought into
this dry and barren land. The desert waste became a green and fertile
meadow, "the wilderness rejoiced and blossomed as the rose."

The same sentiments inspired the verses in which Galeotto del Carretto,
one of the most accomplished poets of Beatrice's court, celebrated
Lodovico's improvements in this his favourite country house:

    "Vigevano, che gia fu gleba vile,
    Ha fatto adorno, e gli agri a quel contigui
    Ha coltivati con saper utile,
    E i steril campi, e al far fructo ambigui
    Fertili ha facto et abondanti prati,
    E d'acqua ticinèse tutti irigui."

Both Cagnola and Galeotto refer, no doubt, to the vast system of
irrigation which Lodovico constructed at immense pains and expense to
fertilize this district of Lomellina, and which may well have earned the
gratitude of its inhabitants. The great Naviglio Sforzesca, which has
resisted the ravages of time, formed part of this admirable system, and
was probably constructed under the supervision of Leonardo, who was
often at Vigevano with Lodovico, and who in later years became his chief
engineer. It was here, in the immediate neighbourhood of Vigevano, that
Lodovico established his model farm for the encouragement of agriculture.
Like all the Moro's other undertakings, this was planned on a splendid
scale. The villa itself was an imposing quadrangular building, with four
lofty towers, and a noble gateway adorned with a Latin inscription cut in
gold letters on a tablet of massive marble, and bearing the date 1486.
These lines, composed at the duke's request by Ermolao Barbaro, the
learned Venetian scholar, who was a personal friend of his, and
represented the republic at his court, record how Lodovico, the son of
one Sforza Duke of Milan, and uncle and guardian of another, brought
water to fertilize this barren province, and was the builder of this
fair house, "_villaque amenissima a fundamentis erecta_." In order to
carry out his schemes, the duke acquired a large extent of land in the
neighbourhood, partly by purchase, and partly by the confiscation of
territory, which, as Corio remarks, naturally provoked much discontent
among individuals, and did not help to increase Lodovico's popularity,
although in the end it largely benefited both the state and posterity.
He proceeded to dig canals, and bring water on the one side by the
Naviglio Sforzesca from the Ticino, and on the other by the Mora Canal
from the Val Seria. Then, with the help of exports from Vicenza and
Verona, he introduced the culture of the mulberry with excellent
results, and planted large vineyards. Here he tried various experiments
in the culture of the vine, such, for instance, as that of burying vines
in winter, which Leonardo noted down when he visited Vigevano in March,
1492. At the same time Lodovico brought vast flocks of sheep from
Languedoc, and built the large farm known as La Pecorara, close to the
new villa. La Grange, as they called this farm, aroused the admiration
of the French chroniclers who followed Louis XII. in his invasion of
Lombardy, more than any other of the beautiful and marvellous houses and
enchanted gardens which they saw in this wonderful land of Milan. Robert
Gaguin cannot find words in which to express his amazement at the
marvellous number of beasts that he saw there--horses, mares, oxen,
cows, bulls, rams, ewes, goats, and other beasts with their young, such
as fawns, calves, foals, lambs, and kids--or the massive pillars and
lofty vaulting of the stables, which are described as being larger than
the whole of the Carthusian convent in Paris.

"The farm itself," he writes, "is finely situated in a wide meadow about
four leagues in circumference, with no less than thirty-three streams of
fair running water flowing through the pastures, and well adapted for
the practical uses of agriculture, since they serve for the bathing and
cleansing of the animals as well as for the watering of the grass. The
plan of the farm-buildings is a large square, like some noble cloister,
and in the park outside are barns and ricks of hay and other produce. In
the central courtyard are the houses of the governors and captains who
direct all the work on the farm. In the outhouses, which are built in
the shape of a great cross, the labourers have their homes, together
with their wives and families. Some of these clean and tend the cattle
or groom the horses. Others milk the herds of cows at the proper time.
Others, again, receive the milk and bear it into the dairies, where it
is made into the great cheeses which they call here Milan cheeses, under
the superintendence of the master cheese-maker. The exact weight of
everything, that is to say, of the hay, milk, butter, and cheese, is
carefully recorded, and there is an extraordinary wealth and abundance
of all these things."

These Milan cheeses were so highly esteemed by the French invaders in
1499, that Louis XII. took back a large quantity with him to Blois, and
kept them for several years in a room especially devoted to that
purpose. They were preserved in oil, and are mentioned in one of his
wife Anne of Brittany's inventories of the year 1504.

Such were the manifold industries which this far-seeing prince
established on his royal domain, less, as he said, for actual profit
than for the encouragement of better methods in agriculture and the
promotion of his poorer subjects' prosperity. And over all he kept the
same keen and vigilant eye, paying attention to every detail and
providing for every contingency. The management of this model farm and
the progress of the extensive works that were being executed in the new
palace of Vigevano filled every moment that he could spare from affairs
of state at Milan. But on this occasion his especial object in visiting
his native city was, as he tells Isabella d'Este, to stock the park with
game of all kinds--deer, chamois, hare, and pheasants--as well as the
wild boars and wolves for the more serious sport known as _la grande
caccia_.

"I am hoping to go to Vigevano on Monday," he writes from Milan on the
26th of February, "with my wife, and intend to make extensive preparations
for fresh hunting-parties, so that when you are here we may be able to
give you the more pleasure. As for my wife, I really believe that since
your departure she has not let a single day pass without mounting her
horse!" And later in the summer he says, "My wife has become so clever at
hawking that she quite outdoes me at this her favourite sport."

Beatrice herself gives a lively account of her country life during the
spring of 1491, in a charming letter which she addressed to her sister
from Villa Nova, another of Lodovico's delightful pleasure-houses in the
valley of the Ticino between Milan and Pavia.

"I am now here at Villa Nova, where the loveliness of the country and
the balmy sweetness of the air make me think we are already in the month
of May, so warm and splendid is the weather we are enjoying! Every day
we go out riding with the dogs and falcons, and my husband and I never
come home without having enjoyed ourselves exceedingly in hunting herons
and other water-fowl. I cannot say much of the perils of the chase,
since game is so plentiful here that hares are to be seen jumping out at
every corner--so much so, that often we hardly know which way to turn to
find the best sport. Indeed, the eye cannot take in all one desires to
see, and it is scarcely possible to count up the number of animals that
are to be found in this neighbourhood. Nor must I forget to tell you how
every day Messer Galeazzo and I, with one or two other courtiers, amuse
ourselves playing at ball after dinner, and we often talk of your
Highness, and wish that you were here. I say all this, not to diminish
the pleasure that I hope you will have when you do come by telling you
what you may expect to find here, but in order that you may know how
well and happy I am, and how kind and affectionate my husband is, since
I cannot thoroughly enjoy any pleasure or happiness unless I share it
with you. And I must tell you that I have had a whole field of garlic
planted for your benefit, so that when you come, we may be able to have
plenty of your favourite dishes![13]

"Ex Villa Nova, 18 Martiji, 1491."

It is plain from this letter that harmony had been restored between the
wedded pair, and that the rock on which Beatrice's happiness had seemed
likely to founder had been fortunately avoided.

The passing cloud that cast a shadow on her bright young life had rolled
away, and this letter breathes the serene happiness of the spring airs
about her. But her affection for her sister was warmer and stronger than
ever, and hardly a day passed without some fresh expression of her
impatience for Isabella's return--an impatience which both Lodovico and
Galeazzo seem to have shared.

On the 21st of April, after describing a successful wolf-hunt from
Vigevano, in which the Duke and Duchess of Milan and their courtiers had
all taken part, Lodovico writes--

"The whole distance must have been at least thirty miles, yet on the way
home both the duchesses stayed behind the rest of us, to make their
horses race one against the other; and if your Highness had been here, I
think you would have entered the lists and tried your luck against them.
And since you must come soon, and are expected by us impatiently, I will
remind your Highness to bring some of those fine Barbary steeds which
your illustrious lord the marquis keeps in his stables, and then you
will easily be able to beat all the others."

Again, on the 16th of May, Lodovico writes in the same strain--

"I am as sorry as you are that you could not be here for these
wolf-hunts, because, as you said in the letter written with your own
hand on the 5th instant, I am quite sure you would have given us proofs
of your spirit and courage. I must, however, tell you that your sister's
boldness is such that I think even you would hardly come off victor in
this contest, especially as, since you were here, she has made great
progress both in the arts of horsemanship and of hunting. All the same,
I am so impatient to see you together and to match your courage one
against the other, that it seems to me a thousand years until your
arrival!"

Beatrice, it appears, was absolutely fearless in the presence of danger,
and faced an angry boar or wounded stag with the same lightness of
heart. The greater the risks she ran, the higher her spirits rose. This
feature of his young wife's character aroused the Moro's highest
admiration. In a letter of the 8th of July, after recounting the various
incidents of a long day's hunting, he tells the Marchesa what a narrow
escape Beatrice has had from an infuriated stag which gored her horse.

"All at once we heard that the wounded stag had been seen, and had
attacked the horse which my wife was riding, and the next moment we saw
her lifted up in the air a good lance's height from the ground; but she
kept her seat, and sat erect all the while. The duke and duchess and I
all rushed to her help, and asked if she were hurt; but she only
laughed, and was not in the least frightened."[14]

Isabella herself was burning with eager desire to join Lodovico and
Beatrice in these hunting-parties, and have a share in the thrilling
adventures which they narrated in their letters, But her husband the
marquis was away all the spring and early summer; first at Bologna,
where he attended his brother Giovanni Gonzaga's wedding, and afterwards
with his sister the Duchess Elizabeth at Urbino. After his return to
Mantua he fell ill, and when he recovered it was already late in August,
and Isabella was compelled very reluctantly to decline Lodovico Sforza's
pressing invitations. Money was scarce at the court of Mantua, and the
expenses of a journey to Milan were heavy. So she contented herself with
going to see her mother that autumn at Ferrara, and put off her visit to
Milan until the following spring, much to the disappointment of Beatrice
and her husband. Lodovico wrote her word that he had been arranging a
tournament at Pavia in honour of the christening of Gian Galeazzo's son,
the little Count of Pavia, but that since she would not come, he had
made up his mind to put it off and have no jousting.

FOOTNOTES:

[12] G. Uzielli, _op. cit._, p. 27.

[13] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 112.

[14] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 113.



CHAPTER IX

Isabella of Aragon and Beatrice d'Este--Ambrogio Borgognone and
Giovanni Antonio Amadeo--Cristoforo Romano and his works at Pavia and
Cremona--The Certosa of Pavia--Illness of Beatrice--Her journey to
Genoa--Correspondence between Isabella and Lodovico Sforza--Visit of
the Marquis of Mantua to Milan.

1491-1492


In the frequent letters which Lodovico and Beatrice both of them
addressed to the Marchioness of Mantua, as well as in those of Giacomo
Trotti to the Duke of Ferrara, we find many allusions to the Duke of
Milan's wife, Isabella of Aragon. This princess, who was Beatrice's
first cousin and only five years older than Lodovico's wife, is
mentioned not only as present with her husband at all court festivities
and hunting-parties, but as her constant companion in all her
occupations and amusements, both at Vigevano and Pavia. In after-days,
when Lodovico had a son of his own and was suspected of designs on the
ducal crown, Duchess Isabella bitterly resented his conduct and that of
his wife. But there is absolutely no foundation for Corio's statement
that this rivalry between the two duchesses began at the time of
Beatrice's wedding, and that from the moment of her arrival at Milan,
Lodovico's wife objected to yield precedence to the Duchess of Milan.
The Milanese chronicler wrote after Lodovico's fall, and always assumed
the truth of the worst charges brought against the Moro and his wife.
Unfortunately, his hasty and inaccurate statements have been repeated by
Guicciardini and other contemporaries, and accepted as literally true by
later writers. In this case Corio probably looked back on the past
through the medium of the present, and judged the actors in the drama by
the light of their later conduct. In any case, there is absolutely no
trace of any jealousy or rivalry between the two young duchesses in the
private letters and court records of the period. On the contrary,
Isabella seems to have welcomed her cousin's presence joyfully, and to
have found that the dull life which she led by the side of her feeble
husband was sensibly brightened by Beatrice's company.

Bellincioni, whose verses certainly mirror the court life of the day, if
they also breathe the incense of flattery, wrote several sonnets in
which he descants on the close friendship and companionship of the two
duchesses, and the love that bound them together in the tender bonds of
sisterly affection. He is never tired of praising the concord that
reigned in the ducal family, and the pleasure that Beatrice took in
Isabella's little son, who was constantly seen in her arms.

"And when the ladies ask if she does not wish for a son of her own, she
replies in sweet accents, 'This one child is enough for me;' and
straightway all her courtiers repeat and extol her answer."

But more trustworthy than the rhymes of court poets is the evidence to
be found in the letters describing the daily round of life at Milan or
Pavia and Vigevano. Here Isabella and Beatrice are mentioned as joining
in the same games and sports, whether playing at ball, sometimes even
trying their strength in wrestling matches.

"The two duchesses," writes the Ferrarese ambassador, on the 28th of
April, "have been having a sparring match, and the Duke of Bari's wife
has knocked down her of Milan."

Sometimes their escapades were of a decidedly undignified order. But
practical jokes were much in vogue among these exalted lords and ladies
of the Renaissance. For instance, we find Beatrice's brother Alfonso and
Messer Galeazzo, disguised as robbers, breaking into the house of
Girolamo Tuttavilla, one of Lodovico's favourite ministers, at midnight,
and leading him blindfold on a donkey through the streets of Milan and
into the Castello, where he was released amid peals of laughter. And the
two young duchesses seem to have celebrated this Eastertide, which they
spent at Milan, by the wildest freaks.

"There is literally no end to the pleasures and amusements which we
have here," writes Lodovico, on the 12th of April, to his sister-in-law
at Mantua. "I could not tell you one-thousandth part of the tricks and
games in which the Duchess of Milan and my wife indulge. In the country
they spent their time in riding races and galloping up behind their
ladies at full speed, so as to make them fall off their horses. And now
that we are back here in Milan, they are always inventing some new forms
of amusement. They started yesterday in the rain on foot, with five or
six of their ladies, wearing cloths or towels over their heads, and
walked through the streets of the city to buy provisions. But since it
is not the custom for women to wear cloths on their heads here, some of
the women in the street began to laugh at them and make rude remarks,
upon which my wife fired up and replied in the same manner, so much so
that they almost came to blows. In the end they came home all muddy and
bedraggled, and were a fine sight! I believe, when your Highness is
here, they will go out with all the more courage, since they will have
in you so bold and spirited a comrade, and if any one dares to be rude
to you, they will get back as good as they give! From your affectionate
brother,

                                                       "Lodovico."[15]

Isabella, for all her wisdom and prudence, does not seem to have been in
the least scandalized by her sister's behaviour, and replied that she
would have done worse if any one had ventured to insult her; upon which
Lodovico remarked--

"Your letter in answer to my description of my wife and the duchess
walking about Milan with cloths on their heads, delighted me. I am sure
you have far too much spirit to allow rude things to be said to you, and
when I read your letter, I could see the angry flash in your eye, and
hear the indignant answer that you would have had in readiness for any
one who dared insult you."

The next letter we give was written on the 12th of June, from the
Castello di Pavia, where the ducal family spent that summer, and is of
special interest on account of the allusions which it contains to the
famous sanctuary of the Certosa.

"I have spent several days lately at the Certosa, which your Highness,
I know, visited when you were last here. And since I did not think the
choir-stalls in the church were in any way suitable or equal in beauty
to the rest of the building, I went back there the day before yesterday
and had them taken down, and have ordered new stalls to be designed in
their place. And as I was returning, the duke and duchess and my wife
came to meet me, and attacked me suddenly, and in order to defend
myself, I divided my retainers, who were most of them riding mules, into
three squadrons, and charged the enemy in due order, so there was a fine
scuffle! Then we came home to see some youths run races, with lances in
their hands, and after that we went to supper. And since those
illustrious duchesses took it into their heads to return again to the
Certosa, they went back there yesterday morning, and when it was time
for them to return, I went out to meet them, and found that both
duchesses and all their ladies were dressed in Turkish costumes. These
disguises were invented by my wife, who had all the dresses made in one
night! It seems that when they began to set to work about noon
yesterday, the Duchess of Milan could not contain her amazement at
seeing my wife sewing with as much vigour and energy as any old woman.
And my wife told her that, whatever she did, whether it were jest or
earnest, she liked to throw her whole heart into it and try and do it as
well as possible. Certainly in this case she succeeded perfectly, and
the skill and grace with which she carried out her idea gave me
indescribable pleasure and satisfaction."[16]

The passage is eminently characteristic both of the Moro and his wife.
We see on the one hand the spirit and resolution which made Beatrice, in
the words of the Emperor Maximilian, not merely a sweet and loving wife
to her lord, but a partner who shared actively in all his schemes and
lightened every burden; and on the other, we understand the admiration
which this force of character and tenacity of purpose excited in
Lodovico's weaker and more easily swayed nature. Beatrice's masquerade
recalls another curious feature of the day--that taste for Turkish
costumes and interest in Oriental habits which had sprung up in Italy
during the forty years which had elapsed since the fall of
Constantinople. In Venice, Gentile Bellini and Carpaccio were already
showing signs of this familiarity with Eastern habits by the Turkish
costumes and personages who figure in their pictures; and a troop of
Turks were introduced into a masque written by the Milanese poet,
Gaspare Visconti, and acted before the Court. These strangers from the
far East, attracted by the fame of the great city of Milan, were
supposed to arrive in a boat on the Lombard shores, singing the
following chorus:--

    "Bel paese è Lombardia
    Degno assai, ricca e galante.
      Ma di gioie la Soria
    E di fructi è più abbondante
      Tanta fama è per il mondo
    Del gran vostro alto Milano,
      Che solcando il mar profondo;
    Siam venuti da lontano,
      Gran paese soriano,
    Per veder se cosi sia,
      Bel paese di Lombardia."

Still greater interest attaches to Lodovico's description of his own
visit to the Certosa and of the alterations which he effected in the
choir. This famous church and monastery had been the pride of successive
Dukes of Milan, since the day when Galeazzo Visconti laid the first
stone in his park of Pavia a hundred years before. Viscontis and Sforzas
had alike helped to enrich their ancestor's mighty foundation, and to
carry on the work. But the Certosa owes more to Lodovico Sforza than to
any other member of the dynasty. From the day when he returned to Milan
and took up the reins of government in his nephew's name, to the last
sad moments when his state was crumbling to pieces, this great shrine
was the special object of his solicitude. In his eyes, as he said in the
letter informing the Prior and brothers of Duchess Leonora's visit, the
Certosa was the jewel of the crown, the noblest monument in the whole
realm. The completion of the façade and the internal decoration of the
great church and chapels was one of the objects that lay nearest to his
heart. A whole army of architects and sculptors, painters and builders
were employed under his orders; and so great was the store of precious
marbles, brought there from Carrara and other parts of Italy, that the
place was said to resemble a vast stone quarry. During the twenty years
that the Moro reigned as Regent and Duke in Milan, the new apse built in
Bramante's classical style, the central cupola, and the beautiful
cloisters with their slender marble shafts and dark red terra-cotta
friezes of angel-heads, all rose into being. Then Ambrogio Borgognone
decorated the roof of nave and apse, and designed the elaborate
_intarsiatura_ of these very choir-stalls to which Lodovico alludes in
his letter to Isabella d'Este. And then the same Lombard master painted
these frescoes and altar-pieces of grave saints and gentle Madonnas,
which still adorn the side chapels with their solemn forms and rich
golden harmonies. Many of these are ruined, others we know are gone. The
fragments of the noble banners with portraits of kneeling figures, which
the artist painted for processional use on solemn occasions are now in
our National Gallery. There, too, is that loveliest of all Perugino's
Madonnas, with the warrior Archangels at her side, and the perfect
landscape beyond, which the Umbrian master painted in the last years of
the century, by the Moro's express command, for his favourite sanctuary.

But the crowning work of Lodovico's days was the façade of the great
church which, after many different attempts, was finally begun in 1491,
and mostly executed during the next seven years. This magnificent
creation, the triumph of Lombard genius, was designed by a native
architect, Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, or Di Madeo, as he signs himself, a
peasant lad who had grown up in his father's farm close by, and whose
earliest independent work is said to have been a group of angels on the
marble doorway leading from the church into the cloisters. He had
afterwards been employed at Bergamo, where the Colleoni Chapel and the
effigy of the great Condottiere's young daughter, the sleeping virgin
Medea, still bear witness to his poetic invention and rare decorative
skill. One of Lodovico's first acts after his return to Milan had been
to recall Amadeo to Pavia, and in 1490, this gifted artist was appointed
_Capo maestro_ of the Certosa works. To his delicate fancy and exquisite
refinement we owe much of the lovely detail in the church and cloisters,
the singing angels of the portals, the reliefs on Gian Galeazzo's
monument, and in the monks' lavatory, and the medallions of the Sforzas
over the doorways of the choir. There we may see the strongly marked
features and refined expression of the great Moro, between his brother
and his nephew, while above the opposite portal are the four Duchesses
of Milan, Bianca Maria Visconti, Bona of Savoy, Isabella of Aragon, and
Beatrice d'Este with the same soft, beautiful face, the same long coil
of hair and jewelled net that we see in her portrait in the Brera or in
Cristoforo Romano's bust in the Louvre.

But the wonderful marble façade, with its great central portal and
round-headed windows, its historical reliefs and marvellous wealth of
decorative sculpture, is Amadeo's grandest creation. We know not how far
it was completed before 1499, when his labours as chief architect of the
cathedrals of Milan and Pavia compelled him to give up his post at the
Certosa; but in much of the ornamental detail--in the angels that adorn
its branches of the candelabra between the windows, in the profusion of
carved trophies, armorial bearings, burning censers, cherub-heads,
leaf-mouldings, flowers and fruit that has been lavished on every
portion of the west front we recognize his handiwork. And this façade of
the Certosa, more than any other architectural work of the age, bears
the stamp of Lodovico Sforza's peculiar genius. Alike in the abundance
of classical motives and in the amazing wealth of invention and infinite
grace that inspired the whole conception, we recognize Lodovico's
passionate love of the antique and minute attention to detail. We know
that he was constantly on the spot, as the letter to his sister-in-law
proves, and that when absent from Pavia the works of the Certosa were
constantly in his mind. He was always writing orders to Amadeo to buy
marbles and hurry on the work, always urging the prior to hasten the
completion of the church, or inquiring in Florence and Rome for new
masters to paint altar-pieces for the Certosa. And to-day, when so many
of his noblest creations have perished, when the glorious pile of the
Castello of Milan, with its stately towers and frescoed halls, rich
decorations and vast gardens, has been defaced and battered by the hands
of barbarian invaders, when Leonardo's fresco is a wreck and the tomb
of Beatrice broken to pieces, when Vigevano and Cussago are in ruins,
and the matchless library of Pavia has been scattered to the winds, we
rejoice to think that the Certosa remains to show us how splendid were
the dreams and how rare the skill of artists in the days when Lodovico
Sforza reigned over Milan.

One of the finest artists who was working at the Certosa under
Lodovico's eye in the summer of 1491, was the accomplished Roman
sculptor, Giovanni Cristoforo Romano. We remember how he had been sent
to Ferrara in the autumn of the previous year to execute a bust of
Beatrice for his master. Since then he had gone back to his work at the
Certosa, where he was employed upon the monument which Lodovico was
raising to his ancestor Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the founder of the great
Carthusian Abbey. His exact share in this noble work, which was begun in
1490, remains uncertain, but both the effigy of this duke and the figure
of the Madonna and Child in the upper part of the monument are generally
ascribed to his hand. At the same time Cristoforo had promised to design
the chief portal of the ancient Stanga palace in Cremona, which was
being restored by Lodovico's Superintendent of Finances, the Marchese
Stanga, known in court circles as the Marchesino, to distinguish him
from his father, Duchess Bianca Maria's faithful servant. That June the
Marchesino was married at Milan to a daughter of Count Giovanni
Borromeo, and on this occasion, doubtless, he employed the gifted Roman
sculptor to design the magnificent doorway which now adorns the Louvre
and is a masterpiece of classic elegance. But now a fresh invitation
reached Cristoforo from another quarter.

The Marchioness of Mantua had seen the Roman master's bust of her sister
Beatrice when she came to Milan in the winter for the wedding
festivities, and was seized with an ardent wish to have her features
carved in marble by the same unrivalled artist. On the 22nd of June she
wrote to Beatrice from her favourite villa at Porto, near Mantua,
begging her to ask Lodovico if he would kindly allow "that excellent
master, Johan Cristoforo, who carved your Highness's portrait in
marble," to come to Mantua for a few days, that he might render her the
same service. Beatrice, who was always ready and anxious to gratify
Isabella's wishes, replied that she had shown the letter at once to her
husband, and that Lodovico would gladly comply with her sister's
request, and had written to beg the Marchesino--for whom Johan
Cristoforo was working at that moment--to send this master to Mantua.
"No doubt by this time," he adds, writing from Pavia on the 15th of
July, "Messer Cristoforo is already on his way to Mantua."

But the sculptor, like most great artists, took his time about his work,
and would not be interrupted or hurried, even to please so charming and
illustrious a lady as Isabella d'Este. He wrote a courteous note to the
Marchesa from Pavia, saying how gladly he would have obeyed her summons
on the spot, and how deeply he regretted that this was impossible, since
he could not leave the work upon which he was engaged for the Marchesino
unfinished. But he hoped to have the pleasure of seeing her some day.
Meanwhile he suggested that she should order two pieces of fine marble
from Venice, and see that they were very white and without stain or vein
of colour. Isabella, however, was not easily discouraged, especially
where excellent masters and works of art were in question, and, as she
wrote on another occasion to Niccolo da Correggio, liked to have her
wishes gratified on the spot. This time she wrote to the Marchesino
himself, begging him to send Messer Johan Cristoforo to Mantua as soon
as possible. Now Giovanni Stanga, besides being a finished courtier, was
on intimate terms with the fair Marchesana herself and with all her
family. Only a few weeks before, Isabella had written him a charming
letter of congratulation on his marriage, and he often sent presents of
silver boxes and ornaments both to her and Duchess Leonora. So, when his
own doorway was finished, he did his best to induce the sculptor to
oblige the marchioness. But Cristoforo had evidently no intention of
leaving Pavia at present. The summer months slipped away, and still
Isabella waited in vain. At length, in October, she heard from the
Marchesino that Messer Cristoforo feared it was impossible for him to
come to Mantua at all this year, since his whole time was spent in
working at the Certosa, besides which he was one of the Duchess of
Bari's singers, and must obey her wishes and travel with her, now in
one direction, now in another. "At present," adds the writer, "he is
with her in Genoa."

It was not, in fact, until after Beatrice's death that Isabella obtained
Lodovico's leave for his favourite sculptor to visit Mantua. By that
time the duke's affairs were in dire confusion, and seeing there was
little hope of further employment and none of certain pay, Messer
Cristoforo left the Milanese court sorrowfully and went to Mantua, where
he carved the lovely doorway still to be seen in Isabella's studio of
_Il Paradiso_ at the top of the grim old Castello, and designed the
beautiful medal of the marchioness herself, which was praised as a
divine thing at the Court of Naples, and which the old scholar Jacopo
d'Atri kissed a thousand times over, for the sake of its beauty and of
the likeness which it bore to the beloved mistress whom he had not seen
for so many years. Afterwards we know Cristoforo moved on to Urbino,
where Bembo and Emilia Pia and the good duchess all gave him a glad
welcome, and Castiglione enshrined his memory in the pages of the
_Cortigiano_. Then, again, we find him in his native city, Rome,
searching for antiques in the ruins of the Eternal City, and examining
the newly discovered Laocoon with Michelo Angelo, until at last the
incurable malady which had long undermined his strength put an end to
his life, and he died in the prime of manhood at the Santa Casa of
Loreto. But his best work was done, and his happiest years were spent,
in the service of Duchess Beatrice, at the court of Milan.

If Lodovico did not always care to part from his best artists at
Isabella's request, he rarely failed to oblige his charming
sister-in-law in other matters. Presents of game and venison, choice
vegetables and fruit, artichokes and truffles, apples and pears or
peaches, were constantly borne to Mantua by his couriers; and in return
Isabella would send him the famous salmon-trout of the Lake of Garda,
that were accounted such rare delicacies, and which Lodovico was fond of
seeing at table, especially, as he often remarked, in Lent. The
correspondence between the two courts was briskly kept up that year,
although Isabella was unable to visit Milan. Lodovico himself rarely
missed a post, and complained repeatedly that Isabella was not so
regular a correspondent as himself.

"Certainly, my affection for your Highness is greater than yours for
me," he says, writing in September, 1491. "It is plain that I think of
you much oftener than you think of me, and I know for certain that I
write far more letters to you than you ever write to me."

But Isabella was unwearied in the applications which she made constantly
to her brother-in-law on behalf of persons who, rightly or wrongly, had
been accused of offences against the laws of Milan. Often, it must be
owned, these suppliants whom she recommended to mercy proved to be
criminals of the worst type; and quite as often the _protégés_ whom she
sent to Milan turned out to be utterly worthless characters. This made
her a little ashamed of the perpetual recommendations with which she
troubled Lodovico, and explains the apologetic tone of a note which she
addressed to him in June, 1491, on behalf of some suppliant for money.

"The letters of recommendation which I have received in this case are so
urgent that I feel it would be brutal to refuse the petition I send you,
especially since they are addressed to me by private friends. But if
your Highness complains, as you may justly do, of the frequency of my
appeals, I must ask you to impute their persistency less to me than to
my innate compassion, which induces me to intercede for all who ask in
good faith. But the truth is, your Highness has given me so many tokens
of affection that many persons who seek your favour apply to me,
trusting to my powers of intercession. And since I should be well
content to let the whole world know the love and kindness which your
Highness shows me, I grant these requests the more easily, because I
remember what good fruit my recommendations have hitherto borne."

Sometimes, when the Marquis Gianfrancesco was away from Mantua, we find
his wife consulting Lodovico on affairs of state, asking him to prevent
her neighbour Galeotto della Mirandola from constructing a canal which
may injure her subjects, or appealing to the Sanseverino brothers in the
case of a faithless servant of hers who had sought shelter under the
Count of Caiazzo's banners. Beatrice, in her turn, occasionally sent her
servants and subjects with recommendations to Mantua. For instance,
that July a Milanese soldier named Messer Giacomello arrived at the
court of the Gonzagas, with letters from the Duchess of Bari and Messer
Galeazzo di Sanseverino, asking for leave to fight a duel with a man of
Ascoli who had insulted him; and the marchioness, ignorant of the
customary method of treating these challenges, referred the case to her
husband in a long and elaborate statement.

Towards the end of September Beatrice fell ill, and for some days her
husband was seriously uneasy about her. The anxiety which he showed, and
the attentions with which he surrounded her, were duly reported by
Giacomo Trotti in a letter to Ferrara.

"Signor Lodovico," he wrote on the 18th of September, "does not leave
his wife's bedside by day or night. He is always with her, and thinks of
nothing but how he can best please and amuse her. The only cause of
regret he has is that as yet there are not any signs of the birth of a
son and heir."

Lodovico's concern for his young wife was genuine. He wrote daily
reports of her health to Isabella and her mother, and on the 4th of
October rejoiced to be able to tell the Marchesana that her sister had
once more been able to assist at a boar-hunt, which had taken place six
miles from Pavia.

"Yesterday your sister came to look on at a boar-hunt, six or seven
miles from here. She drove to the spot in a chariot with a raised seat
at the back, very much like the pulpits from which friars preach! Here
she stood up, to be out of danger, and enjoyed herself immensely, as
being placed at such a height, she could see the whole hunt better than
any one else."

A few days later he wrote again to say he had decided to send his wife
to Genoa, since the air of Pavia was not healthy, he felt convinced, at
this season of the year, and in the hope that change would help to
complete her cure.

"To-morrow my wife starts for Genoa _incognita_. I am sending her, first
of all, to give her pleasure and do her health good, and, secondly, to
prepare the way for your Highness when you come here next."

Unfortunately, we have no further particulars of this visit to Genova la
Superba, that city which both the sisters were so anxious to see, and
the letters in which Beatrice described this journey to her husband have
either perished or still lie buried in some private archives. All we
know is that Cristoforo Romano was among the singers who accompanied the
duchess on this occasion, although she travelled _incognita_ and took
only a few persons in her suite.

By December Lodovico and his wife were again settled in Milan, where
they received an unexpected visit from the Marquis of Mantua in the
first week of that month. Gianfrancesco's own wife was absent with her
mother at Ferrara, and without even informing Isabella of his intention,
he suddenly arrived at Milan, and spent a week at the Castello with the
Duke and Duchess of Bari. As a rule, the company of the marquis, a brave
soldier, but not apparently a very attractive person, with his short
ungainly figure and rugged features, his dark complexion and rough
manners, was not particularly agreeable to his polished brother-in-law;
but he received a kindly welcome from both his hosts on this occasion,
and was highly gratified with the honours and attention that were paid
him. Isabella, on her part, was overjoyed to hear of the kindness with
which her husband had been treated at the court of Milan, and declared
that his letters gave her as much pleasure as if she had been with him
herself. Lodovico did his guest the honours of his palace and city,
showed him the treasures and jewels of the Castello, and sent him home
loaded with gifts. Among other presents which Gianfrancesco received
from his brother-in-law were a pair of lions which the Moro, who was
constantly sending to Africa for wild beasts, showed him in his
menagerie, and promised to send him as soon as they were sufficiently
tame. Some weeks, however, passed before they were pronounced fit to
travel safely, and it was not till February of the following year that
they were sent to Mantua, with a note from Lodovico, explaining that the
keeper who accompanied them was accustomed to wild beasts, and would
teach Gianfrancesco's servants how to treat them.

FOOTNOTES:

[15] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 111.

[16] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 114.



CHAPTER X

Claims of Charles VIII. to Naples--Of the Duke of Orleans to Milan--
Intrigues of the Venetian Senate, of Pope Innocent VIII., and of
Ferrante and Alfonso of Naples--Visit of the French ambassadors to Milan
--Treasures of the Castello--Jewels of Lodovico Sforza--Isabella of
Aragon and her father--An embassy to the French court proposed--Secret
instructions of the Count of Caiazzo--_Fête_ at Vigevano--Tournament of
Pavia.

1491


The most important event at the court of Milan that winter was the visit
of the French ambassadors. The young King of France, Charles VIII., now
that he had emancipated himself from his sister's tutelage and felt
himself his own master, was beginning to cherish secret dreams of
conquest, and already turned envious eyes towards the kingdom of Naples,
that ancient heritage of the House of Anjou. His own ardour for military
glory was fanned by the presence at the French court of several exiled
noblemen, who had fled from Naples to escape the harsh rule of King
Ferrante and his hated son Alfonso, and were burning to avenge their
wrongs. Chief among these were Antonio, Prince of Salerno, the head of
the great Sanseverino family, and his cousin, the Prince of Bisignano,
both of whom were in constant communication with their kinsmen at the
Milanese court. At the same time, Charles VIII.'s brother-in-law and
cousin, Louis, Duke of Orleans, a valiant and ambitious prince just
thirty years of age, who had inherited the Lombard town of Asti from his
grandmother, Valentina Visconti, and claimed the Duchy of Milan in right
of his descent from the Visconti dukes, rejoiced at the prospect of
advancing his pretensions against the rival House of Sforza.

Already more than one invitation to cross the Alps had reached the
young French king from Italy. In January, 1484, when Venice was waging a
desperate war against Milan and Naples, Antonio Loredano was sent to the
French court with secret instructions to remind Charles VIII., who had
just succeeded his father, Louis XI., that the kingdom of Naples had
formerly belonged to his family, and that, besides occupying a throne to
which he had no right, Ferrante of Aragon had instigated Lodovico Sforza
to usurp the crown of Milan. The Venetian envoy was further desired to
inform the Duke of Orleans that Lodovico evidently intended to make
himself Duke of Milan in his nephew's stead, and to point out that Louis
could not find a better moment than this, to assert his own claim to the
duchy of his Visconti ancestors.

"Say all you can to instigate the Duke of Orleans to undertake this
enterprise," were the secret instructions of the Ten, "and tell the
French that if they wish to dethrone the tyrant Ferrante and seize
Naples, they will never have a better opportunity."[17]

A month later the Venetian Government sent another message to Louis of
Orleans, urging him to invade Milan, and offering him the help of their
forces. The duke was by no means averse to the suggestion, but Anne de
Beaujeu, who governed France during her brother's minority, wisely
declined to meddle in the quarrels of Italian States, and by August
peace had been concluded between Venice and Milan.

Five years afterwards Pope Innocent VIII., having quarrelled with King
Ferrante, invited Charles VIII. to invade Naples, and offered him the
investiture of this important fief of the Church. But at that time the
French monarch had no leisure to think of a foreign expedition. He was
already engaged in war with Maximilian, King of the Romans, and in a
fierce quarrel with the States of Brittany over the regency of that
province during the minority of young Duchess Anne, the betrothed bride
of the future Emperor, whose first wife, Mary of Burgundy, had died in
1482. Finding that there was no prospect of help from this quarter, the
Pope had been forced to come to terms with Ferrante, whose armies
threatened Rome, and made peace with Naples in January, 1492.

Meanwhile Charles VIII. had mortally offended the King of the Romans by
sending back his daughter Margaret, to whom while yet Dauphin he had
been formally betrothed by his father, Louis XI., and who had been
educated in Touraine for the last six years, and taking Maximilian's
affianced bride, Anne of Brittany, for his wife. The marriage was
solemnized in the Castle of Langeais in December, 1491, and two months
afterwards the new queen was crowned at Saint Denis. Maximilian now
sought to form a coalition against Charles, to avenge his injured
honour; and his ally, Henry VII. of England, sent a letter to Lodovico
Sforza, asking him to join the league and invade France from the south.

Under these circumstances Charles VIII. was naturally anxious to
strengthen the old alliance which had existed between his father and the
House of Sforza. Even before his own marriage, in the summer of 1490,
Lodovico had sent Erasmo Brasca on a private mission to the French king,
to ask for a renewal of the investiture of the Duchy of Genoa,
originally granted to Francesco Sforza by Louis XI. Since those days,
Genoa had been lost during the regency of Duchess Bona, and only
recovered in 1888, by Lodovico's successful negotiations. Now Charles
VIII. gladly granted the regent's request, and proposed to send an
embassy to Milan in the course of the next year. Lodovico, on his part,
prepared to give the French ambassadors a splendid reception, and in
March, 1491, wrote to his chief secretary, Bartolommeo Calco, from
Vigevano, giving minute instructions for the preparation of a suite of
rooms in the Castello, where the Most Christian King's envoys were to be
lodged. Since, at that time, extensive improvements were being made in
other parts of the palace, Lodovico gave up his own rooms on the ground
floor for the use of these distinguished strangers. The chief
ambassador, the Scottish noble, Bernard Stuart d'Aubigny, Chamberlain to
King Charles, he wrote word, would occupy the Duchess of Bari's
apartment, known as the Sala della Asse, from the raised platform at one
end of the room, and would use the duchess's boudoir, with the painted
Amorini over the mantelpiece, and the adjoining chambers for his dining
and robing room. The second ambassador, Jean Roux de Visque, was to
occupy Lodovico's apartments; and the third, King Charles's doctor, the
Italian Teodoro Guainiero of Pavia, would be lodged in the rooms of
Madonna Beatrice, Niccolo da Correggio's mother, and of the duke's
secretary, Jacopo Antiquario. All of these rooms had been decorated and
hung with rich tapestries and curtains of velvet and brocade for
Lodovico's wedding a year before, but on this occasion he desired that
canopies adorned with the _fleur-de-lys_ should be placed over the beds,
and that other changes should be made in the hangings and furniture. And
since there was not room in the Castello, where the court officials and
servants who were daily lodged and fed within its precincts already
numbered some two hundred, for the whole of the suite, the remainder
were to be entertained at the duke's expense at the different inns of
the city, at the sign of the Stella, the Fontana and Campana.

A few weeks later the ambassadors arrived at Milan, and were
magnificently received by Lodovico and his nephew, both of whom wore
sumptuous vests of white Lyons brocade, presented to them in the French
king's name, at the ceremony of investiture which followed. Giangaleazzo
was formally invested with the Duchy of Genoa, and did homage to the
representative of his suzerain, the French king, in the presence of the
whole court. Among the members of the ducal family present on this
occasion was the duke's elder sister, Bianca Maria, who still remained
unmarried since her affianced husband, the son of Matthias Corvinus, had
been driven from the throne of Hungary, after his father's death in
1490. The splendour of the ceremony, and the dazzling white velvet suits
worn by her brother and uncle, were long remembered by this princess of
seventeen, who spent most of her time with her mother, Bona, at
Abbiategrasso. More than seven years afterwards, when poor Giangaleazzo
was dead, and the Sforzas' throne was already tottering to its fall,
Bianca Maria, then the wife of the Emperor Maximilian, wrote from
Fribourg, begging her uncle to try and procure her a robe of the white
velvet woven at Lyons, "like the vests worn by yourself and my brother,
of blessed memory, on the day when he was invested with the Duchy of
Genoa."[18] The young empress, whose mind, as her husband complained,
never rose above childish things, and who, in the lonely splendour of
her grim castles in the Tyrol, pined for the brightness of her fair
Milanese home, had set her heart on a gown of this material, and begged
her kind uncle to excuse her if she asked too much, assuring him that
nothing else could give her so much pleasure.

The beauty of Milan, with its stately Castello and white marble Duomo,
its spacious streets and long rows of armourers' and goldsmiths' shops,
its beautiful gardens and frescoed palaces, made a deep impression upon
these strangers from the North. Never had they seen so fair a city or so
rich a land. Marvellous were the tales they had to tell their countrymen
of the splendid court where they had lived like princes, and of this
wealthy and magnificent Signor Lodovico, who had entertained them in so
royal a manner.

But although the investiture of Genoa had been provisionally granted,
and a treaty of alliance agreed upon, several articles of the league
still remained to be discussed. Negotiations dragged on all through the
year, chiefly with regard to certain castles belonging to Charles's
ally, the Marquis of Montferrat, which had been seized by the Milanese.
Niccolo da Correggio was sent to France in the summer to endeavour to
bring matters to a satisfactory conclusion, but nothing was finally
settled until the winter, when Charles decided to send a second embassy
to Milan. This time one of the former envoys, Jean Roux de Visque, was
selected for the office, and, together with Le Sieur Pierre de
Courthardi, left Paris early in December, and arrived at Milan in
January, 1492.

Lodovico himself received the ambassadors in the Castello, and
entertained them with his wonted magnificence. A treaty was drawn up, by
which Charles agreed to recognize all the claims advanced by the Duke of
Milan, and admitted the Duke of Bari by name as governor of his nephew
into the defensive and offensive league concluded on the 13th of
January, and on the 19th the French ambassadors left Milan. Before their
departure, however, Lodovico, anxious to do his guests honour and at the
same time impress them with his wealth and the vast resources at his
command, himself conducted them over the Treasury of the Castello,
which was deservedly regarded as one of the principal sights of Milan.

There, in the heart of the Rocchetta, close to his own apartments, was
the vaulted room, decorated with frescoes by Leonardo and Bramante, and
known as the Sala del Tesoro. Here, piled up in enormous chests, were
the vast store of gold ducats which he kept as a reserve fund for the
State, and the priceless jewels that were his own private property.
Here, too, in oak presses, secured by ingenious contrivances devised
expressly for the purpose by Leonardo, were the treasures of gold and
silver plate, the salvers and goblets, the dishes and vases of antique
shape, in which the Moro took especial pride, and which were only
exhibited on festive occasions. Milan was at this time one of the
richest states in Italy. The revenue of the duchy, under Lodovico's wise
and careful rule, exceeded the sum of 600,000 ducats--that is to say,
double the revenue of Naples, and more than six times as much as that of
Mantua, and was only surpassed by that of Venice, which amounted to
800,000 ducats; while, according to the same table, the revenue of
England in the fifteenth century was calculated at 700,000 ducats, and
that of France at 1,000,000 ducats. And here, too, in the Sala del
Tesoro, were the jewels belonging to Lodovico, a collection which at
this time included some of the most famous gems in the world. A few of
these which he pawned to a Venetian merchant in 1495, were valued at
150,000 ducats, and a list, which is still preserved in the Trivulzio
library, gives a description of the different jewels which in the
troubled times at the close of his reign were pledged to bankers in Rome
and Milan.[19] There was the balass ruby, called _El Spigo_ or "the ear
of corn," which was valued at the enormous sum of 250,000 ducats; and
the jewel of _Il Lupo_, "the wolf," consisting of one large diamond and
three choice pearls, which the goldsmiths priced at 120,000 ducats.
There was the famous _Puncta_, or diamond arrow, given by Duchess
Beatrice's grandfather, Niccolo d'Este, to Francesco Sforza; and the
_Caduceus_, a favourite device of the Moro's, wrought in large pearls,
each of which was said to be worth 25,000 ducats; while the balass ruby,
known as the Marone, often worn as a brooch by Beatrice, was valued at
10,000 ducats. Another balass bore the effigy of Lodovico, and the
insignia of the Moraglia, or Mulberry, was composed of emeralds,
diamonds, and pearls. This jewel was frequently worn by the Moro
himself, at state banquets, as well as the famous Sancy diamond, which
had been found on the body of Charles the Bold after the battle of
Nancy, and afterwards acquired by Lodovico, whose agents were always in
search of precious stones of fine water and rare workmanship.

Such were a few of the treasures which the regent displayed before the
dazzled eyes of the French ambassadors. Unfortunately the presents which
he gave them on their departure seemed to them poor and insignificant,
after the marvels which they had seen in the Castello, and their
cupidity was but ill-satisfied.

"The French envoys," wrote the Florentine ambassador, Pandolfini, to his
master, Lorenzo de Medici, "are gone away disappointed with Signor
Lodovico's gifts, expecting to receive a handsomer present after seeing
all the splendours of the Treasury."[20]

Lodovico now determined to send an embassy to the French court to return
the king's civilities and congratulate him on his marriage. He was the
more anxious to strengthen his alliance with France on account of the
growing estrangement between himself and the royal family of Naples.
Hitherto, indeed, King Ferrante had maintained cordial relations with
the Regent of Milan, whose claims to this position he had been the first
to support, and whose marriage with his granddaughter Beatrice formed a
new link between the Houses of Aragon and Sforza. But his son Alfonso,
Duke of Calabria, who had frequently visited Milan during the long war
with Venice, had never forgiven Lodovico for treating with the Venetians
independently, and made no secret of his hatred for his brother-in-law.
The quarrel between the two princes was naturally embittered by the
complaints which Alfonso received from his daughter Isabella, Duchess of
Milan. Her miserable husband, Giangaleazzo, showed less inclination than
ever to take his proper place at the head of affairs, and abandoned
himself to low debauchery. In his drunken fits it was even said that he
forgot himself so far as to strike his wife.

"There is no news here," wrote the widowed Marchioness of Montferrat
from Milan to her envoy at Mantua, on the 2nd of May, 1492, "saving that
the Duke of Milan has beaten his wife."[21]

But the proud and high-spirited duchess began to resent the subordinate
position in which she and her husband were placed at their own court,
and she tried to instil her keen sense of this injustice into
Giangaleazzo's feeble mind. When Lodovico came to Pavia that spring, his
nephew began by refusing to see him, but before long he forgot his
wrongs, and after behaving for a few days like a sulky child, was on the
most affectionate terms with his uncle when they met again. Isabella
soon found that no dependence could be placed upon this foolish youth,
who cared for nothing but his dogs and horses, and repeated everything
that she said to Lodovico. So she devoured her griefs in silence, and
only gave utterance to her sorrows in her letters to Naples.

Meanwhile, Alfonso did his utmost to stir up enemies against Lodovico,
while, with habitual duplicity, he sent flattering messages to his
brother-in-law, and begged for the continuance of his friendship. That
February envoys were sent from Naples to France, under pretence of
buying horses and dogs for hunting, but with secret instructions to
persuade Charles VIII., if possible, to break with Lodovico Sforza, and
refuse to acknowledge him as Regent of Milan. Charles, however, was too
much intent on his own plans for the conquest of Naples to pay any heed
to these proposals, and the only result of Alfonso's intrigues was to
strengthen the alliance between France and Milan.

Gianfrancesco, Count of Caiazzo, the eldest of the Sanseverino brothers,
was chosen by Lodovico as chief ambassador to the French king, and
received secret instructions to show Charles VIII. the proposals which
had been made to the Regent of Milan by the King of England and
Maximilian, King of the Romans.

"Let him know by this means," runs the letter, still preserved in the
Milanese archives, "how unwilling we are to act in any way against his
interests, and let him see that we have preferred his alliance to that
of the mightiest monarchs in Europe. Take care also to insist on the
importance of the Duchy of Milan and on the exalted position that we
occupy in the eyes of other Italian States. And assure him that we are
his firm and loyal friends, whose constancy neither threats nor promises
can ever shake."[22]

Count Carlo Belgiojoso, Galeazzo Visconti and Girolamo Tuttavilla, Count
of Sarno, who was himself one of King Ferrante's exiled subjects, were
selected to accompany Caiazzo on his mission. On the 23rd of February
they left Milan, and reached Paris towards the end of March.

Not only had Lodovico given his envoys minute instructions as to the
language they were to hold in treating with the French king, but the
clothes they were to wear, the presents which they bore to Charles VIII.
and his queen, the very day and hour of their entry into Paris, were all
regulated by his orders. His astrologer, Ambrogio di Rosate, had fixed
upon the 28th of March as the most propitious moment for Caiazzo to
enter Paris, and on that day, accordingly, the Milanese ambassadors,
splendidly arrayed in rich brocades and cloth of gold, rode through the
streets of the capital, and under the walls of the old Louvre, where the
king and queen had their abode. On the following day, Charles himself
received the envoys, and Galeazzo Visconti delivered a long Latin
discourse prepared by Lodovico. On the 30th they were presented to the
queen, and a few days afterwards they accompanied the royal party on a
hunting expedition in the forest of Saint-Germain, but found the sport
of a rude and fatiguing description, and complained that both men and
animals were very savage in their habits. Every detail of the
proceedings was faithfully reported to Lodovico by Antonio Calco, the
secretary of the mission. For his benefit and that of Beatrice, he not
only describes the costumes of the royal pair--the king's gorgeous
mantle of Lyons velvet, lined with yellow satin, and the queen's gold
brocade robe and cape of lion skin lined with crimson--but gives a
minute account of Anne of Brittany's coiffure, a black velvet cap with
a gold fringe hanging about a finger's length over her forehead, and a
hood studded with big diamonds drawn over her head and ears. So curious
were Beatrice and her ladies on these matters, that Lodovico wrote on
the 8th of April from Vigevano, desiring Calco to send him a drawing of
the French queen's costume, "in order that the same fashion may be
adopted here in Milan." At the same time Lodovico desired Caiazzo to
show especial civility to the Duke of Orleans, assuring him that the
Dukes of Bari and Milan both regarded him as their own kinsman, and
hoped that the love and friendship between them would be that of
brothers. The ambassador was further empowered to offer the hand of
Bianca Sforza, the duke's unmarried sister, to James IV., the young King
of Scotland, through Stuart d'Aubigny, the Scottish nobleman whom
Charles VIII. had sent as his envoy to Milan. Meanwhile, King Ferrante's
emissaries were doing their best to stir up the Duke of Orleans against
his Sforza rivals, and had secretly offered his granddaughter Charlotte
in marriage to the youthful Scottish monarch.

But for the moment Lodovico's star was in the ascendant, and his
influence reigned supreme at the French court. Charles VIII. formally
ratified all the conditions of the treaty which had been signed at Milan
in January, and wrote to inform Pope Innocent that he had entered into
close alliance with the house of Sforza, and would regard any injury
done to the Dukes of Milan and Bari as a personal wrong.

The object of the embassy being accomplished, Count Caiazzo, Galeazzo
Visconti and Tuttavilla took leave of the French king and returned to
Milan on the 5th of May, leaving Count Belgiojoso as permanent envoy at
Paris. The triumph of Lodovico's diplomacy was complete, and without
shedding a drop of blood, or making any warlike demonstration, he had
outwitted all his foes and secured the alliance of his most powerful
neighbour.

The good news gave fresh zest to the pleasures of Beatrice's court that
summer, and to all the memorable enterprises upon which Lodovico was
engaged at home.

Early in March the Duke and Duchess of Bari left Milan to take up their
abode at Vigevano, and held a series of brilliant _fêtes_ and hunting
parties in this newly-finished palace. The works upon which Bramante and
his companions had been employed for years past were finished, the great
hall with its richly-wrought marble capitals, the noble tower and
imposing porticoes, were all complete. The last stone was in its place,
and on the great archway that formed the entrance to the stately pile,
Lodovico placed this proud Latin inscription, bearing the date, 1492.

     "LUDOVICUS MARIA SFORTIA VICECOMES PRINCIPATU JOANNI GALEACIO
     NEPOTI AB EXTERIS ET INTESTINIS MOTIBUS STABILITO POSTEAQUAM
     SQUALLENTES AGROS VIGEVANENSES IMMISSIS FLUMINIBUS FERTILES
     FECIT AD VOLUPTARIOS SECESSUS IN HAC ARCE VETERES PRINCIPUM
     EDES REFORMAVIT ET NOVIS CIRCUMEDIFICATIS SPECIOSA, ETIAM
     TURRI MUNIVIT POPULI QUOQUE HABITATIONIS SITU ET SQUALORE
     OCCUPATAS STRATIS UT EXPEDITIS PER URBEM VIIS AD CIVILEM
     LAUTICIAM REDEGIT DIRRUTIS ETIAM CIRCA FORUM VETERIBUS
     EDIFICIIS ARCAM AMPLIANT AC PORTICIBUS CIRCUMDUCTIS IN HANC
     SPECIEM EXORNAVIT. ANNO A SALUTE CHRISTIANA NONAGESIMOSECUNDO
     SUPRA MILLESIMUM ET QUADRIGENTESIMUM."

He had given back peace to his nephew's realm and had vanquished external
foes and quelled internal dissensions, he had brought rivers of water to
make the barren fields of Vigevano fertile, and had rebuilt the ancient
Forum and raised fair porticoes and fine houses round the wide square.
And now, as a crowning gift to this his native city, he had restored and
beautified the ancestral castle of the illustrious house of Sforza and
had reared stately halls and a fair tower to make Vigevano a home of
perpetual delight.

During the continual round of amusements in which these festive weeks
were spent, Beatrice had little time for writing, and the only letter we
have from her hand during this visit to Vigevano is one addressed to her
sister Isabella, in which she begs for information respecting Father
Bernardino da Feltre, a famous revivalist preacher of the Franciscan
order, who had travelled through the cities of Central Italy, preaching
repentance and founding the charitable institutions known as Monte di
Pietà for the relief of the poor.

"A report has reached us here," wrote the young duchess, "that the
venerable Father Bernardino da Feltre, who has been preaching in Verona
this Lent, was heard to declare from the pulpit that he had received a
message from heaven, warning him that he would die in Holy Week, after
miraculously opening the eyes of a blind man. Now I am very anxious to
know if this report is true, and since at Mantua you are sufficiently
near Verona to learn the truth of these tales, I beg you to make
inquiries and let me know the result."

A fortnight later, Isabella, who had been absent from Mantua, was able
to satisfy her sister's curiosity and at the same time answer a previous
note in which Beatrice had given her a bad character of one of the
Marchesana's _protégés_, an archer in Fracassa's service. She writes:--


"MOST ILLUSTRIOUS AND HONOURED SISTER,

"Only yesterday I received two letters which you wrote to me on the 16th
and 17th of April: the one in answer to my recommendation of Malacarno,
Signor Fracassa's archer, the other regarding a report which had reached
you as to certain words which Fra Bernardino da Feltre is said to have
spoken at Verona. In reply to your first letter, I assure your Highness
that if I had ever dreamt Malacarno could be guilty of such detestable
crimes, I would never have pleaded his cause, since naturally I hate
such conduct. But as I had been told his faults were trifling, I
consented to intercede with you on his behalf; and now I hear the bad
character he bears, am well satisfied to hear the punishment which he
has received, and praise your illustrious consort's prudence, while at
the same time I thank you for the very kind expressions in your letter.
As to Fra Bernardino's supposed prophecy that he would die this Holy
Week after miraculously opening the eyes of a blind man, I find that
there is absolutely no truth in the report you mention. Neither at
Verona, nor yet at Padua, where he has also been preaching, did he ever
use such language, which indeed his humility would forbid, and as I have
learnt from a monk who attended his sermons. All the same, in order to
satisfy you and make sure of the truth, I have made further inquiries,
the result of which I now lay before you, begging you to commend me
warmly to your illustrious lord.[23]

"Mantua, May 2nd, 1492."

From Vigevano, Lodovico and his wife moved to Pavia, where the summer
months were spent in entertaining a succession of guests, and, as
before, Beatrice and Isabella joined together in hunting parties and
amusements of every description. Giangaleazzo had totally forgotten his
passing vexation, the clouds which darkened Isabella's sad life seemed
to lift for the moment, and once more harmony reigned in the ducal
family. The _fêtes_ in honour of her son's christening, which had been
postponed in the previous summer, were now celebrated with increased
splendour. Bramante was summoned to arrange a succession of dramatic
performances, and a grand tournament was held in the park of the
Castello, in which Messer Galeazzo and his brother and all the most
skilled jousters at court took part. And the Moro's accomplished friend,
Ermolao Barbaro, the young Venetian patriarch, who had been once more
sent as envoy to Milan, composed a wonderful Latin epigram in honour of
the occasion, praying Pallas not to avert her face in sorrow at the
sound and tumult of war, which is after all but a mimic display, and
calling upon her, the goddess whose wisdom Lodovico honours above all
the thunders of Jove, to bless the great house of Sforza, illustrious
alike in the arts of war and peace.

FOOTNOTES:

[17] Secret Archives of the Venetian Senate, Reg. 31, fol. 123, 131,
etc., and Reg. 32, fol. 87.

[18] F. Calvi, _Bianca Maria Sforza_.

[19] C. Trivulzio in A. S. L., iii. 530.

[20] V. Delaborde, _L'Expédition de Charles VIII. en Italie_, p. 228.

[21] G. Uzielli, _op. cit._, p. 6.

[22] Archivio di Milano, _Potenze esterne Francia_.

[23] Luzio Renier, _op. cit._, p. 348.



CHAPTER XI

Intellectual and artistic revival in Lombardy--Lodovico and his
secretaries--Building of the new University of Pavia--Reforms and
extension of the University--The library of the Castello
remodelled--Poliziano and Merula--Lodovico founds new schools at
Milan--Equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza--Leonardo's paintings at
Milan--Lodovico as a patron of art and learning.

1492


The year 1492 was one of great enterprises. The intellectual and
artistic movement which Lodovico Sforza had inaugurated was now in full
vigour, and the fruits of his wise and enlightened rule began to appear
in every direction.

"Now that the wars were ended," writes Corio, "an era of peace and
prosperity began, and everything seemed on a firmer and more stable
foundation than it had ever been in times past. The court of our princes
was most splendid, full of new fashions, rich clothes, and endless
delights. Here Minerva and Venus vied with each other, while beautiful
youths and maidens came to learn in the school of Cupid, Minerva held
her gentle academy in Milan, and that illustrious prince, Lodovico
Sforza, brought men of rare excellence from the furthest ends of Europe
at his expense. Here the learning of Greece shone, together with the
prose and verse of the Latin race. Here the muses of poetry, and the
masters of sculpture reigned supreme; here came the most distinguished
painters from distant regions; here night and day were heard sounds of
such sweet singing, and such delicious harmonies of music, that they
seemed to descend from heaven itself."

Foremost among the "men of singular merit" whom Lodovico attracted to
his court and retained in his service, were his two secretaries,
Bartolommeo Calco and Jacopo Antiquario of Perugia. Both were men of
great learning and discernment, fired with the same passion for arts and
letters as their master, and as liberal as he was in assisting poorer
scholars. Calco was Lodovico's right hand and chief adviser in his great
schemes for beautifying cities and palaces. He delivered his orders to
the countless artists in his employment, arranged court festivities and
generally conducted the duke's correspondence. Jacopo Antiquario was
more purely a scholar, who protected other men of letters, and helped
them generously in time of need. His honest nature and kindly actions
made him singularly beloved, and a contemporary describes him as the
most learned of good men, and the best of learned men; while his
intimate friend, the great printer, Aldo Manuzio, has immortalized his
memory in the beautiful epistle in which he dedicates the Moralia of
Plutarch to this man, whose name, he prays, may go down to future ages
linked with his own. Both of these secretaries proved able assistants in
the great revival of art and learning which is Lodovico's lasting title
to fame. Chief among these was the reform and extension of the
University of Pavia. During the troubled times that followed Galeazzo
Sforza's death, this ancient University had sunk to a very low ebb. The
professors remained unpaid, and in many cases ceased to lecture, the
buildings were small and inconvenient and the students lawless and
riotous. Lodovico set himself with a stern hand to repress abuses on the
one side, while on the other he grudged neither time nor money in
promoting the cause of learning. A letter which he addressed to the
students from Vigevano in August, 1488, only a few weeks before the
dangerous illness which almost ended his life, deserves to be quoted, if
only as an example of the attention which he gave to every detail of
administration.

"Not a day passes," he writes, "but I hear of some fresh misconduct on
your part, some crime committed or some uproar excited in the city, by
you who are scholars of the University. Even last Holy Week your
behaviour towards certain gentlemen and citizens of Pavia was justly the
cause of scandal and complaint. Such things are not to be borne, nor do
I intend to bear them any longer. Schools are intended for learning, and
the object of all study and learning is that we may know how to live
well, and, by our good conduct and fair lives, gain honour and praise
both in the eyes of God and man. We do not see that the human and divine
laws, in which you are daily instructed, produce any good effect if you
can behave as you have done in this case towards peaceable citizens,
especially in these holy days when the fear of God should, above all,
control your ways and actions. If you thus neglect the laws of good
living, nothing but confusion can be the result. And know that, unless
you speedily return to better ways, and show more respect for our holy
religion, and more honourable treatment of our honest citizens, no love
of learning will induce me to countenance such misconduct. For to
repress crime, keep Italy in peace, and maintain the honour of our
illustrious lord duke, is the first and chief object of our endeavours."

Meanwhile, Lodovico neglected no means of improving the condition of
both professors and scholars of the University. In 1489, the magnificent
new Ateneo which he had planned was completed, and the different schools
of medicine, jurisprudence, fine arts and letters, were brought together
under the same roof. The most distinguished foreign scholars were
invited to occupy the different professional chairs, their salaries were
raised and their numbers increased. Giasone del Maino, who was professor
of law at Pavia for fifty-two years, and whose reputation as jurist
attracted students from all parts of the world, received the large
salary of 2250 florins at this time, while Giorgio Merula of Alessandria,
the historian, who for many years was professor of rhetoric at the
University, and received only 375 florins in 1486, had his salary
raised in 1492 to 1000 florins. Next to the law schools, that of
medicine was the most noted for its excellence at Pavia, and among its
distinguished professors were Alvise Marliani, who was said to rival
Aristotle in philosophy, Hippocrates in medicine, and Ptolemy in
astronomy, and who was court-physician in turn to Lodovico Sforza, to
his son Maximilian, and to the Emperor Charles V.; and Ambrogio of
Varese, who occupied the chair of astrology, and taught the science of
Almansor, as it was termed. This favourite servant of the Moro received
the title of Count and the castle and lands of Rosate from Gian Galeazzo
in 1493, "for his services," so ran the patent, "in saving my illustrious
uncle the Duke of Bari's life." Oriental study was another branch of
learning that Lodovico especially encouraged. Count Teseo de'Albonesi of
Pavia became noted as the first Chaldaic scholar of his age, and in 1490,
the Moro established a chair of Hebrew, and appointed the Jew Benedetto
Ispano to be the first professor, with express injunctions to study the
text of the Bible. This experiment, however, proved a failure, and so few
scholars attended his lectures that at the end of a year the chair was
abolished. At the same time, new colleges were opened, and scholarships
founded for poor students; and in 1496, Lodovico being then reigning Duke
of Milan, granted the professors of law, medicine, philosophy and fine
arts, an exemption from all taxation. Under his fostering care the
University flourished as it had never flourished before. Scholars from
all parts of Europe came to attend Giasone di Maino's lectures, the
number of professors reached ninety: that of students was said to be
three thousand. As the Milanese poet Lancinus Curtius sang in his Latin
rhymes, "The fair-skinned Germans with their long hair flowing on their
necks, the English and the knights from Gaul, the Iberian from the golden
sands of Tagus, all hasten thither from the far North. The rude Pannonian
lays aside his military cloak to join the eager throng who crowd into the
virgin temple and seek the Helicon of Phoebus under the carved dome of
wisdom, which bears Lodovico's name above the stars."

But the Moro patronage of learning was by no means limited to Pavia. He
did his utmost to revive the ancient University of Milan, which had long
fallen into decay, and founded new and flourishing schools in this city.
The best Pavian professors Merula and the Greek Demetrius Calcondila
amongst others, were invited to lecture to the Milanese students. Fra
Luca Pacioli of Borgo San Sepolcro, the famous mathematician, came to
teach them geometry and arithmetic, and Ferrari occupied the first chair
of history ever founded in Italy, while the priest Gaffuri became the
first public instructor in the new school of music. In short, as a
contemporary writes, there was not a science of any description that
could not be learnt at Milan in the days of Lodovico Sforza.

The endowment of research was another point in which Lodovico showed
himself to be in advance of his age. He granted liberal pensions to
Bernardino Corio and Tristano Calco, "the Milanese Livy," who continued
the history of the Visconti begun by the Alessandria professor and
addressed letters in his own hand to the private owners of valuable
manuscripts, requesting the loan of works that would assist these
writers of Lombard history, "in order that a perpetual memory of the
great deeds done by our ancestors may be preserved for future
generations." From his earliest years history had been one of Lodovico's
favourite studies, and an illuminated volume of extracts from Greek and
Roman history which he compiled under his tutor Filelfo's direction at
the age of fifteen may still be seen in the library of Turin. And in
riper years, amid all the pressure of State affairs and political
anxieties, he never let a day pass without having some passages from
ancient and modern history read aloud to him by his secretaries. So wise
and enlightened a prince well deserved the high praise bestowed upon him
by the Bolognese scholar, Filippo Beroaldo, and the great Florentine,
Angelo Poliziano, with whom Lodovico frequently exchanged letters, and
who in one of his effusions thus addresses his princely friend: "All the
world knows you to be a prince of brilliant genius and singular wisdom,
while above all others you cherish the noble arts and show your love for
these intellectual studies which we profess." The jealousy of his own
subjects was often roused by the favour with which Lodovico regarded
scholars of other nationalities, and on one occasion a fierce quarrel
arose between Merula and Poliziano, in which the Lombard historian
stooped to the vilest personalities. Another Pavian professor with whom
he had a controversy over certain commentaries of Martial, had, it
appears, ventured to hint that Merula did not really know Greek, an
insinuation which provoked the most violent display of anger on his
part, and when Poliziano endeavoured to appease both parties, the
affronted Lombard flew at him like a small terrier attacking some big
mastiff. All Lodovico's tact and courtesy were needed to allay the
storm, and when at length Merula died in 1494, the duke ordered the
immediate destruction of all the papers relating to this deplorable
controversy, of which all parties, he felt, had good reason to be
ashamed. The remodelling of the library of the Castello di Pavia was
another important work which was carried out in the year 1492, by
Tristano Calco the historian and kinsman of the chief secretary, under
the eye of Lodovico himself, while he and Beatrice spent the summer at
Pavia. All the rare and precious manuscripts which he had been at such
pains to collect in France and Italy and Germany, and the ancient books
contained in the library were catalogued and arranged for the use of
students. For Lodovico was not only bent on enriching the ducal library,
but was determined to make its treasures accessible to scholars of all
nationalities. He allowed contemporary historians, Corio, Merula, and
Tristan Calco himself, to borrow manuscripts freely, and, what was even
more admirable in those days of persecution, gave permission under his
own hand and seal to a Jewish scholar, named Salomone Ebreo, to live in
the Castello with his family, in order that he might translate Hebrew
manuscripts into Latin for the promotion of theological studies, and
also be enabled to study the text of the Hebrew Bible belonging to the
library.

It is melancholy to reflect on the sad fate of this priceless
collection, upon which Lodovico and his ancestors had expended so much
care and thought. In 1499, the bulk of the library of the Castello was
carried off to Blois by Louis XII. and its precious contents were
dispersed. Some were taken to Fontainebleau by Francis I. and afterwards
by Henry Quatre to Paris, where they are still the glory of the
Bibliothèque Nationale. Others again found their way into different
public and private collections, and may be seen at Madrid and St.
Petersburg, in London and Vienna, still bearing the inscription "De
Pavye au roi Louis XII.," which tells us that they once formed part of
the Sforza Library. An illuminated manuscript of Aulus Gellius, and
another of the "Triumphs" of Petrarch, encircled with miniatures and
bearing Lodovico's name, which originally belonged to the same
collection, are among the treasures of the Bibliothèque Nationale. Many
more no doubt have disappeared, lost in the general anarchy and
confusion which prevailed in the Milanese during the century after the
Moro's fall.

The newly discovered art of printing was also liberally encouraged by
Lodovico, one of whose _protégés_, Alessandro Minuziano, set up a
printing press in Milan before Aldo Manuzio had settled in Venice, and
in the course of the year 1494, published twenty-two books, including a
Latin dictionary by Dionigi Este and complete editions of Cicero and
Tacitus, Pliny and Suetonius, as well as the works of Filelfo and the
Sonnets and Triumphs of Petrarch. In 1496, a treatise on music by
Franchino Gaffuri was published, with a dedication to the duke, and was
followed by the appearance of several works on harmony.

