- Art Gallery -









title page











After the picture by Andrea Mantegna in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence



List of Illustrations of Volume II. ix
Chronological Table of Contents of Volume II. xi


The massacre of Sinigaglia—Death of Alexander VI.—Narrow escape of Cesare Borgia 3
Duke Guidobaldo restored—The Election of Julius II.—The fall of Cesare Borgia—The Duke's fortunate position—Is made Knight of the Garter—The Pope visits Urbino 23
The Court of Urbino, its manners and its stars 43
Emilia Pia—The Cortegiano—Death of Duke Guidobaldo, succeeded by Francesco Maria della Rovere 72-vi-


The revival of letters in Italy—Influence of the princes—Classical tastes tending to pedantry and paganism—Greek philosophy and its effects—Influence of the Dukes of Urbino 93
Count Guidantonio a patron of learned men—Duke Federigo—The Assorditi Academy—Dedications to him—Prose writers of Urbino—Gentile Becci, Bishop of Arezzo—Francesco Venturini—Berni of Gubbio—Polydoro di Vergilio—Vespasiano Filippi—Castiglione—Bembo—Learned ladies 109
Poetry under the Montefeltri—Sonnets—The Filelfi—Giovanni Sanzi—Porcellio Pandonio—Angelo Galli—Federigo Veterani—Urbani Urbinate—Antonio Rustico—Naldio—Improvisatori—Bernardo Accolti—Serafino d'Aquila—Agostino Staccoli—Early comedies—La Calandra—Corruption of morals—Social position of women 130
Mediæval art chiefly religious—Innovations of Naturalism, Classicism, and Paganism—Character and tendencies of Christian painting ill-understood in England—Influence of St. Francis 157
The Umbrian School of Painting, its scholars and influence—Fra Angelico da Fiesole—Gentile da Fabriano—Pietro Perugino—Artists at Urbino—Piero della Francesca—Fra Carnevale—Francesco di Giorgio 184
Giovanni Sanzi of Urbino—His son, the immortal Raffaele—Early influences on his mind—Paints at Perugia, Città di Castello, Siena, and Florence—His visits to Urbino, and works there 216-vii-
Raffaele is called to Rome, and employed upon the Stanze—His frescoes there—His other works—Change in his manner—Compared with Michael Angelo—His death, character, and style 235
Timoteo Viti—Bramante—Andrea Mantegna—Gian Bellini—Justus of Ghent—Medals of Urbino 254


Birth and elevation of Sixtus IV.—Genealogy of the della Rovere family—Nepotism of that pontiff—His improvements in Rome—His patronage of letters and arts—His brother Giovanni becomes Lord of Sinigaglia and Prefect of Rome—His beneficent sway—He pillages a papal envoy—Remarkable story of Zizim or Gem—Portrait of Giovanni—The early character and difficulties of Julius II.—Estimate of his pontificate 277


Youth of Duke Francesco Maria I.—The League of Cambray—His marriage—His first military service—The Cardinal of Pavia's treachery—Julius II. takes the field 313
The Duke routed at Bologna from the Cardinal of Pavia's treason, whom he assassinates—He is prosecuted, but finally absolved and reconciled to the Pope—He reduces Bologna—Is invested with Pesaro—Death of Julius II. 334-viii-
Election of Leo X.—His ambitious projects—Birth of Prince Guidobaldo of Urbino—The Pontiff's designs upon that state, which he gives to his nephew—The Duke retires to Mantua 351
The Duke returns to his state—His struggle with the usurper—His victory at Montebartolo 372
Continuation of the ruinous contest—The Duke finally abandons it—Death of Lorenzo de' Medici—Charles V. elected Emperor 391
Death of Leo X.—Restoration of Francesco Maria—He enters the Venetian service—Louis XII. invades the Milanese—Death of Bayard—The Duke's honourable reception at Venice—Battle of Pavia 411
New league against Charles V.—The Duke's campaign in Lombardy—His quarrels with Guicciardini—Rome pillaged by the Colonna—The Constable Bourbon advances into Central Italy—The Duke quells an insurrection at Florence 433


I. Portraits of Cesare Borgia 459
II. Duke Guidobaldo I. of Urbino, a Knight of the Garter 462
III. Giovanni Sanzi's MS. Chronicle of Federigo, Duke of Urbino 471
IV. Epitaph of Giovanni della Rovere 480
V. Remission and rehabilitation of Duke Francesco Maria I. in 1512-13 481
VI. Letter from Cardinal Wolsey to Lorenzo de' Medici 484
Genealogical Tables At end of book



Elisabetta di Montefeltro, Duchess of Urbino. After the picture by Andrea Mantegna in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. (Photo Alinari) Frontispiece
Il Castello di Sinigaglia. (Photo Alinari) 10
Pope Julius II. From the picture by Raphael in the Pitti Gallery, Florence. (Photo Anderson) 40
Portrait of a lady, her hair dressed in the manner of the fifteenth century. From the picture by ? Verrocchio in Poldo-Pezzoli Collection, Milan. (Photo Alinari) 44
A lady of the fifteenth century with jewels of the period. (Photo Alinari) 48
Count Baldassare Castiglione. From a picture in the Torlonia Gallery, Rome 50
Hair dressing in the fifteenth century. Detail from the fresco by Pisanello in S. Anastasia of Verona. (Photo Alinari) 54
Cardinal Bembo. From a drawing once in the possession of Cavaliere Agricola in Rome 62
Elisabetta Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino. From a lead medal by Adriano Fiorentino in the British Museum. By the courtesy of G.F. Hill, Esq. 72
Emilia Pia. From a medal by Adriano Fiorentino in the Vienna Museum. By the courtesy of G.F. Hill, Esq. 72
Hair dressing in the sixteenth century. After a picture by Bissolo. (Photo Alinari) 76
Portrait of a lady in mourning. After the picture by Pordenone in the Dresden Gallery. (Photo R. Tammé) 84
S. Martin and S. Thomas with Guidobaldo, Duke of Urbino, and Bishop Arrivabeni. After the picture by Timoteo Viti in the Duomo of Urbino. (Photo Alinari) 88
Baldassare Castiglione. After the picture by Raphael in the Louvre. 120
Madonna del Belvedere. After the fresco by Ottaviano Nelli in S. Maria Nuova, Gubbio 190-x-
Madonna del Soccorso. After the gonfalone by a pupil of Fiorenzo di Lorenzo in S. Francesco, Montone 196
Raphael, aged six years. From a picture once in the possession of James Dennistoun 216
Raphael. After the portrait by himself in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. (Photo Anderson) 220
Madonna and child. After the picture by Giovanni Santi, in the Pinacoteca of Urbino. (Photo Alinari) 224
Ecce Homo. From the picture by Giovanni Santi in the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino. (Photo Alinari) 226
S. Sebastian. After the picture by Timoteo Viti in the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino. (Photo Alinari) 228
Margherita "La Fornarina." After the picture by Raphael called La Donna Velata in the Pitti Gallery, Florence. (Photo Alinari) 230
Margherita "La Fornarina." After the spoiled picture by Raphael in the Galleria Barberini in Rome. (Photo Anderson) 232
The Sposalizio. After the picture by Raphael, once in the Ducal Collection at Urbino, now in the Brera, Milan. (Photo Alinari) 240
Isabella of Aragon. After the picture by Raphael in the Louvre 246
St. Sebastian. From the picture by Timoteo Viti in the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino. (Photo Alinari) 254
Francesco Maria I. della Rovere. After the picture by Titian in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. (From the Ducal Collection.) (Photo Alinari) 314
Venetian wedding-dress in the sixteenth century. After the picture called "La Flora" by Titian in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. (Photo Anderson) 316
Detail of the Urbino Venus. Supposed portrait of Duchess Leonora, from the picture by Titian in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. (Photo Anderson) 320
The girl in the fur-cloak. Possibly a portrait of Duchess Leonora of Urbino. After the picture by Titian in the Imperial Gallery, Vienna. (Photo Franz Hanfstaengl) 324
Duchess of Urbino, either Eleonora or Giulia Varana. After the picture by Titian in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. Painted ca. 1538. (Photo Brogi) 328
Leo X. After the picture by Raphael in the Pitti Gallery, Florence. (Photo Anderson) 352
Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici, Duke of Urbino. After the picture by Bronzino in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. (Photo Alinari) 366




A.D.     PAGE
1502. Dec. Valentino marches against Sinigaglia 3
” 28. Which surrenders 4
” 31. Cesare massacres the confederate chiefs 4
1503. Jan. 2. His letter to the authorities at Perugia 6
Feb. 22. Cardinal Orsini poisoned at Rome 8
Jan. Machiavelli's indifference to the massacre 8
General extinction of moral feeling 10
” 18. Further murders of the chiefs 11
Valentino in the Val di Chiana 11
Jealousy of Louis XII. 11
State of affairs at Urbino 12
June. Siege of San Leo 13
Relieved by a dexterous stroke 13
  The Pontiff's wholesale poisonings 15
Aug. 18. To which he fell himself a victim 16
The various accounts of this examined 17
His character 19
Valentino's narrow escape from the same fate 19
His policy 20
Results of the Pope's death at Rome 21
Sep. 22. Election of Pius III. 22


1503. Aug. 22. Urbino resumes its allegiance 23
Guidobaldo returns from Venice 23
” 28. And is welcomed enthusiastically 24
  He joins the other princes in a defensive confederacy 24
  The fortunes of Valentino rally 25
  His wavering conduct 25
  Election of Julius II. 27
  Fatal to Valentino's prospects 27
Nov. Guidobaldo's difficult position 28
The Pope's negotiation with Borgia 29-xii-
1504. April. Who escapes to Naples 30
  But is sent prisoner to Spain 30
1507. Mar. 10. His death 31
1503.   Guidobaldo's fortunate position 31
Nov. 20. Summoned to Rome 32
His favour with the Pope 32
” 15. The Duchess returns home from Venice 33
His interview with Valentino 33
Represented in a fresco 33
1504.   He is named Gonfaloniere of the Church 34
  And invested with the Garter of England 34
June 1. Returns home, accompanied by Count Castiglione 34
Feb. Strange pastimes there 34
  His brief campaign 35
  And happy residence at Urbino 35
  His installation as generalissimo of the papal forces 36
Sep. His nephew, the young Prefect, invested as his heir-apparent 37
  Claims of Venice upon Romagna 38
1505.   Guidobaldo summoned to visit the Pope 38
1506. July. Returns home 39
Aug. 26. Julius sets out for Romagna 39
Sep. 25. His magnificent reception at Urbino 39
Tariff of provisions there 40
  Reaches Bologna 41
  His statue there, and its fate 42
1507. Mar. 3. Revisits Urbino on his return to Rome 42


1507.   The cultivated tastes of the princes in Romagna 43
  The Court of Urbino described by Count Castiglione, in his Cortegiano 44
  The requisites of a lady of that court 45
  State of female refinement and morals 46
  Coarseness of language and wit 47
  Poetical and social pastimes 49
  Sketch of the prominent personages there 50
  Count Baldassare Castiglione 51
  He goes to England 52
  His marriage, and conjugal affection 53
  His portraits 53
  His death and character 55
  Giuliano de' Medici 56
  Cesare Gonzaga 58
  Ottaviano Fregoso 58-xiii-
  Cardinal Federigo Fregoso 59
  Bembo's letter on his death 61
  Cardinal Bembo 62
  His attachment to Lucrezia Borgia 63
  His promotion under Leo X. 64
  His lax morals 64
  Bernardo Dovizii, Cardinal Bibbiena 65
  His ingratitude and ambition 67
  His beauty and worldly character 68
  Bernardo Accolti, l'Unico Aretino 69
  Count Ludovico Canossa 70
  Alessandro Trivulzio 71


1507.   The Duke's declining health 72
  The court enlivened by female society 72
  Emilia Pio, surnamed Pia 75
  Her decorum and wit 76
  Her management of the social resources of the palace 77
  The origin of Castiglione's Cortegiano 78
  Guidobaldo a martyr to gout 79
1506-1508.   Extraordinary derangement of the seasons 79
1508. April. He is carried to Fossombrone 80
” 11. His great sufferings and resigned end 80
The paganism of his biographers 81
Precautions of the Duchess against a revolution 82
And of the Pontiff 83
His body taken to Urbino 84
” 13. The Prefect Francesco Maria proclaimed Duke of Urbino 85
His visit to the Duchess 85
Funeral of Guidobaldo 85
May 2. His obsequies and funeral oration 85
  His portraits 86
  His accomplishments and excellent character 86
  His patronage of Paolo Cortesio 87
  Enduring influence of his reign 88
  His widow 89


1443-1508.   The golden age of Italian letters and arts 93
””   Rich in scholars but poor in genius 94
””   Its prosaic tendency 94
””   The revival of learning 95-xiv-
””   Promoted by the multiplicity of independent communities 97
””   Especially by the petty sovereigns 98
””   Adulatory tendency of such literature 99
””   A narrow patriotism generated 100
””   Taste for classical erudition, philology and grammar 101
””   The study of Latin induced pedantry and languid conventionality 102
””   The prosaic scholarism of this period 103
””   Tending to pagan ideas 103
””   The rival philosophies of Aristotle and Plato 105
””   Leading to fierce quarrels 106
””   Superseding Christian revelation 106
””   And eventually shaking Catholic unity 107
””   Influence of the Dukes of Urbino on letters 107
””   Mediocrity of many authors of local fame 108


1412-1441.   Letters of Count Guidantonio in favour of various learned men 109
1444-1482.   Duke Federigo's love for literary converse 111
””   The academies 112
””   Fulsome dedications 112
1473.   Gentile de' Becci 113
1480.   Ludovico Odasio 114
    Francesco Venturini 114
    Guarniero Berni of Gubbio 115
1470-1555.   Polydoro di Vergilio 115
””   His preferments in England 115
””   His English history 117
    Vespasiano Filippi 118
1478-1529.   Count Baldassare Castiglione 119
””   His Cortegiano 119
””   Compared with Machiavelli's Principe 120
””   His letter to Henry VIII. regarding Duke Guidobaldo 121
””   His poetry 121
1528.   His letter to his children 122
1470-1547.   Cardinal Bembo 123
””   His pedantry and affected imitation of Cicero 123
””   His history of Venice 124
””   His Essay on Duke Guidobaldo 124
””   His other works 125
    Learned ladies 128-xv-


1443-1508.   Poetry under the Montefeltrian Dukes 130
””   Defects of the sonnet 131
    Francesco Filelfo 131
1480.   Gian Maria Filelfo, his son 132
    His Martiados in praise of Duke Federigo 132
    His minor poems 133
    Specimen of the dedication 134
    His sonnet to Gentile Bellini the painter 135
    His life of Duke Federigo 136
    Pandonio of Naples 136
    His Feltria on Duke Federigo's campaigns 137
    Specimen of it 137
    Giovanni Sanzi of Urbino, father of Raffaele Sanzio 138
    His metrical chronicle of Duke Federigo 138
    Various specimens of it translated 140
1428-1457.   Angelo Galli from Urbino 143
    Specimen of his poetry 143
    Federigo Veterani, his beautiful transcripts 144
    His tribute in verse to Duke Federigo 145
    Urbani of Urbino 146
    Antonio Rustico of Florence 146
    Naldio of Florence 146
    Bernardo Accolti of Arezzo 146
    His improvisation 146
    Serafino di Aquila 147
    Agostino Staccoli of Urbino 147
    Early Italian comedies 147
    La Calandra of Bibbiena 147
1513.   Its performance at Urbino 148
    Description of the scenery and accompanying interludes 148
    Origin of the ballet 152
    Nature of the plot in La Calandra 152
    Low standard of morals at that time 153
    Obscene jest books 154


    Mediæval art almost exclusively religious 157
    The introduction of types and traditionary forms 157
    A picture by Botticelli denounced as heretical (note) 158
    The choice and treatment of sacred themes 159
    Modified by the personal character of artists 160
    Instances of this 161-xvi-
    Devotional feeling of early painters 161
    Shown in the rules of their guilds at Siena and Florence 162
    Case of Giorgio Vasari 163
    The gloomy character of Spanish art 163
    The subject to be considered apart from sectarian views 164
    Christian art modified in the fifteenth century 166
    Gradual innovation of naturalism 167
    Followed by paganism and classicism 168
    Rise of the "new manner" 169
    Religious prudery in Spain fatal to art 170
    Von Rumohr's definition of Christian art 170
    Opinions prevailing in England 171
    Hogarth and Savonarola 172
    Burnet and Barry 172
    Reynolds and Raffaele 172
    Obstacles to a due appreciation of this subject among us 173
    Mr. Ruskin and Lord Lindsay 174
    Sir David Wilkie 175
    It does not necessarily lead to popery 175
    Nor is it a desirable "groundwork for a new style of art" 176
    St. Francis of Assisi, his legends and shrine 177
    Their influence renders Umbria the cradle of sacred art 178
    Opinions of Rio, Boni, and Herbert Seymour 179


    The Umbrian school hitherto overlooked 184
    The cathedral of Orvieto and the sanctuary of Assisi attract many artists 185
    The dramatic or Dantesque character of Florentine painting 186
    Sentimental devotion of the Sienese school 187
    Influence of these on Umbrian painters 187
-1299.   Oderigi da Gubbio 188
    Notice of him by Dante 188
    Guido Palmerucci of Gubbio 189
    Angioletto, a glass-painter of Gubbio 190
1375-1444.   Ottaviano Nelli of Gubbio and his pupils 190
1434. June 30. His letter to Caterina, Countess of Urbino 192
    Allegretto Nuzi of Fabriano 193-xvii-
1370-14.   Gentile da Fabriano; he studies under 193
1383-14.   Fra Giovanni da Fiesole, the Beato Angelico 194
””   A friar of holy life and pencil 194
””   Gentile called "master of the masters" 196
1370-14.   His works studied by Raffaele 196
””   Goes to Venice 197
””   His taste for gaudy trappings 197
    Benedetto Bonfigli of Perugia 199
1446-1524.   Pietro Perugino 199
    Painters in Urbino 200
-1478.   Piero della Francesca of Borgo San Sepolcro 201
””   His history obscure 201
””   His two distinct manners 202
””   His knowledge of geometry 203
””   His claims to the introduction of perspective 203
””   These examined, and those of Luca Pacioli 203
””   His unedited writings (note) 204
””   His frescoes at Arezzo and their influence on Raffaele 206
””   His portrait of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta 208
””   His portraits of the Montefeltrian princes 209
-1484.   Bartolomeo Coradino, the Fra Carnevale 210
    Beautiful altar-picture near Pesaro 211
1423-1502.   Francesco di Giorgio of Siena 211
    His works in painting, architecture, and engineering 212
    Letter of Duke Federigo on his behalf 214
    His writings 215


-1494.   Giovanni Sanzi of Urbino 216
    Till lately unjustly depreciated 216
    His own account of himself 217
    His style and works 218
    His portrait of his son, the divine Raffaele 218
1483. Apr. 6. Birth of Raffaele Sanzio of Urbino, surnamed "the Divine" 220
    Notice of his biographers 220
    His appearance happily timed 221
    First pictorial influences on his mind 222
1495.   He goes to the school of Perugino 223
1500-1504.   His earliest independent works at Città di Castello 225
””   Returns to paint at Perugia 226
””   Visits Siena and Florence 226
””   Returns to paint at Urbino 227
””   His second visit to Florence 227
””   With a recommendation from Joanna della Rovere 228-xviii-
1504-1505.   His works, patrons, and associates there 228
1505-1507.   Again painting at Perugia 230
1505-1507.   His intercourse with Francia 231
1503-1508.   And with the polished court of Urbino 231
””   Works commissioned of him there 232
””   His recently discovered fresco at Florence 234


1508.   He is called to Rome by Julius II. 235
  And employed to paint in the Stanze 236
1508-1513.   His plan for the frescoes there detailed and examined 236
1513. Feb. 21. Death of Julius II. 239
1513-1520.   Raffaele's powers overtaxed 240
””   He gradually falls into "the new manner" 241
””   The charge against him of a vicious life unfounded 241
””   Question how far he imitated others 242
””   Especially Michael Angelo 243
””   No parallel between them 244
””   His diminished intercourse with Urbino 246
1520. Apr. 6. His sudden death and funeral 247
  His intended marriage and cardinal's hat 249
  His varied gifts 250
  Testimonies to his merits 250
  His sense of beauty 251
  Purity of his taste 252


1470-1523.   Timoteo Viti 254
    His picture of questioned orthodoxy 256
1444-1514.   Donato Bramante 259
    Confusion regarding him 259
    His works at Urbino 261
    Commences St. Peter's, at Rome 262
    Builds at the Vatican 263
    Fra Bernardo Catelani 264
    Crocchia of Urbino 265
1450-1517.   Francesco Francia 265
1430-1506.   Andrea Mantegna 265
1424-1514.   Giovanni Bellini 266
1446-1523.   Pietro Perugino 266
1386-1445.   Jean van Eyck 266
1474.   Justus of Ghent 267-xix-
    Italian portrait medallions 269
1468.   Clemente of Urbino 270
    Medals of Duke Federigo 270
    Medal of Duchess Elisabetta 272
    Medal of Emilia Pia 273


1414. July 21. Birth of Sixtus IV. 277
  Origin of his family 277
1414.   Omens attending his birth 278
1471. Aug. 9. His education and elevation to the papacy 278
    Children of his father, and their descendants 279
    His partiality to his nephews 283
    Extravagance of Cardinal Pietro Riario 284
    Hospitalities of Sixtus 285
    His improvements in Rome 286
    Scandals regarding him 287
    His patronage of art 287
    And of the Vatican Library 289
    Portrait there of himself and nephews 289
    Painted by Melozzo da Forlì 290
    His brother Giovanni della Rovere 291
1474. Oct. 12. Made vicar of Sinigaglia 291
” 28. His marriage with Princess Giovanna of Urbino 291
1475.   Made Lord Prefect of Rome 291
    His beneficial reign 292
    His favour at the papal court 293
1474.   The story of Zizim or Gem 293
  His ransom is seized by the Prefect 294
  Curious correspondence of the Sultan with Alexander VI. 295
  Description of Gem by Mantegna the painter 297
1501. Nov. 6. Death of the Prefect 299
    His portrait 299
    His widow 300
    Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere 301
    His persecutions by the Borgias 301
1503. Nov. 1. His election to the Tiara 303
    His character and policy 304
    His patronage of art 306
    His improvements in Rome 306
    Parallel of him with Leo X. 307-xx-


1490. Mar. 25. Birth of Duke Francesco Maria I. 313
1501. Nov. 6. He succeeds to his father's state of Sinigaglia 313
He is carried to Urbino 313
1502. Apr. 24. Is made Prefect of Rome 313
  His early education and tastes 314
  His military propensities 314
June 20. His escape from Cesare Borgia 315
1502.   He is received at the court of France 315
1504. March. His return to Italy 315
June 17. Restored at Sinigaglia 316
Sep. 18. Invested as heir-apparent of Urbino 316
1505. Jan. Contracted in marriage to Leonora Gonzaga 316
1506.   His first military service 316
1507. Oct. 6. Assassinates the paramour of his sister 317
1508. Apr. 14. He succeeds to the dukedom of Urbino 318
His constitutional concessions 319
” 25. His summons to his new subjects to swear allegiance 319
  His judicious and conciliatory measures 320
  Origin of the League of Cambray 321
Dec. 10. It is signed 322
The objects of this unnatural combination 322
Oct. 4. Francesco Maria made captain-general of the ecclesiastical forces 323
1509. May. Elected a Knight of the Garter, but not confirmed by Henry VIII. 324
Dec. 24. His marriage celebrated 324
    The Duchess Leonora's psalter 324
April. He takes the field against Venice 325
May 4. Takes Brisghella 325
  Remarkable incident in his camp 325
  The Pope's partiality for the Cardinal of Pavia 326
  His character and intrigues against Francesco Maria 327
  His treachery 327
May 14. The Venetians beaten at Vaila 328
June 11. Rimini capitulates, and the campaign closes 329
  The Duke carries his bride to Rome 329
  He reconciles the Pope to Giuliano de' Medici 329
  The Pope changes sides 330
  Further treachery of the Cardinal of Pavia 330
1510. July. The Duke marches against Ferrara 331
Sep. Julius II. takes the field 331
  His suspicions of the Cardinal 332
  The council of Pisa threatened 332
  His indomitable resolution 333-xxi-


1510. Dec. His ill-judged appearance at the siege of Mirandola 334
1511. May 21. The Duke's miscarriage before Bologna by the Cardinal's treachery 336
The Cardinal prepossesses the Pope against his nephew 338
” 24. And falls by his hand 339
  Ill-timed badinage of Cardinal Bembo (note) 339
  The Duke retires to Urbino 340
June. And the Pontiff returns to Rome 340
  His indignation against the Duke 340
  Who is arrested, and subjected to a complicated prosecution 341
  Defended by Beroaldo the younger 341
  Dangerous illness of Julius 342
  He is reconciled to Francesco Maria 343
Dec. 9. And absolves him 343
New league against the French 343
1512.   Hesitation of Francesco Maria 344
  Consequent disgust of Julius 344
Apr. 11. The field of Ravenna 344
  Francesco Maria is reconciled to the Pope 345
June 22. He retakes Bologna 345
Aug. And reduces Reggio 345
  The French abandoned by their Italian allies 346
  The Duke's fruitless attempt on Ferrara 347
  Restoration of the Medici at Florence 347
  The Duke's feeling towards them examined 347
  New projects of the Pope 348
  Lapse of Pesaro to the Holy See 349
Oct. 23. The town reduced by Francesco Maria 349
1513. Feb. 16. He is invested with that state 350
” 21. Death of Julius II. 350
Mar. 16. The Duke's reception at Pesaro


1513.   Influence of Francesco Maria in the conclave favourable to the Medici 351
Mar. 11. Election of Leo. X. 351
His singular good fortune 352
His character contrasted with that of Julius by Sismondi 352
” 19. Francesco Maria attends his coronation 353
And is confirmed in all his dignities 354-xxii-
Sep. His favour for Baldassare Castiglione 355
  Notice of the fief of Novilara 357
1514.   Ambitious projects and intrigues of Leo X., involving Urbino 358
Apr. 2. Birth of Prince Guidobaldo of Urbino 359
1515. Jan. 1. Bembo's visit to that court 359
June The Duke superseded by Leo X. in his command 360
  Friendship of Giuliano de' Medici for him 361
Jan. 1. Death of Louis XII., succeeded by Francis I. 362
  The Pontiff's undecided policy 362
Sep. 13. Battle of Marignano 364
1516. Jan. Death of Ferdinand of Spain 364
Mar. 17. And of Giuliano de' Medici 365
Character of Lorenzo de' Medici 365
Francesco Maria exposed to the fury of Leo 366
Apr. 27. Sentence of deprivation against him 367
Aug. 18. And his dignities conferred upon Lorenzo 367
April Ingratitude of Bembo 367
    Lashed by Porrino 368
May. The duchy of Urbino invaded 368
” 31. Francesco Maria withdraws to Lombardy with his family 369
The duchy surrenders to Lorenzo 369
Sep. S. Leo surprised 370


1516. Aug. 13. The peace of Noyon 372
  Attempt on his state by the Duke 372
1517. Jan. 17. His manifesto 373
His address to the soldiery 376
Alarm of the Pontiff 377
Gradara is sacked 377
Feb. Partial rising in his favour 377
” 5. Remarkable adventure of Benedetto Giraldi 378
” ” Francesco Maria enters Urbino 380
  Measures adopted by Leo 380
  The Duke challenges Lorenzo to a personal encounter, which is declined 382
Mar. 25. Sack of Montebaroccio 383
Siege of Mondolfo, where Lorenzo is wounded 384
  Its sack, with many excesses 385
  Cardinal Bibbiena appointed to the command as legate 387
  Disorganisation of his army 388-xxiii-
May 6. It is routed on Montebartolo 388
” ” The Duke's letter to his consort detailing the battle 389


1517.   Conspiracy against Leo 391
  Fate of Cardinal Adrian of Corneto 392
June 20. Leo applies to Henry VIII. 392
  His unscrupulous measures 392
May. Francesco Maria's expedition against Perugia 393
Treason in his camp 393
His energetic proceedings 394
June. Makes a foray into La Marca 395
A conversation with the Pope 396
His apprehensions 397
July. The Duke's advantage over the Swiss at Rimini, and march upon Tuscany 398
Aug. Progress of negotiations 398
  Conditions granted to Francesco Maria 402
  Vile conduct of his Spaniards 402
  Curious votive inscription 403
  The Duke again withdraws from his state 403
  Immense cost of the campaign 404
  Its remote consequences upon the Reformation 404
  The fortunes of Lorenzo de' Medici 405
1519. Apr. 28. His death 405
  Partition of the duchy of Urbino 406
1520. Mar. Fate of Gian Paolo Baglioni 406
1519.   The singular good fortune of Charles V. 407
June 28. He is elected Emperor 408
1521.   Combinations for new wars in Italy 408
  Francesco Maria in the French interest 409
  He retires to Lonno 409
  Milan restored to the Sforza family 410


1521. Dec. 1. Disgust and death of Leo 411
Opinions as to his being poisoned 411
Francesco Maria returns to his state 412
” 22. And is readily welcomed 413
1522. Jan. 5. He restores the Varana and Baglioni 413
And invades Tuscany 414
” 15. His letter to the Priors of Siena 414
  Urbino invaded by the Medici 415
  Their reconciliation with the Duke 415-xxiv-
  His condotta by them 416
  Election of Adrian VI 416
May 18. The Duke is reinstated in his dignities 418
Feb. 18. His bond to the Sacred College 418
  Pretensions of Ascanio Colonna upon Urbino 418
June 22. Murder of Sigismondo Varana 419
  The Duke refuses service with the French 420
Aug. But aids the Pope against Rimini 420
1523.   The ladies of his court return home 421
  He establishes his residence at Pesaro 421
  Hospitality of the Duchesses 421
  He goes to Rome, to wait upon Adrian 422
  New league for the defence of Sforza 423
  Francesco Maria retained by Venice as general-in-chief 423
  French invasion of the Milanese 423
Sep. 24. Death of Adrian succeeded by Clement VII. 423
  Death of Prospero Colonna, and his influence on the tactics of Francesco Maria 423
  Venetian proveditori and their evils 424
1524.   Lanoy commander-in-chief of the allies 426
  The Duke of Urbino hampered by the Proveditore 426
  His tactics 427
1523.   The French admiral, Bonnivet, wounded 427
  Is succeeded by the Chevalier Bayard 427
1524. Apr. 30. His heroic death 427
  The French driven out of Italy 428
June 25. His honourable reception at Venice 429
” 27. Made captain-general by the Signory 429
July 3. Received into the company della Calza 430
” 5. Returns home 431
Oct. New invasion of Italy by Francis I. 431
1525. Feb. 25. The battle of Pavia 431


1525.   Altered policy of Clement 433
  Treason and death of the Marquis of Pescara 434
1526. Feb. 14. Letter from the Duke of Urbino to Cardinal Wolsey 434
May. New League against Charles V. 435
The Duke marches to relieve Milan 435
June. And obtains Lodi 435
  His embarrassment from the number of leaders in the army 436
  Sketch of Francesco Guicciardini 436-xxv-
  His differences with Francesco Maria 436
  Opinions divided as to the advance on Milan 437
  The Duke's policy explained 438
July 6. Miscarriage and retreat of the army 439
The prejudices of Guicciardini 439
” 24. Milan is surrendered by Sforza 441
The Duke's quarrels with Guicciardini 441
  Opinions of Sismondi 442
  The Duke's illness from vexation 443
Sep. He carries Cremona 443
  The Colonna rebel against the Pope 443
Sep. 20. They surprise Rome, and pillage the Borgo 444
Francesco Maria visits his Duchess 445
Nov. Fründesberg brings the lansquenets into Lombardy 445
  The Duke's plans of defence considered 446
Nov. 30. Battle of Borgoforte, and death of Giovanni de' Medici delle bande nere 446
1527.   Tortuous policy of Clement 447
Mar. 15. His truce with Lanoy 448
Inertness of the allies 449
The Constable Bourbon 449
His policy in this war 449
Inactivity of the Duke 451
Bourbon's advance into Central Italy 452
He repudiates Lanoy's truce 452
His progress through Romagna 453
Vain attempt of Lanoy to interrupt him 453
Feeble and selfish views of all the allies 454
Secret motives of the Duke 454
Apr. 22. Bourbon crosses into Tuscany 455
  The Duke quells an insurrection at Florence 456
May 1. His fortresses of S. Leo and Maiuola restored 456
Apr. 26. Bourbon hurries onward to Rome 456


    Cesare Borgia's personal appearance and portraits 459
1504. Feb. 20. Letter of Henry VIII. to Duke Guidobaldo with the insignia of the Garter 462
  Instructions for his investiture 463
  Polydoro di Vergilio's account of it 466
1506. July 24. The Duke sends Count Castiglione to England as his proxy 469
Oct. 20. His reception and installation 469-xxvi-
1507.   He is knighted, and returns to Urbino 470
    Giovanni Sanzi's metrical Chronicle of Duke Federigo 471
    Fac-simile of the autograph 472
    Table of the contents 472
    Epitaph upon Giovanni della Rovere 480
    Remission and rehabilitation of Duke Francesco Maria I. 481
    Letter from Cardinal Wolsey to Lorenzo de' Medici 484


Note.—The Editor's notes are marked with an asterisk.




The massacre of Sinigaglia—Death of Alexander VI.—Narrow escape of Cesare Borgia.

THE principal object of the new combination having been attained by the submission of Urbino, followed by that of Camerino, Borgia hastened to anticipate the suspicions of his allies by sending the French succours back to Milan. He however retained a body of troops, and proposed that the chiefs should co-operate with him in reducing Sinigaglia, which was held by the late Prefect's widow. Accordingly, Paolo Orsini, his relation the Duke of Gravina, Vitellozzo, and Liverotto advanced upon that town, the garrison of which was commanded by the celebrated Andrea Doria. This remarkable man, finding himself excluded by the state of parties at Genoa from all prospect of preferment, had in youth adopted the career of a condottiere. He took service with Giovanni della Rovere, distinguishing himself greatly in the campaign of Charles VIII. at Naples; after which he continued attached to the Prefect and his widow, with a hundred light horse. Seeing the case of Sinigaglia desperate, and dreading Liverotto's bitter hatred of the Rovere race, he retired, having first-4- sent off the Prefectess on horseback to Florence, disguised as a friar. On the 28th of December, the assailants took undisputed possession of the city, and sacked it. His prey now in his toils, Valentino, who had lulled their suspicion by keeping aloof with his troops in Romagna, flew to the spot on the pretext of reducing the citadel, and on the 31st arrived at the town with a handful of cavalry.

He was met three miles outside of the gate by the chiefs, and immediately requested their attendance in the house of one Bernardino di Parma, to receive his congratulations and thanks on their success. At the same time he desired quarters to be provided for their respective followings outside of the city, in order to admit his own army, amounting to two thousand cavalry and ten thousand infantry. Startled at the appearance of a force so disproportioned to the service in hand, they would gladly have demurred to this distribution of the troops, but Cesare had contrived that there should be no opportunity for remonstrance, and resistance would have obviously been too late. Affecting a confidence they were far from feeling, the leaders accepted the invitation, and were received with cordiality and distinction. After an interchange of compliments, Borgia withdrew upon some pretext, when there immediately entered his chosen agent of iniquity, Don Michelotto, with several armed followers, who, after some resistance, arrested the Duke of Gravina, Paolo Orsini, Vitellozzo, and Liverotto, with some ten others. Before morning the two last were strangled with a Pisan cord, or violin-string, and a wrench-pin, by the hands of that monster, in his master's presence. Their death, according to Machiavelli, was cowardly, especially that of the blood-stained Liverotto; and their bodies, after being dragged round the piazza, were exposed for three days before burial.

That night Valentino, at the head of his Gascons, attacked six thousand of these captains' troops, which-5- had not dispersed on hearing the capture of their leaders, slaughtering and plundering them with the same barbarity they had themselves used towards the citizens. The greater portion were cut to pieces, and those who escaped reached their homes naked, having only straw tied round their legs. Fabio Orsini was saved by his accidental absence from Borgia's levee; Petrucci and Baglioni, suspicious of treachery, had avoided their fate by previously retiring home. Against the last of these, Borgia marched in a few days, carrying with him the remaining chiefs, of whom he reserved the Orsini until he should hear his father's intentions; but each night after supper he is said to have had one of the others brought out, and put to a cruel death before him. Thus did he, by a dexterous stroke of the most refined duplicity, turn the tools of his ambition into victims of his vengeance, and at the same time ridded himself of faithless adherents, whom any change in his fortune would have again converted into overt and implacable foes.[1]

Vermiglioli, in his life of Malatesta Baglioni, has printed, from the archives of Perugia, a letter from Borgia to the magistrates of that city, which, in consideration of the comparative obscurity of that interesting volume, we shall here translate. It is, perhaps, the only known document fully stating the case of the writer, and so may be regarded as his defence from the charges we have brought against him: the style and orthography are remarkably rude; and the matter abounds in that common expedient,-6- whereby bold and bad men seek to evade merited accusations, by throwing them upon those they have outraged.[2]

"Magnificent and potent Lords, my special Friends and Brothers;

"Superfluous were it to narrate from their outset the perfidious rebellion and atrocious treason, so known to yourselves and to all the world, and so detestable, which your [lords, the Baglioni,] and their accomplices have committed against his Holiness the Pope and ourselves. And although all were our vassals, and most of them in our pay, received and caressed by us as sons or brothers, and favoured with high promotion, they nevertheless, regardless of the kindness of his Holiness and our own, as of their individual honour, banded in schemes of overweening ambition, and blinded by greed of tyranny, have failed us at the moment of our utmost need, turning his Holiness' arms and ours against him and ourselves, for the overthrow of our sovereignty and person. They commenced their aggressions upon us by raising our states of Urbino, Camerino, and Montefeltro, throwing all Romagna into confusion by force and by seditious plots, and proceeding under the mask of reconciliation to fresh offences, until our new levies were brought up in irresistible force. And so atrocious was their baseness, that neither the beneficent clemency of his [Holiness] aforesaid, nor our renewed indulgence to them, weaned them from the slough of their first vile designs, in which they still persisted. And as soon as they learned the departure of the French troops on their return towards Lombardy, whereby they deemed us weakened and left with no effective force, they, feigning an urgent desire to aid in our attack upon Sinigaglia, mustered a third only of their infantry, and concealed the-7- remainder in the houses about, with instructions to draw together at nightfall, and unite with the men-at-arms, whom they had posted in the neighbourhood, meaning, at a given moment, to throw the infantry, through the garrison (with whom they had an understanding), upon the new town, in the narrow space whereof they calculated upon our being lodged with few attendants, and so to complete their long-nourished plans by crushing us at unawares. But we, distinctly forewarned of all, so effectively and quickly anticipated them, that we at once made prisoners of the Duke of Gravina, Paolo Orsini, Vitellozzo of Castello, and Liverotto of Fermo, and discovered, sacked, and overthrew their foot and horse, whether concealed or not; whereupon the castellan, seeing the plot defeated, quickly surrendered the fortress at discretion. And this we have done, under pressure of necessity imposed by the measures of these persons aforesaid, and in order to make an end of the unmeasured perfidy and villanies of them and their coadjutors, thereby restraining their boundless ambition and insensate cupidity, which were truly a public nuisance to the nations of Italy. Thus your highnesses have good cause for great rejoicing at your deliverance from these dangers. And on your highnesses' account, I am now, by his Holiness's commands, to march with my army, for the purpose of rescuing you from the rapacious and sanguinary oppression whereby you have been vexed, and to restore you to free and salutary obedience to his Holiness and the Apostolic See, with the maintenance of your wonted privileges. For the which causes, We, as Gonfaloniere and Captain of his Holiness and the aforesaid See, exhort, recommend, and command you, on receipt hereof, to free yourselves from all other yoke, and to send ambassadors to lay before his Holiness your dutiful and unreserved obedience: which failing, we are commanded to reduce you by force to that duty,—an event that would distress us on account of the serious-8- injuries which must thereby result to your people, for whom we have, from our boyhood, borne and still bear singular favour. From Corinaldo, the 2d of January, 1503.

"Cesare Borgia of France,
Duke of Romagna and Valentino,
Prince of Adria and Venafra,
Lord of Piombino,
Gonfaloniere and Captain-General
of the Holy Roman Church."

News of the Sinigaglia tragedy reached the Pope late in the evening, and he instantly communicated to Cardinal Orsini that Cesare had taken that city, assured that an early visit of congratulation from his Eminence would follow. The Cardinal was perhaps the richest and most influential of his house. He chiefly had organised the league of La Magione, but having always contrived to keep on good terms with Alexander, he believed in the professions of regard with which his Holiness subsequently seduced him from that policy, and thence reposed in him a fatal confidence. Next morning he rode in state to pay his respects at the Vatican, where his own person and those of his principal relations were instantly seized, whilst his magnificent palace at Monte Giordano was pillaged by orders and for the benefit of the Pontiff. After an imprisonment of some weeks, he was cut off by slow poison, prescribed from the same quarter, and died on the 22d of February. Thus did the Pope set his seal of approval on his son's atrocities, which he justified by a poor and pointless jest, avowing that as the confederates of La Magione, after stipulating that they should not be required to re-enter the service of Valentino unless singly, had thought fit to place themselves within his power en masse, they merited their fate as forsworn.



The massacre of Sinigaglia has been condemned by every writer except Machiavelli, and posterity has in severe retribution suspected him of abetting it. This charge-10- possesses a twofold interest, as inculpating the character of the historian, and as affecting the morality of the age.[*3] In the latter view alone does it fall under our consideration: yet however horrible these wholesale murders, they are more remarkable in Italian history as the crowning crime of an ambitious career, and as widely influencing the political aspect of Romagna and La Marca, than from their relative enormity. The fates of the young Astorre Manfredi of Faenza, of Fogliano of Fermo, of the Lord of Camerino and his three sons, have all been mentioned in these pages as occurring within a year or two of this event. It would be easy to swell the catalogue of slaughter; and we find Baglioni and Vitellozzo both classed with Cesare himself in the category of murder, by a chronicler of Alexander VI., who also quotes from the mouth of Giovanni Bentivoglio, at the diet of La Magione, this bravado, "I shall assassinate Duke Valentino should I be so lucky as to have opportunity."[4] The spirit of the age is further illustrated by its unnumbered poisonings: and the fact that Machiavelli should neither have used his influence with Valentino to avert the massacre of the confederates, nor his pen to brand the treachery of that foul deed, is but another link in the evidence from which we may deduce the total extinction of moral feeling, which, anticipating the worst doctrines of Loyola, carried them out with a selfishness, falsehood, and cruelty unparalleled in the annals of human civilisation.[*5]





Gianpaolo Baglioni having fled to Siena, Valentino followed him in that direction, after taking possession of Perugia, and learning that Città di Castello, abandoned by the adherents of the Vitelli, had been plundered by his own partizans. On the 18th of January, hearing at Città della Pieve of the blow struck by his father against the Orsini, and that Fabio, who escaped the snare at Sinigaglia, was ravaging the Campagna, he handed over Paolo and the Duke of Gravina to the tender mercies of Michelotto, whose noose quickly encircled their necks. Invading the Sienese, he carried fire and sword by Chiusi as far as Pienza and San Quirico, massacring even the aged and infirm with horrible tortures. His real object, besides revenging himself upon Petrucci and Baglioni, was to add Siena to his territory, but his position being then a delicate one with France, he accepted the proposal of that republic to purchase safety, by exiling Petrucci their seigneur, and dismissing Baglioni their guest.[*6]

This series of rapid successes is ascribed by Machiavelli to the policy of Valentino in ridding himself of his French auxiliaries and his mercenary confederates, and so being enabled, during the brief remainder of his career, to give his talents and energy full scope in the conduct of an army entirely devoted to his views. His conquests had now extended along the eastern fall of the Apennines, from Imola to Camerino, and included the upper vale of the Tiber and the principality of Piombino. He had but to add to them Siena, and the best part of Central Italy from sea to sea would be his own. The eyes of Louis, at length opened to a danger which he had so long fostered, were not blinded by Cesare's affected moderation in claiming his recent acquisitions rather for the Church-12- than for himself, and that monarch hastened to caution him from further hostilities against Tuscany. The successes of Fabio Orsini around Rome at the same time called for his presence, so he changed his route to make a foray upon the holdings of that family about the Lake of Bracciano, with whom the Colonna and Savelli had united against their common enemies the Borgia. This opportunity was greedily seized by the Pontiff to carry out his long cherished policy of breaking the power of the great barons, and the castles of the Orsini having one after another been reduced, their influence ceased for the future to be formidable either to their sovereign or their neighbours.

But it is time we should return to Urbino, where we left the citizens bewailing the departure of their Duke. As soon as he was gone, Antonio di S. Savino took possession of the place in name of Valentino, and issued a proclamation enjoining the townsfolk to disarm, the peasantry to return home, and all to surrender whatever they had stolen the day before from the palace. In the afternoon, after a conciliatory harangue to the people, he took his lodging in the palace. Next morning, after mass, the Bishop published a general amnesty, and oaths of allegiance to the new sovereign were administered. Towards evening the bells were rung, and a bonfire was lit in the piazza; but these were heartless and forced rejoicings, and no bribes could induce even the children to raise the cry of "Valenza." Nor was this sadness without cause, for the soldiery of Orsini and Vitellozzo, who still quartered in the town, treated all with such outrage, that many of the inhabitants prayed for death to close their sufferings, envying those who were summoned from such scenes of misery. But when the troops were withdrawn, the mild character and popular manners of Antonio the governor, skilfully seconding the conciliatory policy which Borgia-13- had resolved upon, gave matters another aspect, and occasioned surprise to those who knew the cruel perfidy of their new master. Various notorious abuses were put down under severe penalties, especially the acceptance of presents by judges, and the following up of private vengeance. The deputy governor, Giovanni da Forlì, was however a man of quite opposite temperament, whose harshness soon counteracted these gentler influences, and occasioned general disgust. But the people heard with satisfaction the tragedy of Sinigaglia; for to the perfidy of the chiefs and the brutality of their army, the loss of their independence and the whole of their late misfortunes were unanimously ascribed; and a permission to ravage the territory of the Vitelli, now publicly proclaimed throughout the duchy, was by many greedily seized.

Borgia, having secured fourteen distinguished inhabitants of Urbino as hostages, ordered that the fortresses left by agreement in the hands of Guidobaldo should be attempted: that of Maiuolo was accordingly surprised about the beginning of May, and easily reduced. S. Leo being better provided, as well as considered impregnable, its siege was more methodically undertaken, and levies were ordered to reinforce the assailants. The amount of public sympathy with the cause may be estimated from Baldi's assertion that, in the city of Urbino, the utmost difficulty was experienced in raising eight foot soldiers with one month's pay. Eight hundred Gascons in the French service were obtained from De la Tremouille; but these, having turned the siege into a sort of blockade, were dispersed among the neighbouring villages, where, on the 5th of June, their revels were suddenly interrupted by unknown assailants, who disappeared as mysteriously as they had issued from the mountain defiles, leaving many of the besiegers slain or wounded. The surrounding peasantry, catching the enthusiasm, rushed to arms, and, but for extraordinary exertions, the whole duchy would have once more been-14- out for their legitimate lord. News of this movement having reached the Duke early in July, he obtained from Florence free passage through her territory, and from the Venetians a promise of passive support, and thereupon put himself into communication with his principal adherents, by means of letters carried by persons of low condition, many of which were unfortunately intercepted by the lieutenant-governor of Urbino. His people were thus kept in a fever of expectation; but, finally, this plan of an invasion was abandoned, whereupon he repaired to Mantua, to his brother-in-law the Marquis, who had been taken into the French service under De la Tremouille, and engaged him to represent to Louis the hardships of his case, and the danger of Borgia's excessive ambition.

Disgusted with their ignominious overthrow at S. Leo, the Gascons assumed the habitual licence of such mercenaries, by soon taking their departure from

"The tentless rest beneath the humid sky,
The stubborn wall that mocks the leaguer's art,
And palls the patience of his baffled heart."

The siege was nevertheless maintained by the commandant of Romagna; but the place was ably and spiritedly defended by Ottaviano Fregoso, who will soon attract our notice in other scenes. Marini has recorded another act of romantic daring by the same Brizio who, in the preceding year, had surprised the place. Fregoso's tiny garrison being greatly exhausted by the long blockade, he, with one Marzio, made his way, during a violent storm of rain, over the rocks, and through the beleaguering force, and reached a castle near Mantua where Guidobaldo then was. In vain these emissaries besought him for a reinforcement of two hundred men; for, thinking it would only waste their gallantry by prolonging a hopeless struggle, he thankfully declined their proposal. At length their urgency obtained twenty-five men who happened-15- to be at hand, and with these they returned to the leaguer. Marzio, boldly presenting himself to the commandant, volunteered to join the besiegers with his little party, which being accepted, he advanced them under the walls, whence, having been recognised by the garrison, they made a rush to the upper gate, and were received into the fortress ere the trick was discovered. By this timely succour, S. Leo was enabled to hold out until the restoration of its rightful sovereign; and its brave defenders did not even falter at the threat of summary vengeance upon their wives and families, who had been brought to the palace of Urbino to answer for their obstinacy.

Christendom was now to be appalled by a fearful catastrophe, which fitly closed the career of the Borgias, diverting their wonted weapons to their own destruction, for—

"'Tis sure a law of retribution just
That turns the plotters' arts against themselves."[7]

Alexander and his son perceiving that they could no longer turn to good account the co-operation of Louis for their grasping schemes, began to look round for new combinations: having squeezed the orange they were ready to throw aside the rind. But to such projects their exhausted treasury offered serious obstacles. To supply it they had recourse, on an extended scale, to an expedient which they had invented, and already occasionally employed,—that of poisoning the richest cardinals, seizing on their treasures, and selling their vacant hats to the highest bidders. Among the most recent and wealthy of the sacred college was Adrian of Corneto, and he was therefore selected as next victim. On the 12th of August, the Pope and Cesare invited him to sup in the Belvidere casino of the Vatican, and the latter sent forward a supply-16- of poisoned wine, in charge of his butler, with strict injunctions not to serve it until specially desired by himself. Several other cardinals were to partake of the banquet, and, probably, were intended to share the drugged potion. Alexander had been assured by an astrologer that, so long as he had about him the sacramental wafer, he should not die; and, accordingly, he constantly carried it in a little golden box; but, having on that evening forgotten it upon his toilet, he sent Monsignor Caraffa, afterwards Paul IV., to fetch it. Meanwhile, overcome by the dog-day heat, he called for wine. The butler was gone to fetch a salver of peaches, which had been presented to his Holiness, and his deputy, having received no instructions as to the medicated bottles, offered a draught from them to the Pope. He greedily swallowed it, and his example was more moderately followed by Cesare; thus,

"Even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of the poisoned chalice
To their own lips."

Scarcely had they taken their seats at the table, when the two victims successively fell down insensible, from the virulence of the poison, and were carried to bed. The Pontiff rallied so far as to recover consciousness, and to linger for about a week, but at length sank under the shock and the fever which supervened, his age being seventy-one, and his constitution enervated by long debauchery. The last sacraments were duly administered, and it was remarked that, during his illness, he never alluded to his children Cesare and Lucrezia, through life the objects of an overweening, if not criminal fondness, in whose behalf most of his outrages upon the peace and the rights of mankind had been committed. His death occurred on the 18th of August.[*8] -17-

Such is the account of this awful retribution given by Tommasi, from which most other narratives but slightly deviate as to dates or immaterial details. Another version, however, occurs in Sanuto's Diaries, which, being contemporary, and probably supplied from the diplomatic correspondence of the Signory, merits notice, and has not been hitherto published. The Cardinal of Corneto, who figures prominently in this narrative, was made collector for Peter's pence in England, and Bishop of Hereford, from whence he was translated to Bath and Wells. We shall find him compromised in Petrucci's conspiracy against Leo X., but the following charge of pope-poisoning is new.

"The Lord Adrian Castillense of Corneto, Cardinal Datary, having been desired by the Pope to receive him and Duke Valentino at supper in his vineyard, his Holiness supplying the eatables, this Cardinal presumed the invitation to be planned for his death by poison, so that the Duke might obtain his money and benefices, which were considerable. In order to save himself there seemed but one course, so, watching his opportunity, he summoned the Pontiff's steward, whom he knew intimately, and on his arrival received him alone in a private chamber, where 10,000 ducats were laid out: these he desired him to accept for love of him, offering him also more of his property, which he declared he could continue to enjoy only through his assistance, and adding, 'You certainly are aware of the Pope's disposition, and I know that he and the Duke have designed my death by poison through you; wherefore I pray you have pity on me and spare my life.' The steward, moved with compassion on hearing this, at length avowed the plan concerted for administering the poison; that, after the supper, he was to serve three boxes of-18- confections, one for the Pope, another for the Duke, and a third for the Cardinal, the last being poisoned; so they arranged that the service of the table should be contrived in such a way that the Pontiff might eat of the Cardinal's poisoned box, and die. On the appointed day, the Pope having arrived at the vineyard with the Duke, the Cardinal threw himself at his Holiness' feet and kissed them, saying he had a boon to request, and would not rise until it were granted. The Pope assuring him of his consent, he continued, 'Holy Father! on the lord's coming to his servant's house, it is not meet that the servant should sit with his lord; and the just and proper favour I ask is permission for the servant to wait at the table of your Holiness.' The supper being thus served, and the moment arrived for giving the confections, the box having been poisoned by the steward as directed by the Pope, the Cardinal placed it before his Holiness, who, relying on his steward, and convinced of the Cardinal's sincerity by his service, ate joyfully of this box, as did the Cardinal of the other, which the Pontiff believed the poisoned one. Thereafter, at the hour when from its nature the poison took effect, his Holiness began to feel it, and thus he died: the Cardinal being still alarmed, took medicine and an emetic, and was easily cured."

The death of Alexander by poison is generally credited, although Raynaldus and Muratori, willing to mitigate so heinous a scandal, incline to the few and obscure authorities who attribute it to tertian fever. It was natural that the truth should be glossed over, especially in despatches addressed to the court of his daughter Lucrezia, to which the latter annalist probably had access. But though the earliest intelligence of the event forwarded by the Venetian envoy alludes to the Pope's seizure as fever, his subsequent letters, quoted by Sanuto, thus loathsomely confirm the current suspicion of poison having been administered. "On this day [19th] I saw the Pontiff's corpse, whose-19- apparel was not worth two ducats. He was swollen beyond the size of one of our large wine-skins. Never since the Christian era was a more horrible and terrible sight witnessed. The blood flowed from ears, mouth, and nose faster than it could be wiped away; his lips were larger than a man's fist, and in his open mouth the blood boiled as in a caldron on the fire, and kept incessantly flowing as from a spout; all which I report from observation."[9]

The character of Alexander VI. as a man and as a sovereign admits of no question, and is thus forcibly summed up by Sismondi. "He was the most notoriously immoral man in Christendom; one whose debauchery no shame restrained, whose treaties no good faith sanctioned, whose policy was never guarded by justice, to whose vengeance pity was unknown."[*10] As a pontiff he must be tried-20- by a different test, and those ecclesiastical writers, who attempt not to defend his morals or example, assert the orthodoxy of his faith and doctrine, and commend the wisdom of his provisions for maintenance of that religion which regarded him as its head. He was the first to establish the censorship of books,[*11] an important bulwark of the Roman Church; and among the orders which he instituted or protected was that of S. Francesco di Paolo. Nor can it be doubted that his ambitious nepotism eventually aggrandised the temporal possessions of the papacy, by quelling the mutinous barons of the Campagna, and by so crushing the more distant seigneurs as to render their states a speedy and easy prey to Julius II. On the other hand, the openly simoniacal practices which prevailed during his reign, the strong measures adopted to raise money for his private ends by a lavish scale of indulgences, and, generally, the unscrupulous employment of the power of the keys and the treasures of the Church for unworthy purposes, all tended to alienate men's minds, and to stir those doubts which the different, but not less injudicious, policy of his immediate successors ripened into schism.

Favoured by youth, constitution, and energy of mind, Cesare Borgia wrestled successfully with the deadly ingredients which he had inadvertently swallowed. He is said to have been saved by being frequently placed in the carcass of a newly-killed bullock or mule, and, whether in consequence of this treatment, or of the inflammatory nature of the potion, to have lost the whole skin of his body. He had flattered himself that, foreseeing every possible contingency which his father's death could develop, he had so planned his measures as to secure, in any event, his own safety, and the maintenance of his authority. But, never having anticipated being disabled from action at that very-21- juncture, his well-laid schemes fell to the ground, a signal illustration of the proverb, "Man proposes, God disposes." By means of Don Michelotto, he was, however, able to draw round the Vatican a body of twelve thousand devoted troops, and that unscrupulous agent executed his instructions by seizing about 500,000 ducats in money, jewels, and valuables, from the Pope's apartment, before his death was published.

The Diaries of Sanuto give a lively description of the immediate effects of Alexander's death on Lower Italy,—the exultations of the people, the prompt movements of the Campagna barons, the hesitation of Valentino, the intrigues of the cardinals. As soon as the good news transpired, Rome rose in arms against the Spaniards; and the Colonna and the Orsini, entering at the head of their troops, willingly aided in spoiling and slaughtering these countrymen of the Borgia, who "could nowhere find holes to hide in." Even their cardinals narrowly escaped a general massacre; and on the 8th of September, a proclamation by the College cleared the city of these foreigners on pain of the gibbet. Duke Valentino, although prostrated in strength, and "seeming as if burnt from the middle downwards," was not without formidable resources. His hope was, that in the distracted state of Rome, the cardinals would provide for their personal safety by holding the conclave in St. Angelo, where the election would be in his own hands. This calculation was, however, defeated by their assembling at the Minerva convent, guarded by the barons of Bracciano and Palestrina, with the bravest of the citizens, and protected by barricades which withstood an assault by the redoubted Michelotto. Still his troops were staunch, the Vatican and St. Angelo were his, and he had secured the treasure of the Holy See. But his nerve gave way, and after turning the castle guns against the Orsini palace on Monte Giordano, he fled in a litter to the French camp without the gates, on the 1st of-22- September, and thence made his way to the stronghold of Nepi. This vacillation brought its fitting recompense, and lost him the advantages of his position. Hesitating betwixt the Colonna and Orsini factions, wavering between Spanish and French interests, his friends dropped off, his forces melted away, and he lost the favourable moment for swaying the papal election.

The rival parties in the conclave, having had no time to mature their plans, in consequence of the late Pontiff's sudden decease, trusted to strengthen their respective interests by delay, and so were unanimous in choosing, on the 22nd of September, the most feeble of their body, the respected Piccolomini, who survived his exaltation as Pius III. but twenty-six days. The state of matters at Naples added to the general embarrassment. The ceaseless struggles for that crown had of late taken a new turn, the contest being now between Louis of France and Ferdinand of Spain. The Borgia, long adherents of the former, had recently inclined to the Spanish side; but their influence was now irretrievably gone.

*Note.—The following is a list of the chief conquests of Cesare:—

City. Family. Date. Campaign.
Imola Riarii Nov. 27, 1499 First.
Forlì Riarii Jan. 12, 1500 First.
Rimini Malatesta Oct. 10, 1500 Second.
Pesaro Sforza Oct. 21, 1500 Second.
Faenza Manfredi April 25, 1501 Second.
Piombino Appiani Sept. 3, 1501 Second.
Urbino Montefeltri June 21, 1502 Third.
Camerino Varani July 29, 1502 Third.
Sinigaglia Roveri Dec. 28, 1502 Third.
Città di Castello Vitelli Jan. 2, 1503 Third.
Perugia Baglioni Jan. 6, 1503 Third.
Siena Petrucci Jan. (end), 1503 Third.

Cf. Burd, ed. Il Principe (Oxford, 1891), p. 218, note 15.



Duke Guidobaldo restored—The election of Julius II.—The fall of Cesare Borgia—The Duke’s fortunate position—Is made Knight of the Garter—The Pope visits Urbino.

WHILST Valentino and his partizans thus had their hands full at Rome, Romagna and his recent conquests threw off his rule. His officers had concealed the first news of the tragedy at the Vatican, but, on the 22nd of August, authentic intelligence of the death of Alexander and the illness of his son having reached Urbino, through some emissaries of Guidobaldo who announced that the moment for action had arrived, the people ran to arms. The governor fled to Cesena; his lieutenant was slain in the tumult; the siege of S. Leo was raised; and in one day the entire duchy, except one unimportant castle, returned to its lawful sovereign.[*12]

On hearing that the Pope and Cesare were both ill, the Duke of Urbino hastily quitted Venice, his honourable and secure retreat, leaving behind, in the words of Bembo, "a high reputation for superhuman genius, for admirable acquirements, for singular discretion." As a parting favour, that republic advanced him 3000 or 4000 ducats, towards the expenses of his restoration. He wrote desiring his-24- nephew Fregoso to send over a detachment from S. Leo, to maintain order in his capital, and himself following upon the steps of his messenger, reached that fortress on the 27th of August. Next day he proceeded to Urbino, where, Castiglione tells us, "he was met by swarms of children bearing olive-boughs, and hailing his auspicious arrival; by aged sires tottering under their years, and weeping for joy; by men and women; by mothers with their babes; by crowds of every age and sex; nay, the very stones seemed to exult and leap." Women of all ranks flocked in from the adjacent townships, with tambourines played before them, to see their sovereign, and touch his hand; whilst popular fury spent itself upon the usurper's armorial ensigns, which had been painted in fresco over the city gates a few months before by Timoteo Vite, at the rate of from one to four ducats each.[*13]

The example of Urbino was quickly followed by Sinigaglia, Pesaro, and the other principalities; and by October, a confederacy for their common maintenance and defence, under oaths and a mutual bond of 10,000 ducats, was organised by these three states, along with Camerino, Perugia, Piombino, Città di Castello, and Rimini, in all which the exiled seigneurs had resumed their ascendancy.

It was a condition of this league, that no step or engagement should be taken by any of the parties without the sanction of Guidobaldo, who a month before had strengthened his position by accepting service from the Venetians. The Signory engaged to protect him during life in his state, against all attacks, and to pay him annually 20,000 scudi, he maintaining for them a hundred men-at-arms, and a hundred and fifty light cavalry, besides placing at their disposal, for instant service, two thousand foot. These were forthwith sent to ravage the neighbour-25-hood of Cesena, which remained faithful to Valentino, and thereafter, co-operating with other forces of the new league under Ottaviano Fregoso, they attacked in succession such citadels and castles as were held for the usurper.

The star of Borgia seemed once more in the ascendant. Early in October Cesare, now able to bestride a mule, returned to Rome, attended by a hundred and fifty men-at-arms and a hundred halberdiers, where he patched up a reconciliation with the Orsini faction, then dominant. From motives which it would now be difficult to trace, the new Pontiff received him with favour, and named him captain-general of the Church. But in this crisis of his destiny he displayed no elevation of character. Disconcerted by the embarrassment of his position, perhaps by the admonitions of conscience, uncertain where to repose confidence or look for support, he quickly repented having trusted himself in the city, and longed to escape from its incensed populace and exasperated factions to the shelter of his strongholds in Romagna. Humbling himself before Gian-Giordano Orsini, the enemy of his race, he obtained a promise of his escort across the Campagna; but perceiving, ere he had cleared the gate, that he was in the hands of men by whom old grudges were not forgotten, he fled in panic to the Vatican. There he crouched beneath the doubtful favour of Pius, and the waning influence of the Spanish cardinals, who vainly sought to protect his property from pillage, and to expedite his escape in disguise, until the Holy See was again vacated by its short-lived occupant.[14]


Thus was that make-shift policy defeated by which the late conclave had sought time for strengthening their interests and maturing their intrigues: a new election was at hand ere its elements had subsided from their recent turmoil. The Orsini were paramount in the city, the Spaniards in the Sacred College. A struggle ensued whether the former should obtain an order for Valentino's departure, or should themselves withdraw from Rome before the conclave was closed. Victory declared for the Iberian cardinals, by aid of Ascanio Sforza, who sought to conciliate their suffrages for himself. Once again the bantling of fortune had the game in his hand, again to play it away. Holding, as was supposed, at his absolute disposal the votes of the Borgian cardinals, he was courted by all who aspired to the tiara; and in hopes of retrieving his affairs by the election of a friendly pope, he took measures for throwing his whole influence into the scale of Amboise, Cardinal of Rouen, as organ of the French party. But that strong will and indomitable resolution which had triumphantly carried him through many crimes were now wanting. From day to day his plans faltered and his policy wavered; finally his efforts failed. Men were wearied of the feeble counsels, the selfish epicureanism, the public scandals of recent pontiffs. To rescue the Church from utter degradation, a very different category of qualifications was required, and even the electors felt that they must find a pope in all respects the reverse of Alexander.