The munificence of Lodovico stirred up others to follow his example. His
secretary Bartolommeo Calco founded free schools, where Greek and Latin
professors lectured free of charge to poor Milanese students; and two
other noblemen, Tommaso Grassi and Tommaso Piatti, endowed similar
institutions. The new passion for learning spread from Milan and Pavia
to other cities, and even Lombard villages had their public schools and
lecturers. Everywhere the same thirst for knowledge was felt and the
same respect for scholars was shown. For as Signor Lodovico wrote to his
friend Poliziano, at Florence, "Both natural inclination and the example
of our ancestors have inspired us with ardent love for learned men and
an eager desire to honour and reward them to the best of our power."

If the intellectual movement which took place during the twenty years of
Lodovico Moro's rule in Milan commanded general admiration; if learning
flourished there as it had never done before, the widespread revival of
art in Lombardy was a still more remarkable feature of the period. This
indeed was the province in which Lodovico's true genius was most
apparent, and in which his own fine taste, vast power of organization
and minute attention to detail, all made themselves felt and bore rich
fruit. "This," wrote Isabella d'Este--herself no mean judge of these
matters--from Lodovico's court, "is the school of the Master and of
those who know, the home of art and understanding."

Throughout the Milanese, architects and engineers, painters and
sculptors, with a host of minor craftsmen, were carrying out the vast
projects that emanated from this one man. The decoration of the capital
was naturally among the chief objects of his ambition.

"In the year 1492," writes the chronicler Cagnola, "this glorious and
magnanimous prince adorned the Castello di Porta Zobia with many fair
and marvellous buildings, enlarged the Piazza in front of the Castello,
and removed obstructions in the streets of the city, and caused them to
be painted and beautified with frescoes. And he did the same in the city
of Pavia, so that both these towns, that were formerly ugly and dirty,
are now most beautiful, which things are very laudable and excellent,
especially in the eyes of those who remember these cities as they were
of old, and who see them as they are to-day."

Chief among Lodovico's most honoured and trusted servants was Bramante
of Urbino, whose genius excited so marked an influence on the
development of Lombard architecture, and who was to the builders what
Leonardo became to the painters of Milan. "Signor Lodovico loved
Bramante greatly, and rewarded him richly," writes Fra Gaspare Bugati, a
Dominican friar of S. Maria delle Grazie, the Moro's favourite church,
which this great architect did so much to beautify. During this year,
Bramante, having finished the palace of Vigevano and completed the new
buildings at the royal villas of Abbiategrasso, Cuzzago and other
places, upon which he had been long engaged, began several important
works in Milan itself. The new cloister or Canonica attached to the
ancient basilica of S. Ambrogio, with its graceful columns and
dark-green marble capitals, and the apse of S. Maria delle Grazie, soon
to be crowned with that matchless cupola that remains among Bramante's
most perfect works, were both begun in 1492. A few years before, between
1485 and 1490, he had built the Baptistery of San Satiro, which another
of Lodovico's chosen artists, the great Como sculptor, Caradosso, was
now engaged in modelling the lovely terra-cotta frieze of children and
the medallions bearing, it is said, his own portrait and that of
Bramante. The noble church of S. Maria presso San Celso, which in
Burckhardt's opinion combines magnificence and simplicity better than
any building of the Renaissance, was the work of Bramante's assistant,
Dolcebuono, and owed its erection to the munificence of Lodovico, who
laid the first stone in 1491. Nor were churches and palaces the only
buildings upon which Lodovico lavished his gold and employed his most
distinguished masters. In those days, the hospitals of Rome, Florence,
Venice and Siena were the finest in Europe, and when Luther visited
Rome, he is said to have been more impressed by the size and splendour
of the hospitals, than by anything else in Italy. The great Moro,
determined not to allow Milan to remain behind his age in this respect,
employed Bramante to adorn the Gothic buildings of the Ospedale Maggiore
with the arched windows and stately porticoes that we still admire,
while he encircled the cloisters with marble shafts and terra-cotta
mouldings after his own heart. And in 1488, after his own recovery from
illness, and that terrible visitation of the plague which had carried
off fifty thousand inhabitants of Milan in six months, Lodovico founded
the vast Lazzaretto, which still deserves its proud title, and may well
be called a "glorious refuge for Christ's poor."

Meanwhile the works of the Duomo of Milan, that other great foundation
of the Visconti dukes, were being vigorously carried on. In 1481,
Lodovico had nominated his favourite Pavian master, Amadeo, the
architect of the Certosa, as Capomaestro in succession to Guiniforte
Solari; but the Councillors of the Fabric declined to accept his
suggestion, and sent to Strasburg for a German architect, John
Nexemperger of Graz, who held the office for some years, but effected
little, and was finally dismissed in 1486. After his departure, the
ruinous state of the central cupola requiring immediate attention,
Lodovico invited Luca Fancelli, the chief architect of the Gonzagas at
Mantua, to visit Milan, and by his advice Leonardo, Bramante, and other
leading masters were invited in 1487 to design models for a new cupola.
On this occasion Leonardo executed a model, which, however, does not
seem to have satisfied the Fabbricieri, and after applying in vain to
his ambassador in Rome and Florence for a master able and willing to
undertake the task, Lodovico returned to his first choice, and appointed
Amadeo and Dolcebuono, architects of the Duomo, with powers to alter and
perfect the models of the cupola submitted to them for inspection. In
order to strengthen their hands and satisfy himself, Lodovico invited
Luca Fancelli of Mantua and Francesco Martini of Siena to decide on the
respective merits of the models already prepared. Caradosso was sent to
conduct Martini from Siena, while Gaffuri, Professor of Music, escorted
Fancelli from Mantua by the duke's orders, and both masters were richly
rewarded for the pains and presented with silken vests and clothes for
their servants over and above the pay to which they were entitled.

On the 27th of June, 1490, a meeting was held in the Castello, at which
Lodovico presided, and after much deliberation the final execution of
the cupola was entrusted to Amadeo and Dolcebuono. Bramante himself was
not present on this occasion, but he approved highly of the model
selected, and praised its lightness and elegance.

As for Leonardo, he was absorbed in other studies, and had apparently
ceased to take any interest in the subject. After allowing his first
model to be spoilt, and receiving payment for a second which he never
began, he had, as already mentioned, accompanied the Sienese architect,
Martini, to Pavia, to give his opinion on the new Duomo in course of
erection. There he lingered, studying anatomy or discussing scientific
and philosophical questions with the University professors, until he was
recalled to Milan, to assist in the preparations for Beatrice's wedding
_fêtes_. Many and varied were the tasks on which Leonardo had been
employed since the day, some eight years before, when the Magnificent
Medici first sent him to his friend at Milan. In the letter which the
young master, proudly conscious of his powers, himself addressed to
Lodovico Sforza, offering him his services, he had, first of all,
retailed at length his different inventions "for the construction of
bridges, cannons, engines, and catapults of fair and useful shape
hitherto unknown, but of admirable efficiency in time of war," after
which he proceeded to give the following account of his artistic
capacities:--

"In time of peace I believe I can equal any man in constructing public
buildings and conducting water from one place to another. I can execute
sculpture, whether in marble, bronze, or terra-cotta, and in painting I
am the equal of any master, be he who he may. Again, I will undertake to
execute the bronze horse to the immortal glory and eternal honour of the
duke, your father, of blessed memory, and of the illustrious House of
Sforza. And if any of the things I have mentioned above should seem to
you impossible and impracticable, I will gladly make trial of them in
your park, or any other place that may please your Excellency, to whom I
commend myself in all humility."

The master had kept his word, and justified the confidence which from
the first Lodovico Sforza placed in him. According to Vasari and the
biographer of the Magliabecchiana, who wrote about 1540, Leonardo
originally attracted the Moro's notice by the surpassing charm with
which he played on a silver lyre of his own invention, and afterwards
fascinated him by his conversation. But from the moment of his arrival
at Milan the Florentine artist was employed by his new master to paint
portraits and frescoes, to construct canals, arrange masques and
pageants, or invent mechanical contrivances for use on the stage or in
the house. A thousand different studies in his sketch-books and
manuscripts bear witness to the strange variety of subjects upon which
his versatile genius was brought to bear. But the most important work
upon which Leonardo was engaged, and that which lay nearest to Lodovico
Sforza's heart, was the equestrian statue of Duke Francesco Sforza.
This, we learn from the master's own words, was the true reason that
brought him to Milan. In a letter to the Fabbricieri of the Duomo of
Piacenza, he describes himself as Leonardo the Florentine whom Signor
Lodovico brought to Milan to make the bronze horse, and says that he can
undertake no other task, for this will fill his whole life, if indeed it
is ever finished! Countless were the designs, endless the different
forms which the great master made for this model, which was, after all,
never to be cast in bronze, and was destined to perish by the hands of
French archers. At one time it seemed as if he could neither satisfy
himself nor yet his master. In July, 1489, Pietro Alamanni, one of
Lorenzo de' Medici's agents, wrote to ask his master if he could send
another artist capable of executing the work to the Milanese court.

"Signor Lodovico," he says, "wishes to raise a noble memorial to his
father, and has already charged Leonardo da Vinci to prepare a model for
a great bronze horse, with a figure of Duke Francesco in armour. But
since His Excellency is anxious to have something superlatively fine,
he desires me to write and beg you to send him another master, for
although he has given the work to Leonardo, he does not feel satisfied
that he is equal to the task."

Probably Lodovico's confidence had been shaken by Leonardo's endless
delays and hesitation, but a few months later the master was at work
again, this time it appears on a completely new model of the great
statue. On April, 1490, we find the following memorandum in Leonardo's
writing:--

"To-day I commenced this book, and began the horse again."

But soon another interruption came to interfere with the progress of the
great work. There was the visit to Pavia, and the decoration of the
ball-room in the Castello, and the wedding _fêtes_, and the tournaments
in which Messer Galeazzo sought his help. And in this year--1492--we
find Leonardo at Vigevano with the Moro in March, making designs for a
new staircase for the Sforzesca, and studying vine-culture, and later in
the summer drawing plans of a bath-room for Duchess Beatrice, and of a
pavilion with a round cupola for the duke's labyrinth in the gardens of
the Castello. It was in this same year, according to Amoretti, that he
finished the beautiful painting of the Holy Family, upon which he had
long been engaged. This may have been the picture ordered by Lodovico as
a gift for the art-loving King of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus, when his
niece Bianca Maria was betrothed to that monarch's son.

"Since we hear that His Majesty delights in pictures," wrote Lodovico to
Maffeo di Treviglio, the ambassador whom he was sending to Hungary in
1485, "and we have here a most excellent painter, with whose genius we
are well acquainted, and who, we are sure, has no equal, we have ordered
this master to paint a figure of Our Lady, as beautiful and perfect and
holy as he can imagine, without sparing pains or expense. He has already
set to work, and will undertake nothing else until this picture is
finished, and we are able to send it as a gift to his said Majesty."

The painter who had no equal could be none other than Leonardo; but it
would be interesting to know if this picture, originally destined for
Matthias Corvinus, was the Nativity eventually given by Lodovico in 1493
to Bianca Maria's future husband, the Emperor Maximilian. All traces of
this altar-piece, however, as well as of the Bacchus and other subjects
which Leonardo painted for the Moro, have vanished; and the only works
that remain to us of his Milanese period are the cartoon of the Virgin
and St. Anne now in the Royal Academy, and the "Vierge aux Rochers" in
the Louvre, which was originally painted between 1490 and 1494 for a
chapel in San Francesco of Milan, the church where the great Condottiere
Roberto di Sanseverino was piously buried by his sons, after his death
in the battle of Trent. The fame which Leonardo had attained, and the
high esteem in which he was held by the Moro, is proved by the verses of
contemporary poets, and especially by those of his fellow-countryman,
Bellincioni, the court-poet who died in 1492.

"To-day," he sings, "Milan is the new Athens! Here Lodovico holds his
Parnassus; here rare and excellent artists flock as bees to seek honey
from the flowers; here, chief among them all, is the new Apelles whom he
has brought from Florence." In the volume of Bellincioni's Sonnets,
published soon after his death by the priest Francesco Tanzio, the name
Magistro Leonardo da Vinci appears in a marginal note, and in another
sonnet inscribed to "Four illustrious men who have grown up under the
shadow of the Moro," the editor gives the respective names of these
famous individuals as "the painter Maestro Leonardo Florentino, the
goldsmith Caradosso, the learned Greek scholar Giorgio Merula, called
the sun of Alessandria, and Maestro Giannino, the Ferrarese
gun-founder."

"Rejoice, O Milano," sings the poet in these verses--"rejoice above all,
that within your walls you hold one who is foremost among excellent
artists, Da Vinci, whose drawing and colouring are alike unrivalled by
ancient or modern masters."

The fact that Lodovico was able to keep this great master at his court
during so long a period is the best proof we have of his knowledge of
men and love of art. These sixteen years were the most brilliant and
productive of Leonardo's life. Never again was he to enjoy a freedom
and independence so complete, never again was he to find a master as
generous, as stimulating to his powers of brain and hand as the great
Moro. It was not only that Signor Lodovico gave him the large salary of
2000 ducats--about £4000 of our money--"besides many other gifts and
rewards," as Leonardo himself told Cardinal de Gurk, but that he was
himself so fine a connoisseur and understanding a patron. More than
this, he knew how to deal with men of genius, and could make allowance
for their wayward fancies, and humour their caprices with infinite tact
and kindliness. And from the little that we glean of his intercourse
with Leonardo, he seems to have treated him rather as an equal than as a
subject, and more like a friend than a servant.

The glimpses that we catch of Leonardo's private life from the writings
of contemporaries, whether in Bandello's _novelle_, or in Bellincioni's
_rime_, all give the same pleasant impression, and show the ease and
liberty which he enjoyed at the court of Milan. And in his own
"Trattato" (Cap. 36) the painter describes himself as living in a fine
house, full of beautiful paintings and choice objects, surrounded by
musicians and poets. Here he sits at his work, handling a brush full of
lovely colour, never so happy as when he can paint listening to the
sound of sweet melodies. The spacious atelier is full of scholars and
apprentices employed in carrying out their master's ideas or making
chemical experiments, but careless of the noise of tools and hammers,
the fair-haired boy Angelo sings his golden song, and Serafino the
wondrous _improvisatore_ chants his own verses to the sound of the lyre.
Visitors come and go freely--Messer Jacopo of Ferrara, the architect who
was "dear to Leonardo as a brother," the courtly poet Gaspare Visconti,
and Vincenzo Calmeta, Duchess Beatrice's secretary, or, it may be, the
great Messer Galeaz himself, whose big jennet and Sicilian horse the
master has been drawing as models for the great equestrian statue
standing outside in the Corte Vecchia. There, among them all, the
painter bends over his canvas seeking to perfect the glazes and scumbles
of his pearly tints, or trying to realize some dream of a face that
haunts his fancy with its exquisite smile. He has, it is true, many
labours--"_a tanta faccenda!_" as he wrote to the councillors of
Piacenza--and at times he hardly knows which way to turn, but he is his
own master, free to work as he will, now at one, now at another. He has
no cares or anxiety. He can dress as he pleases, wear rich apparel if he
is so minded, or don the plain clothes and sober hues that he prefers.
He has gold enough and to spare; he can help a poorer friend and educate
a needy apprentice, or save his money for a rainy day; and, above all,
he has plenty of books and leisure to meditate on philosophical
treatises, or ponder over the scientific problems in which his soul
delights. He can find time to jot down his thoughts on many things, to
write his great treatise on painting, and to draw the wonderful
interlaced patterns inscribed with the strange words which have puzzled
so many generations of commentators. And he has friends, too, dear to
his heart--Messer Jacopo, and the wise Lorenzo da Pavia, that master of
organs whose hands were as deft in fashioning lyres and viols as in
drawing out sweet sounds, with whom he loved to commune of musical
instruments and eternal harmonies, and the boy Andrea Salai, with the
beautiful curling hair, whom he loved to dress up in green velvet
mantles, and shoes with rose-coloured ribbons and silver buckles.

"Such," he tells us, "was I, Leonardo the Florentine, at the court of
the most Illustrious Prince Signor Lodovic." And what the Moro was to
Leonardo that he showed himself to other artists and men of letters. In
the poet's words, he was the magnet who drew men of genius (_virtuosi_)
from all parts of the world to Milan. He might be an exacting and
critical master, he was certainly never satisfied with any work short of
the best--even Leonardo, we have seen, did not always find him easy to
please--but once he discovered a man who was excellent in any branch of
knowledge, he thought no cost too great to retain him at his court. And
so the foremost scholars and the finest artists, Giorgio Merula and
Lancinus Curtius, Caradosso and Cristoforo Romano, Bramante and
Leonardo, were all drawn to Milan in turn, and, having once entered the
Moro's service, remained there until the end.

"We know, O most illustrious Prince!" wrote Tanzio in his preface to
Bellincioni's Sonnets--"we know that you, the Chief of the Insubrians,
are no less a lover of your country than of your glorious father, in
whose honour you have reared that mighty and immortal work, the great
Colossus, which, like himself, remains without a rival. We see you
equally anxious to glorify both his memory and your own great city. We
see Milan, by your care, not only adorned with peace and wealth, with
noble churches and edifices, but with rare and admirable intellects, who
all turn to you in their hour of need, as the rivers flow into the vast
ocean."

Nor was it only in Milan and Pavia that this revival made itself felt.
The new impulse spread from city to city. The lovely Renaissance façade
of S. Maria dei Miracoli at Brescia was completed in 1487, and the great
Church of the Incoronata at Lodi, begun in 1488, was continued during
the next twenty years under the superintendence of Dolcebuono and
Amadeo. Bramante supplied designs for the new façade and portals that
were added to the cathedral of Como in 1491, and for the majestic church
of Abbiategrasso, close to this favourite country house of the Sforzas.
A number of other churches, both in Milan and the neighbourhood, were
designed by him or his scholars, and bear witness to the revolution
which he had effected in Lombard architecture. At Piacenza and Cremona,
at Saronno and Lugano, new churches and palaces arose, and the famous
Sanctuary of Varallo in the Val Sesia was founded in 1491 by that devout
personage, Messer Bernardino Caimo, on his return from a pilgrimage to
the Holy Land. The same passion for building and decoration prevailed
everywhere. On all sides poets and scholars celebrated Lodovico's name
as the Pericles of this new Athens, and joined in the chorus of praise
which inspired Pistoia's famous line--

"E un Dio in cielo e il Moro in terra."

"There is one God in heaven and the Moro upon earth."



CHAPTER XII

Beatrice d'Este as a patron of learning and poetry--Vincenzo Calmeta,
her secretary--Serafino d'Aquila--Rivalry of Lombard and Tuscan poets
--Gaspare Visconti's works--Poetic jousts with Bramante--Niccolo di
Correggio and other poets--Dramatic art and music at the court of
Milan--Gaffuri and Testagrossa--Lorenzo Gusnasco of Pavia.

1492


Lodovico Moro, as we have seen, was justly extolled by his
contemporaries as the most illustrious Mecænas of his age. As Abbé
Tiraboschi, the learned historian of Italian literature, wrote ninety
years ago, "If we consider the immense number of learned men who flocked
to his court from all parts of Italy in the certainty of receiving great
honours and rich rewards; if, again, we remember how many famous
architects and painters he invited to Milan, and how many noble
buildings he raised, how he built and endowed the magnificent University
of Pavia, and opened schools of every kind of science in Milan; if
besides all this we read the splendid eulogies and dedicatory epistles
addressed to him by scholars of every nationality, we feel inclined to
pronounce him the best prince that ever lived." And in Beatrice d'Este,
Lodovico possessed a wife admirably adapted to share his aims and
preside over his court. Both her birth and education fitted her for the
position which she now occupied. Her youth and beauty lent a new lustre
to the court, her quick intelligence and cultured tastes led her to
appreciate the society of poets and scholars. The natural love of
splendour, which she shared with the Moro, went hand-in-hand with
artistic invention. Her rich clothes and jewels were distinguished by
their refinement and rare workmanship. The fashions which she
introduced were marked by their elegance and beauty. She took especial
delight in music and poetry, and gave signs of a fine and discriminating
literary judgment. And like Lodovico, she knew not only how to attract
men of genius, but how to retain them in her service. Where, again, asks
Castiglione, who had known her in her brightest days at Milan, shall we
find a woman of intellect as remarkable as Duchess Beatrice? And her own
secretary, the writer known as "_l'elegantissimo_ Calmeta" in the
cultured circles of Mantua and Urbino, has told us how much men of
letters owed to her sympathy and help. In the life of his friend,
Serafino Aquilano, written seven years after Beatrice's death, when the
Milanese was a French province and the Moro a captive at Loches, Calmeta
recalls the brilliant days of his old life at Lodovico's court, and
speaks thus of his lost mistress:--

"This duke had for his most dear wife Beatrice d'Este, daughter of
Ercole, Duke of Ferrara, who, coming to Milan in the flower of her
opening youth, was endowed with so rare an intellect, so much grace and
affability, and was so remarkable for her generosity and goodness that
she may justly be compared with the noblest women of antiquity. This
duchess devoted her time to the highest objects. Her court was composed
of men of talent and distinction, most of whom were poets and musicians,
who were expected to compose new eclogues, comedies, or tragedies, and
arrange new spectacles and representations every month. In her leisure
hours she generally employed a certain Antonio Grifo"--a well-known
student and commentator of Dante--"or some equally gifted man, to read
the Divina Commedia, or the works of other Italian poets, aloud to her.
And it was no small relaxation of mind for Lodovico Sforza, when he was
able to escape from the cares and business of state, to come and listen
to these readings in his wife's rooms. And among the illustrious men
whose presence adorned the court of the duchess there were three
high-born cavaliers, renowned for many talents, but above all for their
poetic gifts--Niccolo da Correggio, Gaspare Visconti, and Antonio di
Campo Fregoso, together with many others, one of whom was myself,
Vincenzo Calmeta, who for some years held the post of secretary to that
glorious and excellent lady. And besides those I have named there was
Benedetto da Cingoli, called Piceno, and many other youths of no small
promise, who daily offered her the first fruits of their genius. Nor was
Duchess Beatrice content with rewarding and honouring the poets of her
own court. On the contrary, she sent to all parts of Italy to inquire
for the compositions of elegant poets, and placed their books as sacred
and divine things on the shelves of her cabinet of study, and praised
and rewarded each writer according to his merit. In this manner, poetry
and literature in the vulgar tongue, which had degenerated and sunk into
forgetfulness after the days of Petrarch and Boccaccio, has been
restored to its former dignity, first by the protection of Lorenzo de'
Medici, and then by the influence of this rare lady, and others like
her, who are still living at the present time. But when Duchess Beatrice
died everything fell into ruin. That court, which had been a joyous
Paradise, became a dark and gloomy Inferno, and poets and artists were
forced to seek another road."

Calmeta himself was a prolific writer both of verse and prose, whose
translation of Ovid's _Ars amandi_, dedicated to Lodovico Moro, was
highly esteemed by his contemporaries, and whom Castiglione introduces
among the speakers of his _Cortigiano_. Like his friends Niccolo da
Correggio and Gaspare Visconti, Beatrice's secretary was a fervent
admirer of Petrarch, and wrote an elaborate commentary on the _Canzone_,
"_Mai non vo' più cantar como io solea_," which he dedicated to Isabella
d'Este and sent her with a letter expressing his conviction that no one
before him had ever fully understood this profound and subtle poem.
Another of Beatrice's _protégés_ was Serafino, the famous improvisatore
of Aquila in the Abruzzi, a short and ugly little man, whom Cardinal
Bibbiena once laughingly compared to a carpet-bag (_valigia_)! But in
spite of his dwarfed stature and elfish appearance, Serafino sang his
own _strambotti_ and eclogues so well, and had so fascinating a way of
accompanying himself on the lute, that the Este and Gonzaga ladies all
entreated him for new verses, and literally wrangled over the man
himself! Like Calmeta and many others, however, after spending some time
at the courts of Mantua and Urbino, he came to Milan, and devoted his
talents to the service of Duchess Beatrice until her death, after which
he went his way sadly, and sought shelter in his old haunts. Most of his
time after this was spent with the good Duchess Elizabeth at Urbino,
where the Milanese refugees found a warm welcome, and where Serafino was
caressed and _fêted_ by all the great ladies in turn, until a premature
death closed his career, and he died in Rome in 1500, lamented in prose
and verse by the most cultured spirits of the age.

While Beatrice encouraged these foreign poets to settle at Milan,
Lodovico invited the Tuscans Bellincioni and Antonio Cammelli, surnamed
Pistoia, to his court, in the hope of refining and polishing the rude
Lombard diction. The priest Tanzio, writing after Bellincioni's death in
1492, remarks that this influence had already borne fruit, and that the
sonnet, which was practically unknown in Milan before Bellincioni's
coming, was now diligently cultivated there. But, not unnaturally, a
bitter rivalry sprung up between the Lombard and the Tuscan poets, and a
fierce poetic warfare was exchanged between them. Bellincioni's
suspicious and quarrelsome nature is revealed in his letters to his
patron, in which he is always complaining of the envious detractors
whose wicked tongues are employed in backbiting him day and night. His
own character was by no means free from the same imputations; and the
Ferrarese poet, Tebaldeo, the friend of Raphael and Castiglione,
composed a witty epitaph, in which he warns passers-by to avoid the last
resting-place of this singer, who had made so many enemies in life, lest
he turn in his grave and bite them. Bellincioni's bitterest foe was a
certain Bergamasque poet, Guidotto Prestinari, who wrote many odes and
songs in honour of Beatrice, and represented the old Lombard school. On
one occasion this misguided person even dared to attack Leonardo, and
wrote a sonnet in which he jeers at the great painter for spending his
time in hunting for curious worms and insects on the hills of Bergamo,
when he visited his friends of the Melzi family. Leonardo scorned to
take any notice of these petty insults, but in his letter to the
councillors of Piacenza we see the contempt which he had for Lombard
artists--"those rude and ignorant workmen," as he calls them, "who boast
they will get letters of recommendation from Signora Lodovico or his
Commissioner of Works, Messer Ambrogio Ferrari, when not one of them is
fit to undertake the task." And certain epigrams in the Windsor
Sketchbook are plainly directed against the false and venal science of
the astrologer Ambrogio da Rosate, whose name is given in the margin,
and show how cordial was Leonardo's hatred of the duke's all-powerful
favourite.

Fortunately, both Leonardo himself, as well as Calmeta and Pistoia, were
on friendly terms with Gaspare Visconti, who, originally a scholar of
Prestinari, became the chief representative of the Lombard school of
poetry at Milan, and whom Beatrice's secretary places next to Niccolo da
Correggio among the best poets of her court. This popular poet and
polished cavalier was a great favourite, not only with Beatrice and her
husband, but with Galeazzo di Sanseverino, the Marchesino Stanga, and
all the chief personages at court. Born in 1461 of noble Milanese
parents, he married Cecilia, daughter of Cecco Simonetta, Duchess Bona's
ill-fated minister, and was advanced to the dignity of _Eques Auratus_
and ducal councillor. After the death of Bellincioni he succeeded to the
post of court poet, and was often employed by Lodovico to address
complimentary verses to other princes or to write sonnets on passing
events, whether his theme were a royal wedding or the death of a
favourite falcon. His most important work was a romance entitled "Paolo
e Daria," founded on Bramante's discovery of a tomb containing the ashes
of these lovers, when the foundations of his new cloisters at S.
Ambrogio were being laid in the year 1492. The incident excited great
interest at court, and Gasparo dedicated his poem to Lodovico--"_mio
Duca_"--and introduced an eloquent eulogy in honour of his friend
Bramante in the first canto. In the following year he published a volume
of rhymes, dedicated to Niccolo da Correggio, who sent the book to the
insatiable Isabella d'Este, saying this would please her better than any
verses that he could write. Finally, in 1496, he formally presented the
duchess with a copy of his poems, written in silver letters and gold on
ivory vellum, and enriched with miniatures of rare beauty. This
sumptuous volume, bound in silver-gilt boards enamelled with flowers,
and containing 143 sonnets as well as epistles on love and other
philosophical and theological subjects, was dedicated to Beatrice in the
following words:--

"To the Most Illustrious Duchess of Milan, Gaspare Visconti, Having
been told by many honourable persons, chief among whom is Messer
Galeazzo Sanseverino, that the said duchess graciously pleads my cause
with His Excellency the Duke, I beg of her to accept this book,
dedicated to her by her humble servant." The same grateful sentiments
inspired the lyric which followed, in which the poet implored the
duchess to use her well-known influence with her lord, and incline his
will to look favourably upon her servant's prayer--

"Donna beata! e Spirito pudico!
Deh! fa benigna a questa mia richiesta
La voglia del tuo Sposo Lodovico.
    Io so ben quel che dico!
Tanta è la tua virtu che ció che vuoi
Dello invitto cuor disponer puoi."[24]

An ardent lover of Petrarch, to whose poems these of the Milanese poet
were often compared by his admirers, Gaspare Visconti took the lead in a
lively poetic contest with Bramante on the respective merits of Dante
and Petrarch, The discussion was carried on during many weeks, in the
presence of the duchess and her courtiers in the beautiful gardens of
Vigevano, or in those fair pleasure-houses by the running streams in the
park at Pavia, where Beatrice and her ladies spent the long summer days.
Gaspare found animated supporters in his friends Calmeta and Niccolo da
Correggio, who was himself an enthusiastic admirer of Petrarch, and on
one occasion journeyed twenty-five miles from Correggio over the worst
roads in the world to see the remote village of Rosena, where the Tuscan
poet had composed some of his finest _canzoni_. On the other hand,
Bramante had the duke and duchess on his side. We know how, at the end
of a long day's work, Lodovico loved to listen to the reading of the
"Divina Commedia" in his wife's boudoir, and ponder the meaning of that
great vision of heaven and hell. And when the catastrophe of Novara had
crushed his last hopes, and he was borne a captive into the strange
land, the only favour he asked of his victors was the loan of a volume
of Dante, "_per studiare_"--in order that he might study the divine
poet's words. One of Gaspare's sonnets on the subject, which was
afterwards printed, bears this inscription: "These verses were not
written with any pretence of deciding between the merits of these two
great men, but solely to answer Bramante, who is a violent partisan of
Dante."

Another poetic tourney, in which both the great architect and his friend
Visconti were the chief combatants, turned on Bramante's supposed
poverty and the complaints with which he filled the air, calling on all
the gods in heaven to help him in his misery. This was in the summer of
1492, and not only Gaspare, but Bellincioni, who was then living, and
Mascagni of Turin took up the parable, and charged Bramante with begging
for a pair of shoes, when all the while he was receiving five ducats a
week from the duke, and was secretly hoarding up a store of gold. To
this Bramante replied in a sonnet full of allusions to Calliope, Erato,
and all the Muses, begging his friends for pity's sake to give him a
crown, if they would not see him left barefoot and naked to battle with
rude Boreas. A whole series of curious sonnets from Bramante's pen has
been lately discovered by M. Müntz among the Italian manuscripts in the
Bibliothèque Nationale, and reveal the burlesque side of the great
architect's character, and the biting wit which made his opponents give
him the name of Cerberus.[25]

These poetic jousts or encounters of wits were a favourite amusement of
the cultured princesses of the Renaissance and their courtiers. Thus it
was that Poliziano and Ficino discussed philosophical questions before
Lorenzo in the gardens of Careggi or on the terraces of Fiesole; so
Castiglione and Bibbiena reasoned of art and love with Duchess Elizabeth
and Emilia Pia, in the palace of Urbino, till the short summer night was
well-nigh over and the dawn broke over the peaks of Monte Catria. And at
Milan, where in Beatrice's days there was less pedantry and more freedom
and gaiety than in any court of the day, these lively debates found
especial favour. The most brilliant courtiers and bravest knights, the
gravest scholars and officers of state alike took part in them. Messer
Galeazzo, as we have seen, was an adept at the game, and could wield his
pen and challenge fair ladies in defence of Roland as gallantly as he
couched his lance to ride in the lists or wielded his sword in the thick
of the battle. So, too were the Marchesino Stanga and his friend
Girolamo Tuttavilla. Both these noblemen were great sonnet-writers, and
are classed by Pistoia among those illustrious lords, who, like Messer
Galeazzo and Signor Lodovico himself, were poets and writers as well as
statesmen and generals.

Bramante addressed several of his sonnets to Count Tuttavilla, who in
his turn had a lively controversy in rhyme with the Marchesino. And
when, in the spring of 1492, Tuttavilla accompanied the Count of Caiazzo
on his embassy to France, Gaspare Visconti sent him a sonnet asking for
the latest news from Paris, which Duchess Beatrice and all her ladies
were dying to hear.

"Tell me if the Queen of France is fair, and how the king appears in
your eyes--whether he is cruel or clement, inclined to walk in the paths
of virtue or of vice. And tell us, too, if the people of Paris seem to
fear the English and the Spaniard, and if they are true followers of
Mars? Tell us how the crowds who walk the streets are clad, and what
customs and manners they have, and how they speak, and what they think.
Tell me how many students their University numbers, and in what branches
of learning they excel. Tell me the names of their lawgivers and
historians, and if any classical antiquities are to be found in Paris.
Tell me how the Abbey of S. Denis is built, and what style of
architecture prevails in the far North? And tell me, too, if I dare ask,
have you perchance in Paris found some fair lady to bend a gracious
smile upon you, and console you for all that you have left behind?"

Girolamo Tuttavilla replied in verses of the same light and airy strain,
alluding to the fierce contest over Dante that waged between Dottore
Bramante and his foes, and laughing at friend Bellincioni's furious
rages, but saying that he at least is wiser, and will take the _viâ
media_ and steer warily between the two contending parties.

But the best poet at Lodovico's court, a sweeter singer and a finer
scholar than the much-praised Bellincioni or the gay Visconti, was
Niccolo, the "gran Correggio" of Gaspare's song. The son of that
accomplished princess of Este, Beatrice the Queen of Festivals, reared
by her in all the culture of Ferrara, this singularly polished and
handsome personage was in the eyes of his contemporaries the model of a
perfect courtier. To have known him was in itself a liberal education.
Sabba da Castiglione, that fastidious scholar and refined writer of the
sixteenth century, counted himself fortunate because as a boy he had
seen and known "this most famous, most courteous and gifted cavalier in
all Italy." Ariosto saw him in his vision upholding the Fountain of
Song, and chanting in his own lofty and noble style--

          "Un Signor di Correggio
Con alto stil par che cantando scriva."

Niccolo had come to Milan in Beatrice's bridal train, and remained there
ever since, highly valued and beloved by Lodovico and all the ducal
family, riding in jousts and tournaments, going on foreign missions, and
composing songs and eclogues for that young duchess whose death was one
day to inspire some of his most touching verses. But the Marchesa
Isabella was the true goddess of his adoration, the mistress to whom his
heart and lyre alike were pledged, who was for him, not only "_la mia
patrona e signora_," but "_la prima donna del mondo_," "the first lady
in all the world." For her he translated Breton legends and Provençal
romances; for her he set Virgil and Petrarch to music; for her fair
sake, old and stiff as advancing years have made him, he is ready to
break a lance or join once more in the dance. At Christmas-time, in the
last days of 1491, the impatient Marchesana had written to remind him
that she had never yet received the eclogue which he had promised to
send her at her brother Alfonso's wedding, and refused to be put off
with any other verses, saying that his poems pleased her more than those
of any living bard. When in later years she found that Niccolo was
inclined to transfer his allegiance to her sister-in-law, Lucrezia
Borgia, she was sorely affronted, and after his death entered into a
long contention for the possession of the book of poems which he had
left behind.

There were many other poets of Beatrice's court whose names were famous
in their day, but have long ago been forgotten, and whose works have
passed into oblivion with all that vanished world. There was Lancino di
Corte, or, as he preferred to style himself, Lancinus Curtius, the
writer of Latin epigrams; and Antonio di Fregoso, the noble Genoese
youth who, like Niccolo, won Calmeta and Ariosto's praises, and whose
poetic disputes with Lancinus were a feature of Cecilia Gallerani's
entertainments; and Baldassare Taccone of Alessandria; and Pietro
Lazzarone of the Valtellina. There was Galeotto del Carretto, the
Montferrat poet and historian, who left his home at Casale to compose
plays and sonnets for Beatrice, and who, like Niccolo da Correggio, was
one of Isabella's favourite correspondents, and sent her eclogues and
strambotti to sing to the lute. When Beatrice died he had just finished
a comedy dedicated to this princess, which he afterwards sent to
Isabella, begging her to accept it both for his sake and that of the
lamented _Madonna Duchessa sorella_, who had taken pleasure in reading
his effusions. And there was another Tuscan poet, Antonio Cammelli of
Pistoia, who composed a whole volume of sonnets dedicated to "that most
invincible Prince, the light and splendour of the world, Lodovico Moro."
These sonnets are of great interest, less on account of their poetic
merit than because of the fidelity with which they commemorate political
events. The invasion of the French, the conquest of Naples, the battle
of Fornovo, the peace of Vercelli, the proclamation of Lodovico as Duke
of Milan, his coronation _fêtes_ at Milan and Pavia, are all carefully
recorded. Nor does the series end here; in another sonnet the poet takes
up the note of warning, and bids Lodovico beware of the new King of
France and, ceasing to dally with Fortune, prepare to defend his fair
duchy. The next time Pistoia took up his pen, it was to wail over the
duke's fall and the ruin of Italy, and to hurl curses on the head of the
false servants who had betrayed their trust and yielded up the Castello
to their master's foes. This, at least, may be said to Pistoia's
credit--he did not forget his generous patron in the days of adversity;
and when Pamfilo Sasso, the Modena bard who had basked in the sunshine
of the Moro's favour, assailed the fallen duke in his verses, Pistoia
rose up in defence of his old master, and fiercely rebuked the cowardly
poet.

"I send you," wrote Calmeta to the Marchioness of Mantua in 1502, in a
letter enclosing Pistoia's verses, "an invective against Sasso for
certain sonnets and epigrams which he printed at Bologna against our
Duke Lodovico Sforza, and which some people say that I wrote. It was
never my habit to attack others, but if I had wasted a little ink in
defending so illustrious a prince, I hardly think I should deserve much
blame."[26]

Before the coming of Beatrice there had been no theatre in Milan, but
Lodovico had done his best to encourage dramatic art. As early as 1484,
he had written to the Duke of Ferrara, asking him to lend him a
Bolognese actor, Albergati by name, who was also a skilled mechanic, to
give sacred representations during Holy Week in Milan. The presence of
Duke Ercole's daughter naturally gave a fresh impulse to the growth of
dramatic art, and after Lodovico's visit to Ferrara in 1493, a theatre
was erected in Milan. Courtiers and poets vied with each other in the
production of plays and masques at each successive Christmas or
Carnival. In 1493, Niccolo da Correggio wrote a pastoral entitled _Mopsa
e Daphne_, which was performed at court that Carnival, and which he
afterwards sent to Isabella, promising to explain its allegorical
meaning at their next meeting. Another time, Gaspare Visconti composed
the masque with the chorus of Turks, to which we have already alluded,
for representation before the duke and duchess. On one occasion a piece
called _La Fatica_ was acted at the house of Antonio Maria Sanseverino,
whose wife, Margherita of Carpi, was the sister of Elizabeth Gonzaga's
beloved companion, Emilia Pia, and herself a learned and cultivated
princess. On another a representation described as _La Pazienza_ was
given before the court, in honour of a visit which Cardinal Federigo
Sanseverino paid to Milan.

Music, as Calmeta tells us, was another art that flourished in an
especial manner at the Milanese court. Both Lodovico and his wife were
passionately fond of music, and the delicious melodies that daily
resounded through their palace halls were the theme alike of chronicler
and poet. When first Lorenzo de Medici had sent Leonardo to his friend's
court to charm the Moro's ears with the surpassing sweetness of his
playing, he had brought with him a well-known musician and maker of
instruments, Atalante Migliorotti, who stood high in Lodovico's favour,
and spent much of his time at Milan. We find Isabella d'Este writing to
her friend, Niccolo da Correggio, in 1493, begging him to procure her
the loan of a silver lyre, given him by Atalante, that she may learn to
play this instrument; and in the following year the marchioness herself
stood godmother to the Florentine musician's infant daughter, who was
called Isabella after her illustrious sponsor. And in 1492 we find
Lodovico writing to thank Francesco Gonzaga for allowing a certain
Narcisso, who was in the Marquis of Mantua's service, to visit Milan,
and saying what exquisite pleasure this singer's voice has afforded him.
The following summer, Isabella, in her turn, begged her sister to allow
her favourite violinist, Jacopo di San Secondo, to spend a few weeks at
Mantua; and on the 7th of July Beatrice wrote to desire his return.
"Since you are back at Mantua, I think you will not want Jacopo di San
Secondo much longer, and beg you to send him back to Pavia as soon as
possible, since his music will be a pleasure to my husband, who is
suffering from a slight attack of fever." This Jacopo was a famous
violin-player of his day, who had settled at the Moro's court, and who
after Lodovico's fall left Milan for Rome, where he became the friend of
Raphael and Castiglione, and is said to have served as model for the
laurel-crowned Apollo of the Parnassus, in the Vatican Stanze. Another
of Beatrice's favourite singers was Angelo Testagrossa, a beautiful
youth who sang, we are told, like a seraph, and who, after the death of
this princess, accepted Isabella's pressing invitation to Mantua, where
he composed songs and gave her lessons on the lute. Testagrossa is said
to have sung in the Spanish style, which was much in vogue at Milan,
where a Spaniard named Pedro Maria was director of the palace concerts,
and is frequently mentioned in Bellincioni's poems. The priest Franchino
Gaffuri, as already stated, occupied the first chair of music ever
founded in Italy. Besides this master's works on music, another treatise
on harmony, composed by a priest named Florentio, and dedicated to
Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, is preserved in the Trivulzian Library, with a
fine miniature of Leonardo playing the lyre as frontispiece.

Both the Flemish priest Cordier, with the wonderful tenor voice, and the
accomplished master Cristoforo Romano were, as we know, among the
chosen singers who accompanied Beatrice on her travels. And there was
one more gifted artist, who, like Atalante Migliorotti, was both a
skilled musician and a mechanic, and whose whole life was devoted to the
construction of musical instruments of the choicest quality, Lorenzo
Gusnasco of Pavia. It was Lodovico Moro who first discovered the rare
talents of this "master of organs," as he was styled by his
contemporaries, and it was for Beatrice's use that he began to make
those wonderful clavichords and lutes and viols that made his name
famous throughout Italy. In his hands the manufacture of musical
instruments was carried to the highest pitch of excellence. He grudged
no labour and spared no pains to make his work perfect. The choicest
ebony and ivory, the most precious woods and delicate strings were
sought out by him; the best scholars supplied him with Greek and Latin
epigrams to be inscribed upon his organs and clavichords. In his opinion
both material and shape were of the utmost importance, because, as he
wrote to Isabella d'Este, "beauty of form is everything," "_perche ne la
forma sta il tuto_." The work of this gifted maker naturally acquired a
rare value in the eyes of his contemporaries. Sabba da Castiglione and
Teseo Albonese praise him as the man who, above all others, has learnt
the secret of combining lovely melodies with beauteous form, just as a
divine soul is enshrined in a fair body. Painters and scholars alike
took delight in Lorenzo's company. He was the intimate friend of
Giovanni Bellini and Andrea Mantegna, of Pietro Bembo and Aldo Manuzio,
of Leonardo and Isabella d'Este. It was in these festive days, in the
Castello of Pavia, that Lorenzo da Pavia first met both the great
Florentine and the accomplished princess who set so high a store on his
friendship. For more than twenty years Isabella corresponded regularly
with this gifted artist, and employed him not only to make organs and
lutes for her, but to buy antiques and cameos, Murano glass and
tapestry, choice pictures and rare books. Whether she wished for a
_fantasia_, or Holy Family from the hand of Gian Bellini, or a choice
edition of Dante or Petrarch from the press of Aldo Manuzio, it was to
Messer Lorenzo that the request was addressed. In 1494, the Pavian
master moved to Venice, where he found it easier to procure materials
for his trade, and was able to carry on his work on a larger scale. By
this time his fame had spread far and wide through Italy. He made an
organ for Matthias Corvinus, the King of Hungary, and another which he
himself took to Rome for Pope Leo X. But his relations with Duchess
Beatrice were not interrupted by this change of abode. In that same year
he made her that clavichord which Isabella describes as the best and
most beautiful which she had ever seen, and which she never ceased to
covet until, after her sister's death and Lodovico's fall, she obtained
possession of the precious instrument.

It was at Venice, in the early spring of 1500, that Leonardo da Vinci
once more met this master, whom he had formerly known so well at Pavia
and Milan. There the two artists who had lived together for many years
in the Moro's service conversed sadly of the terrible catastrophe which
had overwhelmed their old master in sudden and inevitable ruin, and
mourned over the disastrous fate which had plunged the fair Milanese
into confusion and misery. Then, as they looked back on the happy days
of their former life, and talked of their old companions, the painter
brought out a drawing which Lorenzo immediately recognized as the
portrait of Isabella d'Este, the illustrious princess, who was proud to
call herself their friend.

"Leonardo," he wrote the next day to the Marchesana, "is here in Venice,
and has shown me a portrait of your Highness, which is as natural and
lifelike as possible."[27] This drawing, which the princess describes in
a letter to the painter as being _ni carbone_ and not in colours, is now
one of the treasures of the Louvre, and has an inestimable value, both
as the work of Leonardo and as a genuine portrait of the most brilliant
lady of the Renaissance.

FOOTNOTES:

[24] Uzielli, _Ricerche_, i.: Renier, _Gaspare Visconti_.

[25] _Gazette des B. Arts_, 1879, p. 514.

[26] Renier, _Sonetti di Pistoia_ p. 35.

[27] A. Baschet, _Aldo Manuzio_, pp. 70-75.



CHAPTER XIII

Visit of Duke Ercole to Milan, and of Isabella d'Este--Election of Pope
Alexander VI.--Bribery of the Cardinals--Influence of Ascanio Sforza
over the new Pope, and satisfaction of Lodovico--Hunting-parties at
Pavia and Vigevano--_Fêtes_ at Milan--Visit of Isabella to
Genoa--Lodovico's letters--Piero de Medici--King Ferrante's jealousy of
the alliance between Rome and Milan.

1492


That summer Isabella d'Este at length accomplished her long-intended
visit to her sister, whom she had not seen since the wedding _fêtes_.
Early in July she received a pressing invitation from Lodovico himself,
urging her to accompany her father, Duke Ercole, who was expected at
Milan towards the end of the month. But, as she wrote to her husband,
who was then in Venice, it was quite impossible for her to start on her
journey at this early date. In the first place, half of her household
was in bed, ladies and servants alike were suffering from a feverish
epidemic which had attacked the whole court; and in the second place,
many preparations were necessary if she were to appear at Milan in state
worthy of the Marquis of Mantua's wife. "Of course, if you wish it," she
adds proudly, "I will set off alone, in my chemise, but this I think you
will hardly desire."

Signor Lodovico's invitation, however, was gladly accepted, and Isabella
made every preparation to start by the middle of August. She sent to
Ferrara, urging her favourite goldsmith, as he loved her, to finish a
necklace of a hundred links by next week, and begging him to lend her
some more jewelled chains for the use of her courtiers and
maids-of-honour. And the same day she wrote to the Venetian merchant
Taddeo Contarini, excusing herself for her delay in paying for some
jewels which she had lately bought, since her visit to Milan necessarily
entailed heavy expenses. By the 10th of August she was able to start on
her journey, and spent a night on the way at Canneto with her kinswoman,
Antonia del Balzo, wife of Gianfrancesco Gonzaga of Bozzolo, who came to
meet her with two beautiful daughters. "Messer Andrea Mantegna himself,"
exclaimed the marchioness, "could not paint fairer maidens!" On the
12th, she reached Cremona, where Lodovico's cousin, Francesco Sforza,
was awaiting her, and a crowd of people hailed her arrival with
enthusiasm. After spending a night in the Episcopal palace, she went on
to Pizzighettone, where she discovered that her best hat had been
forgotten, and sent a messenger back to Mantua with the key of her black
chest, desiring one of her servants to look out her hat with the
jewelled feather and send it after her by a flying courier. On the 15th,
the Marchesana reached Pavia, where both the Duchesses of Milan and Bari
rode out to meet her, and placing her between them, after many embraces,
conducted her through the city. Here the two dukes and all the
ambassadors were awaiting her, and a troop of trumpeters and outriders
escorted the party up to the castle gates. That evening she supped alone
with Beatrice, and the hours flew by in delightful intercourse. Both
sisters were in the highest spirits, and Isabella anticipated the
greatest pleasure from her visit, only regretting that her husband had
not been able to accompany her.

"The only news here," she wrote next day to the marquis, "is the
election of this new Pope, which fills every one with great joy, and is
said to be entirely due to Monsignore Ascanio, who will, they say, be
the new Vice-Chancellor."

On the 25th of July, Innocent VIII. had breathed his last, and on the
6th of August, the conclave met to elect a new Pope. Among the
twenty-three Cardinals of which the Sacred College then consisted, three
were prominent candidates for the papal tiara. First of all there was
Cardinal Roderigo Borgia, the oldest and wealthiest of the group, who
held the three most important archbishoprics in Spain, as well as
innumerable benefices in the rest of Christendom, and whose scandalous
vices amid the general corruption of morals in Rome offered no bar to
his advancement to the chair of St. Peter. Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, the
rich and powerful brother of Lodovico Moro, was the second candidate
for the tiara; while the third was Giuliano della Rovere, Cardinal of
S. Pietro in Vincula, whose well-known French sympathies, as well as the
influential position which he had occupied in Rome under his uncle,
Sixtus IV., made him unpopular with most of his colleagues. When Ascanio
Sforza saw that he could not ensure his own election, he threw his whole
influence on the side of Borgia, who lavished his gold and promises
freely among the other members of the Sacred College, with the result
that he was elected on the 11th of August, and proclaimed Pope under the
title of Alexander VI. The secret Archives of the Vatican[28] give full
particulars of this election, which was obtained by the most flagrant
simony, and proved a prelude to the days of confusion and misery which
Fra Girolamo Savonarola, the Dominican of Florence, daily prophesied
were in store for the Church. Ascanio Sforza was the first to reap the
reward of his base compliance. The new Pope loaded him with favours, and
openly acknowledged his indebtedness both to him and Lodovico, while at
Milan the event was hailed with public rejoicings, and joy-bells and
solemn processions celebrated the accession of this pontiff, who was
destined to prove the most bitter enemy of the House of Sforza.

"Signor Lodovico," wrote the Ferrarese envoy, our old friend Giacomo
Trotti, to his master, "is in the highest spirits at the success of his
brother's efforts. Cardinal Ascanio is likely, people say, to administer
all the papal estates, and will be every bit as much pope as if he sat
in Alexander's chair."

Isabella's letters to her husband give the same impression. On the 19th
of August she wrote from Pavia--

"To-day I dined with Signor Lodovico and my sister in their rooms,
according to our usual habit of taking our meals together, sometimes in
my rooms, sometimes in theirs. After dinner he dismissed all the
company, excepting the Duke and Duchess of Milan, myself, and my
companions, whom Signor Lodovico invited to remain, and with his own
lips he read aloud a letter from his ambassador in Rome, saying that His
Highness had sent for him, and addressed him in the following terms:
'Take note of my words. I acknowledge that I have been made pope by the
action of Monsignore Ascanio, contrary to all expectations, and in a
truly miraculous manner. I mean to show myself the most grateful of
popes. It is my pleasure that he should sit in my chair, and dispose of
my spiritual and temporal estate as if I were myself,' with many other
affectionate words. Cardinal Ascanio has already received the first
proofs of his gratitude, since, besides the vice-chancellorship, the
Pope has given him his own furnished house in Rome, as well as the city
of Nepi, and many other things. And His Highness has already dined with
him in private.

"Besides this, Signor Lodovico read us a letter which the Pope had
written with his own hand to Monsignore Ascanio, complaining that he had
not seen him for half a day, a period which seemed to him more like a
thousand years, and begging him to come to him at once, since he had
many things of the utmost importance to settle with him. After
describing this interview, the said Monsignore went on to tell how
warmly His Holiness spoke of Signor Lodovico, saying that he was
determined to maintain the most cordial relations with His Highness, and
profit in all cases by his advice, and only wished that he were seated
in his chair. All of this, my dear lord, affords the court here reason
for the greatest rejoicings, and I have expressed both in word and
gesture the pleasure which your Highness and I take in these things,
because of our close union with Signor Lodovico."

The marchioness goes on to describe a hunting-party, in which the whole
court had taken part.

"Yesterday, about four o'clock, all of these lords and ladies rode out
with me to a place called S. Pirono, some four miles from Pavia, and had
fine sport. White tents were erected in the meadows on the edge of the
forest, and in the midst a _pergola_ of green boughs, under which the
duchess and I took our places, the duke and others, whether on horseback
or on foot, occupying other tents. One stag of the eight which were
found there, ran out of the wood, followed by eight of the Duke of
Bari's dogs. Messer Galeazzo galloped after it with a long spear, and
killed it before our eyes. To-morrow we dine at Belriguardo, and go on
to supper at Vigevano, where we expect my father, who is to arrive on
Thursday."

Duke Ercole had reached Pavia on the 4th of August, and had paid a
visit to the Certosa with his son-in-law, after which he returned to
Ferrara, where his presence was required, owing to urgent affairs of
State connected with the Pope's death. Now he once more joined his
daughters, accompanied by his son Alfonso and a troop of actors and
pages skilled in singing and reciting poetry. Among them was young
Ariosto, the bard of the Orlando Furioso, who was to celebrate the
praises of all the princely personages present at Pavia and Vigevano, in
his great poem, and who on this occasion probably met Leonardo for the
first time. _Fêtes_ and hunting-parties now succeeded each other every
day. Even the King of Naples' ambassadors went out hunting, and one of
them succeeded in wounding a wild boar. Isabella sent her husband
wonderful accounts of the thrilling adventures and splendid sport which
afforded the two sisters such unfeigned delight.

"To-day," she wrote on the 27th of August, "we went out hunting in a
beautiful valley which seemed as if it were expressly created for the
spectacle. All the stags were driven into the wooded valley of the
Ticino, and closed in on every side by the hunters, so that they were
forced to swim the river and ascend the mountains, where the ladies
watched them from under the _pergola_ and green tents set up on the
hillside. We could see every movement of the animals along the valley
and up the mountain-side, where the dogs chased them across the river;
but only two climbed the hillside and ran far out of sight, so that we
did not see them killed, but Don Alfonso and Messer Galeazzo both gave
them chase, and succeeded in wounding them. Afterwards came a doe with
its young one, which the dogs were not allowed to follow. Many wild
boars and goats were found, but only one boar was killed before our
eyes, and one wild goat, which fell to my share. Last of all came a
wolf, which made fine somersaults in the air as it ran past us, and
amused the whole company; but none of its arts availed the poor beast,
which soon followed its comrades to the slaughter. And so, with much
laughter and merriment, we returned home, to end the day at supper, and
give the body a share in the recreations of the mind."[29]

Four venison pasties were despatched to Mantua the next day as a
present to the marquis, whose absence from these expeditions his wife
never ceased to regret, and for whom, at least in these early years of
her married life, she had a genuine affection.

"All of these days," she writes on the 22nd, "I have been trying to
write to Your Highness, but have never been able to find time, as I am
always in my sister's and Signor Lodovico's company. Now I have at
length snatched a moment, and hasten to pay you a visit in mind, since I
cannot do so in person. For greater even than all the pleasures which I
am enjoying here, is the satisfaction I receive when I hear that you are
well and happy." A week later she wrote again: "It really seems an age
since I saw Your Highness, and, pleasant and delightful as it is here, I
begin to get a little tired of these scenes, but rejoice at the prospect
of paying a visit to Genoa before long." And in an affectionate letter
to her mother, she says that sometimes in the middle of the finest hunt
she remembers with a pang how long it is since she has seen her, and how
far away she is from Ferrara, and the thought throws a shadow over the
brightest sunshine and the gayest pastimes.

After a succession of boar hunts at Novara and Mortara, Lodovico and
Beatrice took their guests to Milan on the 15th of September, and
Isabella entered the capital on horseback between the two young
duchesses, while "the old Duchess Bona," she tells her husband, "and her
daughter Madonna Bianca, with many other ladies, were awaiting me in my
rooms in the Castello, the same suite which Signor Lodovico occupied at
the time of his wedding."

The duke's mother still remained at court, and occupied rooms in the
Castello, although she made no secret of her aversion for her powerful
brother-in-law, and was secretly intriguing against him with her nephew,
Charles VIII. At her request the French king wrote a letter to Lodovico,
desiring him to give the duchess's mother leave to come to France for
his wife Anne of Brittany's confinement. But the Moro, fearing the
effect of Bona's presence at the French court, courteously declined
Charles's invitation, alleging as an excuse the fact that both Bona's
daughter-in-law, the Duchess Isabella, and her young sister-in-law, his
own wife Beatrice, were expecting similar events early in the next
year, while her daughter Bianca was of marriageable age and needed her
mother's protection. At Milan new pleasures awaited Isabella. Theatrical
representations in honour of Duke Ercole, were given by the Delle Torre
family and other noble houses, and Isabella spent long days with her
sister in the park and beautiful gardens of the Castello, among the
roses and fountains which Lodovico loved. He was never tired of
beautifying and enlarging the grounds, which now extended three miles
round the Castello, and sent to Mantua for a pair of swans to adorn the
lake, saying how much he liked to watch the movements of these
white-plumed birds upon the water. To his sister-in-law, as Isabella
always repeated in her letters, the Moro showed himself the kindest and
most generous of hosts, and was unwearied in providing for her
amusements and gratification.

"To-day," she writes on the evening after her arrival at Milan, "Signor
Lodovico showed me the treasure, which Your Highness saw when you were
last here, but which has lately received the addition of two large
chests full of ducats, and another full of gold quartz about two and a
half feet square. Would to God that we, who are so fond of spending
money, possessed as much!"[30]

After which characteristic expression, the Marchesana proceeds to tell
her lord that the date of her departure for Genoa has been fixed for the
last day of September, and to describe her brother-in-law's preparations
for the visit. Before her departure, he made a splendid present, which
she describes in a letter written on the 20th of September. "Yesterday
Signor Lodovico sent me, with the Duchess of Milan and Bari, to look at
some sumptuous brocades which he had seen in the house of one of the
richest merchants here. When we came home, he asked me which I
considered the finest. I replied that what I had most admired was a
certain gold and silver tissue embroidered with the twin towers of the
lighthouse in the port of Genoa, bearing the Spanish motto, _Tal
trabalio mes plases par tal thesauros non perder_."

The Moro praised her good taste, saying that he had already had a
_camora_, or robe, made for his wife of this material, and begged her
to accept fifteen yards of the same stuff, and wear it for his sake.

"This brocade," wrote Isabella joyfully to her husband, "is worth at
least forty ducats a yard!" And without delay she sent for a tailor to
cut out the gown, in order that she might wear it once before she left
Milan.

The Marchesino Stanga and Count Girolamo Tuttavilla were chosen to
escort Isabella to Genoa, where she was received in state by the
governor Adorno, and splendidly entertained at the Casa Spinola by the
chief citizens. Beatrice's delicate state of health had prevented her
from accompanying her sister on this journey, but she still persisted in
taking long hunting expeditions, and one day when she and the Moro were
staying at Cuzzago, encountered a savage boar which had already wounded
several greyhounds.

"My wife," wrote the Moro to his sister-in-law, "came suddenly face to
face with this furious beast, and herself gave it the first wound, after
which Messer Galeazzo and I followed suit, so that the boar must have
had great pleasure in feeling how much trouble it had given us and to
what dangers its hunters had been exposed."

The result of this long and fatiguing hunting expedition was that
Beatrice fell seriously ill. Lodovico was much alarmed, and sent daily
bulletins both to his sister-in-law and to her mother at Ferrara. "There
is no fresh news to give you here," he wrote on the 6th of October. "My
whole days are spent at the bedside of my dear wife, endeavouring to
distract her thoughts and amuse her mind as best I can during her
illness."

Isabella, who had intended to return home from Genoa, hurried back to
Milan at the news of her sister's illness, and did not leave her until
she was convalescent. During these weeks Lodovico showed himself the
most devoted and attentive of husbands, and his letters to Isabella are
full of the practical jokes and witty dialogues and repartees with which
he and Messer Galeazzo amused the duchess. The following letter affords
a characteristic specimen of the kind of fooling which these great
Renaissance lords and ladies carried on at the expense of the
half-witted jesters and buffoons who were attached to their different
households:--


"DEAR SISTER AND MOST ILLUSTRIOUS AND EXCELLENT LADY,

"You know what good sport we had in the wild boar-hunts at which you
were present this last summer. Poor Mariolo, you remember, could not be
there, first because he was ill at Milan, and afterwards because he was
required to keep my wife company during her illness, and was much
distressed to have been absent from these expeditions, when he heard
that even the king's ambassadors had wounded a wild boar. And he told us
all what great things he would have done, had he only been present. Now
that my dearest wife is better, and begins to be able to go out-of-doors
again, I thought we would have a little fun at his expense. Some wolves
and wild goats having been driven into a wood near La Pecorara, which,
as you know, is about a mile from here, on the way to La Sforzesca,
Cardinal Sanseverino had a common farm pig shut up in the same
enclosure, and the next day we went out hunting, and took Mariolo with
us. While we hunted the wolves and wild goats, we left the pig to him,
and he, taking it for a wild boar, chased it with a great hue and cry
along the woods. If your Highness could only have seen him running after
this pig, you would have died of laughter, the more so that he gallantly
tried to spear it three times over, and only succeeded in touching its
side once. And seeing how proud he was of his prowess, we said to him,
'Don't you know, Mariolo, that you have been hunting a tame pig?' He
stood dumb with astonishment, and stared as if he did not know what we
could mean, and so we all came home infinitely amused, and every one
asked Mariolo if he did not know the difference between a wild boar and
a tame pig!

                                   "Your brother,
                                           LODOVICO MARIA SFORTIA.[31]

Vigevano, December 6, 1492."

The most remarkable thing about these letters is that a prince who was
engaged in so much and varied business, who himself conducted a vast
correspondence in which the most intricate diplomatic questions of the
day were involved with his envoys at the different European courts, and
personally superintended every detail of administration, while at the
same time he gave minute instructions to the hundreds of architects,
sculptors, and painters in his service, should have found time to write
these bantering epistles to his sister-in-law. One of these letters, for
instance, is devoted to a long account of the jokes that passed between
Messer Galeazzo and the duchess at table, how Messer Galeazzo begged to
be allowed a taste of the duchess's soup, and complained that he was
forgotten now that the Marchesana was no longer there, and how Beatrice
told him she would write and tell her sister, to which he replied, "Tell
her whatever you like, as long as I get my soup!"

Yet at this very moment, when he penned these joking letters to
Isabella, Lodovico was engaged in some of the most difficult and anxious
negotiations with other States.

During Ercole d'Este's visit, the question of sending the customary
congratulations to the new Pope had been discussed, and Lodovico had
suggested that the ambassadors of the four allied powers--Milan, Naples,
Florence, and Ferrara--should send a joint deputation, both as a mark of
special honour to His Holiness, and as a public manifesto to foreign
powers of the strength of these united States. The step, he was
confident, would produce a good effect both on the King of the Romans
and Charles VIII. of France, whose designs on Italy were already
exciting alarm. Both the Duke of Ferrara and King Ferrante, who had been
consulted through his ambassadors, when they came to hunt at Vigevano,
agreed readily to Lodovico's proposal, and the only person to raise
objections was Piero de' Medici, who had lately succeeded his father as
chief magistrate of Florence, and pretended to the same power. The death
of his friend Lorenzo had been sincerely deplored by Lodovico, who,
before many months had passed, began to discover how weak and
contemptible a character his son possessed, and had already consulted
his astrologer as to the influence which this young man would have upon
his own fortunes. Now the vain and foolish youth refused to join in the
proposed embassy to the Vatican, because he wished to appear alone
before Alexander VI. and impress that new Pope by the magnificence of
his apparel and retinue. Not content with frustrating the Moro's plan,
Piero induced King Ferrante to withdraw his consent to the joint
deputation, a step which did not tend to improve the strained relations
that had existed for some time past between Naples and Milan. Cardinal
Giuliano della Rovere had retired to Ostia in disgust at the election of
the Borgia Pope, leaving Ascanio Sforza all powerful at the Vatican, and
the Pope availed himself of every occasion to show his friendship for
Lodovico. Already a marriage had been proposed between Alexander's
daughter Lucrezia Borgia and Giovanni Sforza, Prince of Pesaro, and the
King of Naples looked with alarm on the friendly relations that existed
between the Holy See and Milan. "Alexander VI.," said Ferrante,
bitterly, "has no respect for the Holy Church, and cares for nothing but
the aggrandisement of his own family. Rome will soon become a Milanese
camp."

But while Lodovico Sforza looked with suspicion on the intrigues of
Ferrante's son Alfonso, and was anxious to strengthen his alliance with
other powers, he had as yet no thought of inviting the French to invade
Italy. On the contrary, the whole tenor of his private letters and
public despatches was marked by the same anxiety to maintain cordial
relations with the different Italian states, in order that they might
present a united front to foreign enemies. However friendly were his
advances to the King of France, he had never by word or hint given him
the slightest encouragement to invade Italy or assert his claim to the
crown of Naples. It was only when he saw peace restored between Charles
and Maximilian, on the one hand, and on the other a treaty of alliance
concluded between the Pope and the King of Naples, that he began to
tremble for his own safety, and suddenly changed his policy. But for the
moment counsels of peace prevailed, and the ambitious Moro could look
forward with hope and confidence to the coming year, that promised to
bring him new joys, and perchance the fulfilment of his long-cherished
desire, in the birth of a son and heir.

FOOTNOTES:

[28] Pastor's "History of the Popes," vol. v. p. 383, etc.

[29] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 350, etc.

[30] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 356.

[31] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 361.



CHAPTER XIV

Birth of Beatrice's first-born son--The Duchess of Ferrara at
Milan--_Fêtes_ and rejoicings at court and in the Castello--The court
moves to Vigevano--Beatrice's wardrobe--Her son's portrait--Letters to
her mother and sister--Lodovico's plans for a visit to Ferrara and
Venice.

1493


On the 25th of January, at four o'clock on a winter's afternoon,
Beatrice gave birth to a son in the Rocchetta of the castle of Milan.

"Signor Lodovico's joy at the birth of his first-born son is beyond all
description," wrote Giacomo Trotti to his master, Duke Ercole. Duchess
Leonora was present on the occasion, and herself announced the happy
event in a letter to her daughter Isabella, who promptly sent a special
envoy with her congratulations to the Duke of Bari and her sister. A
fortnight before, Leonora had set out for Pavia, where Trotti had been
sent to meet her, and crowds shouting _Moro! Moro!_ had everywhere
hailed her arrival. Three days later, she reached Milan in time to make
the last preparations before the birth of her grandson. The child, a
fine healthy boy, received the name of Ercole, in compliment to his
grandfather, the Duke of Ferrara, but was afterwards called Maximilian,
when the emperor became his godfather after his marriage to Bianca
Sforza. The auspicious event was hailed with public rejoicings. The
bells rang for six days, and solemn processions were held, and
thanksgivings offered up in all the churches and abbeys of the Milanese.
Prisoners for debt were released, and the advent of the new-born prince
was celebrated with as great honour as if his father had been the
reigning duke. Already some of the courtiers attached to Giangaleazzo's
household began to whisper that the birth of Francesco, the little Count
of Pavia, two years before, had been celebrated with far less pomp. But
in the same week Duchess Isabella, who was residing in the _Corte
ducale_ of the Castello, gave birth to a daughter, who received the name
of Bona, so that, as Lodovico informed the foreign ambassadors, there
was double cause for rejoicings.

Full and elaborate details of the ceremonies observed on this occasion,
and of the splendid _fêtes_ that attended the recovery of the two
duchesses, were sent to Isabella d'Este at Mantua by her mother's maid
of honour, Teodora degli Angeli. Every particular of the decorations in
the rooms of the Castello, the colour of the hangings and the draperies
of the cradle, the gowns worn by the different princesses at their
successive appearances in public, was faithfully reported for Isabella's
benefit. On the eve of the young prince's birth, the sumptuous cradle
and layette prepared for his reception were shown to the Ambassadors,
chief magistrates, and nobles of Milan, and displayed on tables covered
with gold and crimson brocade, lined with Spanish cat, in the Sala del
Tesoro, adjoining Beatrice's rooms. All through the next fortnight
costly gifts for the young duchess and her new-born babe were received
from the magistrates of Milan and the chief towns of the duchy, and
principal courtiers. On Sunday, the 4th of February, the ambassadors,
councillors, magistrates and court officials, together with many noble
Milanese ladies, were invited to present their congratulations to
Beatrice, and that evening the gifts presented to her were publicly
displayed in the Sala del Tesoro. The doors of the shelves along the
walls were thrown open, and the splendid gold and silver plate, the
massive jars, bowls, vases, and dishes, which they contained, were
ranged in tiers on a stand, protected by iron bars and guarded by two
men-at-arms wearing ducal liveries. The seneschal of Lodovico's
household, Ambrogio da Corte, received the guests at the doors of the
Rocchetta, paying each of them the honours due to his rank, and
conducted them to the Sala del Tesoro. There they were received by
stewards clad in silver brocade, who led them through a suite of rooms
adorned with gilded columns and hung with white damask curtains richly
embroidered with equestrian figures and other Sforzesque devices, into
the presence of the duchess. This chamber was still more richly
decorated than the others. "Indeed, it is calculated," writes the
admiring maid of honour, "that the tapestries and hangings here are
worth 70,000 ducats." Two pages guarded the doors, and within, near the
fireplace, Duchess Leonora sat at her daughter's bedside, accompanied by
two or three ladies. Beatrice's own couch was gorgeously adorned with
draperies of mulberry colour and gold, and a crimson canopy bearing the
names of Lodovico and Beatrice in massive gold, with red and white
rosettes and a fringe of golden balls which alone was valued at 8000
ducats.