There was no member of the Sacred College whom Valentino had such reason to fear and hate, none of whose domineering ambition the Consistory stood in such awe, as Giulio della Rovere. Yet did his master-spirit overcome all opposition. On the day preceding the conclave he effected a reconciliation with the Spaniards, and his ancient rival Ascanio Sforza sought his friendship. As he rode to enter upon its duties, the cortège of attendant-27- prelates equalled that which usually swelled the train of an elected pope. Before the door was closed, bets of eighty-two to a hundred were made on his success, one hundred to six being offered against any other candidate. It was, therefore, scarcely matter of surprise that within an hour or two thereafter Julius II. was chosen by acclamation, without a scrutiny.[15]

At the last moment, Borgia's adherents, finding opposition vain, thought it best to lay the new occupant of St. Peter's chair under the obligation of their suffrages, a policy which Machiavelli had justly condemned as the greatest blunder ever committed by their leader. Some historians allege that their support was gained by an offer of Julius to maintain him in his dignities and investitures, betrothing his infant daughter to his own nephew the young Lord Prefect. Unlikely as this may seem, there is much apparent inconsistency in the Pontiff's treatment of him, which, if our authorities are to be trusted, showed nothing of that choleric temperament and energetic firmness which habitually characterised him. Within two days of his election, when speaking of Valentino to the Venetian envoy, he said, "We shall let him get off with all he has robbed from the Church in his evil hour, but would that the towns of Romagna were taken from him." Yet a change appears to have supervened, induced perhaps by Cesare's representations, which had formerly been successful with Pius III., that, under his sway, the influence of the Church in that province of her patrimony would be far better maintained than by handing it again to the old dynasties, whom he had with difficulty eradicated, and who had ever been turbulent vassals of the Apostolic-28- Chamber. The now manifest intention of the Venetians to obtain a footing in that quarter, upon various pretexts founded on claims of the Manfredi and others of the dispossessed lords, gave cogency to this reasoning in the eyes of Julius, whose paramount policy of at all hazards aggrandising the keys, rendered Valentino's sovereignty preferable to such extension of their dominion, and may have somewhat extenuated the Borgian policy in his eyes. He therefore brought the usurper from St. Angelo to lodge in the Vatican, and entered with seeming cordiality into his views. But the lapse of a few days found his Holiness in another mood, declaring that his guest should not hold a single battlement throughout Italy, but might be thankful if spared his life and the treasures he had plundered, most of which were however already dissipated. From that moment the prestige of his position was at an end, and he remained at the palace "in small repute."

The crisis soon became urgent, for the Venetian troops were pouring upon Romagna, whilst the few fortresses that still owned Borgia as their master were gradually falling to the confederate chiefs, led by Guidobaldo. On the 9th of November, letters, demanding these captured castles in the name of the Signory, found the latter ill of gout; but in reply he expressed surprise at the summons, seeing that he had wrested them from the usurper, and hoped to hold them for the pope elect, and in security for the valuables of which he had been pillaged. In consideration, perhaps, of his being then actually in pay of the Republic, he agreed to deliver up Verucchio and Cesenatico, whereupon the messenger reported him to the Doge as "a good Christian, but in want of some one to counsel him."

In this exigency, Cesare proposed to surrender to the Pope the citadels of Cesena, Bertinoro, Forlì, and Forlimpopoli, as a means of immediately arresting the progress of their assailants, and of cutting short the schemes of Venice, offering to serve the Church during the rest of his-29- life in any capacity that was thought expedient. This offer Julius declined, but gave him liberty to repair to the scene of action, and act for the best with what troops he could raise. He accordingly went to Ostia on the 19th of November, meaning to take shipping for Upper Italy; but on the 21st the Pontiff, alarmed at the progress of the Venetians, and influenced by Guidobaldo, who, arriving on that day, had demanded justice upon Borgia, thought better of it, and sent to get from him the countersigns of his citadels. These Valentino refusing, he was brought back to Rome under arrest on the 29th, and, after much temporising, ultimately gave the necessary passwords for the surrender of his last hold upon his recent dominions.

Such seem the admitted facts of the Pope's treatment of Borgia. His change of conduct may have been dictated by new circumstances coming to his knowledge, or it may have been part of a systematic deception, in order to turn Valentino's influence to his own purposes. The opinions of Giovio and De Thou show that such treachery as Guicciardini charges upon Julius, and as Cesare met soon after from Gonsalvo di Cordova, was regarded by the lax public and private morality of the age as justified by his own infamous perfidies. On the other hand, it is admitted that the Cardinal della Rovere's high reputation for good faith was one of his recommendations to the conclave. Bossi, in an additional note to vol. IV. of his translation of Leo X., considers this dark passage of history to be cleared up by the narrative of Baldi, regarding Guidobaldo's generous treatment of the enemy of his house, to which he attributes the moderation of his Holiness; but this view does not seem borne out either by dates or by Baldi's words.[*16]

Thus terminated Duke Valentino's connection with-30- the immediate subject of this narrative. A few words will suffice to trace the remainder of his fluctuating fortunes. Having been again transmitted to Ostia, he remained there a sort of prisoner at large until April, 1504, when his escape to Naples was connived at. There he was received with distinction by Gonsalvo di Cordova, viceroy of Ferdinand II.; but soon after, an order arrived from that king to send him prisoner to Spain. With this command, suggested probably by a brief from Julius, which Raynaldus has printed, the Great Captain at once complied, although Borgia held his safe-conduct,—a breach of faith which the Spanish historians justify by the alleged detection of schemes and intrigues, originated by Cesare and perilous to the ascendancy of his Catholic Majesty. Yet we learn that the Viceroy's last hour seemed troubled by repentance for this stain upon his conscience, which even in his day of pride one chivalrous spirit had dared thus to question. Baldassare Scipio of Siena, a free captain long in Cesare's service, publicly placarded a challenge to any Spaniard who should venture to maintain "that the Duke Valentino had not been arrested at Naples, in direct violation of a safe-conduct granted in the names of Ferdinand and Isabella, to the great infamy and infinite faithlessness of all their crowns." On reaching the land of his fathers, this incarnate spirit of a blood-stained age was confined in the castle of Medina del Campo, and the interest used for his release by the Spanish cardinals, and by his brothers-in-law the King of Navarre and the Duke of Ferrara, who offered their guarantee for his good behaviour, was, during three years, unavailing on the ground of his dangerous character. At length he made his escape by a rope-ladder or cord, under circumstances so fool-hardy as to be ascribed by the country people to supernatural aid, and reached the King of Navarre, who gave him the command of an expedition against the Count de Lérin. On the 10th of-31- March, 1507, he fell into an ambuscade near Viane, and was cut to pieces fighting desperately. By a singular coincidence, his stripped and plundered body, having been recognised by a servant, was interred in the church of Pampeluna, the archbishopric of which had been his earliest promotion. Short as was his life (for he seems to have died under thirty) he had survived all his dignities and distinctions, realising the distich of Sannazaro,

"Cæsar, he aimed at all, he vanquished all;
In all he fails, a CYPHER in his fall."[17]

Valentino's was a character peculiar to Spain, with which Pizarro alone seems to have matched. His boundless ambition was profoundly selfish and utterly unscrupulous; his energy of purpose owned no impulse but egotism; his capacity was marred by meanness; his splendid tastes served but as incentives to spoliation. The demands of honour, the compunctions of conscience, the value of human life availed nothing in his eyes. In him foresight became fraud, calculation cunning, prudence perfidy, courage cruelty. His daring, his constancy, his talent were devoted to murder, rapine, and treachery. His campaigns were massacres, his justice vengeance, his diplomacy a trick. Generosity was a stranger to his impulses, remorse to his crimes.

Fortune, so long adverse to Guidobaldo, at length smiled upon him. The election to the tiara of his relative and confidential friend, Cardinal della Rovere, freed him from anxiety as to the restoration of his duchy, and promised him a long career of prosperity and honour. His policy of supporting the Venetians in their views upon Romagna thus not only became superfluous as a check upon Borgia, but seemed not unlikely to place him in a dilemma with-32- the Camera. The new Pontiff, therefore, lost no time in removing him from a position of such delicacy, by summoning him to Rome. The invitation found him encamped before Verucchio, whence he immediately set out; and, after devoting two days at Urbino to public thanksgivings and festivities for his own restoration and for the election of Julius, he performed the journey in a litter, his gout preventing him from riding. On the eleventh day, being the 20th of November, he was met at the Ponte Molle by a superbly caparisoned mule, and on it was painfully but honourably escorted by an imposing cortège to his apartment in the Vatican, under a salute from the artillery of St. Angelo. Notwithstanding his fatigue, he was bidden by the impatient Pontiff to supper that evening, and was received by his Holiness on the landing-place with equal favour and distinction.

In the explanations which followed, their mutual views were frankly stated. The claim which the Venetians had upon Guidobaldo, from extending to him their hospitality and support in almost desperate circumstances, was fully allowed by the Pope, and his avowal that, in co-operating with them in an invasion of Romagna, he conceived they were thwarting Borgia, not the Church, was accepted as satisfactory. But his Holiness intimated, with reference to the future, that the vassal of the Apostolic See had duties paramount to all foreign ties; and that, since the rights of the Camera over that province admitted of no compromise, he would do well to resign the service of the Republic, and recall his consort to administer his affairs at home, whilst he remained in Rome for the winter. To these suggestions the Duke agreed, and wrote in most grateful terms to the government of Venice, explaining the obstacles which had unexpectedly arisen to his repaying at that moment the obligations he had incurred. We learn from Sanuto that on the 10th of October the Duchess with her ladies went into college, and being-33- seated near the Doge, thanked the Signory in her lord's name for the favour, command, and protection granted to him, to which the Doge replied blandly, asserting the love borne him by the Republic. Again, on the 15th of November, there came into the cabinet of the Signory "the Duchess of Urbino with Madonna Emilia and her company of damsels to take leave, for she is departing early to-morrow morning for her duchy; she goes in a barge by the Po as far as Ravenna, and from thence on horseback: and the Doge spake her fair, and having taken leave, we sages of the orders accompanied her as far as the palace-gates, and she proceeded along the Mercery, reaching home on the 2d of December."

Borgia took the opportunity of Guidobaldo's visit to make advances for a reconciliation, having reason to dread his influence with the Pope. These were received with courtesy; but, in the words of the Venetian chronicler just quoted, "the Duke was resolved to have his own again, especially the library, which was promised him without damage, with the tapestries, although the Cardinal of Rouen had already got a good share of them." According to Baldi's elaborate and somewhat too dramatic description of their interview, he magnanimously forgave the extraordinary injuries he had received from his now humbled adversary. On the authority of private letters, an anonymous diary, already noticed, states that the usurper threw himself, cap-in-hand, at the Duke's feet, beseeching mercy and pardon, and excusing his conduct on the plea of youth, the brutality of his father, and the persuasions of others. This incident was represented in a fresco by Taddeo Zucchero, which I saw at Cagli in 1843, and which had been cut from the villa built at S. Angelo in Vado, by Duke Guidobaldo II. Cesare is a slight figure handsomely dressed, with long sharp features, a high nose and reddish hair. He kneels before the Duke of Urbino, raising his cap, whilst one notary appears to-34- read aloud an act of surrender, and another makes an instrument upon the transaction.[18]

Even after Valentino had given authority for a surrender of the citadels in Romagna, they were held by his officers upon the plea that he was not a free agent, and the bearer of his missive was hanged by the castellan of Cesena. At length the Pope ordered Guidobaldo to reduce them by force. For this purpose he named him gonfaloniere of the Church, retaining him and four hundred men-at-arms, with a year's pay of 7000 ducats in advance. It was about this time that he was invested with the insignia of the Garter, to which illustrious order he had been elected in February. His acquisition of this dignity, and Count Baldassare Castiglione's mission to London as proxy at his installation, form an episode of so much interest to an English reader that we have gleaned every possible notice of these events, and have arranged them in II. of the Appendix.

The Duke left Rome for his command, accompanied by his nephew the Prefettino, as he was then usually called from his youth, who had returned from France three months before to wait upon his Holiness. They were attended by Castiglione, who, after charming Julius by his polished society, was permitted by him to transfer his services to the court of Guidobaldo, of which he became the ornament and commentator. On the 1st of June they reached Urbino, and found the Duchess re-established among an attached people, who, to drive away sad recollections of their recent sufferings, had amused her during the preceding carnival with scenic imitations of the principal events of the usurpation! One of these was the comedy (so called rather in a Dantesque than a comic sense) of the Duke Valentino and Pope Alexander VI. In it were successively represented their plotting the seizure of the state, their sending the-35- Lady Lucrezia to Ferrara, their inviting the Duchess to her wedding, the invasion of the duchy, the duke's first return, and his redeparture, the massacre of the confederates, the death of the Pope, and the Duke's restoration to his rights.

The garrisons of Cesena and Bertinoro had surrendered ere Guidobaldo took the field, that of Forlì came to terms as soon as his troops appeared. With it passed the last wreck of the Borgian substantial power and vast ambition, within a year from the death of Alexander, leaving to future times no memorial but a name doomed to lasting execration. Guidobaldo had at the same time the satisfaction of recovering most of the valuables that had been pillaged from his palace, estimated by him at not less than 100,000 ducats, especially a large proportion of his father's celebrated library.

On the 6th of September the Duke retraced his steps to Urbino, and there at length renewed the long-suspended joys of his secure and tranquil residence. Few, perhaps, of their rank and age, less needed such rough discipline to inculcate moderation, than this exemplary couple. Yet must the lessons of adversity have been ordained for some purifying purpose, and we may indulge the hope that they were not sent in vain. The Duke devoted his earliest leisure to signalise his gratitude for the unflinching loyalty of his subjects by conferring upon their several municipalities various privileges and immunities, and remitting their fiscal arrears. The Duchess expressed her thankfulness by many works of piety, by liberal charities, and by instituting a three days' fair on the anniversary of her lord's restoration. Their domestic circle was agreeably enlarged by the arrival of the Lady Prefectess, as the widow of Giovanni delle Rovere was entitled, who, on returning from a similar exile, and after paying her reverence to her brother-in-law the Pope, hastened to join her son at her brother's court. We have noticed the services which when-36- assailed by Valentino, she received from Andrea Doria; they were now acknowledged by Guidobaldo with the castle of Sassocorbaro, and other holdings. Another guest at Urbino was Sigismondo Varana, the young heir of Camerino, who arrived with his mother Maria, sister of the Prefettino, and with his uncle and guardian Giovanni Maria, who afterwards supplanted him in that state.

Urbino was now enlivened by an event which proved of paramount interest to its sovereign, and was destined by providence to carry forward its independence and glories under a new dynasty. We have seen how it had been proposed between the Cardinal della Rovere and Guidobaldo, in 1498, that the latter should adopt the young Prefect as his heir, and procure from the Pope a renewal of the Dukedom and investitures to his favour.[19] The simulated sanction of Alexander to this arrangement led to no result; but, as soon as Julius was fixed in the seat of St. Peter, he took measures for placing his nephew's prospects beyond question. In the natural course of events the state of Urbino would lapse to the Holy See on the Duke's death, and, as the uniform policy of this Pontiff was to unite to it as many such fiefs as the failure of their seigneurs or the force of his arms brought within his grasp, his making an exception of the most valuable of them all in favour of his own nephew gave rise to not a few strictures. It is, however, the only instance in which nepotism can be laid to his charge, and the precedents left him by recent Popes may be pleaded in justification of a comparatively trifling abuse.

On the 14th of September the Archbishop of Ragusa arrived at Urbino as papal nuncio, charged with brieves for the completion of this affair, and also with the ensigns of command for the Duke as generalissimo of the ecclesiastical troops. The ceremonials consequent upon the implement of his mission have been detailed by Baldi,-37- and are characteristic of the times we are endeavouring to depict. The nuncio and his splendid suite were received with distinction, and next day, being Sunday, was fixed for Guidobaldo's installation. The whole court and principal inhabitants being assembled in the cathedral, high mass was performed by him, after which, standing in front of the altar, he laid aside his mitre, and pronounced a solemn benediction on the two standards of the Church, which were held furled by a canon, whilst he waved incense over them, and sprinkled them with holy water. This ended, he desired them to be mounted on their staves, and having sat down and resumed his mitre, he presented them to the Duke, who received them, devoutly kneeling on the altar-steps, and handed one to Ottaviano Fregoso, the other to Morello d'Ortona. He then received the baton, with the like ceremonies, and rose, after kissing hands; whereupon the audience dispersed amid strains of martial music and popular acclamations.

Upon the 18th, there assembled in the Duomo a still more numerous and distinguished auditory; when, after celebration of mass by the nuncio, he seated himself before the altar, with the Prefect on his right, and the Duke on his left, and in an elegant Latin discourse, set forth the desire of the latter to make sure the succession by adopting his nephew, and the approval of the Pope and college of cardinals to that substitution, in evidence of which the brieves and other formal documents were read. A magnificent missal,—perhaps that painted for Matthew Corvinus King of Hungary, which adorns the Vatican Urbino Library,—was then placed in the hands of Francesco Maria, opened at a miniature of the holy sacrament, and upon it deputies from the communities of the duchy took the oath of fidelity and homage to him as their future sovereign; all which having been regularly attested in notorial instruments, the solemnity ended.[*20]


These events served to aggravate the jealousy of the Venetians against the claims of Julius upon their recent acquisitions of Romagna, which they regarded as fairly conquered from Borgia. They possessed in this way the states of Ravenna, Faenza, and Rimini, and had gained footing upon the territories of Imola, Forlì, and Cesena, the inhabitants of which loudly complained of their aggressions. Of all these places the Church was the acknowledged superior, and the old investitures held under her by their respective princely families had been annulled by Alexander, in order to make way for his son. Some of these dynasties had died out, and Julius showed no disposition to restore the others, his leading object being the temporal aggrandisement of the papacy. At this juncture his Holiness sent for Guidobaldo, to consult with him; and in order to facilitate his arrival, presented him with a commodious litter swung between two beautifully dappled horses. The winter journey was, however, disastrous to his dilapidated frame, and he was laid up for nine days at Narni with gout, complicated by fever and dysentery, and consequently did not reach Rome with his nephew and Castiglione until the 2nd of January, when they slept outside of the gate, and next morning made a solemn entrance. It was the great object of the Republic to be received as vicar or vassal of the Holy See in the three first-mentioned states, and for this end they were willing to abandon all claims and attempts upon the remaining three. Guidobaldo, interposing as a mediator to prevent an open breach between parties so mutually deserving of his friendship, persuaded the Signory to abandon the latter places, and trust to the justice of Julius for the fulfilment of their desires. To procure this, they sent, in April, a splendid embassy to Rome of eight commissioners, with two hundred attendants, headed by Bembo, who, passing by Urbino, received from the Duchess a princely welcome. But no benefit accrued-39- from this measure, for the Pontiff's ultimatum was announced to the senate through Louis XII., giving them Rimini and Faenza, during his life only, a result highly unsatisfactory to the Republic.

The Duke's prolonged residence in Rome, where his company became greatly prized by the Pope, was little relished by his consort or his people; so, to maintain them in good humour, his Holiness announced a plenary indulgence for all their broken vows and deeds of violence during the late usurpation, to such as should devoutly observe the Easter ceremonies. The alms collected at this jubilee, amounting to 2265 florins, were expended upon the duomo of Urbino. At length, in the end of July, 1506, he obtained leave to return home, on the plea that change of air was advisable for his health.[*21]

Julius, having announced to the consistory his intention of extending the temporal sovereignty of the Church over such portions of the ecclesiastical territory as were possessed by tyrants (for so he called the vicars and other lords who ruled their petty states as feudatories of the Holy See), carried his design into effect with characteristic energy. He set out for Perugia on the 26th of August, after having directed the Duke of Urbino and his nephew to march thither, each with two hundred men-at-arms, and expel its seigneur Gianpaolo Baglioni. Here Guidobaldo again appeared as mediator, and, persuaded by him to submit with good grace to a fate that he could not avert, the Lord of Perugia gave up his fortresses, and was taken into the pay of Julius for his expedition against Bologna. The Pope, elated by the ease with which so formidable an opponent had been disposed of, pressed on preparations for attacking the Bentivoglii. He reached Urbino on the 25th of September, accompanied by twenty-two cardinals, with a suitable cortège, and a guard of four-40- hundred men. Beyond the walls he was received by forty-five noble youths, dressed in doublets and hose of white silk, who, on his alighting, seized as their perquisite his richly caparisoned mule, which was afterwards redeemed from them for sixty golden ducats. The gates were thrown down to receive him, and he was there met by the Duke, disabled from dismounting; by the magistracy, who presented the keys; and by the court and clergy. A rich canopy shaded him, as the holy sacrament was borne before him to the cathedral; and after devotion there, he entered the palace, which next evening was illuminated, along with the citadel, fireworks being displayed in the piazza. Some singular usages of hospitality were adopted on this occasion. The Duke presented to his Holiness a hundred sacks of flour, as much barley and corn, with a proportionate quantity of live stock and poultry, to the value in all of 800 ducats.[*22] This donative was accepted, and part of it was handed over to the hospital of the Misericordia. In anticipation of the Pope's advent, the roads were repaired and smoothed, triumphal arches and statues were erected, flowers and evergreens were strewn before him, the streets were adorned with gay hangings and shaded by linen awnings, the palace was arrayed in those rich tapestries, pictures, and furniture, which the taste of Federigo and his son had accumulated. Next evening, the palace roofs and the citadel were illuminated, and over the latter was hung a brilliant cross of fire. Deputations arrived from Pesaro, and the principal places in the duchy, with gifts of provisions; but large supplies had been previously laid in by the Duke for so vast an influx; and in order to regulate prices, the following tariff, calculated at about half the current value, was proclaimed.

Wheat, per staio or bush 45 bolognini.
Barley ” ” 36
Oats ” ” 24
Wine, per somma 54
Ditto, new ” 27
Mutton, per lb. 1 "-41-
Veal, per lb. 10
Ox flesh ” 8
Salt meat ” 1 to 7
Capons, per pair 9
Fowls ” 4 to 7
Pigeons ” 4 to 7
Wood pigeons, per pair 1 to 7
Eggs, seven for 1
Cheese, per lb. 1 to 7
Hay, per cwt. 4 to 7
Wood, per somma ½ carlino.[23]




From the picture by Raphael in the Pitti Gallery, Florence

On the 29th of the month, his Holiness set out for Bologna, and, avoiding the territory held by the Venetians, reached Cesena on the 2nd of October by mountain tracks through Macerata and S. Leo. Thence he summoned the Bentivoglii to surrender their city to him as its lawful sovereign, and ordered the people on pain of interdict to abandon their cause, and open the gates. These chiefs had made great preparations for defence, but subsequently, on finding themselves deserted by Louis XII., offered terms, to which Julius, elated at the prospect of French succours, would not listen. The war, which promised to be obstinate, passed off in a revolution; for the Bentivoglii, losing heart, made their escape, to the delight of the citizens, who, thus saved from a siege, threw open their gates, and hailed the Pope as their liberator. He made his entry on Martinmas-day, and at once confirmed this favourable impression by abolishing various grievances, and by scattering in the streets 4000 golden scudi bearing the legend "Bologna freed from its tyrant by Julius."[24]-42- The mob showed their zeal by demolishing the palace of their late rulers, one of the most beautiful in Italy, wherein miserably perished many treasures of art; and its ill-fated master and mistress soon after died of broken hearts in Lombardy. But fortune is fickle, and the breath of popular favour still more changeful. Four years and a half from this date the war-cry of "Bentivoglio" again rang through these streets; the same mob strained their brawny sinews to level the citadel which Julius had erected to curb them, and to shatter the colossal statue of him with which Michael Angelo had adorned their piazza; the same Pontiff saved himself from capture, and his legate escaped from the popular fury to fall by the dagger of a friend. Such are the retributions of Him "whose ways are unsearchable, and whose thoughts are past finding out."[25]

The Pope remained until late in February to settle his new conquest, keeping the Duke near him as a friend and counsellor, and on the 3rd of March, in defiance of the inclement season, repeated his visit to Urbino for one day, with a smaller company, while on his return to Rome. His host, after conveying him as far as Cagli on the 5th, pleaded his constitutional malady, and returned home with the Prefect. As this was the period selected by Count Castiglione for portraying the ducal court, it will be well to pause for a little, and consider the representation he has left us of it.



The Court of Urbino, its manners and its stars.

THE taste for philosophy, letters, and arts, and the patronage of their professors which Cosimo de' Medici and his son Lorenzo the Magnificent had introduced among the merchant-rulers of Florence, were, as we have already seen, adopted by several petty sovereigns of the Peninsula, but chiefly by those in the district of Romagna.[26] Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta was the first to engraft these fruits of peace upon a military despotism, which his restless ambition and fierce temper ever rendered the torment of his neighbours, and the scourge of his people. The d'Este of Ferrara, the Sforza of Pesaro, but, above all, Duke Federigo of Urbino, improving upon his example, had shown how mental cultivation might be brought to modify, or, as the Latin idiom has it, to humanise, without enervating, a martial character. The reign of Guidobaldo was peculiarly favourable to the development of this new and attractive principle; for though enabled partially to sustain the fame in arms which his father had bequeathed him, his feeble health gave him greater opportunity for the cultivation of letters, and for the society of the learned, to which he was naturally partial. Seconded by the sympathies of his estimable Duchess, his palace became a resort of the first literary and political celebrities of the day, who during the few years that succeeded his restoration, diffused over it a tone of refinement elsewhere-44- unrivalled. To fix for the contemplation of posterity those graceful but transient images which flitted across this gay and brilliant society was the pleasing task undertaken by Castiglione,[*27] one of its most polished ornaments.

The title Il Cortegiano,[*28] literally the Courtier, may be appropriately translated, "the mirror of a perfect courtier." The author intended it, to use the words of his preface, "as a portraiture of the court of Urbino, not by the hand of Raffaele or Michael Angelo, but by an inferior artist, whose capacity attains no further than a general outline, without decking truth in attractive colours, or flattering it by skilful perspective."[*29] But laying aside metaphor, he thus accounts for the origin of his undertaking. "After the death of the Lord Guidobaldo of Montefeltro Duke of Urbino, I, with several other knights who had been in his household, remained in the service of Duke Francesco Maria della Rovere, his heir and successor in that state. And as the fragrant influence continued fresh upon my mind of the deceased Duke's virtues, and of the pleasure I had for some years enjoyed in the amiable society of the excellent persons who then frequented his court, I was-45- induced from these reflections to write a treatise of The Courtier. This I accomplished in a few days, with the intention of subsequently correcting the errors incidental to so hasty a composition."




From the picture by ? Verrocchio in Poldo-Pezzoli Collection, Milan

The point which he undertakes is "to state what I consider the courtiership most befitting a gentleman in attendance on princes, whereby he may best be taught and enabled to perform towards them all seemly service, so as to obtain their favour and general applause; to explain, in short, what a courtier in all respects perfect ought to be."[*30]

We cannot here follow the Count into the wide field which he thus indicates, nor is it necessary, since his own work is accessible in several languages. But from various passages we may offer a sketch of the manners approved at the pattern court of Urbino, which will not be deemed misplaced in these pages. The men who figured there were chiefly distinguished in arms or letters. Whilst the former spent their leisure in recollections of war and love, or in the congenial pastimes of the field and the chase, the conversation of the latter was often warped towards scholastic disputation, or tainted by classic pedantry. Such manners have often been described, and their interest has long passed away; but in a society where female influence prevailed, and in an age when female intellect was fruitful in prodigies, it may be well to see what were the graces expected from a palace-dame.[*31]

At the head of a string of common-place endowments we find a noble bearing, an avoidance of affectation, a natural grace in every action. Beauty is considered as most desirable, not indispensable; and its improvement by such artificial means as painting and enamelling the face, extirpating hairs on the eyebrows or forehead, is derided. White teeth and hands are fully appreciated,-46- but their frequent display is censured. A neat chaussure is lauded, especially when veiled by long draperies. In short, natural elegance and the absence of artifice are primary qualifications. A high-born lady must be circumspect even beyond suspicion, avoiding ill-timed familiarity, and all freedom of language verging upon licence; but when casually exposed to discussions tending to pruriency, a modest blush would be becoming, whilst shrinking or prudery might expose her to sneers. Willingly to listen to or repeat slander of her own sex is a fatal error, which will always be harshly construed by men. Her accomplishments and amusements should ever be selected with feminine delicacy, verging upon timidity; her dress chosen in tasteful reference to what is most becoming, but with apparent absence of study. In conversing with men she should be frank, affable, and lively; but modest, staid, and self-possessed, with a nice observance of tact and decorum. Noisy hilarity, a hoyden address, egotism, prolixity, and the unseasonable combination of serious with ludicrous topics are equally objectionable, but most of all affectation. Yet she ought to be witty, capable of varied conversation in literature, music, and painting, skilled in dancing and festive games. Nor should that of a good housewife be wanting to her other qualities. In short, the theory of a paragon lady of the 1500 might equally suit for one of the present day. We should come to a very different conclusion as to her real character, were we to test it by some passages of the Cortegiano, wherein the Duchess Elisabetta, in chastity the mirror of her age, listens approvingly with her courtly dames to long passages of prurient twaddle, ever skirting and often overstepping the limits of decency. Nor were the morals around her conformable to her own pure example, and that of the immaculate Emilia Pia.[*32] One sad instance in-47- the ducal family we shall have to note, while narrating the early life of Duke Francesco Maria I.; another, remarkable from the subsequent status of the personage to whose birth the scandal attaches, will immediately be mentioned in connection with Giuliano de' Medici.[33]

But it would not be just, after adorning our narrative with flattering sketches from Castiglione's pencil, to exclude one or two anecdotes of the manners actually permitted among the polished society he professes to portray, although their coarseness and vulgarity, scarcely redeemed by their humour, may be considered as staining our pages. They occur in some memorials of the conversation of Francesco Maria, noted by a contemporary from personal observation.[34]

The subject of discussion happening to be Mark Antony's weakness in permitting Cleopatra to accompany him to the fight of Actium, the Duke said, "My father-in-law, the Marquis of Mantua, being at Mortara, in the service of France, Ludovico il Moro was in the camp with his Duchess, and one day, seeing the Marquis suffering from violent pain in the shoulder, said to him, 'Sir, I have the Duchess here, what shall I do with her?' The Marquis, being otherwise occupied, and suffering great pain, replied, 'How can I tell? send her to a brothel!' an answer quite off-hand, and truly appropriate"—from the brother of our paragon Duchess Elisabetta.

Niccolo de' Pii, a condottiere in the service of the Duke's father, was very fat and overgrown. Dining one day with some Spanish officers, after finishing a trout, he sent the head and back-bone to one of them called Pedrada,-48- who thereupon caustically retorted, "It is yourself that has more want of head than of stomach," a reply applauded as most cutting, for, "having more size than sense, he needed the brains rather than the belly." The same Spaniard one day, at a cardinal's reception, began to eat a candle, which, though apparently of wax, was in the centre of tallow; finding it greasy between his teeth, he seized the candlestick, and dashed it on the floor, muttering, "I swear to God it is not silver:" the candle being counterfeit, he fancied the candlestick must needs be so too. When talking of absent men, the Duke told these anecdotes of Ottaviano Fregoso, a star of the Urbino circle. As he conversed with his aunt Duchess Elisabetta, holding her hand, his mind wandered to other matters, and he began to twist about her fingers as he would have done a switch, finally thrusting one of them into his nose, when a burst of laughter from the bystanders recalled his thoughts. Dining one day at the table of Julius II., he sheathed and unsheathed his poignard, jingling the handle, until the Pope, losing all temper, exclaimed, "Begone to a brothel, pox take you! Be off, and the devil go with you!" Whereupon Signor Ottaviano began to make humble excuses for his natural defect of recollection, to the infinite glee of many church dignitaries who witnessed the scene. Yet only two days thereafter, chancing to converse in the papal antechamber with an ambassador who wore a massive gold chain, he, in a fit of abstraction, thrust his finger into one of the links. Just then, his Holiness appearing, the courtiers drew aside to make way, and Fregoso was dragged along, throwing them all into confusion; nor could he get free until he had well "salivated" his finger. Yet when his wits were not a wool-gathering, this was considered the most finished gentleman in Italy, and the most ready in reply. Thus, his uncle, Duke Guidobaldo appearing one day in a violet satin jerkin of unexceptionable fit, Ottaviano exclaimed,-49- "My Lord Duke, you really are the handsome Signor!" "How disgusting are dull flatterers who thus openly display their adulation," was the stinging reply. "My Lord Duke," rejoined the courtier, "I meant not to say that you are a man of worth, though I pronounced you a fine man and a handsome nobleman;" an answer which made the Duke wince, and brought credit to its author.




But enough of this gossip: the reader of the Cortegiano, and its author's charming letters, will find there many more attractive and not less veracious touches of the Montefeltrian court, where learning and accomplishment were often called upon to give dignity and grace to social pastimes. Thus, the Duchess is represented as singing to her lute those verses from the fourth Æneid, in which, at the moment of self-immolation, Dido apostrophised the garments forgotten by her faithless lover when he fled from her charms, until, Orpheus-like, she had wiled the savage animals from their lairs, and set the stones in sympathetic movement. At her court there were no lack of pens to clothe in verse the passing fancies of the hour, and adapt them to the musical or melodramatic tastes which gave a tone of refinement to its amusements. Thus, for the carnival of 1506, Castiglione and his messmate Cesare Gonzaga composed the pastoral eclogue of Tirsis, which was acted by them before the court, with choruses and a brilliant moresque dance. The personages of the dialogue are Iola (Castiglione) and Dameta (Gonzaga), who describe to Tirsi, a stranger shepherd, the ducal circle of Urbino, with the Duchess at its head as goddess of the river Metauro. The Moresca, so named from its supposed Moorish origin, was perhaps borrowed from the ancient Pyrrhic dance, and consisted in a sort of mock fight, performed to the sound of music with measured tread, and blunted poignards. Next spring a somewhat similar pastoral, from the pen of Bembo, was recited by him and Ottaviano Fregoso to the same audience.


Such and such-like were the favourite court diversions of Urbino. Their stately conceits and solemn pedantry suited the spirit of that classic age and the genius of a pomp-loving people; but it would be scarcely fair to regard them as fully embodying the tone of manners prevalent in the palace of Guidobaldo. In it were harmoniously mingled the opposite qualities which then predominated at the various Italian courts. Scholastic pretensions, still esteemed in many of them, here thawed before the easier address of the new school. Those abstruse studies which the Medici had brought into vogue were eclipsed by a galaxy of brilliant wits. Even the ruthless bearing of the old condottieri princes mellowed under the charm of female tact, while the sensual splendour indulged by recent pontiffs was chastened by the exemplary demeanour of the ducal pair.

Our appreciation of this picture would, however, scarcely be correct or complete, did we not bear in mind the inner life of contemporary sovereigns. We need not dwell on the contrasts afforded in other Peninsular capitals, for these were rather of degree than character, and would only show us the prevalence here of a gentler courtesy and more pervading refinement. But we may fairly compare the palace-pastimes of Urbino with those held in acceptance by the princes and peerage of northern states, where deep potations dulled the senses, or brutalised the temper; where intellect rarely sought a more refined gratification than the monotonous recital of legendary adulation; and where wit was monopolised by dwarfs and professional jesters. In order better to preserve the form and fashion of this pattern for princes, we shall transfer to our pages, from Castiglione's groupings, some outlines of its chief ornaments, beginning with himself.[35]


Raffaele pinx. L. Ceroni sculp.


From a picture in the Torlonia Gallery, Rome

From Castiglione, in Lombardy, sprang the ancestry-51- of Count Baldassare, and among them were numbered not a few names of note in church and state. His father was no mean soldier, in times when the captains of Italy bore a European reputation; his mother, a Gonzaga of the Mantuan house, was descended from the haughty Farinato degli Uberti, who, when accosted by Dante in The Vision,—

"His heart and forehead there
Erecting, seemed as in high scorn he held
E'en hell."

The Count was born at Casatico, in the Mantuese, on the 6th of December, 1478.[*36] His education, besides including the various studies and accomplishments usual to an Italian gentleman of the fifteenth century, was specially directed to those classical attainments which entered into the literary pursuits of the age. The death of his father left him early master of a handsome patrimony, and he at once embraced that courtier-life for which he was peculiarly fitted,—a life, which in a land subdivided into petty sovereignties, constituted the only profession open to civilians of noble birth and distinguished endowments, and on which his pen was destined to confer perpetual illustration. After a brief visit to Milan,[*37] and a short campaign in Naples with his relative the Marquis Francesco of Mantua, he repaired to Rome in 1503, where, by discretion and winning address,-52- he quickly gained the new Pontiff's favour. In Count Castiglione, the penetration of Julius recognised a fit instrument for promoting his favourite scheme of securing Urbino to his nephew Francesco Maria della Rovere; and by attaching him to Guidobaldo, he fixed at that court a friend whose influence was certain to extend itself, and whose example would benefit his youthful relation.

The court of Urbino had already been for half a century the brightest star in the constellation of Italian principalities, and under its fostering influence were fully developed those fine qualities which nature and early training had formed in Castiglione. His first essay was as captain of fifty men-at-arms, with 400 ducats of nominal pay, besides allowances; and his earliest exploit in this new service was the reduction of Forlì, in 1504. The finances of Guidobaldo were necessarily at a low ebb, and it is amusing to find Baldassare's frequent lamentations to his mother, over the arrears of his pay:—"Our doings are jolly but inconsiderable, that is, on small means; we have never yet seen a farthing, but daily and most devoutly look for some cash." It was not, however, till nearly a year later that he received twenty-five ducats to account, having often in the interval asked her aid, representing himself as penniless, and living upon credit. In 1509,[*38] after returning from his mission to England, which peculiarly required the graces of a finished cavalier, and of which some account will be found in II. of the Appendix, he attached himself to the Duke's immediate person during the brief remainder of his life, and when it closed, was sent to Gubbio, to maintain the interests of the succession, in event of any popular outbreak. The favour which he had enjoyed from Guidobaldo was amply continued under his nephew, whose fortunes he followed during several years, sharing his successes in the field, and-53- sustaining him under his disgrace at the pontifical court. These events must, however, be here touched with a flying pen, that we may not anticipate details on which we shall afterwards have to dwell. His reward was a grant of Novillara, near Pesaro; and when Francesco Maria had exchanged sovereignty for exile, he returned to the service of his natural lord, the Marquis of Mantua, whom he long represented at the court of Leo X. To this Pontiff, Baldassare had nearly become related, by a marriage with his niece Clarice de' Medici, which was greatly promoted by Giuliano, during their residence at Urbino. The negotiation was, however, broken off in January, 1509, by the intrigues of her aunt, Lucrezia Salviati, who persuaded her uncle, the Cardinal Giovanni, that, by bestowing her hand upon Filippo Strozzi, he would strengthen the interest of his family at Florence. The match having been, according to Italian usage, an interested arrangement, its dissolution was borne with great philosophy by the intended bridegroom; who some seven years later married Ippolita, daughter of Count Guido Torelli, a celebrated condottiere, by Francesca, daughter of Giovanni Bentivoglio, Lord of Bologna.[*39] The ceremony was performed at Mantua, and was celebrated with tournaments and pompous shows, in which the court and people took a lively interest. But their happy union was of brief duration. The Countess died four years after, in childbed of a daughter. Her name has been embalmed in a beautiful Latin ode, wherein her husband embodied those laments for his absence which he doubtless had often heard from her lips, expressing all the tenderness of nuptial love, and adorning a woman's pathos with a poet's fire. Nothing can be more beautiful than the allusion to her husband's portrait:—

"Your features portrayed by Raffaele's art
Alone my longings can solace in part:-54-
On them I lavish jests and winning wiles,
As if their words could echo back my smiles;
At times they seem by gestures to respond,
And answer in your wonted accents fond:
Our boy his sire salutes with babbling phrase.
Such are the thoughts deceive my lingering days."

In her epitaph, the Count summed up his wife's character and endowments, with a doubt whether her beauty or her virtue were more remarkable; to which her eulogist, Steffano Guazzo, has added a third grace—her learning. During the first anguish of widowhood he was supposed to have turned his thoughts to ecclesiastical orders; but whatever views of that nature he may have entertained were speedily abandoned; and in 1523 we find him again in Lombardy, with his gallant company, under the banner of the Gonzagas.

On the accession of Clement VII., the Marquis of Mantua again sent him to represent his interests at Rome, where he was not long in obtaining from the new Pope the same favour which he had enjoyed under his uncle, Leo X. His diplomatic talents were now acknowledged as of the first order; and Clement, foreseeing, perhaps, the impending difficulties of his position with the Emperor, prevailed upon Castiglione to accept the nomination of nuncio to Madrid. His courtly qualities were not less agreeable to Charles V. and the grandees of Spain than they had been in Italy; and in the romantic project by which the Emperor proposed to decide in single combat his unquenchable rivalry with Francis I., the Count was selected as his second,—an honour which his diplomatic functions prevented his accepting. Even while the troops and name of Charles were used by Bourbon to inflict upon the Apostolic See the greatest blow which its capital had suffered since the temporal power of the Church rose on the ruins of the Roman empire, the Nuncio was receiving new honours at Madrid, and was only pre-55-vented by his own scruples from obtaining the temporalities of the bishopric of Avila, one of the richest in Spain. In this most delicate position he retained the confidence of his master, who seems to have been satisfied that to no remissness on his part were owing the horrors of the sack of Rome. But these miserable results of jealousies between the Pope and the Emperor, which all his tact and influence were powerless to remove, rendered his position anything but enviable, and appear to have preyed alike upon mind and body. He sank under a short illness at Toledo, on the 2nd of February, 1529,[*40] and was lamented by Charles as "one of the best knights in the world." A letter of condolence, written to his mother by Clement, affords ample evidence that the fruitless results of his diplomacy in Spain had nowise diminished the Pope's confidence in his good service and attachment to his person.




Detail from the fresco by Pisanello in S. Anastasia of Verona

In the Cortegiano of Castiglione we are furnished with an elaborate, and in the main faithful, delineation of the men, the manners, and the accomplishments which rendered the court of Urbino a model for his age, and also with an interesting picture of the immediate circle which Guidobaldo and his estimable Duchess formed around them. We have drawn upon it amply for this portion of our volumes, but the notices which it affords of the Duke are of the most vague and disappointing character. This deficiency would be of little consequence, did the accounts which the same author has left in a Latin letter to Henry VIII. do full justice to his early patron. But from one whose opportunities of collecting ample and authentic particulars were unusual, the passing allusions to many momentous incidents are truly unsatisfactory. His details of scholarship and accomplishments would be more valuable, if divested of an air of exaggeration which even solemn asseverations of veracity scarcely remove. With-56- all their faults, these are preferable to the compilation of Bembo, to which we shall in due time more particularly advert. Those who wade through its laboured and redundant expletives will probably come to the conclusion that Castiglione has preserved whatever they contain worthy of notice.

The Count was a finished gentleman, in an age when that character included a variety of mental acquirements, as well as many personal accomplishments. His verses in Latin and Italian breathe a fine spirit of poetry; his letters merit a distinguished place as models of correspondence; his diplomatic address was highly approved by the sovereigns whom he served, as well as by those to whom he was accredited; he has been complimented as the delight of his contemporaries, the admiration of posterity.

Giuliano de' Medici was third son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and was known in the circle of Urbino by the same appellation. Born in 1478, he passed at that court several years of his family's exile from Florence; nor was he ungrateful for the splendid hospitality he there enjoyed, for, while he lived, his influence with his brother, Leo X., averted those designs against the dukedom, which were directed to his own aggrandisement. After the restoration of the Medici, Leo confided to him the government of Florence, which he endeavoured to administer in the spirit of his father, and succeeded in gaining the good will of the people. But the Pope was not satisfied with the re-establishment of his race as sovereigns of that republic; and the fine qualities and vast ideas of Giuliano suggested him as a fit instrument of further grasping schemes. To realise these, Leo coquetted between France and Spain, and, like his predecessors, sacrificed the peace of Italy. The prizes which he successively proposed for Giuliano, who, by resigning Florence into the hands of his nephew Lorenzo, the heir-male of his house, was free to-57- accept whatever sovereignty might be had, were the duchy of Milan, a state in Eastern Lombardy and Ferrara, or the crown of Naples. In June, 1515, the Pontiff conferred on him the insignia of gonfaloniere and captain-general of the Church; but he was prevented from active service by a fever which cut him off in the following March, when only thirty-eight, not without suspicion of poison at the hands of his nephew Lorenzo. His name is enshrined in Bembo's prose and Ariosto's verse, whilst his tomb by Michael Angelo in the Medicean Chapel, which Rogers, with a quaint but happy antithesis, calls "the most real and unreal thing which ever came from the chisel," is one of the glories of art.[*41] Shortly before his death he had married Filiberta of Savoy, whose nephew, Francis I., created him Duke of Nemours, and, had his life been prolonged, would probably have aided him to further aggrandisement.

During his residence at Urbino, from an intrigue with Pacifica Brandani, a person of high rank or base condition, for both extremes have been conjectured to account for the mystery, there was born to him a son, who, after being exposed in the streets in 1511, was sent to the foundling hospital, and baptized Pasqualino. Removed to Rome and acknowledged in 1513, the child received an excellent education; and under the munificent patronage of the Medici became Cardinal Ippolito, whose tastes were more for arms than mass-books, and whose handsome features and gallant bearing, expressive of his splendid character, are preserved to us in the Pitti Gallery by the gorgeous tints of Titian, alone worthy of such a subject.

The next personage of this goodly company was-58- Cesare Gonzaga, descended from a younger branch of the Mantuan house, and cousin-german of Count Baldassare, whose quarters he shared in 1504, when they returned together from the reduction of Valentino's strongholds in Romagna, where he had the command of fifty men-at-arms. We know little of him beyond his having been a knight of St. John of Jerusalem, and ambassador from Leo X. to Charles V.[*42] Baldi describes him as not less distinguished by merit than blood, and Castiglione assigns him a prominent place in the lively circle whose amusements he depicts. He was no unsuccessful devotee of the muses: a graceful canzonet by him is preserved in the Rime Scelte of Atanagi, and he shares the credit of the eclogue of Tirsis already alluded to, and printed among the works of Castiglione. Recommended by military talent, as well as by diplomatic dexterity and business habits, he remained in the service of Duke Francesco Maria during his early campaigns; and in September, 1512, after reducing Bologna to obedience of the Pope, died there of an acute fever in the flower of his age.

The brothers Ottaviano and Federigo Fregoso were of a Genoese family, who for above a century had distinguished themselves in the military, naval, and civil service of their country, and had given several doges to that republic. Their father, Agostino Fregoso, had married Gentile, natural daughter of Duke Federigo, and the young men were consequently much brought up at the court of Urbino, where their sisters Margherita and Costanza were long in attendance on Duchess Elisabetta. In 1502, Ottaviano accompanied his uncle on his first return from Venice, and we have seen him then defending-59- S. Leo during a lengthened siege, sustained with great gallantry and skill. For that good service he had from the Duke the countship of Sta. Agatha in the Apennines, afterwards confirmed to him by an honourable brief of Leo X., and continued to his descendants, with the title of Vicar, until their extinction in the third generation.

The latter period of Ottaviano's life was actively passed in his native city. From 1512 his endeavours were directed to abolish the French domination maintained at that time by aid of the Adorni, long hereditary rivals of his family. In this he finally succeeded, and next year was elected doge, the only one, in Litta's opinion, "who gloriously manifested a desire for the public weal." He held that dignity during two years of tranquillity to his country, over which the benign influence of his mild and impartial sway diffused a temporary calm, long unknown to its factious inhabitants. So obvious were these beneficial results, that Francis I., on becoming master of Genoa in 1515, continued to him a delegated authority as its governor. But, seven years later, the restless Adorni, having adhered to the Emperor, aided the Marquis of Pescara to carry the city, with an army of imperialists, who mercilessly sacked it. Ottaviano remained a prisoner in the enemy's hands, and died soon after. He is called in the Cortegiano "a man the most singularly magnanimous and religious of our day, full of goodness, genius, prudence, and courtesy; a true friend to honour and virtue, and so worthy of praise that even his enemies are constrained to extend it to him." The revolution effected by Andrea Doria, in 1528, forcibly closed the feuds of these rival families, which, during a century and a half, had outraged public order, and, both being compelled to change their name, the Fregosi adopted that of Fornaro.

Federigo Fregoso, the younger brother of Ottaviano, born in 1480, was educated for holy orders under the eye-60- of his maternal uncle Guidobaldo. In the lettered society of Urbino he perfected himself in various accomplishments, as well as in a thorough knowledge of the world, which enabled him afterwards to acquit himself usefully and creditably in many diversified spheres of action. It was to the great satisfaction of that court that in April, 1507, Julius II. conferred upon him the archbishopric of Salerno, a benefice which the opposition of Ferdinand II., founded on his leaning to French interests, apparently prevented him from enjoying. His life of literary ease remained uninterrupted until his brother's elevation as doge of Genoa in 1513, when he hastened to support him by his counsels and influence. During the next nine years he alternately commanded the army of the republic, led her fleet against the Barbary pirates, whom he annihilated in their own harbours, and represented her as ambassador at the papal court. The revolution of 1522 compelled him to fly from his native city, and, taking refuge in France, he received protection and preferment from Francis I. He returned to Italy in 1529, and was appointed to the see of Gubbio, where his piety, and devotion to the spiritual and temporal welfare of his flock, were equally commendable, and gained him the appellation of father of the poor and refuge of the distressed. A posthumous imputation of heretical error cast upon his name had no better foundation than the accident of his discourse upon prayer happening to be reprinted along with a work of Luther, which occasioned their being both consigned to the Index. In 1539 he was made cardinal by Paul III., and died at Gubbio two years after. His attainments in philology were eminent, including a profound knowledge of Hebrew, with the study of which he is said to have consoled his exile in France. Equal cultivation might have gained him much fame as a poet, but the works he has left are chiefly of a doctrinal character, and his eminence in the literary circle of his day-61- rests more upon the correspondence of Bembo, Sadoleto, and Cortesio than upon his own writings.[*43] By the first of these, the sparkle of his measured wit, the general moderation and suavity of his manners, his gentle consideration for other men's habits, his personal accomplishments, and the zeal displayed in his studies, are all spoken of with warm admiration. The following letter of sympathy, addressed to the dowager Duchess by that rhetorician is an interesting though mannered tribute to his long friendship:—

"My most illustrious and worshipful Lady,

"I had somewhat dried the tears elicited by the death of our very reverend Monseigneur Fregoso, so suddenly and inopportunely taken from us, when your Excellency's autograph letters recalled them to my eyes, and still more abundantly to my heart, on finding that you condoled with me so sensibly, and with so much unction. Not only, indeed, has your Ladyship been bereaved of a rare friend and relative, a most wise and religious gentleman, but, as you observe, all Christendom has thus sustained a loss incomparably great in times so evil and convulsed. Of myself I shall say little, having already written a few days ago to your Excellency; and, knowing the affection and respect mutually existing between you, I appreciate the weight of your grief from my own. Nor can I doubt that your Ladyship is aware of my emotion consequent upon his long kindness towards me, and my respectful but warm affection for him, sentiments never interrupted by a single word on either side, from his early youth and my manly age down to this day. I am further pained to observe that your Ladyship, lamenting for long years your Lord's death of happy memory, and now that of the Cardinal, entertains an impression your life will be short. This is no fruit of that good sense I have ever noticed in-62- you, and which the Cardinal himself inculcated; for the more your Ladyship is left alone to promote the welfare and advantage of the tender plants by your side, you should be more anxious to live on; for, while life is given you, you may benefit their souls by prayers and good deeds, as well as promote the interests of many who look to your pious spirit for the prosperity of their lot. Let not, therefore, your Ladyship speak thus, but bless (si conforti) the Heavenly King that he has so willed it, and conform yourself to his infallible will and judgment. As to your observation that I am left to you, in place of this good gentleman, as a protector, father, and brother, be assured that the day shall never come when it will not be my desire to dispose of myself in all respects according to your Excellency's pleasure, yielding therein not even to your [late] most reverend brother. Your Ladyship will consider me as truly, really, and justly your own, to use and dispose of me unreservedly; and for this end I give, grant, and give over to you full leave and power, not to be reclaimed by any change of fortune so long as life remains to me. In return I shall now pray you to attend to your health, and not only to live on, but live as happily as you can, thus avenging yourself of fate, which has done so much to vex you.... From Rome, the 2nd of August, 1541."

Pietro Bembo[*44] was born at Venice in 1470, and had the first rudiments of education at Florence, whither his father Bernardo was sent as ambassador from the Signory. Having learned Greek at Messina under Constantin Lascaris, and studied philosophy at Padua and Ferrara, he devoted himself to literary pursuits. At the court of the d'Este princes, where he was introduced by his father then resident as envoy from Venice, he met with the considera-63-tion due to his acquirements, and found a brilliant society, including Sadoleto, the Strozzi, and Tibaldeo. There he was residing when the arrival of Lucrezia Borgia threatened to establish for it a very different character; but the dissolute beauty seems to have left in the Vatican her abandoned tastes, and adopting those of her new sovereignty she became distinguished as a patroness of letters. The intimacy which sprang up between this princess and Bembo has given rise to some controversy as to the purity of its platonism, a discussion into which we need not enter. The life of the lady, the writings of the Abbé, and the morals of their time combine to justify suspicion, where proofs can hardly be looked for.[*45]

"But if their solemn love were crime,
Pity the beauty and the sage,—
Their crime was in their darkened age!"


Anon. des. L. Ceroni sculp.


From a drawing once in the possession of Cavaliere Agricola in Rome

Their correspondence lasted from 1503 to 1516, and many of his letters are published.[*46] The prevailing tone of these is rhetorical rather than passionate, and is quite as complimentary to her virtues as to her beauty. The Ambrosian Library at Milan possesses nine autograph epistles in Italian and Latin from Lucrezia, addressed "to my dearest M. Pietro Bembo," with the dates supplied in his hand. A tress of fair auburn hair, originally tied up with them, and doubtless that of the Princess, is now shown in the adjoining museum. That her tastes and accomplishments were not unworthy of such a friendship appears from many dedications of works to her while Duchess of Ferrara, including the Asolani of her admirer.

In 1505 Bembo repaired to Urbino, and sojourned chiefly at that court during the next six years, where his-64- varied attainments were highly prized, and where his philological pedantry was probably regarded as ornamental. Besides enjoying the converse of many congenial spirits, he there formed a friendship with Giuliano de' Medici, to which he owed many subsequent honours. Accompanying him to Rome in 1512, he was recommended by him to his brother, the Cardinal, whose first act on being chosen Pope in the following year, was to name Bembo his secretary, jointly with his friend Sadoleto. For this situation he was in many respects well fitted, by the happy union of great learning with an extensive knowledge of men and manners, which his residence at Ferrara and Urbino had not failed to impart. The laxity of his morals, and the paganism of his ideas, were unfortunately no disqualifications under Leo X. He continued to earn his master's confidence in the discharge of his regular duties, as well as in occasional diplomatic missions, but, as Roscoe truly observes, his success as a negotiator did not equal his ability in official correspondence. The pensions and benefices which rewarded his services enriched him for life, and even before that Pontiff's death he sought at Padua an elegant literary retirement, refusing from Clement VII., and from the Signory of Venice, all offers of public employment. He surrounded himself with a most select library, including many invaluable manuscripts, and a precious collection of medals and other antiquities, which, with the society of the learned whom he attracted to his board, gave to his house a wide celebrity. It was not regarded as at all degraded by the presence of an avowed mistress at its head, with whom he openly lived for many years, and had several children; and neither this scandal, nor the gross indecency of some of his writings, prevented Paul III. from conferring upon him a scarlet hat in 1539. He is said to have accepted this dignity unwillingly, but having done so, he had the good sense at all events to "cleanse the outside of the cup and platter." His mistress was now dead; he laid aside-65- poetry, literature, and pagan idioms, and, devoting himself to theological studies, at which he had formerly sneered in the habit of an abbé, he entered holy orders at the mature age of sixty-nine. In 1541 he succeeded Fregoso, his early companion at Urbino, in the bishopric of Gubbio, to which was added that of Bergamo. How little these preferments contributed to his comfort appears from a letter to Veronica Gambara in December, 1543. "Often," he there says, "do I desire to be the unfettered Bembo of other days, rather than as I now am. But what better can one make of it? Man's existence, abounding more in crosses than in gratifying incidents, will have it so; and wiser he who least desponds and best puts up to necessity, than one that less conforms to it. Yet I own myself unable to do this amid these privations, and exiled in a manner from myself. For verily I am neither at Venice nor Padua, as your Ladyship supposes, but at my church of Gubbio, a very wild place to say the truth, and offering few conveniences." He died at Rome six years after, in his seventy-seventh year, and was buried in the church of the Minerva, between his patrons Leo X. and Clement VII., where a modest flag-stone is all the memorial that his natural son and heir, Torquato, bestowed on one of the most famous men of his age.

At the town of Bibbiena, in the upper Val d'Arno, there were born about 1470, of humble parentage, two brothers, whose business talents procured them remarkable advancement. The elder, Pietro Dovizi, became a secretary of Lorenzo de' Medici, into whose family he introduced his brother Bernardo. There this youth gained for himself so good a reputation, that he was allowed to share the instructions bestowed upon his patron's younger son Giovanni. A close intimacy gradually sprang up between these fellow students, which the similarity of their talents, their tastes, and their pursuits ripened into lasting friend-66-ship. Identifying himself with the Medici, he followed their fortunes into exile, and attended Giuliano to Urbino, where he was received with the welcome there extended to all who, like him, combined the scholar and the gentleman. But this hospitality met with a very different return from these two guests. Of Giuliano's generous forbearance to second the evil designs of his brother, the Pope, against the state which had sheltered him, we have lately spoken. When we come to narrate the usurpation of the duchy by the Medici in 1516-17, we shall find in command of their invading army

"That courteous Sir, who honours and adorns
Bibbiena, spreading far and high its fame,"

and who had adopted that town as a substitute for his own undistinguished patronymic. This ingratitude was the more odious if, as it was probable, he owed to Guidobaldo, or his nephew, the favour of Julius II., who first brought him forward in the public service.

At that Pontiff's death he was acting as secretary to his early friend, the Cardinal de' Medici, and in that capacity was admitted to the conclave. The intrigues which there effected his patron's election have given rise to various anecdotes and controversies, which we pass by with the single remark that, by all accounts, the address of Dovizi was not unimportant to the success of Leo X. In return, he was included in the first distribution of scarlet hats as Cardinal Bibbiena. In this enlarged sphere his talents and tastes had full room for exercise. He was selected for various important diplomatic trusts, besides filling the offices of treasurer and legate in the war of Urbino. With his now ample means, his patronage of letters and arts had ample scope, and he was regarded as the Maecenas of a court rivalling that of Augustus. Raffaele enjoyed his particular regard, which he would willingly have proved by bestowing on him the hand of his niece.


His ambition is alleged to have exceeded even the rise of his fortunes, and to have prompted him to contemplate, and possibly to intrigue for, his own elevation to the chair of St. Peter, in the event of a vacancy. His sudden death in 1520, soon after a residence of above a year as legate to Francis I. (who had conferred upon him the see of Constance), when coupled with such reports, was construed as the effect of poison administered by Leo. Indeed, his friend, Ludovico Canossa, observed that it was a received dogma among the French at that very time that every man of station who died in Italy was poisoned. But such vague conjectures, however specious under Alexander VI., are less credible in other pontificates; and if the Cardinal were poisoned, that practice was then by no means limited to popes. He was an accomplished dilettante when the standards of beauty were of pagan origin; and his intimacy with Raffaele dated after the painter's Umbrian inspirations had faded before a gradual homage to the "new manner." Like his friend Bembo, his morals were epicurean to the full licence of a dissolute age. His famed comedy of the Calandra,[*47] which was brought out at Urbino in 1508, and which gave full play to his exquisite sense of the ridiculous, justifies this charge, and all that we have so often to repeat of the laxity then prevalent in the most refined Italian circles. A notice of this, the only important production of his pen, and an account of its being magnificently performed before Guidobaldo, will be found in our twenty-fifth chapter. Those who regard the pontificate of Leo X. as the classic-68- period of Italian letters must feel grateful to Cardinal Bibbiena for developing a portion of its lustre; the sterner moralist, who brands its vices, will charge him with pandering freely to the licence of a court of which he was a notable ornament. Castiglione tells us that an acute and ready genius rendered him the delight of all his acquaintance; and Baldi adds, that by practice in the papal court he so improved that gift, that his tact in business was unrivalled, to which his mild address, and happy talent of seasoning the dullest topics with graceful pleasantry, greatly contributed.

His personal beauty obtained for him the adjunct of bel Bernardo, and he is represented in the Cortegiano as saying, in reference to the amount of good looks desirable for a gentleman, "Such grace and beauty of feature are, I doubt not, mine, in consequence whereof, as you know, so many women are in love with me; but I have some misgivings as to my figure, especially these legs of mine, which, to say the truth, don't seem to me quite what I should like, though I am well enough satisfied with my bust, and all the rest." This, however, having been introduced as a jest, may perhaps be understood rather as complimentary to his person, than as a sarcasm on his vanity.

A contemporary and unsparing pen thus sketches his qualities, in a manuscript printed by Roscoe, from the Vatican archives:—"He was a facetious character, with no mean powers of ridicule, and much tact in promoting jocular conversation by his wit and well-timed jests. He was a great favourite with certain cardinals, whose chief pursuit was pleasure and the chase, for he thoroughly knew all their habits and fancies, and was even aware of whatever vicious propensities they had. He likewise possessed a singular pliancy for flattery, and for obsequiously accommodating himself to their whims, stooping patiently to be the butt of insulting and abusive jokes, and shrink-69-ing from nothing which could render him acceptable to them. He also had much readiness in council, and was perfectly able seasonably to qualify his wit with wisdom, or to dissemble with singular cunning." Bembo, with more partial pen, says in a letter to Federigo Fregoso, "The days seem years until I see him, and enjoy the pleasing society, the charming conversation, the wit, the jests, the features, and the affection of that man."

Among the distinguished literary names which have issued from Arezzo, several members of the Accolti family were conspicuous in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Bernardo,[*48] of whom we are now to speak, had a father noted as a historian, a brother and a nephew who reached the dignity of cardinal, and were remarkable in politics and letters. He obtained from Leo X. the fief of Nepi, as well as various offices of trust and emolument; of these, however, his wealth rendered him independent, enabling him to indulge in a life of literary ease. His poetical celebrity exceeded that of his contemporaries, and seems to have been his chief recommendation at the court of Guidobaldo. There, and at Rome, he was in the habit of reciting his verses in public to vast audiences, composed of all that was brilliant in these cultivated capitals. Nor was his popularity limited to a lettered circle. When an exhibition was announced, the shops were closed, the streets emptied, and guards restrained the crowds who rushed to secure places among his audience. This extraordinary enthusiasm appears the more unaccountable, when we find his printed poetry characterised by a bald and stilted style, which leaves no pleasing-70- impression on the reader. The mystery seems explained by a supposition that his talent lay in extemporary declamation.

Instances are far from uncommon in Italy, of similar effects produced by the improvisatori, whose torrent of melodious words, directed to a popular theme, and accompanied by music and impassioned gesticulation, hurries the feelings of a sympathising auditory to bursts of tumultuous applause, whilst on cool perusal, the same compositions fall utterly vapid on the reader. Be this as it may, the success of Accolti had the common result of superficial powers, and so egregiously inflated his vanity, that he assumed as his usual designation "the unique Aretine," by which he is always accosted in the Cortegiano. Nine years later we find him devoting to Duchess Elisabetta attentions which were attributed to a passion more powerful than gratitude, but which, knowing as he well did, her immaculate modesty, could only have been prompted by despicable vanity, and hence exposed him to keen ridicule.