"All," exclaimed Teodora--"_bello e galante_, beyond words!"[32]

After paying their respects to the illustrious mother, the guests passed
on into the room of the new-born child--_la camera del Puttino_. Here
the walls were hung with brocades of the Sforza colours, red, white, and
blue, and tapestries, embroidered with all manner of beasts and birds
and fantastic designs. But the golden cradle itself, which had been made
in Milan, was the most beautiful thing of all, with its four slender
columns and pale blue silk canopy enriched with gold cords and fringes.
"Truly rich and elegant beyond anything that I have ever seen!" writes
the ecstatic maid of honour, whose eyes were fairly dazzled by the sight
of all these splendours, and who, as she told Isabella, was lost in
wonder and admiration at the magnificence of the Milanese court. After a
glimpse of the royal infant, sleeping under his coverlid of cloth of
gold, watched over by Beatrice's ladies, the visitors were conducted
into Signor Lodovico's hall of audience, where he received the
ambassadors and chief councillors, and through the adjoining room,
occupied by his favourite astrologer, Messer Ambrogio da
Rosate--"without whom nothing can be done here," remarks Teodora--back
to the entrance hall, where the seneschal was in waiting to escort them
to the gates.

Messer Ambrogio, as Teodora opined, had to be consulted before the
duchess was allowed to leave her bed. This was on Wednesday, the 24th of
February, on which day both the royal ladies issued from their rooms at
the same hour. "Now at length," wrote the lively maid of honour to
Isabella, "I am able to inform your Highness that the illustrious
Madonna your sister has left her room, and those poor tormented souls
whose task it has been for so many nights to bring in shawls to spread
over the presents, are at last freed from their labours."

That same day, both the young duchesses went in state to S. Maria delle
Grazie, to return thanks and praise to God for the birth of their
children. The royal ladies rode in the Duchess of Ferrara's chariot, a
sumptuous carriage hung with purple, and were accompanied by Leonora
herself and five other Sforza princesses--Alfonso d'Este's wife, Anna;
Duke Giangaleazzo's sister, Bianca Sforza; Signor Lodovico's daughter,
Bianca, the youthful bride of Galeazzo Sanseverino; Madonna
Beatrice--Niccolo da Correggio's mother--and Madonna Camilla Sforza of
Pesaro. The toilettes worn on this occasion were exceptionally rich, as
Teodora relates. "Our Madonna, Duchess Leonora, wore black, as usual,
but was very gallantly adorned with her finest jewels. The Duchess of
Bari had a lovely vest of gold brocade worked in red and blue silk, and
a blue silk mantle trimmed with long-haired fur, and her hair coiled as
usual in a silken net. Duchess Isabella wore gold brocade and green
velvet enriched with crimson cords and silver thread, and a mantle of
crimson velvet lined with grey silk. Both ladies were covered with
jewels. Madonna Anna's _camora_ was of cloth-of-gold with crimson
sleeves, lined with fur and edged with gold fringe. One fine invention
which I noticed was a new trimming made of grey lamb's wool, but there
was no end to the variety of colours and fringes or to the beauty of the
jewels."

After hearing a solemn Te Deum and other canticles very beautifully sung
by the choir of the ducal chapel, the whole party drove to the house of
Count Della Torre, who entertained the dukes and duchesses, ambassadors
and councillors, and all the chief gentlemen and ladies of the court at
a splendid banquet. On the following day the duchesses and princesses
were entertained at a feast given by Niccolo's mother, Madonna Beatrice,
in her rooms in the Castello, and appeared in fresh costumes and still
more splendid jewels. On Friday no _fête_ was given, but most of the
youthful princes and princesses went out hunting in the park, and three
stags were killed in the course of the day. Beatrice appeared in a
riding-habit of rose-tinted cloth, and a large jewel instead of a
feather in her silk hat, and rode on a black horse. Madonna Anna wore
black and gold, with a pearl-embroidered crimson hat, and her sister
Bianca also appeared on horseback, while Duchess Leonora spent the day
with old Duchess Bona in her rooms.

On Saturday a _fête_ was given at the house of Gaspare di Pusterla.
Beatrice looked particularly charming with a feather of rubies in her
hair, and a crimson satin robe embroidered with a pattern of knots and
compasses and many ribbons, "after her favourite fashion," adds Teodora.
It is these very ribbons that we still see to-day, both in the few
portraits that we have of the short-lived duchess, and in the marble
effigy upon her tomb. Isabella of Aragon appeared on this occasion, in a
gown embroidered with books and letters, a favourite device of
Renaissance ladies; while Anna Sforza was all in white, "because it was
Saturday," explained Teodora, and she had vowed to wear no colours on
that day for a certain number of weeks. This was a common practice with
many Italian princesses who had lately recovered from illness or given
birth to a child, and one to which we find frequent allusion in the
correspondence of Isabella d'Este. On Saturday all the court attended
high mass at S. Maria delle Grazie, and a last entertainment was given,
this time by Duchess Beatrice herself, in the Rocchetta.

The next day, Lodovico took his wife and mother-in-law, with the Duchess
of Milan and their other guests, to Vigevano, to enjoy a little rest and
country air. But here fresh amusements awaited them, and the splendour
of Beatrice's wardrobe and the treasures of her _camerini_ filled the
Ferrarese visitors with wonder and envy. On the 6th of March, Bernardo
Prosperi wrote to tell Isabella that our Madonna had been conducted by
the jester Mariolo over Beatrice's "_guardaroba_," and had seen all the
splendid gowns, pelisses, and mantles which had been made for her during
the last two years, about eighty-four in all, "besides many more," adds
the writer, "which your sister the duchess has in Milan." The costliness
of the materials, and the rich and intricate embroidery which covered
satins and brocades, made Leonora exclaim that she felt as if she were
in a sacristy looking at priests' vestments and altar frontals. After
examining all of these fine clothes, the duchess was taken into two
other _camerini_, where Beatrice, after the fashion of great ladies in
those days, had collected her favourite books and _object d'art_. One
cabinet was full of Murano glass of delicate shape and colour, of
porcelain dishes, and majolica from Faenza or Gubbio. Another held
ivories, crystals, and enamels engraved in the same style as Lodovico's
vases in the treasury at Milan. Perfumes and washes filled another case,
while a separate cabinet was devoted to hunting implements, dog-collars,
pouches, flasks, horns, knives, and hoods for falcons. "There was,
indeed," added Duchess Leonora's attendant, "enough to fill many shops."

The evenings at Vigevano were enlivened with music and singing, and, by
Lodovico's orders, a band of Spanish musicians who had been sent from
Rome to Milan by his brother, Cardinal Ascanio, came to play before
Beatrice and her mother, who both admired the sweet strains of their
large viols, and examined the shape and size of their instruments with
curiosity. On Sunday theatrical representations were given, and Beatrice
appeared in a wonderful new gown made of gold-striped cloth, with a
crimson vest laced with fine silver thread "arranged," wrote an admiring
lady-in-waiting, "in the most graceful fashion. This your sister wore,"
she adds, "because it was Carnival Sunday; but even now, although Lent
has begun for most of us, Carnival is not yet over for these highnesses,
since Signor Lodovico and his duchess, Messer Galeazzo, the Duke and
Duchess of Milan, and many of their courtiers, have received
dispensations from Rome to eat meat all the same."[33]

Meanwhile Beatrice's little son was growing into a strong healthy child,
and her letters are full of the beauty and perfections of her precious
babe. Again and again, in her notes to Isabella, she talks of "my son
Ercole," with all a young mother's proud delight.

"I cannot tell you," she writes to her sister, "how well Ercole is
looking, and how big and plump he has grown lately. Each time I see him
after a few days' absence, I am amazed and delighted to see how much he
has grown and improved, and I often wish that you could be here to see
him, as I am quite sure you would never be able to stop petting and
kissing him."

Isabella, on her part, wrote warmly to her sister in return, saying how
much she longed to see her beautiful boy--"_il suo bello puttino_" and
"not only to see him, but to hold him in my arms and enjoy his company
after my own fashion."

Duchess Leonora returned to Ferrara at the end of another week, and one
of Beatrice's first anxieties was to have a portrait of her child
painted for her mother. On the 16th of April, she wrote from her
favourite country house Villa Nova, where she had brought the babe to
enjoy the sweet spring air--


MOST ILLUSTRIOUS MADAMA MINE, AND DEAREST MOTHER,

"Your Highness must forgive my delay in writing to you. The reason was
that every day I have been hoping the painter would bring me the
portrait of Ercole, which my husband and I now send you by this post.
And, I can assure you, he is much bigger than this picture makes him
appear, for it is already more than a week since it was painted. But I
do not send the measure of his height, because people here tell me if I
measure him he will never grow! Or else I certainly would let you have
it. And my lord and I, both of us, commend ourselves to your Highness,
and I kiss your hand, my dearest mother.

                                   "Your obedient servant and child,
                                             BEATRICE SFORTIA DA ESTE,
                                               with _my own_ hand.[34]

To the most illustrious Lady my dearest Mother,
Signora Duchessa di Ferrara."

The baby's portrait was forwarded to Mantua for Isabella's inspection,
together with a letter from her mother, saying--

"I enclose a drawing which has been sent to us from Milan, to show how
well our grandson thrives, and certainly, if we have been already told
how flourishing he is, this gives us a living witness to his beauty and
well-being. And if you ask me whether the portrait is a good one, I need
only tell you who has sent it and who is the master who has done this
drawing, and then I am sure you will be satisfied."

Leonora's words excite our wonder as to who the artist could be whose
name of itself would be enough to satisfy Isabella of the excellence of
the work. As Signor Luzio has already remarked,[35] it is impossible to
read these words without thinking that Leonardo must have been the
artist employed by Lodovico on this occasion to take a sketch of his
infant son. But the drawing of Ercole has vanished, and the painter's
name remains unknown.

Another name which recurs frequently in Beatrice's letters to both her
mother and sister at this time, is that of a Spanish embroiderer, named
Maestro Jorba, noted for his rare skill, who was in the service of the
Duchess of Ferrara, and was left by her at Vigevano in April, to design
hangings and gowns for Lodovico's wife. On the 14th of March, Jorba was
sent back to Ferrara with a letter from Beatrice to her mother,
expressing her satisfaction with his work; and in April, Leonora sent
her a new design for a _camora_ which the clever Spaniard had invented.

"I have to-night," wrote Beatrice in reply, "received the design of the
_camora_ made by Jorba, which I admire very much, and have just shown it
to my embroiderer, as your Highness advised. He remarks that the flowers
of the pattern are all the same size, and since the _camora_ will
naturally be cut narrower above than below, the flowers ought to be
altered in the same proportion. I have not yet decided what will be the
best thing to do, but thought I would tell you what Schavezi says, and
wait to hear what you advise, and then do whatever you think best."

Later in the same year, we find Maestro Jorba once more at Milan,
working for Duchess Beatrice, much to the annoyance of her sister
Isabella, who was anxious to secure the services of the skilful
embroiderer, and offered him a salary of two hundred ducats a year if he
would settle at Mantua. Jorba, however, seems to have preferred to
remain at Ferrara, and only paid occasional visits to the princesses of
Este at Milan and Mantua.

Throughout April, all the tailors and embroiderers, goldsmiths and
jewellers, in Beatrice's service were busy making preparations for a
visit which their mistress was shortly to pay to her old home. Before
Leonora left Vigevano the Moro had promised to bring his wife and child
to Ferrara in May, and had decided to send Beatrice to Venice, with her
mother Duchess Leonora, who was going to spend a few days with her son
Alfonso and his wife, at the palace of the Estes on the Canal Grande. He
had further intimated his intention of paying a visit to his
sister-in-law at Mantua on the way. Isabella, who had just accepted an
invitation from the Doge, Agostino Barbarigo, to visit Venice for the
Feast of the Ascension, was somewhat dismayed when the news reached her,
and looked forward with no little alarm to the prospect of entertaining
her splendid brother-in-law. She wrote off without delay to consult her
husband on the subject--

"Madama sends me word that Signor Lodovico has decided to visit Ferrara
in May, and gives me the list of the company who are to attend him,
which I enclose for you to see. For my part I can hardly believe it, but
shall be sorry if I am at Venice when such _fêtes_ are being held at
Ferrara. Your Highness must decide what you think is best for the honour
of our house, since when I was at Milan Signor Lodovico told me that if
he came to Ferrara he would visit Mantua on the way. No doubt you will
do what seems to be most prudent, and will let me know your wishes. But
perhaps I may be mistaken.[36]

"Mantua, 9th of April, 1493."

Isabella was still more disturbed when she heard that Lodovico intended
to send his wife to Venice. Her pride shrank from the bare notion of
appearing before the Doge and Senate at the same time as her sister,
whose sumptuous apparel and numerous suite she felt herself unable to
rival. "Nothing in the world," she wrote to Gianfrancesco, who was then
at Venice as captain-general of the Republic's forces, "will induce me
to go to Venice at the same time as my sister the duchess."

And she insisted on her desire to appear before the Doge, not as a guest
and foreign visitor, but as a daughter and servant, begging that she
might be treated without any pomp or ceremony.

Fortunately, whether from political motives, or from his usual
attention to his astrologer's advice, Lodovico deferred his visit to
Ferrara until the middle of May, and himself wrote a courteous letter to
Isabella, expressing his regret that he would after all be unable to
accept her invitation to Mantua, since he found himself obliged to visit
Parma. The marchioness, thus happily relieved from her fears, set off
for Ferrara on the 4th of May, and proceeded to Venice a week later,
having doubled the number of her retinue, and strained every nerve to
present an appearance which should not offer too marked a contrast with
Beatrice's regal splendours.

FOOTNOTES:

[32] L. Porrò in A. S. L., ix. 327.

[33] Porrò, _op. cit._, p. 330.

[34] A. Venturi in A. S. L., xii. 227.

[35] Archivio Storico Lombardo, xvii. 368.

[36] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 365.



CHAPTER XV

Lodovico's ambitious designs--Isabella of Aragon appeals to her
father--Breach between Naples and Milan--Alliance between the Pope,
Venice, and Milan proclaimed--Mission of Erasmo Brasca to the king of
the Romans--Journey of Lodovico and Beatrice to Ferrara--_Fêtes_ and
tournaments--Visit to Belriguardo, and return of Lodovico to
Milan--Arrival of Belgiojoso from France.

1493


The birth of Beatrice's son marks a new development in her husband's
policy. Up to that time the Moro seems to have been content to govern in
his nephew's name, and had rejected with horror King Ferrante's
suggestion that he should depose Gian Galeazzo as incapable, and reign
in his stead. But whether it was that Beatrice in her turn had become
ambitious to bear the title of Duchess of Milan and see her son
recognized as heir to the crown, or whether the birth of his son stirred
up new desires in her lord's breast, it is certain that the spring of
1493 was a turning-point in Lodovico's career. From this time he began
to aim at reigning in his nephew's stead, and applied himself in good
earnest to obtain legal recognition of his title. In the first place,
the birth of Ercole, and the extraordinary honours paid to the child and
his mother on this occasion, had the effect of exasperating Isabella of
Aragon, and exciting new and bitter rivalry between herself and
Beatrice. Gian Galeazzo, sunk in idle pleasures and debauchery, had long
ceased to take any interest in the government of Milan, or to show the
least wish to assert himself. He was recognized on all hands as
altogether unfit to rule--in the words of the historian Guicciardini,
"_incapacissimo_." But with his wife it was different. In public she
controlled her rage and appeared with her cousin at _fêtes_ and state
ceremonies, but in private she wept bitter tears. Already her father,
Alfonso, Duke of Calabria, had begged his sister Duchess Leonora and her
husband to try and induce Lodovico to restore the Duke and Duchess of
Milan to their rightful position, and the good duchess, who was on
friendly terms with Bona of Savoy and with her own niece, Isabella of
Aragon, did all in her power to soften the rivalry between the two young
princesses. But after her departure from Milan, Isabella's ill-concealed
anger broke out, and, according to Corio, she wrote the memorable Latin
letter to her father.

"It was then," writes the Milanese chronicler, "that the duchess, being
a princess of great spirit, refused to endure the humiliations to which
she and her husband were exposed, and wrote to Alfonso her father, after
this manner: 'Many years have passed, my father, since you first wedded
me to Gian Galeazzo, on the understanding that he would in due time
succeed to the sceptre of his father and ascend the throne of Galeazzo
and Francesco Sforza and of his Visconti ancestors. He is now of age and
is himself a father; but he is not yet in possession of his dominions,
and can only obtain the actual necessaries of life from the hands of
Lodovico and his ministers. It is Lodovico who administers the state,
treats of war and peace, confirms the laws, grants privileges, imposes
taxes, hears petitions, and raises money. Everything is in his power,
while we are left without friends or money, and are reduced to live as
private persons. Not Gian Galeazzo, but Lodovico, is recognized as lord
of the kingdom. He places prefects in the castles, raises military
forces, appoints magistrates, and discharges all the duties of a prince.
He is, in fact, the true duke. His wife has lately borne him a son, who
every one prophesies will soon be called Count of Pavia, and will
succeed to the dukedom, and royal honours were paid him at his birth,
while we and our children are treated with contempt, and it is not
without risk to our lives that we remain under the roof of the palace,
from which he would remove us in his envious hatred, leaving me widowed
and desolate, destitute of help and friends. But I have still spirit and
courage of my own; the people regard us with compassion, and look upon
him with hatred and curses, because he has robbed them of their gold to
satisfy his greed. I am not able to contend with men, and am forced to
suffer every kind of humiliation. There is no one here to whom I can
speak, for even our servants are given us by him. But if you have any
fatherly compassion, if a spark of royal or noble feeling still lives in
your heart, if love of me and the sight of my tears can move your soul,
I implore you to come to our help, and deliver your daughter and
son-in-law from the fear of slavery, and restore them once more to their
rightful kingdom. But if you will not help us, I would rather die by my
own hands than bear the yoke of strangers, which would be a still
greater evil than to allow a rival to reign in my place.'"

This letter was probably composed by the historian, but there is no
doubt that it reproduces the wronged duchess's sentiments, and that
Corio does not exaggerate the effect which his daughter's indignant
appeal produced upon Alfonso. "Shall we suffer our own blood to be
despised?" he is said to have exclaimed, when he called upon his father
to avenge his daughter's wrong, and at the same time pointed out how
fraught with danger to the realm of Naples was the existence of so
powerful and independent a prince as Lodovico. But the old king
preferred to have recourse to his usual expedients of cunning and
intrigue, and while he employed every artifice to undermine Lodovico's
influence both at the other courts of Italy and in France, he sent
ambassadors to congratulate the Moro on his son's birth, and only
expostulated in a friendly manner with his kinsman. Lodovico himself,
however, was too astute not to see the dangers which threatened him, and
he became doubly anxious to form a close alliance with the Pope, and
with his old enemies the Signory of Venice. Early in 1493, Alexander
VI., now Lodovico Sforza's firm friend, proposed a new alliance between
himself, Milan, and Venice to the Doge and Senate, and Count Caiazzo was
sent by Lodovico to negotiate the terms of the treaty, which was to hold
good for twenty-five years, and had for its express object the
maintenance of the peace of Italy. Ferrara and Mantua both joined the
new league, which was solemnly proclaimed at Venice on St. Mark's day,
when, after high mass, the Doge conferred the honour of knighthood on
Taddeo Vimercati, the Milanese ambassador, and the banners of Milan and
of the Pope were borne in procession round the Piazza.

In order to confirm the alliance, Lodovico not only agreed to visit
Ferrara in May, but also decided to send his wife at the head of an
embassy to Venice, as a proof of his friendship for his new allies. Four
experienced councillors, Count Girolamo Tuttavilla, Galeazzo Visconti,
Angelo Talenti, and Pietro Landriano, were chosen to accompany her, and
an elaborate paper of secret directions was drawn up by Lodovico
himself, dated the 10th of May. On the same day a still more important
paper of instructions was delivered by the Moro to Erasmo Brasca, the
envoy whom he sent that week to Germany. This agent was instructed to
lay two proposals before Maximilian, King of the Romans. In the first
place, he was to offer him the hand of Bianca Maria Sforza, the Duke of
Milan's sister, with the enormous dowry of 400,000 ducats. In the
second, he was to ask Maximilian, on Lodovico's behalf, for a renewal of
the investiture of Milan, formerly granted to the Visconti dukes, but
never obtained by the three princes of the house of Sforza. As, on the
extinction of the Visconti race, the fief ought to have returned to the
empire, it was in the emperor's power to bestow the duchy upon Lodovico,
whose title would thus be rendered perfectly legal, while Gian Galeazzo
would become the usurper, he himself, his father, and grandfather having
only held the dukedom by right of a popular election, which had never
been confirmed by the emperor. This, then, was the proposal which the
Moro secretly made to Maximilian, whose father, the Emperor Frederic
III., was at the time still living, but was known to be in very failing
health. The King of the Romans was by no means insensible to the
advantages of an alliance with the powerful Regent of Milan, or to the
large dowry which Bianca Maria would bring with her to replenish his
empty coffers. Some objections were raised by the German princes, who
chose to consider this marriage with a Sforza princess beneath the
imperial dignity, but Maximilian himself readily consented to all
Lodovico's conditions, and promised to grant him the investiture of the
duchy of Milan as soon as he succeeded his father, only stipulating
that this part of the agreement should be kept secret for the present.
The royal bridegroom was to receive three hundred thousand ducats as
Bianca's dowry, while the remaining hundred thousand, which represented
the tribute dues on the investiture of the duchy, as an imperial fief,
were to be paid when this part of the transaction was accomplished.

Meanwhile Maximilian had already entered into negotiations with Charles
VIII., who, in his anxiety to undertake the expedition of Naples, was
ready to make any sacrifices in other directions; and on the 15th of May
the Treaty of Senlis was concluded between the two monarchs. Lodovico's
ambassador, Belgiojoso, accompanied the French king to Senlis, and kept
his master fully informed of all that happened at court. But while the
Moro had repeatedly assured Charles of his friendly intentions, he had
hitherto prudently abstained from offering any device as to the young
king's warlike designs against Naples, and had, it was well known,
opposed them. When in March, Charles VIII. had begged him, as a personal
favour, to send him his son-in-law, Galeazzo di Sanseverino, of whose
knightly prowess he had heard so much, in order that he might confer
with this distinguished captain on military questions, Lodovico
absolutely refused to consent, fearing the suspicions which Messer
Galeazzo's presence at the French court might excite.

Such was the state of political affairs when, on the 18th of May, 1493,
Lodovico and Beatrice, with their infant son, arrived at Ferrara. They
spent the night before their arrival at the palazzo Trotti, in the
suburbs, and on the following morning entered the town by the bridge of
Castel Tealde. After riding in state up the Via Grande and the Via degli
Sablioni to the Castello they visited the Duomo, attended mass, and made
an offering at the altar. The Piazza was decorated with green boughs and
bright draperies, and crowds thronged the streets, shouting "_Moro!
Moro!_" as the young duchess rode by in all her bravery, escorted by her
brother Alfonso and Madonna Anna, who had ridden out to meet her, with a
gay company of Ferrarese lords and ladies. That day Beatrice wore the
_camora_ of wonderful crimson brocade, embroidered with the lighthouse
towers of the port of Genoa, and a velvet cap studded with big pearls,
"as large as are Madama's very largest gems," wrote the faithful
Prosperi to Isabella d'Este, "as well as five splendid rubies."

On this occasion Lodovico was determined to dazzle the eyes of the world
by his splendour, and the robes and jewels of Beatrice were the wonder
of Ferrara and Venice. Ten chariots and fifty mules laden with baggage
followed in their train, and Prosperi describes one marvellous new
_camora_, which Beatrice brought with her, embroidered with Lodovico's
favourite device of the caduceus worked in large pearls, rubies, and
diamonds, with one big diamond at the top. Not to be outdone by her
sister-in-law, Madonna Anna appeared in a crimson and grey satin robe,
adorned with letters of massive gold, and borrowed her mother-in-law's
finest pearls for the occasion, so that, as Prosperi reports, her jewels
made almost as fine a show as those of the duchess. Nor was this rivalry
in clothes and jewels limited to the royal ladies themselves. Our lively
friend, Duchess Leonora's maid of honour, Teodora, gives Isabella an
amusing account of the keen emulation that existed between the Milanese
and Ferrarese ladies who were to accompany the two duchesses to
Venice.[37] Beatrice's ladies each wore long gold chains, valued at two
hundred ducats apiece, and her chief maids of honour had been provided
with some of their mistress's brocade robes for the occasion. Hearing of
this, the Ferrarese ladies begged duchess Leonora to give them similar
necklaces, and did not rest until they were supplied with chains valued
at two hundred and twenty ducats apiece. And since it transpired that
Beatrice had given some of her ladies strings of pearls for their
paternosters, Madama presented each of her attendants with pearl
rosaries of a still handsomer and costlier description. When Signor
Lodovico saw this, he went up to Beatrice, saying, "Wife, I wish all of
your ladies to wear pearl rosaries;" and straightway ordered some much
larger and finer ones to be made for the Duchess of Bari's attendants.
"But Madama," adds Isabella's correspondent, gleefully, "has given some
of her smaller pendants to our ladies, a thing which I do not think the
duchess can supply; and there is one other point in which the duchess's
suite will come off the worst. Madama has had pelisses of green satin
with broad stripes of black velvet made for all her ladies, which they
are to wear at Venice, and is taking a fresh supply of jewels to lend
them when they arrive. This I think the duchess can hardly manage."

However, the next day Prosperi reports that the famous goldsmith
Caradosso has just arrived with a quantity of rubies and diamonds, which
Messer Lodovico has bought for two thousand ducats, and is having strung
into necklaces for his wife's ladies.

A week of brilliant festivities had been arranged by Duke Ercole in
honour of his son-in-law. A splendid tournament was held one day on the
Piazza in front of the Castello. "Messer Galeazzo rode in the lists,"
writes the old chronicler of Ferrara, "with all his usual _gentilezza_,
and carried off the prize against his brothers Caiazzo and Fracassa,
Niccolo da Correggio, Ermes Sforza, and all other rivals. Afterwards,
taking a massive lance in his hand, he charged a gentleman of Mirandola,
broke his lance, and unseated him, so that both horse and man rolled
over together. And Lodovico sent one hundred ducats to the soldier of
Mirandola, because he fought so well. Another day a single-handed
contest between a Milanese and a Mantuan man-at-arms was held in the
courtyard of the castle, and won by the Mantuan, and Lodovico gave him a
satin vest with a gold fringe and skirt of silver cloth, and the Marquis
of Mantua and others made him fine presents."[38] Then came the
horse-races for the _pallium_, which Don Alfonso won, and at which
Gianfrancesco Gonzaga's famous Barbary horses made a splendid show. A
beautiful _festa_ was also held one afternoon in the gardens, at which
all the court assisted, and in the evenings, theatrical representations
of the _Menæchmi_ and other Latin plays were given, which pleased
Lodovico so well that he declared he must build a theatre at Milan on
his return. Amongst the pieces given on this occasion was a comedy, of
which the plot, Prosperi remarks, appeared to be aimed against Signor
Lodovico, but it seems to have given him no offence.

The Moro was apparently in the highest good-humour, courteous and
affable, after his wont, to all, and full of proud delight in his wife
and child. He admired the palaces and gardens of Ferrara, and surveyed
Duke Ercole's latest improvements with keen interest. The width and
cleanliness of the streets, struck him especially, and he determined to
follow the duke's example and remove the forges and shops which blocked
up the road and interfered with the traffic and the pleasantness of the
prospect at Milan. But of all the sights which he saw in Ferrara, what
pleased him best was Ercole's beautiful villa of Belriguardo. On
Saturday, the 25th of May, after Beatrice and her mother had started for
Venice, Ercole took his son-in-law and the Milanese nobles to spend the
day at this his favourite country house, and entertained the party at a
banquet in the famous terraced gardens on the banks of the Po. The same
evening Lodovico found time to write to his wife, in which he tells her
how much he is enjoying the loveliness of the summer evening at
Belriguardo.

"I would not for all the world have missed seeing this place. Really, I
do not think that I have ever seen so large and fine a house, or one
which is so well laid out and adorned with such excellent pictures. I do
not believe there is another to rival it in the whole world, and did not
think it possible to find a villa at once so spacious and so thoroughly
comfortable and well arranged. To say the truth, if I were asked whether
Vigevano, or the Castello of Pavia, or this place was the finest palace
in the world--the Castello must forgive me, for I would certainly choose
Belriguardo!"[39]

From Belriguardo, Ercole and his son-in-law proceeded to visit
Mirandola, the castle and principality of Bianca d'Este's husband, Count
Galeotto, and the court of the scholar princes of Carpi, who were
intimately connected with the Sanseverini and other noble Milanese
houses. After visiting Modena, the ducal party returned to receive the
Venetian ambassadors at Ferrara, and accompanied them to Belriguardo,
which Lodovico was not sorry to visit a second time. Here the Moro took
farewell of his hosts, and, leaving his infant son at Ferrara to await
his mother's return, he set out for Parma, on his way back to Milan.

Here at Torgiara, in the Parmesana, he was joined by his envoy, Count
Belgiojoso, who, in his anxiety to bring his master the latest news, had
ridden the whole 600 miles from Senlis in six days. This faithful
servant had already written to give Lodovico details of the treaty
concluded between Charles VIII. and Maximilian, and had informed him of
the French king's resolve to invade Italy without delay. Now, at his
master's summons, he rode to Parma as fast as relays of the fleetest
horses could take him, and fell seriously ill on the day after his
arrival. The news which he brought determined Lodovico in the policy
which he was about to adopt, and decided him to withdraw all opposition
to the French king's expedition against Naples. Charles VIII. now
appeared as the friend and ally of Maximilian, and even consented to
support Lodovico's suit with the King of the Romans. "It seems strange,"
wrote the Florentine ambassador at the French court to Piero de' Medici,
"that the king should support Signor Lodovico in a thing so harmful to
the interests of his cousin the Duke of Orleans' claims, but so it is,
and this will show you the influence that now predominates in the royal
counsels."

Belgiojoso reached Torgiara, in the district of Parma, on the 4th of
June, and on the 24th, Maximilian sent the despatch from the castle of
Gmünden, by which he accepted the hand of Bianca Sforza in marriage, and
promised Lodovico Sforza the investiture of the duchy of Milan as soon
as he himself should receive the imperial dignity. In the same month of
June, the marriage of the Pope's daughter, Lucrezia Borgia, to Giovanni
Sforza of Pesaro was celebrated with great pomp in the Vatican, and the
Pope and cardinals joined in the orgies which followed. But old King
Ferrante gnashed his teeth with rage, and his son Alfonso vowed
vengeance against the hated Moro and all his crew. And in the Duomo of
Florence, the fiery Dominican friar, Fra Girolamo of San Marco,
preaching with passionate fervour to the crowds who hung on his lips,
boldly denounced the shameless profligacy that reigned in high places,
and warned the Church and the world of the avenging sword of the Lord.

FOOTNOTES:

[37] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 374.

[38] Muratori, R. L. S., xxiv. 284.

[39] E. Motta in _Giorn. st. d. lett. Ital._, vii. 387.



CHAPTER XVI

Visit of Beatrice and her mother to Venice--Letters of Lodovico to his
wife--Reception of the duchesses by the Doge at S. Clemente--Their
triumphal entry--Procession and _fêtes_ in the Grand Canal--Letter of
Beatrice to her husband--The palace of the Dukes of Ferrara in Venice.

1493


The spring of 1493, as we have already said, proved a turning-point in
Lodovico Sforza's policy. And it also marked a new period in the life of
Beatrice d'Este. Up to this time the young duchess was a bright and
joyous child, intellectual and cultivated like the other ladies of her
family, but eager, above all, to enjoy the splendour and gaiety of her
new life, to taste of every pleasure, and fling herself into every
passing amusement. But now she appears in a new light. For the first
time, on this visit to Venice, she takes a leading part in political
affairs, and comes before the Doge and Senate as her husband's
ambassador and spokeswoman. Here we see this princess, who was not yet
eighteen years of age, assuming the character of orator and diplomatist,
and revealing these talents which excited the admiration of the Emperor
Maximilian and made him pronounce her unlike all other women.

In selecting his young wife for this important mission, Lodovico had
acted with his usual prudence and forethought. He saw her remarkable
powers of mind, and trusted implicitly in her womanly tact and charm.
When the Venetian Senate first heard that Lodovico was to visit Ferrara,
they announced their intention of sending ambassadors to request him to
accompany the two duchesses to Venice. But the Moro felt that, at this
critical moment of his negotiations with both Charles VIII. and
Maximilian, his presence at Venice might lead to awkward questions and
excite the suspicion of these princes. So he preferred to send his wife,
whose journey with her mother and brother would appear rather in the
light of a party of pleasure, and whose youth and charms would disarm
suspicion, and at the same time exert a beneficial influence on the
counsels of the Republic. In the written instructions which he gave
Tuttavilla and the other envoys who accompanied Beatrice, they were
desired to lay especial stress on the honour which the rulers of Milan
were doing the Signory of Venice by the choice of so exalted a lady to
be their messenger.

"The presence of the most illustrious Duchess of Bari is the best proof
their Excellencies can have of the singular satisfaction with which the
Dukes of Milan and Bari regard the conclusion of this league. In
sending, the one his aunt, the other his wife, who is the dearest thing
that he possesses, to congratulate the Signory on this auspicious
occasion, they show you how great and exceptional is the pleasure which
they feel at this alliance between our two states."

On Saturday, the 25th of May, the Duchess of Ferrara, with her two
daughters, Beatrice Duchess of Bari and Madonna Anna Sforza, and her son
Alfonso, accompanied by a large retinue numbering in all 1200 persons,
sailed down the Po into the Adriatic, on their way to Venice. Beatrice
was accompanied by Antonio Trivulzio, Bishop of Como, Francesco Sforza
and his wife, and several other Milanese gentlemen of rank, besides the
four ambassadors already named, and in her train were the famous Flemish
tenor Cordier and the other court singers of the ducal chapel. On the
20th the party reached Chioggia, where they were entertained in the
houses of noble Venetian families, and on the following day sailed up
between the islands, under the long sandy shore of the Lido, into the
port of Venice. At Malamocco, the fort on the southern point of Lido
guarding the entrance of the harbour, they were received by a deputation
of patricians, while at S. Clemente the old Doge, Agostino Barbarigo,
himself came out to meet them in the bucentaur, followed by an immense
company of boats and gondolas in festive array.

"Of all cities that I have ever known, Venice is the one where the
greatest honour is paid to strangers," wrote Philippe de Commines, when,
a year and a half later, he came to Venice as ambassador from his most
Christian Majesty. And on this occasion the welcome offered to the wife
of the powerful Moro was grander, and the _fêtes_ given in her honour
were more splendid, than had been seen for many years.

"Never," wrote Taddeo de' Vimercati, the Milanese ambassador, "was lord
or lady received with greater joy, or more magnificently entertained
than the duchess has been on this occasion." And in his letters to his
wife Isabella, the Marquis of Mantua, who had arrived at Venice three
days earlier, and was among the spectators of his mother and
sister-in-law's triumphal entry, dilates on the extraordinary honours
that were paid them, on the vast concourse of people assembled to greet
their arrival, and the exultation with which they were received. He
describes the procession of barks and gondolas, filled with ladies in
gay toilettes, that were seen rowing across the lagoon many hours before
the arrival of the illustrious visitors, and tells how the old Doge--the
same whose venerable figure is familiar to us in Giovanni Bellini's
altar-piece, at Murano--made his way to S. Clemente early in the
afternoon, and retired to rest for an hour or two, in a chamber prepared
for his Serene Highness, until the Ferrarese bucentaurs were seen in the
distance. Gianfrancesco dwells on the number and beauty of the gaily
decorated barges and triremes, and describes the magnificent loggia hung
with tapestries and wreaths of flowers which had been erected in front
of the _palazzo_ occupied by the Milanese ambassador, at the entrance of
the Canal Grande. But what impressed him most of all were the thundering
salvoes of artillery which burst from the fleet of galleys, from the
arsenal and the Milanese embassy, at one and the same moment, as about
five o'clock the Ferrarese bucentaurs reached Malamocco and entered the
Venetian waters. "The whole air," he writes, "was filled with confusion,
when these demonstrations of great rejoicing burst simultaneously upon
our ears."

Isabella d'Este, who had herself lately returned from Venice and was now
with her beloved sister-in-law, Elizabeth Duchess of Urbino, at the
villa of Porto, devoured her husband's letters greedily, although she
professed indifference, and wrote to her mother, "To me all these
ceremonies seem very much of the same nature, and are all alike very
tedious and monotonous."

There was one point, however, upon which Gianfrancesco confessed himself
unable to gratify his wife and sister's curiosity. "I will not attempt,"
he says, "to describe the gowns and ornaments worn by these duchesses
and Madonna Anna, this being quite out of my line, and will only tell
you that all three of them appeared resplendent with the most precious
jewels."[40] Fortunately, this omission was supplied by one of
Beatrice's secretaries, Niccolo de' Negri, who, in a letter to Lodovico,
informed him, on the day of her arrival at Venice, that the duchess wore
her gold brocade, embroidered with crimson doves, with a jewelled
feather in her cap, and a rope of pearls and diamonds round her neck, to
which the priceless ruby known as El Spigo was attached as pendant. But
the best account we have of Beatrice's visit to Venice is contained in
four of her own letters addressed to her husband, which have been
preserved in the archives of Milan. They were originally published
twenty years ago by Molmenti, who, however, omitted some portions which
are given here, and transcribed some of the dates incorrectly.
Unfortunately, several of the letters in which Beatrice daily recorded
the events of this memorable week for her lord's benefit are missing.
But although the narrative is incomplete, it is none the less of rare
value and interest. The first two letters after her departure from
Ferrara are missing, but in their stead we have two notes from Lodovico,
which show how tenderly he thought of his absent wife, and how carefully
he followed her movements. On the evening of the 25th, he wrote the
letter that has been already quoted, from Belriguardo; on the 26th, he
sent her a second note in reply to the letters which he had just
received. In one of these Beatrice had apparently given a lively account
of her triumphs at cards in the games which she had played with her
companions on board the bucentaur. Like Isabella d'Este and most of her
contemporaries, the duchess was very fond of _scartino_ and other
fashionable card-games, and had the reputation of being exceptionally
lucky. In the course of the year 1494, Lodovico informed Girolamo
Tuttavilla, who was at one time treasurer to the duchess, that his wife
had won no less than three thousand ducats, all of which she declared
had been spent in alms. "When I remarked that this seemed a very large
sum, the duchess confessed she had paid some of it to embroiderers and
other craftsmen. Even then I fail to see how she could have disposed of
more than a few hundred ducats. At this rate I fear she will be unable
to buy lands or build new houses, but when you return from Naples, we
must try and carry out some plans better worthy of your name."

On this occasion Beatrice seems to have won a considerable sum of money
at the game of _britino_ during her journey to Chioggia, and had
apparently informed her husband of her good luck, for he writes in
reply--

"MY DEAREST WIFE,

"It has given me the greatest pleasure to hear from your last letters
that you have been winning your companions' money, and since I conclude
you have been playing at _buttino_, I hope you will remember to keep
account of your winnings, so that you may keep the money for yourself.
But I only say this in case you win, as if you lose, I do not care to
hear about it. Commend me to the illustrious Madonna Duchessa, our
common mother, as well as to Don Alfonso and Madonna Anna, and salute
all the councillors for me.

                                   "Your most affectionate husband,
                                          LODOVICUS MARIA SFORTIA.[41]

Belriguardo, 26th of May, 1493."

The first of Beatrice's letters that we have was written on the evening
of her arrival at her father's house in Venice and is dated May 27.

"MOST ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCE AND EXCELLENT LORD, MY DEAREST HUSBAND,

"I wrote to you yesterday of our arrival at Chioggia. This morning I
heard mass in a chapel of the house where I lodged. The singers
assisted, and I felt the greatest spiritual delight in hearing them,
Messer Cordier as usual doing his part very well, as he did also
yesterday morning. Certainly his singing is the greatest consolation
possible. Then we breakfasted, and at ten we entered the bucentaur,
dividing our company between the middle-sized and small bucentaur and a
few gondolas, which were prepared for us, as being safer, since the
weather was still rather stormy. My most illustrious mother, Don Alfonso
and Madonna Anna, with a very few servants, entered the small bucentaur,
and the other ladies and gentlemen travelled on the larger bucentaur, or
in small gondolas, while I entered another gondola with Signor Girolamo,
Messer Visconti, and a few others, so as to lighten the small bucentaur
and travel more comfortably, as we were assured. So we set out and
reached the port of Chioggia, where the ships began to dance. I took the
greatest delight in tossing up and down, and, by the grace of God, did
not feel the least ill effects. But I can tell you that some of our
party were very much alarmed, amongst others Signor Ursino, Niccolo de'
Negri, and Madonna Elisabetta. Even Signor Girolamo, although he had
been very frugal, felt rather uncomfortable; but no one in my gondola
was really ill, excepting Madonna Elisabetta and Cavaliere Ursino, at
the port of Chioggia. Most of the others, especially the women, were
very ill. The weather now improved so much, that we arrived at Malamocco
in quite good time. Here we found about twenty-four gentlemen, with
three well-fitted and decorated barges, one of which we entered, with as
many of our suite as it could hold, and were honourably seated in the
prow. Several Venetian gentlemen now entered our barge, and a certain
Messer Francesco Capello, clad in a long mantle of white brocade,
embroidered with large gold patterns, like your own, delivered an
oration to the effect that this illustrious Signory, having heard of
your presence at Ferrara, had sent two ambassadors to show the love they
bear you, and that now, having heard of my Lady Mother's and my own
visit to Venice, they had sent the other gentlemen who received us at
Chioggia, and now, as a further token of their affection, sent these to
Malamocco, to express the great pleasure the Signory felt at our coming,
and to inform us that the Doge himself, with the Signory and a number
of noble matrons, were about to give us welcome and do us honour to the
best of their power. My mother, with her usual modesty, begged me to
reply, but I insisted on her saying a few words, and afterwards began to
speak myself. But hardly had she finished speaking, and before I had
begun, than all the gentlemen ran up to kiss our hands, as they had done
the day before, so that I could only express my feelings by courteous
gestures.

"Then we set off towards Venice, and before we reached S. Clemente,
where the Prince was expecting us, two rafts came towards us, and
saluted us with the sound of trumpets and firing of guns, followed by
two galleys ready for battle, and other barks decked out like gardens,
which were really beautiful to see. An infinite number of boats, full of
ladies and gentlemen, now surrounded us, and escorted us all the way to
S. Clemente. Here we landed, and were conducted to a spacious pavilion
hung with drapery, where the Prince, accompanied by the members of the
Signory, met us and bade us welcome, assuring us how eagerly our
presence had been desired, and saying that my lord father the duke and
your Excellency could do him no greater pleasure than to send us, whom
he looked upon as his dear daughters. All this and much more concerning
the fatherly love which he bore us, he hoped to be able to express at a
future occasion. Then he placed my lady mother on his right and myself
on his left, with Madonna Anna next to me, and next to my mother the
Marquis of Mantua and Don Alfonso--the Marchese having arrived with the
Prince--and so he conducted us on board the bucentaur. On the way we
shook hands with all the ladies, who stood up in two rows behind the
Prince, and then sat down in the same order. All of our ladies shook
hands with the Prince, and we set out again on our journey, meeting an
infinite number of decorated galleys, boats, and barks. Among others,
there was a raft with figures of Neptune and Minerva, armed with trident
and spear, seated on either side of a hill crowned with the arms of the
Pope and our own illustrious lord, together with your own and those of
the Signory of Venice. First Neptune began to dance and gambol and throw
balls into the air to the sound of drums and tambourines, and then
Minerva did the same. Afterwards they both joined hands and danced
together. Next Minerva struck the mountain with her spear, and an olive
tree appeared. Neptune did the same with his trident, and a horse jumped
out. Then other personages appeared on the mountain with open books in
their hands, signifying that they had come to decide on the name that
was to be given to the city on the mountain, and they gave judgment in
favour of Minerva. This representation was said to signify that the
existence of states is founded on treaties of peace, and that those who
lay the foundations will give their name to future kingdoms, as Minerva
did to Athens.

"As we sailed on, we saw many other barks and galleys, all richly
decorated. Among them was one galley of armed Milanese, with a Moor in
the centre, armed with a spear, and bearing shields with the ducal arms
and your own fastened to the stern and prow. Round this Moor were
figures of Fortitude, Temperance, Justice, and Wisdom with a sceptre in
his hand, all of which made a fine pageant, and the firing of guns and
cannons at the same time sounded quite splendid.

"Besides these there were many barks representing the different arts and
crafts of Venice, very beautiful to see. And so we entered the Canal
Grande, where the Prince, who talked to us all the way with the utmost
familiarity and kindness, took great pleasure in showing us the chief
palaces of this noble city, and pointing out the ladies, who appeared
glittering with jewels at all the balconies and windows, besides the
great company--about a hundred and thirty in number--who were already
with us in the bucentaur. All the palaces were richly adorned, and
certainly it was a magnificent sight. The Prince showed us all the chief
objects along the canal, until we reached my father's palace, where we
are lodged, and where the Prince insisted on landing and conducting us
to our rooms, although my mother and I begged him not to take this
trouble. We found all the palace hung with tapestries, and the beds
covered with satin draperies adorned with the ducal arms and those of
your Excellency. And the rooms and hall are hung with Sforzesca colours,
so you see that in point of good entertainment, good company, and good
living we could desire nothing better. This evening three gentlemen
came to visit me in the name of the Signory, and made the most splendid
offers, beyond all that could have been expected, for my pleasure and
convenience. To-morrow, if the audience has taken place, you shall hear
more. I commend myself to your Highness.[42]

"Venice, May 27, 1493."

"_Era stupendissima cesa a vedere!_ It was a magnificent sight!"
exclaimed Beatrice. And indeed the scene was one which would have
stirred a less impressionable nature than that of this young princess,
who was so keenly alive to joy and beauty, and who now for the first
time saw "this most triumphant city of the world," in all the loveliness
of the summer evening. Both the Milanese ambassador and the Marquis of
Mantua said they had never seen the like. The blue waters of the lagoon
swarmed with boats and gondolas decked with flowers and streamers of the
gayest hues, the Venetian Gothic palaces along the canal were hung with
Indian and Persian carpets. The rich colours of Oriental stuffs relieved
the dazzling whiteness of Istrian stone, and festoons of fresh leaves
and flowers were twisted round their columns of porphyry and serpentine.
From each carved balcony and painted window fair Venetian ladies looked
down in their sumptuous robes, glittering with gold and gems, and the
air rang with the _Vivas_ of the crowds who filled the gondolas or
flocked along the Riva to see the gay pageant. It was a spectacle such
as Venice alone could offer in these days of her glory, when the Canal
Grande was, as Commines justly said, the finest street in the whole
world.

And the Palazzo to which the old Doge conducted Beatrice and her mother
was the oldest and one of the grandest in that long avenue of palaces.
Originally built for the Pesaro family, it had been presented to Niccolo
II. of Este in gratitude for his services when, a hundred years before,
he had supplied the Republic with corn during the long war against
Genoa. Since then the house had been repeatedly sequestered during the
wars between Venice and Ferrara, and had only been restored to Duke
Ercole after the conclusion of the peace of Bagnolo. Now its ancient
walls, dating as far back as the year 900, had been freshly decorated
with frescoes, and the long arcades and loggias, with their massive
pillars and Byzantine capitals of grey marble, were enriched with
shields carved with the unicorns and lilies of the house of Este.
Within, the spacious halls were lavishly adorned with gilding and
variegated marble, with fine pictures and the painted _cassoni_ and
chairs which we still admire on old Venetian palaces, while the
tapestries and hangings bearing Sforza devices and the Moro's favourite
mottoes met Beatrice's eyes at every turn. As she wrote in her joyous
letters to her husband, there was nothing lacking that could charm the
eyes or please the mind, and the courtesy and hospitality of the
venerable old Doge and of the Venetian Signory left nothing to be
desired.

FOOTNOTES:

[40] "Storia di Venezia nella Vita privata," p. 60.

[41] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 376.

[42] Molmenti, _op. cit._, p. 693.



CHAPTER XVII

_Fêtes_ at Venice in honour of the Duchess of Ferrara and Duchess of
Bari--Beatrice d'Este has an audience with the Doge and
Signory--Explains Lodovico's position and his treaties with France and
Germany--Visit to St. Mark's and the Treasury--_Fête_ in the ducal
palace--The Duchess visits the Great Council--Takes leave of the
Doge--Return to Ferrara.

1493


A series of _fêtes_ had been arranged by the Doge and Signory of Venice
in honour of their illustrious guests, and the order in which they took
place is given by the Marquis of Mantua in a letter to his wife. On
Tuesday races were held in the piazza for a _pallinum_ of twenty yards
of crimson velvet; on Wednesday afternoon a regatta took place on the
Riva. Amongst other amusing contests, Pietro Bembo tells us there was a
race between boats rowed by four women, a thing never before seen in
Venice, and which, on account of its novelty, excited the greatest
amusement. "In which marvellous contention," says Bembo, "a thing
happened which added greatly to the pleasure of the spectacle and to the
general mirth. A bark won the race that was rowed by a mother and her
two daughters and one daughter-in-law, this being arranged out of
compliment to Duchess Leonora, who has herself two daughters and one
daughter-in-law."

On the morning after her arrival, Beatrice received a visit from three
gentlemen sent by the Doge to confer with her on the object of her
mission. Much to their surprise and admiration, says Romanini, the
Venetian historian, the young duchess, who was not yet twenty years of
age, requested to be allowed the honour of an audience with the Signory.
Before leaving the Este palace these gentlemen assisted at mass, which
was privately celebrated in the duchess's rooms, and heard Cordier sing,
as we learn from a short note addressed to Lodovico on the morning of
the 28th.

"This morning," she writes, "as soon as I was dressed, I heard mass sung
in my own rooms. Messer Cordier sang, and, as usual, did his part
admirably, which pleased me greatly, both on account of the rare delight
which his talent gives me, and because on this occasion the gentlemen
who had been sent to see me by the Doge were also present, and expressed
the greatest admiration for his singing."

Beatrice and the four Milanese ambassadors were then escorted to the
ducal palace, where the young duchess was admitted to the Sala del
Collegio, and laid her husband's memorial before the Signory. But, as M.
Delaborde remarks, the language which Beatrice employed on this occasion
differed considerably from the written instructions which had been given
to the Milanese envoys by Lodovico. During the interval, Belgiojoso's
despatches relating to the Treaty of Senlis, and announcing the French
king's fixed intention of undertaking an expedition against Naples, had
produced a sensible alteration in Lodovico's policy. In the letter of
the 10th of May, the ambassadors were desired to congratulate the
Venetian Signory in the most cordial terms on the conclusion of the
league between Milan, the Pope, and the Republic, and to dwell
especially on the importance of being in readiness to resist foreign
invasions at this critical time when the French monarch and the King of
the Romans were about to settle their differences. But when Beatrice
herself addressed the Signory, she insisted on the excellent relations
of Lodovico as Regent of Milan with both France and Germany, and, after
setting forth the pains which her lord had taken to oppose the French
expedition, laid Belgiojoso's latest despatch before the Signory. In
this missive the Milanese envoy informed Lodovico of Charles the
Eighth's intention to send an envoy to Milan, Venice, and Rome, and seek
the help of these powers in carrying out his designs for the conquest of
Naples. Beatrice, addressing the Venetian Signory in her lord's name,
asked their advice as to the answer which he should give to the French
king, and ended by informing them of his negotiations with Maximilian
for the investiture of the duchy of Milan, which, she added, were
already far advanced. After some deliberation, the Signory returned a
courteous but evasive answer, begging the duchess to assure her husband
of their most friendly sentiments, but saying that the French king's
proposals required grave consideration, and that they must, first of
all, communicate with the Pope as head of the League.

At a second conference which the Doge had with the young duchess on the
1st of June, Beatrice, acting under Lodovico's directions, laid stress
on the fact that her husband as regent was all-powerful in Milan, and
could dispose of the treasure and castles of Lombardy at his pleasure.
The Doge understood by this, as we learn from the secret records of the
Venetian Government, that the real aim of the duchess was to discover
how far the Republic was disposed to uphold Lodovico's claim to the
ducal title, but he merely returned a civil answer and repeated his
professions of friendship. If Beatrice's mission, however, secured no
very tangible result from the wise and crafty Venetian, her charms made
a deep impression upon the old councillors, who one and all marvelled at
her wisdom and eloquence, and grudged no pains or expense to give her
pleasure. "No honours," writes Cardinal Bembo, "were held too great for
these royal ladies, who in those joyous times had come to see the city,
nor was any kind of pleasure or generous liberality lacking in the
splendid _fêtes_ with which they were entertained on this memorable
occasion." As for Beatrice herself, she was enchanted with the beauties
of Venice and the courtesy of her hosts, and longed to see and hear all
the wonders of the famous city. The greater part of these days was spent
in visiting the chief sights of the place--the great Dominican and
Franciscan churches, S. Zanipolo with the tombs of the doges and the
Gothic shrine of S. Maria Gloriosa with Giovanni Bellini's newly painted
Madonnas in all their radiant loveliness, the graceful Renaissance
buildings of S. Maria dei Miracoli and the Scuola di S. Marco, which the
Lombardi had lately finished. Like all royal visitors, the duchesses
were conducted over the arsenal, which Commines justly calls the finest
thing of the kind in the whole world, and were shown not only the fleet
of a hundred ships in port, but the galleys in course of construction,
the men making the oars, the women and children at work on the sails and
ropes, the sulphur and saltpetre mills, and the splendid armoury, all
enclosed within lofty walls, and guarded by twin towers crowned with the
winged lion. And they saw what was indeed one of the wonders of the
world--the glorious front of St. Mark's just as we see it in Gentile
Bellini's great picture, with the many domes and myriads of pillars, the
glittering mosaics and famous bronze horses, and the crimson standards
floating from the three tall Venetian masts on the Piazza. We are not
told whether Beatrice, like her sister Isabella d'Este, ascended the
Campanile to enjoy the wonderful prospect over the lagoons, but we know
that she went to hear the singing of the Augustinian nuns, a community
of noble Venetian maidens as famous for the many scandals attached to
their society as for the perfection of their musical services. Above all
things in Venice, the duchesses admired the magnificent pile of the
ducal palace and the noble mural paintings on which the Bellini and
their fellow-artists were at work in the Great Hall, a sight of which
the great fire of the sixteenth century has deprived future generations.

But the most splendid _fête_ given in Beatrice's honour was the banquet,
ball, and torchlight procession that were held on Thursday in the ducal
palace. That same morning the duchesses attended mass in state at St.
Mark's, and by the Doge's request the Milanese choir took part in the
service. Beatrice's letters to her husband give a full account of the
day's festivities--

"MOST EXCELLENT AND ILLUSTRIOUS LORD, MY DEAREST HUSBAND,

"To continue my relation of what is happening here day by day, I must
now inform you that this morning my illustrious mother, Don Alfonso,
Madonna Anna, and I, with all our company, set out for St. Mark's, where
the Prince invited both us and our singers to assist at mass and see the
Treasury. But before reaching St. Mark's, we landed at the Rialto, and
went on foot up those streets which are called the Merceria, where we
saw the shops of spices and silks and other merchandise, all in fair
order and excellent both in quality and in the great quantity and
variety of goods for sale. And of other crafts there was also a goodly
display, so much so that we stopped constantly to look at now one thing,
now at another, and were quite sorry when we reached St. Mark's. Here
our trumpets sounded from a loggia in front of the church, and we found
the prince, who advanced to meet us at the doors of St. Mark's, and
placing himself as before, between my illustrious mother and myself, led
us to the high altar, where we found the priest already vested. There we
knelt down with the prince and said the confession, and then took the
seats prepared for us and heard mass, which the priest and his
assistants sang with great solemnity, and our singers did their part,
and their singing greatly pleased both the Prince and all who were
present, especially that of Cordier, who always takes great pains to do
honour to your Highness. After mass, we accompanied the Prince to see
the Treasury, but had the greatest difficulty in the world to get in,
because of the crowds of people who were assembled there, as well as in
the streets, although every one tried to make room for us, even the
Prince crying out to try and clear the way. But at last the Prince
himself was forced to retire on account of the great pressure of the
crowd, and left us to enter with only a few others, and even then we had
the greatest difficulty to get in. Once safely inside the Treasury we
saw everything, which was a great pleasure, for there was an infinite
quantity of most beautiful jewels and some magnificent cups and
chalices. When we came out of the Treasury, we went on the Piazza of St.
Mark, among the shops of the Ascensiontide fair which is still going on,
and found such a magnificent show of beautiful Venetian glass, that we
were fairly bewildered, and were obliged to remain there for a long
time. And as we walked along from shop to shop, every one turned to look
at the jewels which I wore in the velvet cap on my head, and on the vest
embroidered with the towers of the Port of Genoa, and especially at the
large diamond which I wore at my breast. And I heard people saying one
to the other--'That is the wife of Signor Lodovico. Look what fine
jewels she wears! What splendid rubies and diamonds she has!'

"At last, since the hour was already late, we went home to dine, and by
this time it was nearly two o'clock.[43]

"Venice, May 30, 1493."

The day's labours, however, were hardly begun, and in her next letter
Beatrice resumes her story--

"After dinner and a little rest, a large company of gentlemen came to
conduct us to the _festa_ at the palace. We travelled in barges, and,
when we reached the palace, were conducted into the Great Hall. There a
grand tribunal was erected at one end of the hall, in two divisions
running the whole length of the walls, and in the centre of the hall a
square stage was placed for dancing and theatrical representations. We
ascended the tribunal, where we found a number of noble Venetian ladies,
one hundred and thirty-two in all, richly adorned with jewels. On the
wing to our right as we entered sat the Lord of the Company of 'the
Potenti'--'a group of the famous company of La Calza, which included the
wealthiest and most illustrious youths of Venice'--seated on a throne
under a canopy of gold brocade, with Don Alfonso as a member of the
company on his right hand. We took our seat on the left wing, and sent
Madonna Anna to take her place by the Lord of the Company. The Prince
was not present on this occasion, being too old and infirm to take part
in such fatiguing entertainments; but a certain Messer Constantino
Privolo occupied his place, as the oldest member of the Signory. The
chiefs of the _festa_ led out several ladies to dance, two or three at a
time, and then came to ask if some of our ladies and gentlemen would not
also take part in the dance. So, to show our friendly intentions, we
agreed, and Conte Girolamo da Figino and a few others danced. Of the
women, the wife of Count Francesco Sforza, the daughters Messer
Sigismondo and of Messer Raynaldo, and a few others, also danced. During
the dancing, by reason of the excessive heat of the room, my head began
to ache, and as my throat also felt a little sore, I left the hall and
retired to rest in another room for an hour. When I returned, it was
already dark. A hundred lighted torches hung from the ceiling, and a
representation was given on the stage, in which two big animals with
large horns appeared, ridden by two figures, bearing golden balls and
cups wreathed with verdure. These two were followed by a triumphal
chariot, in which Justice sat enthroned, holding a drawn sword in her
hand inscribed with the motto _Concordia_, and wreathed with palms and
olive. In the same car was an ox with his feet resting on a figure of
St. Mark and the adder. This, as your Highness will readily understand,
was meant to signify the League, and as in all their discourses to me
the Prince and these gentlemen speak of your Highness as the author of
peace and tranquillity of Italy, so in this representation they placed
your head on the triumphal arch above the others. Behind the chariot
came two serpents, ridden by two other youths, dressed like the first
riders. All these figures mounted the tribunal in the centre of the
hall, and danced round Justice, and after dancing for a while, their
balls exploded, and out of the flames, an ox, a lion, an adder, and a
Moor's head suddenly appeared, and all of these danced together round
the figure of Justice. Then the banquet followed, and the different
dishes and _confetti_ were carried in to the sound of trumpets,
accompanied by an infinite number of torches. First of all came figures
of the Pope, the Doge, and the Duke of Milan, with their armorial
bearings and those of your Highness; then St. Mark, the adder, and the
diamond, and many other objects, In coloured and gilded sugar, making as
many as three hundred in all, together with every variety of cakes and
confectionery, and gold and silver drinking-cups, all of which were
spread out along the hall, and made a splendid show. Among other things,
I saw a figure of the Pope surrounded by ten cardinals, which was said
to be a prophecy of the ten cardinals whom the Pope is going to make
to-morrow! The banquet was spread out upon the stage, and the dishes
were handed round with many of these triumphs, and the Pope and the Duke
and Duchess of Milan fell to my share. When the banquet was finished, we
had another representation, in which the two youths on serpents played
the chief part. A messenger arrived, riding on a triumphal car in a
boat, bearing a letter in a packet, which he presented to the Lord of
the Company, who opened it, and, after reading the letter, handed it
back to him; then he entered the boat again and left the hall, followed
by the others on their serpents. This last figure was said to be a
herald who had been sent to announce the proclamation of the League, and
a little while afterwards the triumphal car of the League, as described
above, appeared again, followed by four giants. The first one carried a
horn of foliage and fruit, the two next bore two clubs with gold and
silver balls, or catapults, while the last carried a cornucopia, similar
to that borne by the first giant in his hand. Then came four animals in
the shape of Chimeras ridden by four naked Moors, sounding tambourines
and cymbals or clapping their hands. They were followed by four
triumphal cars, bearing figures of Diana, Death, the mother of Meleager,
and several armed men--four or five persons in each chariot, the whole
intended to represent the story of Meleager, which was fully set forth,
from his birth to his death, with interludes of dances. The whole fable
would take too long to repeat, but Gian Giacomo Gillino will be able to
recite it from beginning to end, if you care to hear it. This was the
conclusion of the whole _festa_. After this we entered our boats, and
the clock struck one before we got home. The bishop of Como was sitting
by me all the evening, and his infinite weariness at the length of the
performance, and his dislike of the great heat in that crowded hall,
made me laugh as I never laughed before. And in order to tease him and
have more fun, I kept on telling him that there was still more to come,
and that the acting would go on till to-morrow morning; and it was most
amusing to see him stretch himself first on one leg, then on the other,
and to hear him complain, 'My legs are worn out. When will this _festa_
ever come to an end? Never again will I come to another.' I really think
that his sighs and groans gave me as much pleasure as the _festa_
itself. When at length we reached home, I supped frugally and then went
to bed, as it was already three o'clock. The gown that I wore after
dinner was of crimson and gold watered silk, with my jewelled cap on my
head, and the rope of pearls with the Marone as a pendant. I commend
myself to your Highness. Your Excellency's most affectionate wife,

                                      "BEATRICE SFORTIA VISCOMTIS.[44]

Venetina, May 31, 1493."

On the back of this letter are the words--

"To the most illustrious Prince and excellent Lord, my dearest husband,
the Lord Lodovico Maria Sfortia, etc. _Ubi. sit. cito. cito._"

On Saturday, the 1st of June, Beatrice wrote another letter, in which
she describes her visit to the Great Council and final interview with
the Doge, but makes no mention of political affairs, which were no doubt
reserved for a separate despatch.

"To-day after dinner," she begins, "we went to the palace, honourably
attended by many Venetian gentlemen, to visit the Great Council, and
were conducted into the Great Hall. Here in the centre of the hall we
found the Prince, who had descended from his rooms to meet us, and who
accompanied us to the Tribunal, where we sat in our usual order, and the
Council began to vote by ballot for elections to two different offices.
When this was over, my lady mother thanked the Prince for all the
honours which had been paid us, and took her leave. When she had
finished speaking, I did the same; then, following the instructions
which you had given me in your letter, I offered myself as a daughter to
obey all the Doge's commands. The Prince replied that he needed no
thanks, for he had only done what might be expected from a father for a
beloved daughter, excusing himself if anything had been left undone, and
begging I would not impute what was lacking to him, but to the failure
of his servants to discharge their duties, and assuring me once more
that his will could not be better disposed towards me. Then he once more
expressed the paternal love which he cherished towards our most
illustrious duke, towards your Highness and myself, and again placed
himself and his Government at the disposal of your Excellency, with many
very generous expressions, begging me to salute your Highness and beg
you to be of good courage, and tell you that the Signory accepted all my
offers, and would, if need be, avail themselves gratefully of your help.
After this, I replied again in similar terms, and he again desired me to
greet you warmly from him, and beg you to take good care of your own
health and person. Our councillors were then presented to him, and
Monsignore da Como returned thanks very courteously and repeated our
expressions of gratitude, as was convenient, and then took leave. He
also replied in suitable terms to all that the Prince had said to me,
which speech I will not repeat here, for fear of wearying your
Excellency.

"The Prince then rose and accompanied us to the foot of the great
staircase, and here shook hands and left us. After that we went to visit
the Queen of Cyprus at Murano, where she received us with great honour
and gave us a beautiful entertainment. We also visited the shrine of St.
Lucia, and so ends my tale for to-day. To-morrow morning, by the grace
of God, we hope to set out on our journey at eight o'clock. I commend
myself to your Excellency.

                              "Your most illustrious lordship's wife,
                                                     BEATRICE SFORTIA.

Venice, 1st of June, 1493."

And so, with a pleasant trip across the sunny waters of the lagoon and a
_festa_ in the beautiful gardens of Caterina Cornaro, that royal lady
who never neglected an opportunity of showing her friendship for the
house of Este, Beatrice's week at Venice came to an end. The success of
her visit had been complete, and both the Milanese ambassador and
Niccolo de' Negri were eloquent on the splendour of the _fêtes_ held in
her honour and the favourable impression which she had made on these
grave and reverend signers.

The secretary especially, in his letters to Lodovico, dwells with
complacency on the admiration which the young duchess's gowns and
jewels, and still more her own charms, had excited among the Venetians.
"On every occasion the duchess appeared clad in new and beautiful robes
and glittering jewels. Her jewels, indeed, were the wonder of the whole
town. But I shall not be wrong if I say that the finest jewel of all is
herself--my dear and most excellent Madonna, whose gracious ways and
charming manners filled all the people of Venice with the utmost delight
and enthusiasm, so that your Highness may well count himself what he
is--the happiest and most fortunate prince in the whole world."

FOOTNOTES:

[43] E. Motta, _op. cit._, p. 390, etc.

[44] Motta e Molmenti, _op. cit._



CHAPTER XVIII

Return of Beatrice to Milan--Visit of Duke Ercole and Alfonso to Pavia
--Death of Duchess Leonora--Beatrice's _camora_ and Niccolo da
Correggio's _fantasia dei vinci_--Marriage of Bianca Maria Sforza to
Maximilian, King of the Romans, celebrated at Milan--Letter of Beatrice
to Isabella d'Este--Wedding _fêtes_ and journey of the bride to
Innsbrück--Maximilian's relations with his wife--Bianca's future life.

1493


On the 2nd of June, Beatrice and her mother left Venice and returned to
Ferrara, where she once more embraced her infant son and enjoyed a few
days' rest after all her _fêtes_ and journeyings. The 7th of June was
spent at Belriguardo, and from this favourite villa the young duchess
wrote to her sister, expressing her regret that she would be unable to
visit Mantua on her return to Milan.

"I would most willingly come to see you at Mantua, as I had hoped to do,
and as you know I still desire, and should very much enjoy a few days
with you in the country, but my husband is exceedingly anxious for my
return. So I must beg your Highness to let me enjoy a sight of you in
the bucentaur, and not to insist upon my landing this time."

Isabella complied with her sister's request, and went to meet the
duchess at Revere, where Beatrice stopped for a few hours on her way up
the Po, to join her husband at Pavia. Lodovico was naturally impatient,
not only to see his wife again, but to hear from her own lips all that
had happened at Venice. And he on his part had much to tell her of the
news which Belgiojoso had brought from France, and of the despatches
which he received from Erasmo Brasca in Germany.

The summer months were spent in the Castello of Pavia, where Beatrice
nursed her husband in a slight attack of fever, and afterwards received
a visit from her father and brother. They arrived on the 25th of August,
bringing with them a troop of actors to perform the _Menæchmi_ and some
of the other comedies which had pleased Lodovico so much at Ferrara.
Duke Ercole himself, as usual, took keen interest in these theatricals,
and before he left home sent to borrow two complete Turkish costumes and
turbans from the Marquis of Mantua, in order to supply deficiencies in
his actors' wardrobe. Three days after his arrival, Borso da Correggio,
a young nephew of Niccolo, who had travelled to Pavia with the duke,
sent the following note to give his cousin Isabella the latest news of
her family:--

"MOST ILLUSTRIOUS SISTER AND HONOURED LADY,

"We arrived on the 25th at Pavia, and were received by these excellent
lords and ladies with the usual formalities. We find both of the
duchesses well and happy, one of them, indeed--her of Milan--expects the
birth of another child shortly, but our own duchess is as gay and joyous
as ever. On the 27th the comedy of _The Captives_ was acted, and the
performance went off very well. To-day _The Merchant_ is to be given,
and will, I hope, prove equally successful. To-morrow we are to have a
third. Our way of living is as follows. Early in the morning we go out
riding. After dinner we play at _scartino_, or else at 'raising dead
men' and '_l'imperiale_,' and other card games, till it is bed-time. The
players are, as a rule, the Duke and Duchess of Bari together, Ambrogio
da Corte, and some third man, whoever may happen to be present. To-day
your father the duke, Don Alfonso, and Messer Galeaz Visconti are
playing at pall-mall against Messer Galeaz Sanseverino, Signor Girolamo
Tuttavilla, and myself. The Duchess of Milan does not join us in these
games, and only appears at the theatricals. The Duke of Bari is more
devoted to the duchess than ever, and is constantly caressing and
embracing her. My lord your father is altogether intent on the comedies.
When they are ended, hunting-parties will begin, and we shall all be
ready for the quails."