To few of the pedigrees illustrated by Sansovino is there attributed a more remote origin, or a brighter illustration, than to that of Canossa.[*49] A younger son of the family was Count Ludovico, who, being cousin-german of Castiglione's mother, was perhaps by this means brought to Urbino, and thence recommended to Julius II., under whose patronage he entered upon an ecclesiastical career. From Leo X. he obtained the see of Tricarico, and was sent by him as nuncio to England and France, a service which earned him promotion to the bishopric of Bajus. Adrian VI. and Clement VII. continued him in this post; and during a long residence-71- at the French court, he entirely gained the confidence and favour of Francis I. Many of his diplomatic letters are printed in various collections; and to him is addressed Count Baldassare's curious description of the performance of the Calandra, at Urbino.

Alessandro Trivulzio was nephew of Gian Giacomo, the distinguished Milanese general of that name, and himself a famous captain in the service of Florence, and of Francis I. Sigismondo Riccardi, surnamed the Black, Gasparo Pallavicini, Pietro da Napoli, and Roberto da Bari,—the last of whom died in the camp of Duke Francesco Maria, in 1510,—are mentioned among the military notorieties of the Feltrian court. Giovanni Cristoforo, the sculptor, may be added to the list of its literary dilettanti; and among its musical ornaments were Pietro Monti and Terpandro, with Niccolo Frisio, a German, long resident in the land of song, whose exertions were often in request by Monti and Barletta, both dancers of note.



Emilia Pia—The Cortegiano—Death of Duke Guidobaldo, succeeded by Francesco Maria della Rovere.

SUCH were the eminent men, with whom Guidobaldo is described in the Cortegiano as living in easy but dignified familiarity, joining their improving and amusing conversation, or admiring their dexterity in exercises which his broken constitution no longer permitted him to share. Thus passed the days in the palace; and, when the Duke was constrained by his infirmities to seek early repose, the evenings were spent in social amusements, over which the Duchess gracefully presided, with her ladies Margherita and Costanza Fregoso, the Duke's nieces, Margherita and Ippolita Gonzaga, the Signor Raffaella, and Maria Emilia Pia.

Gonzaga medal


From a lead medal by Adriano Fiorentino in the British Museum

Pia medal


From a medal by Adriano Fiorentino in the Vienna Museum

Of the social position of Italian women in this century[*50] we may gather many particulars from Ludovico Dolce's Instituto delle Donne: for although, like most writers on similar themes, he represents them "not as they are, but as they ought to be," still, knowing the then received standard of female perfection, we can form a pretty accurate estimate of their actual qualities. His views as to education are exceedingly orthodox. The Holy Scriptures, with the commentaries of the fathers, Ambrose,-73- Augustin, and Jerome, ought to be day and night before a girl, and suffice for her religious and moral discipline. She should be familiar with her own language and with Latin, but Greek is an unnecessary burden. For mental occu-74-pation, Plato, Seneca, and such other philosophers as supply sound moral training are excellent, as well as Cicero for bright examples and wholesome counsels. History being the teacher of life, all classical historians are commended, but the Latin poets are vetoed as unfit for honest women, except most of Virgil and a few selections from Horace. Many modern Latin writers are commended, especially the Christeida of Sannazaro and Vida, but all such prurient productions in Italian as Boccaccio's novels are to be shunned like venomous reptiles. On the other hand, the poetry of Petrarch and Dante is extolled beyond measure, the former as embodying with singular beauty an instance of the purest and most honourable love, the latter as an admirable portrai-75-ture of all Christian philosophy. Yet such literary occupations should never intrude upon more important matters, such as prayer, nor upon the domestic duties of married women.

It is unnecessary to follow our author into abstract qualities and common-place graces, but the emphasis with which certain things are decried affords a fair presumption of their prevalence. Thus, excessive luxury of dress, and, above all, painting the face and tinging the hair, are attacked as impious attempts to improve upon God's own handiwork. In like manner, the assiduity with which modesty and purity of mind and person are inculcated confirms what we otherwise know of the unbridled licentiousness then widely diffused over society. Gaming of every sort is scouted; music and dancing are set down as matters of indifference.

In regard to marriage, the selection of a husband is left as matter of course to the parents, since a girl is necessarily too ignorant of the world to choose judiciously for herself; a reason resulting from the education and social circumstances of young women in Italy, which sufficiently accounts for this apparent solecism continuing in the present day. A prolix exposition of the principles which ought to guide fathers in their discharge of this delicate duty may be summed up in the very pertinent remark, that few prudent damsels would rather weep in brocaded silks than smile in homely stuffs.

But it is time to return from this digression to the Lady Emilia Pia, who merits more special notice in a sketch of the Montefeltrian court. She was sister of Giberto Pio, Lord of Carpi in Lombardy, and wife of Antonio, natural brother of Duke Guidobaldo. After losing her husband in the flower of youth, she remained at Urbino, and became one of its prime ornaments, not only by her personal attractions, but by a variety of more lasting qualities. The part she sustains in the conversation of-76- the Cortegiano amply evinces the charm which attached to her winning manners, as well as the ready tact wherewith she played off an extent of knowledge and graceful accomplishment rare even in that age of female genius. She was at all times ready and willing to lead or second the learned or sportive pastimes by which the gay circle gave zest to their intercourse and polish to their wit, and thus was of infinite use to the Duchess, whose acquirements were of a less sparkling quality, and of whom she was the inseparable companion. Still more singular and proportionately admired were the decorum that marked her conduct in circumstances of singular difficulty and the virtue which maintained a spotless reputation amid temptations and lapses regarded as venial in the habits of a lax age. Her death occurred about 1530,[*51] and an appropriate posthumous tribute was paid to such graces and virtues in this medallion bearing her portrait, with the Latin motto, "To her chaste ashes," on the reverse. Even the luscious verses in which Bembo and Castiglione sang the seductions of the Feltrian court assumed a loftier tone in their tribute to her heart of adamant, which, "pious by name[52] and cruel by nature," and spurning the designs of Venus upon its wild freedom, would impart its own severity generally to the slaves of the goddess. Yet it was under the guidance of this able mistress of the revels, that joy and merriment supplanted rigorous etiquette in the palace of Urbino, where frankness was restrained from excess by the Duchess' example, and where all were free to promote the common entertainment as their wit or fancy might suggest. Among the sports of these after-supper hours, Castiglione enumerates questions and answers, playful arguments seasoned with smart rejoinders, the invention of allegories and devices, repartees, mottoes, and puns, varied by music and dancing.




After a picture by Bissolo


Such was the mode of life described in the Cortegiano, with ample details, which we shall attempt slightly to sketch. The scene is laid in the evenings immediately succeeding the visit of Julius II. The usual circle being assembled in her drawing-room, the Duchess desired Lady Emilia to set some game a-going.[*53] She proposed that every person in turn should name a new amusement, and that the one most generally approved should be adopted.[54] This fancy was sanctioned by her mistress, who delegated to her full authority to enforce it upon all the gentlemen, but exempted the ladies from competition. The courtiers so called upon thus acquitted themselves of their task. Gaspar Pallavicino suggested that each should state the peculiar excellence and special defect which he would prefer finding in the lady of his love. Cesare Gonzaga, assuming that all had some undeveloped tendency to folly, desired that every one should state on what subject he would rather play the fool. Fra Serafino sneeringly proposed that they should successively say why most women hate rats and like snakes. The Unico Aretino, whose turn came next, thought that the party might try one by one to guess at the occult meaning of an ornament, in the form of an S, worn by the Duchess on her forehead. The flattery with which this odd suggestion was spiced, gave a clue to the Lady Emilia, who exclaimed that, none but himself being competent, he ought to solve the mystery; on which, after a pause of apparent abstraction, he recited a sonnet on that conceit, giving an air of impromptu to what was, in fact, a studied composition clumsily introduced. Ottaviano Fregoso wished to know on what point each would be most willing to undergo a lover's quarrel. Bembo, refining on this idea, was of opinion that the question ought to be whether the cause-78- of quarrel had best originate with oneself or with one's sweetheart—whether it was most vexatious to give or receive the offence. Federigo Fregoso, premising his conviction that nowhere else in Italy were there found such excellent ingredients of a court, from the sovereign downwards, proposed that one chosen from the party should state the qualities and conditions required to form A PERFECT COURTIER, it being allowed to the others to object and redargue in the manner of a scholastic disputation.

This idea being approved by the Duchess and her deputy, the latter called upon Count Ludovico Canossa to begin the theme. Its discussion (our observations upon which must be reserved for a future portion of these pages) is represented by Castiglione as having been prolonged during successive evenings; Federigo Fregoso, Giuliano the Magnificent, Cesare Gonzaga, Ottaviano Fregoso, and Pietro Bembo, following the cue with which Canossa had opened. At the close of the fourth sitting, an argument on love was interrupted by daylight. "Throwing open the eastern windows of the palace, they saw the summit of Monte Catri already tipped with rosy tints of the radiant Aurora, and all the stars vanished except Venus, the mild pilot of the sky, who steers along the limits of night and day. From these far-off peaks there seemed to breathe a gentle breeze, that tempered the air with bracing freshness, and, from the rustling groves of the adjacent hills, began to awaken sweet notes of wandering birds." The same golden sun continues to dawn upon Urbino, but, ere many months had passed, the bright galaxy of satellites that circled round Duke Guidobaldo was scattered, for their guiding star had gone to another sphere.

During fifteen years his fine form and robust constitution had been wasted by gout, for such was the name given to a disease hereditary in his family. Physiologists may de-79-cide upon the accuracy of this term, and say why, in an age of incessant exposure to severe exercise under all weather, and when luxuries of the table were little known or appreciated, the ravages of that malady should have been more virulent than in our days of comparative indulgence and effeminacy.[55] At first he struggled against the symptoms, continuing his athletic sports; but in a few years he was reduced to a gentle pace on horseback, or to a litter. At length, about the time of which we are now speaking, his intervals of ease rarely extended to a month, during which he was carried about in a chair; but, when under a fit, was confined to bed in great agony. Yet, ever tended by his wife, his fortitude never forsook him, and his mind, gathering strength in the decay of nature, sought occupation in the converse of those able men who made his palace their home, or, in the moments of most acute suffering, fell back for distraction upon the vast stores of his prodigious memory, whiling away long hours of agony by repeating passages from his favourite authors. The palliations of medicine lost their effects; his enfeebled frame became more and more sensitive to acute pain; in his emaciated figure few could recognise the manly beauty of his youthful person; life had prematurely become to him an irksome burden.

There occurred in Italy at this period a very unnatural change of the seasons. On the 7th of April, 1505, snow fell at Urbino to the depth of a foot, and scarcity prevailed, followed in June by a murrain among cattle. From September, 1506, until January, 1508, it is said that no rain or snow fell, except during a few days of violent torrents in April. The fountains failed, the springs became exhausted, the rivers dried up, grain was hand-ground for want of water. The crops were scarcely worth reaping, the pastures were-80- scorched, and the fruitless vines shrivelled under an ardent sun.[56]

On the other hand, December was turned into July; the orchards bore a second crop of apples, pears, plums, and mulberries, from which were prepared substitutes for wine, then worth a ducat the soma; strawberries and blackberries ripened in the wood-lands, and luxuriant roses were distilled in vast quantities at Christmas. With the new year things underwent a sudden revolution, and January set in with unwonted rigour. The delicacy of the Duke's now reduced frame rendered him peculiarly sensitive to the atmospheric phenomena. The long drought had especially affected all gouty patients, and the severe weather so aggravated his sufferings that, on the 1st of February, he was, by his own desire, removed in a litter to Fossombrone. That town is situated on the north side of the Metauro, lying well to the sun, and little above the sea level, from which it is distant about fifteen miles, and has thus the most genial spring climate in the duchy. At first the change was in all respects beneficial, and revived the hopes of an attached circle who had accompanied the Duchess. But in April winter returned, and with it a relapse into the worst symptoms, which soon carried him off. Although his great sufferings were borne with extraordinary fortitude, he looked forward to death as an enviable release; and when his last hour approached, he regarded it with calm resignation. To his chaplain he confessed, as one whose worldly account was closed; and he acquitted himself of those testamentary duties to his church and to the poor, which his creed considers saving-81- works; directing at the same time the disposal of his body. Then calling to his bedside (where the Duchess and Amelia were in unwearied attendance) his nephew the Lord Prefect, Castiglione, Ottaviano Fregoso, and other dear friends, he addressed to them words of consolation. Their hopes for his recovery he mildly reproved, adapting to himself the lines of Virgil:—

"Me now Cocytus bounds with squalid reeds,
With muddy ditches, and with deadly weeds,
And baleful Styx encompasses around
With nine slow-circling streams the unhappy ground."[57]

To the Duchess and to his nephew were chiefly addressed his parting injunctions, the object of which was to recommend them to each other's affection and confidence, to comfort them under their approaching bereavement, and to counsel implicit obedience on the part of Francesco Maria towards his uncle the Pope. It seems enough to allude thus generally to his closing scene, for the accounts which we have from Castiglione and Federigo Fregoso, one a spectator, the other a dear friend, who quickly reached the spot, are unfortunately disguised in Ciceronianisms, necessarily inappropriate to a Christian death-bed, and in which the spirit of his words has probably evaporated.[58] We may, however, trust that

"They show
The calm decay of nature, when the mind
Retains its strength, and in the languid eye
Religious holy hope kindles a joy;"


for we have seen him neither indifferent nor neglectful of the observances dictated by his Church, and, ere the vital spark fled, he received its rites and besought the prayers of the bystanders. His passage from mortality was peaceful, and death, which he considered desirable, spread like a gentle slumber over his stiffening limbs and composed features. At midnight of the 11th of April his spirit was released from its shattered tenement.[*59] Over the agonised and uncontrolled lamentations of the Duchess we draw a veil; the description of such scenes must ever degenerate into common-place generalities. She felt and suffered as was natural to the best wives prematurely severed from the most attached of husbands.

Since the Duke's departure to Fossombrone, his state had been administered by the Duchess and Francesco Maria. The former, alive to the duties committed to her, wrote thus to the priors of Urbino, when the danger became imminent.

"Worthy and well-beloved,

"The illness of the most illustrious Duke our consort having so increased that the physicians, though not-83- despairing, doubt of his recovery, we have thought fit, by these presents, to exhort and charge you that you be watchful and diligent in regard to whatever may occur, so as to maintain the tranquillity of your citizens; who having, in the recent unhappy times, ever maintained their faith unshaken towards us and our said consort the Duke, we desire that they shall, at the present juncture, persevere in the like mind, whereby we may ascertain the worth of those really deserving. At the same time, if, as we do not believe, any riotous and ill-conducted persons should attempt or plot any disorders, we have taken such steps and means as must put down and chastise their insolence, and leave them a signal example to others. And, as it is necessary to provide against such a contingency, we desire that you forthwith let this be understood in the most fitting manner, it being our intention to maintain the peace in this our well-beloved city.

"From Fossombrone, 1508.

"Elisabetta Gonzaga, Ducissa Urbini."

Upon hearing from Ludovico Canossa that the Duke's illness approached a fatal termination, Julius had, on the 13th, instructed Federigo Fregoso to repair to Fossombrone with his own physician, Archangelo of Siena, and, after administering such aid and consolation as the case might require, to take fit measures for insuring the quiet succession of Francesco Maria della Rovere in the dukedom, and for the interim administration of affairs by the Duchess. But, ere they arrived, mourning had succeeded to suspense, and their sympathies were demanded for the widowed Duchess, who had passed two days since her bereavement in utter despair, refusing food and sleep. So entirely, indeed, were the functions of life suspended, that for some time it was feared the vital spark had followed its better half, and it was very long ere her ghastly and spectral form gradually resumed the aspect of an existence in-84- which all interest was for her gone by, and which, but for the representations of her friends, she would have wished to quit.[*60]

The body was borne on shoulders to Urbino during the following night, surrounded by multitudes carrying torches, their numbers swollen, as they advanced, by influx of the country population through which the funeral cortège passed. Castiglione, who accompanied it, describes the night as one of mysterious dread, in which the wailing of the people ever and anon was broken upon by piercing shrieks echoed from the mountains, and repeated by the distant howling of alarmed watch-dogs. The inhabitants of the capital issued forth to meet the melancholy procession, headed by their clergy, the monastic orders, and the confraternities. In the great hall of the palace the Duke lay in state, during two days, upon a magnificent catafalque with its usual but incongruous decorations of sable velvet, gold damask, and blazing lights. His dress is minutely described by the anonymous diarist as consisting of a doublet of black damask over crimson hose, a black velvet hat over a skull-cap of black taffetas fringed with gold, and black velvet slippers; to which was added the mantle of the Garter, in dark Alexandrine velvet, with a hood of crimson velvet, lined with white silk damask.


R. Tammé


After the picture by Pordenone in the Dresden Gallery

But, with that strange blending of opposite feelings which marks the visits of death to regal halls, the mourners were soon summoned from this vision of departed greatness to contribute far other honours to its living representative. One day having been devoted to lament the general loss, the Lord Prefect, Francesco Maria, repaired, with the principal authorities, to the cathedral, and, after solemn mass, published the will, by which his uncle named him heir and successor to his states and dignities, nominating his widow to the regency during-85- the nonage of his heir, and leaving her Castel Durante, with a provision of 14,000 ducats, besides her own dowry of 18,000. During the afternoon succeeding the proclamation of Francesco Maria, he visited the Duchess, who was "transfixed with grief." He was accompanied by a small deputation of citizens, to offer their duty and condolence, and receive her tearful thanks for the happy accomplishment of her husband's testamentary intentions, with entreaties that they would transfer to his successor the loyal affection they had borne to their late sovereign. About four o'clock a funeral service was performed in the great hall, from whence, at eight, the body was conducted by an again mournful host, to remain for the night in the church of Sta. Chiara. Next day it was transported, during continual rain, to the Zoccolantine church, in the groves around which he had been surprised by the first aggression of Cesare Borgia. In its small nave his remains were entombed opposite those of his father; and over both there were subsequently placed two modest monuments in black and white marble, surmounted by busts of the Dukes. The inscription to Guidobaldo is to this effect: "To Guidobaldo, son of Federigo, third Duke of Urbino, who, emulating even in minority his father's fame, maintained his authority with manly energy and success. In youth he triumphed over adverse fortune. Vigorous in mind, although enfeebled by disease, he cultivated letters instead of arms; he protected men of general eminence instead of mere military adventurers; and he ameliorated the commonwealth by the arts of peace, until his court became a model to all others. He died in the year of God MDVIII., of his age XXXVI."

The solemn obsequies befitting sovereign personages, including six hundred masses, were performed on the 2nd of May in the cathedral, which was hung and carpeted with black, and illuminated with five hundred wax-lights. In the nave was an immense cenotaph, decorated with-86- representations of the most important events of the Duke's life, his standards and insignia, with suitable legends, and on the bier, in place of the body, lay his robes of the Garter. The function was attended by the court, five bishops, the clerical dignitaries, with deputies from all parts of the duchy, and most of the Italian states, as well as the principal inhabitants. Before the elevation of the host, a funeral oration was recited by his former preceptor Odasio, in which the wonted wordiness of such compositions is redeemed by a certain fire of eloquence, mellowed by occasional touches of fine sentiment, rendering it the best part of Bembo's compilation regarding Guidobaldo. Its excellence, and the vast concourse of spectators, estimated at ten thousand, contributed to make this the most notable ceremony of the sort then remembered in Italy. On the following day, the oaths of allegiance to the new Duke were taken, and his predecessor was consigned over to history.

The character of the last Montefeltrian Duke need scarcely be told to those who have followed this sketch of his life. Gifted by nature with talents of a very high order, he cultivated them in early youth with an application rare indeed in his exalted rank, and a success which his marvellous memory tended alike to facilitate and to render permanent. In times singularly productive of military heroes and men of letters, he emulated the celebrity of both, and, had health permitted him a prolonged and active career, he might, in the ever-recurring battle-fields of Italy, have equalled the renown left by his father and earned by his successor.

When disabled from the profession of arms, he fell back with fresh zest upon his youthful studies, and drew around him men whose converse harmonised with these tastes. To say that his learning was unequalled among the princes of his day is no mean compliment. His palace became-87- the asylum of letters and arts, over which he gracefully presided. Aldus Manutius, in dedicating to him editions of Thucydides and Xenophon, addressed him in Greek, of which he was so perfect a master as to converse in it with ease. To the latter of these historians the Duke was very partial, calling him the siren of Attica. Among his other favourite classics, Castiglione names Lucian, Demosthenes, and Plutarch; Livy, Tacitus, Quintus Curtius, Pliny, and the Orations of Cicero. Most of these he knew intimately, and recited entire passages without reference to the book. But besides these selected authors, he is said to have made himself acquainted with almost every branch of human knowledge then explored. Nor were religious studies omitted. The history, rites, and dogmas of the Church are mentioned among the topics familiar to his versatile genius; St. Chrysostom and St. Basil were among his chosen books. To enumerate all the contemporary authors who shared his patronage might be irksome, but we shall introduce one letter addressed by him to Paolo Cortesio.

"Most reverend and well-beloved Father in Christ:

"I have received your letter, with your Treatise on the dignity of Cardinal, which, being full of noble matter gracefully and eloquently handled, has been most acceptable, and I have looked over it with much pleasure. I therefore offer you my best thanks for it, and for having mentioned me in that work; and if I can do anything for you, let me know it, that I may have an opportunity of showing my gratitude for your merits and your services in my behalf. In October next I mean, God willing, to return to Rome, and I shall hold myself prompt to forward your interests there, or wherever else I may chance to be. Urbino, 18th of June, 1506.

"Guido Ubaldo, Duke of Urbino,
and Captain-General of the Holy Roman Church."[61]


The great endowments he thus admirably developed were united with a disposition represented as nearly perfect, at all events as exempted from the failings most perilous to princes. The bad passions which opportunity and indulgence have, in all ages, rendered peculiarly fatal to those whose will is law, were almost strangers to his breast. Prone to no vicious indulgences, he was ever kind and considerate, as well as just and clement. He may, in short, be regarded as that rarest of all characters, an unselfish despot,—despot as regarded the possession of absolute power, but not so in its use. The nobility had nothing to dread from his jealousy or his licentiousness; the citizens were spared oppressive imposts; the poor looked up to him as a sympathising protector. In short, we may pronounce him a magnanimous, a most accomplished, and, so far as erring man is permitted to judge, a blameless prince.

Nor was the impression left upon the public mind by the glories of Urbino under Guidobaldo of a transient character. Mocenigo, Venetian envoy at the court of his grand-nephew, thus speaks of him above sixty years after his death:—"Disabled by broken health from active pursuits, he fell upon the project of forming a most brilliant court, filled with eminent men of every profession; and by rendering himself generally popular, with the co-operation of his Duchess, who emulated him in welcoming and entertaining persons of talent, he brought around him a greater number of fine spirits than any sovereign had hitherto been able to attract, and, indeed, gave to all other princes in the world the model and example of an admirably regulated court."




After the picture by Timoteo Viti in the Duomo of Urbino

The remaining years of the widowed Duchess were in strict accordance with a picture sketched of her by Bernardo Tasso, in the Amadigi:—


"She too, whose pensive aspect speaks a heart
By grievous cares molested and surcharged,
An anxious lot shall live; Elizabeth,
Of maiden worth, in whom no blandishment
Or foolish passion ere with virtue strives;
Spouse of our first Duke's son, whose span cut short
By cruel death, his scornful mate bereft
No after tie shall bind."

The circumstances of her wedded life had not been such as to render new ties distasteful to a lady of thirty-seven, described by Bembo as still elegant in figure and dress, beautifully regular in features, and with eyes and countenance of singularly winning expression. The compliment paid to her character, in that author's sketch of the Urbino sovereigns, bears upon it a stamp of truthful earnestness rarely found in his rhetorical periods.[62]

An anonymous and now lost complimentary poem, written about 1512, and formerly in the library of S. Salvadore at Bologna, celebrated Elisabetta's charitable aid in the establishment of a monte di pietà,[63] at Fabriano, and alluded to her prudent government of the state in the Duke's absence. The terms of affection with which she regarded her husband's adopted heir underwent no change after her bereavement; and his marriage to her niece Leonora Gonzaga strengthened the tie. We shall find her making great personal exertions to modify the measures of Leo X. against Francesco Maria; and she shared his confiscation and exile, which she could not avert. She lived, however, to return with him to the-90- house she had twice been compelled to relinquish, and saw his dynasty securely established in the state which had owned her as its mistress.

Her trials were closed on the 28th of January, 1526, by an easy death. She left the residue of her property to Duchess Leonora, after payment of numerous pious bequests to various churches, with liberal legacies to her household; and she was interred by the side of her beloved husband in the church of S. Bernardino.





The revival of letters in Italy—Influence of the princes—Classical tastes tending to pedantry and paganism—Greek philosophy and its effects—Influence of the Dukes of Urbino.

WHEN writing upon Italy of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a prominent place must be allotted to letters and arts. At Urbino in particular, their progress was then great, their influence proverbial; and our next eight chapters will contain notices of them which would have interrupted the continuity of our previous narrative.

The reigns of Dukes Federigo and Guidobaldo I. extended over a period which general consent has regarded as the most brilliant in Italian history, and which we have repeatedly named its golden age. High expectations are naturally entertained of literature, arts, and general refinement in a cycle of such pretension. We look for a rapid advance of thought in paths of learning and science whence during long centuries it had been excluded. We anticipate a widely disseminated zeal for classic writers, an eager rivalry to outstrip them in branches of speculative knowledge, which they especially cultivated. We imagine the imitative arts revived under the influence of new and more exquisite standards. And we reckon upon the diffusion of a taste and capacity for enjoying those things among classes hitherto excluded from such intellectual enjoyments. In each of these expectations the student of literary history will be gratified; yet there are several sorts of composition which, if separately examined, offer disappointing results, and scarcely a single work-94- written during the fifteenth century has maintained universal popularity. The explanation is easy. This age was one of unprecedented intellectual activity, when men's minds were devoted to the acquisition of knowledge which they had laboriously to hunt out, and doubtingly to decipher. They had to cut for themselves tracks through an unexplored region, without grammars or commentaries to serve them as guides and landmarks. The toilsome habits thus formed were forthwith exercised for the benefit of subsequent investigators, and were applied to smoothing the path which they had themselves penetrated. Thus was it that the first successful scholars became grammarians and commentators. Surrounded by ample stores of intelligence, they had no occasion to cultivate new germs of thought. Their first object was to secure and render accessible the treasures which antiquity had unfolded to them; their next, to elaborate them in varied forms, to reproduce them in the manner most congenial to their intellectual wants. Thus they became more industrious than original, laborious rather than creative. Again, those who, on entering the garden of knowledge, thought of its fruits rather than of its approaches, instead of seeking the reward of their toils among the fair mazes of poetry and belles lettres, aimed at more arduous rewards, and climbed the loftiest and most slippery branches in search of golden apples. The harvest of scholastic philosophy which they thus gathered in may seem scarcely worthy of the fatigues given to its acquisition; but from the seeds so obtained, cultivated and matured as they have been by many after labourers, a copious and healthful store of intellectual food has been secured for subsequent generations. The work performed by these pioneers of learning and truth was, however, more calculated to crush than to inspire that more elastic fancy which preferred the flowery mead to the tree of knowledge. The spirit of the age was ponderous and prosaic, and the few who attempted to rise above its-95- denser atmosphere into poetic regions were clogged by the trammels of a dead language, and by obsolete associations which they dared not shake off. The fifteenth century was consequently rich in scholars, copious in pedants, but poor in genius, and barren of strong thinkers.

These circumstances necessarily detract from the popular interest of Italian literary history at this important period, all influential to its after destinies, and we mention them in the conviction that general readers must feel disappointed with this portion of our work. The vast mass of materials then created now reposes in the principal storehouses of learning, much of it unpublished, and but a small part rendered accessible in recent editions. As it would be an unprofitable task to labour upon these materials for merely critical purposes, we have for the most part satisfied ourselves with an examination of the authors immediately connected with Urbino; nor shall we be tempted much beyond that narrow limit, by the facility of borrowing from those copious and intelligent writers who have successfully investigated the intellectual progress of Italy.

The revival of civilisation, and its handmaid arts, is a problem so inexplicable on the ordinary principles which regulate human progress,[64]—its causes were so complex, and many of them so remote, and singly so little striking,-96-—that it were, perhaps, vain to hope for a satisfactory explanation of the phenomenon. It may be, that the ever revolving cycle of human affairs had brought round a period predestined to intellectual development, or that mind, awakening from the slumber of centuries, possessed the energies of renewed youth. But in a season of universal and sudden progress it is difficult to distinguish between cause and effect,—to decide whether mind aroused liberty, or if freedom was the nurse of intelligence.

The feeble hold which the popes retained over their temporal power during their residence at Avignon, and during the great schism, promoted the independence of the ecclesiastical cities, many of which then passed under the dominion of domestic tyrants, or assumed the privileges of self-government. In either case the result was favourable to an expansion of the human mind. The sway of the seigneurs, being based on no such aristocratic machinery as supported the fabric of feudalism, threw fewer obstructions in the way of individual merit. The popular communities could only exist by a diffusion of political and legislative capacity, and the commercial enterprises to which they in general devoted their energies increased at once the demand for public spirit and its production. Even those intestine revolutions to which democracies were especially subject contributed largely to the same end; for, although in such convulsions the dregs of the populace often rise to the surface, talent, when backed by energy and daring, there finds extraordinary opportunities for display. Indeed, the multiplication of commonwealths, under whatever form of government, tended, in a country situated as the Italian Peninsula then was, to the development of intellect. Defended by the Alps and the sea from invasion, their-97- physical and intellectual advantages constituted an influence which supplied the want of union and nationality. They thus could safely pursue their individual aims, and even indulge in rivalry and contests which, though perilous to a less favoured people, were for them incentives to a praiseworthy and patriotic exertion. Whilst the separate existence of these petty states was calculated to promote both political science and mental culture, it rendered the one subservient to the advantage of the other, and, in the multitude of official and diplomatic employments, literary men found at once useful occupation and honourable independence. Nor was this result limited to one form of government. If the tempest-tossed democracy of Florence shone the brightest star in the Italian galaxy, the stern oligarchy of Venice shed an almost equal lustre in some branches of letters and art; and, on the other hand, the not less popular institutions of Pisa, Siena, and Lucca emitted but feeble and irregular coruscations. So also in the despotic states, whilst literature was ever cherished under the ducal dynasty of Urbino, and whilst it was favoured at intervals by the Sforza and Malatesta, the d'Este and Gonzaga, and by the Aragonese sovereigns of Naples, its genial influence was unknown in some other petty courts. Again, if we turn to the papal throne, we shall find the accomplished Nicolas, Pius, Sixtus, Julius, and Leo, sitting alternately with the Bœotian Calixtus, Paul, Innocent, and Alexander. From an impartial review of Italian mediæval history it appears that democratic institutions were by no means indispensable to the expansion of genius, since the progress of letters and arts was upon the whole nearly equal in the republics and the seigneuries, under the tyranny of a condottiere or the domination of a faction.[*65]


But, before entering upon the proper subject of this chapter, it may be well briefly to consider the influence which the petty princes of Italy exercised upon the revival and cultivation of letters and arts. The dominion of these chiefs, though hereditary in name, was in general maintained, as it had been gained, by the sword. To them, as to the savage, arms were an instinctive pursuit, warfare a primary occupation. For their frequent intervals of truce (and in no other sense was peace known to them), their circumscribed sovereignty gave little occupation. Domestic polity was still an undeveloped science, and their leisure fell to be spent upon intellectual objects, or in grovelling debaucheries. The number who preferred the nobler alternative is very remarkable, when compared with the like class in other parts of Europe. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries literature was cultivated and art was encouraged by a large proportion of the sovereigns and feudatories of Italy, when the bravest condottieri were often their most liberal patrons. Such were the impetuous Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, the gallant Francesco Sforza, the treacherous Ludovico il Moro; whilst the Gonzaga of Mantua, and the d'Este of Ferrara, but most especially the ducal houses of Urbino, extended, during successive generations, an enlightened and almost regal protection to genius of every shade. Nothing akin to this is to be found in the republics. Siena, Pisa, and Lucca produced many great artists, but literature found in them neither a cradle nor an asylum. The commercial communities of Venice and Genoa belonged to an entirely different category of circumstances; and Florence, though an exception to our remark, owed its pre-eminence not less perhaps to the patronage of the Medici than to an unparalleled prevalence of talent and public spirit among its citizens.

In times when the popular will, if not the source of power, was its best support, it became the interest of the-99- dominant prince or party so to use authority as to please and flatter the masses; to cloak their own usurpations by throwing a lustre around their administration, and to preserve the confidence of their subjects by institutions calculated to promote the national glory. In this way individual talent might be stimulated, and public civilisation might advance, even whilst freedom was on the decline; and, as the means commanded by the seigneurs were ample, they could patronise genius, and surround their courts with literary retainers, who in democratic communities were left to their own resources. Thus the Sforza and the d'Este, even the savage Malatesta of Rimini, befriended genius, which found no haven in the republics of Genoa and Lucca, and, the fashion having once been established among their princely houses, letters were cultivated by not a few of these soldiers of fortune, but more especially by the ladies of their families.

These unquestionable facts are met by an allegation that the fountains of princely patronage were so tainted, their streams so generally corrupt, as to blight the fruits which they seemed to foster, and that their influence thus from a blessing became a curse. Let us examine a little the grounds for this assertion, for surely it is not by such sweeping and prejudiced denunciations that we shall arrive at truth. As to the ornamental arts, there cannot be a doubt that these received, throughout Italy, from governments of every form, as well as from numberless corporations and individuals, a hearty encouragement which might well shame our degenerate age. Yet the ducal palace at Urbino, the Palazzo del T at Mantua, the tombs of the Scaligers, and the medallions of Malatesta, yield the palm to no republican works of the same class. It was by Cosimo and Lorenzo de' Medici, and by Duke Federigo di Montefeltro, that the undeveloped energies of new-born science, and the long neglected classics of Greece and Rome were nursed and tended through their-100- years of infancy, which storms of faction, in most of the free states, condemned to neglect. The enlightened liberality of these princes, and of Malatesta Novello, founded libraries for the preservation of works composed under their own beneficent encouragement, as well as of manuscripts collected by them from all quarters at immense cost, and this when no republic but Venice aspired to such literary distinctions. Nor were the troubled waters of democratic strife safe for the poet's gay bark and light canvas. Even Dante, though made of sternest stuff, sought shelter in a courtly harbour from the hurricanes of Florentine faction. It is true that, in many compositions of minstrels trained in princely halls, the themes are ephemeral and the epithets overstrained, savouring, to a purer taste and more severe idiom, of unworthy subserviency; nor is the other polite literature, emanating from the same atmosphere, exempt from similar blemishes. But allowance must be made for the seducing fecundity of the language in superlatives, more redolent of dulcet sounds than of definite signification, a quality which has ever tempted Italian mediocrity to assume the borrowed plumes of poesy, and to conceal its native barrenness under magniloquent but flimsy common-places. The well earned gratitude of authors is fittingly paid in compliments, eulogies, or dedications, and as such coin is at the unlimited command of the debtor, and useful only to the receiver, its over-issue is fairly excusable. This results from principles inherent in human nature, and it matters little whether the obligations have been incurred from sovereigns or from subjects, under an autocrat or a democracy. Even among ourselves, in times when talent had more to hope from private patronage than from extended popularity, a similar currency was scarcely less in vogue, and it was only the poverty of our idiom that kept its circulation within bounds. Hence, were the independence of the best English writers of a century or two ago-101- to be estimated from their dedicatory addresses, or their occasional odes, a condemnation as unreasonable as sweeping would go forth against names long inscribed in our temple of fame. This argument might easily be extended; but enough has been said to show that more was done for the support of letters under princely than under popular institutions, and that the adulatory epithets natural to the language, and inherent in the usages of Italy, are no certain index of base subserviency.

But, on the other hand, independent sovereignty, irrespective of political forms, was of primary importance to the encouragement of mental cultivation. The separation of Italy into a multitude of petty states converted almost every town into a capital, which its rulers and its citizens took equal pride in decorating. The patriotism thus generated was intense in proportion to the narrow field on which it was exercised, and an expenditure, restrained by severe sumptuary restrictions, found scope on monuments honourable to the public. Thus there ensued, between hostile communities and emulous factions, a rivalry in arts as in arms, whereby public institutions prospered, and individual genius was encouraged. Fanes, whose glories seem to defy the waste of time, were thus raised for the devotional requirements of the people; palaces grew up the bulwark of their liberties; citadels were fortified to rivet their chains; and even when the ultimate results were fatal to freedom, the talent and activity thus stimulated were sure to eventuate in industrial progress, as well as in the restoration of letters and the improvement of art.

The human mind, when aroused from its long and leaden slumbers, at first instinctively leaned for support upon such vestiges of ancient learning as had survived the wreck of ages. To excavate and examine these was the laborious task assumed by early students, in which-102- Petrarch and Boccaccio sedulously joined. But, justly appreciating them as materials on which to found a new fabric, rather than as the substitutes for original thought, "the all-Etruscan three" happily combined enthusiasm for classic models with the power to rival them in a language simultaneously matured by themselves for the daring undertaking. The fifteenth century arrived; it was an epoch of reaction; one of other tendencies and tastes, when genius, as Ginguené has happily observed, was superseded by erudition. Entering the path which Petrarch had partially explored, its pioneers neglected the better portion of his example. They spent their energies in rummaging obscure recesses of monastic libraries, and wasted time and learning in transcribing, collating, and annotating the various manuscripts which thus fell within their grasp. In exhuming and renovating these monuments of a long-buried literature, they were forgetful of the fact that their dealings were with dead corpses; and whilst submitting the recovered fragments to philological analysis, they perversely sought to embody their own souls in these decayed members. As such materials were incapable of being reanimated, or even remodelled into more apt forms, this unnatural union was seldom effected without violence to the sentiment. Even the ablest writers devoted themselves to the arid task of scholia and translations, composing in the dead tongues such original works as they attempted. The result was a monstrous metempsychosis, whereby thought, enchained in uncongenial bodies, lost its due influence, and appeared in, at best, an unseemly masquerade. Hence the language of the century was Latin, its manner pedantic, its spirit coldly artificial.

But whilst the historian of that age laments the shackles thus imposed upon its literature, it were unjust to withhold from it the merit of preserving those treasures of ancient history and philosophy, eloquence and poetry,-103- which, under happier auspices and more judicious treatment, have elevated thought, enlarged intellect, and enriched the style of later times. Although unable to refine the true metal from its dross, the pedants of "fourteen hundred" were miners who discovered the precious ore, and ascertained its component ingredients. The fashionable ardour for collecting early MSS. of ancient authors was very generally accompanied with untiring perseverance in mastering their intricacies. Philology and grammar thus grew into sciences, and their professors held the keys of human erudition. Deep ought to be our gratitude for the contingent of classical literature rescued from a rapid destruction by such arduous and self-denying labours; and a history of these discoveries, and of the zeal and enterprise volunteered by the early commentators and publishers of the ancient authors, would form an interesting monument of undaunted and generally successful diligence. Yet, in a comprehensive view of the results springing from these new tendencies, it is impossible to blind ourselves to the evils that emanated from them. From the nerve, grandeur, and elegance of Greek and Roman writers, there was much to learn with advantage; but their influence was directly antagonist to the highest sentiments of a Christian, and, in the main, a devotional people. When tried by such a test, their philosophy was hollow, their heroism selfish, their refinement corrupted. Nor was it only by reproducing the themes and the philosophy of distant ages that classicism clogged the elasticity of reviving literature. By inculcating extinct languages as the only means fitted for expressing their ideas, Italian literati checked the progress of their vernacular tongue,—that best bulwark of nationality,—and at the same time impeded the free expansion of thought, which, thus conducted into artificial channels, could but stagnate or freeze. The mind, habituated to find in literature a restraint, came to regard natural feeling as a solecism, living images as incongruous-104- anomalies, warmth of sentiment as a blemish sedulously to be avoided. Under such false training, knowledge received the impress of a languid conventionality; and even those who condescended to write in Italian, chilled their compositions with the pedantry of antique idioms. The classic style thus introduced had many inherent defects. Borrowed plumage is seldom becoming, and servile imitations are always bad. Besides, the ancient type had been originally modelled by a people, and in an age, little sympathetic with those for whom it was now reproduced, and whose sentiments were cramped equally by the conventionalisms of an obsolete manner, or by the adoption of a dead tongue. Hence is it that the fifteenth century, so signalised by the diffusion of knowledge, and the advance of the fine arts, has bequeathed to us fewer eminent writers than those which immediately preceded and followed it, and that during its course Italian literature was unquestionably retrograde.

This is especially true of poetry, in an age of erudition when learning was essentially prosaic. The collation of manuscripts, the construction of grammars, the mastering of idioms, the revived subtleties of Greek dialectics, were ponderous studies with which the taste for literature of a lighter and more elastic tendency could ill assimilate. The chords whence Dante had evoked majestic notes, that seemed to swell from higher spheres, lay silent and unstrung; the lyre of Petrarch was left in feebler hands.

Nor was this the only evil resulting from an excess of the classical mania. Languages in which Christianity had not been naturalised were ill adapted for the expression of revealed truth; and the new scholarship, discarding the barbarisms of monastic Latin, imported into theological as well as profane compositions, the phrases of a pagan age. To find the personages of the Trinity, or even the hagiology of Rome, familiarly discussed under mytho-105-logical names, is to us merely absurd and revolting;[*66] but when men, already imbued with classical predilections, were accustomed to mix up in words the objects of their worship with the demigods of their admiration, the natural consequence was a confusion of ideas nowise favourable to the maintenance of their faith or the purity of their morals.

A not less prejudicial element emanated from the revived philosophies of Greece, which now arrested attention and divided the speculations of learned men. That derived from Aristotle, and known to Europe through the sages of Arabia, had long occupied the cloisters, where alone mind was then exercised, or its operations studied. The rival system of Plato came directly from its native soil; and was first publicly taught in Italy early in the fifteenth century, by Gemistus Plato,[*67] of Constantinople. It attracted the notice of Cosimo Pater Patriæ, who after having Marsilio Ficino, son of his physician, grounded in its mysteries by Greeks of learning, placed him at the head of an academy in Florence, instituted by himself for the dissemination of its doctrines. From thence these radiated, absorbing the attention of literary men, and enlisting many converts from the Stagirite faith. Aristotle and Plato became the watchwords of contending sects,[*68] and the usual jarring results of such logomachy were not long-106- wanting. The merits of a question, at first exaggerated by its respective zealots, were lost sight of in the torrent of abuse which gradually superseded argument, and inflamed every evil passion. Far overleaping the legitimate limits or literary warfare, disputant logicians advanced from replies to libels, from words to blows, and, after exhausting the armoury of invective, had recourse to the dagger. But on a subject so painful we are not called to enter. Backed by the authority of Nicholas V., the zeal of Cardinal Bessarion, and the example of the Medici, the sublime and imaginative speculations of Platonism for a time prevailed over the more material system of the Stagirite, and Florence became their head-quarters. The human mind, unaided by revelation, has never invented any system so abstractly beautiful, so pure in its morals, so elevating in its conceptions, so harmonious in its conclusions. Its lofty ethics rank next to the doctrines of inspiration, for it taught that happiness is the natural result of virtue, and that the mischiefs entailed by the passions are ill repaid by their transient pleasures. Yet, though thus intrinsically calculated to ennoble and refine the heart of fallen man, the Platonic theories indirectly led to lamentable results, both to the religion and the morality of the age. The divine revelation was by them virtually superseded, and paganism, from an affectation, became a conviction, or, at the least, a prevailing fashion, warping the manners and phrases, the faith and spirit of the age. Men lived for the present world by the light of human reason, until they forgot or denied a future existence, and a holier wisdom. The first blow struck at this practical heathenism came from Paul II., a Venetian, who was behind the age in its knowledge, as well as in its extravagances, and who relentlessly persecuted what he had not the capacity to redargue. Mind was, however, no longer to be silenced by papal bulls, or trammelled by penal fetters: it regarded the use of such-107- weapons as proof that the spiritual armoury contained none more serviceable, and learned to demur to an ecclesiastical despotism it already loathed. Succeeding pontiffs disavowed the policy of Paul: but the old respect for the papacy was shaken; doubts arrayed themselves against dogmas, cavilling superseded blind faith, until the dissolute example set by the courts of Innocent, Alexander, and Leo, converted scepticism into infidelity, apathy into open aggression. It is impossible to contemplate the great talents, the unwearied application, absorbed by these rival systems of philosophy, without a sigh that they should have been wasted on inquiries so purely speculative; yet, it cannot be denied that the controversy prepared weapons that have since done good service in many a better cause; that it developed mental energies, and matured intellectual discipline, from which the world continues largely to benefit.

Although the revival of letters had been advancing during several generations ere the chiefs of Montefeltro sought other laurels than those of the battle-field, it was reserved for these princes to contribute no mean aids towards their full development in that golden harvest which the fifteenth century saw gathered in. Indeed, the concurrent testimony of all writers has claimed for the sovereigns of Urbino a foremost place among the friends of literature. In the words of the general motto of this work, which well condense the prevailing opinion, "it is notorious beyond question even of the malignant, that the house of Montefeltro and della Rovere has for a long time past been that which [most] shed a lustre upon Italy by letters, arms, and every sort of rare worth, and that the court of Urbino may be termed a Pegasean spring, in the language of historic truth rather than of poetic hyperbole." It was to the successive reigns of Dukes Federigo and Guidobaldo I. that such expressions were generally ap-108-plied, and to them our attention will now be directed; but in a future portion of this work we shall endeavour to maintain for their della Rovere successors a similar reputation.

Were we to estimate the celebrities of Urbino by the encomiums of their partial countrymen, and measure their claims upon mundane immortality by the standard set up by Baldi Lazzari, Grossi, Cimarelli, and Olivieri, it would become our indispensable duty to add at least a volume to the present work. But these authors were deeply imbued with that peculiarly Italian patriotism which, narrowing its sympathies within the limits of a township or a petty state, enshrined provincial mediocrity in a temple of fame modelled upon a scale of national splendour. Believing that the dignity of their little fatherland depended upon the notices of its existence which they could worm out of antique memorials, however doubtful in authority, and upon the number of notable names they could connect with its localities, they tasked themselves to this investigation with industry worthy of a nobler and more useful object. Many folio volumes, ponderous in their contents as in their material, were the result; but they preserve only laborious trifling, a harvest of wordy conclusions gleaned from a soil barren of tangible facts, dissertations which may be summed up in the axiom ex nihilo nihil fit, "nothing comes of nought." Like those of the northern senachies, their themes were often legendary or invented, and it would have been scarcely a loss to literature had these productions been equally fugitive. Should the worthies mentioned in the following chapters seem scarcely to maintain the literary renown of Urbino, our readers ought in justice to remember that scarcely a tithe has found place in our pages of those whom zealous eulogists have placed upon the roll of Italian literati, but

"Whose obscurer name
No proud historian's page will chronicle."



Count Guidantonio a patron of learned men—Duke Federigo—The Assorditi Academy—Dedications to him—Prose writers of Urbino—Gentile Becci, Bishop of Arezzo—Francesco Venturini—Berni of Gubbio—Polydoro di Vergilio—Vespasiano Filippi—Castiglione—Bembo—Learned ladies.

THE reputation long enjoyed by the house of Montefeltro as patrons of letters and arts can scarcely be traced further back than Federigo, second Duke of Urbino. Yet the few memorials that remain of his father, Count Guidantonio, throw some scattered lights upon congenial tastes, and from these we select three letters to the magistracy of Siena, which are preserved in the Archivio Diplomatico of that city. The first of them is written in Latin, the others in Italian.

"To the mighty and potent Lords the well beloved Fathers, the Lords Priors, Governors, and Captain of the people of the city of Siena.

"Mighty and potent Lords, my especial Fathers,

"After the expression of my sincere affection: I understand that your Magnificences are about to agree upon a commendable work, that of endeavouring to amend the course of legal and other educational studies in your city: what is really laudable needs no verbose exposition, the fact being of itself clear and manifest. I have here my compeer the excellent Doctor Benedetto di Bresis of Perugia, a man of great integrity, who, without gainsaying any one, sets forth the law in that city more amply than any of the other judges who expound it there, and whom-110- his sacred Majesty lately invited to undertake the office of captain of Aquila, on the recommendation of his own merits, a charge which he has hitherto declined only from an unwillingness to interrupt those studies to which he is primarily devoted. I, however, hesitate not to propose him as well qualified for your Magnificences, induced by a twofold motive; first, that he may be able to continue his studies; secondly, that he may escape from the contagion of a home now struck by the pestilence; thirdly, that through me you may have the honour of securing for your course of study so able a doctor. I therefore heartily entreat your Magnificences, and again pray and beseech you, to appoint him to your lectureship of civil law with an adequate salary, as a singular pleasure to myself, and as a compliment to him, whose ample qualifications must be satisfactory to the free wishes of your community and the judges. And should he now or in future fall short of these recommendations, which I cannot suppose (for I am not so stupid), I shall consider your Magnificences to have received at my hands a disgrace and injury, entitling you in reason and justice to complain of me, after having so received him into your service; and I shall always continue beyond measure obnoxious to you and your city. Ever ready to do you all service; from Urbino, 1st of August, 1412.

"Count Guidantonio of Montefeltro
and Urbino."

"Mighty and potent Lords, dearest Fathers:

"The worthy and skilful Messer Piero di Pergolotti of Verona is repairing to your magnificent Lordships, who for a good while has been at Pesaro, where he practised surgery, conducting himself with propriety and diligence, so that the lords of that place and myself feel much obliged to him, and consider ourselves bound to promote his knowledge by providing him with the means of study.-111- He earnestly desires to enter into your establishment of the Sapienza, where he hopes to do credit to this recommendation, as well as to advance his own honour and advantage. And knowing how much I am devoted to your Magnificences, he has had recourse to me, hoping through me to effect his wish. I, therefore, in consideration of his capacity, science, and worth, pray that on my account you will consider him fully recommended, and will grant him admission into the Sapienza, whereby your Magnificences will greatly gratify me, to whom I ever commend myself. From Durante, the 2nd of May, 1440.

"Guidantonio, Count of Montefeltro,
Urbino, and Durante."

"Mighty and potent Lords, most honoured Fathers,

"There is in your Sapienza one Messer Zucha da Cagli, my intimate friend, who, as I am informed, is very able in civil rights, and who, for his advancement in reputation and skill, wishes to have a lectureship, either the one read after the first doctors come forth in the morning, or that in the afternoon an hour before the ordinary doctors enter. I hereby pray your magnificent Lordships, that the said Messer Zucha be at my sight recommended to you, and whatever honour or benefit your Lordships grant him I shall consider as bestowed on myself, and shall remain constantly grateful. From Cagli, the 24th of December, 1441.

"Guidantonio, Count of Montefeltro,
Urbino, and Durante."

Among the traits of literary taste displayed by Duke Federigo, we learn from his biographer Muzio, that it was his custom to repair weekly to the Franciscan convent, and to encourage among its learned society debates and discussions on subjects analogous to their studies. Upon this somewhat loose foundation, he has been claimed as founder-112- of the Assorditi, and it has been ranked among the earliest academies in Italy. We need not pause to investigate their respective titles to honours so questionable, now that such associations are generally recognised as prolific of two enormous literary nuisances, pedantry and puerility. From their antipathic contact genius long has fled, leaving the field open to triumphant mediocrity. Pretending to no original efforts, it was their narrow aim to imitate standard productions, or to ring the changes upon them in prosing and pointless commentaries. To indite two tomes of scholia on a sonnet of Petrarch was the dreary task that qualified for admission into the Florentine Academy; to string Platonic nothings into rhyme was the high ambition which numbered votaries by hundreds. The Assorditi were no exception from the usual category of mediocrity; and whether they were first associated under Federigo's protection, or, as Tiraboschi alleges, sprang into existence under Guidobaldo II., is of little moment to the literary history of Urbino.

In times when letters flourished chiefly at courts, patronage was the grand end of authorship, every work being inscribed to at least one high personage. The character and position of Federigo subjected him to a large share of such incense; but among the many dedications laid at his feet none perhaps was more fulsome, and at the same time more ingenious, than that prefixed by Marsilio Ficino to his Latin version of Plato's Essay on Monarchy. It narrates that Jupiter, willing to found on earth a model sovereignty, resolved to send down the beau-ideal of a ruler for its guidance. He, therefore, summoned the gods in full convocation, and presented to them his new creation, under the title Fideregum Orbinatem Ducem, which may be literally interpreted "Royal faith, ruler of the world," but which was corrupted by human idiom into Federigo Urbinate Duce. Pallas and Mercury thereupon, in presence of Truth, endowed the new prince with crown and sceptre;-113- and the Academy, as a humble handmaid of these deities, inscribed to him Plato's work upon mundane sovereignty. Although we have had occasion to notice in our tenth chapter this Duke's taste for the graver studies of theology, philosophy, history, and Grecian literature, and to commemorate the fruit it produced in a variety of other dedications, yet few who distinguished themselves in these pursuits are sufficiently identified with Urbino to authorise our dwelling at any length upon their names. Guarino of Verona, Poggio Bracciolini, Donato Acciaiolo, Poliziano, and others of mark, may therefore be omitted; and we shall thus have very few prose authors to bring before our readers.

Gentile de' Becci was probably a native of Urbino, but the interest attaching to his name is owing rather to the distinction attained by his pupils than to his own. He was selected by Pietro de' Medici to train up his son Lorenzo the Magnificent; and to have educated such a mind is an unexceptionable title to fame. Yet the Christian philanthropist who sighs over the dross which mingled with its ore, the impure uses to which its bright metal was in some respects misdirected, by a master who might have moulded it to holier purposes, and might have enriched by its talents the treasury of truth and the triumphs of religion, may well hesitate ere he grants to the preceptor of Lorenzo a reflected share of his glory, without also holding him responsible for that pagan epicureanism which spread like a pestilence from the Medicean court throughout Italy. Nor do the notices remaining of Becci tend to nullify such an inference. The favour of his patrons naturally obtaining for him rapid promotion, he was raised to the see of Arezzo in 1473. But his life was that of a statesman rather than that of a good pastor. We read of his tact as a diplomatist, his skill in public affairs, his dexterous civil administration of his diocese,-114- by directing towards commercial industry energies which had wasted themselves on faction; we are assured that his popularity was confirmed by his encouragement of liberal arts, by his mild and courteous character; we are told that in political science his pen was ably employed. But regarding his theological attainments, the purity of his morals, the zeal of his clerical ministrations, his eulogists are silent. We may add that to him Guicciardini in some degree imputes the miscarriage of the proposed league of Italy against the French invasion in 1492, in consequence of his personal ambition, when sent to conduct the negotiations at Rome on the part of the Medici, whilst his thoughtless extravagance there wasted resources of the Florentines which might have been better spent on military preparations.

Of Ludovico Odasio it is unnecessary to add anything to what we have already had occasion to say.[69] Francesco Venturini of Urbino is reputed the first after the revival who wrote a complete Latin grammar. It was dedicated to Count Ottaviano Ubaldini, and was printed at Florence in 1482, and again in his native town by Henry of Cologne, in 1493-4.[70] Among his pupils he is said to have numbered both Raffaele and Michael Angelo.[*71]-115- Besides Berni da Gubbio, whose Diary has been edited in the Scriptores of Muratori, there were several annotators of events in their native duchy, whose prose writings remain in the Vatican Library, and have supplied us with useful information; but they were not historians, and it is unnecessary to bring them forth from their obscurity. Of one name, however, we may make an exception.

Polydoro di Vergilio was born at Urbino about 1470, and studied at Bologna. His relation, Adrian Castellesi, who, when Cardinal of Corneto, was well known both in England and at Rome,[72] had been sent by Innocent VIII. as legate to Scotland, but remained at London in consequence of the death of James III. at the battle of Stirling. There he was joined by Polydoro, who, on taking priest's orders, had, through his influence, obtained from Alexander VI. the collectorship of an old house-tax in England called Romescot, or Peter's pence, originally imposed in Saxon times for the maintenance of English pilgrims to Rome. Aliens being there frequently objects of church preferment, he, in 1503, obtained the rectory of Church Langton in Leicestershire; and, on his patron's appointment in the following year to the see of Bath and Wells, the path of further promotion was opened to him. In 1507 he became prebendary of Lincoln and of Hereford, and archdeacon of Wells, on which he resigned his collectorship. In 1515 he shared an imprisonment in the-116- Tower, brought upon Adrian by the jealousy of Wolsey, whose haughty spirit, disappointed of the purple, attributed the delayed honours to the Bishop's influence. Letters were consequently written by Sadoleto in Leo's name to the English court on behalf of Polydoro, and Wolsey having received the much coveted scarlet hat, there was no further pretext for his detention. The date of his return home is variously stated at 1534 or 1550, and he carried from Henry VIII. a recommendation which procured him letters of nobility from his own sovereign. His literary talents being probably somewhat overrated in Italy, the long residence he made in the hotbed of heresy, without exercising his pen in defence of his Church, appears to have brought the purity of his faith under suspicion. That there was no tangible ground for the imputation may be presumed from his spending the rest of his life unquestioned at Urbino, where he died in 1555, and was buried in the Duomo.

The favour which Vergilio obtained in Adrian's eyes was partly owing to his success in cultivating the niceties of the Latin tongue, to restore which in its purity was a favourite project of the Cardinal. Before quitting Italy he had dedicated to Guidobaldo I. his Proverbiorum Libellus, a volume scarcely meriting the controversy upon which he entered with Erasmus as to the priority of suggesting such a collection. In 1499 he finished his treatise De Inventoribus Rerum, which was placed in the index of prohibited works, in consequence of tracing certain liturgical observances back to pagan superstitions; Grossi, however, vindicates his orthodoxy by ascribing the obnoxious passages to heretical interpolation. His essay De Prodigiis is an attempt to explain upon natural principles all omens, auguries, and other superstitious observances. As it is inscribed to Duke Francesco Maria I., he probably returned to Italy before 1538.

But what chiefly interests us is a Latin History of-117- England, which he is said to have undertaken at the suggestion of Henry VII., or more probably of Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester, who procured him access to certain archives. This work, from being the first general compilation of the sort given to the public, obtained more consideration than its superficial and inaccurate matter deserved; and Mr. Roscoe well observes that it has not gained the suffrages of posterity, either by ability or freedom from bias. Among the impugners of its veracity are Whear, Humphrey Lloyd, Henry Savile, and Bishop Bale. Some of these excuse his blunders on the questionable plea of his ignorance of English government, dialects, and manners, while Leland regrets that a writer so little trustworthy should have cast over his deceptions the graces of style. Anticipating perhaps such an aspersion, he, in his dedication of the work to Henry VIII., dated from London in 1530, compared the chronicles of Bede and Gildas, crude in form and phraseology, to meat served without the salt which it was his object to supply. Yet while the English blame him for misrepresentations,—avenged in the stinging Latin epigram,

"Maro and Polydore bore Virgil's name;
One reaps a poet's, one a liar's fame,"—

Giovio cites the testimony of French and Scotch authors to his partiality for the land of his adoption. More serious, but unestablished, is a charge greatly resented by his countrymen, that, after garbling records and ancient muniments thrown open to his examination, he consummated the outrage by destroying the evidence of his villainy. It may, however, be well to keep in view that, although Bale claims him as a willing reformer of certain Romish abuses, his adherence to that Church brought on him distrust of the Protestants, in an age when theological disputes were matter affecting life and limb.

In the Vatican is preserved a MS. of this history in two-118- volumes folio, of 1210 pages, in twenty-five books, ending with the death of James IV. of Scotland in 1512. The narrative is preceded by a dedication in Latin to Francesco Maria II., from Antonio Vergilio Battiferri, grand-nephew of the author, which is dated in 1613, and mentions the MS. as autograph. Yet on the last leaf is this colophon, apparently in the same hand: "Rogo ut bene conserventur, simul cum aliis in cenobio venerand. monalium Sce. Clare de Urbino, quousque bella, Deo favente, cessabunt. Ego Federicus Ludovici Veterani Urbinus scripsi totum opus." But though not the original, that transcriber's name guarantees the accuracy of this copy. An extract from it in II. of the Appendix proves that the Leyden edition of 1651 is in fact a loose paraphrase of the work.[73]

Vespasiano Filippi[*74] was a Florentine bibliopole, in an age when that commerce was carried on by persons of learning, whose business it was to transcribe, collate, and critically master the MSS. which formed its staple. He was thus in familiar intercourse not only with the literary men of the age, but with such princes and prelates as turned their attention to the promotion of reviving letters by multiplication and preservation of books. Of many such he has left us biographical notices, recently given to the world by Cardinal Mai from three MSS. in the Vatican library,[75] and in the Riccardiana of Florence. His collection of lives of illustrious ladies remains unedited. In the former work no memoir is so fully extended as that of Duke Federigo of Urbino, upon which we have in part drawn in our Second Book. It was inscribed to Duke-119- Guidobaldo I., in a dedication which not only testifies to his father's martial skill, and a prowess that never knew defeat, but also to the prudence of his sway, and assures us that the great powers of Italy had frequent recourse to his judicious counsels. Unlike the pedantic writers among whom he lived, Vespasiano composed these memoirs in the language of the people for whose information he intended them; but the long interval that elapsed before they saw the light has necessarily prevented them from becoming in any degree popular. Muratori, though unable to give an account of their author, has printed his lives of Eugene IV. and Nicholas V., and characterises his style as possessing a simplicity more precious than eloquence.

Two members only of the brilliant and lettered court of Guidobaldo have gained enduring celebrity from their writings—Castiglione and Bembo.[*76] The former may be considered a pattern of gentlemanly writing, the latter of scholarlike composition. We have already said what is necessary of both, and have introduced into our narrative an idea of Count Baldassare's Cortegiano, its objects and style. It is said to have been suggested by Louis XII., and written about 1516, but the author's preface seems to point at an earlier date. Two of his published letters to Bembo show how anxiously he awaited the suffrage of his friends, among whom it was handed about; but it was sent to press in 1528, only in consequence of the alarm of a pirated edition being in preparation, from a MS. which had been submitted to the-120- famed Vittoria Colonna, Marchioness of Pescara. The number of reprints which issued during the next fifty years was at least forty-two. A variety of circumstances conduced to this extensive and continued popularity. Books professing to initiate the many into habits and mysteries of refined society ever have claims on public curiosity, but the attraction was here increased by the dazzling reputation of the palace-circle at Urbino, as well as by the charms of erudition, wit, elegance, and worldly wisdom which sparkle in every page. It has, however, been remarked that most translations of the Cortegiano have failed to obtain the applause bestowed upon the original. The observation may be taken as a compliment to the polish of its diction, and to those delicacies of expression that bear no transplanting into another idiom. It also proves that the celebrity of this work rests much upon its style. The subject could scarcely be treated at such length without falling into that diffuseness and repetition, which, though clothed in beauty by the rich fluency of the Italian language, must always degenerate into monotony when rendered by the bold expletives of a less copious tongue.



After the picture by Raphael in the Louvre

In a period when princes and courts little resembled what they have since become, we possess from the pens of Machiavelli and Castiglione generalised portraits of both; and they may be relied on as genuine, although the Tuscan, like the tenebristi painters, overloaded his darker shadows, whilst the Mantuan Count employed the roseate tinting of licensed flattery. Roscoe considers the Cortegiano an ethical treatise, yet it belongs as much to belles-lettres as to moral philosophy. Its author has been called the Chesterfield of Italy, and the parallel is singularly apt. The Count and the Earl have each supplied "a glass of fashion and a mould of form" for the guidance of their courtly contemporaries, and the posthumous reputation of both with the world at large rests more upon their dicta-121- as arbiters of politeness, than upon their rare diplomatic address and statesmanlike attainments. With all its interest as a picture of manners and a test of civilisation in that proverbially refined age, with every charm which elegance of style can impart, it is impossible to dwell on the Cortegiano without feeling that its influence was then fraught with evil. In the pages of that essay were first systematically embodied precepts of tact, lessons of adulation, all repugnant to the stern manners and wholesome independence of antecedent generations. The homely bearing of honest burghers, the rough and ready speech of men who lived in harness, were there put out of fashion by studied phrase and cringing flattery, too easy preparations for the effeminate euphuism and fulsome servility which Spanish thraldom soon after imposed upon Italy.