These amusements were unexpectedly interrupted by the news of Duchess
Leonora's serious illness, a gastric affection which ended fatally on
the 11th of October. The death of this virtuous and admirable lady was
deeply lamented both by the members of her immediate family circle and
by the subjects to whom she had endeared herself by her goodness of
heart. Funeral orations in her honour were delivered both at Mantua and
Milan, and Ariosto pronounced a panegyric in verse over her grave. The
young Duchess Beatrice, who had been with her mother at Venice so
lately, wept bitter tears, and for several weeks could scarcely be
persuaded to leave her room. Some anxiety was felt respecting her sister
Isabella, who, after being married for three years, was now expecting
the birth of her first child, and during ten days the news was concealed
from her. But by the end of that time the Marchesa began to be uneasy,
and to inquire why she received no letter from Ferrara. Soon the sad
news reached her from Milan, "whether out of mere imprudence or by some
malicious design, we cannot discover," wrote one of her ladies to the
absent marquis. Isabella, however, showed her usual prudence and
self-control. After the first burst of grief, she bore her loss with
fortitude, and found distraction in putting herself, her rooms, and her
household into mourning. In her anxiety to appear elegant, even in her
grief, we find her asking Beatrice to send her some of the white lawn
veils that were made in Milan, since she could find none to her taste in
Mantua. And at the same time, she begged one of her friends at the
Milanese court to give her minute details as to the colour and material
of the mourning worn by the duchess. On the 25th of October, her
correspondent replied--

"Although I have not yet been able to see the Duchess of Bari, since she
still remains entirely in her room, yet, in order to satisfy your
Highness, I have made inquiries as to the kind of mourning that she
wears. Her Excellency is clad in a robe of black cloth, with sleeves of
the same, and a very long mantle, also of black cloth, and wears on her
head a black silk cap with muslin folds, which are neither grey nor
yellow, but pure white. She hardly ever leaves her room, and Signor
Lodovico spends most of his time with her, and they two and Messer
Galeaz have their meals alone in their rooms."[45]

A fortnight later, Beatrice roused herself from her grief to help her
husband in the preparations for his niece Bianca Sforza's wedding to the
Emperor Maximilian. The death of the old Emperor Frederic III., who
breathed his last at Linz on the 19th of August, and the elevation of
his son to the imperial throne, had hastened the development of
Lodovico's plans. The King of the Romans, as he was still called, until
he could be solemnly invested with the imperial insignia, now proposed
to send ambassadors to Milan, before the end of the year, to solemnize
his espousals with the Princess Bianca and bring his bride across the
Alps to Innsbrück. The date of the wedding was fixed for the last week
in November, and Lodovico prepared to celebrate the event with fitting
splendour. The widowed Duchess Bona was transported with joy at the
prospect of this exalted alliance, and forgave the Moro all his sins in
her delight at seeing her daughter become an empress. On her part,
Beatrice prepared to lay aside her mourning for the occasion, and appear
in a new and wonderful robe at her niece's wedding.

Accordingly she wrote to Isabella on the 12th of November, asking her
sister's leave to make use of a design for a new _camora_, which had
been suggested by Niccolo da Correggio.

"I cannot remember if your Highness has yet carried out the idea of that
pattern of linked tracery which Messer Niccolo da Correggio suggested to
you when we were last together. If you have not yet ordered the
execution of this design, I am thinking of having his invention carried
out in massive gold, on a _camora_ of purple velvet, to wear on the day
of Madonna Bianca's wedding, since my husband desires the whole court to
lay aside mourning for that one day and to appear in colours. This being
the case, I cannot refrain from wearing colours on this occasion,
although the heavy loss we have had in our dear mother's death has left
me with little care for new inventions. But since this is necessary, I
have decided to make a trial of this pattern, if your Highness has not
yet made use of it, and send the present courier, begging you not to
detain him, but to let me know at once if you have yet tried this new
design or not."[46]

The courier to Mantua brought back word that the marchioness had not yet
made use of Niccolo's invention, and begged that her sister would feel
herself at liberty to adopt the idea and "satisfy her appetite."
Beatrice ordered the _camora_ to be put in hand without delay, and
Messer Niccolo had the satisfaction of seeing the duchess appear in this
robe at the imperial wedding. The subject is of special interest,
because this same pattern is repeated in the sleeves of Ambrogio de
Predis' portrait of Lodovico's fair young daughter Bianca, which must
have been painted about this time, and was probably adopted at the wish
of Beatrice, who was fondly attached to her youthful step-daughter.
Again, this same linked tracery or "_fantasia dei vinci_," as it is
called in Beatrice and her sister's letters, is to be seen both in the
decorations that adorn the ceiling of a hall in the Castello of Milan,
and on the vaulting of the sacristy in St. Maria delle Grazie. And as
Mr. Müntz[47] has lately pointed out, this same interlaced ornament, or
_vinci_, in which the Belgian professor, M. Errera, sees a play upon the
great painter's name, forms the motive of the famous circular engravings
bearing the words "_Academia Leonardi Vinci_," which have given rise to
so many conjectures as to the existence of that mysterious institution.
All these repetitions of the pattern invented by Niccolo da Correggio,
and adopted by Beatrice d'Este for her wedding robe, show how
fashionable the _fantasia dei vinci_ became at the Milanese court, and
lead us to imagine that Leonardo himself may have had some part in the
original design.

On the 5th of November, Lodovico wrote a note to Vigevano, where he and
Beatrice had retired after Duchess Leonora's death, informing his
father-in-law that he was on the point of returning to Milan to receive
the imperial ambassadors, Gaspar Melchior, Bishop of Brixen, and Jean
Bontemps. These important personages arrived on the 7th, and were met by
Lodovico and his nephew, the Duke of Milan, at the Porta Orientale,
opposite the newly erected Lazzaretto, and conducted in state to their
rooms in the Castello. Here the German envoys were loaded with gifts,
and magnificently entertained during the next three weeks. The nuptial
ceremony was put off a week, to allow time for the arrival of the
special envoys whom at the last moment Charles VIII. had decided to
send, to do homage to his allies, and finally took place on St.
Andrew's festival, the 30th of November, in the Duomo of Milan.

The street decorations on this occasion surpassed anything which had
been seen before; the doors and windows were wreathed with ivy, laurel,
and myrtle boughs, and the walls hung with tapestries and brocades
embroidered with the armorial bearings of the different royal houses
connected with the Sforza family. The adder of the Visconti, the cross
of Savoy, and the imperial eagle were seen side by side with the
mulberry-tree and other favourite devices of the Moro and his race,
while all manner of strange and fantastic emblems were introduced by
private owners, and one house exhibited the effigy of a crocodile, "a
creature never before seen," remarks the historian, Tristan Calco, "in
our city." But the most striking feature of the whole was the triumphal
arch erected on the piazza in front of the Castello, and, by Lodovico's
orders, crowned with Leonardo's model for the colossal equestrian statue
of the great captain, Francesco Sforza. This clay horse, to which the
Florentine master had devoted so many years of arduous labour, and which
had cost him such infinite thought and care, was now at length
completed, and the Milanese poets with one voice celebrated the praise
of Lodovico, who had ordered the work,--

    "Per memoria del padre un gran colosso;"

and the fame of Leonardo, whose rare genius had produced this unrivalled
statue--

    "Guarde pur come è bello quel cavallo
    Leonardo Vinci a farli sol s'è mosso
    Statura bon pictore, e bon geometra
    Un tanto ingegno rar dal ciel s'impetra."

So Baldassare Taccone sang in his poem on Bianca's wedding, while a
greater scholar, Lancinus Curtius, recorded the completion of the
long-expected work in the following epigram:--

    "Expectant animi, molemque futuram
    Suspiciunt; fluat æs; vox erit: Ecce deus!"

The court poet Taccone waxes eloquent over the splendour of the
procession, led by Messer Galeazzo, captain-general of the armies, and
the beauty of the bride, whose tall and slender figure showed to
advantage in her gorgeous apparel, with her long fair hair flowing over
her shoulders, as she rode through the streets bowing in response to the
enthusiastic cheers of the crowd. He paints the marvellous scene inside
the Duomo, where the venerable Archbishop of Milan sang mass in the
presence of the most brilliant assembly ever seen within its walls, and
the firing of guns and ringing of bells marked the moment when the
Bishop of Brixen placed the imperial crown on the bride's head. Taccone
describes the glittering array of chandeliers and vases, designed after
Signor Lodovico's favourite antique fashion, which adorned the high
altar, the blaze of a thousand wax lights which illumined the majestic
choir, the sweet perfumes of incense and celestial harmonies of the
music that filled the air. And, like a true courtier, he contrives to
make everything, decorations, music, and processions, redound to the
praise of the great Moro, the author of all the glories of Milan.

But we have an equally minute and perhaps more interesting description
of the scene from Beatrice's own pen, in a letter which she sent to her
sister Isabella from Vigevano on the 29th of December. The marchioness,
whose state of health prevented her from being present on the important
occasion, had begged her sister to send her full accounts of the
ceremony, but, owing to the _fêtes_ which followed the wedding and the
journey of the court as far as Como with the imperial bride, a whole
month elapsed before Beatrice was able to fulfil her promise.

"MOST ILLUSTRIOUS LADY AND DEAREST SISTER,

"I told you some time ago that I would let you have a full account of
the triumphant display held in Milan, at the marriage of her Most Serene
Highness the Queen of the Romans, and I certainly desired the chancellor
to send you this account. But since you write that it has never reached
you, the fault must rest with the said chancellor, and you must excuse
me for this apparent neglect.

"On the last day of the past month the nuptials took place, and in
preparation for this solemnity, a portico was erected in front of the
Chiesa Maggiore of the city of Milan, with pillars on either side,
supporting a purple canopy, embroidered with doves. Within the church,
the aisles were hung with brocade as far as the choir, in front of which
a triumphal arch had been erected on massive pillars. This was entirely
painted, and bore in the centre an effigy of Duke Francesco on
horseback, in his ducal robes, with the ducal arms and those of the King
of the Romans above. This triumphal arch was square in shape, and
ornamented with pictures of antique feasts, and the imperial insignia
and the arms of my husband were placed on the side towards the high
altar. Beyond this arch were steps that led up to a great tribunal
erected in front of the high altar. On the left was a small tribunal
from which the Gospel was sung, hung with gold brocade; on the right was
another, adorned with silver brocade; and behind these tribunals were
seats ranged in order and covered with draperies, for the councillors
and other feudatories and gentlemen. In the extreme corners of the choir
were two raised stages, one for the singers, the other for the
trumpeters, and in the space between were seated the doctors of law and
medicine, with their birettas and capes lined with fur, each according
to his rank. The altar itself was sumptuously adorned with all the
silver vases and images of saints which you saw in the Rocchetta when
you were at Milan.

"The street leading to the Duomo was beautifully decorated. There were
columns wreathed with ivy all the way from the bastions of the Castello
to the end of the piazza, and between the columns were festoons of
boughs bearing antique devices, and round shields with the imperial arms
and those of our house, and Sforzesca draperies were hung above the
street all the way from the Castello to the Duomo. Many of the doors had
their pillars wreathed with ivy and green boughs, so that the season
seemed to be May-time rather than November. On both sides of the street,
the walls were hung with satin, excepting those houses which have lately
been adorned with frescoes, and which are no less beautiful than
tapestries.

"On the morning of the day, at about nine o'clock, the reverend and
magnificent ambassadors of the King of the Romans rode to the church,
honourably attended by the Marchese Ermes, the Count of Caiazzo, Count
Francesco Sforza, the Count of Melzo, and Messer Lodovico da Fojano, and
took their seats on the grand tribunal, close to the small tribunal
covered with cloth of gold, on the left as you go in, this being counted
the most honourable place, as it is the Gospel side. At ten o'clock, her
serene Highness the Queen ascended the triumphal car which our dearest
mother of blessed memory gave me when I was at Ferrara, and which was
drawn on this occasion by four snow-white horses. The queen wore a vest
of crimson satin, embroidered in gold thread and covered with jewels.
Her train was immensely long, and the sleeves were made to look like two
wings, which had a very fine appearance. On her head she wore an
ornament of magnificent diamonds and pearls. And to add to the solemnity
of the occasion, Messer Galeazzo Pallavicino carried the train, and
Count Conrado de' Lando and Count Manfredo Torniello each of them
supported one of the sleeves. Before the bride walked all the
chamberlains, courtiers, officials, gentlemen, feudatories, and last of
all the councillors. The queen seated herself in the centre of the car,
the Duchess Isabella being on her right, and myself on her left. The
said duchess wore a _camora_ of crimson satin, with gold cords looped
over it, as in my grey cloth _camora_, which you must remember; and I
wore my purple velvet _camora_, with the pattern of the links worked in
massive gold and green and white enamel, about six inches deep on the
front and back of my bodice, and on both sleeves. The _camora_ was lined
with cloth of gold, and with it I wore a girdle of St. Francis made of
large pearls, with a beautiful clear-cut ruby for clasp. On the other
side of the chariot were Madonna Fiordelisa"--an illegitimate daughter
of Duke Francesco Sforza, who occupied rooms in the Castello,--"Madonna
Bianca, the wife of Messer Galeazzo; and the wife of Count Francesco
Sforza. The chariot was followed by the ambassadors who have been sent
by his Most Christian Majesty of France to honour these nuptials, and
after them came the envoys of the different Italian powers, according to
their rank, then the lord duke and my husband on horseback. These were
followed by about twelve chariots containing the noblest maidens of
Milan, who had been especially chosen and invited to attend the
solemnity, and the ladies of the queen, all wearing the same livery,
with tan-coloured _camoras_ and mantles of bright green satin. Both the
Duchess Isabella's ladies and mine were riding in these chariots. And as
we drove to the Duomo in this procession, all the shops and windows on
the road were hung with satin draperies and filled with men and women,
and it was impossible to count the crowds of people who thronged every
part of the streets.

"When we reached the gates of the Duomo, we alighted from the chariots
and found Madonna Beatrice waiting to receive the bride, with a number
of noble ladies, and we proceeded as far as the steps of the tribunal,
where the ambassadors of the King of the Romans advanced to meet the
queen, whom they conducted to her place on the great tribunal in front
of the high altar. Then we all took our proper places--that is to say,
the ambassadors mounted the tribunal covered with cloth of gold, the
queen was led to the tribunal of silver brocade, between the French
ambassadors, while behind them were seated the envoys of the other
powers, the duke and my husband, Duchess Isabella and myself. The other
honourable relatives of the bride occupied a lower range of seats, and
the central part of the tribunal was filled with a large number of
ladies. On the queen's side, the councillors, feudatories, and other
courtiers, officials, and chamberlains occupied the remainder of the
seats. As for the rest of the people, the church, which is a very large
one, could not contain them all.

"When we were all in our places, the Most Reverend Archbishop of Milan
entered in full vestments, with the priests in ordinary, and began to
celebrate mass with the greatest pomp and solemnity, to the sound of
trumpets, flutes, and organ-music, together with the voices of the
chapel choir, who adapted their singing to Monsignore's time. At the
singing of the Gospel, two of the priests in ordinary of the cathedral
bore the incense, the one to the ambassadors of the King Maximilian, and
the other to the queen, the duke and duchess, and my husband and myself,
who were opposite. The Pax was given, when the right time came, by the
Bishop of Piacenza to the king's representatives, and to us others who
sat on the other tribunal by the Bishop of Como. After mass had been
celebrated with the greatest solemnity, the queen rose from her place
between the ambassadors of his Most Christian Majesty, and, accompanied
by the duke and my husband, Duchess Isabella and myself, and followed by
all the princes of the blood, advanced to the altar. The ambassadors of
King Maximilian advanced on their side, and we all stood before the
altar, where Monsignore the Archbishop pronounced the marriage service,
and the Bishop of Brixen first gave the ring to the queen, and then,
assisted by the archbishop, placed on her head the crown, which act was
accompanied with great blowing of trumpets, ringing of bells, and firing
of guns and shells. And the said crown was of gold, enriched with
rubies, pearls, and diamonds, set in the form of arches meeting in the
shape of a cross, and on the top of all was a figure of the globe,
crowned with a small imperial cross, after the pattern given by the
ambassadors, in obedience to the king's directions.

"After this, every one walked in procession to the gates of the Duomo,
the above-named feudatories bearing the train and sleeves. Then the
women, as well as the men, mounted horses, and a _baldacchino_ of white
damask lined with ermine was prepared, under which the queen rode,
preceded by the ambassadors and the whole court, with the duke and my
husband at their head. Next to the queen rode the ambassadors of her
husband the king, the Bishop of Brixen being on the left hand, outside
the _baldacchino_, and so the long procession moved towards the
Castello. All the clergy of the city of Milan, richly apparelled and
very devout in appearance, were drawn up between the Castello and Duomo,
both on the way thither and on the return journey. Messer Zoan Francesco
Pallavicino and Messer Francesco Bernardo Visconti acted as the queen's
staff-bearers, from the Duomo to the Castello. The _baldacchino_ was
carried all the way by doctors robed in the manner described above, and
behind the queen rode the duchess and myself, followed by the relatives,
courtiers, and invited guests, all on horseback. Then came the ladies of
the queen, those of the duchess, and my own, all sumptuously clad and
making a splendid show, and finest of all was the queen, with the
imperial crown on her head. Nothing but gold and silver brocade was to
be seen, and the least well-dressed persons wore crimson velvet, so that
the costumes were a marvellous sight, besides the infinite number of
gold chains worn by knights and others. All those who were present
agreed that they had never seen so glorious a spectacle. And the
ambassador of Russia, who was among the spectators, declared that he had
never seen such extraordinary pomp. The nuncio of His Holiness the Pope
said the same, as well as the French ambassador, who declared that,
although he had been present at the Pope's coronation and at that of his
own king and queen, he had never seen as splendid a sight. Your Highness
may judge from this how full of pleasure and glory these nuptials have
been. All the people shouted for joy, and so at length we reached the
Castello of Milan, where the procession broke up and the crowd
dispersed. I wished for your presence many times during the whole
ceremony, but since this desire of mine could not be satisfied, I
thought I would give you this account with my own hand. Commending
myself to your Highness as ever,

                                   "Your sister,
                   BEATRIX SFORTIA VICECOMES ESTENSIS DUCHISA BRI.[48]

Vigevano, December 29, 1493.

To my illustrious lady and most dear sister the lady Isabella di
Gonzaga Estensis, Marchionissæ Mantuæ."

The splendours which Beatrice describes with so much enthusiasm did not
end with the bride's return to the Castello. Here Bianca's magnificent
trousseau was exhibited before the admiring eyes of the ladies of Milan.
It was valued at 100,000 ducats, and included not only rich clothes and
costly jewels, but gold and silver plate for use in the royal chapel and
on the dinner-table, altar fittings and bed-hangings, mirrors and
perfumes, and a vast store of fine linen, carpets, saddles and
horse-trappings of the most sumptuous description. The court poet goes
on to tell how Duchess Bona welcomed her daughter with tears of joy, and
how during the next two days high festival was held in the Castello.
There was a tournament, in which the "gran Sanseverini" once more proved
their valour, and Messer Galeaz as usual bore off the prize, followed
by much feasting and dancing, and a grand display of fireworks. "So many
torches and lights illumined the darkness of night, that all Milan
blazed as if the city were on fire."

On the third day after the marriage ceremony, the queen started on her
journey across the Alps, attended by Maximilian's ambassadors and a
numerous suite, which included her brother, Ermes Sforza; her cousin,
Francesco Sforza; the Archbishop of Milan; the poet Gaspare Visconti;
and the great jurist Giasone del Maino, as well as Erasmo Brasca, who
was to resume his post of envoy to the King of the Romans. The Duke and
Duchess of Milan, Lodovico and Beatrice, and Bona of Savoy all
accompanied Bianca as far as Como, where the bishop and clergy came out
to meet her, and conducted her in state to the cathedral. After a solemn
thanksgiving service, at which all the court assisted, the queen and the
German ambassadors spent the night in the episcopal palace, while the
other princes and princesses were entertained in the houses of
distinguished courtiers in the town. On the following morning the bride
took leave of her family, and embarked on a richly decorated barge
fitted out by the royal citizens of Torno and rowed by forty sailors,
while her suite followed in thirty smaller boats, painted and decked out
with laurel boughs and tapestries. Niccolo da Correggio, whose daughter
Leonora was one of the ladies chosen to accompany Bianca on her journey,
has described the beauty of the scene that morning, the blue waters of
the lake covered with glittering sails, the shores crowded with people
in holiday attire, and the joyous sounds of music that filled the air as
the gay _cortége_ left Como. The bridal party reached Bellagio in
safety, and after spending the night at the Marchesino Stanga's castle,
started on their journey towards the upper end of the lake. But hardly
had they left the shore, than the weather changed and a violent storm
scattered the fleet in all directions. The poor young queen and her
ladies wept and cried aloud to God for mercy, and their companions were
scarcely less terrified. Only Giasone del Maino preserved his composure
and smiled at the terror of the courtiers, who gave themselves up for
lost, while he exhorted the frightened boatmen to keep their heads.
Fortunately, towards nightfall the tempest subsided, and after tossing
on the waves for several hours, the queen's barge with part of the fleet
managed to put back into Bellagio. The next day a more prosperous start
was made, and on the 8th of December the party set off on horseback to
cross the mountain passes. But the hardships of the journey were not yet
over. A rough mule-track was the only road that led in those days over
the Alps that divided the Valtellina from the Tyrol, "that fearful and
cruel mountain of Nombray," as the Venetian chronicler calls the pass
now crossed by the Stelvio road. No wonder the sight of those
precipitous cliffs filled the Milanese ladies with terror, and they
shrank from exploring such barbarous regions in the depth of winter. One
maid of honour had to be left behind at Gravedona, unable to bear the
fatigues of the journey, and Bianca herself complained bitterly to
Erasmo Brasca of the hardships which she had to endure. "The queen,"
wrote the ambassador to Lodovico, "conducts herself well on the whole,
but often complains that I deceive her, by telling her, each morning
when she mounts her horse, that she will not find the road so rough
to-day, and then, as ill luck will have it, it turns out to be worse
than ever." At length, however, on the 23rd of December, the travellers
reached Innsbrück, and Bianca was kindly received by Maximilian's uncle,
the Archduke Sigismund of Austria, and his wife, with whom she spent
Christmas and beguiled the winter days with dancing and games, while
Erasmo Brasca went on to meet the King of the Romans at Vienna. Even
then some weeks passed before this laggard bridegroom joined his newly
wedded wife, and Erasmo Brasca's mind was sorely perturbed at his
prolonged delays and excuses. Bianca, however, whose childish mind was
easily distracted, found plenty of amusement in her new surroundings and
wrote long and affectionate letters to her uncle Lodovico, telling him
how she and the Archduchess Barbara had been dressing up their ladies _à
la Tedesca_ and _à la Lombarda_, and how the court painter, Ambrogio de
Predis, who had accompanied her from Milan to paint Maximilian's
portrait, had just made a picture of the archduchess, which greatly
pleased her. And she informs her uncle that the German princess had sent
to ask her for a portrait of Signor Lodovico, which she had been very
anxious to see and had studied with the greatest interest.

Finally, on the 9th of March, Maximilian arrived at the castle of Hall,
where his bride met him, and the marriage was at length consummated, "to
the confusion of all our enemies," as Brasca wrote triumphantly to his
master on the following morning. This union, in which Lodovico's friends
and foes alike acknowledged a master-stroke of successful diplomacy, was
not destined to prove a very happy one. From the first Maximilian looked
with critical eyes on this bride of twenty-one, who was thirteen years
younger than himself, and told Erasmo Brasca that Bianca was quite as
fair as his first wife, Mary of Burgundy, but inferior in wisdom and
good sense to that princess, adding that perhaps she might improve in
time. He treated her kindly to begin with, and gratified her by the
handsome robes which he gave her in order that she might appear attired
in German fashion at her coronation. Before long, however, he began to
find fault with her extravagant habits, and complained that she had
spent 2000 florins, presented to her by the city of Cologne, in one
single day. Brasca himself felt obliged to remonstrate with her on her
foolish tricks, especially for eating her meals on the floor instead of
at table, and other bad habits which annoyed the emperor, while the
violent friendship which she made with one of her ladies, Violante by
name, led to continual intrigues and quarrels. Maximilian soon began to
find her presence wearisome, and to leave her mostly to herself, and
when he found that his hopes of an heir did not seem likely to be
realized, he allowed the poor empress to lead a very dull and solitary
life. Left alone, as she often was for weeks, in the vast, gloomy castle
of Innsbrück, Bianca pined for the bright and sunny villas and palaces
of Milan, and looked back sadly on the gay years of her old life. She
was constantly writing affectionate letters to her uncle, asking him to
give places and pensions to her old friends and servants in Milan, and
begging him for portraits of himself and Beatrice, as well as for the
silks and feathers, the jewels and perfumes, with which her thoughts
were always busy.[49]

But, to do her justice, she proved a loyal friend to Lodovico in his
darkest days, and when his children lived in exile at Innsbrück, they
found a kind and loving protector in the empress during the few
remaining years of her life. From the year after her marriage her health
began to droop, and she became gradually weaker, until in 1510 she died
of this lingering illness, and was buried in the Franciscan church of
Innsbrück, where the bronze effigy of Maximilian's Lombard bride, robed
in the rich brocades which she loved so well, still adorns his sumptuous
mausoleum.

FOOTNOTES:

[45] Luzio-Renier. _op. cit._, pp. 380-382.

[46] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 383.

[47] "Leonardo da Vinci," by Eugène Müntz, vol. i. p. 226.

[48] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 388.

[49] F. Calvi, _Bianca Maria Sforza_



CHAPTER XIX

State of political affairs in Italy--Vacillating policy of Lodovico
Sforza--Death of King Ferrante of Naples--Alliance between his successor
Alfonso and Pope Alexander VI.--Lodovico urges Charles VIII. to invade
Naples--Sends Galeazzo di Sanseverino to Lyons--Cardinal della Rovere's
flight from Rome--Alfonso of Naples declares war--Beatrice at
Vigevano--The Gonzagas and the Moro--Duchess Isabella and her husband at
Pavia.

1493-1494


While Lodovico's newly-formed alliance with Maximilian strengthened his
hands on the one hand, on the other it helped to aggravate the strained
relations already existing between himself and the royal family of
Naples. The promise of the investiture of Milan, which he had received
from the emperor, soon became known; it was freely discussed that autumn
both in Rome and Venice, and gave Alfonso of Calabria good reason to
take up arms in defence of his son-in-law Gian Galeazzo's rights. But
King Ferrante still hesitated to declare war against Milan, and, while
he raised forces and made preparations for the defence of his dominions,
was far more concerned to detach Lodovico from the French alliance than
to interfere in the domestic affairs of Milan on behalf of his
granddaughter and her husband. In August he succeeded in making peace
with Pope Alexander, and even consented to a marriage contract between
his granddaughter Sancia, and Godfrey Borgia, the Pope's young son. This
new departure alarmed Lodovico seriously, and produced a marked
alteration in his foreign policy. When Charles the Eighth's envoy,
Perron de' Baschi, visited Milan in June, he met with polite but vague
answers from the Moro, and received no distinct promise of support in
the conquest of Naples. But early in September, Count Belgiojoso
returned to France, and lost no time in seeking an interview with the
king. "Is your Majesty going to undertake the expedition or not?" were
his first words. "Signor Lodovico is anxious to learn your intention."

"I have already told Signor Lodovico my intentions a thousand times
over, by envoys and letters," replied the king, petulantly, and
proceeded to intimate that if the Moro played him false, he would
support the Duke of Orleans in reviving his old claims on the Milanese.
Belgiojoso hastened to assure Charles of his master's friendly
sentiments, upon which the king's ill temper mollified, and he said,
"Then I will regard him as a father, and seek his advice in everything."

All the same, when Charles repeated his request that Lodovico should
send him Messer Galeazzo, and expressed his great wish to see the hero
of so many tournaments in person, the Moro once more gave an evasive
answer, and told Belgiojoso that he could not spare his son-in-law at
present. The Pope showed his friendliness to the house of Este by
including Beatrice's brother Ippolito, a lad of fifteen, among the
twelve cardinals whom he created that September, his own son, Cesar
Borgia, being another of the number. In November he sent Lodovico his
cordial congratulations on his niece's marriage with the emperor, and
presented Maximilian with a consecrated sword.

"This is the state of affairs in Italy at present," wrote the chronicler
Malipiero on the 25th of September, 1493. "The Pope is in league with
Lodovico of Milan. Maximilian, King of the Romans, has been elected
emperor, and has taken Bianca Sforza to wife with 400,000 ducats, and
Lodovico is to be invested with the duchy of Milan by him as emperor. At
Rome Cardinal Ascanio's affairs prosper, and Lodovico of Milan is on
intimate terms with the Pope and all of his allies. And Duke Ercole has
sent his son Alfonso to France to tell King Charles that his troops will
have free passage to Naples through his dominions, because he is the
father-in-law of Lodovico."

Under these circumstances, old King Ferrante, becoming desperate, made a
last effort to win over Lodovico to his side, and implored him to use
his influence to stop the French monarch, warning him that the tide of
events might in the end prove too strong for him. "The time will come,"
replied Lodovico proudly, "when all Italy will turn to me and pray to be
delivered from the coming evils." In his anxiety to recover the Moro's
friendship, the old king even thought of coming to Genoa himself to meet
his granddaughter's husband, and arrive at some agreement. But early in
the new year he fell ill, and died of fever on the 25th of January, at
the age of seventy.

The death of Ferrante and accession of his son Alfonso, the father of
Duchess Isabella, and a personal enemy of the Moro, brought matters to a
crisis. The old king could never conquer his dislike of the Pope, and
had only given a reluctant consent to the proposed marriage of his
granddaughter with a Borgia. Alfonso, on the contrary, was ready to
agree to any terms which might conciliate Alexander VI., and employed
every artifice to obtain the Pope's support, and that of Piero de'
Medici against France and Milan. In spite of the compliments that were
exchanged on both sides upon his accession, Alfonso's enmity to Lodovico
Sforza was well known at Naples, and the Milanese ambassador, Antonio
Stanga, warned Lodovico to beware of assassins and prisoners, since, to
his certain knowledge, the "new king has paid large sums of money to
several Neapolitans of bad repute, who have been sent to Milan on some
evil errand." After much vacillation on the Pope's part, and prolonged
negotiations with both France and Naples, he was induced by the Orsini,
who were staunch allies of the house of Aragon, to grant Alfonso the
investiture of Naples, and to send his son, Cardinal Juan Borgia, to
officiate at his coronation. A papal bull was addressed to Charles
VIII., warning him not to invade Italy at the peril of his soul, and
Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, whose influence had been hitherto all-powerful
with the Pope, left the Vatican and retired to his own palace. The
Pope's change of front finally determined Lodovico's policy. From this
moment he threw himself heart and soul into the alliance with France,
and left no stone unturned to bring Charles VIII. into Italy. In an
important letter which, on the 10th of March, he addressed to his
brother, Cardinal Ascanio, who shared all his secrets, he reminds him
that he had originally been no friend to the French invasion.

"It is not true," he writes, "that the whole movement proceeds from me.
It was the Most Christian King who took the initiative, which is proved
by the appeal for the investiture of Naples, which he addressed to the
late Pope Innocent, and also by many letters written on the subject by
our own hand. When the Treaty of Senlis was signed, he sent his envoy to
tell me that he meant to invade Italy. At that moment, seeing how badly
the King of Naples had behaved against the Holy Father, I was not sorry
to come to the help of His Holiness. I ceased to dissuade the Most
Christian King from the enterprise. I approved his resolution, and now
he is at Lyons."

As late as the 6th of February, Lodovico had again declined to send
Messer Galeazzo to France, saying that every one would think he had come
to hasten the king's movements, and that in this way Charles would lose
the honour of the campaign. But when the news of the alliance between
Alfonso and the Pope reached him, he made no further difficulties, and
on the 1st of April, Galeazzo started for Lyons. On the 5th, he entered
the town secretly, disguised as a German, and, accompanied only by four
riders, made his way to the royal lodgings, and saw the king privately,
this being the day which had been selected by Lodovico's astrologer,
Ambrogio da Rosate, for his arrival at court. On the following morning
he made his public entry, attended by a suite of a hundred horsemen clad
in the French fashion, which Messer Galeazzo himself commonly affected.
The king received him with the utmost cordiality, and conducted him
immediately to see the queen, whom he presented with a magnificent
Spanish robe in Lodovico's name, together with choice specimens of
Milanese armour, jennets from his own famous breed, and several handsome
silver flagons filled with fragrant perfumes, in which Charles took
especial delight. The French king fell an easy victim to this brilliant
cavalier's personal charm. He insisted on seeing him ride in a tilting
match before the court, and could talk of nothing but Messer Galeazzo's
feats of horsemanship, whether in council or at table, and even when he
went to bed. He bestowed the order of St. Michel upon his guest, and,
among other marks of favour, he invited Galeazzo to his private rooms,
where he sat with a few of his favourites, and, taking one of the
fairest maidens by the hand, presented her to his visitor. Then the king
himself sat down by another, and so they remained for some hours in
pleasant conversation."

In his reply to Belgiojoso, who duly reported these events to his
master, Lodovico dwells with infinite satisfaction on the great honours
which have been paid to his dear son, and rejoices to hear that his
Majesty has introduced him into his private apartments, and even shared
his domestic pleasures with him. The presence of Galeazzo di Sanseverino
at Lyons had, no doubt, the effect of counteracting the intrigues of the
Duke of Orleans and the Aragonese party at the French court, and the
confidence with which he inspired Charles dissipated any doubts which
the king may have entertained of Lodovico's honesty. "The mission of
Signor Galeazzo," wrote Belgiojoso, "has been crowned with success.
Without his coming, the enterprise would have been utterly ruined."

Another and still more powerful advocate of the expedition now appeared
at Lyons in the person of Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, who, in
Guicciardini's opinion, "was the fatall instrument of all the miseries
of Italy." This bitter enemy of the Borgias had been repeatedly
threatened with assassination by the Pope's creatures, and, feeling that
Ostia was no safe place for him, he embarked one night in a fisherman's
bark and fled first to Savona and thence to Genoa. Here, with Lodovico's
assistance, he managed to proceed on his journey to France, and on the
1st of June reached Lyons, where his vehement invectives against the
Pope and urgent entreaties helped to hasten the king's preparations. At
the same time Erasmo Brasca, acting under Lodovico's orders, succeeded
in disarming Maximilian's opposition to the French king's invasion of
Italy, and wrote to his master on the 14th of June, informing him that
the French ambassador had just left Worms with an assurance from the
emperor that he would not impede that monarch's designs upon Naples.
When, ten days later, Galeazzo di Sanseverino returned to Milan, the die
was cast, and the French invasion of Italy was at length finally
determined. Meanwhile the long-expected rupture between Milan and Naples
had taken place. On the 8th of May, Alfonso was crowned by the papal
nuncio, Juan Borgia, after the marriage of the Princess Sancia to
Godfrey Borgia had been solemnized on the previous day. A fortnight
later, as the king rode in state, accompanied by all the foreign
ambassadors, to church on the Feast of Corpus Christi, he took occasion
to ask the Milanese envoy, Antonio Stanga, if the news which reached him
from Lyons were true, and the French king's enterprise, after being
almost given up, had now been decided upon, owing to Messer Galeazzo's
visit. The ambassador listened deferentially, cap in hand, but
courteously disclaimed all knowledge of such information.

"Tell Signor Lodovico," returned the king, "that he will be the first to
rue the day when the French set foot in Italy."

"Before I had time to reply," writes Stanga, "the other ambassadors had
arrived to salute his Majesty, and I did not see him again alone."

A few days later the Milanese envoy was abruptly dismissed, and war
declared against Milan. Alfonso committed the first open act of
hostilities by seizing Lodovico's principality of Bari. At the same time
a fleet was equipped to attack Genoa, and the land forces prepared to
join the papal army and march through Romagna against the Milanese.

The winter of 1494, "that most unhappie year for Italy," writes
Guicciardini, "for that in it was made open the way to infinite and
horrible calamities," was spent by Lodovico and his wife at their
favourite palace of Vigevano. After Bianca's wedding they had retired
there, to spend the remaining period of Beatrice's mourning at this
country retreat, and did not leave until the spring was well advanced.
From here Beatrice wrote on the 3rd of January to rejoice with her
sister Isabella on the birth of her first child, a daughter, who
received the name of Leonora, after their beloved mother. The duchess
congratulated her sister in affectionate terms, and signed herself,
"_Quella che desidera vedere la Signoria Vostra_." She who desires to
see your Highness,

"BEATRICE SFORZA D'ESTE."[50]

Below she added messages from her baby-boy: "Ercole begs me to commend
him to your Highness, and to his new cousin."

Perhaps Beatrice was the more cordial and warm in expressing her
affection for her sister because of the difference that had lately
arisen between her husband and the marquis, who had lately been invited
to take the command of the King of Naples' troops in the war against
Milan. This offer he eventually declined, as well as an invitation from
the French king to enter his service; but on this and other occasions
his attitude excited Lodovico's displeasure, while the Moro's somewhat
imperious request annoyed both Gianfrancesco and his wife. For one
thing, Isabella could not forgive the way in which her brother-in-law
desired that fish from the lake of Garda should to sent to Milan at his
pleasure, and wrote to her husband on the 1st of February in the
following terms:--

"I am quite willing to see that fish should be sent to Milan
occasionally, but not every week, as he requests in his imperious
fashion, as if we were his feudatories, lest it should appear as if we
were compelled to send it, and it were a kind of tribute."

But although Beatrice's exalted position and the splendour of the
Milanese court sometimes excited Isabella's envy, and Lodovico's
pretensions ruffled her equanimity, nothing ever disturbed the happy
relations between the sisters. Beatrice was always frank and generous in
her behaviour to Isabella, and the marchioness remained sincerely
attached to her, and in her letters to her beloved sister-in-law, the
Duchess of Urbino, constantly assures her that she holds the next place
in her heart to that occupied by her only sister, "_la sorella mia
unica, la Duchessa di Bari_."

It was at Vigevano that winter, on the 28th of January, that Lodovico
drew up the deed of gift by which he endowed his wife with his palace
lands of Cussago, as well as the Sforzesca and other lands in the
district of Novara and Pavia. The deed, signed with his own hand, and
richly illuminated by some excellent miniature painter of the Milanese
school, is preserved in the British Museum, and is an admirable example
of contemporary Lombard art. Medallion portraits of Lodovico and
Beatrice are painted on the vellum, together with a frieze of lovely
_putti_, supporting their armorial bearings, and a variety of Sforza
devices and mottoes, interspersed with festoons of foliage and fruit,
torches and cornucopias. Lodovico's strongly marked features and long
dark hair are relieved by the richness of his dark blue mantle sown with
gold stars, while Beatrice wears a gold _ferronière_ on her brow. Her
dark brown hair is coiled in a jewelled net, a lock strays over her
cheek, as in Zenale's portrait in the Brera altar-piece. Her mauve
bodice is enriched with gold arabesques, and a cross of pearls hangs
from a long chain she wears round her throat.

There were no _fêtes_ that spring at Milan or Pavia. The treasury was
exhausted by the great expenses of the Empress Bianca's wedding, and the
court was still in mourning, while Lodovico's time and thoughts were
absorbed in diplomatic correspondence and preparations for war. But
there were gay hunting-parties at Vigevano, in which Beatrice joined
with all her wonted spirit and love of sport.

"I must thank you for your pleasant account of my brother's
hunting-expeditions," wrote Lodovico on the 18th of March to his old
favourite, Count Tuttavilla, who was staying in Rome with Cardinal
Ascanio; "but I really think, if my brother were here and could join in
our hunting-parties, he would find them even more delightful." In the
same letter he gives Girolamo a hint of the deed of investiture which he
was hoping to receive from Maximilian.

"I have nothing else to say, saving that, by reason of the warm
friendship we entertain with his serene Majesty the King of the Romans,
as well as with the Most Christian King, to which we may add the love
which his Holiness bears us, I hope soon to give you some good news
which will greatly please you."[51]

Girolamo Tuttavilla, the old and tried servant to whom this letter was
addressed, had left Milan in February, owing to a quarrel with Galeazzo
di Sanseverino and his brothers, whose haughty manners gave frequent
offence to other Milanese courtiers. Both Lodovico and Beatrice, to whom
Tuttavilla was sincerely attached, did their best to allay his
displeasure, and Cardinal Ascanio tried to induce his guest to use
greater moderation in speaking of Messer Galeazzo and his brothers; but,
although Girolamo kept up friendly relations with the duke and duchess,
the wound was never healed, and he refused to return to Milan. He
afterwards entered the service of the young King Ferrante of Naples, and
when a league was formed to oppose the French invaders, was appointed to
command the cavalry, but found himself once more brought into contact
with his old rivals Galeazzo and Fracassa, who were at the head of the
Milanese contingent, and soon parted company with them, complaining
that Messer Galeazzo would obey no one. But he never renounced his
allegiance to Lodovico, and sent him and Beatrice his most hearty
congratulations when the Moro became Duke of Milan.

The Sanseverini brothers seem frequently to have given offence to
Lodovico's other ministers by their proud bearing. Even the mild and
patient Erasmo Brasca incurred Messer Galeazzo's displeasure by
repeating some reports about his French leanings which had reached the
German court, and had to send an apology before he could obtain pardon
for his mistake. But nothing could diminish the favour with which
Lodovico regarded his son-in-law, and during his absence at Lyons we
find him busy in preparing a new and splendid palace at Vigevano to
receive Messer Galeazzo and his youthful bride. In a letter which the
Moro addressed on the 11th of May to his superintendent of works, the
Marchesino Stanga, we find a mention of this building, as well as of the
decoration of several rooms in the Castello of Milan.

"MARCHESINO,--We have given orders that the rooms which are being added
on the garden side should be furnished according to the enclosed list,
and desire that you should provide Messer Gualtero with the necessary
money, 127-1/2 ducats, which you will charge on the extraordinary fund.
You will provide in the same way for the moneys which I have assigned
for the building of Messer Galeazzo's palace, and for the conduits for
watering the Giardinato and the adjoining lavatories, also for the
painting of the hall and dining-room occupied by the chamberlain of my
illustrious consort, so that they may be fit for use, as arranged, by
the end of the month."[52]

Neither the pressure of political affairs nor the anxieties of
approaching conflict could destroy Lodovico's interest in artistic
matters in the decorations of the Castello or the furnishing of his new
rooms. The object which at this time lay nearest to his heart was the
completion of Santa Maria delle Grazie, the Dominican church which he
had taken under his especial protection, and which he intended to be the
burial-place of his family. Even now Bramante was engaged in
constructing the new cupola, and before long his favourite painter
Leonardo was to set to work on his great Cenacolo in the refectory.

While Lodovico and Beatrice were pursuing these different objects of
their ambition, the unfortunate Duchess Isabella was eating out her
heart in the Castello of Pavia. After the imperial wedding, at which she
had made so brave a show, she and Gian Galeazzo retired to Pavia, and
were rarely seen in public again. The duke's health and mental condition
became every day more enfeebled, and his wife devoted herself wholly to
him and her children. That winter she gave birth to a second daughter,
who was named Ippolita after her grandmother, but died at the age of
seven. And now, as if to increase the sadness of her forlorn condition,
came the prospect of war with Naples, and the invasion of her father's
dominions by a foreign monarch, who entered Italy as the ally of
Lodovico, the usurper of her husband's throne. But melancholy as her
surroundings were, and keenly as she felt the sight of her rival
Beatrice's prosperity, the privations which she and her husband were
forced to endure have been greatly exaggerated. According to Corio, they
were often destitute of food and necessaries, and reduced to the verge
of starvation. This chronicler, however, was not only frequently
inaccurate in his statements, but had a spite against Duchess Beatrice,
whose character and actions he totally misrepresented, while, after
Lodovico's fall, his ingratitude towards his former master drew down
upon him the bitter reproaches and invective of Lancinius Curtius. In
this instance his statements are refuted by the bills for the expenses
of the ducal household, which are still preserved in the Milanese
archives. From these records we learn that Isabella's ladies were as
numerous and as richly dressed as those of any reigning sovereign, and
that her _camoras_ and jewels were as sumptuous as Beatrice's own. Gian
Galeazzo's stables were always well filled with horses and hounds, for
Lodovico was too wise to grudge his nephew anything that tended to
occupy his thoughts and distract them from public affairs. And during
his last illness the unfortunate duke announced his intention of giving
dowries to a hundred poor maidens on his recovery, which affords another
proof that his poverty was not so great as Corio has declared. But none
the less it was a bitter mortification for a king's daughter of the
proud house of Aragon to see herself and her husband left with the mere
semblance of power, while her cousin reigned in her place.

FOOTNOTES:

[50] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 389.

[51] Gabotto, G. _Tuttavilla_.

[52] Luca Beltrami, _Il Castello di Milano_.



CHAPTER XX

Arrival of the Duke of Orleans at Asti--The Neapolitan fleet sent
against Genoa--The forces of Naples repulsed at Rapallo--Charles VIII.
at Asti--Beatrice d'Este entertains him at Annona--The king's
illness--His visit to Vigevano and Pavia--His interview with the Duke
and Duchess of Milan--Last illness and death of Giangaleazzo
Sforza--Lodovico proclaimed Duke at Milan--Mission of Maffeo Pirovano to
Maximilian.

1494


On the 10th of July, the Duke of Orleans crossed the Alps with the
advanced guard of the French army, and arrived at his own city of Asti,
the fief which had formed part of the dowry of his grandmother,
Valentina Visconti. Lodovico Sforza went to meet him at Alexandria on
the 13th of July, and held a council of war there. The naval
preparations that were being made at Genoa were the chief subject of
discussion, and Orleans asked for a loan of sixty thousand ducats, which
the Moro undertook to arrange. This was the first meeting between these
two princes, who were destined to become such bitter enemies in days to
come. Even now it was well known that the Duke of Orleans assumed the
title of _Dux Mediolani_, and his deeply rooted aversion to the Moro was
no secret at Milan. But both princes had the same courtly and polished
manners, and Lodovico on his part took care that nothing should be
wanting in the entertainment of his rival. The other ambassadors watched
the scene with curious eyes, but the first impression which Louis of
Orleans made upon them was distinctly unfavourable. "He has a small head
with not much room for brains," wrote Pietro Alamanni to Piero de'
Medici; "Lodovico will soon get the better of him."

Much interest was excited among the Milanese ladies by the arrival of
the French duke, and Benedetto Capilupi, who had been sent from Mantua
to invite Beatrice to the christening of her infant niece, Leonora
Gonzaga, wrote to Isabella on the 23rd of July--

"The duchess says that when the Duke of Orleans comes here, she will
have to leave off her mourning and dance, and be kissed by the duke, who
will kiss all the maids of honour and all the court ladies after the
French fashion. Barone, the jester, says that when he has kissed Madonna
Polissena d'Este, he will be tired of it and will go no further. When
the Count Dauphin and other princes of the blood royal arrive, the
duchess sends your Highness word that you will have to come too and
receive some of these kisses."

The Duke of Orleans, however, had no time to waste in paying his
respects to the ladies of Beatrice's court. Directly after his interview
with Lodovico, he went on to Genoa to fit out the French fleet to oppose
that in which Alfonso's brother, Don Federigo, had already sailed to
attack Genova. Twice over during the next few weeks the Neapolitan
forces landed at Porto Venere and Rapallo, but each time they were
repulsed by the Genoese and French troops, supported by a strong
Milanese contingent under the gallant Fracassa and Antonio di
Sanseverino, after which Don Federigo retired to the harbour of Leghorn,
and was soon recalled to defend Naples itself against the French. On the
27th of July, the Count of Caiazzo received the _bâton_ of command from
Lodovico's hands on the piazza in front of the Castello of Milan, and
started at the head of fifteen hundred foot soldiers and light cavalry
to join the French army that was marching into Romagna to meet the
forces led by Ferrante Duke of Calabria. On the 23rd of August, Isabella
d'Este came to Parma at her brother-in-law's invitation to meet him and
the French ambassador, and see the first French troops under La
Trémouille and Stuart d'Aubigny--the Marchese d'Obegnino, as the
Italians called him--march through the town. The spectacle, however, was
less imposing than she expected, only about four hundred light cavalry
riding past, as she describes it, in some confusion and disorder.

Meanwhile Charles VIII. had at length crossed the Alps and after pawning
the jewels of his allies, the Marchioness of Montferrat and Duchess of
Savoy, to pay his troops, arrived at Asti on the 9th of September. Here
he was received with great honour by Lodovico and his father-in-law,
Duke Ercole, who rode out to meet him on his entry into the town. The
magistrates and citizens welcomed him as their liege lord, and the
illiterate French barons were amazed to hear a child of eleven,
Margareta Solari, declaim a Latin oration with perfect ease and fluency.
Two days afterwards Beatrice herself arrived at the castle of Annona, in
the neighbourhood of Asti, bringing her choir of singers and musicians,
and accompanied by eighty ladies especially chosen for their beauty and
rich attire, and gave the king a magnificent reception. Charles
advanced, cap in hand, to greet the duchess, and, beginning with
Beatrice and Bianca, the young wife of Messer Galeazzo, kissed all the
ladies present. The beauty and vivacity of the young duchess made a deep
impression upon the susceptible French monarch, who could not take his
eyes off her, and after spending some time with her in lively
conversation, begged her to allow him to see her dance. Beatrice readily
complied with his request, as she tells Isabella in the following
letter, written from Annona on the 12th of September:--

"About noonday the king came here to pay me a friendly visit with the
chief lords of his court, and remained for about three hours with me and
my ladies, conversing with the greatest familiarity and affection. I
assure you that no prince in the world could have made himself more
agreeable. He desired to see my ladies dance, and then begged me to
dance before him, which seemed to give him great pleasure."[53]

The young king himself, short and ill proportioned as he was, with round
shoulders and a large head, a very wide mouth and big nose, cut but a
very sorry figure by the side of the stately Moro and the handsome
Sanseverini brothers; but his good nature and genial manners atoned for
his want of presence, and surprised Beatrice and her ladies, who had
expected a far more formidable personage. "He was little in stature and
of small sense, very timid in speech owing to the way in which he had
been treated as a child, and as feeble in mind as he was in body, but
the kindest and gentlest creature alive," says Commines, who accompanied
Charles to Asti, and was sent on as ambassador to Venice. Guicciardini's
judgment is more severe--

"And for the increasing of the infelicities of Italy, he whose coming
brought all these calamities, was void of almost all the gifts of
nature and the mind. For it is most certaine that King Charles from his
infancie was of complexion very delicate and of body unsound and
diseased, of small stature, and of face, if the aspect and dignitie of
his eyes had been taken away, foule and deformed, his other members
bearing such equal proportion that he seemed more a monster than a man.
He was not only without all knowledge of good sciences, but scarcely he
knew the distinct characters of letters; his mind desirous to command,
but more proper to any other thing, for that being environed alwayes
with his familiars and favourites, he retained with them no majestie or
authoritie; he rejected all affaires and businesse, and yet if he did
debate and consider in any he showed a weak discretion and judgment. And
if he had anything in him that carried appearance of merite of praise,
yet being thoroughly weighed and sounded, it was found farther off from
vertue than vice. He had an inclination to glory, but it was tempered
more with rashness and fury than with moderation and counsell: his
liberalities were without discretion, measure, or distinction,
immoveable oftentimes in his purposes, but that was rather an
ill-grounded obstinacy than constancie, and that which many call bountie
deserved more reasonably in his the name of coldnesse and slacknesse of
spirit."[54]

The splendours of the court of Milan, and more especially the toilettes
of the Duchess Beatrice and her ladies, amazed the French chroniclers,
who have left us a graphic description of the scene at the castle of
Annona. The poet André de la Vigne, in his rhyming chronicle "Le Vergier
d'honneur," describes Beatrice's sumptuous apparel in the following
lines:--

    "Avecques luy fist venir sa partie
      Qui de Ferrare fille du duc estait;
    De fin drap d'or en tout ou en partie
      De jour en jour volontiers se vestait
    Chaines, colliers, affiquetz, pierrerie,
    Ainsi qu'on dit en ung commun proverbe,
      Tant en avait que c'etait diablerie.
    Brief mieulx valait le lyen que le gerbe.
    Autour du col bagues, joyaulx carcaus,
      Et pour son chief de richesse estoffer,
      Bordures d'or, devises et brocans."

And in his "Histoire de Charles VIII." (1684) Godefroy quotes the
following letter, written by an eye-witness from the French camp to the
king's sister, Anne Duchess of Bourbon, for whose benefit Charles had
Beatrice's portrait painted by Jean Perréal and sent to Moulins:--

"People crowd to meet and welcome the king from all parts, princes and
princesses, dukes and duchesses. Only this morning a new one has
arrived, the description of whose dress will, I am sure, please you.
First of all, when she arrived she was on a horse with trappings of gold
and crimson velvet, and she herself wore a robe of gold and green
brocade, and a fine linen _gorgerette_ turned back over it, and her head
was richly adorned with pearls, and her hair hung down behind in one
long coil with a silk ribbon twisted round it. She wore a crimson silk
hat, made very much like our own, with five or six red and grey
feathers, and with all that on her head, sat up on horseback as straight
as if she had been a man. And with her came the wife of Seigneur Galeaz'
and many other ladies, as many as twenty-two, all riding handsome and
richly apparelled horses, and six chariots hung with cloth of gold and
green velvet, all full of ladies. They had intended to visit the king in
his lodgings, but this he would not allow, and, in order to appear
gracious, said that he would visit them, but he did not go to their
lodgings that day, feeling unwell. The next day, after dinner, he went
to see this lady, whom he found magnificently arrayed, after the fashion
of the country, in a green satin robe. The bodice of her gown was loaded
with diamonds, pearls, and rubies, both in front and behind, and the
sleeves were made very tight and slashed so as to show the white chemise
underneath, and tied up with a wide grey silk ribbon, which hung almost
down to the ground. Her throat was bare and adorned with a necklace of
very large pearls, with a ruby as big as your 'Grand Valloy,' and her
head was dressed just the same as yesterday, only that instead of a hat
she wore a velvet cap with an aigrette of feathers fastened with a clasp
made of two rubies, a diamond, and a pear-shaped pearl, like your own,
only larger. After that the king had paid her a visit, he returned to
his house, but first he had some conversation with her, and made her
dance in the French fashion, with some of her ladies. And I can assure
you, madame, that she danced wonderfully well in the French fashion,
although she said she had never danced in this manner before. If the
king were not going to send you her picture, to show you the fashion of
her dress, I would have endeavoured to obtain one to send you myself."

A grand _fête_ was arranged for the following day, but the king fell
suddenly ill of small-pox, and had to call in Messer Ambrogio da Rosate
to attend him. All his plans were altered, and more than a fortnight
elapsed before he was able to leave his room. This delay discouraged the
French, who suffered from the great heat, and complained, as Commines
tells us, of the sourness of the country wine, the last vintage having
been a bad one. All Lodovico's smooth words and tact were needed to keep
the leaders in good humour in these trying circumstances. On the other
hand, Alfonso of Naples, taking courage, boldly announced that the
approach of winter and want of pay would force the French to retreat,
and Piero de' Medici sent a troop of Florentine soldiers to join the
Duke of Calabria in Romagna. But their triumph was of short duration. On
the 6th of October the king had recovered sufficiently to leave Asti,
and while most of his army marched direct to Piacenza, he himself
travelled by Casale and through the dominions of his ally, the young
Marquis of Montferrat, to Vigevano. Here Lodovico and Beatrice once more
gave their royal guest a splendid reception, and held a banquet and
boar-hunt in his honour during the next two days. The beauty of the
palace, and the wealth and magnificence displayed on all sides, filled
the French with wonder; but although Charles took Lodovico's advice on
all points, and was apparently on the most cordial terms with his host,
he asked for the keys of the castle at night, and desired his guards to
keep strict watch at the gates. "The fashion of their friendship was
such," says Commines, "that it could not last long. But for the present
the king could not do without Lodovico."

On the 13th, Charles slept at the Sforzesca and visited Lodovico's
famous farm of La Pecorara, or Les Granges, as the French chroniclers
termed this vast farm, where agricultural industries were cultivated on
such a splendid scale. They saw the spacious buildings, the stables with
their noble columns and separate accommodation for mares and stallions,
and the superb breed of horses which were reared under Messer Galeazzo's
care; the pastures with their 14,000 buffaloes, oxen, and cows, and as
many sheep and goats; and the large dairies, where butter and cheese
were made on the most approved system, and marvelled afresh at the
industry of the Milanese farmers and the wealth and fertility of this
wonderful land. The next day the king went on to Pavia, where triumphal
arches had been prepared for his reception, and the clergy and
professors of the university hailed his presence in long harangues and
complimentary speeches. At first lodgings had been prepared for him in
the city, but, according to Commines, some of the king's followers had
inspired him with fears of foul play, and he preferred to take up his
abode in the Castello itself. Lodovico himself showed him the library
and other treasures of his ancestral palace, and took him out hunting in
the park. On the 15th, he visited the Duomo and Arca di S. Agostino, and
on the 16th, rode out to the Certosa, where the monks entertained both
princes at a grand banquet in a house outside the cloister precincts. In
the evenings, comedies were acted or musical entertainments given in the
Castello for the king's amusement.

At the time of Charles's visit to Pavia, the Duke and Duchess of Milan
and their children were occupying their rooms in the Castello, but
during the last few weeks Giangaleazzo had become seriously ill and was
unable to leave his bed. Both his wife and his mother Bona were
assiduous in their attentions to the sick prince, and Isabella hardly
ever left his bedside. The chronicler Godefroy, who has left us so
faithful and accurate an account of Charles VIII.'s expedition,
describes the splendid _fêtes_ given to the king at Pavia, and says that
the Duchess Isabella, with her young son Francesco, herself received him
at the portico of the Castello, but does not mention his visit to the
sick duke. Another trustworthy authority, Corio, tells us that Charles
with great thoughtfulness paid a visit to his cousin, who was suffering
from an incurable disease, and growing visibly worse, and that the
unfortunate duke recommended his wife and children to the king's care.
Commines, who was at Pavia three days before Charles, on his way to
Venice, says that he saw the little four-year-old prince Francesco, but
not the duke, since he was very ill and his wife very sorrowful,
watching by his bedside. "However," he adds, "the king spoke with him,
and told me their words, which only related to general subjects, for he
feared to displease Lodovico; all the same, he told me afterwards that
he would have willingly given him a warning. And the duchess threw
herself on her knees before Lodovico, begging him to have pity upon her
father and brother. To which he replied that he could do nothing, and
told her to pray rather for her husband and for herself, who was still
so young and fair a lady."

The Venetian chronicler, Marino Sanuto, gives a more sensational account
of the interview. According to him, Isabella absolutely refused to see
the king, and, seizing a dagger, declared she would stab herself rather
than meet her father's mortal enemy. Lodovico, however, in the end
induced her to receive the king, upon which she threw herself in tears
at the feet of Charles VIII., and implored him to spare her father and
brother and the house of Aragon. The king's kindly heart was touched
with compassion at the grief of the unhappy princess, but he only spoke
a few consoling words, and promised that her son should be as dear to
him as if he were his own son. When Isabella renewed her earnest
entreaties on her father's behalf, he replied that it was too late for
him to give up the expedition, which had already cost him so much
trouble and money, and which was now so far advanced that he could not
retire with honour. On the 17th of October, Charles, after assisting at
mass in the chapel of the Castello, left Pavia for Piacenza, where he
joined the French army and prepared to enter Tuscan territory. Here he
learnt that the Duke of Calabria had been worsted in two engagements by
the forces of the Count of Caiazzo and the French under d'Aubigny, and
was in full retreat. And here on the 20th, a courier from Pavia arrived,
bringing Lodovico word that his nephew was dying. He set out at once for
Pavia, and met another messenger on the way who told him that the duke
was already dead. Two days after Charles VIII.'s departure from Pavia,
Giangaleazzo became suddenly worse. A fresh attack of fever was brought
on by his own folly in drinking large quantities of wine and eating
pears and apples contrary to his doctor's express orders, in spite of
the continual sickness from which he suffered. The next day he was
rather better, and in the evening of the 20th, the four doctors who were
attending him sent Lodovico an improved account, saying that the duke
had slept for some hours, and had afterwards been able to take some
chicken-broth, raw eggs, and wine. Now he had fallen asleep again. He
was certainly no worse, they added, although still very weak and by no
means out of danger. That same evening he spoke cheerfully to his
trusted servant, Dionigi Confanerio, and asked to see two horses which
Lodovico had sent him, and which were brought into the hall adjoining
his rooms for his inspection. Afterwards he spoke affectionately of his
uncle, and said he was sure that Lodovico would have come to see him if
he had not been obliged to wait upon the French king. And he asked
Dionigi in a confidential tone if he thought that Lodovico loved him and
was sorry to see him so ill, and seemed quite satisfied with his
attendant's assurances on the subject. A former prior of Vigevano, who
had known the dying prince from his childhood, and had been summoned to
Pavia by the duchess, now paid the duke a visit and heard his
confession, after which Giangaleazzo asked to see his greyhounds, which
were brought to his bedside, and spoke cheerfully of his speedy recovery
before he fell asleep. Early the next morning he died in the presence of
his wife and mother and the doctors who had attended him during the last
few weeks.

A few hours later Lodovico reached Pavia, and without a moment's delay
hastened on to Milan, giving orders that the duke's body should be
removed as soon as possible to the Duomo of Milan. There during the next
three days the dead prince lay before the high altar, clad in the ducal
cap and robes, with his sword and sceptre at his side, and his white
face exposed to view. Meanwhile Lodovico had lost no time. His first
act, on his arrival in the Castello, was to summon the councillors,
magistrates, and chief citizens of Milan to a meeting on the following
day, but even before these dignitaries could be assembled, he called
together a few of his immediate friends and courtiers in the great hall
of the Rocchetta, and after informing them of his nephew's premature and
lamentable end, proposed that his son Francesco should be proclaimed
duke in his father's place. Upon this, Antonio da Landriano, prefect of
the Treasury, responded in an eloquent speech, dwelling on the danger in
these troublous times of placing the helm of the state in the hands of a
four-year-old child, and calling on Lodovico, for the sake of the people
whom he had hitherto ruled so well and wisely in his nephew's name, to
undertake the burden of sovereignty and ascend the ducal throne. "Since
the death of Giangaleazzo's father," he said, "we have had no duke but
you; you alone among our princes can grasp the ducal sceptre with a firm
hand." These last words were hailed with loud applause by the Moro's
friends, and when Landriano had ended his speech, Galeazzo Visconti
Baldassare Pusterla, the able lawyer Andrea Cagnola, and several other
councillors, well known for their devotion to the Moro, all spoke in the
same strain.

"It was propounded," writes Guicciardini, "by the principals of the
Counsell, that, in regard of the greatness of that estate and the
dangerous times prepared now for Italy, it would be a thing prejudicial
that the sonne of John Galeaz, having not five yeares in age, should
succeed his father, and therefore, as well as to keepe the liberties of
the State in protection, as to be able to meete with the inconveniences
which the time threatened, they thought it just and necessary--derogating
somewhat for the public benefite, and for the necessite present from the
disposition of the laws--as the laws themselves do suffer to constraine
Lodovic, for the better stay of the commonweale, to suffer that unto him
might be transported the title and dignitie of Duke, a burden very
weightie, in so dangerous a season; with the which colour, honestie giving
place to ambition, the morning following, making some show of resistance,
he tooke upon him the name and armes of the Duke of Milan."

The Florentine historian's account of the transaction is accurate in all
but the last particular. Lodovico was indeed proclaimed duke in his
nephew's stead, and, clad in a mantle of cloth of gold, rode that
afternoon through the streets of the city, and visited the church of S.
Ambrogio, to give thanks for his accession to the throne. The ducal
sword and sceptre were borne before him by Galeazzo Visconti, the bells
were rung, and the trumpets sounded, while the people hailed him with
shouts of _Duca! Duca! Moro! Moro!_ But he was careful to style himself
Lodovicus Dux, and would not assume the title of Duke of Milan until he
had received the imperial privileges, confirming his election and
granting him the investiture of the duchy. These he lost no time in
securing. Already a few weeks before this, Maximilian, mindful of his
engagements at the time of his wedding, had sent his wife's uncle the
diploma granting him the desired investiture for himself and his sons,
both legitimate and illegitimate, in succession. The original deed has
never been discovered, but, according to Corio, the diploma was granted
on the 5th of September at Antwerp, with the express stipulation that it
was not to be published until after the Feast of St. Martin. This
diploma must have reached Lodovico a week or two before his nephew's
death, and had been kept secret, in obedience to Maximilian's desires.
That memorable day when he rode through the streets of Milan,
accompanied by the ambassadors of Florence and Ferrara, he said in reply
to the congratulations of the latter, our old friend Giacomo Trotti, "In
another month you will hear greater news." "I verily believe you," said
the Florentine, Pietro Alamanni, who recorded these words, to Piero de'
Medici, "that he means to make himself greater still, and dreams of a
kingdom of Insubria and Liguria." And Donato de' Preti evidently thought
the same. "Signor Lodovico," he wrote to Isabella d'Este, "is not yet
called Duke of Milan, but merely duke, and all documents sent out by the
Cancelleria are worded in this manner. Some persons who knew his
Excellency well, say that it is his intention to call himself _Rex
Insubrium_. On the return of the ambassador who has been sent to the
emperor, perhaps this will be announced."

Now that Giangaleazzo was actually dead, the Moro felt that there was no
time to be lost in obtaining the publication of the imperial diploma.
Accordingly he ordered one of his most trusted agents, Maffeo Pirovano,
to start the next day for Antwerp, with letters informing Maximilian and
his wife of Giangaleazzo's death, and asking for the prompt despatch of
ambassadors with the coveted privileges. And that same evening he wrote
long and minute instructions to Maffeo himself and to Erasmo Brasca at
Antwerp, urging them to lose no time in laying the case before the
emperor. The letter to Maffeo, discovered in the Taverna archives at
Milan, and first published by Signor Calvi in his life of Bianca Sforza,
is of especial interest.

"MAPHEO,--We have written this evening to Germany to inform the Most
Serene King of the Romans of the death of the illustrious Duke, our
nephew, and must now send you to state our case _vivâ voce_ to his
Majesty, desiring him to give effect in our person to the ducal
privileges, which he never consented to give our nephew, in consequence
of the wrong which the emperor supposed to have been done him by our
father and brother, in holding the duchy without any concession from the
imperial authorities. And therefore the said king has conceded these
privileges to us, as being innocent of this fault, and as having claims
to the title by reason of our maternal descent, but has desired that
these privileges should not be made public before the next feast of St.
Martin, and before this date will not fix the time and place for the
expedition of the said privileges. The approach of this time, the fact
that this death has compelled us to take up the succession, have
impelled us to send an envoy to the said king, and for this purpose we
have made choice of yourself, being persuaded that your faithfulness and
prudence will be equal to the gravity of this emergency. And so I desire
you to start with the utmost speed, and not to rest till you have found
his Majesty, and our councillor and ambassador Messer Erasmo Brasca, to
whom you will explain the reason of your coming, and having through his
means obtained an audience of his Majesty, you will pay him our dutiful
respects, and, after delivering your credentials, by virtue of them will
proceed to tell him how immediately after this death the chiefs of the
State and of the people of this city approached me to offer their
condolences in the customary manner, and signified their fears and
anxieties as to the succession. One and all, speaking in the name of the
State, declared that they would have no lord but ourselves, and
entreated us with earnest words to accept this dignity, saying that if
we refused they would not be content and would have to consider some
other mode of action. After this has been explained to the king, you
will tell him that, seeing on the one hand the conditions imposed by his
Majesty respecting the privileges, which we do not intend to infringe,
and on the other the dangers that might arise if the State were left
without a lord until the time fixed for the promulgation of the
privileges, and being further aware that the people of Milan set the
example and draw after them all the rest of the State, we have chosen to
accept the burden they offer us, and have ridden through the town in
order to satisfy the wishes of the people. And this we have done, in
order not to leave the State and city in doubt as to the last duke's
successor, without taking either title or armorial bearings, lest we
should incur the same blame as that illustrious lord our father. Thus,
solely to prove that the State is not left without a lord, and at the
same time not to infringe the conditions attached to the privileges, we
have taken this name of duke, and will inscribe our name as _Ludovicus
Dux_ in letters and other documents, without specifying of what place we
are duke, so as to observe the commands laid upon us by his Majesty not
to publish the privileges before the feast of St. Martin. The full form
which we intend to adopt at the said feast will be signified to him
after this feast, when we shall adopt the style of _Dux Mediolani_ in
accordance with this command. But we will abstain from publishing the
privileges until we have the approval of the said Majesty, which we hope
to obtain as soon as the term which he fixed shall expire.

"And you will also tell his Majesty that the publication of these
privileges carries with it the investiture and enjoyment of the temporal
possessions of the duchy, and therefore, as our procurator, you will ask
for this investiture with all respect and submission. And you will beg
his Majesty to send us an ambassador to declare that he places us in
possession of the duchy, in order that he may give the world an outward
demonstration of the act that he has already done in private. This, we
beg to assure his Majesty, shall ensure a perpetual obligation on our
part and that of our posterity towards his Majesty, who may count on the
fidelity of this State in all contingencies, most of all in the affairs
of Italy, where no State can be greater or of more importance than this
one, which has the same influence in Italy as he has in Germany. And
since the form of investiture has been given this summer to the
Treasurer of Burgundy, you can obtain it from him by means of Messer
Erasmo, and we will afterwards send you the imperial mandate that you
may arrange this. As to the form of delivery of the temporalities, we
desire to follow that which was employed in the cases of former dukes,
which we will seek out and let you have. To this effect you will
negotiate with the Most Serene King of the Romans, making use of the
advise of Messer Erasmo, in order to obtain this concession in the
manner that we devise.

"You will also visit our niece, the Most Serene Queen, and condole in
our name on the duke's death, which is a common cause of grief to both
of us, and will recommend our affairs to her, begging her Majesty to
assist you, and to employ great warmth and fervour in addressing the
Most Serene Lord her husband.

"Milan, 22nd October, 1494."

These instructions were followed by a short letter from Lodovico,
enclosing the petition to be presented to Maximilian, and urging him to
lose no time in reaching his destination.

"MAPHEO,--We enclose the petition for the investiture, and have to-day
sent you money and horses. There is nothing more to say, excepting to
urge you once more to use all diligence to seek out His Serene Majesty,
and with the help of Erasmo leave nothing undone that may induce him to
grant the investiture without delay, and at the same time send back with
you persons empowered to put me in possession of the temporal
possessions of the duchy. Without these two things, all that has been
done till now will be of no avail."

On the 21st, Lodovico sent an official intimation of his nephew's death,
and of the "incredible grief" which this sad event had given him, to his
relatives and allies. On the 22nd, he issued another circular, informing
them in well-turned phrases of his election by the people of Milan, and
of his consent to take up the burden imposed upon him by the will of his
subjects. And on the same day the Mantuan envoy, Donato de' Preti,
writing to Isabella d'Este, gave her the following version of affairs:
"This morning a meeting was held in the Castello, at which Signor
Lodovicus was proclaimed King of Milan in the presence of the gentlemen
and councillors assembled in the Rocchetta, no one else being nominated.
Few spoke, and very little was said, but Signor Lodovico was chosen by
universal acclamation, or at least with no dissent. This afternoon he
came out of the Rocca clad in gold brocade, and rode all round the town
for the space of two hours, and the shops are closed, and all the bells
of the city are to be rung for three days." At Pavia, where the Moro had
made himself greatly beloved both by the citizens and the members of the
university, there was great rejoicing when the people heard him publicly
proclaimed duke to the sound of fifes and trumpets. "All the people of
Pavia," wrote Count Borella, on the 23rd of October, "are filled with
the utmost joy and delight, like the loyal and affectionate servants of
your Highness that they are, and pray that you may live long to enjoy
your exalted dignity."

On the evening of the 27th, the body of the late duke, after lying in
state during several days before the high altar in the Duomo of Milan,
"was buried in the vault of his ancestors with the greatest pomp and
honour," as the Mantuan envoy told Isabella d'Este. "The Marchese Ermes,
the Ferrarese ambassador, with the whole house of Visconti, and all the
councillors, ministers, and court officials attending, robed in black.
An immense concourse of people were present, together with priests and
friars innumerable, and the blaze of lighted wax candles was so great in
the church that I could see nothing. An eloquent and highly ornate
sermon was preached by a Mantuan friar, named Giovanni Pietro Suardo."

And the next day his successor joined the French king in his camp under
the walls of Sarzana. He had at length attained the object of his
ambition, and was reigning on his father's throne.

"To sum up the whole matter," writes Commines, "Lodovico had himself
proclaimed Lord of Milan, and that, as many people say, was the reason
why he brought us over the mountains."

FOOTNOTES:

[53] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 394.

[54] Guicciardini's "Italy," Fenton's English translation, vol. i. p.
34.



CHAPTER XXI

Lodovico joins Charles VIII. at Sarzana--Suspicious rumours as to the
late duke's death--Piero de' Medici surrenders the six fortresses of
Tuscany to Charles VIII.--Lodovico retires in disgust from the
camp--Congratulations of all the Italian States on his accession--Grief
of Duchess Isabella--Her return to Milan--Mission of Maffeo Pirovano to
Antwerp--His interviews with Maximilian and Bianca--Letter of Lodovico
to the Bishop of Brixen--Charles VIII. enters Rome--His treaty with
Alexander VI. and departure for Naples.

1494


The short week which had elapsed between the king's departure from Pavia
and the return of Lodovico to the French camp had effected a complete
change in the situation. Suddenly the Moro found himself at the height
of his ambition, elected duke by popular acclamation, and in actual
possession of the throne, while he held in his hands the imperial
diploma that was to give him a surer and safer title to the duchy than
any of his race had possessed.

"All that this man does prospers, and all that he dreams of by night
comes true by day," wrote the Venetian chronicler. "And, in truth, he is
esteemed and revered throughout the world and is held to be the wisest
and most successful man in Italy. And all men fear him, because fortune
favours him in everything that he undertakes."

But already ugly rumours began to be whispered abroad. The unhappy duke,
it was openly said at Florence and Venice, had, it was plain, died of
poison, administered by his uncle. The moment of his death was so
opportune, and fitted in so exactly with Lodovico's plans; the
promptness with which the Moro had acted in seizing the crown which
ought to have belonged to Giangaleazzo's son, helped to confirm the
suspicions that were aroused in the minds of men whom the new duke's
policy had inspired with distrust, and who looked with jealous eyes on
the success of his diplomacy. The French king's doctor, Theodore
Guainiero of Pavia, was quite sure he had detected signs of poisoning in
the sick duke's face when he had been present at the interview between
his royal master and poor Giangaleazzo at Pavia. Contemporary
chroniclers, improving upon this remark, with one voice asserted that
the doctor had found evident traces of poison on the body at a
post-mortem examination held after the duke's death, ignoring the fact
that at that moment Theodore Guainiero was with King Charles at
Piacenza. So the legend grew, and found ready acceptance among both
French and Italians, who alike hated the Moro with deadly hatred.

"And if the duke were dispatched by poison, there was none," wrote the
Florentine historian, "that held that his uncle was innocent, and either
directly or indirectly, as he, who not content with an absolute power,
but aspiring, according to the common desires of great men, to make
themselves glorious with titles and honours, and especially he judged
that both for his proper heritage and the succession of his children,
the death of the lawful duke was necessary, wherein ambition and
covetousness prevailed above conscience and law of nature, and the
jealous desire of dominion enforced his disposition, otherwise abhorring
blood, to that vile action."

The careful examination of the various documents connected with
Giangaleazzo's death has led recent historians to a different
conclusion. "Nothing is further from the truth," writes Magenta, in his
history of the "Castello di Pavia," "than that Giangaleazzo died of
poison." And Delaborde, Porrò, Cantù, as well as those able and learned
scholars, Signor Luzio and Signor Renier, all endorse these statements,
and ascribe the duke's death to natural causes. Even Paolo Giovio, who
hated the Moro as the man who had betrayed his country to the French,
owns that there is much reason for doubting the truth of the accusation
brought against him in this instance. Charles VIII., it is plain, did
not himself believe in Lodovico's guilt. When the news of Giangaleazzo's
death reached him, he caused a solemn requiem mass to be held in the
Duomo of Piacenza, and distributed liberal alms to the poor of the town
in memory of his dead cousin. And Galeazzo di Sanseverino, who had
remained in attendance upon the king, informed Lodovico, in one of his
letters, that the only remark which His Most Christian Majesty had made
on the subject was to express his sorrow for the duke's orphan children,
and to say that he hoped Signor Lodovico would treat them as his own, to
which Galeazzo replied that he might rest assured they would want for
nothing. But the suspicion that the duke's end had been hastened by his
uncle's act found general acceptance in the French army, and deepened
the distrust with which Lodovico was already regarded. At this critical
moment, the unexpected action of Piero de' Medici helped to bring about
a breach between the Moro and his allies.

When, on the 31st of October, the new duke reached the French camp
before the Tuscan castle of Sarzana, he found to his surprise that Piero
de' Medici, who up to this time had been the staunchest ally of Naples,
had arrived there the day before, to make his submission to King
Charles. Sanuto relates how this craven son of the magnificent Lorenzo
threw himself at the feet of the French monarch, and promised to accept
whatever conditions he chose to impose. Not only did he agree to give
the army of Charles free passage through Tuscany, and to dismiss the
Florentine troops which he had levied, but he actually promised to
surrender the six strongholds of Sarzana, Sarzanello, Pietra Santa,
Librafratta, Leghorn, and Pisa. Thus, without a single blow, the city
and state of Florence was placed at the mercy of the invaders. Even the
French councillors who negotiated the terms of the treaty, were amazed
at the readiness with which their demands were accepted, and told
Commines afterwards that they marvelled to see Piero de' Medici settle
so weighty a matter with so much lightness of heart, "mocking and
jeering at his cowardice as they spoke." Lodovico, on his part, received
the news of Piero's disgraceful concessions with ill-concealed disgust.
Now that he had attained his own objects, and had nothing to fear from
Alfonso, whose armies were in full retreat, he would willingly have seen
the progress of the French delayed, and the king forced to winter in
Tuscany, and was bitterly annoyed to find that the passes of the
Apennines were in the hands of Charles, as well as the castles and ports
which he had hoped to obtain for Milan as the price of his alliance.
Guicciardini relates how he met Piero de' Medici that day in the camp,
and how his old friend's son, anxious to ingratiate himself with the
powerful duke, made excuses for not having given him an official welcome
into Florentine territory, saying that he had ridden out to meet him,
but had missed his way. "One of us certainly missed the way," replied
the duke, with a bitter meaning under his courteous phrases; "perhaps it
is you who have taken the wrong road."

But he hid his vexation as best he could, when he entered the French
king's presence, and boldly asked Charles to give him the castles of
Sarzana and Pietra Santa, which had formerly belonged to Genoa. When the
king replied that he preferred to keep these forts in his own hands
until his return from Naples, Lodovico once more disguised his feelings,
and contented himself with asking for a renewal of the investiture of
Genoa, formerly granted to his nephew, which he obtained on payment of
30,000 ducats. After this he saw no reason for remaining in the French
camp any longer, and, pleading urgent State affairs, he left again for
Milan on the 3rd of November.

"_Et merveilleusement malcontent_," says Commines, "_se partit du Roy
pour le reffuz_."

Only the Count of Caiazzo, with a troop of fifty horse, remained in the
French camp, while Galeazzo di Sanseverino and Duchess Beatrice's
brother, Ferrante d'Este, were the sole Italians to be seen riding in
the royal procession when Charles made his triumphal entry into
Florence. "Many thought then," adds the Sieur d'Argenton, "that he
wished the king out of Italy." A week later he recalled the Milanese
troops from Romagna, saying that their presence was no longer needed.
For the present, however, the new Duke of Milan took a strictly neutral
line, and while he outwardly maintained friendly relations with France,
at the same time received congratulatory messages on his accession from
the Pope, the Doge and Signory of Venice, and his old enemy, Alfonso of
Naples, who forgot all the grievances of the past in his dismay at the
approach of the French invaders.

On the 6th of November Lodovico returned to Milan, and joined his wife
at Vigevano, where Beatrice had remained during her husband's absence
with her infant son. We have no letters to tell us what her feelings
were at this eventful period, and do not learn if she joined her husband
during the few days of his hurried visit to Milan in October. But we are
glad to find that she expressed sympathy with the unhappy widow of
Giangaleazzo, and showed real concern for her cousin's melancholy
condition. After her husband's death, Isabella's courage and fortitude
broke down under the long strain, and for some days she shut herself up
in a dark room, and refused to take food, or accept any comfort. Four
Milanese councillors waited upon her at Pavia to offer their
condolences, and invited her to come to Milan in the name of the new
duke and the people, assuring her that she and her children should be
treated with due honour, and retain possession of the ducal residence in
the Castello. This attention gratified her, and Paolo Bilia, an old and
faithful servant, who had been long in her service, wrote by her desire
to Lodovico on the 28th of October--

"My Lady is much pleased to hear that you have accepted the gift which
she sent you, and is grateful for the kind messages which she has
received from Your Illustrious Consort, as well as the offers which you
have made her, and the addresses of the councillors. Under Niccolo da
Cusano's treatment her health has certainly improved; and the children
are very well, only the boy objects to the black clothes and hangings of
the rooms."

A week later the Councillor Pusterla wrote that he visited the Duchess
every day, and found her much rested, and already considerably calmer,
and was charged to convey her warmest thanks to the duke for his
kindness, and express her wish to show herself in all things his
obedient daughter. But she still refused to leave Pavia, and shrank from
seeing any one but her children and servants.

"The duchess," wrote Donato de Preti from Milan to his mistress Isabella
d'Este, "has not yet arrived here, but is expected on Friday. All the
rooms and furniture in the Castello are hung with black. To-day a man
who came from Pavia is said to have brought word that Count Borella had
been sent to ask the duchess for her son Francesco, but that she had
refused to send him. This, however, may not be true, for the person who
told me is not to be trusted."

On the 29th of November, the same informant wrote again--

"The widowed duchess has not yet come to Milan. It appears that she has
asked leave to remain at Pavia until after her confinement, and this she
will certainly do. I hear that she still mourns her dead lord."

Her mother-in-law, Duchess Bona, remained with her at Pavia, and here,
on the first of December, she received a visit from Chiara Gonzaga, a
sister of the Marquis of Mantua, and wife of Gilbert, Duke of
Montpensier, who was captain-general of the French army. This princess,
who was now on her way to Mantua, was sincerely attached to both
Isabella and Beatrice d'Este, and proved a loyal friend to Lodovico at
the French court, while after her husband's death he, in his turn, gave
her the benefit of his powerful help in her efforts to obtain the
recovery of her fortune from the French king. There seems, however, to
have been no truth in the report that the widowed duchess was again with
child, and on the 6th of December she finally summoned up courage to
return to Milan. On her arrival she was received by Beatrice, and
Barone, the jester, who was on the same familiar terms with the
Marchioness of Mantua as he was with her sister, sent her the following
pathetic account of their meeting--

"Last night the Duchess Isabella arrived in Milan, and our duchess went
to meet her, two miles outside the town, and directly they met, our
duchess got out of her chariot and entered that of Duchess Isabella,
both of them weeping bitterly, and so they rode together towards the
Castello, where the Duke of Milan met them on horseback at the gate of
the garden. He took off his cap, and accompanied them to the Castello,
where they all three alighted, and placing Duchess Isabella between
them, our duke and duchess accompanied her to her old rooms. When they
reached these rooms they sat down together, and the Duchess Isabella
could do nothing but weep, until at last the duke spoke to her, and
begged her to calm herself, and be comforted, with many other similar
words. Dear friend, the hardest heart would have been melted with
compassion at the sight of her, with her three children, looking so thin
and altered by her grief, wearing a long black robe like a friar's
habit, made of rough cloth, worth fourpence the yard, and her eyes
hidden by a thick black veil. Certainly I, for one, could not help
crying, and if I had not restrained myself, I should have wept still
more."[55]

Until the death of Beatrice, Isabella of Aragon and her children
occupied the rooms in the Castello where she and her husband had
formerly resided, and spent the spring and summer in the Castello of
Pavia, but the widowed duchess lived in complete retirement during the
next two years, and her name seldom appears in contemporary records. Her
mother-in-law Bona, retained her rooms until the following January, when
the duke desired her to move to the old palace near the Duomo, known as
the Corte Vecchia, partly because the use of her apartments was required
by the court officials, and partly owing to the intrigues which she
secretly practised. Only lately Lodovico's envoys at Antwerp had
informed him of the bitter words which Bona wrote against him to her
daughter Bianca, words which the empress's secretary thought it wiser to
pass over when he read her mother's letters aloud, taking care, he adds,
to see that they were burnt before they could do further mischief. A
year afterwards, Bona left Milan for good and returned to France, where
she lived at Amboise until the end of 1499, when she came back to her
native land of Savoy, and died at Fossano on the 8th of January, 1504.

Meanwhile Maffeo Pirovano, after being delayed on his journey by violent
storms and floods, and narrowly escaping with his life from the brigands
and highwaymen who infested the streets of Cologne, had at length
reached Antwerp and discharged his errand. In his letters to the duke,
he gives an interesting account of his interview with the emperor, whose
imposing presence and gracious kindness made a deep impression upon him.

"The Most Serene King has the noblest bodily presence as well as the
greatest qualities of mind and soul, and as far as you can judge from
outward signs, I should say that his Majesty's wisdom and loyalty are
beyond dispute, and that there is no prince in the world whom he
esteems more highly than your Excellency. And if I asked why all the
king's dealings appear slow and tardy, I should say that this was caused
by two obstacles, which neither of them proceed from his Majesty's own
fault. The first is want of money, and the second the little confidence
that he can place in his ministers."

Maffeo was able to give Lodovico satisfactory assurances as to
Maximilian's readiness to confirm him in the investiture of Milan. He
promised to send the letters forthwith, but desired the duke to allow no
one but his brother Cardinal Ascanio to see a copy, and not to publish
them before March. "He fears," wrote the Milanese envoy, "in the first
place the electors of the Diet, and in the second the wrath of King
Alfonso of Naples. But his Majesty promises to speak to the electors as
soon as possible, and after that will have the privileges drawn up by
the chancellor, and will send a solemn embassy to put the duke in
possession of his dignities and the realm.

The young empress, who, Maffeo remarked, "is not very wise," was
overjoyed to see an old friend, and had much to hear about her beloved
Milanese home. She wrote an affectionate little note to her uncle,
lamenting her poor brother's death and congratulating him on his
accession, which she called "a due reward of all the benefits which we
have received from your Excellency."[56]

And when Maffeo left Antwerp early in December to return to Milan, he
received a whole string of commissions from her Majesty. He was, in the
first place, to visit and condole with her mother, her widowed
sister-in-law, and her brother Ermes, and to commend the Duchess
Isabella and her children especially to the duke. Then he was to beg the
duke and duchess to send her their latest portraits, as well as those of
her mother, brother, sister-in-law, and her sister Madonna Anna, wife of
Alfonso d'Este. There was a special message to Beatrice, begging her for
some perfumes and powders, a ball of musk, and a bunch of heron's
plumes. And there was another for Lodovico, asking him to try and
procure a certain set of pearls from Bianca's half-sister, Caterina
Sforza, the famous Madonna of Forli. Last of all, there was an earnest
request that the duke would entreat her lord the Most Serene King to
come to Italy, and write urgently to him on the subject, without,
however, letting it appear that the suggestion had proceeded from Bianca
herself.

In these communications between the empress and her family there is no
trace whatever of any ill-will to Lodovico and Beatrice, far less any
suspicion that her uncle had hastened her brother's death, although some
chroniclers allude to a report that Maximilian's wife held Lodovico to
be guilty of this crime. The fact that some rumour of this kind had
reached the imperial court seems probable from the Latin letter which
Lodovico himself addressed in December, 1494, to the Bishop of Brixen,
one of the delegates who were afterwards sent to Milan with the imperial
privilege. In this letter the Moro refutes the calumny which he hears
had been brought against him in certain quarters, and points out that
his nephew's death had been due to natural causes, that the late duke
had been ill for many months, and that he had been assiduously attended
by his devoted wife and the most skilful doctors, three of whom had
known him from his cradle. He alludes to the visit paid to Giangaleazzo
a few days before his death by His Most Christian Majesty, and explains
that he himself was only prevented from being present at his nephew's
death-bed by the necessity of attending on the French king. "Nothing,"
he adds, "could be more contrary to our nature than so great a crime."
In conclusion, he dwells on the fatherly love which he had always shown
his nephew, and renews his protestations of devotion to His Most Serene
Majesty the King of the Romans. In point of fact, as both Maffeo and
Brasca informed their master the subject which disquieted Maximilian at
this moment far more than poor Giangaleazzo's death, was the rapid
advance of the French king. A rumour had reached the German court that
Charles aspired to the imperial title, and intended to make the Pope
crown him in Rome. This report filled the emperor-elect with dismay, and
he turned to the Milanese envoys with the words, "I know that the Duke
of Milan has great power in Italy, and has proved his faith and good
intentions towards myself, but I hope, since he is so wise in
everything, that he will make some difference between me and the King of
France."

Lodovico, however, needed no warning on this subject, and was as much
alarmed as any of his neighbours at the extraordinary success which had
attended Charles VIII.'s expedition. Florence and Siena both received
him within their gates, and helped him with loans of money and supplies
of corn. On the 4th of December he left Siena; by the 10th he was at
Viterbo, within sixty miles of Rome, and sent the Pope word that he
would spend Christmas in the Vatican and treat with him there. For a
moment Alexander VI., encouraged by the arrival of the Duke of
Calabria's army under the walls of the eternal city, put on a bold face
and defied Charles to do his worst. The same day he arrested the
cardinals Ascanio Sforza and Sanseverino at a consistory in the Vatican,
upon which Galeazzo di Sanseverino, who was at Viterbo with the French
king, rode all the way to Vigevano in three days, to take Lodovico the
news of this insult to his family. The duke was furious, and vowed
vengeance upon the Pope. But Alexander's courage soon failed him. In a
few days his defiant mood gave place to one of abject terror, the two
cardinals were released and sent to plead the Pope's cause with Charles
VIII., and on the 30th of December Ferrante retired with his troops
towards Naples. That same day the French king entered Rome by the
Flaminian Gate, and rode in triumphal procession along the Corso with
Cardinals Giuliano delle Rovere and Ascanio Sforza at his side, both of
them, remarks Commines, great enemies of the Pope, and still greater
enemies of one another. Alexander fled for shelter to the Castello
Sant'Angelo, and Charles took up his abode in the palace of San Marco,
from which he dictated terms of peace to the terrified pontiff. Already
a rumour had reached Milan that the Pope was to be deposed, and that the
French king intended to attempt a general reformation of the scandals
that disgraced the Church.

"His Most Christian Majesty," remarked Lodovico, drily, "had better
begin by reforming himself." And when the Venetian ambassador Sebastian
Badoer and Benedetto Trevisano arrived at Vigevano to take counsel with
the duke in this perilous state of affairs, he spoke very contemptuously
of the king's person and character.

"The Most Christian King," he said, "is young and foolish, with little
presence and still less mental power. When I was with him at Asti,
treating of important matters, his councillors spent their time eating
and playing cards in his presence. Sometimes he would dictate a letter
by one man's advice, and then withdraw it at the suggestion of another.
He is haughty and ill-mannered, and when we were together, he has more
than once left me alone in the room like a beast, to go and dine with
his friends."

And he proceeded to remind the Venetian envoys how he had sent his wife,
Duchess Beatrice, to warn the Signoria of the critical state of affairs,
and how his advice had been neglected, and nothing had been done.

"It is true," the duke added, "that I lent the king money, but at the
same time I gave him good advice. 'Sire,' I said to him, 'drive out the
tyrant Piero de' Medici, and give Florence her old liberties;' and when
I refused to accompany him further, I desired Messer Galeaz to defend
the freedom and rights of both Florence and Siena. You see how little
the king has followed my advice and how cruel and insolent he has shown
himself. These French are bad people, and we must not allow them to
become our neighbours."

In reality, what disturbed the Duke of Milan far more than the success
of Charles in the south, was the presence of Louis of Orleans with a
body of troops at Asti. When Charles left Asti in October, his cousin
was ill with an attack of fever, and had been compelled to remain
behind. The close vicinity of this dangerous neighbour, and the boldness
with which Orleans asserted his claim on Milan, led the Moro to use all
his influence with Maximilian to induce him to join his old enemies, the
Venetians, in a common league against the French. While these
negotiations were being secretly carried on, the victorious French king
had, on the 15th of January, signed a treaty with the Pope, by which the
crown of Naples was bestowed upon him, and the chief fortresses of the
Papal States were surrendered into his hands until his return. The next
day Charles attended mass at St. Peter's, and met the Pope in the
Vatican--"a very fine house," he wrote to his brother-in-law, the Duke
of Bourbon, "as well furnished and adorned as any palace or castle I
have ever seen."

On the 19th of January, he did homage to His Holiness before the College
of Cardinals, as Vicar of Christ and successor of the Apostles, and was
embraced and welcomed by the Pope in return as the eldest son of the
Church. A week later he left Rome and set out at the head of his army on
the march to Naples. And the same day he received the news that Alfonso
of Aragon, seized with a fatal panic, had abdicated his crown in favour
of his son Ferrante, and was on his way to Sicily.

FOOTNOTES:

[55] A Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 399.

[56] F. Calvi, _op. cit._



CHAPTER XXII

Visit of Isabella d'Este to Milan--Birth of Beatrice's son, Francesco
Sforza--_Fêtes_ and comedies at the Milanese court--Works of Leonardo
and of Lorenzo di Pavia--Mission of Caradosso to Florence and Rome in
search of antiques--Fall of Naples--Entry of King Charles VIII. and
flight of Ferrante II.--Consternation in Milan--Departure of Isabella
d'Este.

1495


While Charles VIII. was leading his victorious army against Naples, and
striking terror into all hearts throughout the length and breadth of
Italy, Duchess Beatrice Sforza, as the wife of Lodovico now styled
herself, was joyfully expecting the birth of a second child. Once more
great preparations were made in the Rocchetta for the happy event. On
the 10th of December her sister Isabella sent her the size and pattern
of a cradle which her father had given her before the birth of her
little daughter, Leonora, the year before, excusing herself for not
writing a longer letter because she was engaged with her sister-in-law,
the Duchess of Montpensier. Duke Lodovico himself, immediately on his
return to Vigevano in November, had written begging the Marchesa to come
to Milan in January, and on the 15th she left Mantua. On the day after
her arrival she paid a visit of condolence to the widowed duchess, whose
sorrowful condition filled her with compassion.

"I found her in the large room," writes Isabella to her husband, on the
20th of January, "all hung with black, with only just light and air
enough to save one from suffocation. Her Highness wore a cloth cloak,
and a black veil on her head, and her deep mourning filled me with so
much compassion that I could not keep back my tears. I condoled with her
in your name and my own, and she gratefully accepted my sympathy, and
sent for her children, the sight of whom increased my emotion."

On the 4th of February, Beatrice gave birth to a second son, a fine boy,
who received no less than fifteen names, including those of Francesco
Sforza, after his illustrious grandfather. As a child he was called
Sforza, but became afterwards known as Francesco, under which name he
reigned during the last years of his short life over the duchy of Milan.
Isabella d'Este held the infant prince at the baptismal font, and
remained at Milan till the end of the Carnival, at the urgent entreaty
of her brother-in-law, who himself wrote to beg the marquis for
permission to keep his wife a few weeks longer.

Alfonso d'Este and his wife, Anna Sforza, always a favourite at the
court of Milan, now joined the ducal party, and took part in the
brilliant series of festivities which celebrated Beatrice's recovery and
the christening of the infant prince.

"Every third day," wrote Isabella to an absent Milanese friend of hers,
Anton Maria de' Collis, "we have triumphal and magnificent festivities,
one of which lasted till two in the morning, another was not over till
four o'clock. We spend the intervening days in riding and driving in the
park or else through the streets of Milan, which has been made so
beautiful that if you were to come back here to-day, you would no longer
know the place."

In another letter Isabella describes a splendid _festa_ at the house of
Messer Niccolo da Correggio, at which a representation of the fable of
Hippolyte and Theseus, as told in the "_Innamoramento di Orlando_" was
beautifully given. And in answer to a letter from her brother-in-law,
Giovanni Gonzaga, telling her of an allegorical representation in which
the famous Serafino of Aquila had taken part, she writes--

"Here too we are enjoying feasts and pleasures of every description,
which afford us the greatest possible delight, and I hope to tell you
many things that will excite your Highness's envy. For this is the
school of the master of those who know."[57]

Such phrases as these were no small praise on the lips of so
accomplished and critical a woman as Isabella d'Este. Another
contemporary, the Florentine Guicciardini, who visited the capital of
Lombardy, was filled with amazement at the sight, and describes Milan
during Lodovico's reign as famous for the wealth of its citizens; the
infinite number of its shops; the abundance and delicacy of all things
pertaining to human life; the superb pomp and sumptuous ornaments of its
inhabitants, both men and women; the skill and talent of its artists,
mechanics, embroiderers, goldsmiths, and armourers; and the innumerable
quantity of new and stately buildings which adorn its streets. "Not
only," he adds, "is the city full of joy and pleasure, of feasting and
delight, but so wonderfully is it increased in riches, magnificence, and
glory, that it may certainly be called the most flourishing and happiest
of all the cities in Italy."

The stranger from Florence and Venice might well admire the duke's
knowledge and taste, and wonder at the splendid results which his
enlightened patronage of art and learning had produced. For they saw his
great city of Milan as it has never been seen again, before the savage
invader had spoiled its charm and defaced its loveliness; when
Bramante's churches and porticoes rose in perfect symmetry against the
sky, and the glowing tints of Leonardo's frescoes were yet fresh upon
the walls. They saw the _Ruga bella_, or Beautiful Way, with its long
line of palaces on either side, its painted walls and richly carved
portals. They saw the lovely cupola of S. Maria delle Grazie, and the
marble cloisters of S. Ambrogio, and the graceful Baptistery of S.
Satiro, which Caradosso had lately adorned with his elegant frieze of
cherubs and medallions. They saw the stately arcades of the Spedale
Grande, and the deep-red brick and terra-cotta pile of the vast
Lazzaretto, and the wide streets and piazzas which the duke had laid out
"to give the people more light and air." Above all, they saw the great
Castello which was the pride of Lodovico's court. These vaulted ceilings
and painted halls, these beautiful gardens with their temples and
labyrinths, their fountains and statues, these splendid stables with
columned aisles and walls adorned with frescoes of horses, which the
French invaders admired more than anything else in Milan, were well-nigh
complete. But still Lodovico was always planning some new improvements
to add to the charm and pleasantness of the ducal residence. Isabella's
friend Leonardo, we know from one of the duke's letters, was engaged at
this moment in painting the vaults of the newly built Camerini, while
he was still putting the last touches to the famous equestrian statue
which the Marchesa now saw for the first time, and which the duke
promised should be soon cast in bronze. But the great master's thoughts
were taking a new direction, and he was already preparing designs for
the mural painting of the Cenacolo, with which Lodovico had ordered him
to decorate the refectory of the Dominicans in his favourite convent of
S. Maria della Grazie. It was a work after Leonardo's own heart, and he
determined to frame an altogether new and original composition, a Last
Supper which should be unlike all others in Italy. This time at least
the duke's fastidious taste should be satisfied, and the Lombards should
be made to own that Leonardo the Florentine was an artist who had no
equal.

Another of Isabella's favourite artists, Maestro Lorenzo, the gifted
organ-maker, was absent from court, and had left his old home at Pavia
to take up his abode at Venice near his friend Aldo Manuzio, the
printer. But during this visit the Marchesa saw "the beautiful and
perfect clavichord" which he had made for Beatrice, and vowed to leave
no stone unturned until she had obtained a similar one. Unfortunately,
when she wrote to inform Messer Lorenzo of her wishes, he was engaged in
making a viol for the Duchess of Milan, and had also promised Messer
Antonio Visconti a clavichord, so that he was unable to satisfy the
impatient Marchesa as quickly as she would have liked. Nothing daunted,
however, Isabella returned to the charge, and addressed a letter in her
sweetest and most persuasive strain to Count Antonio Visconti, begging
him, since her desires were so ardent and she had already waited so
long, of his courtesy to allow Messer Lorenzo to begin her clavichord as
soon as Duchess Beatrice's viol should be finished. The count naturally
enough was unable to refuse the request of so charming a princess, and
as usual Isabella got her own way. On Christmas Day, 1496, she wrote
joyously to tell her Venetian agent, Brognolo, that Messer Lorenzo had
just arrived at Mantua, bringing the precious clavichord, which was as
beautiful and perfect as it could possibly be. But the saddest part of
the story has yet to be told. After the death of Beatrice, and
Lodovico's final ruin, Isabella d'Este remembered the matchless organ
which Lorenzo de Pavia had made for her sister, and wrote immediately
to the Pallavicini brothers who had joined in the betrayal of the
Castello, begging them, if possible, to let her have the instrument. A
considerable time elapsed before her wish was gratified, but in the end
her perseverance triumphed over all difficulties, and on the last day of
July, 1501, she wrote to tell Messer Lorenzo that the beautiful
clavichord which he had made for the Duchess of Milan had been given her
by Galeazzo Pallavicino, the husband of Niccolo da Correggio's
half-sister, Elizabeth Sforza, and would be doubly precious to her as
his work and because of its rare excellence.[58] By a strange fate, the
fragments of this precious clavichord, which was so highly esteemed in
its day, have of late years found their way to the ancient palace of the
dukes of Ferrara in Venice. The instrument which the gifted Pavian made
for Beatrice, inscribed with the Greek and Latin mottoes chosen by
Lorenzo, may still be seen under the roof of her father's old house, in
those halls where the young duchess once spent that joyous May-time long
ago.

Another incident which took place at Milan during Isabella's visit, and
could not fail to inspire her with the keenest interest, was the arrival
of a marble Leda and a number of other antiques that were sent to the
duke from Rome, by the goldsmith Caradosso. After the flight of Piero
de' Medici and the revolution which had taken place in Florence,
Lodovico sent this well-known connoisseur to try and acquire some of the
priceless marbles or gems from the Magnificent Lorenzo's collection. But
the Florentine magistrates wisely declined to part from these objects of
art, which were now the property of the nation, and after Christmas
Caradosso went on to Rome. He arrived there to find the French army in
possession of the city and everything in the greatest confusion, but in
the end succeeded in securing several valuable antiques. The cardinals,
to whom Caradosso obtained introductions through Ascanio Sforza, were
glad to ingratiate themselves with the powerful Duke of Milan at this
critical moment, and the artist was able to inform his master that
Cardinal di Monreale had given him a marble Leda--a really good antique,
though some limbs of it were missing--and that other prelates had made
him liberal offers.

"The Cardinal of Parma asked me yesterday what brought me to Rome. I
told him I had come, by your Excellency's desire, to see if I could find
any beautiful works in bronze or marble that were to be had for gold.
Monsignore asked me if you really cared for these things. I replied,
'Yes, undoubtedly.' Upon which the Most Reverend informed me that he had
an antique statue, and begged me to come and see if I thought that you
would like it, as if so, he should be glad to send it as a present to
your Excellency. I have seen it, and it is decidedly good.... Monsignore
di Sanseverino has promised to show me some fine things, and I hear that
Monsignore Colonna and the Cardinal of Siena have also some good things,
but, unluckily, they are both of them away from Rome. Since I am here I
must do my best to play the rogue. I hope to have enough to load a bark
shortly, and send statues to Genoa and to Milan. Meanwhile I should be
glad if you would write and thank the Cardinal of Parma for his statue,
because it may induce him to send you some more fine works of art, and
your gratitude may lead others, who are anxious to gain your
Excellency's favour, to follow his example and send you some more
beautiful objects, so that the world may become aware how far you
surpass all other princes both in magnanimity and in the delight which
you take in this most laudable pursuit. On my return to Florence, I will
make another effort to obtain some of the precious objects which I saw
there, and perhaps this time affairs may be in better order, and I may
be more successful in obeying the orders of your Excellency, to whom I
commend myself.

                                   "Your servant,
                                                   CARADOSSO DE MUNDO.

Roma, February, 1495."

No one sympathized more truly with Lodovico's passion for collecting
antiques, or appreciated the treasures of art which he had brought
together in the Castello, more fully than Isabella d'Este. As before,
this brilliant princess charmed all hearts at Milan. When she asked a
favour, whether it was of Count Pallavicino or Madonna Cecilia, of
Messer Lorenzo or Gian Bellini, no one could refuse her prayer. When she
received the Venetian ambassadors, the grace and gallantry of her
bearing were irresistible. Whatever she did was done well. Her high
spirits never failed, her strength never seemed to tire. She could ride
all day and dance all night. She could answer Gaspare Visconti's verses
in impromptu rhymes, and keep up animated literary controversies with
Niccolo da Correggio and Messer Galeaz, or discuss grave political
questions with the duke in the wisest and most sagacious manner. "As
usual," wrote her secretary Capilupi, "Madonna's gracious ways and
lively conversation have charmed every one here, most of all the Signor
Duca, who calls her his dear daughter, and always makes her dine with
him."

If Lodovico took pleasure in Isabella's company, Beatrice's warm heart
glowed with tender affection for the sister whose presence recalled her
dead mother and the home of her youth, while Isabella's love for
children could not resist the advances of her little nephew Ercole, who
followed his aunt about the rooms of the Castello and made her laugh
till the tears ran down her cheeks. But the happy peace of these days
was destined to be rudely disturbed. Suddenly, on the last day of the
month, news reached Milan that the King of France had entered Naples and
been crowned King of the Sicilies in the cathedral on the 22nd of
February. The young king Ferrante had fled to Ischia with the rest of
the royal family, and throughout his dominions the people flocked out
along the roads to hail the victor's coming, and welcomed him with
shouts of joy. Great was the consternation at the Milanese court that
evening, and Isabella wrote to her husband--

"So complete and sudden a downfall appears almost impossible both to
this illustrious lord, the duke, and to us all. It would indeed have
been impossible were it not a Divine judgment. This sad case must be an
example to all the kings and powers of the world, and will, I hope,
teach them to value the love of their subjects more than all their
fortresses, treasures, and men-at-arms, for, as we see now, the
discontent of the people is more dangerous to a monarch than all the
might of his enemies on the battle-field."

The bad news threw a gloom over the gay party in the Castello. All the
pleasure and feasting of the Carnival, all the mirth of the dancing and
feasting, died away. Isabella and Beatrice thought sadly of their cousin
Ferrante, the chivalrous young prince who was a favourite with all his
kinsfolk, and his sister, the widowed Duchess Isabella, shed bitter
tears over this fresh sorrow. Even comedies and pageants lost their old
gaiety and became dull and tedious. "To me this Carnival seems a
thousand years long," sighed Isabella d'Este, in a letter to her
husband, deploring her prolonged absence and complaining that the duke
would not allow her to leave before a certain day, fixed by his
astrologer. By the middle of March, however, she returned to Mantua,
followed by the most sincere regrets and liveliest expressions of
affection on the part of both her sister and brother-in-law.

"In all her actions," wrote Lodovico to the Marquis of Mantua, "this
worthy Madonna has shown so much charm and excellence, that, although we
rejoice to think you will soon enjoy her presence, we cannot but feel
great regret at the loss of her sweet company, and when she leaves us
to-morrow, I must confess we shall seem to be deprived of a part of
ourselves."

And a week later Beatrice wrote to her sister, "I cannot tell you often
enough how strange and sad the departure of your Highness has seemed to
me this time. Wherever I turn, in the house or out-of-doors, I seem to
see your face before my eyes, and when I find myself deceived, and
realize that you are really gone, you will understand how sore my
distress has been--nay, how great it still is. And you, I think, will
have felt the same grief, because of the love between us. Even little
Ercole misses you, and keeps on asking continually in his childish
fashion for his aunt, and crying '_Cia, cia!_' and he seems quite lost
when he cannot find you anywhere."[59]

Beatrice's strange and sad forebodings were destined to prove all too
true. That was Isabella's last visit to her brother-in-law's court, and
the sisters never met again. When, thirteen years afterwards, the
Marchesa returned once more to Milan and danced in the halls of the
Castello, she came as the guest of Louis XII., the king who had
conquered Lodovico's fair duchy and brought about the ruin of the house
of Sforza. Beatrice had long been dead, her children were in exile, and
the Moro was wearing his heart out in lonely captivity within the gloomy
prison walls of Loches.

FOOTNOTES:

[57] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 622.

[58] C. dell'Acqua, _Lorenzo Gusnasco_, pp. 19, 20.

[59] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, pp. 622, 623.



CHAPTER XXIII

Proclamation of the new league against France at Venice--Charles VIII.
at Naples--Demoralization of the victors--Charles leaves Naples and
returns to Rome--The Duke of Orleans refuses to give up Asti--Arrival of
the imperial ambassadors at Milan--Lodovico presented with the ducal
insignia--_Fêtes_ in the Castello--The Duke of Orleans seizes
Novara--Terror of Lodovico--Battle of Fornovo--Victory claimed by both
parties--The French reach Asti--Isabella's trophies restored by
Beatrice.

1495


On the evening of the 27th of February, while the joy bells were ringing
in the Milanese churches in honour of the French king's triumph, the
duke sent for the Venetian ambassadors.

"I have had bad news," he said. "Naples is lost, and the French king has
been joyfully welcomed by the people. I am ready to do whatever the
Republic desires. But there is no time to waste; we must act at once."

All eyes now turned to Lodovico as the only man who could save Italy
from the French invaders. The emperor and the Venetians had been urging
him to declare war against France for the last eight weeks, and now
Ferrante of Aragon, in his despair, appealed to him by the Sforza blood
that flowed in both their veins to deliver him and his kingdom from the
dominion of the foreigner. The duke himself could not feel safe as long
as Louis of Orleans remained at Asti, and declared that he was ready to
place himself at the head of a league for the defence of Italy. He wrote
to congratulate Commines, the French ambassador at Venice, on his
master's success, but the same day he sent the Bishop of Como and
Francesco Bernardino Visconti to Venice, there to negotiate a new league
between himself, the Signoria, the Pope, the King of the Romans, and
the King and Queen of Spain. The presence of the German and Spanish
ambassadors, as well as the arrival of the two new Milanese envoys,
excited Commines' suspicions, while the long faces and terror-struck air
of the Venetian senators, when the news from Naples arrived, reminded
him of the Romans after the defeat of Cannæ. But so well was the secret
kept that he knew nothing of the league until after it had been signed,
late on the night of the 31st of March, in the bedchamber of the old
Doge. Early the next morning he was summoned to the palace, and, in the
presence of a hundred senators, solemnly informed of the new treaty.

"Magnificent ambassador," said the prince, "our friendship for your
master makes it our duty to inform you of all that concerns the state.
Know, then, that yesterday, in the name of the Holy Spirit, of the
glorious Virgin Mary, and the blessed Evangelist Monsignore S. Marco,
our patron, a league has been concluded for the protection of the Church
and the defence of the Holy Roman Empire and your own states, between
his Holiness the Pope, his Majesty the King of the Romans, the King and
Queen of Spain, our Signoria, and the Duke of Milan. Tell this, we pray
you, to your Most Christian Majesty." Before the prince had done
speaking, Commines heard the bells of St. Mark's ringing to celebrate
the new league, and, still dazed by the unexpected news, he stammered
out, "What will happen to my king? Will he be able to return to France?"

"Certainly," replied the prince, "if he comes as a friend to the
league."

Without another word, Commines left the palace, but as he went down the
grand staircase, he asked the secretary who accompanied him to repeat
the Doge's words, since he could hardly take them in. Then he told his
gondoliers to row him back to his house, near S. Giorgio Maggiore, and
on the way he met the ambassador of Naples, in a fine new robe, with a
smiling face, as he well might have, "for this," adds Commines, "was
great news for him." Marino Sanuto, who narrates the incident, was much
struck by Commines' rage and dismay, and, like a true Venetian, remarks
contemptuously, "He did not know how to dissimulate his feelings, as one
should do in such a case." And, in the same spirit, he goes on to
admire the presence of mind displayed by the Milanese ambassadors, who
to all Commines' remonstrances replied courteously, that of course their
duke had nothing to do with all this. "They acted," he adds, "as the
wise act in the government of states. They persuade their enemies that
they mean to do one thing, and then they do another."

At night all Venice was illuminated, and from his covered gondola the
French ambassador saw the fireworks and the banquetings that were held
at the palaces of the other envoys. He understood what it all meant, and
trembled for his king's safety. But he lost no time, and sent warnings
both to Orleans at Asti and to Charles at Naples, of the coming storm. A
week or two later he left Venice, and went to meet Charles at Florence.
On Palm Sunday, the 10th of April, the League was solemnly proclaimed on
the Piazza of St. Mark, and all the ambassadors marched in procession
round the square, while images of united Italy, and of all the kings and
princes of the League, were carried about in triumph, and the golden
rose was given by the Pope to the Venetian ambassador in Rome. "To-day,"
said the Duke of Milan, "will see the dawn of the peace and prosperity
of Italy."

King Charles, meanwhile, unconscious of the dangers that threatened to
impede his return home, was revelling in the delights of Naples, and
holding jousts and banquets in the sunny gardens and fair palaces of
that enchanted bay. "My brother," he wrote to the Duke of Bourbon, "this
is the divinest land and the fairest city that I have ever seen. You
would never believe what beautiful gardens I have here. So delicious are
they, and so full of rare and lovely flowers and fruits, that nothing,
by my faith, is wanting, except Adam and Eve, to make this place another
Eden."

While the king and his nobles were eating off gold and silver plate and
drinking out of jewelled goblets in King Alfonso's tapestried halls, the
French soldiers were to be seen lying about in the streets, intoxicated
with the strong and luscious wines of Southern Italy. The whole army was
given over to luxury and vice, and the outrages which the troops
committed soon made them hated by the fickle populace, who a few weeks
before had welcomed them as deliverers from the tyrant's yoke. "From the
moment of the king's arrival until his departure," writes Commines, "he
thought of nothing but pleasure, and those about him only cared to seek
their own profit. His youth may excuse him, but for his servants there
could be no excuse." The news of the league between the powers came to
startle Charles out of this fool's paradise. On the 8th of April, the
Count of Caiazzo was suddenly recalled to Milan, and when Charles asked
Lodovico to send him Messer Galeazzo instead, the duke replied curtly
that he had need of him at home. By degrees the king began to realize
the formidable combination which had arisen against him, and prepared to
march northward with the bulk of his army, leaving the Duke of
Montpensier with a few hundred French troops and some thousand Swiss
mercenaries to defend his newly conquered kingdom. On the 20th of May,
he finally left Naples, and on the 1st of June entered Rome by the Latin
gate, two days after the Pope had fled to Orvieto. Almost at the same
moment, King Ferrante returned to Calabria, and his subjects flocked to
join the old banner of the house of Aragon.

Lodovico's first step was to send Galeazzo di Sanseverino with a body of
newly raised troops against Asti, on the 19th of April, and to summon
the Duke of Orleans to surrender the town and to drop the title of Duke
of Milan. In this he was supported by the Emperor Maximilian, who sent
an imperious order to Louis forbidding him to assume the title, on pain
of forfeiting his fief of Asti. Orleans replied proudly that Asti formed
part of his heritage, and that he was ready to defend it to the last
drop of his blood against Signor Lodovico or any other foe. At the same
time he sent an urgent appeal to the Duke of Bourbon for reinforcements,
and prepared to act on the offensive.

On the 14th of the same month, the Duke of Milan wrote a gay letter to
Isabella d'Este, informing her of his intention to attack Asti, and
regretting that she was not present to join the expedition on her fleet
charger. But Asti was too strongly fortified, and the forces under
Galeazzo were too raw and ill paid, for him to attempt an assault; so he
remained in his camp at Annona, and contented himself with cutting off
the supplies of the beleaguered city.

Towards the end of April, the imperial envoys were at length despatched
with the long-promised privileges, and in the middle of May they reached
Milan, where they were magnificently entertained by the duke and duchess
in the Castello. On the 26th of May, the festival of S. Felicissimo, the
great ceremony took place. An imposing tribunal, hung with crimson satin
embroidered with gold mulberry leaves and berries, was erected for the
occasion on the piazza at the doors of the Duomo, and here, after
attending high mass, Lodovico Sforza was solemnly proclaimed Duke of
Milan, Count of Pavia and Angera, by the grace of God and the will of
his Cesarean Majesty, Maximilian, Emperor-elect and chief of the Holy
Roman Empire. The imperial delegates, Melchior, Bishop of Brixen, and
Conrad Stürzl, Chancellor of the King of the Romans, first read aloud
the privileges in their master's name, and then invested Lodovico with
the ducal cap and mantle, and placed the sceptre and sword of state in
his hands. Giasone del Maino, the celebrated Pavian jurist, recited a
Latin oration, after which the duke, accompanied by the imperial
ambassadors, and followed by the duchess and a brilliant suite of
courtiers and ladies, rode in procession to the ancient basilica of S.
Ambrogio to return thanks for his accession. Then the whole company
returned, "with immense rejoicing and triumph," to the Castello, where a
series of splendid _fêtes_ were given in honour of the occasion, and
rich presents were made to the imperial ambassadors and court officials.
Two days afterwards another imposing ceremony was held in the Castello,
when the heads of houses from the different quarters of the city were
assembled, and each citizen in turn swore fealty, first to Duke Lodovico
and afterwards to Duchess Beatrice, whom, in the event of his own death,
he had appointed to be regent of the State and guardian of his sons. The
Marquis of Mantua was among the guests present, and Beatrice felt the
keenest regret that the marchioness was unable to accompany him and
witness the wonderful scene before the Duomo, which, she exclaims in her
youthful enthusiasm," was the grandest spectacle and noblest solemnity
that our eyes have ever beheld."

It was the proudest day of Lodovico's life, and his adored wife, who
shared the cares of State as well as the festivities of his court, might
well join in his exultation. But his confidence in the favours of
Fortune and in the security of his position was destined to receive a
rude shock. Before the week was ended, on the very day when Beatrice
wrote her triumphant letter to her sister, Louis of Orleans,
strengthened by the arrival of fresh troops, made a successful sally
from Asti at nightfall and appeared before the walls of Novara. The
citizens, who were already disaffected by reason of the oppressive
exactions of the Duke of Milan, opened their gates, and after a short
siege the citadel surrendered. Suddenly the Duke of Milan, who was
resting after the fatigues of the recent festivities at Vigevano, heard
that his rival, at the head of a strongly armed force, was within twenty
miles of his palace gates. An irresistible panic seized him, and he
retired, first to Abbiategrasso, beyond the Ticino, and then to Milan,
where he took refuge in the Castello with his wife and children. The
Venetian annalist Malipiero records how, on the 20th of June, two
Lombard friars arrived at the convent of San Salvador in Venice,
bringing word that the duke had fled in terror of his life to the Rocca,
and would hardly see or speak to a single soul. "He is in bad health,
with one hand paralyzed, they say, and is hated by all the people, and
fears they will rise against him." In this critical moment, Beatrice
showed a courage and presence of mind which contrasted curiously with
her husband's weakness. She sent for the chief Milanese noblemen, spoke
brave words to them, and took prompt measures for defending the Castello
and city. Fortunately, the Venetian general, Bernardo Contarini, arrived
on the 22nd of June at the head of several thousand Greek Stradiots to
the duke's assistance, while the French were held in check by Galeazzo's
force and compelled to remain within the walls of Novara. This momentary
panic over, Lodovico recovered his health and nerve, but his treasury
was exhausted by the large subsidies granted to his allies and the
extravagant expenditure of the last two years, and the forced loans
which he exacted from his subjects created a general feeling of
discontent. Galeazzo's force was weakened by continual desertion, and
the duke had great difficulty in raising sufficient money to maintain
two separate armies. Rumours of the disaffection of the Milanese and of
the perils which threatened his ally had reached Maximilian's ears at
Worms, and on the 18th of June he sent Lodovico a grave warning by his
envoy, Angelo Talenti, begging the duke to place German troops in the
fortress of Lombardy, and to provide guards for the castles of Milan and
Como, "in order that he may be able to sleep in peace." Two days later
he spoke again to the envoy, and begged him to urge the duke to remove
his womankind from the Castello to Cremona, where he heard that he had a
fine palace, saying that the presence of women had often caused the loss
of citadels. Perhaps, if Maximilian had known Duchess Beatrice as well
as he did a year later, he would have thought this warning superfluous.
Lodovico, however, thanked his Majesty for his thoughtfulness, and
applied himself, with the help of Leonardo, to fortify the Castello of
Milan and make it an impregnable citadel. That winter he had appointed
Bernardino del Corte, one of his favourite and most devoted servants, to
be governor of the Rocca, which held his treasure and jewels together
with all his most precious possessions, and on the 12th of January, a
fortnight before the birth of Beatrice's child, the new castellan had
taken a solemn oath of fealty to the duke and duchess, swearing, with
his hand on the crucifix, that he would hold the Castello for his liege
lord and lady till his latest breath. Messer Galeazzo and his brother,
Antonio Maria di Sanseverino, Giasone del Maino, Ambrogio di Rosate, the
astrologer, Galeotto Prince of Mirandola, and Giovanni Adorno, a
powerful Genoese nobleman, who had married a sister of the Sanseverini
brothers, were all present in Beatrice's room in the Rocchetta on this
occasion, and signed the document as witnesses of Bernardino's oath.

Maximilian now sent his long-promised contingent of Swiss and German
troops to join the Count of Caiazzo's horse, and the Venetian army,
under the generalship of Gian Francesco Gonzaga, and the allied forces,
amounting in all to some twenty-five thousand men, prepared to cut off
the retreat of the French king and prevent his return to Asti. "Here I
am," wrote the Marquis of Mantua to his wife, "at the head of the finest
army which Italy has ever seen, not only to resist, but to exterminate
the French." And Isabella wrote back in high spirits at the "great
enterprise" that was before him, sending him a cross with an Agnus Dei
to wear round his neck in battle, and telling him that her prayers and
those of all the priests of Mantua were with him.

On Sunday, the 5th of July, the French army, reduced by sickness and
desertion to less than ten thousand in number, and fatigued by long
forced marches across the Apennines, descended into the valley of the
Taro, and encamped at the village of Fornovo, on the right bank of the
mountain torrent. Further along the same bank, down in the plains, lay
the army of the league, and, in order to reach Lombardy, the French had
to cross the river in full view of the enemy's camp. Early on Monday
morning, the 6th of July, Charles, mounted on his favourite charger,
"Savoy," and wearing white and purple plumes in his cap, led the van of
his army across the Taro, swollen as it was by the late heavy rains. At
the same moment, the Marquis of Mantua and the Count of Caiazzo, at the
head of their light cavalry, attacked the French rear-guard, and the
battle began. Paolo Giovio describes the engagement that followed as the
fiercest battle of the age, in which more blood was spilt than in any
other during the last two hundred years, although Commines, who was
present with his monarch, says that the actual fighting only lasted a
quarter of an hour. On both sides the leaders fought with heroic
courage. Charles VIII. himself repeatedly led the charge against the
Milanese horse, and, calling on the chivalry of France to live or die
with him, dashed into the thickest of the fray. Once mounted on his
war-horse, and face to face with the foe, the ugly little deformed man
became a true king, and risked his life and liberty at the head of his
subjects. Francesco Gonzaga, on his part, performed prodigies of valour,
and had three horses killed under him, while his uncle, Rodolfo Gonzaga,
and many other gallant knights were left dead on the field. But personal
exploits could not atone for his want of generalship, and while the
marquis and his immediate followers were engaged in a desperate
hand-to-hand fight with the foe, a large body of his reserve remained
inactive on the banks of the Taro, and his Stradiots were engaged in
plundering the French camp. The result was that, in spite of their
superior numbers, the Italian ranks were broken and many of the
Venetians fled in confusion towards Parma, while the French succeeded in
crossing the river, and, early on Tuesday morning, continued their march
across the Lombard plain. But, as the camp and baggage remained in the
hands of the allies, the Italians claimed the victory. The Venetians
celebrated their triumph with public rejoicings and illuminations on the
Piazza of S. Marco, and lauded their brave captain to the skies. Both at
Milan and Mantua there was great exultation when the news became known;
poets and painters alike did honour to the victors: Sperandio designed
his noble medal, and Mantegna painted the Madonna della Vittoria to
immortalize Francesco Gonzaga's triumph. But the marquis himself,
writing to his wife from the camp the day after the battle, remarks that
if only others had fought as he and his followers did, the victory would
have been complete, and laments the disobedience and cowardice of the
Stradiots, who first plundered the enemy's camp and then fled, although
no one pursued them. "These things," he adds, "have caused me the
greatest grief that I have ever known."

Lodovico's congratulations on the victory were coldly worded, and evoked
a reply from his brother-in-law, saying that if he had foiled in
courage, he would have been a dead man. But the duke could not forgive
Gonzaga for allowing the French to pursue their way unmolested. Only the
Count of Caiazzo and his brothers had attempted to follow them with
their light cavalry, who were too few in number to do the enemy serious
damage, and by the 8th of July, Charles and his tired army reached Asti
in safety.

"God Himself was our guide," devoutly ejaculates Commines, "and led us
home with honour, as that good man Fra Girolamo of Florence had
foretold. But, as he said truly, we were made to suffer for our sins,
for we were in sore need of food, and so great was our want of water
that men drank of the ditches along the road; but no one was heard to
complain, although it was the hardest journey I ever took in my life,
and I have had many bad ones."

Among the booty which fell into the hands of the marquis after the
battle was the French king's tent with all its contents. These included
a sword and helmet, said to have belonged to Charlemagne, a silver
casket containing the royal seals, besides a set of rich hangings and
altar-plate, and a jewelled cross and reliquary on which Charles set
great value, because it held a sacred thorn and piece of wood from the
holy cross, a vest of our Lady, and a limb of St. Denis, which were
objects of his especial devotion. Many of these relics were eventually
restored to the king, who, not to be outdone in courtesy, sent the
marquis a favourite white horse of his, which had been captured by the
French, gorgeously apparelled in gold trappings. Among the spoils sent
to Mantua were a magnificent set of embroidered hangings from the royal
tent, and a curious book of paintings, containing portraits of the chief
Italian beauties who had fascinated King Charles. These, together with
the hilt of the broken sword with which the marquis himself had fought
in the _mêlèe_, were joyfully received by Isabella, who counted these
trophies among her proudest possessions. She was, accordingly, a good
deal annoyed when, a week later, her husband desired her to send back
the French king's hangings, as he wished to give them to her sister
Beatrice. Her protest on this occasion is very characteristic.

"MOST ILLUSTRIOUS LORD,

"Your Excellency has desired me to send the four pieces of drapery that
belonged to the French king, in order that you may present them to the
Duchess of Milan. I of course obey you, but in this instance I must say
I do it with great reluctance, as I think these royal spoils ought to
remain in our family, in perpetual memory of your glorious deeds, of
which we have no other record here. By giving them to others, you appear
to surrender the honour of the enterprise with these trophies of the
victory. I do not send them to-day, because they require a mule, and I
also hope that you will be able to make some excuse to the duchess and
tell her, for instance, that you have already given me these hangings.
If I had not seen them already, I should not have cared so much; but
since you gave them to me in the first place, and they were won at the
peril of your own life, I shall only give them up with tears in my eyes.
All the same, as I said before, I will obey your Excellency, but shall
hope to receive some explanation in reply. If these draperies were a
thousand times more valuable than they are, and had been acquired in any
other way, I should gladly give them up to my sister the duchess, whom,
as you know, I love and honour with all my heart. But, under the
circumstances, I must own it is very hard for me to part with them.

"Mantua, July 24, 1495."

In this case Beatrice showed herself, as she habitually was, the more
generous of the two. The marquis had his way, and sent the four hangings
to Milan, followed by a fifth belonging to the suite, which he had in
the mean time recovered.

On the 25th of August, Beatrice, having duly received and admired her
brother-in-law's gift, sent them all back to Mantua, with the following
note, thanking him for his kindness, but declining to accept a present
that she felt belonged of right to her sister:--

"I have to-day received, by your Highness's courier, one of the pieces
of drapery belonging to the King of France. Andrea Cossa had already
brought me the other four, for which I thank you exceedingly; but I feel
that, under the circumstances, I ought not to keep them. As it is, I
have great pleasure in seeing them all together, and now your Highness
can give them back to the Marchesana."[60]

FOOTNOTES:

[60] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, pp. 632, 633.



CHAPTER XXIV

Ferrante II. recovers Naples--Siege of Novara by the army of the league
--Review of the army by the Duke and Duchess of Milan--Charles VIII.
visits Turin and comes to Vercelli--Negotiations for peace--Lodovic and
Beatrice at the camp--Treaty of Vercelli concluded between France and
Milan--Jealousy of the other Powers--Commines at Vigevano--Zenale's
altar-piece in the Brera.

1495


If the failure of the league to cut off the French king's return to
Fornovo had disappointed Lodovico, he found compensation in the news
that reached Milan from Naples. Hardly had Charles VIII. started on his
march northwards, than Ferrante once more set foot in his own realm and
received a joyful welcome from his subjects. On the 7th of July, the day
after the battle of the Taro, he entered Naples, where the people took
up arms in his favour, and the nobles who had been the first to join the
French king hastened to assure him of their loyalty. One by one the
castles in the neighbourhood surrendered to their rightful king, and
Montpensier with the remnant of his forces retired into the Calabrian
fastnesses, to carry on a petty war of depredation and skirmishes during
the winter months. Lodovico hastened to impart the good news to his
sister-in-law Isabella, who replied in the following letter:--

"MOST ILLUSTRIOUS DUKE OF MILAN AND DEAR LORD,

"The news of King Ferrante's entry into Naples, which your Highness was
so good as to send me, has given me the greatest pleasure, both for his
Majesty's own sake and for that of your Highness, since it seems to me
that all this must help to deliver us the more speedily from the hands
of the French. So I congratulate myself with your Excellency, and thank
you with all my heart for your kindness in allowing me to share the good
news, which has indeed given me the greatest happiness. I only hope that
you may soon receive tidings of the recovery of Novara, and begging you
to keep me informed of your successes, and to commend me cordially to my
sister the duchess,

                              "I remain, your daughter and servant,
                                                ISABELLA DA ESTE."[61]

Written with my own hand in Mantua on the 16th of July, 1495."

The siege of Novara, where the Duke of Orleans had been beleagured since
the middle of June, was now the centre of interest in Lombardy.
Immediately after Fornovo, the Count of Caiazzo's cavalry had joined his
brother Galeazzo's force before Novara, and on the 19th of July the
Marquis of Mantua encamped under the walls with the Venetian army. The
garrison of the besieged city was six or seven thousand strong, and well
provided with arms and ammunition, but already supplies of food were
scarce, and men and horses were dying of sickness and hunger. Some
dissensions having arisen between Francesco Gonzaga and the other
leaders as to the conduct of the siege, the Duke of Milan himself
visited the camp of the league on the 3rd of August, bringing with him,
says Guicciardini, his beloved wife--"_la sua carissima consorte_"--who
was his companion "no less in matters of importance than in actions
familiar, and who on this occasion, it is said, chiefly by her advice
and counsel brought the captains to an agreement." A council of war was
held, and Lodovico's recommendation to blockade the town instead of
carrying it by assault was finally adopted. On the 5th of August the
duke and duchess were present at a grand review of the whole army,
which, with Galeazzo's troops and the German and Swiss reinforcements,
now amounted to upwards of forty thousand men. Never in the memory of
man, say the chroniclers, had so great and splendid an army been seen in
Italy as that which, with flying colours and beating drums, to the sound
of trumpets and martial music, marched past the chariot of Duchess
Beatrice. First came the hero of Fornovo, Francesco Gonzaga, at the head
of his troop of horse, mounted on magnificent chargers, "a sight
admirable to behold;" then the infantry, all in excellent order, led by
their different Condottieri, in glittering armour; afterwards the
artillery, firing big guns, which seemed to rend the air; then the
Stradiots armed with lances, targets, and scimitars, and the Venetian
cross-bowmen and light cavalry. These were followed by Galeazzo di
Sanseverino, who looked his best that day, clad in French attire as a
knight of the Order of St. Michel--for which, we are told, he was
sharply reprimanded by the duke--followed by the flower of Milanese
chivalry, bearing in their midst the ducal banner with the figure of a
Moor, holding an eagle in one hand and strangling a dragon with the
other. After Messer Galeaz came his brothers, Antonio Maria and
Fracassa, "_ce très-beau et très-gracieux gendarme_," as Commines calls
him, each leading his own squadron; and finally the German infantry,
consisting of some five or six thousand men.

"It was indeed," writes the Neapolitan scholar, Jacopo d'Atri, who was
in attendance on his master, the Marquis of Mantua, "a stupendous sight,
and all who were present say that since the days of the Romans, so vast
and well-disciplined an army has never been seen." And the Marquis of
Mantua, in his letters, never ceased to regret his wife's absence,
telling her that she had missed the grandest sight in the world, a thing
the like of which she would never see again.

The only drawback to the day's success was an accident which befell the
duke's horse, who stumbled and fell as Lodovico passed along the lines,
throwing his rider to the ground, and soiling his rich clothes in the
mud. "This," remarks the chronicler who tells the story, "was held to be
an evil omen, and was remembered afterwards by many who were present
that day." After this review, the duke and duchess returned to Vigevano,
and the siege of Novara was prosecuted with fresh vigour. In vain Louis
of Orleans and his famished soldiers looked out for the French army that
was to bring them relief. King Charles had gone to visit his ally the
Duchess of Savoy at Turin, and was consoling himself for the toil and
disappointments of the campaign by making love to fair Anna Solieri in
the neighbouring town of Chieri. Since his reduced forces were unequal
to the task of facing the army of the league and relieving Novara, he
sent the bailiff of Dijon to raise a body of twelve thousand Swiss in
the Cantons friendly to France, and decided to await their arrival
before he took active measures.

Meanwhile he and most of his followers were thoroughly tired of warfare,
and the queen never ceased imploring him to return home. The French
supplies of men and money were exhausted, and when Charles sent home for
reinforcements, Anne of Brittany replied that there were no Frenchmen
left to send, only widows weeping for their husbands, whose bones were
whitening on the Italian plains. The Venetian ambassador, Commines, who
was strongly in favour of peace, had already opened negotiations with
some of his friends in Venice, and Charles lent a willing ear both to
his proposals and to those of the Duchess of Savoy, who on her part
offered to mediate between him and the Duke of Milan. But Briconnet, the
Cardinal of S. Malo, Lodovico's old enemy and a staunch partisan of
Orleans, defeated these plans by his intrigues, and the French army,
leaving Asti, advanced to Vercelli, in the duchy of Savoy, and prepared
to take the field. Both parties, however, were growing weary of this
prolonged warfare, and Commines declares that in the French camp no one
wanted to fight, unless the king led them to battle, and that Charles
himself had not the slightest wish to take the field.

At length, early in September, the first detachment of Swiss levies
reached Vercelli, and on the 12th the king himself arrived in the camp.
His first act was to hold a council of war, which decided in favour of
peace, and Commines was sent to treat with the Marquis of Mantua. The
allies insisted on the unconditional surrender of Novara, while Charles
VIII. asked for the restitution of Genoa as an ancient fief of the
French crown. Nothing was concluded, but a truce of eight days was
agreed upon, and prolonged conferences were held at a castle between
Vercelli and Cameriano.

On the 21st of September, Lodovico returned to the camp of the league,
bringing Beatrice with him, and rode out to meet the French
commissioners. Commines gives a minute account of the conferences, which
took place in the duke's lodgings at Cameriano during the next
fortnight.

"Every day the duke and duchess came to meet us at the end of a long
gallery and conducted us to their rooms, where we found two long rows of
chairs prepared, and we sat down on one side, and the representatives of
the league on the other. First came the ambassadors of the King of the
Romans and the King of Spain; then the Marquis of Mantua and the
Venetian Provveditori and envoy; then the Duke of Milan and his wife the
duchess, seated between him and the ambassador of Ferrara. On their
side, the duke was the only spokesman, and on our side one only. But our
habit is not to speak as quietly as they do; two or three of us often
began to speak at the same time, which made the duke say, 'Ho! ho! if
you please, one at a time.' And two secretaries, one of ours and one of
theirs, wrote down the articles agreed upon, and before we took leave,
read them aloud, the one in Italian, the other in French, to see if
there was anything that could be altered or shortened."

Beatrice was present at all the deliberations, and surprised the other
commissioners by her cleverness and quickness, and the ready tact she
invariably showed. The duke was now sincerely anxious for peace, and
only cared to recover Novara, and to see the French safely out of his
dominions, where the presence of Louis of Orleans could not fail to
prove a disturbing element. Both he and Commines directed all their
efforts to bring matters to a favourable conclusion, but the other
commissioners made difficulties, and the Venetian, Spanish, and German
ambassadors would decide nothing without consulting their separate
governments. The evacuation of Novara, however, was unanimously agreed
upon, and on the 26th of September, Orleans and his garrison marched out
with the honours of war, and were escorted by Messer Galeaz and the
Marquis of Mantua to the French outposts. More than two thousand men had
already died of sickness and starvation. Almost all their horses had
been eaten, and the survivors were in a miserable plight. Many perished
by the roadside, and Commines found fifty troopers in a fainting
condition in a garden at Cameriano, and saved their lives by feeding
them with soup. Even then one man died on the spot, and four others
never reached the camp. Three hundred more died at Vercelli, some of
sickness, others from over-eating themselves after the prolonged
starvation which they had endured, and the dung-hills of the town were
strewn with dead corpses. Yet still Orleans, who, as Commines remarks,
had caused all this mischief, was eager for war, and entreated the king
to make no terms with Signor Lodovico. He had a strong supporter in the
Milanese captain, Jean Jacques Trivulzio, who had entered the French
king's service after Alfonso's flight from Naples, and had never
forgotten his old griefs against Lodovico and his son-in-law. And on the
selfsame day that Novara was evacuated, the bailiff of Dijon arrived at
Vercelli with ten or twelve thousand more Swiss mercenaries, bringing up
the whole number to upwards of twenty thousand. So large a body had
never been assembled before, and the presence of these rude
mountaineers, greedy for spoil and ready to quarrel with friends or
foes, created general alarm. The Duke of Milan was now more eager than
ever to conclude peace, and when Louis of Orleans and Trivulzio urged
the king to break off negotiations and march at the head of the Swiss on
Milan, Charles replied curtly that it was too late, for the
preliminaries of peace were already signed. He himself had no wish but
to return home and send help to his distressed troops in Naples.

Accordingly, on the 9th of October a separate convention was concluded
between the King of France and the Duke of Milan, leaving the other
Powers to settle their differences among themselves. Novara was restored
to Lodovico, and his title to Genoa and Savona recognized, while Charles
renounced the support of his cousin Louis of Orleans' claims upon Milan.
In return the duke promised not to assist Ferrante with troops or ships,
to give free passage to French armies, and assist the king with Milanese
troops if he returned to Naples in person. He further renounced his
claim on Asti, and agreed to pay the Duke of Orleans 50,000 ducats as a
war indemnity, and lend the king two ships as transports for his
soldiers from Genoa to Naples. A debt of 80,000 ducats, that was still
owing to Lodovico, was cancelled, and the Castelletto of the port of
Genoa was placed in the Duke of Ferrara's hands, as a security that
these engagements would be kept on both sides. The king, we learn from
Commines, still retained a friendly feeling for the Duke of Milan, and
invited him to a meeting before he left Italy; but Lodovico had taken
umbrage at certain offensive remarks made by the Count of Ligny and
Cardinal Briconnet, and excused himself on plea of illness, while he
declared in private that he would not trust himself in the French king's
company unless a river ran between them. "It is true," says Commines,
"that foolish words had been spoken, but the king meant well, and wished
to remain his friend."