Another work of Castiglione, to which we have already had occasion to refer, is his letter, written in Latin, to Henry VIII., containing an account of Guidobaldo's death, with a somewhat meagre sketch of his character. But there is in its composition an air of effort, a straining at rhetorical effect, which leave upon us the inevitable conclusion that he thought more of his style than his hero. These faults and deficiencies belong, however, in a still greater degree to that more ambitious disquisition, wherein Bembo has sought to honour the memory of the Duke and Duchess, whose favour he had amply enjoyed. His few fugitive poems well merit the preference accorded to them by Tiraboschi over most contemporary effusions, from force of sentiment not less than felicitous expression. It would be difficult to rival in the literature of any age the pathos of that ode wherein his beloved wife is supposed to sigh over his prolonged absence, and send him the sympathetic yearnings of her long-suppressed affection. Of this, however, and his Tirsis, we have already said enough.[77]


The courtly qualities of Count Baldassare are acknowledged wherever his native literature is known; that they were not inconsistent with his observance of parental feelings is proved by an interesting Latin letter addressed to his children the year before his death, which has been preserved by Negrini in his Elogii Historici of the Castiglione family.

"To my beloved children, Camillo, Anna, and Ippolita.

"It is my belief, dearest son Camillo, that you, above all things, desire my return home, for nature and the laws equally inculcate veneration for our parents next to God; and in your case there may be a special duty, since I, content with but one boy, would not have another to share with you my property and parental affection. That I may not have to repent of such a resolution, I shall own myself free of doubt as to yourself; yet would I have you aware that I look for such duty at your hands rather as a debt, than with the indifference of most parents. It will be easily paid, if you regard in the light of a father that excellent preceptor obtained by your friends, and implicitly follow his advice. From my prolonged absence, I have nothing to inculcate upon you beyond this line of Virgil, which I may without ostentation quote:

"From me, my son, learn worth and honest toil;
Fortune from others take."[78]

"And do you, Anna, who first endeared to me a daughter's name, so perfect yourself in moral graces, that whatever beauty your person may develop, shall be the handmaid of your virtues, and shall figure last in the compliments paid you. And you, Ippolita, reflect on my love for her whose name you bear; and how charming it would be for-123- your merits to surpass your sister's as much as her years do yours. Go on both, as you are doing, and, having lost the mother who bore you before you could know her to be so, do you imitate her qualities, that all may remark how greatly you resemble her. Adieu.

"From Monzoni, the 13th July, 1528.

"Your father,

"Balthassar Castilion."

The position which Bembo holds in the literature of Italy's golden age is not less singular than prominent. As an historian and poet, a philologist and rhetorician, and as a voluminous writer of official and private letters, he challenges criticism and has gained applause. It is, however, as a reformer of style that his claims have been most freely accorded, and his example held up to general imitation. Following the fashion of his day, he regarded classical, and especially Latin, attainments, as the attribute most needful for an accomplished man. But he went further; and, aware of the coarse and rugged manner into which literature had fallen, sought to correct Latin composition, and to perfect his own tongue, after the purest ancient standards. On this object he spared no pains, till by long and laborious practice he wrote in both with equal precision. He is said to have subjected each of his works to forty separate critical revisions, and no one can read a page without feeling that, as with too many of his countrymen, the manner has occupied quite as much thought as the matter. This naturally tended to an opposite extreme, for the studied structure of his sentences, and the fatiguing recurrence of mythological allusion, are blemishes greatly detracting from the pleasure afforded by his works.[79] Scaliger, accordingly, has scourged his-124- pagan misnomers of divine things, while his "childish heresy" of abject Ciceronian imitation is ridiculed by Lansius and Lipsius. Yet there is justice in the test applied to them by Tiraboschi; for great and wide-spread evils require extreme remedies, and the prevailing laxity of style having been once brought into discredit by his example, those who followed were able to avail themselves of his guidance and taste, without falling into the rigidity and constraint which blemish his compositions. Indeed, notwithstanding these obvious blots, which hero-worship has mistaken for beauties, his History of Venice, his Essay on Imitation, his diplomatic and familiar correspondence, and even his poetry, must, when tried by then-received standards, be allowed a merit entitling them to the general suffrage of contemporaries. It is to his Latin prose that our strictures are most applicable. Forgetting, in his zealous imitation of Cicero, the allowance due to modern themes, principles, and feelings, he so slavishly followed that heathen philosopher's idioms, as to clothe what he meant for Christianity in the words of paganism. Even his letters, running in name of the successor of St. Peter, transmuted the Almighty into a pantheistic generality, our Saviour into a hero, and the Madonna into a goddess of Loreto. It may be feared that this latitudinarianism was not limited to manner, for an anecdote alleges him to have seriously recommended a young divine to avoid reading St. Paul's Epistles, lest they might mar his style.

Compositions conceived and executed in so eclectic a spirit could scarcely avoid falling into coldness and pedantry; and such are prominent faults in his Venetian history, and his tribute to Duke Guidobaldo,—two works especially connected with the subject of these pages. The former is the most important production of his pen, and was begun in 1529, by desire of the Signory, in continuation of Sabellico's narrative, It is comprised in-125- twelve books, extending from 1487 to 1513, where it remained unfinished at his death, but was continued by Paruta. From a contemporary possessing talent, industry, leisure, and high literary reputation, as well as many opportunities of personal observation, very large expectations might be legitimately entertained. But as a churchman, he is said to have been jealously excluded from the Venetian archives, a condition which, in the judgment of Tiraboschi, ought to have disqualified him from the task, and which may account for, if it cannot excuse, the superficial character of the narrative, the poverty of graphic details, and the teasing absence of dates. On the composition, too, his classic mania has left its withering traces. It was his ambition here to rival the Commentaries of Cæsar; and, in perfecting the idiom of a dead language, he has constrained freedom of thought, and polished away the life and spirit of his theme. We have examined his pages, as an indispensable authority upon events which occupy several chapters of our work; but those who read Italian history for pleasure will generally prefer to do so either in the Italian tongue or their own. Conscious probably of this, the author himself translated the work into his vernacular language, and both versions were published soon after his death.

His dissertation on the characters of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino is written in Latin, and exhibits all those blemishes of style to which we have just referred, and which so strangely jar upon the fulsome flattery and elaborate verbiage which he labours to reduce into Ciceronian terseness. Though entitled a "Book," the whole occupies but a hundred pages in the octavo edition of his works (1567), whereof scarcely one third is original matter. It is addressed to Nicolò Tiepolo, a literary gentleman of Venice, and professes to have been committed to writing for the satisfaction of some Venetians-126- who, feeling an interest in Guidobaldo as their former guest, had applied to the father of Bembo for some account of his death. It is thrown into a dialogue between himself, Sadoleto, Filippo Beroaldo the younger, and Sigismondo [Conti?] of Foligno. The last-named personage supplies to their inquiries a narrative of the Duke's closing hours, addressed to Julius II., by Federigo Fregoso, along with the funeral oration pronounced at his obsequies by his preceptor Odasio. The former of these is written in a strain beseeming a heathen philosopher, rather than a Christian dignitary; the latter, which Tiraboschi has detected as very different from the printed oration, is to the full as turgid and tiresome as are most such efforts of Italian adulation; neither of them tell anything of importance that Castiglione has not better given us.

The whole discourse is, as I have had occasion to mention,[80] of but trifling value to the biographer of these personages. Facts are generalised until no substance remains; incidents and traits of character are lost in the multiplicity of epithets; and thus we have, instead of a speaking likeness, a vague and showy picture, overladen with ornaments until individuality is gone. The warmer emotions of the heart could scarcely, perhaps, be happily clothed in the abstractions of a dead tongue, unadapted to the times, and to circumstances which required the outpourings of unaffected grief; at all events, these measured periods and studied phrases give no real pleasure. Bembo was an elegant Latinist, but in such a work the language of nature could alone afford satisfaction. When we seek to know the true characters of his distinguished patrons, we are dismissed with an inflated rhetorical exercise; we are offered bread, and find it a stone. These strictures apply to the long funeral oration, but still more to the dull didactic discourse of the four friends,-127- which wants the fire and feeling of the eulogy, and is soiled by gross details gratuitously introduced on a point at which good taste would have barely glanced. In all respects, the most interesting portion of the work is Fregoso's letter, upon which we have drawn in describing the death-bed of Guidobaldo. On the whole, this production may be dismissed with a doubt whether its prosiness or its pruriency is most offensive. Nor will the perusal of those papal brieves, extended by the same writer, which despoiled of his inheritance the Duke's adopted child, blasphemously ejecting him from the pale of Christendom, give a higher opinion of the sincerity of this ungrateful sycophant.

His other works, having no immediate reference to our subject, may be dismissed with few words. The Prose, a treatise upon rhetoric, intended to fix the standard of pure Italian composition, is a dialogue, to which Giuliano de' Medici and Federigo Fregoso are parties. Gli Asolani, a more juvenile production, was named from the castle of Asolo, at which some youths are represented as discussing the tender passion in all its moods and modifications. This theme, notwithstanding the tedious manner in which it is treated, gave it great popularity over western Europe in the sixteenth century, but the style and substance alike render it unpalatable to modern amateurs of light reading. His Latin treatise De Imitatione is a dull defence of his Ciceronian mannerisms; his essay in the same language upon Virgil and Terence a laboured philological critique; his De Ætna Liber a report of physical observations during an early residence near that volcano. His poetry, both Latin and Italian, enjoyed high reputation at a period when imitations of Petrarch had degenerated into common-place; for he succeeded in brushing away the rust of ages, and restoring much of the bright polish peculiar to the bard of Arqua. Lastly, his very numerous private and official letters have preserved to us a valuable-128- store of facts, and much curious illustration of coeval manners and individual character.

The share of laborious learning voluntarily borne by ladies of the highest birth in the fifteenth century is a singular problem. There was scarcely a sovereign family that could not boast among its daughters some votary of intellectual pursuits, in an age when mental cultivation was of a sort more calculated to overburden genius, than to give wings to fancy in her flight after knowledge. A familiar acquaintance with Latin was then requisite, being the key to modern as well as classic and biblical literature, and also the current language of diplomacy or courtly intercourse.[*81] The abstruse distinctions of ancient philosophy, the complex tenets of dogmatic theology, the fatiguing jargon of scholastic disputation, were all included in the circle of female accomplishments. Such were the graces for which Bianca d'Este, Isotta Nogarolo, and Veronica Gambara were famed; while another Isotta, paramour of the truculent Lord of Rimini, divided contemporary adulation between the beauties of her person and her mind. The vagueness of such eulogies might well justify scepticism as to the profundity of that lore they were intended to vaunt; but in the case of Ippolita Maria Sforza, daughter of Francesco Duke of Milan, and wife of Alfonso King of Naples, chance has afforded us a standard of the knowledge mastered by these learned ladies. It was for this princess that Constantine Lascaris composed the earliest Greek Grammar; and in the convent library of Sta. Croce at Rome there is a transcript by her of Cicero De Senectute, followed by a juvenile collection of Latin apophthegms curiously indicative of her character and studies. The house of Montefeltro could boast a full-129- share of such distinction, in Princess Battista, wife of the wretched Galeazzo Lord of Pesaro, to whose literary celebrity we have elsewhere paid our tribute, and whose progeny we have seen maintaining the prestige of her accomplishments to the third generation. Her great-granddaughter Battista Sforza rivalled her accomplishments, and those of her cousin Ippolita Maria, and, when placed by her marriage at the head of the court at Urbino, contributed much to the literary reputation which it then first obtained. Its two succeeding duchesses of the Gonzaga race, although women of remarkable talent, did not carry so far the cultivation of their natural powers; but we have found, in their relative and associate Emilia Pia, one whose learning was scarcely less notable than her wit.

Such were the examples of female genius which emanated from the courts of Italy, and, spreading to her universities, installed feminine erudition in professorial chairs. Nor was this questionable practice limited within the Italian peninsula. Many Spanish dames were conspicuous in scholarship, and, at the close of the century, Salamanca and Alcala saw their professorships held with applause by ladies equally distinguished for birth and accomplishments.



Poetry under the Montefeltri—Sonnets—The Filelfi—Giovanni Sanzi—Porcellio Pandonio—Angelo Galli—Federigo Veterani—Urbani Urbinate—Antonio Rustico—Naldio—Improvisatori—Bernardo Accolti—Serafino d’Aquila—Agostino Staccoli—Early comedies—La Calandra—Corruption of morals—Social position of women.

WERE the lettered court of Duke Federigo to be judged by its minstrels, a harsh sentence might perhaps be awarded. Nor would this be quite fair. Their cold and common-place ideas, their rude and vapid verses, are indeed far beneath the standard of our fastidious age, and scarcely repay those who decipher them in venerable parchments. Yet have we ample evidence of their superiority to many poetasters of Italy, who then emulated Virgil's hexameters, or abused the facilities of their vernacular versification; and it is just the fact of these laureates of Urbino so long surviving the countless rhymers of other principalities, that proves the discriminating patronage of a sovereign, who attached to his court the best writers of his time. Nor must we fail to remember that the now prominent blemishes of their works were then their most admired qualities. The classical sympathies which we usually leave in schools and colleges, or which, when carried prominently about us in the busy world are stigmatised as a pedantic and ungraceful encumbrance, were then in high fashion. They were indispensable to the man of liberal education as his sword and buckler to the soldier; they were adopted among the conventional elements of all literature, poetry, and taste. A standard-131- being thus set up so antipathic to the ideas of our practical age, we are called upon, before proceeding to judgment, to divest ourselves of prejudices which may in their turn become the marvel and ridicule of our posterity.

The inherent defects of that minstrelsy,

"Whose melody gave ease to Petrarch's wounds,"

have been aptly set forth by Roscoe, but he appears to overlook its special adaptation for the Italian tongue. Limited to one theme, which it is required to exhaust in a fixed number of lines, and fettered by the frequent and stated recurrence of a few rhymes, no language less copious and pliant can be woven into a sonnet, without occasionally betraying, in bald, formal, or rugged versification, the torture to which it has been subjected. Again, the constraint and mannerism which often deform this metrical composition in other idioms are here its safeguard from a mellifluous but insipid verbiage, so often fatal to the lyrics of Italy: on a poetry habitually turgid and redundant, terseness is thus absolutely imposed.

With these few words of apology for doggerel hexameters and indifferent sonnets, we shall shortly pass in review some of those who thus wooed the muses in the Montefeltrian court.

Among the most widely known names of this age was Francesco Filelfo, whose venal pen often wantoned in biting lampoons, whose sickening vanity was obtruded in the most repulsive egotism, and whose vagrant habits strangely combined assiduous study with lax morals. In most respects he anticipated the bad notoriety acquired a century later by Pietro Aretino, and like him alternately fawned upon and flagellated princely patrons of literature. Were his life to be written, it would be difficult to extract truth by balancing his own self-vaunting letters against-132- the scurrilous philippics of his untiring enemy Poggio Bracciolini. But we are fortunately spared this task, and may refer to Tiraboschi, Roscoe, and Shepherd for illustrations of his restless existence and fractious temper.[82] In both these respects Gian Maria,[*83] the son, seems to have resembled Francesco the father, whilst he even exceeded him in the number and variety of his compositions. He sought audiences in many cities of Italy and Provence for his prelections in grammar and philosophy, as well as for his improvisations of Latin or Italian verse; and among the numerous patrons he thus courted was the good King René, who bestowed on him the laurel crown, a guerdon which his rude numbers ill-deserved at the hands of that graceful troubadour. Tiraboschi makes no allusion to his intercourse with Duke Federigo, whereof we know little beyond two works which he inscribed to that Prince, and which remain unedited in the Vatican Urbino Library. The former of these, dated at Modena in 1464, was corrected by the author, "doctor in arts and both faculties of law, knight, and poet laureat," he being then in his thirty-eighth year. It is numbered 702, and contains about two thousand five hundred Latin hexameters and pentameters, entitled Martiados, an obvious imitation of his father's Sfortiados. The theme is thus set forth in a dedication to the Duke of Urbino:—

"Primus et in Martem quæ sint pia fata Tonantis,
Et manibus nati monstra parenta refert;
At liber et bellis laudatque et honore secundus,
Et gestis magnum rebus in orbe Ducem."

The very moderate anticipations raised by this proemium, which we leave in its rugged original, are not surpassed in the context, dull and common-place as it is in senti-133-ment, prosaic and unpolished in style. Losing sight of his avowed object of keeping apart the deeds of Mars, the ancient divinity, from those of Federigo, his living type, in order to illustrate the parallel which it is his plan to draw between them, he strangely jumbles both; and, following the new-born classicism of the day, he has crammed his rough verses with nearly every name that heathen mythology, history, or geography can muster, in senseless and jarring confusion. With a view to exalt his hero as a second Hercules, he enumerates a series of labours and achievements from his childhood, when he sprang from bed and strangled a snake that had frightened all his attendants. This is followed by a farrago of allegorical struggles, combats, and triumphs over temptations or evil principles, anticipating somewhat the idea of the Pilgrim's Progress, but with this important difference, that the motives, arms, and aids are all borrowed from pagan mythology. So entirely is Federigo lost among the gods and demigods who crowd the stage, that his character or actions are seldom brought on the foreground at all, and never with sufficient idiosyncracy to avail for the development of either. Finally, we find him deified in Olympus, and the epic closes with an empty bravado that none ever more worthily emulated Alcides.

The other MS. of Gian Maria Filelfo which demands a passing note is No. 804 of the same library, and is dated seven years later than the Martiados. It contains some six thousand Italian verses, consisting for the most part of minor poems on a variety of subjects; the volume is dedicated to Federigo, but many of the Canzoni morali are inscribed to distinguished personages, not omitting the Duke's rancorous foe Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, to whose vanity such incense could not have been unpalatable. In treating of religious topics, the author, for the time, and by an effort, lays aside the pagan strain which prevails in his other lays, and though generally-134- selecting the sonnet or terza rima, he thus affects to disclaim all rivalry with their mighty masters:—

"To these rude rhymes, alas, nor Petrarch's style
Is given, nor the good Dante's pungent file."

Yet there is considerable ambition in the rhythm, and although prolix, like other contemporary compositions, and inflated by superabundant episodes, it is not devoid of occasional poetic feeling. In the dedicatory address he thus speaks of his volume:—

"De! dunque Signor mio, per tua merciede
Con lieta fronte schorri esto libretto,
Il qual sotto il tuo titolo honor chiede.
Forse leggiendol' ne fia alcun dilecto,
Per esser di molte herbe uno orticciuolo,
Quantunque el vi sia dentro erro e diffecto:
Pur che 'l non sia di tutto il vano orciuolo
Col qual l'aqua si tira, da le donne
Che feciono ai mariti si gran duolo.
Ogni casa non è posta in colonne;
Ognuno esser non può Dante o Patrarcha;
Ognun non porta pretiose gonne.
Ma spesse volte piccoletta barcha
Arriva in luoco, ove andando s'anniegha
Tal grossa nave che molto è men charcha.
De! s'al huom val quanto il Signor più priegha,
China la fronte altiera a questa scorza,
Ch'in questo mio arbor del pieta non niegha.
Et come il navichare hor poggia, hor orza,
Hor pope avvien, secondo i venti e l'onde
Cosi convien ch'in vario error mi torza.
Hor la mia voglia la ragion confonde,
Hor l'appetito impera, hor vivo in doglia,
Hor lieto, hor desioso, et non so donde.
Qual l'autunno ogni verde arbor spoglia,
Inverno asciugha, e primavera inverde,
Tal varia e nostra externa et mental voglia.
Ma tristo chiunque indarno il tempo perde,
Ch'è peggio ch'esser rozzo e senza lima,
Però che chi non è mai non riverde.
De! leggi, Signor mio, la vulghar ryma,
Et sia ti un modo da cacciar la noia,
Quando di gran facciende hai maggior stima."


As we shall give a place in our Appendix to Giovanni Sanzi's judgment upon the painters of his day, we may here insert Filelfo's sonnet to Gentile Bellini.

"Bellin! s'io t'hebbi mai fitto nel cuore,
Se mai chognobbi it tuo preclaro ingiegno,
Hor confess'io che sei fra gli altri degno,
D'haver qual hebbe Apelle ogni alto honore.
Veduta ho l'opra tua col suo cholore,
La venustà col suo sguardo benegno,
Ogni suo movimento et nobil segno
Che ben demonstri il tuo gientil valore.
Gientile! io t'ero affectionato assai,
Parendomi la tua virtu più rara
Che soglia esser l'ucciel che è solo al mondo;
Ne pingier sa chi da te non impara,
Che gloria a quegli antiqui hormai tolta hai,
In chi questa arte postha ogni suo pondo.
Forsse che troppo habondo
A te che non ti churi di tue lode,
Ma diciendone assai l'alma mia ghode."

When compared with contemporary efforts, these specimens, and others which it would be easy to add, deserve a better fate than the neglect to which, in common with most of their author's works, they have been consigned; nor do they bear out the imputation of careless haste, alleged by Tiraboschi as the prevailing error of his very numerous and various productions. The paucity of these which have issued from the press may, however, be taken as confirming that judgment, as well as the suppression of his narrative of the campaign of Finale in 1447, after it had been printed by Muratori for his Scriptores. But poetry may be accounted his forte,—a somewhat remarkable circumstance, considering the unrivalled reputation he established as an improvisatore of verses on any number not exceeding one hundred themes suddenly proposed, as such facility has rarely been conjoined with true poetic fire.

It were to be desired that we knew more of his intercourse with Duke Federigo. In one of his dedicatory-136- epistles, after alluding to the likelihood of that prince reading the work, he, in a vein of fulsome compliment and impudent conceit, complains of neglect from friends, and hints at a visit to Urbino. It is difficult to glean facts from the vague common-places of such letters; but in 1468 he thanks his patron for retaining at his court Demetrio Castreno, a learned Greek fugitive from Constantinople. Equally mannered and cold are his flattery and his condolence, on the death of Countess Battista in 1472. Next year he writes that, having begun a commentary on Federigo's life, and completed two books, he had been induced to submit them to the Duke of Milan, from whom he never could recover the manuscript.

Another protégé of Duke Federigo was Porcellio Pandonio, of Naples,[*84] whose pen was ever at command of the readiest patron, as historiographer or laureate. From his partiality to the designations of bard and secretary to Alfonso of Naples, it would seem that he chiefly rested his fame on his poetical compositions. From this judgment Muratori differs, protesting that in historical narrative none excelled his ease and elegance of diction.[85] Abject classicism, in thought and style, was then a common weakness of the learned; and however correctly Porcellio may have caught the Latin phraseology, it is difficult to get over the jarring effect of an idiom and nomenclature foreign-137- to the times and incidents which it is his object vividly to portray. In his printed work, on the campaigns of 1451-2, between Venice and Milan, he uniformly disguises Sforza and Piccinino, their respective commanders, as Scipio and Hannibal, under which noms de guerre it requires a constant effort to recognise mediæval warriors, or to recollect that we are considering events dating some two thousand years after those who really bore them had been committed to the dust. The same affectation, common to many authors of his day, mars his unpublished writings which we have had occasion to examine in the Vatican Urbino Library, and their authority is greatly impaired by what Muratori well calls "prodigality of praise" to his heroes, that is, to his generous patrons. In a beautifully elaborated MS. (No. 373) he has collected, under the title of Epigrams, nearly fifty effusions in honour of our Duke and Duchess, and of members of their family or court, a favourite theme being the love-inspired longings of Battista for her lord's return from the wars. In the same volume is his Feltria, an epic composed at Rome about 1472, and narrating Federigo's campaigns, from that of 1460-1, under the banner of Pius II., by whose command Porcellio undertook to sing his general's prowess in three thousand Virgilian verses. Its merits may be fairly appreciated from extracts already given,[86] and from this allusion to the state of Italy at the outbreak of the war:—

"Jamque erat Ausoniæ populos pax alta per omnes,
Et tranquilla quies: jam nulli Martis ad aras
Collucent ignes; jam victima nulla cadebat.
Dantur thura Jovi; fumabat oliva Minervæ:
Sus erat in pretio, Cereris aptissima sacris,
Pampineique dei caper, et qui vitibus amens
Officit, atque merum ante aras cum sanguine fundit."


Such were the foreign poets who frequented Duke Federigo's court. Its native bards left few works meriting particular notice, with one interesting exception. We have elsewhere to discuss Giovanni Sanzi or Santi,[*87] of Urbino, his merits as a painter, and the celebrity reflected on him from the eminence of his son, the unequalled Raffaele. Here we shall speak of his epic on that Duke's life, of which we have made frequent use in our first volume, and which demands attention on account of its excellence, as well as from the intimate connection with our subject of its author and theme.

This poem, having remained unedited in the Vatican arcana, long escaped the literary historians of the Peninsula, but it has been recently quoted by two writers, Pungileone and Passavant, the former of whom had not seen it.[88] Although, in his dedication to Duke Guidobaldo, composed after 1490, the author accounts for his becoming a painter, as we shall see in chapter xxviii., he gives no further explanation of the motives which inspired the labour of a poem, containing some twenty-four thousand lines, than "that after anxious thought and consideration of such new ideas as offered themselves, I wished to sing in this little used style of terza rima, the story of your most excellent and most renowned father's glorious deeds," whose "brilliant reputation not only was and is well known throughout Italy, but is, if I may say so, the subject of discourse beyond the Caucasus," "not without a conscious blush at the idea of dipping so mean a vessel in the water of this limpid and sparkling spring."-139- With equal modesty, he deprecates all rivalry with the learned commentators who had celebrated the same theme in Latin, limiting the ambition of his "rude and brief compend" to rendering its interest accessible to more ordinary readers; but, looking back upon his twenty-three ample cantos, he fervently thanks the Almighty that an undertaking of so extended time and toil had at length attained its termination, and concludes by "humbly beseeching that you will regard the hero's far-famed actions, rather than the baseness of my style, whose only grace is the sincere devotion of a faithful servant to his lord." A similar tone marks the outset of his Chronicle:—

"If e'er in by-gone times a shallow mind
Shrank from the essay of a grand design,
So quake I in the labour-pangs of fear."

Compared with contemporary epics, the rhythm is smooth and flowing, and the style dignified, interspersed with highly poetical episodes and finely expressed moral reflections as well as apt illustrations from ancient history and mythology. The epithets, though abundant, are more than usually appropriate, and many terse maxims are happily introduced. Yet, in his object of placing his poem and his hero among the popular literature of the day, Giovanni must have failed, the Vatican MS. being the only known copy. Readers it, however, doubtless had, one of whom has curiously commemorated his admiration by jotting on the margin, "Were you but as good a painter as a poet, who knows!" Modern critics, contrasting his fresco at Cagli with the rhyming Chronicle, would probably arrive at an inverse conclusion, especially were they to pronounce upon the latter from the preamble which called forth that exclamation—an allegorical vision, told in nine weary chapters, wherein figure a motley crowd of mythological and heroic personages belonging to ancient and contemporary times.


It would occasion much useless repetition to enter here into any detailed analysis of the work, as we have formerly drawn upon its most valuable portions for the history of Duke Federigo. When considering the state of the fine arts, we shall have to notice a very important part of the poem touching upon that subject—an æsthetic episode on the art and artists of his day, which is introduced on occasion of the Duke's visit to Federigo I., Marquis of Mantua. In regard to the merit of this epic, due allowance must be made for the taste of the age. Its great length necessarily infers a tediousness of detail much more adapted to prose than verse, indeed inherently prosaic. Yet it contains not a few continuous passages of sustained beauty, and it would not be difficult to cull many a sparkling thought and bright simile, while from time to time the dull narrative is enlivened by lyric touches and strokes of poetic fancy, adorning sentiments creditable to the genius and the heart of its author, who, with much sweetness of disposition, appears to have possessed endowments beyond his humble sphere. His patriotic indignation at the ceaseless broils and strifes which convulsed his fatherland may supply us with an example or two:—

"Ma non potendo Italia in pace stare
Sotto lunga quiete, o mai, parendo
Putrida vile e maricia diventare."

No long repose Ausonia e'er can brook,
For peace to her brings languor, and she deems
It loathsome to lie fallow.

"Cum qual costum, che Italia devora,
Del sempre stare in gran confusione,
Disjunta et seperata, e disiare
L'un stato al altro sua destructione."

Sad is the usage that Italia wastes
In ceaseless struggles, aye for separate ends;
Sever'd her states, and each on others' ills

"O mischinella
Italia! in te, acecata e disunita
Hor per dollor, te batte ogni mascella."

Ah, poor and wretched Italy! all blind
And disunited, chattering thy jaws
In torments sad.

"O instabil fortuna! che fai secco
Ogni arbor verde, quando te impiacere,
In un momento."

Ah fickle fortune! which the greenest tree
Mayst in a moment wither at thy will.

The following sentiments were likely to find little sympathy among his contemporaries:—

"Il sfrenato desio che nel cor tiene
Di nuova signoria e altrui dominio
L'huom mai si satia; e pur morir conviene."

Man ne'er his soul's unbridled lust can slake
Of further sovereignty, and wider sway;
Yet 'tis appointed him to die.

"Che el facto d'arme se devea fare
Sol per due cose, e l'altre lassar gire:
L'uno è per lo avantagio singolare
E grande oltra misura; e in caso extremo
Si deve l'huomo a la fortuna dare."

Twain are the pleas that justly may be urged
For armed aggression,—aggrandisement great
Beyond all calculation, or extreme
Necessity: nought else can justify
Such hazard of men's fortunes.

A long and somewhat tedious chapter of moralities on the uncertain tenure of life among princes, introduced after describing the assassination of Galeazzo Maria Duke of Milan, in 1476, opens finely:—

"Vedendo il breve e vil peregrinare
Che noi facciam per questo falso mondo,
Anzi un pugno di terra al ver narrare,-142-
Dove, con tanto afanno e tanto pondo,
De dì e nocte, e inextimabil cure,
Cerchiam sallire in alto e andamo al fondo.
Qual e quel si potente che asicure
Ogi la vita sua per l'altro giorno,
Tante son spesse et orende le sciagure?"

Seeing how brief the pilgrimage and vile,
Whereby through this false world we wend our way,
A little earth our only heritage,
Where day and night, with pain and load of care
Incalculable, still we seek to soar,
Yet ever downward sink: where is the man
Potent to day, to-morrow's life to count,
So frequent its mishaps and horrible?

The bland transition from a rigorous winter to balmy Italian spring is thus apostrophised:—

"Intanto el verno
El mondo gia copria col fredo smalto;
E raro volte fu che el tempo iberno
Tanto terribile fusse, onde asvernarsi
Tucti ne andar, per fin che del inferno
Proserpina torno, per adornarsi
De vaghi fiori e de novelle fronde,
Cum lauree chiome al vento dolce sparsi."

Winter meanwhile the far-spread world had clad
In cold enamel; rarely was it known
More rigid: gladly all the troops retired
To quarters, waiting Proserpine's return
On earth, with beauteous flowers bedecked, and leaves
Of freshest green, when in the gentle breeze
Should stream her laurel tresses.

The poet's eloquent tribute to Florentine freedom, and its value to the cause of liberty, must close our sparing extracts.[89]

"Perche privato el popul Fiorentino
Della sua libertade, era cavare
Un occhio a Italia, e metterla al declino."-143-

For to curtail fair Florence of her freedom
Were to pluck forth an eye from Italy,
And cause her orb to wane.

In Sanzi's Chronicle we seek in vain for the riper beauties of succeeding epics; but the flashes of poetry which it embodies are not the less effective from their simple diction, nor from the comparatively unpolished narrative which they adorn.

No. 699 of the Urbino MSS. contains the collected minor poems and songs of Angelo Galli of Urbino, knight, and secretary to Duke Federigo. They are three hundred and seventy-six in number, all in Italian, and unedited, but beautifully transcribed on vellum by Federigo Veterani. Although varied by the introduction of sacred subjects, most of them are occasional amorous effusions, wherein names of the Montefeltri, Malatesta, Sforza, and other Umbrian families frequently occur. The dates affixed to them extend from 1428 to 1457. It appears that the author attended the Council of Basle in 1442, and he is said by Crescimbeni to have survived until 1496. His mellowed versification is in general superior to that of the age, while his trite and limited matter is pleasingly relieved by many happy turns of thought and graces of language. Though unable to supply any particulars of one who has almost escaped notice, we give place to two specimens of his muse. His canzonet addressed to Caterina, "the noble, beautiful, discreet, charming, gentle, and generous Countess of Urbino," runs thus:

"El mirabil splendor del tuo bel viso
Pusilanimo famme, a tanta parte
Che l'ingegno in tal carte
Non tangeria, s'il ver ch'io non errasse.
Forsa che la natura in paradiso
Per aiuto sali ad informarte,
E poi per divin arte-144-
A gloria de se eterna giù te trasse.
Qual oro si micante s'aguagliasse
Cum sua chiareza a tui biondi capegli!
E gli occhi, ch'a vede gli
L'invidia affreccia el sol a ricolcarse.
Qual perle, qual coragli, al riso breve!
Le guance han sangue, spirto in bianca neve!"