The Marquis of Mantua was better disposed towards his Most Christian
Majesty, and gladly accepted an invitation to visit the king at Vercelli
before his departure. He wrote to his wife in great haste, begging her
to send him his finest linen shirts and best gold brocade vest and
mantle, together with different sorts of choice perfumes, and the next
day duly made his obeisance to the king. He was highly gratified at the
courtesy with which he was received, and at the familiar way in which
his Majesty conversed, not only with himself, but with his servants,
"treating them exactly as if they were his equals" and condescending to
lift his hand to his cap each time they saluted him." What impressed
this rough soldier most of all was the sight of three cardinals standing
among the crowd at the door, "just as the chaplains may be seen in any
other house," and among them the cardinal of S. Pietro in Vincula
(afterwards Julius II.), "who dares contend with the Pope, and who yet
stood here in the humblest and most respectful fashion." Before the
marquis left, the king made him a present of two valuable bay horses,
remarkable for their fine shape and speed. One of the two was an
excellent jumper, and delighted Francesco by the way in which he could
clear wide trenches and lofty fences at a single bound, "jumping with
all four feet in the air at once."

At the same time Gonzaga's secretary, Jacopo d'Atri, informed the
Marchesa that the priest Bernardino d'Urbino and a troop of Mantuan
singers had been sent that evening to amuse the king. Charles questioned
the chaplain closely about his master's wife, asking for an exact
description of her person, height, and features, and being especially
anxious to learn if Isabella at all resembled the Duchess Beatrice, and
if, like that illustrious lady, she was as charming and gracious as she
was beautiful. Don Bernardino replied discreetly that the Marchesa was,
to say the truth, even more beautiful than her sister, and surpassed all
other ladies by her charm and brilliancy. This roused the king's
curiosity to the highest pitch, and he insisted on having a full and
particular account of Isabella's talents and accomplishments, as well as
of the gowns she usually wore and the fashion of her clothes, and
rejoiced to hear she was not very tall, since he himself was short of
stature and admired small women. "In short," adds the secretary, "his
Majesty appeared quite in love with my description of your Excellency,
and if he meets you, will, I am sure, seek to kiss your cheek, not once,
but many times. And this being the case, I am glad to be able to tell
you that the King of France is less deformed than people say."[62]

The desired meeting, however, was never effected. Immediately peace was
signed, Charles VIII. left Vercelli, crossed the Alps with the remnants
of his army, and reached Lyons on the 7th of November. Commines,
meanwhile, was sent on a further errand to Venice, where he vainly
endeavoured to negotiate a treaty, but found the Signoria determined to
maintain the cause of Ferrante of Naples. The Venetians were not sorry
to disband their army and see the French cross the Alps; but none the
less their indignation was great at the Duke of Milan's breach of faith
in concluding a separate peace, and sharp words passed between the
ambassadors of Spain and Naples and the Milanese envoy at Venice.

"The best thing, in my opinion," remarks the annalist Malipiero, "would
have been for Contarini to give the Stradiots orders to cut to pieces
both Duke Lodovico and Ercole of Ferrara, who are the Signory's worst
enemies. And the truth is, you should never take part in another's
quarrel, or enter the country of a foreign ally, for in these matters no
one is to be trusted."

[Illustration: Altar piece ascribed to Zenale with portraits of Lodovico
Sforza and Beatrice d'Este (Brera)

D. Anderson.]

Maximilian, on his part, was satisfied with Lodovico's excuses, and
owned that the duke was right to make peace without delay. As for
Lodovico, it was with a deep sense of relief that he saw the departure
of the last French troops. He invited the Duke of Ferrara, the
Marquis of Mantua, and the Venetian Provveditori to Vigevano, and
entertained them all magnificently. When, on his return from Venice,
Commines in his turn visited Vigevano, the duke rode out to meet him
with charming courtesy, and bade the French ambassador welcome to his
beautiful country home. But when they came to business, it was another
matter. Commines heard from Genoa that the two ships, which the Duke of
Milan was to send to Naples with the French fleet, had received orders
not to sail, and when he asked for an explanation, Lodovico told him
that he could put no trust or confidence in his master the king. At the
end of three days the ambassador took his leave, and just as he was
starting on his journey, to his surprise the duke came up to him very
civilly, and said that, after all, he wished to keep on friendly terms
with his Most Christian Majesty, and had determined to send Messer
Galeaz with the ships to Naples, and that before Commines reached Lyons
he should receive a letter to this effect. So Commines crossed the Alps
with a light heart, and all the way to Lyons he kept looking back, he
tells us, in constant expectation of hearing the sound of horse's hoofs
behind him. But the duke's messenger did not overtake him, and the ships
never sailed from Genoa.

That year the festival of Christmas was celebrated with great joy and
splendour at the court of Milan. After the troubled times of the last
twelve months, after the dangers which had threatened the very existence
of the State, and brought the noise of war to the gates of Vigevano,
peace and tranquillity were once more restored, and another era of
unclouded prosperity seemed about to dawn. Now that poor Giangaleazzo
was dead, and Louis of Orleans had once more crossed the Alps, there was
no one to dispute Lodovico's title or to prevent his son from eventually
succeeding him on the throne. Once more he and Beatrice were free to
devote themselves to the encouragement of learning and poetry, of
painting and architecture; to watch Bramante and Leonardo at work, or
read Dante and Petrarch together.

That winter the altar-piece of the Brera, containing the portraits of
the duke and his family, was painted by Zenale or some other Lombard
master, for the church of S. Ambrogio in Nemo. Here the Madonna and
Child are enthroned in the centre of the picture; the four Fathers of
the Church, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory, stand on either
side; and in the foreground, kneeling at the foot of the throne, are the
Duke and Duchess of Milan, with their two children. The Christ-child
turns towards Lodovico, and St. Ambrose, the protector and patron saint
of Milan, lays his hand on the shoulder of the duke, as, clad in rich
brocades and wearing a massive gold chain round his neck, he clasps his
hands in prayer. And the gentle Madonna stretches out her hand lovingly
towards Beatrice, who kneels at her feet, with the long coil of twisted
hair, and the pearls on her head and neck, and her favourite knots of
ribbons fluttering from her shoulders or falling over the velvet stripes
of her yellow satin robe. Close at her side is the infant prince,
Francesco Sforza, with his baby face and swaddled clothes; while
opposite, kneeling at his father's side, is the handsome little Count of
Pavia. Here, at least, there is no doubt that we have authentic
portraits of both Lodovico Sforza and Beatrice d'Este, the reigning Duke
and Duchess of Milan, towards the close of the year 1495. There is no
mistaking the long black hair, the refined features, and long nose of
the Moro, while in Beatrice's features we recognize the same youthful
and child-like charm that mark her countenance in Cristoforo Romano's
bust or Solari's effigy in the Certosa of Pavia.

FOOTNOTES:

[61] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit_., p. 627.

[62] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 630.



CHAPTER XXV

The war of Pisa--Venice defends the liberties of Pisa against Florence
--Lodovico invites Maximilian to enter Italy and succour the Pisans--The
Duke and Duchess of Milan go to meet the emperor at Mals--Maximilian
crosses the Alps and comes to Vigevano--His interview with the Venetian
envoys--His expedition to Pisa.

1496


"After Fornovo," wrote the Venetian Malipiero, "Lodovico Duke of Milan
governed all things in Italy." The departure of the French had left him
practically the arbiter between the other Powers, and afforded him fresh
opportunities of satisfying his ambitious schemes. He had long cherished
hopes of recovering the city of Pisa, upon which the Dukes of Milan had
ancient claims, and in September, 1495, while Orleans still held Novara,
he sent Fracassa, at the head of a band of Genoese archers, to help the
Pisans defend their newly recovered liberties against the Florentines.
Three months later Fracassa was recalled, in tardy compliance with the
condition of the Treaty of Vercelli; but early in the following year,
the Pisans, finding themselves deserted by the French, turned once more
to Lodovico and implored his help. At the same time they sought
assistance from the Signory of Venice, who, in March, 1496, publicly
took the city of Pisa under the protection of St. Mark, and helped their
new allies with liberal supplies of men and money. The Duke of Milan
sent a small brigade to join these forces, and strongly encouraged the
Venetians to bear the burden of a war from which in the end he hoped to
reap solid advantage. But his secret jealousy of Venice, as well as
rumours that Charles VIII. was meditating a second French expedition to
relieve the distressed garrison of Naples, induced him to seek the help
of a new ally In the person of the Emperor Maximilian.

Early in the spring he sent the Marchesino Stanga across the Alps to
invite Maximilian to come to the help of Pisa, which as an imperial city
had already appealed to him for protection, assuring him that his
presence in Italy would maintain the balance of power between Venice and
Florence, and curb the French king's ambition. The prospect of
descending upon Italy and assuming the imperial crown flattered
Maximilian's vanity, but, as usual, his movements were hampered by lack
of money. At length he agreed to meet the Duke of Milan on the frontier
of Tyrol and the Valtellina, and discuss their future plan of operations
together.

On the 5th of July the emperor left Innsbrück for Nauders, and on the
same day the duke and duchess, accompanied by Galeazzo di Sanseverino
and the Count of Melzi, set out on their journey up the lake of Como to
Bormio, in the Valtellina, On the 17th they reached the Abbey of Mals,
"an ancient monastery," says Cagnola, "at the foot of those terrible
mountains on the way to Germany;" and two days afterwards, received a
message from Maximilian, informing the duke and duchess that he was
about to pay them a visit, but begging them not to leave their lodgings,
as he wished the meeting to be informal and without ceremony. Early on
the morning of the 20th, the gay music of hunting-horns woke the
mountain echoes, and a hunting-party suddenly appeared at the gates of
the old Benedictine abbey. First came a hundred soldiers on foot,
bearing long lances, then fifty German lords in hunting-garb, with
falcons on their wrists. These were followed by his Imperial Majesty, a
princely figure in his simple grey cloth tunic and black velvet cap,
with a lion's skin hanging over his thighs, and the badge of the Golden
Fleece on his breast. A troop of servants and pages, in the imperial
liveries of red, white, and yellow, brought up the rear of the
procession, that wound along the steep mountain-side and halted before
the convent, where the Duke of Milan had his lodgings.

The Venetian ambassador, Francesco Foscari, hearing of Maximilian's
proposed visit, had, on Lodovico's invitation, followed him across the
Alps, accompanied by the Cardinal of Santa Croce, the papal nuncio.
Both these envoys waited on the emperor at Mals, and that evening
Foscari's secretary, Conrade Vimerca, wrote the following account of the
meeting between Maximilian and the duke and duchess in his despatches to
Venice:--

"His Majesty alighted with an eagerness which seemed to me only too
great, and went upstairs, where he found the duke alone with the
duchess, and spent half an hour in close and affectionate intercourse
with them both. Afterwards they all three attended mass in the
neighbouring church, and his Majesty appeared, leading the duchess with
his right hand and the duke with his left, with such demonstrations of
love and familiarity as can hardly be described. All three then rode on
horseback to the emperor's lodgings at Colorno (Glurns), some eight
miles distant, where his Majesty entertained the duke and duchess and
all their suite at dinner under a pavilion, which had been erected under
the trees. His Majesty insisted on both the duke and duchess washing
their hands with him in the same bowl, and, sitting down between them at
table, himself helped first one, then the other, from the endless
variety of dishes spread out before them. All this he did with an ease
and kindness beyond anything that I have ever seen in royal personages.
Each time the duke spoke he took off his cap, and his Majesty did the
same. After dinner they remained for some while in pleasant
conversation, and then rode all three together to another place called
Mals, one mile further off, his Majesty bearing all the expenses of the
entertainment. To-morrow night they will remain together here, and there
will be some time for discussion. I am quite sure," adds the Venetian
secretary, "after this that we shall see his Majesty in Italy next
August, and this you may hold to be absolutely certain. As for the King
of France, they do not even mention his name or think of him any more
than if he did not exist."

Although the Signoria of Venice had joined the Duke of Milan in inviting
Maximilian to come to Italy, and had promised him their assistance, they
were secretly not a little alarmed at the prospect of another foreign
invasion, fearing, as one of their chroniclers observes, that the
Germans might prove to be even greater barbarians than the French. In
the interview which Foscari had with the emperor at Mals, he endeavoured
politely to dissuade him from entering Italy with a German army; but,
as his secretary remarked, it was too late, for the Duke of Milan willed
that he should come. Nor were the jealous Venetians altogether pleased
to see the marks of friendship and confidence with which the German
emperor honoured Lodovico and his wife. The familiarity with which
Maximilian treated both the duke and duchess, and the evident pleasure
which he took in their company, seemed little short of marvellous in the
eyes of both Foscari and his secretary.

The singular charm and intelligence of Beatrice made a deep impression
upon Maximilian, who could not but contrast her brightness and
cleverness with the dulness and ignorance of his own Milanese wife. And
the duke's polished manners and cultured tastes could not fail to exert
a powerful fascination upon a monarch whose genuine love of art and
romance made him in his way as remarkable a type of the Renaissance as
the Moro himself. Even apart from political considerations, this meeting
between the two princes, that summer-time in the mountains of Tyrol, was
an event of deep interest, and we can only regret that no record of
Beatrice's impressions on this occasion has been left us.

A conference between the emperor, the Duke of Milan, and the ambassadors
was held on the evening of that eventful day, and the details of the
convention between the allied powers was finally agreed upon. A new
league, which Henry the Seventh of England was afterwards invited to
join, was formed between the Emperor Maximilian, the Duke of Milan, the
Pope, the King of Spain, and the Venetian Republic; and Venice and Milan
promised Maximilian a subsidy of 16,000 ducats if he would cross the
Alps with an army, and compel the Florentines to give up Pisa and
Leghorn.

On the following day, the Venetian ambassador and the papal legate took
their leave, and Maximilian accompanied the duke and duchess over the
Alps to Bormio, where he joined in a chamois-hunt, and then rode back
with his retinue across the mountains to meet the empress at Tirano.
Lodovico and Beatrice travelled back to Milan, where they kept the feast
of the "glorious martyr St, Lawrence," on the 10th of August, with
unwonted splendour, and then retired to Vigevano to prepare for the
emperor's speedy return.

Before the end of the month, Maximilian had once more crossed that
"_crudelissima montagna_" of Braulio (Piz Umbrail), and was at Bellagio
on the Lake of Como, where Fracassa received him, and with five other
Milanese knights held a _baldacchino_ over his head as he rode up to the
Marchesino Stanga's Castle on the hills.

"But he only brought six secretaries and two hundred horsemen with him,
and as before was simply clad in a suit of grey cloth," remarks a
Venetian writer: "the pettiest German baron would have come with more
pomp!" A few days afterwards, the emperor went on to the ducal villa at
Meda, near Como, where Lodovico met him with the Cardinal di Santa Croce
and Foscari, and conducted him, on the 2nd of September, to see Duchess
Beatrice at Vigevano. Here he remained for the next three weeks,
enjoying the beauties of the Moro's favourite summer palace, and
admiring the perfection of Lodovico's latest improvements--the clock
recently constructed by Bramante, the marble capitals of the great hall,
and the model farm and stables of the Sforzesca. Maximilian had
originally intended to visit Milan, and the erection of a triumphal arch
in the Roman style had been ordered by the duke, together with other
decorations on a vast scale; but at the last moment this idea was
abandoned. The Venetian, Marino Sanuto, unkindly suggests that the Moro
would not allow the emperor to come to Milan, lest he should see Duchess
Isabella's son, who was the rightful heir to the crown. In all
probability the true reason lay in Maximilian's dislike of
state-pageants, and his preference for the freedom and country pleasures
of Vigevano. As he told the Venetian ambassador, he preferred to travel
about in different places and enjoy himself in his own way. And His
Majesty added, with a frankness by no means agreeable to Foscari and his
government, that he had no need of his company, and he preferred to be
alone, since Duke Lodovico, with whom he was very intimate, could tell
him all that he wished to know. With which distinctly unpalatable piece
of information the ambassador had to be content. Maximilian, he was
compelled to acknowledge, had come to Italy as the sworn friend and ally
of the Duke of Milan, and the Republic must stoop to take the second
place in the councils of the League.

If Beatrice's charms had captivated the wise emperor at their first
meeting in the mountains of the Valtellina, he found her a thousand
times more fascinating at her beautiful country home, with her children
in her arms. He took great interest in both her little boys, and begged
that the elder of the two, Ercole, should bear the name of Maximilian,
by which he became known in future days. In memory of this visit the
emperor's portrait was introduced in the beautiful miniatures which
illustrate Maximilian Sforza's Book of Prayers, or Libro di Gesù, still
preserved in the Trivulzian Library. Here the young count is represented
on horseback, receiving his illustrious cousin, while the words of the
Latin oration, which he is in the act of reciting, are illuminated on
the front page.

The Venetian Signory had decided to send two special ambassadors to
congratulate the emperor on his arrival in Italy, and on the 14th these
envoys, Antonio Grimani and Marco Morosini, reached Milan, where they
were received by Galeazzo Sforza, Count of Melzi, and lodged in the
Palazzo del Verme, then inhabited by Madonna Cecilia Gallerani and her
husband Count Lodovico Bergamini, and lately decorated with frescoes and
marbles at the duke's expense. Early the next day they travelled by boat
to Abbiategrasso, past the fair villas and smiling gardens that charmed
the eyes of Jean d'Auton when he travelled along the banks of the
Ticino. Here Foscari, who was already in attendance on the emperor, came
to meet them, and they rode into Vigevano, where they were received by
the Count of Caiazzo and Galeotto della Mirandola, and listened in
torrents of rain to a Latin oration that was delivered in Maximilian's
name. It was already dark when the ambassadors reached the Castello, but
the duke himself rode out to welcome them, and conducted them to their
lodgings in the palace of his son-in-law, Galeazzo di Sanseverino. Here
the duke's own daughter, Madonna Bianca, the youthful bride whom Messer
Galeaz had brought home a few weeks before, entertained her father's
guests, and bade them welcome in the name of her gallant husband, who
was laid up with an attack of fever, and was unable to leave his room
or attend to business. The next day the ambassadors were granted an
audience, at which Marino Sanuto, as a member of Foscari's suite, was
himself present. His Majesty, whom the Venetian described as a
magnificent-looking man of thirty-seven, with long hair already turning
white, and perfect manners, received them at the top of the grand
staircase, on the first floor of the Castello. As usual, he was clad in
black and wore a long velvet mantle, and a black woollen cap trimmed
with cords in the French style, having taken a vow to wear no colours
until he had defeated the Turks, while his sole ornament was a gold
chain, with the badge of the Golden Fleece, which hung round his neck.
He was seated on a daïs, draped with cloth of gold, with the Duke of
Milan on his right hand, and the Cardinal di Santa Croce on his left.
The ambassadors of Naples and Spain were also present, as well as the
Count of Caiazzo, the Marchesino Stanga, Don Angelo de' Talenti, the
Bishops of Como and Piacenza, the secretary de' Negri, and other
well-known Milanese courtiers. Marco Morosini then pronounced an elegant
harangue, which was praised by all present, and graciously accepted by
the emperor, who conversed affably with the envoys on general subjects.
Afterwards Marino Sanuto was presented to the Duchess Beatrice, who, he
remarks, "never leaves her lord's side, although she is once more with
child,"--and her two fine little boys, "Ercole, whose name has been
changed by His Majesty's desire to Maximilian, and who is called Count
of Pavia, and a second named Sforza." A succession of _fêtes_ and
hunting-parties was given by the duke for the entertainment of his
imperial guest during the next week, and ending with a "_Caccia
bellissima_" to which the cardinal-legate, all the princes, ambassadors,
and courtiers were invited. Two hundred riders took part in the hunt
that day, and "I myself," adds the grave historian, "was there and saw a
hare caught by a leopard."

On the 23rd of September the emperor took leave of the Duchess Beatrice,
who presented him, as a parting gift, with a superb litter, made of
woven gold, richly adorned with fine needlework--"the most beautiful
thing which I have ever seen," writes Sanuto, "and valued at a thousand
ducats." The duke accompanied his guest as far as Tortona, where he
left Maximilian to go on to Genoa, and thence by sea to Pisa.

"There are, people say, three reasons," remarked Marino Sanuto, "why His
Imperial Majesty is such fast friends with the Duke of Milan. In the
first place, he sees that Lodovico has great power and authority
throughout Italy. In the second, he hopes to get some money out of him.
And in the third place, he looks on him as a useful ally against the
King of France."

Happily for both the emperor and the Duke of Milan's peace of mind, the
French king's military ardour had soon died away, and although Trivulzio
was sent to Asti, and Orleans would gladly have followed him, Charles
the Eighth spent his time in jousts and hunting-parties, and forgot his
unhappy subjects in Southern Italy. Ferrante, assisted by a Venetian
force under Francesco Gonzaga, recovered one fortress after another. On
the 29th of July, Montpensier, after holding the fortified city of
Atella during many months, was forced to capitulate with his five
thousand men, and himself died of fever a few weeks later at Pozzuoli.
Most of his troops shared the same fate, and few of that gallant army
lived to return to France. Suddenly, in the midst of his victorious
career, the young king Ferrante, who had a few months before obtained a
papal dispensation to marry his father's youthful half-sister, Princess
Joan, died of fever, brought on by the fatigues and hardships to which
he had exposed himself in the previous campaign. His death was deeply
lamented alike by his subjects and his relatives at Milan and Mantua,
who retained a sincere affection for this brave and popular prince.
Fortunately, his uncle and successor Frederic, the fifth king who had
reigned over Naples during the last three years, proved a wise and
capable monarch. By degrees he succeeded in capturing the few remaining
castles still held by the French, and once more restored peace to his
distracted kingdom. Such was the state of affairs that autumn, when the
German emperor landed at Pisa on the 21st of October. The citizens
received him with acclamations, and, pulling down the French king's
statue, as they had broken the lion of Florence in pieces two years
before, placed the imperial eagle on the top of the column in the public
square. But they were once more doomed to disappointment. Maximilian,
finding himself, as usual, ill supplied with both men and money, and
being inadequately supported by his allies of Venice and Milan, was
unable to prosecute the war against Florence with any vigour. He
attempted to besiege Leghorn; but his fleet was scattered and many of
his ships were wrecked by a violent storm, after which he gave up the
undertaking, saying that he could not fight against both God and man.
One day towards the end of November, he suddenly took his departure,
and, leaving Pisa, returned by Sarzana to Pavia. The Venetians saw the
failure of this expedition and the fruitless result of their large
expenditure of men and money, with great dissatisfaction, and attributed
most of the blame to Duke Lodovico.

"Things go badly for the Signory at Pisa," wrote Malipiero, who was
himself on board the Venetian fleet that sailed with Maximilian against
Leghorn, "and the cause of this is Lodovico Duke of Milan.... His pride
and arrogance are beyond description. He boasts that Pope Alexander is
his chaplain, the Emperor Maximilian his condottiere, the Signory of
Venice his chamberlain, since they spend their money largely to attain
his ends, and the King of France his courier, who comes and goes at his
pleasure. Truly a fearful state of things!"

And Marino Sanuto remarked, "The Duke of Milan is one of the wisest men
in the world, but his success has rendered him very ungrateful to
Venice, whose secret enemy he will always remain. He made a great
mistake in allowing the Duke of Orleans to escape from Novara, and some
day he will be punished for his bad faith. For he never keeps his
promises, and when he says one thing, always does another. All men fear
him, because fortune is propitious to him in everything. But none the
less, I believe that he will not continue long in prosperity, for God is
just, and will punish him because he is a traitor and never keeps faith
with any one."

The Florentine Guicciardini moralized in much the same strain, saying
that Lodovico publicly vaunted himself to be the son of Fortune, "little
remembering the inconstancy of human fame," and flattered himself that
he would always be able to govern the affairs of Italy, "with his
industrie to turn and winde the minds of every one. This fond
persuasion he could not dissemble, neither in himself, nor in his
peoples, in so much that Milan day and night was replenished with voices
vaine and glorious, celebrating with verses Latine and vulgar and with
publicke orations full of flatterie, the wonderfull wisedom of Lodowike
Sforce, on the which they made to depend the peace and warre of Italy,
exalting his name even to the third heaven."

In those days the bard of Pistoja proclaimed that there was one God in
heaven and one Moro upon earth, and sang the praises of this great and
divine Duca, who alone could open and close the doors of the Temple of
Janus and make peace or war in Italy, while Gaspare Visconti extolled
the talents and virtues of Duchess Beatrice as surpassing those of all
the most illustrious women of antiquity. Then Leonardo designed that
famous series of allegories in his sketch-book, in which Duke Lodovico
is represented alternately as Fortune, driving the squalid figure of
Poverty away with a golden wand, and throwing his ducal mantle over a
helpless youth who flies before the ugly hag; or as supreme Wisdom,
wearing the spectacles which can pierce through all disguises, and
pronouncing sentence between Envy on the one hand and Justice on the
other. Then Bramante painted those frescoes on the walls of the Castello
of Milan, in which the Moro was seen crowned and seated on his throne,
under a stately portico, administering justice, with four councillors
and two pages at his side, while the criminal trembled before him, and
officers of state held the scales and prepared to carry out the
sentence. And then, too, somewhere else in the palace, an unknown
Lombard master painted that fresco of Italy as a fair queen, with the
names of the chief cities embroidered on her robes, and the Moro
standing at her side, brushing the dust off her skirts with the
_scopetta_ or little broom, that favourite emblem which appears in so
many illuminated books of the day. On the wall below the painting, the
following motto was inscribed:--

"_Per Italia nettar d'ogni bruttura_."

"Take care, my lord duke," the Florentine ambassador is reported to have
said, when Lodovico graciously explained the meaning of the
allegory--"take care the negro who is so busy brushing Italy's skirts
does not cover himself with dust in his turn!" The courteous duke only
smiled at the jest, and shrugged his shoulders; but others overheard the
remark and repeated it, much to the satisfaction of his foes in Florence
and Venice.

The fame of the great and powerful Duke of Milan had reached the distant
cliffs of Albion and the palace of Westminster, and that November
Lodovico received a letter from Henry VII. of England, rejoicing with
his new ally on the conclusion of the League against France, and the
visit of the emperor to Italy. The king further informed him that "the
treaty had been solemnly proclaimed by the Cardinal-Archbishop of
Conturberi, on the Feast of All Saints, in the cathedral church of the
Blessed Apostle St. Paul, in our city of London." And our friend, Marino
Sanuto, proceeds to improve the occasion by informing us that "this King
Enrico has for wife Madonna Ysabeta, daughter of the late King Edward,
because he defended the cause of Richard, brother of the said Edward.
And he has two sons, Artur, prince of Squales, which is a neighbouring
island, and the Duke of Yorche."



CHAPTER XXVI

Isabella d'Este joins her husband in Naples--Works of Bramante and
Leonardo in the Castello of Milan--The Cenacolo--Lodovico sends for
Perugino--His passion for Lucrezia Crivelli--Grief of Beatrice--Death of
Bianca Sforza--The Emperor Maximilian at Pavia--The Duke and Duchess
return to Milan--Last days and sudden death of Beatrice d'Este.

1496


The records we have of Beatrice's private life during this busy year are
very meagre and disappointing. Scarcely one of her letters, belonging to
this period, has been preserved, while those which her sister Isabella
addressed to Milan are almost as rare. The _marchesa's_ time and
thoughts had been much engaged in public affairs during the absence of
her husband with the Venetian forces at Naples, and she had little
leisure for correspondence. On the 13th of July she gave birth to a
second child, which, to her great disappointment, proved to be another
girl, who received the name of Margherita, but only lived a few weeks.
Of this event the duchess was duly informed, and, in sending her
congratulations, was able to tell her sister that she was hoping to
become the mother of a third child early in the following year. In
September the marquis fell dangerously ill of fever, and his wife
hurried to join him in Calabria, and, as soon as he was able to move,
brought him back by slow stages to Mantua. During that summer, the only
letter of interest which Isabella wrote to the Milanese court was a note
to her friend, the jester Barone, begging him to find out for her how
Messer Galeazzo and others who like him are the glass of fashion, manage
to dye their hair black on certain occasions, and afterwards resume the
natural colour of their locks, adding that she remembers distinctly to
have seen Count Francesco Sforza with black locks one day, and the next
with brown.

On the 9th of November, Lodovico wrote an imperative note from Vigevano
to the Castellan of the Rocchetta, Bernardino del Corte, desiring him to
see that the walls of the new rooms are dry and ready for habitation by
the end of the month, since the duchess must have the use of the
apartments adjoining the ball-room during her approaching confinement,
and telling him to ask Bergonzio, the treasurer, for money, if more
should be required. Bernardino replied that the rooms were finished, and
that good fires had been lighted to dry the walls, and that the whole
suite would be furnished by the following week and ready to receive the
duchess. He also informed the duke that the new rooms on the side of the
garden would be completed by Christmas, and told him that Bramante,
after finishing the arcades of the new gallery between the ball-room and
Rocchetta, had begun the design of the new tower. Both Leonardo and
Bramante were employed on extensive works in the Castello during the
duke's absence that summer, although the Florentine master, we know, was
chiefly engaged in finishing his great fresco in the refectory of the
Dominican convent outside the Porta Vercellina. Often during the summer
heats, Matteo Bandello, then a young novice of the Order, saw the
Florentine master at noonday, "when the sun was in the sign of the
Lion," leave the Corte Vecchia, where he was finishing his great horse,
and, hurrying through the streets to the Grazie, mount the scaffold,
brush in hand, and put a few touches to some of the figures in the
Cenacolo, after which he would hurry away as quickly as he came. Often
too the young friar watched him at his work; "for this excellent
painter," Matteo tells us, "always liked to hear other people give their
opinions freely on his pictures." Many a time the young Dominican saw
Messer Leonardo ascend the scaffold in the early morning, and remain
there from sunrise till the hour of twilight, forgetting to eat and
drink, and painting all the while without a moment's pause. Sometimes
again he would not paint a single stroke for several days, but just
stand before the picture during one or two hours, contemplating his
work, and considering and examining the different figures. And the
friars were very much annoyed because of the master's delays, and
complained to the duke, who paid him so large a sum for the work, that
he had not yet begun the head of the traitor Judas. When the duke asked
Leonardo why he left this head undone, he replied that during the last
year he had been vainly seeking in all the worst streets of Milan to
find a type of criminal who would suit the character of Judas, but that
if desired he would introduce the prior's own likeness, which he thought
would answer the purpose excellently! This answer is said to have amused
the duke highly, and Lodovico and his painter had a good laugh together
at the expense of the prior.

But since Leonardo was otherwise engaged, and another painter who had
been employed in the Castello suddenly disappeared, owing, we are told,
to some scandal in which he was concerned, the duke determined to send
to Florence for another artist to complete the decorations of his new
rooms. There was evidently no Lombard master whom he considered equal to
the task, and since Lorenzo de' Medici had sent him Leonardo, there
might be some other artists of rare excellence among his
fellow-citizens. So Lodovico wrote to his envoy at Florence, and desired
him to let him have a full description of the best painters then living
there. In reply, he received the following list, which is still
preserved in the archives of Milan, and which is of great interest, both
as a monument of the Moro's untiring perseverance in seeking out the
best masters, and as a record of the different degrees of estimation in
which living artists were held by their contemporaries:--

"Sandro de Botticelli--a most excellent master, both in panel and
wall-painting. His figures have a manly air, and are admirable in
conception and proportion.

"Filippino di Frati Filippo--an excellent disciple of the above-named,
and a son of the rarest master of our times. His heads have a gentler
and more suave air; but, we are inclined to think, less art.

"Il Perugino--a rare and singular artist, most excellent in
wall-painting. His faces have an air of the most angelic sweetness.

"Domenico de Grillandaio--a good master in panels and a better one in
wall-painting. His figures are good, and he is an industrious and active
master, who produces much work.

"All of these masters have given proof of their excellence in the Chapel
of Pope Sixtus, excepting Filippino, and also in the Spedaletto of the
Magnifico Laurentio, and their merit is almost equal."[63]

This intimation seems to have decided Lodovico to apply to Perugino,
whom Leonardo had known as his fellow-pupil in Verrocchio's atelier at
Florence, and who was supposed to be in Venice at the time. So his
secretary wrote to desire Guido Arcimboldo, the Archbishop of Milan, who
was then in Venice, to inquire for the Umbrian master, and see if he
could be induced to visit Milan. The archbishop, writing on the 14th of
June, replied that Maestro Pietro of Perugia had left Venice six months
ago and was back at Florence. Lodovico, however, did not lose sight of
the master, and in the following October, by his desire, the monks of
the Certosa of Pavia engaged this popular artist to paint an altar-piece
for one of their chapels. In the following year the duke returned to the
charge, and hearing that Perugino had returned to his native city, wrote
two pressing letters to one of the Baglioni, who was the chief
magistrate of Perugia, begging him, as a personal favour, to induce
Messer Pietro to come to Milan, and offering to pay the artist whatever
price he may ask, and to retain him permanently in his service or keep
him only for a fixed time, as he may think best. Perugino, however, was
then engaged in decorating the Sala del Cambio in his native town, and
had already more commissions than he could execute. He declined the Duke
of Milan's repeated invitations, and the Moro was obliged to fall back
upon Bramante and Leonardo to finish the works in the Castello.

But although the duke's passion for building new churches and palaces or
beautifying those which he had already built, was as ardent as ever, it
became more and more difficult to find the money to meet the vast
expenditure which his splendid schemes involved. The _fêtes_ in honour
of Maximilian and the subsidies which had been granted for his
expedition had already entailed heavy expenses, and on every side the
same complaint was heard. There was no money to pay the salaries of the
numerous professors at Pavia and Milan, whose chairs had been founded
by Lodovico himself; none to pay the bills for building and furnishing
the new rooms in the Castello, or to cast Leonardo's great horse in
bronze. Everywhere people were groaning at the heavy burdens imposed
upon them, and at Lodi, Cremona, and other places there had been not
only murmuring against the duke, but actual rioting and tumults, while
in some parts of the duchy the inhabitants were leaving their homes to
escape these harsh exactions. Lodovico's most faithful servants began to
look grave, and the duke himself could not but be aware of his growing
unpopularity among his subjects.

Whether these rumours reached the ears of Beatrice and disturbed her
happiness, we cannot tell; but we know that her life was saddened and
the gladness of her heart clouded by a new sorrow that autumn. The duke,
who for many years past had proved himself a devoted and affectionate
husband, and realized better than any one what an admirable companion
and partner he had in his young wife, suddenly found a new object for
his affections in Lucrezia Crivelli, a beautiful and accomplished maiden
of a noble Milanese family, who was one of the duchess's
ladies-in-waiting. Soon Lodovico's passion for this new mistress became
publicly known, Leonardo was employed to paint her picture; and, under
the date of November, 1496, the annalist of Ferrara writes, "The latest
news from Milan is that the duke spends his whole time and finds all his
pleasure in the company of a girl who is one of his wife's maidens. And
his conduct is ill regarded here." The chronicler Muralti, in his brief
and touching account of the young duchess, after recalling Beatrice's
charms and joyous nature, tells us that, although Lodovico loved his
wife intensely, he took Lucrezia Crivelli for his mistress, a thing
which caused Beatrice the most bitter anguish of mind, but could not
alter her love for him. And remorse for the pain which he had caused
Beatrice gave the sharpest sting to Lodovico's own despair, on that sad
day when he wept for his young wife's early death.

That autumn a fresh and unexpected blow fell upon the ducal family, in
the death of Lodovico's beloved daughter Bianca, the young wife of
Galeazzo di Sanseverino, who died very suddenly at Vigevano, on the
22nd of November. Both the duke and duchess had been fondly attached to
this fair young girl who only four or five months before had become the
wife of Galeazzo, and was one of Beatrice's favourite companions. Her
sudden and premature death threw a gloom over the whole court, and in
elegant verse Niccolo da Correggio deplored the loss of the gentle
maiden who had gone in the flower of her youth to join the blessed
spirits, and grieved for the gallant husband whom a cruel fate had so
early robbed of his bride. There can be little doubt that we have a
portrait of this lamented princess in the beautiful picture of the
Ambrosiana, which, long supposed to be the work of Leonardo, is now
recognized by the best critics as that of Ambrogio de Predis. At one
time this portrait was said to represent Beatrice herself, but neither
the long slender throat nor the delicate features bear the least
resemblance to those of the duchess, while the style of head-dress is
equally unlike that which Beatrice wears in authentic representations.
Again, some critics have supposed the Ambrosian picture to represent
Kaiser Maximilian's wife, Bianca Maria Sforza; but the discovery of
Ambrogio de Predis's actual portrait of the empress, and of his sketch
of her head in the Venetian Academy, have shown this theory to be
impossible. The Venetian Marc Antonio Michieli, who saw this picture in
Taddeo Contarini's house at Venice in 1525, describes it as "a profile
portrait of the head and bust of Madonna, daughter of Signor Lodovico of
Milan," after which he adds, "married to the Emperor Maximilian ... by
the hand of ... _Milanese_." The connoisseur had evidently confused the
two Bianca Sforzas, but now that this mistake has been explained by a
comparison of the Ambrosian portrait with genuine pictures and medals of
the empress, there is no difficulty in accepting the remainder of his
statement. For we have here, there can be little doubt, the portrait of
Lodovico's daughter, by the hand of a Milanese painter, in all
probability, as Morelli divined, the court-painter of the ducal house,
Ambrogio de Predis. And the German critic, Dr. Müller-Walde, is probably
right in his conjecture that the companion picture in the Ambrosiana is
the portrait of Bianca's husband, Galeazzo di Sanseverino. This picture
has been called by many names, and ascribed to many different hands. It
has been described in turn as a portrait of Maximilian, of the
short-lived Duke Giangaleazzo, and of Lodovico Moro himself. But
Ambrogio's portrait certainly represents none of the three, and it is
far more likely that we have here a likeness of the duke's son-in-law,
painted about the time of his marriage to Bianca Sforza. This handsome
man of thirty, in the fur-trimmed vest and red cap, with the dark eyes,
long locks, and refined thoughtful face, touched with an air of
melancholy, may well be the brilliant cavalier who played so great a
part at the Moro's court, the patron of Leonardo and Luca Pacioli, and
the loyal servant of Duchess Beatrice.

Both the duke and his wife were overwhelmed with grief at Madonna
Bianca's death. Lodovico himself wrote to Isabella d'Este that the wound
had pierced his inmost heart, and the duchess and Messer Galeaz both
expressed their grief in touching words. On the 23rd of November,
Beatrice wrote these few sad lines to her sister--

"Although you will have already heard from my husband the duke of the
premature death of Madonna Bianca, his daughter and the wife of Messer
Galeaz, none the less I must write these few lines with my own hand, to
tell you how great is the trouble and distress which her death has
caused me. The loss indeed is greater than I can express, because of our
close relationship and of the place which she held in my heart. May God
have her soul in His keeping!"[64]

[Illustration: Galeazzo Di Sanseverino.

From a painting by Ambrogio de Predis.

(Ambrosiana)

D. Anderson.]

All the _fêtes_ which had been prepared in honour of the emperor's
return to Lombardy were stopped, and the duke and duchess, with their
little son, attended by a small suite of courtiers and ladies, in deep
mourning, travelled by water to Pavia, to receive their illustrious
kinsman when he arrived from Sarzana on the 2nd of December. On this
occasion Maximilian behaved with great consideration, and showed deep
sympathy with his distressed relatives. Instead of making a public entry
through the city, he rode up through the park to the private gate of the
Castello, where the duke and duchess met him and conducted him to his
rooms. Here he spent the evening alone in their company, and refused to
see any one but the little Count of Pavia, for whom he is said to have
cherished great affection. The Venetian envoy, Francesco Foscari,
hearing of the emperor's arrival, hastened to Pavia, and with difficulty
obtained an audience from His Majesty, who told him that it was
impossible for him to visit Milan or remain any longer in Italy, since
the German Diet was about to meet, and he had promised to join his son,
the Archduke Philip, at Augsburg. A council was held in the Castello to
discuss political affairs, but it was plain that the Pisans had nothing
more to expect from their imperial ally, and Maximilian was only anxious
to be back in Germany. On the 4th he attended a solemn requiem mass for
the lamented princess Bianca in the Duomo, and in the afternoon rode out
to the Certosa with Lodovico, who showed him all the wonders of that
famous church and abbey. On the 6th, the duke took his wife, whose
delicate state of health needed rest, back to Milan, and a few days
later returned with Foscari to meet the emperor at the ducal villa of
Cussago. On the 11th, Maximilian went to Groppello, where he knighted
the Venetian ambassador and dismissed him, after which he took leave of
the duke, says the chronicler, with many expressions of affection on
both sides, and once more set out on his journey across the terrible
mountains. His expedition, remarked the Venetian writer, "has effected
nothing, and he leaves Italy in still greater confusion than he found
her."

Lodovico now joined his wife at Milan in time to receive another guest
in the person of Chiara Gonzaga, the widowed Duchess of Montpensier, who
was on her way back from France. Since her husband's death at Pozzuoli,
this unfortunate lady had been vainly trying to recover her fortune from
the French king, and was full of gratitude to the duke for his friendly
exertions on her behalf. Both her sons, Louis de Bourbon and Charles the
famous Connétable, were fighting with the remnants of the French army
against her brother in Naples, and both were to lose their lives in the
wars of Italy, while she herself spent the rest of her existence in
poverty and seclusion at Mantua. But to the last she remained a loyal
friend to Lodovico, with whom she corresponded frequently. On the 22nd,
Chiara left Milan, and the celebration of the Christmas festival began.
But the courtiers and ladies-in-waiting noticed the strange and mournful
forebodings which seemed to oppress their young duchess. They often saw
tears in her eyes, and wondered whether they were caused by her
husband's neglect or grief for the loss of Bianca. Day after day she
paid long visits to the Church of S. Maria delle Grazie, where the
duke's daughter had been laid to rest in this his favourite shrine.
There in those last days of the year Beatrice might constantly be seen,
spending hours in prayer at the tomb of the young princess, and musing
sadly on the vanity of human joys. But no one dreamt how soon her own
end was at hand.

On Monday, the 2nd of January, the Duchess Beatrice drove in her chariot
through the park of the Castello and along the streets of the city to
the Porta Vercellina and the Church of S. Maria delle Grazie, where even
then Leonardo was at work upon his great fresco. In the eyes of the
people who saw her pass, she seemed in excellent health, and returned
their loyal greetings with the same gracious charm. But when she reached
the Dominican church, and had paid her devotions at Our Lady's altar,
and prayed for the repose of her daughter's soul, she lingered by the
new-made tomb, rapt in sorrowful thought, and it was long before her
ladies could persuade her to come away. After her return to the Castello
that afternoon, there was dancing in her rooms in the Rocchetta until
eight o'clock in the evening, when she was suddenly taken ill. Three
hours later she gave birth to a still-born son, and half an hour after
midnight her spirit passed away.

That night, contemporary writers tell us, "the sky above the Castello of
Milan was all a-blaze with fiery flames, and the walls of the duchess's
own garden fell with a sudden crash to the ground, although there was
neither wind nor earthquake. And these things were held to be evil
omens." "And from that time," adds Marino Sanuto, "the duke began to be
sore troubled, and to suffer great woes, having up to that time lived
very happily."

Beatrice was gone, and with her all the joy and delight of the duke's
life had passed away. The court was turned from an earthly paradise into
the blackest hell, and ruin overtook the Moro and the whole realm of
Milan, as the poet of the house of Este sang in his _Orlando Furioso_--

"Come ella poi lascerà il mondo,
Così degli infelici andrà nel fondo."

FOOTNOTES:

[63] Dr. Müller-Walde in _Jahrbuch d. pr. Kunst_, 1897.

[64] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 639.



CHAPTER XXVII

Grief of the Duke of Milan--His letters to Mantua and Pavia--Interview
with Costabili--Funeral of Duchess Beatrice--Mourning of her
husband--Letters of the Emperor Maximilian and Chiara Gonzaga--Tomb of
Beatrice in Santa Maria delle Grazie--Leonardo's Cenacolo, and portraits
of the duke and duchess--Lucrezia Crivelli.

1497


The horror and confusion that reigned in the Castello of Milan that
night was long remembered. There was sorrow and consternation among
Beatrice's servants, and dismay upon the faces of secretaries and
courtiers who stood waiting for news in the halls and porticoes of
Bramante's building. The duke's grief was said to be terrible. For some
time he refused to see any one, and many days passed before even his
children were admitted into their father's presence. But, with
characteristic strength of mind, he sent for his secretaries that
morning, and himself dictated the letters which bore the sad news to
Beatrice's family at Mantua and Ferrara. In that dark hour the passion
of his love and sorrow breaks through conventional formalities, and
gives a touch of pathos to the brief message which he sent to Francesco
Gonzaga--

"MOST ILLUSTRIOUS RELATIVE AND DEAREST BROTHER,--

"My wife was taken with sudden pains at eight o'clock last night. At
eleven she gave birth to a dead son, and at half-past twelve she gave
back her spirit to God. This cruel and premature end has filled me with
bitter and indescribable anguish, so much so that I would rather have
died myself than lose the dearest and most precious thing that I had in
this world. But great and excessive as is my grief, beyond all measure,
and grievous as your own will be, I know, I feel that I must tell you
this myself, because of the brotherly love between us. And I beg you not
to send any one to condole with me, as that would only renew my sorrow.
I would not write to the Madonna Marchesana, and leave you to break the
news to her as you think best, knowing well how inexpressible her sorrow
will be.

                                   "LODOVICUS M. SFORTIA,
                                           _Anglus Dux Mediolani_.[65]

Milan, January 3, 1497, 6 o'clock."

The same day the duke sent the following intimation to the loyal
citizens of Pavia: "Last night at half-past twelve our beloved wife,
after giving birth to a son who died at eleven, changed this life for
death, which most cruel event snatches from us one who, by reason of her
rare and singular virtues, was dearer to us than our own life. You will
understand what our grief is and how difficult it is to bear this
irreparable loss with patience and reason. We beg of you to pray God for
the soul of our dearest consort, and to hold solemn funeral services in
the Duomo and in all other churches of the city."[66]

About four o'clock that afternoon, the Ferrarese ambassador, Antonio
Costabili, received an unexpected summons to the Castello, and he was
admitted into the duke's presence. We give the details of his interview
with the grief-stricken prince, in his own words from a letter which he
addressed the same evening to Beatrice's father, Duke Ercole--

"MOST ILLUSTRIOUS AND EXCELLENT LORD,

"Although I had received a message to the effect that I need not leave
the house before night, as none of your august family could be present
at the funeral of our most illustrious Madonna, the late duchess,
nevertheless at four o'clock the duke sent two councillors to fetch me,
and accompanied by these gentlemen, I went to the Camera della Torre in
the Castello, where I found all the ambassadors, ducal councillors, and
a very large company of gentlemen assembled. Directly I arrived, his
Excellency sent for me, and I found him in his room, lying on the bed,
quite prostrate, and more overwhelmed with grief than any one whom I
have ever seen. After the customary salutations, I endeavoured, in
obedience to the request of some of his councillors, to exhort his
Highness to take a little comfort and have patience, trying to make use
of whatever words came into my mind at the moment, and entreating him to
bear this cruel blow with constancy and fortitude, because in this
manner he would give comfort and courage to your Excellency in helping
you to bear your grief, and at the same time relieve the anxieties of
his own servants, and restore hope and peace to their hearts.

"His Highness thanked me for my kindness, and said that he could not
bear this most cruel and grievous sorrow without speaking out the
thoughts of his heart freely, and had sent for me, in order to tell me
that if, as he was conscious, he had not always behaved as well as he
should have done to your daughter, who deserved all good things, and who
had never done him any wrong whatsoever, he begged both your
Excellency's pardon, and hers for whose sake his heart was now sorely
troubled. He went on to tell me that in every one of his prayers he had
asked our Lord God to allow her to survive him, since he placed all his
trust and peace of mind in her. And, since this had not been the will of
God, he prayed, and would never cease praying, that if it were ever
possible for a living man to see the dead, God would give him grace to
see her and speak to her once more, since he had loved her better than
himself. After many sobs and lamentations, he ended by begging me to
assure your Highness that the love and affection which he bore you would
never be diminished in the smallest degree, and that he would retain the
same warm sentiments for you and for all your sons, as long as he lived,
and would prove by his actions the depth and sincerity of his feelings.
Then I took my leave, and he told me to go and follow the corpse, with a
fresh outburst of sorrow, lamenting her in language so true and natural
that it would have moved the very stones to tears. Thus, still weeping,
I returned to join the other ambassadors, who all approached and
expressed their grief and sympathy with your Excellency in very loving
and compassionate words.

"The obsequies which followed were celebrated with all possible
magnificence and pomp. All the ambassadors at present in Milan, among
whom were one from the King of the Romans, two from the King of Spain,
and others from all the powers of Italy, lifted the corpse and bore it
to the first gate of the Castello. Here the privy councillors took the
body in their turn, and at the corners of the streets groups of
magistrates stood waiting to receive it. All the relatives of the ducal
family wore long mourning cloaks that trailed on the ground, and hoods
over their heads. I walked first with the Marchese Ermes, and the others
followed, each in his right order. We bore her to Santa Maria delle
Grazie, attended by an innumerable company of monks and nuns and
priests, bearing crosses of gold, of silver and wood, infinite numbers
of gentlemen and citizens, and crowds of people of every rank and class,
all weeping and making the greatest lamentation that was ever seen, for
the great loss which this city has suffered in the death of its duchess.
There were so many wax torches it was marvellous to see! At the gates of
Santa Maria delle Grazie, the ambassadors were waiting to receive the
body, and, taking it from the hands of the chief magistrates, they bore
it to the steps of the high altar, where the most reverend
cardinal-legate was seated, in his purple robes, between two bishops,
and himself said the whole Office. And there the duchess was laid on a
bier draped with cloth of gold, bearing the arms of the house of Sforza,
and clad in one of her richest _camoras_ of gold brocade.

"My dear lord, besides the extraordinary demonstrations of grief which
have been shown by the whole people of this city, and by the women quite
as much as by the men, which may well be a great consolation to your
Excellency, I must tell you how above all others, Signore Messer
Galeazzo di Sanseverino has both by his words and deeds, as well as by
his demonstrations of sorrow, given admirable expression to the
affection which he had for the duchess, and has taken care to make known
to every one the virtues and goodness of that most illustrious Madonna.
All of which I have felt it my duty to tell your Excellency, in the
hope that it may help to alleviate your sorrow, praying you to maintain
the same fortitude that you have always shown hitherto.

"To whose favour I ever commend myself,

                                   "Your Excellency's servant,
                                              ANTONIUS COSTABILIS.[67]

Milan, January 3, 1497."

So, by the light of a thousand torches, at the close of the short
winter's day, the long procession of mourners bore Duchess Beatrice to
her last resting-place under Bramante's cupola, in the church of Our
Lady. It was the duke's pleasure that his dearly loved wife should rest
there, before the altar where she had often worshipped, by the side of
the young daughter whom they had both loved so well. Only a year or two
before, the people of Milan had seen her enter those doors in the bloom
of her youthful beauty and the joy of her proud young motherhood to give
thanks for the birth of her first-born son. But yesterday they had
watched her moving among them, full of life and charm; now they saw her
lying there in her gorgeous brocades and jewelled necklace, with her
eyes closed in death and the dark locks curling over her marble brow.

It was a tragedy which might well melt the heart of the bravest man and
move the sternest to tears. No wonder that men like Galeazzo and the
Marchesino, who had shared Beatrice's pleasures, and had seen her so
lately foremost in the chase and gayest in dance and song, wept when
they saw her lying there cold and lifeless. As the chroniclers one and
all tell us, "Such grief had never been known before in Milan."

In Ferrara, the home of Beatrice's childhood, where she was loved both
for her own and for her mother's sake, the sorrow was scarcely less.

"On Wednesday, the 4th of January," writes the diarist, "came the news
of the death of Beatrice, Duchess of Milan. And the duke was very sad,
and so were all the people. And on the 12th, Duke Ercole attended an
Office said for the repose of the late duchess in the church of the
Dominicans, which was all hung with black, and all the clergy,
magistrates, and courtiers were there, carrying lighted torches; all the
people wore black, and the shops were closed as if it were Christmas,
and more than 400 Masses were said for the repose of her soul, and 660
candles were burnt that day. It was a fine day, but a great quantity of
wax tapers were used for this funeral service. As for the Duke of Milan,
I will say nothing, because the things he does sound incredible to those
who have not seen them. Certainly the extraordinary honours which he
pays his dead wife show how dearly he loved her. She has left him two
little sons. And all Ferrara sorrows for her death, and I saw many
weeping. And so goes this ribald world."[68]

That year no races were held on St. George's Day, at Ferrara, and the
_pallium_ usually given to the winner was presented by Duke Ercole to
the Franciscan Church.

At Mantua there was the same general lamentation, and the same funeral
Masses were offered up for the young duchess, who had not yet completed
her twenty-second year. Isabella's own sorrow was great.

"When I think," she wrote to her father, on the 5th of January, "what a
loving, honoured, and only sister I have lost, I am so much oppressed
with the burden of this sudden loss, that I know not how I can ever find
comfort."

And the marquis, writing to Duke Lodovico, says that he had never seen
his wife so completely overwhelmed with grief; and that she who has
always shown herself full of strong and manly courage in adversity, is
now utterly broken down. On hearing this, Lodovico roused himself from
the torpor of his grief to try and comfort his sister-in-law, and sent
her an affectionate letter by one of his secretaries, begging her to
seek the consolation which he himself could not find, and telling her
how much he thought of her, even though his own grief and bitterness of
soul made it impossible for him to write with his own hand. From all
sides letters of condolence flowed in. Elegies and Latin verses recalled
the charms and talents of Beatrice and lamented the hard fate which had
snatched her away in the flower of life. Among these poetical tributes,
Niccolo da Correggio's sonnet on seeing a portrait of the late duchess
is perhaps the best.

"Se a li occhi mostri quel che fosti viva
   Morti lor, come te, nulla vedranno
   Ma le parte invisibil tue staranno.
   Po che del secol questa eta sia priva.
Laude al pictor, ma più laude in che scriva
   Quello a futuri che i presenti sanno,
   Origin e stato e che al triseptimo anno
   Morte spense ogni ben che in te fioriva.
Ma come excedo tua forma il pennello
   Excederà le tue virtù le penne
   E resterà imperfetto, e questo e quello."

The poet's complaint that the painter's art can never reproduce one-half
of the dead lady's charms is literally true in this instance, and those
of Beatrice's portraits which we possess do but scant justice to the
brightness and beauty which fascinated young and old among her
contemporaries. Two of the letters addressed to Lodovico on this
melancholy occasion are especially worthy of mention. One was a Latin
epistle from the Emperor Maximilian, in which the writer expresses his
cordial regard for the duke and his frank admiration for the lamented
duchess whose delightful company he had so lately enjoyed.

The letter bears the date of January 11, 1497, and was written from
Innsbrück.

"MOST ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCE AND DEAREST OF KINSMEN AND FRIENDS,

"Having just heard of the sad calamity which has befallen you in the
death of your illustrious wife, Beatrice, our most dear kinswoman, we
are filled with grief both on account of our great affection for you and
of all the gifts of person and mind which adorned that renowned
princess, and which now only adds to the heaviness of our mutual loss.
Nothing could grieve us more at this present moment than to find
ourselves thus suddenly deprived of a relative who was dear to us above
all other princesses, and whose surpassing charms and virtues we had
lately learnt to value as they deserved. But we are still more
distressed to think that you whom we love so well should lose in her,
not only a sweet wife, but a companion who in so remarkable a degree
shared the burdens of your crown and lightened your cares and cheered
your labours by her society. As for her, although she was one of the few
women worthy of perpetual regret and eternal remembrance, this premature
death is no true cause of sorrow, and we take comfort in the thought
that, since we must all die, they are most blessed who die young and
who, having lived happily in their youth, escape the innumerable
calamities of this miserable world and the evils of a weary old age.
Your most fortunate wife enjoyed all that makes life good; no gift of
body and mind, no advantage of beauty or birth, was denied her. She was
in every respect worthy to be your wife and to reign over the most
flourishing realm in Italy. She has left you the sweetest children to
recall the face of their lost mother, and to be alike the consolation of
your present sorrow and the staff of your declining years. And when the
time comes for you to go hence, you will be able to leave them a
peaceful throne and the immortal memory of your name. May the
recollection of all the good that you owe her help you to share in these
consolations, so that, having already mourned your dear one's death more
than enough, your tears may at length be dried and she may rest more
safely, while we on our part are once more able to avail ourselves of
your help in these difficult and perilous times."[69]

The other letter was written to the duke on the 5th of January, from
Mantua, by Chiara Gonzaga, the widowed Duchess of Montpensier, who had
so lately enjoyed the pleasure of Beatrice's company at Milan, and who
now poured out the fulness of her grief and sympathy with the bereaved
husband.

"The piteous and lamentable news of your wife's sudden death, which, my
dear lord, I have just received, has so bitterly revived my own sorrows,
that I am unable to write to your Excellency as I ought, or speak a
single word of comfort, '_Chè medico morbeso mal sana li malatti_'--for
a sick doctor cures sick folks badly.--All I can do is to join my tears
with your own in lamenting this cruel and grievous misfortune and our
mutual sorrow, which I only wish I could bear in your stead. Had
fortune only better understood your need and mine, she would have left
that blessed soul to enjoy all the prosperity in store for her, and
would have allowed death to relieve me from the burden of my tearful and
wretched existence. May that Divine Providence, Who orders all things
for some good end, give your Excellency comfort and lead this toilsome
life to a safe haven."[70]

Maximilian's allusion to the duke's prolonged mourning for his wife
agrees with the remarks of the Ferrarese and Venetian chroniclers. To
these men of the Renaissance, accustomed as they were to pass quickly
from one phase of life to another and to witness swift and sudden
changes of fortune, this inconsolable grief seemed beyond understanding.
For a whole fortnight Lodovico remained in a darkened room, refusing to
see his children, and taking no pleasure even in their company. No
ambassadors were admitted into his presence; even Borso da Correggio,
who came from Ferrara, was referred to the Marchesino Stanga and the
Conte di Caiazzo, as deputies appointed by the duke to receive
condolences. And when Lodovico saw his ministers, they were strictly
charged only to speak of business matters, and never to mention the name
of the duchess or allude to the duke's recent bereavement. So complete
was his seclusion and so profound his melancholy, that those about him
began to tremble for his reason. "The duke," wrote Sanuto, "has ceased
to care for his children or his state or anything on earth, and can
hardly bear to live." But fears of his old enemy Louis of Orleans before
long roused him from the apathy and despair, and showed his foes that
they had still to reckon with him. Rumours of a French invasion were
once more heard; Trivulzio was at Asti with a strong force, and the Duke
of Orleans was shortly expected to lead an expedition into Lombardy and
assert his claim to Milan.

On the 17th of January, Lodovico shaved his head, came out of his room,
and publicly gave the standard and bâton of command to Galeazzo di
Sanseverino, who was sent to defend Alessandria at the head of a
considerable Milanese and German army. But the French king's health was
failing, and the Duke of Orleans, who, since the death of the little
dauphin twelve months before, had become the next heir to the crown,
suddenly refused to leave France. Trivulzio was repulsed in an attack
on Novi; while an attempt to seize Genoa, which was set on foot by the
Cardinal della Rovere and Battista Fregoso, was frustrated by the prompt
measures of defence taken by the Duke of Milan and the Venetians.

Meanwhile every possible honour was paid to the memory of Duchess
Beatrice. All through the duchy, during the month of January, solemn
funeral services were held, and one hundred requiem masses were said
daily in S. Maria delle Grazie for the repose of her soul, while a
hundred tapers were kept burning day and night round the stone
sarcophagus supported by lions in which her remains were interred. The
duke himself, clad in a suit of black fustian and wrapt in a long black
cloak, which all his courtiers wore as a badge of mourning, attended two
or three masses daily, as well as many offices to Our Lady, and sent a
hundred gold ducats to the Santa Casa at Loreto, in discharge of a vow
which poor Beatrice had made to take a pilgrimage to that famous shrine
after the birth of her child.

Marino Sanuto, writing in August, seven months after Beatrice's death,
remarks that since his wife's death the duke has become an altered man.
"He is very religious, recites offices daily, observes fasts, and lives
chastely and devoutly. His rooms are still hung with black, and he takes
all his meals standing, and wears a long black cloak. He goes every day
to visit the church where his wife is buried, and never leaves this
undone, and much of his time is spent with the friars of the convent."
And a Dominican historian, Padre Rovegnatino, then living, records how
during the whole of the next year Lodovico visited the convent regularly
twice a week--on Tuesday, which, being the day of the week on which
Beatrice died, he always kept as a fast, and on Saturday, and on these
occasions dined with the prior Giovanni da Tortona and his successor
Vincenzo Baldelli.

The decoration and improvement of this church and convent now became the
chief object of Lodovico's thoughts. The beautiful shrine which he had
already adorned with Bramante's cupola and portico, was now doubly dear
to him for the sake of Beatrice and his dead children. The annals of the
convent record the multitude of his benefactions to both church and
convent, and the cordial relations which he maintained with the
Dominican friars to the end of his reign. First of all, he applied
himself to raise a monument to the memory of Beatrice immediately in
front of the high altar, where her remains were buried. The sculptor
whom he chose for this work was Cristoforo Solari, called _Il Gobbo_, or
the hunchback, a surname which he had inherited from his father, who
seems to have been deformed. The Solari were a race of sculptors, many
of whom had been employed at the Certosa, while Cristoforo, who had
settled in Venice about 1490, was recalled to Milan about this time and
appointed ducal sculptor, on the recommendation of the Marchesino
Stanga. It was the duke's pleasure that a recumbent effigy of Beatrice,
wearing the rich brocades and jewels in which she had been borne to her
rest, should be placed on her tomb, so that future ages should have a
perpetual memorial of the young duchess as she had last appeared in the
eyes of the servants and people who had loved her so well. And as it was
Lodovico's own wish to be buried in the same tomb, the sculptor was to
carve an effigy of himself in ducal crown and mantle, lying at his
wife's side in the last slumber. So, at the duke's bidding, the Milanese
ambassador, Battista Sfondrati, bought the finest blocks of Carrara
marble that he could find in Venice, and the brothers of the Certosa
sent seven loads more from their vast stores to Solari's house in Milan.
Out of these marbles the sculptor carved a noble bas-relief of the Dead
Christ and the two admirable effigies of the duke and duchess, which now
adorn the Certosa of Pavia. His task was probably finished before the
close of the following year, and the tomb was set up in the _Cappella
maggiore_ of S. Maria delle Grazie, at a cost of upwards of 15,000
ducats. At the same time Lodovico placed a slab of black marble on the
walls of the same chapel, in memory of the dead child whose birth had
cost his mother her life, with the following proud inscription:--

"Infelix partus: amisi ante vitam quam in
Lucem ederer; infelicior quod matri
Moriens vitam ademi et parentem con
-sorte sua orbavi in tam adverso fato.
Hoc solum mihi potest jocundium esse
Quod divi parentes me, Ludovicus et
Beatrix Mediolanenses duces genuere,
M.C.C.C.C.LXXXXVII. Tertio Nonas Januarii."

The ill-fated child had died before he had ever seen the light of day,
and, still more unfortunate in this, he had deprived his mother of life,
and left his father widowed and alone; but this at least he could
proudly say, "Lodovico and Beatrice, Duke and Duchess of Milan, were my
parents."

The walls of the chapel were decorated with rich marbles and gilding,
and new altars were set up in honour of Saint Louis and Santa Beatrice,
the patron saints of the duke and duchess. Cristoforo was employed to
carve reliefs for the high altar, and the duke gave the friars a
jewelled crucifix and marvellously wrought set of chalices, patens,
candelabra, paci of _niello_, engraved with Beatrice's name and arms.
Among other costly gifts, he also presented them with a magnificent
_pallium_ and richly embroidered hangings for the altar, and a set of
illuminated choir-books with enamelled and jewelled bindings, while the
Marchesino Stanga gave an organ to the church. Bramante was ordered to
complete the cupola as soon as possible, and was employed later to add a
new sacristy to the church.

But there was one thing more which lay still nearer to Lodovico's heart.
Leonardo's great wall-painting for the convent refectory was well-nigh
completed. Cardinal Perault de Gurk, when he visited his friend the
Dominican prior towards the end of January, 1497, saw and admired the
work of Leonardo, and conversed with the painter, who laughed, Bandello
tells us, at his Eminence's ignorance for thinking his salary of 2000
ducats a large one and expressing surprise at the duke's liberality.
Lodovico was now anxious to see the life-sized portraits of himself and
Beatrice with their children painted by the great master's hand on the
opposite wall. The Dominican historian, Padre Pino, writing in the last
century, says that the convent retained a life-sized portrait of that
most excellent and famous lady, Duchess Beatrice, in which the sweet
gentleness of her nature and majesty of her bearing were faithfully
reproduced; and Padre Gattico, a very accurate and careful writer of the
sixteenth century who wrote the history of the convent from its
foundation, describes how Leonardo da Vinci was employed by Lodovico to
paint portraits of himself and Beatrice, with their children kneeling at
their feet, on the wall opposite the Cenacolo, but adds that these
portraits, being painted in oil, were already in a ruinous condition.
The Dominican father's words were all too true, and only the merest
fragments of these portraits, which Vasari described as works of sublime
beauty, now remain on the wall, where the Lombard artist Montorfano had
already painted his fresco of the Crucifixion. That of Beatrice is a
mere ghost, but enough remains of Lodovico's figure to show how nobly
Leonardo treated his subject, and is of the deepest interest as an
example of the great Florentine's art and a faithful likeness of his
illustrious patron. A distinct reference to Lodovico's wishes on the
subject may be found in the paper of directions which he drew up on the
30th of June, 1497, for his minister the Marchesino Stanga.

"_Memorandum of the things which Messer Marchesino is to do._

"In the first place, he is to place the ducal arms in gold letters on a
marble slab on Porta Ludovica, together with ten bronze medals bearing
the duke's head.

"_Item_: to see that similar tablets are placed on all the public
buildings, excepting those in the Castello, which are in charge of
Messer Bernardino di Corte, and that medals are placed between them.

"_Item_: to see that _El Gobbo_ carves the reliefs for the altar this
year, and that he has sufficient marble, and if more is needed, send to
Venice or Carrara.

"_Item_: to see that the sepulchre is finished without delay, and to
desire _Gobbo_ to work at the covering and all the other portions
belonging to the tomb, so that it may be ready as soon as the rest of
the sepulchre.

"_Item_: to ask Leonardo the Florentine to finish his work on the wall
of the Refectory, and to begin the painting on the other wall of the
Refectory. If he will do this, some arrangement may be made with him
regarding the agreements signed by his own hand, by which he stipulated
to finish the work within a certain time.

"_Item_: to see that the portico of S. Ambrogio is finished, for which
two thousand ducats have been assigned.

"_Item_: to call together all the most skilled architects to hold a
consultation, and design a model for the façade of Santa Maria delle
Grazie, which shall be of the same height and proportions as the
_Capella Grande_.

"_Item_: to finish the _Strada da Corte_, which the duke wishes to see
completed.

"_Item_: to make a head of our Madonna the late duchess, and place it on
a medallion with that of the duke on the doors of the chapel in Santa
Maria delle Grazie.

"_Item_: to open a new gate in the walls corresponding to the Porta S.
Marco, and call it the Porta Beatrice, and place the ducal arms and
letters of the said duchess upon the said gate, as has been done at
Porta Ludovica.

"_Item_: to desire that the decorations of the Broletto Nuovo should be
finished by August.

"_Item_: to place an inscription in gold letters on black marble above
the portraits of the chapel."

This _Memoriale_ was signed by the ducal secretary, Bartolommeo Calco,
and the following lines were added by Lodovico himself:--

"MARCHESINO,--We have charged you with the execution of the works here
mentioned, and, although you have already received our orders by word of
mouth, we have for our further satisfaction set them down in writing, to
show you how extraordinary is the interest that we take in their
completion.

"LUDOVICO MARIA SFORTIA."[71]

The bronze medals here mentioned, which by Lodovico's orders were to be
placed on all the chief public buildings, were probably those designed
by Caradosso after Beatrice's death, in which the head of the duke and
duchess appear side by side.

The name and arms of Beatrice were to be seen everywhere; her portrait
was to be placed in the church of the Grazie, and her medallion above
the gate. And to-day, in spite of the common ruin which has overwhelmed
the palaces and churches of Lodovico's fair duchy, the armorial bearings
of his consort may still be seen painted in the lunette above the
Cenacolo, as if the duke wished Leonardo's great painting to be
especially associated with her beloved memory; while not only in the
Castello of Milan, but on the site of ducal castles and villas
throughout the Milanese, blocks of stone and marble carved with the
initials of Lodovico and Beatrice are constantly brought to light.

In the midst of these tokens of grief and love for his lost wife, we
come upon a strange incident. That May, Lucrezia Crivelli, the mistress
whose _liaison_ with the duke had caused Beatrice the sorrow which he
now remembered with so much remorse, bore Lodovico a son, who was named
Gianpaolo, and who became a valiant soldier and loyal subject of his
half-brother Duke Francesco Sforza in after days. The Moro, as far as we
know, never renewed his connection with Lucrezia after his wife's death.
The universal testimony of his contemporaries--"he lived chastely and
devoutly, and was a changed man"--seems to bear witness to the contrary;
but in the following August he settled Cussago and Saronno, the lands
which three years before he had given to Beatrice, upon his mistress as
a provision for the son she had borne him, and in the act of donation
speaks expressly of the delight which he had found in her gentle and
excellent company.

Even more strange it sounds in our ears to find Isabella d'Este, only a
year after Beatrice's death, writing to the duke's former mistress,
Cecilia Gallerani, to ask for the loan of her portrait by Leonardo's
hand, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. The fact that a
princess of the proud house of Este, and one who, in the eyes of her
generation, was the model of all virtues, should seek a favour from one
who had wronged her sister so deeply, affords fresh proof how lightly
such _liaisons_ were regarded in those days, and may incline us to be
more lenient in our judgments of the men and women of the Renaissance.

FOOTNOTES:

[65] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 639.

[66] C. Magenta, _op. cit._

[67] This valuable and interesting letter is preserved in the State
archives of the House of Este at Modena, and was first published by
Signor Gustavo Uzielli, in his _Leonardo da Vinci e Tre donne Milanesi_,
p. 43.

[68] Muratori, xxiv. 342.

[69] M. Sanuto, _Diarii_, i. 489.

[70] L. Pélissier, _Les Amies de L. Sforza_.

[71] Cantù in A. S. L., 1874, p. 183.



CHAPTER XXVIII

The Marquis of Mantua dismissed by the Venetians--He incurs Duke
Lodovico's displeasure by his intrigues--Isabella d'Este's
correspondence with the Duke of Milan--Leonardo in the Castello--Death
of Charles VIII.--Visit of Lodovico to Mantua--Francesco Gonzaga
appointed captain of the imperial forces--Isabella of Aragon and
Isabella d'Este--Chiara Gonzaga and Caterina Sforza--Lodovico's will.

1497-1498


While Lodovico was building sanctuaries and raising memorials to his
dead wife, his brother-in-law of Mantua had excited the suspicions of
the Venetians by his French sympathies, and in April, 1497, was suddenly
dismissed from his post of captain-general of the Signoria's armies.
Isabella d'Este was deeply distressed, and Francesco Gonzaga declared
loudly that this disgrace was the result of Galeazzo di Sanseverino's
jealousy and of the Moro's intrigues. In September the marquis and
Messer Galeazzo met at a tournament held at Brescia in honour of the
Queen of Cyprus. Fracassa was also present with his wife, Margherita
Pia, in a chariot driven by twelve fine horses, and both he and the
marquis entered the lists with their followers, but the hero of the day
was Galeazzo, who appeared suddenly at the head of forty horsemen, all
in deep mourning, with hair dyed black, and black and gold armour, and a
herald bearing a black pennon with gold griffins. When the joust was
over, the queen entertained Fracassa's wife, and all the cavaliers, at
supper, and the next day Galeazzo escorted her home over the hills to
Asolo. But this meeting did not improve the strained relations between
the princes of Milan and Mantua, and the secret intrigues which
Francesco Gonzaga carried on both with France and Florence soon came to
Lodovico's ears. In November the duke wrote a strong remonstrance to
Isabella, complaining bitterly of her husband's ingratitude, and
declaring that he would have exposed his fraudulent conduct in the eyes
of the Venetians, and of all Italy, had it not been for the love and
regard which he had for her. Isabella was seriously alarmed at the tone
of her brother-in-law's letter, and did her best to effect a
reconciliation between him and her husband. Her efforts were seconded by
her father, Duke Ercole, and his sons, who were often at Milan, and kept
up friendly relations with Lodovico after their sister's death. Alfonso
and his wife, Anna Sforza, were at the Castello in June, and Galeazzo di
Sanseverino himself accompanied the heir of Ferrara to the shop of the
famous Missaglia to order a suit of armour which should be "of a
gallantry and perfection worthy of Don Alfonso." We hear of a splendid
suit of gilded armour, also the work of the Missaglias, being presented
to Ferrante d'Este by the Duke of Milan, while Beatrice's youngest
brother, the boy-cardinal, Ippolito, succeeded Guido Arcimboldo as
Archbishop of Milan, and took up his abode in that city. But a new
calamity befell the house of Este that November in the death of Anna
Sforza, who, like her sister-in-law, gave birth to a still-born child on
the 30th of November, and herself expired a few hours later, to the
grief of her whole family, and more especially of Duke Ercole, who, in
his advancing years, saw himself bereaved of all of those he loved best.
The sweetness and goodness of this princess, the Ferrarese diarist tells
us, had endeared her to all the people of Ferrara, and in the shock of
her sudden death Lodovico felt a renewal of his own sorrow. In the same
week, another Este princess, who had been closely associated with the
Milanese court, also passed away. This was the widowed mother of Niccolo
da Correggio, that once beautiful and charming Beatrice, who had been
known in her youth as the Queen of Festivals, and who for many years had
been a staunch friend of the Moro, and had long occupied rooms in the
Castello. After her death, Niccolo, feeling that the last link which
bound him to Lodovico's court was severed, left Milan, and returned to
his old home at Ferrara. That autumn, Cristoforo Romano also left the
court, which Duchess Beatrice's death had shorn of its old brightness
and splendour, and entered the service of her sister Isabella d'Este at
Mantua, while the court-poet, Gaspare Visconti, died early in the
following year. One by one artists and singers were dropping out of
sight, and the brilliant company which Lodovico's wife had gathered
round her was fast melting away. The gay days of Vigevano and Cussago
were over, the deer and wild boars grazed unharmed in these woodland
valleys, and when Kaiser Maximilian asked the duke for one of his famous
breed of falcons, Lodovico sent him one belonging to Messer Galeazzo's
breed, saying that he no longer kept any of his own, and had quite given
up hunting since the death of the duchess of blessed memory.

But his love of art and learning was as great as ever, and Fra Luca
Pacioli, the able mathematician, who came to Milan in 1496, and
dedicated his treatise of _La Divina Proporzione_ to Lodovico, describes
the laudable and scientific duel of famous and learned men, that was
held on the 9th of February, 1498, in the Castello of Milan--"that
invincible fortress of the glorious city which is a residence worthy of
His Excellency." The duke himself presided at this meeting, which some
writers have supposed to be a sitting of an academy of arts and sciences
founded by Lodovico, with Leonardo for its president, and left Milan the
next day, on a pilgrimage to the Holy Mount of the Madonna at Varese.
Among the many illustrious personages, religious and secular, who were
present on this occasion, Fra Luca mentions "Messer Galeazzo Sforza di
San Severino, my own special patron," to whom he presented the beautiful
illuminated copy of his treatise, now in the Ambrosiana, the Prior of
the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, the doctors and astrologers,
Ambrogio da Rosate, Pirovano, Cusani and Marliani, and many well-known
jurists, councillors, architects, and engineers, including Leonardo da
Vinci, "our fellow-citizen of Florence, who, in sculpture and painting
alike, justifies his name and surpasses"--i.e. _vince_ = conquers--"all
other masters."[72]

Leonardo's Cenacolo, we learn from his friend Pacioli, was at length
finished, and preparations were being made for casting his great horse
in bronze, but the master himself was chiefly engaged in the study of
hydraulics, and was writing a treatise on motion and water-power. In
April, however, he was again painting in the Castello, and Messer
Gualtero, one of Lodovico's most trusted servants, informed the duke,
who was absent for a few days, that both his sons were very well, and
that Magistro Leonardo was at work in the Saletta Negra. He would
shortly proceed to the Camera Grande in the tower, and promised to
complete the decorations by September, in order that the duke might be
able to enjoy them next autumn. A note in one of Leonardo's manuscripts
speaks of twenty-four Roman subjects, probably small decorative groups
in _camaieu_, painted on the vaulting of these rooms, and gives the
exact cost of the blue, gold, and enamel employed, but all trace of
these decorations has vanished. At the same time Lodovico appointed his
favourite master to the post of ducal engineer, and employed him to
survey those vast and elaborate fortifications in the Castello, which
excited the wonder of the French invaders.

Two of Amadeo's great architectural works, the cupola of the Duomo of
Milan, and the façade of the Certosa, were brought to a successful
conclusion in these last years of Lodovico's rule, while the foundation
stone of the noble Cistercian monastery attached to S. Ambrogio, now a
military hospital, was laid by the duke, and built at his expense from
Bramante's designs. The charitable society known as the Confraternity of
the Santa Corona, or Holy Crown of Thorns, a name familiar to all who
have visited its ancient halls, and seen Luini's fresco, was another
excellent institution intended for the relief of the sick poor in their
own homes, which was founded under the duke's auspices, and largely
supported by his liberality. But once more wars and rumours of war came
to disturb the Milanese, and to call Lodovico away from these public
works and improvements in which he took delight.

The renewed intrigues of Charles VIII. with the Florentines, and revived
fears of a French invasion, induced Lodovico to send Baldassare Pusterla
to Venice in February, 1498, to solicit the help of the Signoria, but
while these negotiations were going on, a courier arrived from Ferrara
with the news of the French king's sudden death. Charles, who was not
twenty-eight, had died of apoplexy as he was watching a game of bowls at
Amboise, and his cousin, the Duke of Orleans, had been proclaimed king
under the title of Louis XII. Sanuto reports that the courier who
brought the news from Amboise to Florence had ridden the whole way in
seven days, and had killed no less than thirteen horses!

"Magnificent ambassador!" said the Doge to the Milanese envoy, "you told
us that His Most Christian Majesty was on his way to Italy. We hear that
he is dead!"

The news was a great relief to most of the Italian powers, to none more
so than Lodovico, who saw his immediate fears removed, and did not
realize how much reason he had to dread the ambitious designs of his old
rival king Louis. But in his eagerness to secure the alliance of
Florence, he committed the fatal mistake of affronting the Venetians. He
refused to allow a fresh detachment of troops, which they were sending
to Pisa, to pass through his dominions, and the Signory in revenge sent
an embassy to the King of France with secret orders to take counsel with
Trivulzio and negotiate a league with Louis XII. against the Duke of
Milan. All Lodovico's hopes were now fixed on the formation of a new
league between Maximilian, the Pope, Naples, and Milan. When this was
concluded, he offered the generalship of the allied forces, with the
title of Captain of the King of the Romans, to the Marquis of Mantua.
Still Francesco Gonzaga was not satisfied, and complained that he ought
also to be entitled Captain-general to the Duke of Milan, a title which
Lodovico refused to take from his son-in-law Galeazzo. However,
Isabella, who had already paved the way for this reconciliation,
implored her husband to be content for the present with the duke's
offer, remarking that the salary was the important thing, and in May the
marquis went to Milan, where he received a cordial welcome, and the
terms of the agreement were satisfactorily arranged.

Lodovico now announced his intention of coming to Mantua in person, and
on the 27th of June arrived there on a visit to the marquis and
marchioness, accompanied by the young Cardinal Ippolito and the German,
Spanish, Florentine, and Neapolitan ambassadors, with a suite of a
thousand persons. Great was Isabella's anxiety that nothing should be
lacking on this occasion, and endless were the pains which she took to
do honour to her splendid brother-in-law. She borrowed plate and
tapestries from Niccolo da Correggio, and desired her own envoy at
Milan, Benedetto Capilupi, to ask Galeazzo Visconti and Antonio
Costabili what wines the duke preferred and what clothes he would expect
her to wear. Lodovico himself had not yet laid aside his mourning, and
Isabella wondered if the rooms of his apartments at Mantua must be hung
with black velvet, or if she might venture to relieve them with violet
tints, as would, she felt, be more fitting to this festive occasion. The
duke, Capilupi replied, would be satisfied with any arrangements the
marchesa liked to make, and as for the wines, he found that those
usually preferred by his Excellency at supper were clear white wines,
rather sweet and new, while at dinner he generally drank light red wine,
such as Cesolo, all very clear and new.

The visit passed off successfully, and after three days of _fêtes_ and
entertainments Lodovico returned to Milan. Francesco Gonzaga, however,
still wavered between the duke and the Venetians, and it was not till
Lodovico sent Marchesino Stanga and Fracassa to Mantua in November, that
the agreement was finally concluded, and Erasmo Brasca delivered the
bâton to the marquis in the emperor's name. Isabella herself interviewed
the ceremony from a tribunal erected on the piazza in front of the
Castello di Corte at Mantua, and the duke wrote a graceful note to his
sister-in-law, thanking her for her good offices in the matter. He still
constantly sent her presents of choice fruits or wines and venison,
while Isabella, in return, sent him salmon-trout from Garda, and
Evangelista, the marquis's famous trainer, tamed the duke's horses. In
July Lodovico sent her a basket of peaches, wishing they had been even
finer than they were, to be more worthy of her acceptance, and Isabella
wrote in reply: "The peaches sent by your Excellency are most welcome,
not only because they are the first ripe ones I have tasted this summer,
but far more because they are a proof of your gracious remembrance, for
which I can never thank your Excellency enough." On New Year's Day,
1499, Lodovico sent the marchioness two barrels of wine--"_vino
amabile_"--and two chests of lemons, and in February wrote to thank her
for the fish, which were very fine and good and had reached him
opportunely, as it was Friday in Lent.

Gifts of artichokes, which were then esteemed a great delicacy, were
often sent to the duke by Genoese nobles, and in March, 1499, we find
Giovanni Adorno, the brother-in-law of the San Severini, who evidently
knew Lodovico's taste for flowers, sending a basket of forty artichokes
together with a bouquet of the finest roses. Another characteristic note
was the following, written by the Moro to Francesco Gonzaga, in
January:--

"I always take great delight in seeing the swans which you sent us some
years ago, sailing on the castle moat under these windows. So if you
have any others to spare, I beg you to send me some, for which I shall
be very grateful."[73]

Two of the last letters, which Isabella addressed to her brother-in-law,
are of especial interest, as relating to Giangaleazzo's widow, the
Duchess Isabella of Aragon. A few weeks after Beatrice's death, this
unfortunate lady had been desired by the duke to leave her rooms in the
Castello, and take up her abode in the old palace near the Duomo. Some
contention arose respecting the boy Francesco Sforza, whom Lodovico
wished to keep with his own sons in the Rocchetta, and who remained
there for a time, only visiting his mother once a week. "You have taken
my son's crown away," said the duchess, indignantly, "and now you would
take his mother too!" Lodovico is said to have replied, "Madam, you are
a woman, so I will not quarrel with you." But in spite of her hatred for
Lodovico, Isabella of Aragon still kept up friendly relations with her
Este cousins. In 1498, she asked the marchioness for an antique bust,
which Andrea Mantegna had brought back from Rome, and which she heard
bore a striking likeness to herself. The painter, however, valued the
marble so highly that for long he refused to part with it, and offered
to send the duchess a cast of the bust in bronze. Isabella d'Este,
however, finally prevailed upon him to let her buy the head, and send it
as a present to her cousin, whom she declared it resembled in a
marvellous manner. At the same time she promised the duchess a replica
of a portrait of her brother, King Ferrante of Naples, which she valued
too much to part with, but would have copied as soon as possible by
Francesco Mantegna. Before satisfying her cousin's wishes, however, the
prudent Isabella applied to the duke and ascertained that he had no
objection to her action. Again, when in March, 1499, the duchess begged
Isabella to let her have her own portrait, the marchioness sent the
picture to Lodovico, and asked him for leave to send the picture to
Giangaleazzo's widow.

"MOST ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCE AND EXCELLENT DUKE AND DEAR FATHER,

"I am afraid I shall weary not only your Highness, but all Italy with
the sight of my portraits; but reluctantly as I do this, I could not
refuse the Duchess Isabella's urgent entreaties to let her have my
portrait in colours. I send this one, which is not very like me, and
makes me look fatter than I really am, and have desired Negro, my master
of the horse, to show it to your Highness, and, if you approve, give it
to the duchess from me."[74]

Lodovico replied pleasantly that he admired the portrait, and thought it
very like Isabella, although it made her look stouter than when he had
last seen her, but suggested that perhaps she had grown fatter during
the interval. And the picture was duly presented to Duchess Isabella
that same day.

The marquis's widowed sister Chiara Gonzaga, Duchess of Montpensier,
also kept up an active correspondence with the Moro at this time, and
warned him repeatedly of the intrigues against him that were going on at
the French court, and of the dangers he had to fear from Trivulzio and
the Venetians.

So warm was the friendship between this lady and Lodovico, that a
Mantuan doctor wrote from Milan to Francesco Gonzaga, on pretence of
having received a commission from the duke to ask for his widowed
sister's hand in marriage, and as well as for that of his youthful
daughter Leonora on behalf of the young Count of Pavia. The duke wrote
back that he had never seen the doctor, and that the whole was a
fabrication. As he informed Chiara, he had not the smallest intention of
marrying a second time, although he had already received proposals to
this effect, both from Naples and Germany. And, by way of
peace-offering, he sent her a beautiful little _niello_ pax, as a
specimen of the work of his Milanese goldsmiths, and as a proof that he
placed himself altogether at her service. In return, Chiara sent him her
cordial thanks, and informed him that her brother had given orders for
the instant arrest of the mischievous doctor, and would see that he was
delivered into the duke's hands.

Another princess, who was in constant correspondence with the Moro
during these last years, was his niece Caterina Sforza, the famous
Madonna of Forli. Long ago, he had helped her against the conspirators
who had killed her first husband and besieged her in the Rocca, and ten
years before, Galeazzo di Sanseverino had won his first laurels at
Forli. Since those days, Lodovico had been a good friend to this warlike
lady in all her perpetual quarrels with her subjects and neighbours. "I
should be ready to drown myself, were it not for the trust that I place
in your Excellency," Caterina wrote to her uncle in 1496. Now that she
had aroused the wrath of Venice by her alliance with Florence, and that
Romagna was actually invaded by a Venetian force, the duke sent first
Fracassa and then the Count of Caiazzo to her help. In her gratitude she
called the infant son born of her third marriage with Giovanni de'
Medici, Lodovico, a name which he afterwards changed, to become famous
in history as Giovanni _delle bande nere_. But this _virago_, as
Machiavelli named the gallant lady of Forli, was by no means easy to
deal with, and she was constantly appealing to Lodovico to settle her
disputes. One day she welcomed Fracassa as a delivering angel, the next
she quarrelled with him violently, and turned a deaf ear to the Moro's
advice to overcome the Condottiere's rudeness by fair words and gentle
courtesy. After summarily rejecting his suggestion of a Gonzaga bride
for her son, and informing him that she was about to accept the Count of
Caiazzo's proposals for her daughter Bianca, she changed her mind,
declaring the count to be too old, and suddenly bethought herself of
Galeazzo di Sanseverino, as a suitable husband. This proposal, however,
the Moro promptly declined in a curt note, telling the countess that
Messer Galeazzo had no intention of marrying again.[75]

But the days of the once powerful Moro's reign were already numbered,
and the time was coming when he would be in sore need of help himself.
His subjects were already grievously discontented. At Milan, Cremona,
and Lodi, even in faithful Pavia, there had been tumults and riotings.
It became increasingly difficult to exact the loans required to meet the
heavy expenses for the national defence, while the ill-paid troops
murmured, and in many cases deserted the standard.

"In the whole Milanese there is trouble and discontent. No one loves the
duke. And yet he still reigns.... But he is a traitor to Venice, and
will be punished for his bad faith." So wrote Marino Sanuto that autumn;
while another Venetian chronicler, Malipiero, gave vent to his bitter
hatred in these words:

"Lodovico hoped to give the Signory trouble by his alliance with Charles
VIII., but God our protector has taken away that monarch's life, and has
made King Alvise his successor, who is Lodovico's enemy."

So the year closed gloomily. The political horizon was black and
lowering, and Lodovico had lost the wife upon whose courage and presence
of mind he had learnt to lean. He was suffering from gout himself, and
was often unable to mount a horse. But he still found pleasure in his
artistic dreams and in the vast schemes that filled his brain. Already
he had seen many of his plans carried out. Bramante's cupola and
sacristy were finished and Beatrice's tomb, with the sleeping form and
face, had been exquisitely wrought in marble by the sculptor's hand.
Leonardo had completed the Cenacolo to be the wonder of the world in
coming ages, and the great equestrian statue was only waiting for better
times to be cast in bronze and become a permanent memorial of the proud
Sforza race. Now a new and grander vision filled his thoughts. He would
rebuild the convent of the Dominican Friars on a vast and splendid
scale, and make it the most glorious sanctuary in the world, surpassing
even his beloved Certosa, for the sake of Beatrice, and as a living
memorial of the love which he had borne to his dead wife.

He began by rebuilding the friars' dormitories, enlarging their gardens,
and giving them a good water-supply. Then, on the 3rd of December of
this year, 1498, he drew up a deed by which he granted his beautiful
villa of the Sforzesca, with the spacious farms and fertile lands which
had been his pride and pleasure in past days, to the prior and convent
of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in perpetuity. In the preamble to the deed
of gift, the duke expresses his great love for this church, "where our
dead children repose, and our most dear wife Beatrice d'Este sleeps,
where, God willing, we ourselves hope to rest until the day of
resurrection," and ends with a devout prayer "that God and the Blessed
Virgin, the Dominican saints, Peter Martyr, Thomas Aquinas, and Dominic,
St. Vincent, St. Katharine of Siena, and all the saints, will hear the
prayers offered at these altars by the brothers of the order, and
forgive our failings, increase our merit, preserve our sons, give peace
and tranquillity to our subjects, receive the soul of our dearly loved
Beatrice into rest eternal, and finally place us, when this life is
over, among the holy monarchs and princes of His kingdom." This deed,
signed and sealed by Lodovico's own hand, and beautifully illuminated by
Antonio da Monza, or some miniaturist of his school, is preserved,
together with the former privileges granted to the community during the
lifetime of Duke Giangaleazzo, in the collection of the Marchese d'Adda.
Each leaf is elaborately decorated with Lodovico's favourite mottoes and
devices and other ornaments, while on the first page is a miniature of
the duke in black cap and mantle, in the act of presenting the act of
donation to the Dominican prior. After the French conquest of Milan,
Louis XII. annulled this deed of gift, although the friars escaped
further spoliation owing to the protection of the powerful Borromeo
family, and, after a long dispute, their possession of the Sforzesca was
eventually confirmed by Emperor Charles V. An inscription was placed
over the gates of the Sforzesca in honour of Lodovico Sforza and his
wife, and the domain remained the property of the convent until the
general confiscation of Church lands by Napoleon in 1798. Now Lodovico's
foundation has become national property, the remnants of his spacious
buildings are used as government schools.

On the same day, December 3, 1498, Lodovico made his will, a curious and
interesting document, which is still preserved in the Milanese archives,
and opens with these sentences:

"The holy Fathers teach us that according to the laws of the Eternal
kingdom, ordered by God Almighty, the elect may attain to this immortal
heritage by purifying their souls from every earthly stain. By mourning
for our sins, by giving alms and making reparation for wrong done to
others, by fasting, prayers, and good works, we can win everlasting
life, as has been decreed by God in all eternity. Believing this truth
with our whole heart, in full agreement with the Catholic faith, and
desiring to provide for the salvation of our soul as precious above all
earthly treasures, so that by the help of God we may rise purified from
the stains of this life to enjoy life and peace in the company of the
blessed, we order these things."[76] After recommending his soul once
more to all the saints, mentioned in the former deed, he desires that
his body, the ducal robes and insignia, may be buried on the right of
his wife, in the tomb erected by him, in the _Cappella Maggiore_ of
Santa Maria delle Grazie, and further endows the convent with a rent of
1500 ducats, in order that they may never cease to pray for his own soul
and that of his lady, Beatrice. Seven masses, he decrees, are to be said
daily for the duke, seven for the duchess, five requiems are to be
chanted every Wednesday, and the whole office for the dead is to be used
on the 3rd of every month, being the day on which Beatrice died; while
in the church of the Sforzesca, masses are to be said in January and
June--these being the months of Beatrice's birth and death--for both the
duke and his wife. For a whole year after his death, the alms which he
has given since the duchess's death are to be continued, a certain
number of poor families are to be relieved, and poor maidens and nuns
dowered, who are to pray for the souls of Beatrice and of his children
Leone and Bianca. He leaves 4000 ducats to be distributed yearly in
alms, and 3000 more to pension his old servants, while 5000 ducats are
to be paid to each of his illegitimate sons, Cesare and Gianpaolo. All
his debts and those of his mother are to be discharged, and a sum of
money equal to that which he, his father, and brother Galeazzo had
exacted from the Jews is to be spent in good works. All his gifts to the
Duomo of Milan are confirmed, including the rich plate and vestments
presented by Azzo Visconti to the chapel of S. Gottardo in the old
palace, and removed by Duke Galeazzo to the Castello, but restored by
Lodovico.

To this same date, another even more interesting document must be
assigned: the political will of Lodovico, which was among the
manuscripts brought from Milan by Louis XII., in 1499, and is still
preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale.[77] This document consists of
thirty-four parchment leaves, enriched with delicately painted initials
and the monogram of Lodovico and Beatrice, bound in black velvet and
fastened with gold clasps. By the duke's orders, it was placed in an
iron casket, richly ornamented with silver work, bearing his arms and
those of his wife, as well as the Sforza devices of the lion with the
buckets and his own favourite emblem of the caduceus. This casket was
sealed with the cornelian engraved with Beatrice's portrait, which
Lodovico always used after her death, and deposited in the treasury of
the Rocchetta, in the charge of the governor of the Castello, to be
opened by him and the chief secretary and chamberlain, immediately after
the duke's death. The writer begins by explaining that since the
premature death of his wife, in whose wisdom and knowledge he placed
absolute trust, has deprived his sons of their natural guardian, he has
drawn up the following instructions for their education and guidance and
for the proper administration of the State, until the elder of the two,
Maximilian Count of Pavia, shall attain the age of twenty.

First of all, he desires the governors and regents set over his son, to
impress upon the new duke the love and duty which he owes to his Father
in heaven, who is the Disposer of all, and the King of earthly kings,
and under Him to his vicar, the holy pontiff, and his Imperial Majesty,
Maximilian King of the Romans. And immediately on the present duke's
death, his son is to apply to the Cesarean Majesty for a confirmation of
the privileges granted to Duke Lodovico as a singular mark of favour,
after they had been refused to his father, brother, and nephew. Lodovico
then proceeds to give minute directions for the constitution of a
Council of Regency, the administration of the finances, the punishment
of criminals, appointment of magistrates, and organization of the
national defences. A standing army of 1200 men-at-arms and 600 light
cavalry is to be kept up, as well as garrisons in the fortresses, and
great stress is laid on the selection of tried and trusted castellans. A
special paragraph is devoted to Genoa, and Lodovico begs his successor
to pay especial attention to the noble families of Adorno, Fieschi, and
Spinola, warning him that the Genoese are easily led but will never be
driven, and must be treated courteously, and with due regard. All
important questions of peace and war and of making new laws are to be
referred to representatives of the people, and the voice of the nation
is as far as possible to be consulted in these matters. The young duke
is to make the Castello his residence, and be as seldom absent from
Milan as possible, never going further than his country houses of
Abbiategrasso, Cussago, Monza, Dece, and Melegnano, until he has reached
the age of fourteen. After that, he may, if he pleases, cross the
Ticino, and visit Vigevano and Pavia, but is recommended to be seldom
absent from Milan, if he wishes to keep the affection of his subjects.
His education is to be entrusted to none but the best governors and
teachers, who are to train him carefully in all branches of religious
and secular learning, in good conduct and habits, and in the knowledge
of letters, which last is not merely an ornament but an absolute
necessity for a prince. From his earliest years he is to take his place
in the council, and is to be gradually initiated into the management of
affairs, taught to deliver speeches and receive ambassadors, and
instructed in all that is necessary to make him a wise and good prince,
who cares for the welfare of his subjects and is capable of ruling them
in days of peace, and defending them in time of war. One particular on
which Lodovico insists is the restraint which he places on his son's
expenditure. The young prince is to observe great caution in his gifts
to his favourites. Up to the age of fourteen, he is never to give away
more than 500 ducats at a time, without the leave of his councillors,
and may never give presents exceeding that value to strangers on his own
authority, before he is twenty. Similar directions are given for the
education of Lodovico's younger son, Sforza, Duke of Bari, and the
revenues of his principality are to be carefully invested in Genoese
banks until he is of age. The wise management of the ducal stables and
of the chapel choir is especially recommended to the regents, and good
horses and good singers are always to be kept, for the duke's pleasure
and the honour of his name. Minute instructions for the safe custody of
the treasure in the Rocchetta are given, and the very forms to be
observed in the payment of public money and in the use of the different
seals affixed to public documents are all carefully determined. Great
discrimination is to be observed in the appointment of certain
ministers, in the choice of the Podesta of Milan, in the selection of
Commissioners of Corn and Salt, as well as of the officer of Public
Health, since all three of these departments are of the foremost
importance in a well-regulated State.

In conclusion, directions are given as to the ceremonial to be observed
at Lodovico's own funeral, which is to take place before the
proclamation of his successor, who is warned, on pain of incurring the
paternal malediction, not to assume the ducal crown until his father has
been laid in the grave.

This political testament, which is so characteristic a monument of
Lodovico's forethought and attention to detail, and of his enlightened
theories of government, bears no seal or signature, but ends with the
following lines in the Moro's own handwriting--

"We Lodovico Maria, lord of Milan, affirm these orders to be those which
we desire to be followed after our death, in the government of the
State, under our son and successor in the Duchy. And in token of this,
we have subscribed them with our own hand, and have appended our ducal
seal."

FOOTNOTES:

[72] G. Uzielli, _Ricerche sopra L. da Vinci_, i.

[73] L. Pélissier, _op. cit._

[74] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 650.

[75] P. Pasolini, _Caterina Sforza_, iii.

[76] Cantù in A. S. L., vi. 235.

[77] Italian State papers, M. 821.



CHAPTER XXIX

Treaty of Blois--Alliance between France, Venice, and the
Borgias--Lodovico appeals to Maximilian--His gift to Leonardo and letter
to the Certosini--The French and the Venetians invade the
Milanese--Desertion of Gonzaga and treachery of Milanese captains--Loss
of Alessandria--Panic and flight of Duke Lodovico--Surrender of Pavia
and Milan to the French--Treachery of Bernardino da Corte and surrender
of the Castello--Triumphal entry of Louis XII.

1499


From the moment of Louis XII.'s accession, he announced his intention of
making good his claim to the duchy of Milan. He refused to give Lodovico
the title of duke, addressing him as Messer Lodovico, while he styled
himself King of France and Duke of Milan, and told the Bishop of Arles
that he would rather reign over the Milanese for one year than be King
of France during his whole lifetime. At the same time he spoke freely of
his plans for the conquest of Italy, and told his courtiers that he
meant one of his sons to be King of Naples, and the other Duke of Milan.

These sayings were duly reported to Lodovico by his own friends at the
French court, and chief among them M. de Trano, a Provençal gentleman
who was in constant correspondence with Milan, as well as by the Duke of
Ferrara's envoy. Ercole himself is described by French agents as "_très
attaché à son gendre_" and Marino Sanuto speaks of him as "exceedingly
partial to his son-in-law and devoted to him in his secret heart," but
he was far too wise and prudent a ruler to oppose Louis XII. openly.

The Pope, long the Moro's firm ally, had turned against him since the
dissolution of his daughter Lucrezia's marriage to Giovanni Sforza in
1497, and the presence of Cardinal della Rovere, who returned to Rome
towards the end of 1498, increased his hatred of the Sforzas. He was
still more drawn to France by the offers of Louis XII. to forward the
ambitious designs of his son Cæsar Borgia, who had renounced his
cardinal's hat and was seeking the hand of the King of Navarre's
daughter. The discovery of these intrigues led to a sharp
passage-at-arms between the Pope and Ascanio Sforza in a consistory held
on the 3rd of December. The cardinal openly accused his Holiness of
bringing ruin upon Italy, upon which Alexander retorted that he was only
following the Duke of Milan's example. In vain Lodovico endeavoured to
avert the gathering storm by entering into negotiations with the French
king, and even approached Trivulzio with that purpose, but all attempts
at a peaceable arrangement were frustrated by Galeazzo di Sanseverino
and Antonio Landriano's hatred of their old rival and the fixed
determination of Louis XII. to reign in the Moro's stead.

Meanwhile the Venetian envoys were secretly plotting the Duke of Milan's
ruin, and on the 15th of April the Treaty of Blois was signed and the
partition of the Milanese between France and Venice finally determined.
The Signory agreed to invade the duke's territory with an army of 6000
men, and were to receive the district of Cremona in return for their
assistance. This was followed by Cæsar Borgia's marriage to Charlotte
d'Albret, which took place at Blois on the 10th of May. The Pope's son
was created Duke of Valentinois by the French king, and Alexander VI.
joined France and Venice and publicly declared that the house of Sforza
must be swept off the face of the earth. At the same time, Francesco
Gonzaga made secret advances to Louis XII., who accepted his offers of
service and advised the Venetians to make peace with him.

In his extremity Lodovico turned to his sole remaining ally, the Emperor
Maximilian, and sent Erasmo Brasca and Marchesino Stanga to Fribourg, to
beg that a German force might be speedily sent to his assistance, while
he earnestly entreated his niece the empress to plead his cause with her
husband. Unfortunately, Bianca had little or no influence at the
imperial court, and Maximilian, who would gladly have helped the duke,
was hampered by want of money and already engaged in war with his
turbulent Swiss neighbours. But Bianca did her best for her uncle, and
in these last days her letters were his chief consolation. She sent him
the latest and most confidential news, and wrote repeatedly from
Fribourg and Innsbrück, encouraging him with hopes of speedy help, and
reminding him how triumphantly he had overcome greater dangers in the
past.

Even now, when his enemies were closing round him and the last struggle
was at hand, Lodovico still clung to his old ideals. The love of art was
still the ruling passion of his life, and Leonardo still for him the
prince of painters. On the 26th of April, he made the Florentine master
a present of a vineyard which he had bought from the monastery of S.
Victor outside the Porta Vercellina, probably adjoining a house and
piece of land which the painter had already received from him, near S.
Maria delle Grazie. During the last few years the duke, we know, had
found it increasingly difficult to provide money for his vast
enterprises, and from a rough draft of a letter that has been found
among Leonardo's manuscripts, we gather that the painter's salary was in
arrears, and that his equestrian statue had not yet been cast in bronze:

"Signore," he writes in these fragmentary sentences, "knowing the mind
of your Excellency to be fully occupied, I must ask pardon for reminding
you of my small affairs.... My life is at your service; I am always
ready to obey your commands. I will say nothing of the horse, because I
know the times; but, as your Highness is aware, two years' salary is
owing to me, and I have two masters working at my expense, so that I
have had to advance fifteen _lire_ out of my own purse to pay them.
Gladly as I would undertake immortal works and show posterity that I
have lived, I am obliged to earn my living.... May I remind your
Highness of the commission to paint the Camerini, only asking ..."

The painter, we know, had never complained of Lodovico's want of
liberality, and before he left Milan that December, he was able to send
600 gold florins to Florence, but he probably received the vineyard
outside the gate in answer to this appeal. In the deed of gift, the
duke expressly states that Leonardo, in his judgment and in that of the
best judges, is the most famous of living painters, and that, having
been employed by him in manifold works, in all of which he has shown
admirable genius, the time has come to put the promises which have been
made him into execution. Accordingly, the duke presents him with this
vineyard, small indeed compared with the painter's merits, but which
Leonardo may take as a sign that, as in the past, he will always find
the ducal house sensible of his services, and that Lodovico himself will
in the future more fully reward the master's excellent acts and singular
talents.

A week later Lodovico remembered the altar-piece which Perugino had
promised to paint for the Certosa, and on the 1st of May wrote to the
Carthusian friars, desiring them to urge the Umbrian painter to complete
and deliver the work without delay.

"You know," he wrote, "how much labour and expense we have bestowed on
the decoration of the Certosa of Pavia, and how much we rejoice to see
that the building is nearly finished. And we have always exhorted
yourselves, venerable Prior and brothers, to choose the most excellent
artists to paint pictures that may be at once helps to devotion and
ornaments of the church. Since, with this intention, we proposed a
certain Perugino and a Maestro Filippo, both of them admirable and
honoured masters, to paint two altar-pieces, and disbursed large sums in
order to obtain these pictures, we are seriously displeased to find that
three years have passed without the work being done. This is unjust both
to ourselves and the friars, since it deprives the Certosa of the
perfection that we desire to see there, and we must beg you to insist on
these excellent masters completing the said altar-pieces within a
reasonable term, or else returning the money which they have received.
For, as you know, nothing is dearer to our hearts than the things that
concern this church and monastery."

Lodovico's exertions were not in vain, at least in the case of Perugino.
Before the end of the year, the great altar-piece containing the lovely
Madonna and saints, which now adorns the National Gallery, was finished,
and while the duke himself wandered in exile beyond the Alps, the
Umbrian painter's masterpiece was safely placed in the glorious church
which he had loved so well.

This letter relating to the Certosa altar-piece and the gift to Leonardo
were the last public acts in which the great Moro showed his love of art
and generosity to artists. His fate was sealed, and already his foes
were at the door. Before the end of May, King Louis and Cæsar Borgia
came to Lyons, and Trivulzio descended upon Asti with fifteen thousand
men. A few weeks later the Milanese envoy to Venice was dismissed, and
the Venetian army prepared to enter the district of Cremona. Caterina
Sforza, almost the only Italian ally who was still faithful to Milan,
sent a troop of men from Forli to her uncle's help, but the invasion of
Romagna by papal troops hindered her from attacking the Venetians as she
had intended. In vain Lodovico sent despairing letters to Maximilian,
begging for the promised reinforcements. Week after week went by, and
still the German troops did not arrive. On the 13th of August, Trivulzio
invaded the Milanese with a powerful force of well-trained soldiers, and
took the castle of Annona. The same day the Venetians crossed the
eastern frontier and advanced towards the river Adda. On the 14th
Lodovico wrote the following letter to his niece, the Empress Bianca:--

"In our present great anxieties, while the French are attacking us on
the one side, and on the other a large Venetian army is advancing, your
Majesty's loving letter has been a great comfort, expressing not only
the sympathy which you feel in our troubles, but the efforts you have
made to induce your husband, the king, to help us in these bad times.
What you say of his good-will is not more than we expected, but your
kind words have given us unspeakable joy, and we are exceedingly
grateful, and beg you with all our heart to continue your offices on our
behalf with the king, entreating him to send us help immediately
(_presto, presto_). Indeed, his troops ought to be here now, for we are
already reduced to extremity, as you will learn from Messer Galeazzo
Visconti and others, whom we have sent to your Majesty, praying that
help may be speedy and effectual."[78]

Three days after, Bianca herself wrote to say that she had spoken to the
emperor, and begged her _maître d'hôtel_ to support her request, and
that he had solemnly promised to send her uncle help. Maximilian kept
his word, and before the month was over despatched a strong German force
to the duke's relief. But the sorely needed succour came too late. When
the Germans reached the Italian frontier, Milan had already surrendered,
and they met Lodovico flying for his life. There were traitors in the
Moro's camp and court. Not only had the Marquis of Mantua broken faith
and refused to defend the Milanese against the Venetians, but two of the
Sanseverino brothers, Fracassa and Antonio Maria, had for some time past
threatened to enter the Venetian service; while Francesco Bernardino
Visconti, the Borromeos, and Pallavicini were secretly corresponding
with Trivulzio, and the Count of Caiazzo was out of temper and jealous
of his younger brother Galeazzo, if he was not, as Corio and other
contemporaries affirm, already in league with the French. Galeazzo
himself, who had the supreme command of the Milanese forces and held
Alessandria with 5000 men, was a brilliant carpet-knight and gallant
soldier, but had little experience as a general, and had no confidence
in his ill-paid and half-starved troops. When the duke, in a moment of
irritation, reproached his son-in-law with thinking too much of fine
clothes and fair ladies, Galeazzo boldly told him that his subjects were
disaffected and tired of his rule, and that if he did not take vigorous
measures, he would lose his state. His words proved all too true. One by
one the fortresses of the Lomellina opened their gates to Trivulzio's
victorious army, Antonio Maria Pallavicini surrendered Tortona without a
blow, and when Galeazzo prepared to relieve Pavia, his troops refused to
follow him. At the head of a handful of cavalry, he made a gallant
attempt to reach Pavia, but the citizens, alarmed at the approach of the
French, closed their gates and refused to admit any armed men.

Alessandria was now the only fortified town in the district which could
arrest Trivulzio's onward march, and Lodovico, trusting to Galeazzo's
valour, was confident he would be able to hold the town until the
arrival of Maximilian's reinforcements. But, to the amazement of friend
and foe alike, on the night of the 28th of August, Galeazzo, attended by
only three horsemen, left Alessandria at nightfall, crossed the Po, and,
after cutting the bridge behind him, rode as fast as he could go to
Milan. There had been dissensions in the garrison, and the soldiers
clamoured for pay and refused to fight, but whispers of darker treachery
were abroad. The Count of Caiazzo, it was said, had forged a letter
purporting to be from the duke, recalling his son-in-law to Milan on the
spot, and Galeazzo himself afterwards showed the false orders which had
deceived him to the French and Milanese chroniclers who repeat the
story. There seems little doubt that Caiazzo's defection was one of the
principal causes of Lodovico's ruin, but, whatever the circumstances of
the case may have been, it is certain that on the next day the French
entered Alessandria without meeting with any resistance, and Trivulzio
sent word to his kinsman Erasmo that before the week was over he would
dine with him in Milan.

When Lodovico heard that Alessandria was lost, his courage failed him.
He determined to seek safety in flight, and prepared to send his sons to
Germany under the charge of his brother Cardinal Ascanio Sforza and
Cardinal Sanseverino, both of whom had left Rome secretly on the 14th of
July, and travelled by Genoa to Milan. Once more the duke called the
chief citizens together, and appealed to them, by the love which they
bore to the house of Sforza and the memory of the peace and prosperity
which they had enjoyed under his rule, to defend Milan against the
foreign invaders. But already sedition was spreading among the people.
That evening the ducal treasurer, Antonio Landriano, one of Lodovico's
ablest and most loyal servants, was attacked by the mob on the Piazza of
the Duomo and mortally wounded.

On the same day--Saturday, the 31st of August--the duke took leave of
his sons, and sent them to Como in the charge of the two cardinals and
their kinswoman, Camilla Sforza. "A truly piteous and heart-breaking
sight it was," writes Corio, "to see these poor children embrace their
beloved father, whose face was wet with their tears."

Twenty mules laden with baggage, and a large chariot bearing Lodovico's
most precious jewels and 240,000 gold ducats, covered with black canvas
and drawn by eight strong horses, followed in the young princes' train.
All the rest of the Moro's treasures, including a sum of 30,000 ducats,
his vast stores of gold and silver plate, and all Duchess Beatrice's
rich clothes and possessions, were left in the Castello, which was
provided with ample supplies of food and ammunition, and defended by
1800 guns and a garrison of 2800 men, who had received six months' pay
in advance. These the duke entrusted solemnly to the charge of the
governor, Bernardino da Corte, leaving him full instructions as to his
future course of action, and a system of signals by which he could
communicate with friends in the town, and telling him that he would
return with 30,000 Germans before a month was over. Both Ascanio Sforza
and Galeazzo di Sanseverino, it is said, entertained doubts of
Bernardino da Corte's fidelity, and warned the duke not to leave him
without a colleague in this responsible office; but Lodovico did not
share their fears, and trusted implicitly in the loyalty of this
servant, whom he had advanced from a humble position to fill this
responsible post and loaded with favours.

After his children were gone, Lodovico drew up a last deed, by which he
left certain of his lands and houses to his friends in Milan, and made
reparation to others whom he had wronged. Chief among these was the
widowed Duchess Isabella, to whom he gave his own duchy of Bari, in the
kingdom of Naples, with a yearly revenue of 6000 ducats in place of her
dowry. He restored the lands of Angleria and the fortress of Arona to
the Borromeos, gave poor Beatrice's favourite country house of Villa
Nuova to Battista Visconti, and divided his different domains among the
chief representatives of noble Milanese families, in the hope of
securing their allegiance. While he was engaged in this final disposal
of his property, a deputation arrived to inform him that a meeting had
been held that day in the Dominican hall of La Rosa, at which the Bishop
of Como, Landriano, general of the Umiliati, Castiglione, Archbishop of
Bari, and Francesco Bernardino Visconti were chosen to form a
provisional committee of public safety, and that these councillors had
decided to make terms with Trivulzio and admit the French. The duke said
that he still put his trust in the people; upon which Visconti asked him
why, if this were the case, he had sent his sons and his treasure away?
"If you surrender the city to the French," replied the duke, "I will
hold the Castello for the emperor." It was his last word. In vain
Galeazzo urged him to put himself at the head of his loyal servants, and
call upon the citizens of Milan to man the walls against the French and
fight or die with their duke. It was already too late. While they were
still speaking, news reached the Castello that the people had risen in
tumultuous uproar, and that Galeazzo di Sanseverino's stables and the
seneschal Ambrogio Ferrari's house had been sacked by the mob. The shops
were closed, and the houses in the principal streets were barricaded.
Terror and confusion prevailed everywhere, and Milan seemed in a state
of siege. Lodovico now took leave of his faithful servants, and solemnly
charged Bernardino da Corte to hold the Castello as a sacred trust. "As
long as the Rocca holds out, I know that I shall return; but when that
surrenders, the house of Sforza is doomed." With these words he kissed
the castellan on the cheek, and, mounted on a black horse, in the long
black mantle which he always wore since his wife's death, he rode out,
accompanied by his chief senators to the Porta Vercellina. There he
turned to his companions, and, with a noble and dignified air, thanked
them once more for their faithful services, and bade them all farewell.
"_State con Dio_--may God be with you," he said, and, with a last wave
of his hand, put spurs to his black charger and rode off.

The sun was setting in the western sky, and the sorrowing courtiers
thought that their master had gone to Como. But he alighted before the
gates of S. Maria delle Grazie, and, throwing the reins to a page,
entered the church where Beatrice was buried. There he knelt in prayer
by the tomb of the wife whom he had loved so well and mourned so
long--_la sua amantissima duchessa_--while the moments slipped away and
his servants waited anxiously outside. At length he rose from his knees,
took a last look at the fair face and form lying there in the deep
repose of death, and left the church, accompanied by the weeping friars,
who followed him with their tears and blessings to the door. Three times
he turned round, while the tears streamed down his pale face, and looked
at the stately pile, which held all that had been dearest to him in the
world--where Leonardo had painted his Last Supper, and where Bianca and
Beatrice slept together. Then, in the dusk of the summer evening, he
rode slowly back through the park and gardens of the Castello.

At break of day on the following morning, Monday, the 2nd of September,
Duke Lodovico, accompanied by his son-in-law, Galeazzo di Sanseverino,
his nephews, Ermes and the Count of Melzi, and his brother-in-law,
Ippolito d'Este, and attended by a few armed horsemen, left Milan and
rode to Como. Here the fugitives spent the night, and the duke issued a
last decree, by which he confirmed the privileges and grants of land
which he had granted to the friars of S. Maria delle Grazie. Then he
told the loyal citizens of Como that he would soon return at the head of
a German army, and rode along the banks of the lake to the mountains of
the Valtellina. Often on the road he looked back at the blue waters and
lovely shores of that native land which he had been so proud to call his
own, and, at last, addressing his companions in the words of the Roman
poet, said sorrowfully, "_Nos patriam fugimus et dulcia linquimus
arva_."

"Only think, reader," moralizes Marino Sanuto, "what grief and shame so
great and glorious a lord, who had been held to be the wisest of
monarchs and ablest of rulers, must have felt at losing so splendid a
state in these few days, without a single stroke of the sword.... Let
those who are in high places take warning, considering the miserable
fall of this lord, who was held by many to be the greatest prince in the
world, and let them remember that when Fortune sets you on the top of
her wheel, she may at any moment bring you to the ground, and then the
closer you have been to heaven, the greater and the more sudden will be
your fall."

Already Ligny's horsemen were scouring the country round Como in pursuit
of the fugitive, and reports reached Venice that the duke had been
captured and Galeazzo slain. By this time, however, Lodovico had crossed
the frontier and was safe on Tyrolese soil. At Bormio he met 2000 German
troops, who were marching to his relief; and when he reached Innsbrück,
he found that the Empress Bianca had prepared rooms for his reception,
and received kindly messages from Maximilian, promising him more
efficient support as soon as he had settled his quarrel with the Swiss.

Meanwhile Pavia had opened her gates to the French, upon hearing news
of the duke's flight, Trivulzio had taken possession of the Castello,
and Ligny was occupying the Certosa, while Jean d'Auton knew not whether
to wonder most at the rich marbles and sumptuous chapels of the great
church, or the vast herds of red deer which roamed in the park.

"Truly," the good Benedictine exclaimed, as he wandered through these
flowery meadows with their banks of roses and myrtles, and clear springs
of running water--"truly, this is Paradise upon earth!"

On the 6th of September, after a feeble effort on the part of the
Milanese nobles to preserve the rights and liberties of the city, the
keys were given up to Trivulzio, who entered by the Porta Ticinese with
Ligny and two hundred horse, and, after visiting the Duomo, breakfasted
in the house of his kinsman, the Bishop of Como.

The Count of Caiazzo had gone out to meet Trivulzio the day before, and
had been received with great honour, while his brothers Fracassa and
Antonio Maria took refuge with Giovanni Adorno at Genoa, and waited to
see how the tide would turn.

Still the Castello held out, and Trivulzio was debating how best to
reduce this almost impregnable citadel, when Bernardino da Corte sent a
herald to parley with Francesco Bernardino Visconti. At the end of a few
days the faithless governor agreed to surrender the Castello, in
exchange for a large sum of money and the concession of various
privileges for his family and friends. On the 22nd, letters from the
duke arrived, telling the castellan to be of good cheer, for the German
troops were on their way. But when they reached Milan, the Castello was
already in the hands of the French. The treasures of gold and silver
plate which the Rocca contained, the money and the precious stuffs, the
pictures and statues and furniture which adorned its _Camerini_, were
divided between the treacherous governor, Francesco Visconti, and
Antonio Pallavicini, while Trivulzio reserved Lodovico's magnificent
tapestries, that alone were valued at 150,000 ducats, for his share of
the spoil. Then the wonders of antique and modern art which the Moro had
collected from all parts of Italy, the paintings of Leonardo and the
gems of Caradosso, the Greek marbles and Roman cameos, Lorenzo da
Pavia's rare instruments and Antonio da Monza's miniatures, were
scattered to the winds. Certain things--the gorgeous altar-plate and
vestments of the chapel, with the priceless manuscripts of the Castello
of Pavia, and most of the Sforza portraits--were taken to Blois, others
found their way to Venice or Mantua, and many fell into unworthy hands
and vanished altogether.

Lodovico was lying ill of asthma in the castle at Innsbrück, discussing
the best means of relieving the Castello with Galeazzo, when the news of
Bernardino da Corte's treachery reached him. For some minutes he
remained silent, as if unable to realize the full meaning of the words.
Then he said to the friends at his bedside, "Since the day of Judas
there has never been so black a traitor as Bernardino da Corte." And all
the rest of that day he never spoke again.

Even the French were filled with horror at Bernardino's treachery, and
shunned him like a criminal when he appeared among them. As for his old
friends and comrades, the poets and scholars of Lodovico's court, their
indignation knew no bounds, Lancinus Curtius hurled bitter epigrams at
his head, and Pistoia held him up to the scorn of the whole world in
some of his finest sonnets. He did not live long to enjoy the reward of
his treachery and it was popularly believed in Italy that he had
poisoned himself in his despair, or put an end to his wretched life by
falling upon his own sword. Even Charon, sang the poet, shuddered when
he heard the traitor's name, and refused to let him enter the gates of
Hades.

When the news of the conquest of Milan reached Lyons, Louis XII. crossed
the Alps without delay. On the 21st of September he was at Vercelli; on
the 26th, at Lodovico's favourite Vigevano; on the 2nd of October he
reached Pavia, where the Marquis of Mantua and the Duke of Ferrara, who
feared the Pope's vengeance and Cæsar Borgia's army even more than the
French, came to meet him.

"Duke Ercole and his two sons," wrote the Ferrarese annalist, "are gone
to meet the King of France. As for the Duke of Milan, his name is never
mentioned, and you might think that he had never lived."

On Sunday, the 6th of October, he made his triumphal entry into Milan,
with the Dukes of Ferrara and Savoy riding at his side; the Cardinals
della Rovere and d'Amboise were in front of him; and ambassadors from
all the chief cities of Italy, and a goodly array of princes and nobles,
in his train. Francesco Gonzaga, who had so lately been Duke Lodovico's
guest, was there. And there, too, were men like Caiazzo and Fracassa,
who had eaten and drunk at the Moro's table, and were fighting under his
banner only a few weeks before, and with them one, who was still more
closely associated with Lodovico and his wife by the ties of blood and
friendship--Niccolo da Correggio, the favourite courtier and poet of the
Moro, and the cousin of Beatrice.

Conspicuous among them all by his height and majestic bearing was the
Pope's son, Cæsar Borgia, while the king himself made a gallant show in
his long white mantle embroidered with golden lilies over a suit of
royal purple, bearing the ducal cap and sword. Eight Milanese nobles
carried an ermine-lined canopy over his head, and the doctors of the
University of Pavia were there in their scarlet robes, as they appeared
a few short years before at Lodovico's coronation. Fair ladies in gay
attire welcomed the victor with their smiles. Everywhere tall white
lilies were seen blossoming in the streets that led to the Duomo--Notre
Dame du Dôme, as the monkish chronicler calls the glorious pile of
dazzling marbles that rose into the summer air. Here the procession
paused, and the king walked up the vaulted aisles to pay his devotions
at the Madonna's shrine. Then he rode on again, to the sound of trumpets
and horns, and the royal guard of Gascon archers led the way up the
well-known street, with the frescoed palaces and goldsmiths and
armourers' shops, to the gates of the famous Castello, where the victor
entered and took up his abode in this proud citadel of the Sforzas, the
core and centre of the Milanese.

In the eyes of the French strangers it was all very marvellous--the
beautiful city with its stately palaces and hospitals, and the fair
churches with their Gothic spires and pinnacles, their slender creamy
shafts and deep red terra-cotta mouldings; the Milanese ladies with
their jewelled robes and mantles embroidered with cunningly wrought
devices, the flowering lilies and the garlands of laurel and myrtle--all
seen under the radiant sunshine and the deep blue of the Italian skies.
But what excited their admiration and wonder more than all was the
Castello.

"A thing," writes one of them, "truly marvellous and inestimable, with
so many large and beautiful rooms that I lost all reckoning. Without are
broad lakes, fair running streams, and bridges. There is a fine large
square on the side of the town, and on the other are beautiful meadows
and woods and the château, where the Moro had his stables, painted with
frescoes of different-coloured horses."

King Louis wondered most of all at the strength and completeness of the
bastions and excellence of the artillery, exclaiming that never before
had he seen so strong and splendid a citadel! And he and all the
Frenchmen greatly blamed that second Judas, who had betrayed his master
and delivered it up without a blow.

The next morning, his Majesty attended mass at S. Ambrogio, accompanied
by the Dukes of Ferrara and Savoy, the Marquis of Mantua, Cæsar Borgia,
and all the cardinals and ambassadors, and afterwards visited the church
and convent of S. Maria delle Grazie. Here he gazed with admiration on
the Cenacolo of Leonardo, that master of whose genius he had heard so
much, and expressed his ardent wish to transfer the famous wall-painting
to France, a sentiment which can hardly have gratified the Dominican
friars or the Italian princes in his train. The painter was not present
on this occasion. His master had fled, the works upon which he was
engaged were all interrupted, and on the approach of the French he had
left Milan for one of his favourite country retreats in the hills of
Bergamo or the mountains of Como, where he could study Nature and pursue
his scientific researches in peace. And the French king and Cæsar
Borgia, whose genuine appreciation of fine art was well known, did not
fail to admire Bramante's fair chapel and that latest masterpiece of
Lombard sculpture, the noble tomb which the Moro had raised to be an
eternal memorial of his love and sorrow. There were others in his train
that day who could hardly look unmoved on the sleeping form of the young
duchess with the child-like face and the brocade robes which _Il Gobbo_
had fashioned with such exquisite skill. There was her brother-in-law,
Francesco Gonzaga, and Niccolo da Correggio, in whose heart that fair
face and bright eyes, he tells us, were for ever enshrined; there were
her brothers, Alfonso and Ferrante; above all, there was her father, the
aged Duke Ercole. The sight of that marble figure, with the soft curling
hair and the long fringe of eyelashes and quietly folded hands, must
have vividly recalled the memory of his dead child, and of all the joy
and brightness that had vanished in the grave with Beatrice. For him at
least that must have been a bitter moment.

And there was yet another, young Baldassare Castiglione, that courtly
and handsome boy who had been sent to Milan a few years before to finish
his education, and had now followed his master, the Marquis of Mantua,
to wait upon the French king. He had been present many a time at those
brilliant _fêtes_ in the Castello, and had seen Duchess Beatrice in her
most radiant and triumphant hour, had talked with Leonardo and Bramante,
and looked on Messer Galeaz as the mirror of chivalry. Now he came back
to find the scene changed and that gay company all dead or gone. And the
next day he sat down to write home to Mantua and tell his mother of all
the pomp and splendour of the scenes which he had witnessed. He
described the king's triumphal entry, and the great procession in which
he had taken part, with all a boy's enthusiasm; but he could not refrain
from a sigh over the melancholy change in the Castello, when he told her
how these halls and courts, that had once been the home and
meeting-place of rare intellects and accomplished artists, "the fine
flower of the human race," were now full of drinking-booths and
dung-hills--of rude soldiery, who defiled the place with their foul
habits and polluted the air with their savage oaths. So passes the glory
of the world.

FOOTNOTES:

[78] L. Pélissier, _op. cit._



CHAPTER XXX

Louis XII. in Milan--Hatred of the French rule--Return of Duke Lodovico
--His march to Como and triumphal entry into Milan--Trivulzio and the
French retire to Mortara--Surrender of the Castello of Milan, of Pavia
and Novara, to the Moro--His want of men and money--Arrival of La
Trémouille's army--Lodovico besieged in Novara and betrayed to the
French king by the Swiss--Rejoicings at Rome and Venice--Triumph of the
Borgias--Sufferings of the Milanese--Leonardo's letter.

1499-1500


During the next month Louis XII. remained in the Castello of Milan,
joining in hunting-parties with his guests, the Duke of Ferrara and the
Marquis of Mantua, and being royally entertained at banquets by the
Viscontis and Borromeos and Giangiacomo Trivulzio. Isabella d'Este,
eager to ingratiate herself with the French, invited Ligny to visit her,
and sent dogs and falcons, as well as trout from Garda, to the king, who
told La Trémouille that he had never tasted better fish. And when
Cardinal d'Amboise expressed his admiration for Andrea Mantegna's art
and told the marquis that in his opinion he was the first master in the
world, Isabella hastened to promise him a picture by the great Paduan's
hand.

It was a sad time for the followers of Lodovico. The faithful servants
who had followed him into exile, saw their lands and houses confiscated
and divided among the victors. The Count of Ligny's mother occupied the
Marchesino Stanga's house, and Trivulzio's triumph over his rivals was
complete when he received the Moro's palace of Vigevano and Messer
Galeazzo's fair domain of Castel Novo as his share of the spoils. But
no one suffered more keenly or shed more bitter tears than
Giangaleazzo's widow, Duchess Isabella. She had unwisely declined
Lodovico's advice to leave Milan when the war broke out, and take refuge
on her uncle Frederic's galleys at Genoa. Instead of this, she remained
in Milan and sent her son, a child of eight, whom contemporaries
describe as beautiful as a cherub, but weak in mind, like his father, to
meet Louis XII. on his arrival at the Castello. But, to her dismay, the
king refused to allow the young prince to return to his mother, and when
he left Milan on the 7th of November, he took the boy with him to
France, and made him Abbot of Noirmoutiers, where he lived in retirement
until, twelve years later, he broke his neck out hunting. After her
son's departure, the unhappy mother, who signed herself "_Ysabella de
Aragonia Sforcia unica in disgrazia_" in letters of this period, finally
left Milan. Early in 1500 she paid a visit to Isabella d'Este at Mantua,
and then travelled by sea from Genoa to Naples, and spent the rest of
her life in her principality of Bari. One of her daughters died as a
child; the other, Bona, was betrothed to her cousin, Maximilian Sforza,
when, in 1512, he was restored to his father's throne. It was Isabella's
cherished dream that her last remaining child should reign over the
duchy of Milan, where, after all, her own brightest days had been spent;
but before the marriage could take place, the young duke had been
compelled to abdicate his throne and taken captive to France. His
betrothed bride, Princess Bona, married Sigismund, King of Poland, in
1518, and six years later her mother died at Naples.

After Louis XII. left Milan, the severity of Trivulzio's rule, and the
violence and rapacity of the French soldiery, led to increasing
discontent among the people, who sighed for the good old days of Duke
Lodovico, when at least their life and property, and the honour of their
wives and daughters, were safe. Even on the day of the French king's
entry, Marino Sanuto remarks that Louis was displeased to find how few
of the people cried "France!" while the Venetians were greeted with
shouts of "Dogs!" and hardly dared show themselves in the streets. "We
have given the king his dinner," said a Milanese citizen; "you will be
served up for his supper!" Already, on the 21st of September, the
annalist of Ferrara wrote: "The French are hated in Milan for their
rudeness and arrogance." And a private letter, written by a Venetian
from Milan, in October, confirms Castiglione's account of the confusion
and disorder that reigned in the Castello.

"The French are dirty people. The king goes to hear mass without a
single candle, and eats alone, in the eyes of all the people. In the
Castello there is nothing but foulness and dirt, such as Signor Lodovico
would not have allowed for the whole world! The French captains spit
upon the floor of the rooms, and the soldiers outrage women in the
streets. The Ducheto has been taken from his mother, who weeps all day
long. Galeazzo is with Lodovico, Caiazzo with King Louis, Fracassa and
Antonio Maria are at Ferrara, and keep up an active correspondence with
Lodovico and Galeazzo."[79]

Meanwhile, at Innsbrück, the exiled duke was anxiously watching the
course of events, and awaiting a favourable moment to return and claim
his own. "I will beat the drum in winter and dance all the summer," was
the motto which he adopted, together with the device of a tambourine, in
reference to his future hopes. A letter which the well-known preacher,
Celso Maffei of Verona, addressed to him, moralizing over the causes of
his fall, and exhorting him to observe the laws of public and private
justice, gave Lodovico an opportunity of issuing a manifesto to his
adherents. In this curious document he defends his conduct, and declares
that he has no reason to reproach himself for anything in his past life.
He has always led a Christian life, given abundant alms, listened to
frequent masses, and said many prayers, especially since the death of
his dear wife Beatrice. He has ever had a strict regard for justice, no
complaint of his subjects has ever been left unheard, and since his
fall, no one has ever reproached him with injustice excepting the
Borromeos, whose alleged wrongs he explains, in a manner to justify his
own action. His whole desire has been to love his subjects as his own
children, and seek peace and prosperity for his realm. If he raised
heavy taxes, it was only in order to defend his people from their
enemies, and he never waged war excepting to resist the invasion of
hostile armies. Whatever mistakes he may have made, the Milanese have
never had reason to complain of him, and have proved this by their
fidelity, only a few captains having sold the fortresses in their charge
and joined the French. And in conclusion he appeals to his old subjects
to restore him once more to the throne of his ancestors.

His appeal was not in vain. Niccolo della Bussola and the architect
Jacopo da Ferrara, Leonardo's friend, arrived at Innsbrück in December,
bringing the duke word of the disaffection that reigned in Milan, and of
the prayers that were daily offered up for his return. Cheered by these
tidings, Lodovico determined to leave nothing undone on his part. He
pawned his jewels and began to raise forces both in the Tyrol and
Switzerland. In his eagerness to find allies, he applied to Henry VII.
of England, and even invited the Turks to attack the Venetians in
Friuli. Maximilian helped him with men and money, as far as his slender
resources would allow, and summoned the German Diet to meet at Augsburg
in February, in the hope of obtaining support from the electors. But the
Moro's impatience could brook no delay. At Christmas he came to Brixen,
and there succeeded in collecting a force of eight or ten thousand Swiss
and German _Landsknechten_, supported by a body of Stradiots and his own
Milanese horse. At the head of this little army, Lodovico left Brixen on
the 24th of January, and set out on his gallant but ill-fated attempt to
recover his dominions.

Meanwhile Girolamo Landriano, the General of the Umiliati, who had been
the first to yield Milan to the French, was actively engaged in plotting
the restoration of Lodovico, with the help of the leading ecclesiastics
in the city. "To say the truth," writes Jean d'Auton, "the whole duchy
of Milan was secretly in favour of Lodovico, and all the Lombards were
swollen with poison, and ready like vipers to shoot out the deadly venom
of their treason." A general rising was fixed for Candlemas Day, but so
well was the secret kept, that not a whisper reached the vigilant ears
of Trivulzio, and all remained quiet until the last few days of January.
On the 24th, a band of children at play, engaged in a mimic fight
between the supposed French and Milanese armies, ending with the rout of
the French and a procession in which the effigy of King Louis was
dragged through the streets tied to a donkey's tail. Some French
soldiers, who witnessed the scene, fired on the children, killing one
and wounding others, upon which the citizens rose in arms, and drove the
foreigners back into the Castello. This was followed by a more serious
riot on the 31st of January, and Trivulzio gave orders for a general
disarming of the people, which, however, he was unable to enforce.
Already news had reached Como that the Moro had crossed the Alps, and
was on his way to Milan.

The course of Lodovico's victorious march is best described in a letter
which he addressed to his sister-in-law, Isabella d'Este, on the day
after his triumphal entry into his old capital.

"ILLUSTRIOUS LADY AND DEAREST SISTER,

"On the 24th of last month we left Brixen by the grace of God, and
crossed Monte Braulio into the Valtellina with a body of
_Landsknechten_. Monsignore the Vice-chancellor, Messer Galeaz, and
Messer Visconti, went on before with the Swiss and Grison infantry, by
way of Coire and Chiavenna, and reached the lake of Como on the 30th.
Here M. Galeaz fitted out eleven ships, with which he attacked and put
to flight the enemy's fleet, and took a fortress occupied by the French.
Both the Castle of Bellagio and the town of Torno surrendered to His
Reverence, who pushed on with his troops to Como, where he met
Monsignore Sanseverino arriving from the Valtellina, and the two
cardinals together did the rest. Monsieur de Ligny and the Count of
Musocho"--Trivulzio's son--"who held the town with 1500 horse, fled at
the approach of the two Monsignori, knowing the feeling of the people,
and his Eminence entered Como amidst the greatest rejoicing in the
world. M. Galeaz and his light horse pursued the enemy, and Monsignore
pushed on towards Milan, hearing from our friends there that his arrival
was impatiently desired. On Friday, the last of January, some of the
people rose in arms, and M. Gian Giacomo fortified the Corte Vecchia and
the Duomo, and, with 2000 infantry, marched through the streets of the
armourers, the builders, and the hatters, to make a public
demonstration. But our friends waited, knowing that the right moment
had not yet come. On Sunday, the 2nd, the French captains, hearing of
the cardinals' approach, and knowing the strong feeling in the city,
assembled their troops early on the Piazza of the Castello. Our friends
were well prepared, and at the same moment all the bells rang, and the
whole city rose in arms. More than 60,000 people attacked the French,
and drove them back into the Castello, where they spent the night,
without forage for their horses, and on Monday morning, the day before
yesterday, they fled from Milan in terror. The bridges had been broken
down to hinder their passage, but, luckily for them, the Ticino was low,
and they crossed the bed of the river, and retired to Gaiata in safety.
And on Monday the Vice-chancellor entered Milan, amidst universal
rejoicing, and endeavoured to give chase to the French army, but had not
a sufficient number of horse to effect his object.

"On Monday morning we reached Como, after taking possession of the
castle on the rock of Musso, and were joyfully received all along the
lake, by the chief citizens and gentlemen of the district, who came out
in boats to meet us. At the gates of the city, the whole population
received us with incredible rejoicing and loud acclamations. Yesterday
we slept at Mirabello, a house of the Landriani, about a mile out of
Milan. All the way from Como crowds of gentlemen and citizens streamed
out to meet us on foot or on horseback, in continually increasing
numbers, and cries of _Moro! Moro!_ and shouts of joy greeted our steps,
whichever way we turned. This morning at sunrise we left Mirabello, and
entered the suburb of the Porta Nova, at the hour indicated by our
astrologer, but alighted at Gian Francesco da Vimercato's garden, and
waited there a little while, to give the gentlemen time to meet us, and
enter the city.

"The two cardinals rode out to meet us, and Messer Galeaz and many
gentlemen, with a great number of men-at-arms on foot and horseback, and
we marched all through the city and up to the Duomo. All the streets and
windows and roofs were thronged with people shouting our name, with such
rapture that it would be a thing almost incredible if we had not seen it
ourselves. And so with universal rejoicing we have returned here, by
the grace of God, and already we hear that Lodi, Piacenza, Pavia,
Tortona, and Alessandria have driven out the French, and returned of
their own free will to our allegiance. The castle of Trezzo has
surrendered, and that of Cassano has been fortified in our name by the
Marchesino, and all the towns on the Venetian frontier have declared for
us, and before long we hope to have recovered the whole state. The
Castello here is still held by 300 French soldiers, but it is badly
provided with victuals and fuel, and although they have saltpetre, there
is no charcoal to make gunpowder, so we are in good hope of recovering
the place, but do not mean to let this delay us for a moment in pursuing
our victorious course. The enemy is in full retreat, and we mean to
drive them back to the mountain passes, and have already sent M. Galeaz
early this morning with the infantry, and all the horse that we have, in
their pursuit. Monsignore Sanseverino is gone to-day, and we follow
to-morrow with all the horse we can collect and a good number of
infantry, the better to carry out our plans. We hear that the soldiers,
which were in Romagna, to the number of 250 lances, besides infantry,
have been recalled, and have reached Parma, and feel sure that your
lord, the Marquis of Mantua, and our other allies will pursue them, and
with their help, and the general rising of the people, we trust to
obtain complete victory. We tell your Highness these things the more
gladly because we feel sure that you have been grieved for our trouble,
and will rejoice with us at these fortunate successes. You will forgive
me for not writing in my own hand, because of pressing engagements.

                        "LODOVICUS MARIA SFORTIA,
                             _Anglus Dux Mediolani, etc., B. Chalcus_.

Milan, February 5, 1500."[80]

At the same time Lodovico wrote to Francesco Gonzaga--

"This morning we entered Milan, and it would be impossible to describe
the immense jubilation of the whole city and all classes of people, or
the extraordinary demonstrations of affection and good-will that we have
received on all sides. Our intention is to follow up our victory with
the utmost speed, to effect the complete destruction of our enemies, and
secure the passes neglecting no precaution. To-day we have sent
Monsignore Sanseverino on with ten thousand Germans, and intend to
follow with the remaining forces ourselves to-morrow. I hope your
Highness will attack and destroy the troops on their way from Romagna,
and if they are already gone, join with the forces of our allies and the
men of the country in their pursuit, according to the orders that we
have already issued."

This sudden revolution took all Italy by surprise. When couriers arrived
in Mantua and Ferrara, saying that Duke Lodovico had that day entered
Milan in triumph, people refused to believe the news. But it was true.
"The Moro has returned," wrote Jean d'Auton, "and has entered Milan,
where he has been received as if he were a God from heaven, great and
small shouting _Moro!_ with one accord. Verily these Lombards seem to
adore him. One and all implore him to drive out the French and become
their prince again." When the people saw the well-known form of their
old duke riding through the streets, clad in rich crimson damask, their
enthusiasm knew no bounds. The two cardinals were at his side, and
Messer Galeazzo rode behind him, in a suit of glittering brocade, with
tall white plumes in his cap and white shoes, "better fitted," remarks
the chronicler, "for the service of Venus than for that of Mars." They
took up their abode in the old palace of the Corte Vecchia, near the
Duomo, since the Castello was in the hands of the enemy, and the duke
issued a proclamation, calling on all loyal subjects to restore the
pictures, hangings, and other rare and precious objects, which had been
taken from the Castello. The wealthy citizens parted freely with their
gold and jewels, the Prior and friars of S. Maria delle Grazie melted
down their sumptuous altar-plate, and the canons of the Duomo brought
the duke those costly gifts which he had made them in his days of
prosperity. Having thus succeeded in raising 100,000 ducats, Lodovico
assembled the councillors, and harangued them in eloquent language,
reminding them of all they had suffered from the French tyranny, and
calling on them to join him in delivering their land from this
intolerable yoke. "I, too, have been guilty of mistakes and faults in
the past," he added, "but I will repair them. All I ask is to be your
captain, not your lord. Help me to drive out the stranger."

Before the week was over, Jacopo Andrea and his friends had succeeded
in obtaining the capitulation of the French garrison, and the Castello
was occupied by Cardinal Ascanio, whom Lodovico left with a small force
at Milan, while he himself went on to Pavia. It was on one of the few
days which he spent in Milan that his meeting with the Chevalier Bayard
took place, as recorded in the joyous chronicle of the loyal servant.
After a skirmish with some of Messer Galeazzo's horse at Binasco, the
young French knight who had been too eager in the pursuit of his foes
was taken prisoner, and brought before the duke at Milan. Lodovico,
wondering at his youth, asked him what brought him in such hurried guise
to Milan, and ended by restoring his sword and horse, and sending him
back to his friends under the escort of a herald, to tell Ligny of the
courteous treatment which he had received from the Moro, and to say what
a gallant gentleman Duke Lodovico was--"_qui pour peu de chose n'est pas
aisé à étonner_."

At Pavia the Moro was received with the same enthusiastic joy, and
during the fortnight that he remained there the Castello was bombarded
and taken by his artillery. The next week his native town of Vigevano
welcomed him with open arms, and the French garrison was forced to quit
the citadel. But the Venetians held Lodi and Piacenza, and the Duke of
Ferrara and Marquis of Mantua, however much they wished their kinsman
well, and secretly disliked the French, did not dare to incur their
vengeance by any rash action. In vain the Moro wrote passionate appeals
to Francesco Gonzaga from Pavia and Vigevano, urging him to come to his
help before it was too late, and pointing out how the safety and
well-being of Mantua depended upon that of Milan. All the marquis
ventured to do was to send his brother Giovanni, with a troop of horse,
to help Lodovico in the siege of Novara, which he now attacked with the
aid of fifty pieces of artillery sent from Innsbrück.

Meanwhile his foes were every day gaining strength. King Louis had
hastily collected a large army of French lances and Swiss mercenaries
under La Trémouille at Asti, who entered Lombardy, and marched to
relieve Trivulzio and Ligny at Mortara. On the other hand, the French
troops who had gone with Yves d'Allégre to assist Cæsar Borgia in the
siege of Forli and conquest of Romagna, speedily retraced their steps to
relieve the garrison of Novara. But they could not hold out against the
furious assaults of the Germans and Burgundians, and on the 21st of
March the castle surrendered, and the garrison marched out with the
honours of war. Two days afterwards La Trémouille reached Vercelli at
the head of his powerful army, and succeeded in effecting a junction
with Trivulzio's forces. This put an end to the Moro's brilliant
successes, and it became evident to all that the unequal contest could
not be maintained much longer. Seeing himself outnumbered and surrounded
on all sides, Lodovico threw himself into Novara, and early in April was
besieged there in his turn. But the Swiss, who formed the bulk of his
force, murmured because they were not allowed to pillage the towns, and
began to communicate secretly with their comrades in the hostile camp.
The Moro had sent Galeazzo Visconti to Berne, and at his request the
Helvetian Diet issued orders to the Swiss in both armies, forbidding
them to fight against their comrades. But the French envoy, Antoine de
Bussy, bribed the herald who bore the message to Novara, and only the
Swiss in the Moro's service received orders to lay down their arms. The
result was that when Lodovico's captains led them out to meet the enemy,
they refused to fight, and withdrew in confusion into the city. In vain
the duke offered them his silver plate and jewels, till he could obtain
money from Milan, and begged them to return to the battle. In vain
Galeazzo, at the head of his Lombards, charged the foe gallantly,
killing many of them with his artillery and putting the others to
flight. He and his brothers fought desperately, till the sword was
broken in Galeazzo's hands and Fracassa was badly wounded. But all their
heroism was of no avail. Trivulzio was already in secret treaty with the
Swiss, who sent a deputy to the French camp, asking for leave to lay
down their arms and return to their own country.

Antonio Grumello, who was in Novara at the time, describes how late one
evening, when the duke sat playing chess with Fracassa in the bishop's
palace, where he lodged, a spy was led in, who told him that Trivulzio
had boasted that the Moro would be his captive in less than a
fortnight. "What do you say?" asked Lodovico of Almodoro, the
astrologer, who had followed him into exile. But Almodoro shook his
head. It was impossible; no planet foretold such a disaster; on the
contrary, all the signs were propitious, and he spoke confidently of
coming victory. "On Wednesday in Holy Week," continued the chronicler,
"the betrayal of Judas began." That day, as Galeazzo was preparing for
another sally, the Swiss came to him in a body and laid down their arms,
saying they would not fight against their comrades in the other camp.
Already one of the gates had been treacherously opened, and the French
were in the city. In this extremity an Albanian captain offered the duke
a fleet Arab horse and begged him to escape. But Lodovico refused to
desert his friends, and would only accept the proposal of the Swiss
captains that he and his companions should assume the garb of common
soldiers and mingle in the ranks. He covered his crimson silk vest and
scarlet hose, hid his long hair under a tight cap, and took a halberd in
his hand. In this disguise he was preparing to file out of the camp in
the ranks of the Grison troops, when a Swiss captain named Turman, and
called Soprasasso by the Italians, betrayed him to the French. The
Swiss, it is said, received 30,000 ducats as the price of blood from
Trivulzio, but were discontented with the sum, and quarrelled violently
over the gold among themselves; while the traitor had his head cut off
on his return home, and such were the execrations heaped upon him by his
comrades, that his wife and children were forced to change their name.
"_E lo quello_"--"There he is"--were the words in which Turman pointed
Lodovico out to a French captain, who immediately laid his hand on the
duke's arm and arrested him in the name of King Louis. "_Son contento_,"
replied Lodovico, calmly; and made no further resistance. "I surrender,"
he said afterwards, "to my kinsman, Monsignore de Ligny." Accordingly he
was delivered to Ligny, who treated him with all respect, and provided
him with a horse and apparel suited to his rank.

It is said that at first he declined to meet Trivulzio, but the
chronicler Prato describes an interview which took place between the
duke and his former captain soon afterwards. Trivulzio, in whose heart
the old wrong still rankled, greeted his captive with the words, "It is
you, Lodovico Sforza, who drove me out for the sake of a stranger, and,
not content with this, have stirred the Milanese to rebellion." Lodovico
merely shrugged his shoulders, and replied quietly, "Who among us can
tell the reason why we love one man and hate another?"

"And so," adds Grumello, "poor Lodovico was taken captive, and with him
Galeazzo and Fracassa; but Galeazzo became the prisoner of the Swiss,
and was led away by these Helvetians on a black horse without a saddle,
riding on a sack. And I saw this with my own eyes."

All three of the Sanseverini brothers were claimed by the Bailiff of
Dijon as his prisoners, but Antonio Maria managed to escape from their
hands, and both Fracassa and Galeazzo were ransomed by their relatives
for one thousand ducats a-piece at the end of a few weeks. Fracassa
sought his wife at Ferrara, and Galeazzo took refuge with the other
Milanese exiles at Innsbrück. The Marchesino Stanga, who was also taken
captive at Novara, was imprisoned in the Castello of Milan, and died
there before the end of the year.

On the evening of his capture, Wednesday, the 10th of April, Lodovico
was taken to the citadel of Novara, where he remained for a week. His
faithful friends, the good friars of S. Maria delle Grazie, supplied
their illustrious patron with a set of silk and gold and silver brocade
vests, hats and shoes to match, scarlet hose, and fine Reims linen
shirts. All Lodovico himself asked for was a copy of Dante's "Divina
Commedia," that he might study it during his captivity. On the 17th he
was conducted by La Trémouille, accompanied by four servants and two
pages, to Susa, where he became so ill that he was unable to continue
the journey. After a few days' rest he recovered, and was taken over the
mountains to Lyons, in charge of M. de Crussol and the king's band of
archers.

Great were the rejoicings among the Moro's enemies when the news of his
capture was made known. King Louis ordered solemn _Te Deums_ to be
chanted in Notre Dame of Paris, and himself went in state to give thanks
in the church of Our Lady of Comfort at Lyons, while he extolled La
Trémouille as another Clovis or Charles Martel in his despatches. The
Pope gave the messenger who brought the news a gift of a hundred ducats,
for joy, he said, that the traitor-brood was annihilated. The Orsini
lighted bonfires, and the jubilee rejoicings waxed louder and longer
through the night. Cardinal Ascanio's palace, with all his treasures of
art, was seized by Alexander VI., and his benefices were divided among
the pontiff's creatures. In Venice the Piazza was illuminated and all
the bells rung, while the children and boatmen sang--

    "Ora il Moro fa la danza,
    Viva Marco e 'l re di Franza!"

and dancing and pageants celebrated the downfall of the Republic's most
dreaded foe. Even in Florence the citizens rejoiced over the fall of
another tyrant, and raised a crucifix at the doors of the Palazzo
Pubblico to commemorate the victory of freedom. Had they known it, they
were in reality celebrating the loss of national independence, the
beginning of a long reign of slavery and foreign rule. Seldom has the
cause of freedom and civilization suffered a worse blow than this
betrayal of the Moro at Novara, which left the Milanese a prey to French
invaders, and planted the yoke of the stranger firmly on the neck of
Northern Italy.

At the news of his brother's capture, Ascanio Sforza left Milan to seek
refuge across the Alps, but was himself taken prisoner, with his nephew
Ermes, at the Castle of Rivolta, near Piacenza, by the Venetians, who
delivered them up to the French king. Both were taken to France, and the
cardinal was detained in honourable captivity in the citadel of Bourges,
until, in January, 1502, he was released to take part in the conclave
that elected Pius III. With Trivulzio's return to Milan a reign of
terror began. The city was heavily fined, the partisans of the Sforza
were exiled or imprisoned, Niccolo da Bussola and Leonardo's beloved
friend, Jacopo Andrea, were hung, and their limbs drawn and quartered
and exposed to view on the battlements of the Castello, in spite of Duke
Ercole's intercession on behalf of the distinguished architect. Pavia
was sacked by the French, and Lombardy paid with tears and blood for
its loyalty to the race of Sforza. The period of anarchy and confusion
which followed is described in mournful language by the Milanese
chroniclers. During the next forty years, the city was continually taken
and sacked by contending armies, her fair parks and gardens were
trampled underfoot by foreign soldiery, and her beautiful churches and
palaces destroyed by shells and cannon-balls. French and German ruffians
tore the clothes off the backs of the poor, and snatched the bread from
the lips of starving children. People were everywhere seen dying of
hunger and the grass growing in the squares. There were no voices in the
streets, often no services in the churches. Silence and desolation
reigned throughout the unhappy city. "Blessed indeed," sighs the writer,
"were those who were able to seek shelter in flight." Beyond the borders
of Lombardy, there were others who grieved over the Moro's fall. In
Mantua and Ferrara his friends shed secret tears over his fate. "Duke
Ercole is very sad," writes our friend the annalist, "for his
son-in-law's sake, and so are all the people." And Caterina Sforza, in
her lonely captivity within the walls of the Castel' Sant' Angelo, wept
over her uncle's ruin and the downfall of her race. Far away in
Florence, one artist, who had lived in close intimacy with the Moro for
many a long year, who had discussed a hundred problems and planned all
manner of mighty works with him, heard the news with a pang of regret.
Leonardo had been in Venice with Lorenzo da Pavia, the great
organ-master, when the wonderful tidings of the duke's return had come.
He and Lorenzo must have smiled when they saw the long faces and
sinister air of the grave Venetian senators at this unexpected turn of
affairs. Eagerly they watched and waited and wondered if these things
could be really true, and if the Moro were to reign once more on his
fathers' throne, and carry out all the great dreams of his soul. And now
it was all over, and the French were supreme in Milan, and the great
horse on which the master had spent the best years of his life was used
as a target for the arrows of Gascon archers. The duke and Messer Galeaz
were captives, Sforzas and Viscontis were in prison or exile, and Jacopo
Andrea had died a cruel death. On Leonardo the blow fell with crushing
force; but he held his peace, and only the few broken sentences in his
notebook remain to tell of his shattered hopes and of his inconsolable
regrets.

"The Saletta above ... (left unfinished).

"Bramante's buildings ... (left undone).

"The Castellano a prisoner ...

"Visconti in prison--his son dead.

"Gian della Rosa's revenues seized.

"Bergonzio"--the duke's treasurer--"deprived of his fortune.

"The duke has lost state, fortune, and liberty, and not one of his works
has been completed."

In these last melancholy words we read Lodovico Sforza's epitaph,
pronounced over him by Leonardo the Florentine.

FOOTNOTES:

[79] M. Sanuto, _Diarii_, iii.

[80] Luzio-Renier, _op. cit._, p. 672.



CHAPTER XXXI

Lodovico Sforza enters Lyons as a captive--His imprisonment at
Pierre-Encise and Lys Saint-Georges--Laments over Il Moro in the popular
poetry of France and Italy--Efforts of the Emperor Maximilian to obtain
his release--Ascanio and Ermes Sforza released--Lodovico removed to
Loches--Paolo Giovio's account of his captivity--His attempt to
escape--Dungeon at Loches--Death of Lodovico Sforza--His burial in S.
Maria delle Grazie.

1500-1508


On the 2nd of May, 1500, barely a month after Lodovico Sforza's
triumphant return to Milan, the ancient city of Lyons witnessed a
strange and mournful procession, in which he was again the central
figure. That day the King of France's captive was led along the banks of
the swift Rhone and through the Grande Rue up to the fortress of
Pierre-Encise, on the top of the steep hill that crowns the old Roman
city. The scene has been described in a well-known letter by an
eye-witness, the Venetian ambassador Benedetto Trevisano, one of the
envoys who had been sent, three years before, to meet the emperor on his
descent into Italy, and whom the Duke of Milan had entertained royally
at Vigevano. The fierce and vindictive tone of the writer, the exultant
spirit in which he triumphs over the fallen foe, is another proof of the
terror and hatred which the Moro inspired in Venice. Trevisano's letter
was written on the evening of the 2nd of May, and addressed to the Doge.

"To-day, before two o'clock, Signor Lodovico was brought into the city.
The following was the order of the procession: first came twelve
officers of the city guard, to restrain the people who thronged the
streets from shouting. Then came the Governor of Lyons and Provost of
Justice on horseback, and then the said Signor Lodovico, clad in a black
camlet vest with black hose and riding-boots, and a black cloth
_berretta_, which he held most of the time in his hand. He looked about
him as if determined to hide his feelings in this great change of
fortune, but his face was very pale and he looked very ill, although he
had been shaved this morning, and his arms trembled and he shook all
over. Close beside him rode the captain of the king's archers, followed
by a hundred of his men. In this order they led him all through the
town, up to the castle on the hill, where he will be well guarded for
the next week, until the iron cage is ready, which will be his room both
by night and day. The cage, I hear, is very strong, and made of iron
framed in wood, in such a manner that the iron bars, instead of breaking
under a file or any other instrument, would throw out sparks of fire.
One thing I must not forget to tell you. The ambassador of Spain and I
were together at a window when Signor Lodovico passed, and when the
Spaniard was pointed out to him, he took off his hat and bowed. And
being told that I was the ambassador of your Serene Highness, he
stopped, and seemed about to speak. But I did not move, and the captain
of the archers, who rode by him, said, 'Go on--go on!' Afterwards the
captain mentioned this to the king, who said, 'Do you mean that he
refused to pay you any reverence?' adding that such men as this who do
not keep faith are bad, and so on. And I replied that I should have felt
shame rather than honour if I had received any sign of courtesy from a
person of this kind. The king was in his palace, and had seen Signor
Lodovico pass, and with him were many other lords and gentlemen, who
spoke much of the Moro. His Christian Majesty said that he had decided
not to send him to Loches as he had intended, because at certain seasons
of the year he himself goes there with his court for his amusement, and
would rather not be there with him, as he does not wish to see him. So
he has decided to send him to Lys in Berry, two leagues from the city of
Bourges, where the king has a very strong castle with trenches wider
than those of the Castello of Milan, full of water. This place is in the
centre of France, and is kept by a gentleman, who was captain of the
archers when his Majesty was Duke of Orleans, and had a body of tried
guards who were trained by the king himself. When the Moro alighted from
the mule which he rode, he was carried into the castle, and is, I am
told, so weak that he cannot walk a step without help. From this I judge
that his days will be few. I commend myself humbly to your Serene
Highness.

"BENEDICTUS TREVISANUS.[81]
                    _Eques. Orator_."

Fortunately, the iron cage seems to have been a fable invented by the
Venetian ambassador, and from all accounts the prisoner was well and
honourably treated, although the king absolutely refused his request to
see him during the fortnight that he remained in the fortress at Lyons.
He received visits, however, from several of the king's ministers, who
all remarked that if he had been guilty of some foolish actions his
words were remarkably wise--"_toutefois moult sagement parloit_." Anger
gave place to pity at the sight of this victim who had suffered so
terrible a reverse of fortune, and the Benedictine chronicler, Jean
d'Auton, deplores the sad fate of this unfortunate prince, who, after
many golden days of wealth and prosperity, was doomed to end his life in
weary and lonely captivity far from house and friends: "_Somme, si le
pauvre Seigneur captif, de deuil inconsolable avoit le coeur serrè a nul
devoit sembler merveilles_." The sorrowful destiny of the "_infelice
Duca_," who had once boasted himself to be the favourite of
fortune--"_Il Figlio della Fortuna_"--became the burden of popular
poetry, alike in France and Italy. Jean d'Auton himself gives vent to
his feelings in an elegy on the vanity of earthly glories--

    "Si Ludovic, qui jadys pleine cacque
    Heut de ducatz et pouvoir magnifique,
    Est en exil, sans targe, escu ne placque,
    Captif, afflict, plus mausain que cung heticque,
    Et que, de main hostile et inimique,
    Malheur le fiere rudement et estocque--
    Gloire mondaine est fragile et caducque."

The grief of the Milanese bards for their duke's cruel fate found
utterance in the following lament:

    Son quel duca in Milano
    Che compianto sto in dolore ...
    Io diceva che un sel Dio
    Era in cielo e un Moro in terra--
    E secondo il mio disio
    Io faveva pace e guerra
    Son quel duca di Milano," etc.

Fausto Andrelino wrote a Latin poem beginning with the lines--

    "Ille ego sum Maurus, franco qui captus ab hoste
    Exemplum instabilis non leve sortis eo;"

and Jean Marot found inspiration in a Venetian song--"Ogni fumo viene al
basso"--which he rendered in the following lines, alluding to the legend
of the Moro's fresco in the Castello of Milan:--

    "Jadiz fist paindre une dame, embellie
    Par sur sa robe, des villes d'Ytalie
    Et luy au près tenant des epoussetes,
    Voullant dire, par superbe follie,
    Que l'Ytalie estoit toute sonillie
    Et qu'il voulloit faire les villes nettes.
    Le roi Loys, voulant ravoir ses mettes,
    Par bonne guerre luy a fait tel ennuy
    Que l'Ytalie est nettoyé de lui!
    Chose usurpée legier est consommée,
    Comme argent vif qui retourne en fumée."

From Lyons the captive duke was removed to Lys Saint-Georges in Berry,
where he remained during the next four years in the charge of Gilbert
Bertrand, the king's old captain of the guard. He was allowed to take
exercise in the precincts of the castle and to fish in the moat.
According to Sanuto, he was not wholly cut off from his friends. "Since
he likes to know what is happening in the world outside, the king allows
him to receive letters and to hear the news." But his health suffered
from the confinement, and in the summer of 1501, he became so ill that
Louis XII., who was hunting in the neighbourhood, sent his doctor,
Maitre Salomon, to see him. The physician was shocked at the prisoner's
altered appearance; his long hair, as we learn from a contemporary
miniature, had turned entirely white, and there were black circles round
his eyes. He sighed constantly, complained of the faithless subjects who
had caused his ruin, and asked eagerly for the latest news of the treaty
with the King of the Romans. Maitre Salomon told the king that he
believed Signor Lodovico was losing his reason, and his account moved
Louis so much that he sent to Milan for one of the duke's favourite
dwarfs, in order to beguile the weary hours of captivity. Meanwhile, in
justice to Maximilian, it must be said that he was untiring in his
efforts to obtain the release of his friend and kinsman. For many years
he steadily refused to grant Louis XII. the investiture of Milan, unless
Lodovico was set at liberty, and repeated his solicitations to this
effect with the most unwearied pertinacity. On this point, however, the
French king was inexorable. He knew the hold which the Moro had retained
on the hearts of his subjects, and would not run the risk of another
rebellion by allowing Lodovico to join his children at Innsbrück. At the
prayer of the Empress Bianca, he released her brother, Ermes Sforza, in
1502, and a year later allowed Ascanio Sforza to return to Rome, at the
request of Cardinal d'Amboise, and give his vote in the papal conclave.
After the accession of his old enemy, Giuliano della Rovere, to the
papal throne, Cardinal Sforza once more attained a high degree of honour
and prosperity, and when he died, in 1505, Julius II. raised the
magnificent monument in the church of S. Maria del Popolo to his memory.
In February, 1504, the German ambassador made another strong appeal to
the king on his master's behalf for Lodovico's release, but the only
concession that he could obtain was some relaxation in the rigour of his
treatment. The duke was removed to the château of Loches in Touraine, a
healthy and beautiful spot, on the summit of a lofty hill, and was
allowed greater liberty and more society.

All contemporary writers agree that he bore his long and tedious
captivity with remarkable patience and fortitude. "I have heard," writes
the Como historian, Paolo Giovio, "from Pier Francesco da Pontremoli,
who was the duke's faithful companion and servant during his captivity,
that he bore his miserable condition with pious resignation and
sweetness, often saying that God had sent him these tribulations as a
punishment for the sins of his youth, since nothing but the sudden might
of destiny could have subverted the counsels of human wisdom."

Early in the spring of 1508, the Moro seems to have made a desperate
attempt to escape. According to the Milanese chronicler Prato, he bribed
one of his guardians, with gold supplied, as we learn, from Padre
Gattico, by the friars of S. Maria delle Grazie, and succeeded in making
his way out of the castle gates hidden in a waggon load of straw. But he
lost his way in the woods that surround Loches, and after wandering all
night in search of the road to Germany, he was discovered on the
following day by blood-hounds, who were put upon his track. After this,
his captivity became more severe. He was deprived of books and writing
materials and cut off from intercourse with the outer world. It was
then, too, in all likelihood, that he was confined in the subterranean
dungeon, still shown as the Moro's prison. The cell, as visitors to
Loches remember, is cut out of the solid rock, and light and air can
only penetrate by one narrow loophole. There, tradition says, Leonardo's
patron, the great duke who had once reigned over Milan, beguiled the
weary hours of his captivity by painting red and blue devices and
mottoes on his prison walls. Among these rude attempts at decoration we
may still discover traces of a portrait of himself in casque and armour,
and a sun-dial roughly scratched on the stone opposite the slit in the
rock. And there, too, half effaced by the damp, are fragments of
inscriptions, which tell the same piteous tale of regret for vanished
days and weary longings for the end that would not come.

    "Quand Mort me assault et que je ne puis mourir
    Et se courir on ne me veult, mais me faire rudesse
    Et de liesse me voir bannir. Que dois je plus guèrir?"

Or this--

"Je porte en prison pour ma device que je m'arme de patience par force
de peine que l'on me fait pouster" (porter) . .

Again, in large letters among the fragment of red and blue paint, we
read--

    "Celui qui ne craint fortune n'est pas bien saige."

Even more pathetic, when we recall the joyous days at Milan and
Vigevano, where Lodovico listened to readings from Dante in Beatrice's
rooms, is the following version of Francesca da Rimini's famous lines:--

    "Il n'y au monde plus grande destresse,
    Du bon tempts soi souvenir en la tristesse."

At length death brought the desired release. Marino Sanuto briefly
records the fact in the following words: "On the 17th day of May, 1508,
at Loches, Signor Lodovico Sforza, formerly Duke of Milan, who was there
in prison, died as a good Christian with the rites of the Catholic
Church." All we know besides is that his faithful servant, Pier
Francesco, was with him to the end, and closed his eyes in the last
sleep. To this day the place of his burial remains unknown. A local
tradition says that he was interred in the church of Loches at the
entrance of the choir, but a manuscript account of the Sieur Dubuisson's
travels in 1642, preserved in the Mazarin Library, states that Ludovic
Sforza sleeps in the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre on the eastern side of
the church. On his death-bed, it is said, he desired to be buried in the
church of the Dominican friars at Tarascon, but we never hear if his
wishes were carried out, and no trace of his burial is to be found in
this place. On the whole we are inclined to think the most trustworthy
authority on the subject is the Dominican historian of S. Maria delle
Grazie, Padre Gattico. In the history of the convent which he wrote a
hundred and fifty years after the Moro's death, he tells us that the
friars of his convent supplied the duke with means for his unfortunate
attempt to escape, and that this having failed, after his death they
removed his body to Milan, and buried him by the side of his wife,
Duchess Beatrice. This may very well have been effected during the reign
of Lodovico's son Maximilian, who was restored to his father's throne in
1512, and would explain the uncertainty which has always existed at
Loches as to the Moro's grave, and the absence of any inscription to
mark his burial-place.

For Lodovico's sake, let us hope, the good Dominican's story is true. It
is good to think that, after all the distress of those long years of
exile and captivity, the unfortunate prince should have been brought
back to rest in his own sunny Milanese, under Bramante's cupola, in the
tomb where he had wished to lie, at Beatrice's side. There, during the
next three centuries, masses were duly said for the repose of Duke
Lodovico's soul and that of his wife, on the four anniversaries sacred
to their memory, "in gratitude," writes Padre Pino, "for all the
benefactions that we have received from this duke and duchess." And to
this day, on the Feast of All Souls, the stone floor immediately in
front of the high altar, where Beatrice's monument once stood, is
solemnly censed, year by year, in memory of the illustrious dead who
sleep there, in Lodovico's own words, "until the day of resurrection."

FOOTNOTES:

[81] M. Sanuto. _Diarii_, iii. 320.



CHAPTER XXXII

The Milanese exiles at Innsbrück--Galeazzo di Sanseverino becomes Grand
Ecuyer of France--Is slain at Pavia--Maximilian Sforza made Duke of
Milan in 1512--Forced to abdicate by Francis I. in 1515--Reign of
Francesco Sforza--Wars of France and Germany--Siege of Milan by the
Imperialists--Duke Francesco restored by Charles V.--His marriage and
death in 1535--Removal of Lodovico and Beatrice's effigies to the
Certosa.

1500-1564


After the catastrophe of Novara and the final ruin of the Moro's cause,
his loyal kinsfolk and followers were reduced to melancholy straits. A
document among the Italian papers in the Bibliothèque Nationale gives a
long list of the Milanese exiles who, in the year 1503, were living in
exile, and whose lands and fortunes had been granted to French nobles or
Italians who had embraced Louis XII.'s party. Among them we recognize
many familiar names, Crivellis, Bergaminis, Marlianis, and Viscontis,
who had served Duke Lodovico loyally and now shared in his disgrace.
Many of these took refuge at Ferrara and Mantua; others went to Rome or
lived in retirement on Venetian territory, while as many as two hundred
and fifty were living at one time at Innsbrück. A few of these were
pardoned in course of years, and obtained leave to return to their
Lombard homes, but by far the greater number died in exile.

Chief among those courtiers and captains of the Moro who found refuge at
Maximilian's court were the Sanseverino brothers. Two of these, Fracassa
and Antonio Maria, were soon reconciled with King Louis by the powerful
influence of their brothers, the Count of Caiazzo and Cardinal
Sanseverino. For Galeazzo, the son-in-law and prime favourite of the
Moro, a strange future was in store. After his brilliant years at the
court of Milan, he, too, tasted how salt the bread of exile is, and how
bitter it is to depend on the charity of others. In 1503, he was still
living at Innsbrück, where Sanuto describes him as always dressed in
black and looking very sorrowful, and held of little account by the
German courtiers, although Maximilian always treated him kindly. He
accompanied the Emperor to the Diet at Augsburg, and took an active part
in his various efforts to obtain Lodovico's deliverance. But a year
later, when all hope of obtaining Lodovico's release was at an end, a
fresh attempt seems to have been made by the Sanseverino family to
reconcile Galeazzo with King Louis. He came to Milan and saw the
Cardinal d'Amboise, who embraced his cause warmly, and a petition for
the restoration of Galeazzo's houses and estates, as well as the fortune
of 240,000 ducats which he had inherited from his wife Bianca, was
addressed to the King. The result was that he soon received a summons to
the French court, where he quickly won the royal favour, and on the
death of Pierre d'Urfé a year later, was appointed Grand Ecuyer de
France. From that time Galeazzo became one of Louis XII.'s chief
favourites, and seldom left the king's side. In 1507 he attended Louis
XII. when he entered Milan for the second time, and was a conspicuous
figure in the grand tournament that was held on the Piazza of the
Castello. Once more he came back to the scene of his old triumphs, under
these changed circumstances, and played a leading part in the wars that
distracted the Milanese. Under Francis I., Galeazzo rose still higher in
the royal favour, and won a signal victory over his old rival Trivulzio.
The Grand Ecuyer boldly asserted his right to Castel Novo, which Louis
XII. had granted to Trivulzio after the conquest of Milan, and, at the
age of seventy, the old soldier came to Paris to plead his cause against
Messer Galeazzo. But the suit was given against him, and he was thrown
into prison for contempt of the king's majesty, and died at Chartres in
1518, bitterly rueing the day when he had entered the service of a
foreign prince and led the French against Milan. Galeazzo triumphed once
more, and kept up his reputation as a gallant soldier and brilliant
courtier, until, in 1525, he was slain in the battle of Pavia, under
the walls of the Castello, where, thirty-five years before, he had been
wedded to Bianca Sforza.

Meanwhile Beatrice's sons grew up at Innsbrück, under the care of their
cousin, the Empress Bianca. It was a melancholy life for these young
princes, born in the purple and reared in all the luxury and culture of
Milan. And when their cousin Bianca died in 1510, they lost their best
friend. But a sudden and unexpected turn of the tide brought them once
more to the front. That warlike pontiff, Julius II., who, as Cardinal
della Rovere, had been one of the chief instruments in bringing the
French into Italy, entered into a league with Maximilian to expel them
and reinstate the son of the hated Moro on the throne of Milan. They
succeeded so well that, in 1512, four years after Lodovico's death at
Loches, young Maximilian Sforza entered Milan in triumph, amidst the
enthusiastic applause of the people. Once more he rode up to the gates
of the Castello where he was born, and took up his abode there as
reigning duke. But his rule over Lombardy was short. A handsome, gentle
youth, without either his father's talents or his mother's high spirit,
Maximilian was destined to become a passive tool in the hands of
stronger and more powerful men. His weakness and incapacity soon became
apparent, and when, three years later, the new French king, Francis I.,
invaded the Milanese, and defeated the Italian army at Marignano, the
young duke signed an act of abdication, and consented to spend the rest
of his life in France. There he lived in honourable captivity, content
with a pension allowed him by King Francis and with the promise of a
cardinal's hat held out to him by the Pope, until he died, in May, 1530,
and was buried in the Duomo of Milan. His brother Francesco was a far
more spirited and courageous prince, who might have proved an admirable
ruler in less troublous times, but was doomed to experience the
strangest vicissitudes of fortune. After the second conquest of Milan by
the French, he retired to Tyrol, until, in 1521, Pope Leo X. combined
with Charles V. to oppose Francis I., and restore the Sforzas. Their
aims were crowned with success, and by the end of the year Francesco
Sforza was proclaimed Duke of Milan, only to be driven from his throne
again three years later. After the defeat of Pavia, the young duke, who
had won the love of all his subjects, was again restored; but having
entered into a league with the Pope and Venice to expel the
Imperialists, incurred the displeasure of Charles V., and was besieged
in the Castello by the Connétable de Bourbon, who at length forced him
to surrender. A prolonged struggle followed, in which Francesco Sforza
was often worsted, and at one time forced to retire to Como. In the end,
however, he was restored to the throne by Charles V., whose favour he
succeeded in recovering, when, in 1530, that monarch visited Italy to
receive the imperial crown. At length this long-distracted realm enjoyed
an interval of peace, and a brighter day seemed about to dawn for the
unhappy Milanese.

The young duke was very popular with the people, who rejoiced in having
a prince of their own once more, and who, in Guicciardini's words,
looked to see a return of that felicity which they had enjoyed during
his father's reign. When, in 1534, he married Charles V.'s niece,
Christina of Denmark, the splendour of the wedding _fêtes_, the balls
and tournaments that took place in the Castello, recalled the glories of
Lodovico's reign and the marriage of the Empress Bianca. The charms of
the youthful bride revived the memory of the duke's mother, Beatrice
d'Este, and a richly illuminated book of prayers, prepared in honour of
this occasion, and adorned with miniatures and Sforza devices, bore
witness to Francesco's artistic tastes, and showed his desire to tread
in his father's steps. But these bright prospects were soon clouded. The
young duke became seriously ill, owing to a dangerous wound which he had
received from an assassin, Bonifazio Visconti, twelve years before, and,
after lingering through the summer months, he died on All Souls' Day,
1535, to the consternation of the whole Milanese, On the 19th of
November the last of the Sforzas was buried with royal pomp in the Duomo
of Milan, and his childless widow, the youthful Duchess Christina,
retired to the city of Tortona, which had been given her as her marriage
portion. Her portrait, painted by the hand of Holbein, is familiar to us
all as well as "the few words she wisely spoke," when, in reply to Henry
VIII.'s offer of marriage, she said "that unfortunately she had only one
head, but that if she had two, one should be at his Majesty's service."

[Illustration: Tomb of Lodovico Sforza and Beatrice d'Este Contessa of
Pavia.]

A week or two later, Lodovico Sforza's only remaining son, Gianpaolo,
the child of Lucrezia Crivelli, who had fought gallantly against French
and Imperialists in defence of his brother's rights, died on his way to
Naples. With him the last claimant to the throne of the Sforzas passed
away. The duchy of Milan reverted to the Imperial crown, and this fair
and prosperous realm sank into a mere province of Charles V.'s vast
empire.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thirty years after the last Sforza duke had been laid in his grave, the
noble monument which the Moro had raised to his wife's memory in S.
Maria delle Grazie was broken up. The friars who had known Lodovico and
revered his memory were dead and gone, and the Prior then in office,
seized with iconoclastic zeal, ordered the monument to be removed from
the choir, in accordance with a canon of the Council of Trent. The tomb
was taken to pieces, and Cristoforo Solari's beautiful effigies of the
duke and duchess were offered for sale. Fortunately, the news of this
act of vandalism reached the ears of the Carthusians at Pavia, and
remembering how much they owed to the Moro's generosity, they sent word
to a Milanese citizen, Oldrado Lampugnano, to purchase the two marble
statues for the Certosa. Oldrado, whose father had been exiled after the
Moro's fall, and who was himself a loyal partisan of the house of
Sforza, bought Solari's effigies for the small sum of thirty-eight
ducats, and removed them to the Certosa, "that shrine which had been so
often visited by the said duke and duchess in their lifetime, and for
which they had ever shown the greatest love and honour."

There we see them to-day--Lodovico with the hooked nose and bushy
eyebrows, in all the pride of his ducal robes, and Beatrice at his side,
in the charm and purity of her youthful slumber, surrounded by other
memorials of Sforzas and Viscontis, wrought with the same exquisite art
and enriched with the same wealth of ornament. After all, these marble
forms could hardly find a better home than the great Lombard sanctuary
which was so closely linked with the brightest days of Beatrice's wedded
life, and which to the last remained the object of Lodovico Sforza's
care and love.



INDEX


A

Agnese di Maino, 16

Albergati, 151

Aldo Manuzio, 30, 126, 131, 153, 261

Alessandro Manuzio, 131

Alexander VI. (Pope), 156 f., 165, 178, 221, 223, 249, 255 f., 295,
337 f., 364

Alfonso of Calabria, 17, 28, 43, 46, 112, 118 f., 177 f., 184, 221, 223,
225 f., 232, 236, 249, 253, 255, 257

Alfonso d'Este, 5, 8, 48, 51, 58, 100, 149, 159, 165, 174, 180, 186,
190 f., 198, 200, 206, 222, 253, 259, 323, 351

Alfonso Gonzaga, 71

Alvise Marliani, 127, 324

Almodoro, 362

d'Amboise (Cardinal), 349, 371

Ambrogio Borgognone, 104

Ambrogio da Corte, 167, 206

Ambrogio Ferrari, 66, 144, 345

Ambrogio de Predis, 209, 218, 303

Ambrogio da Rosate, 61, 120, 127, 145, 168, 224, 236, 272, 324

André de la Vigne, 234

Andrea Cagnola, 240

Andrea Cossa, 35, 276

Andrea Mantegna, 50 f., 153, 328

Andrea Salai, 139

Angelo Poliziano, 129, 131, 147

Angelo Talenti, 179, 272, 293

Angelo Testagrossa, 152

Anna Sforza, 8, 43, 48, 70, 78, 169 f., 180 f., 186, 190 f., 198, 200,
253, 259, 323

Anna Solieri, 279

Anne de Beaujeu, 113

Anne of Bourbon, 235

Anne of Brittany, 113 f., 160, 290

Annibale Bentivoglio, 36, 71 ff.

Antoine de Bussy, 361

Anton Maria de Collis, 259

Antonio Calco, 120

Antonio Cammelli (Pistoia), 140, 144 f., 148, 150, 296

Antonio Costabili, 308, 327

Antonio da Landriano, 240, 338, 343

Antonio da Monza, 63, 332, 348

Antonio del Balzo, 156

Antonio di Campo Fregoso, 142, 150

Antonio Grifo, 142

Antonio Grimani, 292

Antonio Grumello, 361, 363

Antonio Loredano, 113

Antonio Maria Pallavicini, 342, 347

Antonio Maria Sanseverino, 151, 232, 272, 279, 342-347, 354, 375

Antonio of Salerno, 112

Antonio Stanga, 223, 226

Antonio Tassino, 22, 24 f.

Antonio Tebaldeo, 35, 144

Antonio Trivulzio (Bishop of Como), 186, 202 f., 293, 344, 347

Antonio Visconti, 261

Ariosto, 36, 87, 149, 159, 207

Art and learning at Ferrara, 31-39;
  at Milan, 128 ff.;
  at Pavia, 126 ff.

Ascanio Sforza, 16, 24, 41, 56, 73, 152, 156, 163, 165, 171, 222 f., 228,
253, 255, 262, 338, 343 f., 360, 364, 371

Atalante Migliorotti, 151 ff.

Azzo Visconti, 333


B

Baldassare Castiglione, 351

Baldassare Pusterla, 240, 250

Baldassare Taccone, 150, 210

Barone, 76, 232, 251, 298

Bartolommeo Calco, 114, 125 f., 131

Bartolommeo Scotti (Count), 58

Battista Fregoso, 316

Battista Guarino, 28 f., 36

Battista Sfondrati, 317

Battista Visconti, 344

Beatrice of Aragon, 4

Beatrice de' Contrari, 58

Beatrice di Correggio, 169, 323

Beatrice d'Este (the elder), 4, 22

Beatrice d'Este: birth, 4;
  early life, at Naples, 6 f.;
  betrothal to Lodovico Sforza, 8;
  portraits, 33;
  education, 36 ff.;
  wedding journey, 57 ff.;
  marriage, 65 f.;
  at Pavia, 67 ff.;
  early wedded life, 76 ff.;
  friendship with Galeazzo Sanseverino, 81 ff.;
  jealousy of Cecilia Gallerani, 89;
  at Vigevano, 92;
  at Villa Nova, 96;
  horsemanship, 97;
  relations with Isabella of Aragon, 99;
  escapades at Milan, 100 ff.;
  illness, 110;
  at Genoa, 111;
  at Vigevano, 122;
  patron of learning and poetry, 141 ff.;
  of drama and music, 151 ff.;
  first son born, 166 ff.;
  wardrobe, 170 f.;
  visit to Ferrara, 180 ff.;
  diplomatic visit to Venice, chap. xvi. f.;
  return to Milan, 205;
  birth of second son, 258 f.;
  courage in danger, 271;
  meets Maximilian at Bormio, 288 ff.;
  at Vigevano, 291 f.;
  sadness of her last days, 302-306;
  death, 306;
  funeral, 310 f.;
  Maximilian's eulogy, 313 f.;
  tomb, 316;
  Cenacolo, 317 f., 350

Belgiojoso, 180, 184, 196, 205, 222, 225

Bellincioni, 46 f., 53, 76, 86 f., 90, 100, 137, 139, 144 £., 147 f.

Bello of Ferrara, 87

Belriguardo, 183, 188, 205

Benedetto Capilupi, 231, 264, 327

Benedetto da Cingoli, 143

Benedetto Ispano, 128

Benedetto Trevisano, 255, 367

Bergonzio, 299, 366

Bernardino Caimo, 140

Bernardino Corio, 19, 22, 25, 94, 99, 125, 129 f., 177 f., 230, 241,
342 f.

Bernardino da Feltre, 123

Bernardino da Rossi, 66

Bernardino del Corte, 272, 299, 319, 344 f., 347 f.

Bernardino d'Urbino, 283

Bernardo Contarini, 271

Bernardo Prosperi, 170

Bianca d'Este, 4, 65, 183

Bianca, d. of Caterina Sforza, 330

Bianca, d. of Lodovico, 45, 57, 169, 209, 233, 235, 292, 302 f., 376

Bianca Maria Sforza, 43, 46, 70, 106, 115, 121, 136, 160 f., 169 f., 179,
184, 208-220, 222, 242, 252 f., 303, 339, 346, 371, 377

Bianca of Milan, m. of Lodovico, 14 ff.

Bibbiena, 147

Blois (Treaty of), 338

Boccaccio, 143

Bona of Savoy, Duchess of Milan, 8, 18-25, 70, 160, 170, 208, 216, 232,
237, 251 f.

Bona, d. of Giangaleazzo Sforza, 167, 353

Bonifazio da Cremona, 63

Bonifazio Visconti, 378

Borella, 245, 250

Borromeo, 342, 344, 354

Borso di Correggio (the elder), 5

Borso di Correggio (the younger), 206, 315

Borso d'Este, 3, 29, 38

Bramante of Urbino, 42, 76, 83, 92, 104, 122, 124, 132 ff., 139 f.,
145-148, 229, 260, 291, 296, 299, 300, 316, 331, 350 f.

Brera Altar-piece, 285 f.

Briconnet, 280, 283

Brognolo, 261

Buttinone di Treviglio, 66


C

Cagnola, 92, 132, 288

Caiazzo. _See_ Gianfrancesco Sanseverino

Calvi, 242

Camilla Sforza, 169, 343

Caradosso, 132, 134, 137, 139, 182, 262, 320, 348

Carpaccio, 103

Castello of Ferrara, 1

Caterina Cornaro, 204

Caterina Sforza, 20, 23, 41, 253, 330, 341, 365

Cecco Simonetta, 20-24

Cecilia Gallerani, 52 ff., 89 ff., 150, 263, 292, 321

Cecilia Simonetta, 145

Celso Maffei, 354

Certosa, 74, 102-106, 237

Cæsar Borgia, 222, 338, 341, 348 ff., 361

Charles V. (Emperor), 332, 377 f.

Charles VIII. of France, 112 ff., 160, 164 f., 180, 184 f., 196 f., 209,
221, 223, 232-238, 248, 254 ff., 258, 264, 268, 273 ff., 277, 279 f.,
282 ff., 287, 294, 325

Charlotte d'Albret, 338

Chevalier Bayard, 360

Chiara Gonzaga, 251, 305, 314, 329 f.

Christina of Denmark, 378

Conrad Stürzl, 270

Conrade Vimerca, 289

Constantino Privolo, 200

Cordier, 76, 152, 186, 190, 196

Cosimo Tura, 2, 33

Cristoforo Rocchi, 61

Cristoforo Romano, 56, 76, 106 ff., 111, 139, 152, 323

Cristoforo Solari (Il Gobbo), 317 ff., 351, 379

Cusani, 324


D

Dante, 146

Delaborde, 196, 247

Della Torre (Count), 169

Demetrius Calcondila, 128

De Trano, 337

Dioda (or Diodato), 76, 81

Dionigi Confanerio, 239

Doge Agostino Barbarigo, 174, 186 ff., 195 ff., 267

Dolcebuono, 132 ff., 140

Domenico de Grillandaio, 300

Donate de' Preti, 241, 244, 250

Dorotea Gonzaga, 18


E

Elizabeth Gonzaga (Duchess of Urbino), 50, 57, 144, 147, 151, 187, 227

Elizabeth Sforza, 262

Emilia Pia, 108, 147, 151

Erasmo Brasca, 64, 114, 179, 205, 217 ff., 225, 229, 242, 254, 327, 338,
343

Ercole d'Este, 2 f., 5 f., 9 f., 22, 28 ff., 38, 89, 155, 158, 164,
182 f., 206, 222, 232, 282, 284 f., 308, 312, 323, 337, 348-351, 360,
364 f.

Ercole (Maximilian) Sforza, 166, 171, 226, 264 f., 292 f., 335, 353, 373

Ermes Sforza, 43, 74, 182, 217 f., 245, 253, 310, 346, 364, 371, 377

Ermolao Barbaro, 93, 124

Este (House of), 2

Eustachio, 25, 43


F

Fausto Andrelino, 370

Federico, Marquis of Mantua, 9

Federigo of Naples, 232

Federigo Sanseverino (Cardinal), 44, 151, 255, 343, 375

Federigo of Urbino, 4

Ferrante d'Este, 6, 51, 249, 323, 351

Ferrante of Naples, 3, 6, 9 f., 21, 24, 27, 45, 112 ff., 118, 121, 165,
176, 184, 221 f.

Ferrante of Naples II., 228, 255, 257, 264, 266, 269, 277, 282, 294, 328

Ferrante Sforza, 7

Ferrara, 31 f.

Ferrari, 128

Ficino, 147

Fieschi, 335

Filelfo, 16, 129 ff.

Filippino di Frati Filippo, 300, 340

Filippo Beroaldo, 129

Filippo Sforza, 21

Florentio, 152

Fracassa. See Sanseverino (Gaspare)

Francesco Bello, 35

Francesco Bernardo Visconti, 215, 266 f., 342, 344, 347

Francesco Capello, 190

Francesco da Casate, 55

Francesco Foscari, 288, 291 f., 305

Francesco Francia, 34

Francesco Mantegna, 329

Francesco Martini, 60, 134

Francesco Pallavicino, 215, 262, 342

Francesco Sforza, 5, 8, 14, 114, 156, 186, 217

Francesco Sforza (son of Giangaleazzo), 48, 237 f., 240, 251, 299, 328,
353

Francesco Sforza (son of Lodovico), 259, 293, 321, 335, 377 f.

Francesca da Rimini, 373

Franchino Gaffuri, 128, 131, 134, 152

Francis I., 376 f.

Frederic III. (Emperor), 179, 208

Frederic of Naples, 294, 353


G

Gaguin, 94

Galeazzo Pallavicino, 213, 262, 342

Galeazzo di Sanseverino, 44 f., 51, 55, 58, 67, 71, 73, 76, 79 ff., 85
ff., 92, 100, 110, 124, 136, 138, 145-148, 158 f., 162, 164, 171, 180,
182, 206 f., 210, 216, 222, 224 f., 228, 237, 248 f., 255 f., 264, 269,
271 f., 278 f., 281, 285-288, 292, 298, 303 f., 310, 315, 322 ff., 326,
330, 338, 342, 344 ff., 348, 351, 354, 356-363, 365, 370, 376

Galeotto del Carretto, 93, 150

Galeotto della Mirandola, 4, 65, 183, 272, 292, 327, 341

Gaspare Bugati, 132

Gaspare Melchior, Bishop of Brixen, 209, 211, 215, 254, 270

Gaspare di Pusterla, 170

Gaspare Sanseverino (Fracassa), 28, 44, 71, 85, 123, 182, 228, 232, 279,
287, 291, 296, 322, 327, 330, 342, 347, 349, 354, 361, 363, 375

Gaspare Visconti, 103, 138, 142 f., 145-148, 151, 190, 217, 264, 324

Gattico, 318, 322 f.

Gentile Bellini, 103, 198

Ghibellines, 21, 23

Giacomo Trotti, 52, 62, 64 f., 76, 88 f., 91, 110, 157, 166, 241

Gian Francesco da Vimercato, 357

Gian Francesco Gonza of Bozzolo, 156

Gianfrancesco Sanseverino (Count of Caiazzo), 74, 119, 148, 178, 182,
232, 238, 249, 269, 272 ff., 278, 292 f., 315, 330, 342 f., 347, 349,
354, 375

Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan, 7, 20, 23, 41 ff., 46 f., 69, 71,
73, 80, 115, 118 f., 124, 167, 176 f., 209, 221, 230, 237 ff., 246 f.,
285

Gian Giacomo Gillino, 202, 356

Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, 45, 352

Giannino, 137

Gianpaolo Sforza, 321, 379

Giasone del Maino, 127 f., 217, 270, 272

Gilbert Bertrand, 370

Gilbert of Montpensier, 251, 264, 277, 294

Giorgio Merula, 64, 127-130, 137, 139

Giovanni Adorno, 162, 272, 328, 335, 347

Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, 104, 133 f., 140, 325

Giovanni Bellini, 53, 153, 187, 263

Giovanni Bentivoglio, 67

Giovanni Dondi, 63

Giovanni Francesco Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, 9, 33, 50, 56, 66 f., 72,
109, 111, 152, 174, 182, 187 f., 191, 195, 206, 226 f., 265, 270,
272 ff., 281, 283, 285, 298, 307, 322 f., 326 f., 329, 338, 342, 348-351,
358 ff.

Giovanni Gonzaga, 69, 98, 259, 360

Giovanni de Medici, 330

Giovanni Pietro Suardo, 245

Giovanni Sforza of Pesaro, 165, 184, 338

Giovanni Simonetta, 24

Giovanni Stanga (Marquis), 106 f., 145, 148, 162, 217, 288, 291, 293,
315, 317 ff., 327, 338, 363

Giovanni da Tortona, 316

Girolamo da Figino, 200

Girolamo Landriano, 355

Girolamo Riario, 20, 23

Girolamo Savonarola, 29, 61, 157, 184, 274

Girolamo Stanga, 72

Girolamo Tuttavilla, 100, 120, 148, 162, 179, 186, 189 f., 206, 228

Giuliano della Rovere (Cardinal), 157, 165, 225, 255, 316, 349, 371

Godefroy, 237

Godfrey Borgia, 221, 225

Gualtero, 325

Guicciardini, 12, 99, 176, 225 f., 240, 249, 259 f., 278, 295, 378

Guido Arcimboldo, 301, 323

Guidotto Prestinari, 144 f.

Guiniforte Solari, 133


H

Henry VII. of England, 114, 290, 297, 355


I

Il Perugino, 104, 300, 340

Innocent VII. (Pope), 30, 43, 62, 73, 113, 156

Ippolita Sforza, 7, 17

Ippolita Sforza (the younger), 230

Ippolito d'Este (Cardinal), 51, 222

Isabella of Aragon, 46, 69, 80, 99 ff., 118 f., 124, 160, 167, 169 f.,
176 f., 230, 237 f., 250 ff., 265, 269, 328, 353

Isabella d'Este, 4, 30, 33, 36 ff., 40, 50, 52, 53 f., 64, 68 f., 74 f.,
78 f., 81, 84 ff., 96 ff., 101, 106 ff., 109, 123, 131, 145, 149 ff.,
152, 155 ff., 162, 167, 171 f., 174 f., 187 f., 198, 205, 206 ff., 211,
226, 232, 244, 250 f., 258 ff., 263 f., 272 f., 275 f., 278, 283 f., 298,
304, 308, 312, 321 ff., 326 ff., 344, 353, 356

Isabella Sforza, 7, 17


J

Jacopo Andrea, 360, 364

Jacopo Antiquario, 115, 125 f.

Jacopo d'Atri, 7, 108, 279, 283

Jacopo Bellini, 2, 32

Jacopo da Ferrara 138 f., 355

Jacopo di San Secondo, 152

James IV. (of Scotland), 121

Jean d'Auton, 355, 359, 369, 371, 377

Jean Bontemps, 209

Jean Jacques Trivulzio, 282, 294, 315 f., 326, 329, 338, 341-349, 353,
355, 360-364, 367

Jean Marot, 370

Joan of Aragon, 6

Jorba, 173

Juan Borgia, 223, 225

Julius II. (Pope), 283


L

Lancinus Curtius, 128, 139, 149, 210, 230, 348

Lascaris, 7, 17, 19

La Trémouille, 232, 260 f., 363 f.

Leo X. (Pope), 377

Leonardo da Vinci, 42, 47, 53, 61, 66, 72, 76, 91, 107, 133-140, 144,
153 f.,210, 229, 260 f., 296, 299, 302, 306, 318 f., 324 f., 331, 339 f.,
347, 350 f., 353, 365 f.

Leonello d'Este, 3, 29, 32

Leonora of Aragon (Duchess d'Este), 3, 6, 28, 30, 34, 38, 50, 64, 73,
107, 166, 168 f., 172, 177, 181, 186, 190 f., 195, 198, 206 f.

Leonora da Correggio, 217

Leonora Gonzaga, 226, 230, 329

Lodovico Bergamini, 52, 90, 292

Lodovico de Medici, 330

Lodovico Sforza (Il Moro), 4, 8;
  his character, 10 ff.;
  birth, 14;
  explanation of surname, 15;
  early years, 15 f.;
  leads crusade, 17;
  at Cremona, 17;
  in France, 20;
  exile at Pisa, 21;
  becomes Duke of Bari, 22;
  invasion of Lombardy, 22;
  returns to Milan as co-regent, 23;
  betrothal, 24;
  sole regent, 25;
  war with Genoese and Venetians, 27 f.;
  delays his marriage, 41;
  development of Milan, 42;
  marriage contract, 49;
  again delays his marriage, 51;
  relations with Cecilia Gallerani, 52;
  marriage, 65 f.;
  renounces Cecilia Gallerani, 89;
  public works in Vigevano and the Lomellina, 92 ff.;
  interest in the Certosa, 102-106;
  friendship and correspondence with Isabella D'Este, 108 ff., 163 f.;
  entertains French ambassadors, 115 ff.;
  concludes treaty with Charles VIII., 116;
  embassy to France, 119;
  reforms and extends Universities of Pavia and Milan, 126 ff.;
  endows research, 129 ff.;
  his library, 130;
  encourages art, 131 ff.;
  attitude towards Renaissance, 139 f.;
  ambition, 176 f.;
  alliance with Venice and Papacy, 178;
  visits Ferrara, 180 ff.;
  vacillating policy, 221 f.;
  joins Charles VII. against Naples, 224 f.;
  relations with the Gonzagas of Mantua, 227;
  proclaimed duke at Milan, 240 f.;
  seeks investiture from Maximilian, 241 ff.;
  refutes calumnies, 254;
  proclamation of New League against France, 267;
  invested Duke of Milan, 270;
  retires before Louis of Orleans, 271;
  war with France, 272 ff.;
  peace, 281;
  assists Pisa, 287;
  league with Maximilian and others, 290;
  his arrogance, 295;
  grief at death of Beatrice, 307 ff., 315;
  visit to Mantua, 326 f.;
  his wills, 332-336;
  flight before the French, and loss of Milan, 343-351;
  return to Milan, 356 ff.;
  besieged in Novara, 361;
  betrayed by Swiss, 362;
  captivity at Encise and Lys St. Georges, 367-370;
  at Loches, 371 ff.;
  death, 373;
  place of burial, 373 f.

Lorenzo Gusnasco, 37, 76, 152

Lorenzo de' Medici, 7, 17, 19, 21, 42, 118, 143, 147, 151, 164

Lorenzo da Pavia, 129, 153, 261 ff., 348, 365

Louis XI., 20

Louis XII., 265, 326, 332, 337 f., 341, 348, 360, 363, 371, 376.
  _See also_ Orleans, Duke of.

Luca Fancelli, 133 f.

Luca Pacioli, 128, 304, 324

Lucia Marliani, 18

Lucrezia Borgia, 149, 165, 184, 338

Lucrezia Crivelli, 302, 321, 379

Lucrezia d'Este, 33, 36

Luzio, 173


M

Machiavelli, 19, 330

Maffeo Pirovano, 241, 252 ff., 324

Maffeo di Treviglio, 136

Magenta, 247

Malipiero, 271, 284, 287, 295, 331

Mantegna, 274

Marc Antonio Michieli, 303

Marco Morosini, 292

Margareta Solari, 233

Margherita Gonzaga, 298

Margherita Pia, 85, 151, 322

Marino Sanuto, 238, 248, 267, 291, 293 ff., 297, 315 f., 326, 331, 337,
346, 370, 376

Mariolo, 163, 170

Mary of Burgundy, 113

Mascagni, 147

Matteo Boiardo, 36, 38, 52, 68, 86 f.

Matteo Brandello, 138, 299, 318

Matthias Corvinus, 43, 64, 115, 136, 154

Maximilian, 113, 137, 164 f., 179 f., 184 ff., 197, 208, 218 f., 222,
225, 241, 252 ff., 256, 269, 272, 284, 288, 295, 301, 304 f., 313 ff.,
334, 338 f., 341 f., 346, 355, 371, 377

Melzi (Count of), 346

Michele Savonarola, 29

Michelo Angelo, 108

Milan, 260

Milan, University of, 128

Molmenti, 188

Montferrat, Marquis of, 67, 116, 236

Montorfano, 319

Muralti, 65, 302


N

Narcisso, 152

Nexemperger, 133

Niccolo della Bussola, 355, 364

Niccolo da Correggio, 5 f., 28, 35, 65, 73, 76, 80, 107, 116, 142 f.,
145 f., 149-152, 182, 208 f., 217, 259, 264, 303, 306, 313, 323, 327,
349, 351, 353

Niccolo d'Este II., 30, 193

Niccolo d'Este III., 3, 29

Niccolo d'Este (s. of Leonello d'Este), 5 f.

Niccolo de Negri, 188, 190, 293


O

Oldrado Lampugnano, 379

Orleans, Duke of, 112, 225, 231 f., 256, 266, 268 f., 271, 279, 281 f.,
286, 294 f., 326. _See also_ Louis XII.

Orsini, 223

Ortensio Lando, 52

Ottaviano Sforza, 42


P

Pamfilo Sasso, 150

Pandolfini, 25, 48, 118

Paolo Bilia, 250

Paolo Giovio, 11, 247, 273, 371

Pavia, 66 ff.

Pavia, University of, 126 ff.

Pedro Maria, 152

Perrault de Gurk, 318

Perron de Baschi, 221

Perugino. _See_ Il P.

Petrarch, 143, 146

Philippe de Commines, 48, 187, 233, 236 f., 245, 248 f., 261 f., 269,
274, 279, 285

Pier Francesco, 373

Piero de Medici, 164, 184, 223, 231, 236, 241, 248, 256, 262

Pierre d'Urfé, 376

Pietro Alamanni, 135, 231, 241

Pietro Bembo, 108, 113, 195, 197

Pietro Landriano, 179

Pietro Lazzarone, 150

Pietro of Perugia. _See_ Il Perugino

Pico della Mirandola, 30, 61

Pino, 318

Pistoia. _See_ Antonio Cam. P.

Pius II., 16

Poggio, 87

Polissena d'Este, 77, 79, 232

Pontano, 7

Prato, 362

Prosperi, 181 f.

Pulci, 87


R

Raphael, 144, 152

Roberto di Sanseverino, 21 ff., 27 f., 43, 137

Roderigo Borgia. _See_ Alexander VI.

Rodolfo Gonzaga, 65, 273

Romanini, 195

Rovegnatino, 316


S

Sabba da Castiglione, 35, 45, 108, 142 ff., 147, 149, 152 f., 354

Salomon (physician), 370 f.

Salomone Ebreo, 130

Sancia of Naples, 221, 225

Sandro Botticelli, 300

Sannazzaro, 7

Sanseverino, House of, 43 f. _See also_ Antonio Maria S., Federigo
S., Galeazzo S., Gaspare S., Gianfrancesco S., Roberto S.

Scaligero, 52

Schifanoia frescoes, 32, 38

Sebastian Badoer, 255

Senlis (Treaty of), 180, 196, 224

Serafino Aquilano, 142 ff.

Sforza, Duke of Bari, 20 ff.

Sigismund of Austria, 218

Sigismund d'Este (Cardinal), 58

Sigismund of Poland, 353

Sixtus IV., 3, 20, 24, 27, 157

Sperandio, 3, 31, 274

Spinola family, 335

Stuart d'Aubigny, 114, 121, 232, 238


T

Taddeo Contarini, 155, 303

Taddeo Vimercati, 179, 187

Tanzio, 139, 144

Tasso, 87

Teodora, 168 ff., 181

Teseo d'Albonesi, 128, 153

Theodore Guainiero, 247

Tiraboschi, 141

Tito Strozzi, 35

Tommaso Grassi, 131

Tommaso Piatti, 131

Treso di Monza, 66

Trissino, 37

Tristan Calco, 70, 129 f., 210

Tristan Sforza, 5, 22

Turman, 362


U

Ursino, 190


V

Valentina Visconti, 231

Vasari, 135, 319

Venetian _fêtes_, 193 ff.

Venetians attack Ferrara, 26 f.

Vercelli (Peace of), 281

Verrocchio, 301

Vincenzo Baldelli, 316

Vincenzo Calmeta, 138, 142 f., 145 f., 151

Vincenzo Foppa, 63

Vittore Pisanello, 2, 32

Vittoria Colonna, 52, 263


Z

Zenale di Treviglio, 66, 285


THE END



PRINTED BY

TURNBULL AND SPEARS

EDINBURGH



    +----------------------------------------------------+
    |                Transcriber's Note                  |
    |                                                    |
    | Typographical errors corrected in the text:        |
    |                                                    |
    | Page   ix  Guiccardini changed to Guicciardini     |
    | Page   ix  Baldassarre changed to Baldassare       |
    | Page    x  Bibliotheque changed to Bibliothèque    |
    | Page   xi  Etude changed to Étude                  |
    | Page   xv  di changed to da                        |
    | Page  xvi  Belrignardo changed to Belriguardo      |
    | Page    9  negociations changed to negotiations    |
    | Page   14  II changed to Il                        |
    | Page   15  Guiccardini changed to Guicciardini     |
    | Page   22  Tristran changed to Tristan             |
    | Page   33  Cristoforó changed to Cristoforo        |
    | Page   33  Arragon changed to Aragon               |
    | Page   44  Baldassarre changed to Baldassare       |
    | Page   44  Elizabetta changed to Elisabetta        |
    | Page   36  Bentivogho changed to Bentivoglio       |
    | Page   36  Sando changed to Sandro                 |
    | Page   37  di changed to da                        |
    | Page   41  Galezzo changed to Galeazzo             |
    | Page   45  Castelnovo changed to Castelnuovo       |
    | Page   45  Leonardi changed to Leonardo            |
    | Page   52  Benedette changed to Benedetto          |
    | Page   57  Valtelline changed to Valtellina        |
    | Page   62  Certoza changed to Certosa              |
    | Page   67  Salla changed to Sala                   |
    | Page   71  Bentovoglio changed to Bentivoglio      |
    | Page   71  Sanseverinos changed to Sanseverino     |
    | Page   73  Gianfranceso changed to Gianfrancesco   |
    | Page   74  beside changed to besides               |
    | Page   77  Polisenna changed to Polissena          |
    | Page   86  Castelnovo changed to Castelnuovo       |
    | Page   91  Jesù changed to Gesù                    |
    | Page   93  Sev^o, abbreviation for Severino,       |
    |            has been retained                       |
    | Page   97  l6th changed to 16th                    |
    | Page   99  Arragon changed to Aragon               |
    | Page  108  Castiglone changed to Castiglione       |
    | Page  113  Fnding changed to Finding               |
    | Page  115  magificently changed to magnificently   |
    | Page  123  l6th changed to 16th                    |
    | Page  128  Paciolo changed to Pacioli              |
    | Page  133  Fabbriccieri changed to Fabbricieri     |
    | Page  133  Gratz changed to Graz                   |
    | Page  138  Bellincionis's changed to Bellincioni's |
    | Page  143  Abbruzzi changed to Abruzzi             |
    | Page  145  Bramarite's changed to Bramante's       |
    | Page  146  Uzieili changed to Uzielli              |
    | Page  147  Muntz changed to Müntz                  |
    | Page  150  Baldassarre changed to Baldassare       |
    | Page  150  Valtelline changed to Valtellina        |
    | Page  159  Naple's changed to Naples'              |
    | Page  161  Today changed to To-day                 |
    | Page  163  Pecorata changed to Pecorara            |
    | Page  177  Arragon changed to Aragon               |
    | Page  179  Frederick changed to Frederic           |
    | Page  187  Phillippe changed to Philippe           |
    | Page  188  Gianfranceseo changed to Gianfrancesco  |
    | Page  193  Comminnes changed to Commines           |
    | Page  195  Romanin changed to Romanini             |
    | Page  200  word "of" missing after "the daughters" |
    |            and before "Messer Sigismondo"          |
    | Page  206  Ambrosio changed to Ambrogio            |
    | Page  209  Ambrogie changed to Ambrogio            |
    | Page  210  Baldassarre changed to Baldassare       |
    | Page  212  Rochetta changed to Rocchetta           |
    | Page  218  Valtelline change to Valtellina         |
    | Page  226  Guiccardini changed to Guicciardini     |
    | Page  232  Geneva changed to Genova                |
    | Page  234  judgement changed to judgment           |
    | Page  236  Pecoraja changed to Pecorara            |
    | Page  237  Godefroi changed to Godefroy            |
    | Page  238  Placenza changed to Piacenza            |
    | Page  240  Baldasarre changed to Baldassare        |
    | Page  246  Piravano changed to Pirovano            |
    | Page  255  Guiliano changed to Giuliano            |
    | Page  259  Guiccardini changed to Guicciardini     |
    | Page  260  Lazaretto changed to Lazzaretto         |
    | Page  266  Arragon changed to Aragon               |
    | Page  267  or changed to of                        |
    | Page  269  Arragon changed to Aragon               |
    | Page  272  Giascone changed to Giasone             |
    | Page  273  Giovo changed to Giovio                 |
    | Page  293  de' Negris changed to de' Negri         |
    | Page  299  Vercelliana changed to Vercellina       |
    | Page  300  Botticello changed to Botticelli        |
    | Page  301  Verocchio changed to Verrocchio         |
    | Page  302  Muralto changed to Muralti              |
    | Page  318  alar changed to altar                   |
    | Page  322  Arragon changed to Aragon               |
    | Page  325  Baldassarre changed to Baldassare       |
    | Page  330  Machiavelii changed to Machiavelli      |
    | Page  345  sus changed to sua                      |
    | Page  351  Baldassarre changed to Baldassare       |
    | Page  355  Brizen changed to Brixen                |
    | Page  371  edioius changed to tedious              |
    | Page  383  Francessa changed to Francesca          |
    | Page  383  d'Albert changed to d'Albret            |
    | Page  383  Frederick changed to Frederic           |
    | Page  384  Giocomo changed to Giacomo              |
    | Page  384  Godefroi changed to Godefroy            |
    | Page  385  Lascario changed to Lascaris            |
    | Page  386  Botticello changed to Botticelli        |
    | Page  386  Muralto changed to Muralti              |
    | Page  386  Oldrade changed to Oldrado              |
    | Page  387  Verocchio changed to Verrocchio         |
    +----------------------------------------------------+





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan, 1475-1497" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home