The other is upon Costanza Varana, wife of Alessandro Sforza, and mother of Battista Countess of Urbino.

"Che la sua faccia bella
Mostro d'inverno sempre primavera,
Real costume, aspetto di signora,
Viso di dea e d'angioli a favella.

Ma questa donna, ch'a la mente diva,
Depinge di honestà omne suo gesto:
Non pur suo guardo honesto,
Ma li suo panni, gridan' pudicitia.

Questa madonna è el mar' de tutto el senno
Renchiuso, e posto dentro da bel ciglio,
Chi vuol vecchio consiglio
Recinga ai teneri anni di costei.

Mille viole e fiore
Sparge sopra la neve el suo bel viso;
E dolce del suo riso
Faria piatoso Silla a la vendetta,
E spontaria de Giove omne saetta."

Federigo Veterani has been repeatedly mentioned as a transcriber of MSS. for Duke Federigo, whom he also served as librarian and secretary, besides being one of the judges at Urbino. Those who have had occasion to examine the library formed by that prince, are well acquainted with his beautiful autograph, and might imagine his whole life to have been spent upon its fair volumes. One of them, containing the Triumphs of Petrarch, No. 351, is subscribed by him, with a memorandum that it was the last of about sixty volumes he had written out before the death of Federigo, which he thus deplores:—


"Fedrico Veterano fui, che scripse
Questo e molti altri, cum justa mercede,
Usando diligentia, amore et fede
Al Duca Federigo in sin ch'el vixe:
Le cui memorie sempre al mondo fixe
Sonno e seranno; e ben certo si crede,
Mentre sta el mondo e la natura in pede
Ch'ogni virtù dal cielo in lui venisse.
Quello mi piango, e mai ho 'l viso asciutto;
Quel chiamo, quel mi sogno, e quel mi stringo
Ai labri, sculpto in cara tavletta;
La qual, così machiata del mio lucto,
Adoro, honoro in verso, e vivo el fingo,
Per lenimento di mia vita abiecta."[90]

But, in addition to his miscellaneous avocations, Veterani was a copious versifier. Besides an epic, De Progenie Domus Feretranæ, there are other volumes of poetry, apparently his, remaining unedited in the library,[91] of which he continued custodian until the reign of Francesco Maria I. One of those beautiful manuscripts, the fair vellum and gem-like illuminations of which have been the theme of many a eulogy, contains the collected verses of Cristoforo Landini and six other less-known poets of the fifteenth century. On the concluding page, in a trembling and blotted hand, we read these touching lines, the tribute of its lettered scribe to the temporary eclipse of his sovereign's dynasty:[92]


"Federicus Veteranus, Urbinas Bibliothecarius, ad Rei Memoriam.

"Ne careat lacrymis liber hic, post fata Feretri,
Hic me subscripsi, cumque dolore gravi.
Hunc ego jamdudum Federicus, stante Feretro,
Transcripsi, (gratus vel fuit ille mihi
Quem modo vel semper fas est lugere parentem,
-146-Et dominum qui me nutriit,) atque diu
Pagina testis erit, lacrymis interlita multis,
Hæc tibi, qui moesta hæc carmina pauca legis.
Et si dissimilis conclusit littera librum,
Scriptorem ignarum me dolor ipse facit."

Among the minor fry slumbering unknown in the Vatican Library is Urbani of Urbino, who left a few rude elegiac and complimentary ditties in Latin or Italian upon members of the Montefeltrian line, and compiled a confused account of their pedigree. We may also name Antonio Rustico of Florence, whose Panegiricon Comitis Federici, dedicated to him in 1472, contains above seven hundred Italian lines of terza rima, unpolished in style, and in matter a mere tissue of fatiguing verbiage. Scarcely more valuable is Naldio's account of the Volterran campaign of 1572 in Latin verse, to which we have vainly had recourse for new information on that obscure passage of our memoirs.[93]

While enumerating in our twenty-first chapter the celebrities of Duke Guidobaldo's court, we mentioned Bernardo Accolti, and endeavoured to explain the inadequacy of his published works to sustain his contemporary reputation, by supposing that his strength lay in extemporé recitation. The high place which his vanity claimed, in assuming "the Unique" as a surname, appears to have been freely accorded by the most able of his contemporaries. Ariosto says of him, not perhaps without a sneer at his notorious conceit,—

"The cavalier amid that band, whom they
So honour, unless dazzled in mine eye
By those fair faces, is the shining light
Of his Arezzo, and Accolti hight."[94]

Castiglione assigns him a prominent rank among the Urbino stars, whilst Bembo and Pietro Aretino testify to-147- his merits. We, however, would try these by his surviving works, which, as Roscoe observes, are fatal to his reputation, and which are indeed rather a beacon than a model to succeeding genius. It is, therefore, unnecessary to pause upon them, or to add here to our previous notice of their author and his position at the Montefeltrian court. Nor was Accolti the only poetaster who attained in that polished circle, or in other Italian courtlets, a celebrity from which posterity has withheld its seal. A solution of this success may perhaps be found in the circumstance that many of these owed it either to personal popularity or to their musical accomplishments. Thus Serafino d'Aquila, who either improviséed his verses, or chanted them to his own accompaniment on the lute, was generally preferred to Petrarch. He died at thirty-four, in 1500, after being sought by all the petty sovereigns from Milan to Naples, and ere two generations had passed away his poetry was utterly forgotten. So, too, Agostino Staccoli of Urbino, whose sonnets delighted Duke Federigo, and obtained for him a diplomatic mission to Rome in 1485, has been long consigned to oblivion.

The older comedies of Italy become a subject of interest to us, for one of the earliest was written by Bernardo Bibbiena, a friend of Guidobaldo I.,[95] and was first performed in the palace of Urbino. The revival of the comic drama may be traced to Ferrara; and, though the pieces originally represented there before Duke Ercole I. were translations from Plautus and Terence,[96] Ariosto made several boyish attempts to vary the entertainment by dramatic compositions of his own. This was just before 1500, and to about the same time Tiraboschi ascribes the comedies of Machiavelli. There is thus much probability that these attempts preceded the Calandra of Bibbiena,-148- which has, however, been generally considered the oldest regular comedy in the language. It seems also to have been the first that attracted the notice of his patron Leo X., whose delight in comic performances was excessive; and, although now superseded by pieces more in accordance with the age, it long enjoyed a continued popularity. Giovo celebrates its easy and acute wit, and the talent of its mobile and merry author for scenic representation, which must have greatly tended to ensure its success. It is doubtful in what year it was played at the Vatican in presence of his Holiness, on the visit of Isabella, Marchioness of Mantua, when the decorations painted by Baldassar Peruzzi obtained unbounded applause. But this probably happened after its performance at Urbino, which collateral evidence discovered by Pungileone, has fixed as taking place in the spring of 1513.[*97] This gorgeous entertainment, and the scenery executed for it by Timoteo della Vite and Girolamo Genga, are commemorated in a letter of Castiglione, which throws light upon the manner of such festivities in that mountain metropolis.

"The scene was laid in an open space between a city-wall and its farthest houses. From the stage downwards, there was most naturally represented the wall, with two great towers descending from the upper part of the hall, on one of which were bagpipers, on the other trumpeters, with another wall of fine proportion flanking them; thus the hall figured as the town-ditch, and was traversed by two walls to support the water. The side next the seats was ornamented with Trojan cloth, over which there projected a large cornice, with this Latin inscription, in great white letters upon an azure ground, extending across that part of the theatre:—



"To the roof were attached large bunches of evergreens, almost hiding the ceiling; and from the centres of the rosettes there descended wires, in a double row along the room, each supporting a candelabrum in the form of a letter, with eight or ten lighted torches, the whole diffusing a brilliant light, and forming the words POPULAR SPORTS. Another scene represented a beautiful city, with streets, palaces, churches, towers, all in relief, but aided by excellent painting and scientific perspective. There was, among other things, an octagon temple in half-relief, so perfectly finished that the whole workmen of the duchy scarcely seemed equal to produce it in four months; it was all covered with compositions in stucco: the windows were of imitation alabaster, the architraves and cornices of fine gold and ultramarine, with here and there gems admirably imitated in glass; besides fluted columns, figures standing out with the roundness of sculpture, and much more that it would be long to speak of. This was about in the middle; and at one end there was a triumphal arch, projecting a couple of yards from the wall, and as well done as possible, with a capital representation of the Horatii, between the architrave and the vault, painted to imitate marble. In two small niches, above the pilasters that supported the arch, there were tiny figures of Victory in stucco, holding trophies, whilst over it an admirable equestrian statue in full armour was spearing a naked man at his feet. On either side of this group was a little altar, whereon there blazed a vase of fire during the comedy. I need not recapitulate all, as your Lordship will have heard of it; nor how one of the comedies was composed by a child and recited by children, shaming mayhap their seniors, for they really played it astonish-150-ingly; and it was quite a novelty to see tiny odd men a foot high maintaining all the gravity and solemnity of a Menander. Nor shall I say aught of the odd music of this piece, all hidden here and there, but shall come to the Calandra of our friend Bernardo, which afforded the utmost satisfaction. As its prologue arrived very late, and the person who should have spoken failed to learn it, one by me was recited, which pleased much: but little else was changed, except some scenes of no consequence, which perhaps they could not repeat. The interludes were as follows. First, a moresca of Jason, who came dancing on the stage in fine antique armour, with a splendid sword and shield, whilst there suddenly appeared on the other side two bulls vomiting forth fire, so natural as to deceive some of the spectators. These the good Jason approached, and yoking them to the plough, made them draw it. He then sowed the dragon's teeth, and forthwith there sprang up from the stage antique warriors inimitably managed, who danced a fierce moresca, trying to slay him; and having again come on, the each killed the other, but were not seen to die. After them, Jason again appeared, with the golden fleece on his shoulders, dancing admirably. And this was the first interlude. In the second there was a lovely car, wherein sat Venus with a lighted taper in her hand; it was drawn by two doves, which seemed absolutely alive, and on which rode a couple of Cupids with bows and quivers, and holding lighted tapers; and it was preceded and followed by eight more Cupids, dancing a moresca and beating about with their blazing lights. Having reached the extremity of the stage, they set fire to a door, out of which there suddenly leaped nine gallant fellows all in flames, and danced another moresca to perfection. The third interlude showed Neptune on a chariot drawn by two demi-horses with fish-scales and fins, so well executed. Neptune sat on the top with his trident, and eight monsters after him (or rather-151- four of them before and four behind) performing a sword-dance, the car all the while full of fire. The whole was capitally done, and the monsters were the oddest in the world, of which no description can afford an idea. The fourth showed Juno's car, also full of fire, and herself upon it, with a crown on her head and a sceptre in her hand, seated on a cloud, which spread around the car, full of mouths of the winds. The chariot was drawn by two peacocks, so beautiful and well managed that even I, who had seen how they were made, was puzzled. Two eagles and as many ostriches preceded it; two sea-birds followed, with a pair of parti-coloured parrots. All these were so admirably executed that I verily believe, my dear Monsignore, no imitation was ever so like the truth; and they, too, went through a sword-dance with indescribable, nay incredible, grace. The comedy ended, one of the Cupids, whom we had already seen, suddenly appeared on the stage, and in a few stanzas explained the meaning of the interludes, which had a continued plot apart from the comedy, as follows. There was, in the first place, the battle of these earth-born brothers, showing, under the fabulous allegory of Jason, how wars prevail among neighbours who ought to maintain peace. Then came Love, successively kindling with a holy flame men and earth, sea and air, to chase away war and discord, and to unite the world in harmony: the union is but a hope for the future; the discord is, to our misfortune, a present fact. I had not meant to send you the stanzas recited by the little Love, but I do so; your Lordship will do with them what you like. They were hastily composed whilst struggling with painters, carpenters, actors, musicians, and ballet dancers. When they had been spoken, and the Cupid was gone, there was heard the invisible music of four viols, accompanying as many voices, who sang, to a beautiful air, a stanza of invocation to Love; and so the entertainment ended, to the immense delight of all present. Had-152- I not so bepraised it in describing its progress, I might now tell you the part I had in it, but I should not wish your Lordship to fancy me an egotist. It were too good fortune to be able to attend to such matters, to the exclusion of more annoying ones: may God vouchsafe it me."

Though much of this detail regards the accompanying entertainment more than the comedy, it cannot be deemed out of place, as illustrative of the way in which these were managed in a court where we have frequent occasion to allude to such pastimes: the preceding description fully explains the often-mentioned moresca, and almost entitles us to translate that word by the better known French ballet. The Calandra continued to be played on select occasions in Italy, and we hear of its being produced at Lyons in 1548, before Catherine de' Medici and her husband, whose largess to the actors exceeded 2500 crowns.

This piece, though improved in incidents, is avowedly indebted for its plot to the Menecmo of Plautus, a comedy already popular through a translation performed at Ferrara, in 1486-7, by the children and courtiers of Ercole I., in a theatre built on purpose within the palace-yard, and costing with its decorations 1000 ducats. In regard to its proper merits, no one can deny the amusing complexity of the plot, the constant succession of absurd mistakes among the personages, the ingenious contrivances by which these are alternately occasioned and extricated, the bustle of the entertainment, and the racy humour of the dialogue. In order to let these be appreciated, an analysis larger than our space can permit would be necessary, and neither the character nor the wit of the piece could be preserved without introducing intrigues and language repugnant to modern decency. Ginguené has conveyed a tolerable idea of the comedy without greatly shocking the reader, but has consequently suppressed much of its fun, and to his pages we must refer-153- for detail.[98] The story turns upon the adventures of twins, a brother and sister, who, perfectly resembling in person, but unknown to each other, are simultaneously parties to love intrigues, carried on through the agency of a clever valet, and at the cost of a drivelling husband (Calandro) in the course of which they frequently interchange the dress and character of their respective sexes, a magician being ever at hand to bear the blame of what appear physical transmutations, and a double marriage of course happily solving all embarrassments. Although unquestionably rich in the materials of broad farce, it is evident that such a plot is but indifferently adapted for embodying manners sketched from life.

The corruption of morals in Italy during the golden age of her literature and civilisation is a painful topic, but one naturally suggested by these remarks, and which cannot with truth be entirely thrown into the shade.[*99] It was especially developed in the free gratification of passions to which an enervating climate is considered peculiarly incentive, and which induce to amorous indulgence. The due restraint of these was reckoned neither among the virtues nor the decencies of life, nor was their licentious exercise limited to persons of exalted station.-154- The sad example set in luxurious courts spread to classes whose sacred calling and vows of continence rendered their lapses doubly disgraceful; and those whose tastes and cultivated understandings were fitted for purer and nobler pursuits wallowed without discredit in the slough of sensuality. With such instances, even among the finest characters, these pages render us unfortunately too familiar. Instead of multiplying or repeating them, let us hear the calm admissions of a late writer, whose evidence cannot be deemed partial on such a topic. In talking of Bembo, the Italian translator of Roscoe's Leo X. thus touches upon this delicate subject: "It must be observed that most of the poets and writers of that age, although resident at Rome, and dignified by prelacies, preferments, and offices of the Church, were infected with the like vices, or, as some would express it, tarred with the same pitch. The spirit of that court, the manners of these times, the licence of ideas among literary men, their constant reading of ancient poets not always commendable for modesty, the long established and uniform intercourse of the Muses with Bacchus and Venus, the fatal example afforded by certain cardinals, and even by several of the papal predecessors of Leo, whose children were publicly acknowledged ... all these considerations show how difficult it was at such an epoch, and especially in the capital of Christendom, to continue exempt from corruption and licentiousness."

In no language, perhaps, does there exist a jest-book more disgustingly prurient or so full of sacrilegious ribaldry as the Facetiæ of Poggio Bracciolini. Were such a work published now-a-days, the author would be hooted from society, and the printer laid hold of as a common nuisance. Though the parties to above half its obscene anecdotes are from the clergy or the monastic orders, there occurs throughout the foul volume no word of blame nor burst of indignation. Yet it was compiled for publication by a-155- priest, the confidential secretary of pontiffs, and one of the stars of a literary age. If more direct evidence of dissolute habits among the clergy be required, it will be found in the reports of P. Ambrogio Traversari on his disciplinarian circuits among the Camaldolese convents, of which he was general from 1431 to 1434.[100] It would be loathsome to enter upon the details, but a generally lax morality among those specially devoted to religious profession must be considered as at once the occasion and the effect of much social perversion. The poison disseminated from such a quarter was sure to pervade all ranks, and the standard of public decency must have sunk low indeed ere monastic debauchery ceased to create universal scandal. When churchmen had become very generally latitudinarians in theology and libertines in morals, the corruption of their flocks need be no matter of surprise. It was in the beginning of the sixteenth century that these evils had reached their height, and the miseries of foreign invasion under the Medicean popes were even then regarded by many as judicial inflictions from Heaven. Hence was it, that, although Italy was supereminent among nations, although illustrated by the triumphs of mind, adorned by the productions of genius, and enriched by the gains of intelligent enterprise, she was nevertheless deficient in moral power, and when tried in the furnace of adversity was found wanting. With institutions whose freedom had no longer vitality, with rulers intent only on selfish ends, and with citizens relaxed in principle and knit by no common political ties, the very advantages lavished upon her by nature and civilisation proved her bane, attracting spoilers whom she was powerless to resist. Melancholy is the thought that all her mental superiority was ineffectual for her defence; but yet more humiliating the fact that those on whom nature's best gifts were showered, and who were foremost as protectors of litera-156-ture and the arts, were often, by their fatal example, chief promoters of the general demoralisation. No wonder then that she fell, and in her fall presented a signal lesson to future times "of the impotence of human genius and of the instability of human institutions, however excellent in themselves, when unsustained by public and private virtue."[101]



Mediæval art chiefly religious—Innovations of Naturalism, Classicism, and Paganism—character and tendencies of Christian painting ill understood in England—influence of St. Francis—Mariolatry.

IN order to comprehend the peculiar tendency which painting assumed in Umbria, it will be necessary briefly to examine the principles and history of what is now generally known under the denomination of Christian art.[*102] Until after the revival of European civilisation, painting had scarcely any other direction than religious purposes. For household furniture and decoration, its luxuries were unheard of; the delineation of nature in portraits and landscapes was unknown. But pictorial representations had been employed for embellishment of churches from the recognition of Christianity by the Emperors of the West, and they had assumed a conventional character, derived chiefly from rude tracings in which the uncultivated limners of an outcast sect had long before depicted Christ, his Mother, and his apostles, for the solace of those whose proscribed creed drove them to worship in the catacombs. When these delineations, originally cherished as emblems of faith, had-158- been employed as the adjuncts, and eventually perverted into the objects of devotion, they acquired a sacred character which it was the tendency of ever-spreading superstition continually to exaggerate. They became, in fact, the originals of those pictures which in subsequent ages were adopted as part and portion of the Roman worship; and forms, which they derived perhaps from the fancy or caprice of their inventors, came to be the received types to which all orthodox painters were bound to adhere.[*103] The means adopted for repeating them were enlarged or narrowed by various circumstances; the success with which they were imitated fluctuated with the advance or decline of taste. But whether traced upon the tablets of ivory diptychs, or blazoned in the pages of illuminated missals; whether depicted on perishable ceilings, or fixed in unfading mosaics; whether degraded by the unskilful daubing and spiritless mechanism of Byzantine artists,[*104] or refined by the holier feeling and improved handling of the Sienese and Umbrian schools,—the original types might still be traced. Indeed, those traditionary forms were as little subjected to modification by painters as the dogmas of faith were open to the doubts of commentators. Heterodoxy on either point was liable to severe denunciation, and pictorial novelties were interdicted by the Church, not as absolutely wrong, but as liable to abuse from the eccentricities of human fancy.[105]-159- It was in Spain, the land of suspicion and priestcraft, that such jealousy was chiefly entertained, and the censorship of the fine arts there became in the sixteenth century a special duty of the Holy Office.

With the aid of authorities thus deduced through an unbroken chain from primitive times,—to conceive and embody abstractions "which eye hath not seen nor ear heard," was reckoned no rash meddling with sacred mysteries. On the contrary, the subjects almost exclusively selected for the exercise of Christian art, belonged to the fundamental doctrines of Christian faith, to the traditional dogmas of the Church, to the legendary lives of the Saviour and of saints, or to the dramatic sufferings of early martyrs. Such were the transfiguration, the passion, the ascension of our Lord; the conception, the coronation, and the cintola of the Madonna[106]; the birth and marriage of the Blessed Virgin; the miracles performed by popular saints, the martyrdoms in which they sealed their testimony. The choice, and occasionally the treatment, of these topics was modified to meet the spiritual exigences of the period, or the circumstances of the place, but ever in subservience to conventional standards derived from remote tradition. Thus we detect, in works of the Byzan-160-tine period, rigid forms, harsh outlines, soulless faces; in the schools of Siena and Umbria, pure figures lit up by angelic expressions; in the followers of Giotto, a tendency to varied movement and dramatic composition.

There is yet another reason for what to the uninitiated may seem monstrosities. The old masters had not generally to represent men and women in human form, but either prophets, saints, and martyrs, whom it was their business to embody, not in their "mortal coil," but in the purer substance of those who had put on immortality; or the Mother of Christ, exalted by mariolatry almost to a parity with her Son; or the "Ancient of Days,"—the personages of the Triune Divinity with their attendant heavenly host, whom to figure at all was a questionable licence, and who, if impersonated, ought surely to seem other than the sons and daughters of men. Of such themes no conception could be adequate, no approximation otherwise than disappointing; and those who were called upon to deal with them usually preferred painting images suggested by their own earnest devotional thoughts, to the more difficult task of idealising human models. Addressing themselves to the spirit rather than to the eye, they sought to delineate features with nought of "the earth, earthy," expressions purified from grovelling interests and mundane ties.

How much this religious art depended for its due maintenance upon the personal character of those whose business it was to embody and transmit to a new generation its lofty inspirations, can scarcely require demonstration. That they were men of holy minds is apparent from their works. Some, by long poring over the mystic incarnations which they sought to represent; others, by deep study of the pious narratives selected for their pencils; many, by the abstraction of monastic seclusion, brought their souls to that pitch of devotional enthusiasm, which their pictures portray far better than words can describe. The biographies that remain of the early painters of Italy-161- fully bear out this fact; and of many instances that might be given we shall select three from various places and periods.

Of the early Bolognese school, Vitale and his pupil Lippo di Dalmasio were each designed delle Madonne, from their formally devoting themselves to the exclusive representation of her

"Who so above all mothers shone,
The mother of the Blessed One."

So far indeed did the latter of these carry enthusiastic mysticism, that he never resumed his labours without purifying his imagination and sanctifying his thoughts by a vigil of austere fasting, and by taking the blessed sacrament in the morning. In like manner did one of his comrades gain the appellation of Simon of the crucifixes. A century later, Gentile Bellini painted three of his noblest works for a confraternity in Venice, who possessed a relic of the True Cross, and chose for his subject various miracles ascribed to its influence. Refusing all remuneration, he affixed this touching record of his pious motives: "The work of Gentile Bellini, a knight of Venice, instigated by affection for the Cross, 1496." Similar anecdotes might be quoted of Giovanni da Fiesole, better known in Italy as Beato Angelico, whose life and pencil may well be termed seraphic, and to whom we shall again have occasion to allude; while parallel cases of a later date are found in Spain, where religion, and religious fervour, influenced by the self-mortification of dark fanatics and dismal ascetics, generally assumed less attractive forms.

A Christian ideal was thus the aim of the early masters; and most surviving works of the Umbrian and Sienese schools carry in themselves ample evidence of intensely serious sentiment animating their authors. But to those who have not enjoyed opportunities of observing this peculiar characteristic of a style of art almost unknown in-162- England, it may be acceptable to trace the same spirit in a language legible by eyes unaccustomed to the delicacies of pictorial expression. This confirmation is found in the rules adopted by guilds of painters, incorporated in different towns of Italy, which are upon this point more important, as proving how entirely devotional feeling was systematised, instead of being left to the accident of individual inspiration. The statutes of the Sienese fraternity, confirmed in 1357, are thus prefaced: "Let the beginning, middle, and end of our words and actions be in the name of God Almighty, and of his Mother, our Lady the Virgin Mary! Whereas we, by the grace of God, being those who make manifest to rude and unlettered men the marvellous things effected by, and in virtue of, our holy faith; and our creed consisting chiefly in the worship and belief of one God in Trinity, and of God omnipotent, omniscient, and infinite in love and compassion; and as nothing, however unimportant, can have beginning or end without these three necessary ingredients, power, knowledge, and right good-will; and as in God only consists all high perfection; let us therefore anxiously invoke the aid of divine grace, in order that we may attain to a good beginning and ending of all our undertakings, whether of word or work, prefacing all in the name and to the honour of the Most Holy Trinity. And since spiritual things are, and should be, far preferable and more precious than temporal, let us commence by regulating the fête of our patron, the venerable and glorious St Luke," &c. Several subsequent rules relate to the observance of other festivals, whereof fifty-seven are enjoined to be strictly kept without working, a number which, added to Sundays and Easter holidays, monopolises for sacred purposes nearly a third of the year.[107] The Florentine statutes, dated about twenty years earlier, direct that all who come to enrol themselves in the Com-163-pany of painters, whether men or women, shall be penitent and confessed, or at least shall purpose to confess themselves at the earliest opportunity; that they shall daily repeat five paternosters, and as many aves, and shall take the sacrament at least once a year.[108] Nor let these be regarded as mere unmeaning phrases, or as the vapid lip-service of a formalist faith. The ceremonial observances of an age in which the Roman Church was indeed Catholic cannot fairly be judged by a Protestant standard, yet few, who have seen with intelligence the productions of those painters, will doubt that they were men of piety and prayer. A vestige of the same holy feeling hung over artists, even after it had ceased to animate their efforts; the forms survived, when the spirit had fled. Thus, "On Tuesday morning, the 11th of June 1573, at eleven in the forenoon, Giorgio Vasari began to paint the cupola of the cathedral at Florence; and, before commencing, he had a Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated at the altar of the sacrament, after hearing which he entered upon the work."[109] Vasari was a religious man; but the favourite painter of a dissolute court could scarcely be a religious artist, nor could the pupil of Michael Angelo appreciate the quiet pathos or feel the gentle fervour of earlier and more spiritualised times.

In Spain, where art was always in the especial service of the priesthood, and not unfrequently subservient to priestcraft, religion was a requisite of painters to a much later date. The rules of the academy established at Seville by Murillo, in 1658, imposed upon each pupil an ejaculatory testimony of his faith in, and devotion for, the blessed sacrament and immaculate conception.[110] But whilst the piety of the Sienese and Florentine guilds was an inherent sentiment of their age, willingly adopted by professional etiquette, that of the Iberian artists in the-164- sixteenth century was regulated by the Inquisition, and savoured of its origin. The former was joyous as the bright thoughts of youthful enthusiasm springing in a land of beauty; the latter shadowed the grave and sombre temperament of the nation by austerities congenial to the Holy Office. Hence the religious paintings of Spain, appealing to the spectator's terrors rather than to his sympathies, revelled in the horrible, eschewing as a snare those lovely forms which in Italy were encouraged as conducive to devotion.

Yet, if the genius of early painters was hampered, and the effect of their creations impaired, by prescribed symbols and conventional rules, they were not without countervailing advantages. A limited range of forms did not always imply poverty of ideas, nor was simplicity inconsistent with sublimity. Those, accordingly, who look with intelligence upon pictures, which, to the casual glance of an uninformed spectator, are mere rude and monstrous representations, will often recognise in them a grandeur of sentiment, and a majesty of expression, altogether wanting in more matured productions, wherein truth to nature is manifested through unimportant accessories, or combined with trivial details. Familiarity is notoriously conducive to contempt; and to associate the grander themes and dogmas of holy writ with multiplied adjuncts skilfully borrowed from ordinary life, is to detract from the awe and mystery whereof they ought to be especially suggestive.

But here it may be well to premise that, our observations upon Christian art being purely æsthetical, it forms no part of our plan to analyse its influences in a doctrinal view, or to discuss the Roman system of teaching religion to the laity, by attracting them to devotional observances through pictures and sculpture, to the exclusion of the holy scriptures; still less to raise any controversy regarding the incidents or tenets thus usually inculcated. We,-165- therefore, pause not to inquire how far the Roman legends—often beautifully suggestive of truth, but how frequently redolent of fatal error!—have originated in art, or been corrupted by its creations. One danger of teaching by pictures is obvious; for where the eye is offered but a few detached scenes, without full explanation of their attendant circumstances and connecting links, very imperfect impressions and false conclusions may result. Under such a system, figurative representation will often be literally interpreted, symbols will be mistaken for facts, dreams for realities; and thus have the fertile imaginations of artists and commentators mutually reacted upon each other, until historical and spiritual truth is lost in a maze of allegory and fable, and error has been indelibly ingrafted upon popular faith. The dim allegories of early art have accordingly been overlaid by crude inventions, or obscured by gross ignorance and enthusiastic mysticism. Religious truth being thus misstated, or its symbols misread, those who thirsted for the waters of life were repelled by tainted streams, and hungry souls were mocked by stones for bread. It ought, however, to be constantly borne in mind that we are dealing with times when the authority of Rome was absolute throughout Europe; and that, whatever may now be alleged against the dogmas or legends embodied by early artists, they were then universally received. For our purpose they ought, therefore, to be examined by the light then enjoyed, not by that shed upon them in after times of gospel freedom. Neither ought we to forget the impressionable qualities of a southern people, when disposed to question the tendencies of religious instruction through the senses and the imagination. And, granting that it is well to employ such means, the mute eloquence of an altar-picture, or a reliquary, though less startling than impassioned pulpit appeals, less thrilling than choral voices sustained by the organ's impressive diapason, had the advantages of being-166- accessible at all hours to devout visitors, and of demanding from them no sustained attention.

Such was Christian art in Italy during the fourteenth century, when it was destined to undergo very considerable modifications. As yet it had been exercised almost exclusively for decorating churches and monastic buildings with extensive works intended to nourish or revive devotion in the masses who resorted to them. In ages when the intelligence capable of ordering these works was almost limited to convents, and when it was only from such representations that the unlettered eye could convey impressions to the mind of the laity, Christian paintings were an effective adjunct to Christian preaching and devotional exercises. But, as the dark cloud began to roll away before the dawn of modern cultivation, mankind awoke to new wants. No longer content with the pittance of religious knowledge which their spiritual guides doled out to them, they sought to secure a store for their own uncontrolled use. Those who could vanquish the difficulties of reading, found in their office-books a continuation of the church services; the less educated placed by their bed, or in their domestic chapel, a small devotional picture, as a substitute for the larger representations which invoked them to holy feelings in the house of God. Thus there arose a general desire for objects of sacred art. The privilege assumed by all who wished for such, of ordering them in conformity with their individual feelings or superstitions, quickly introduced greater latitudinarianism as to the selection and treatment of the subjects. The demand so created exceeded the productive powers of such painters as had been regularly initiated into the language of form, according to the settled conventionalities of their sanctified profession. The chain of pictorial tradition was snapped, when a host of new competitors entered the field, free-167- from its trammels. But the public taste had been too long and thoroughly imbued with a uniform class of religious compositions to relish any great innovations; and although historical painting began to find a place in the palace-halls of the princes and republics of Italy, works commissioned by private persons continued almost exclusively of a sacred cast. Thus for a time was the new path little frequented. Artists felt their way with caution, unaware of the direction whither it might lead them; timid of their own powers, doubtful of their influence on the public. They contented themselves at first with enlarging the range of subjects, or with varying the pose of the actors. Fearing to abandon traditional types, they ventured not beyond the addition of accessories, such as architecture, landscape, animals, fruits, and flowers, or a disposal of the draperies with greater freedom and attention to truth. But, the further they departed from received forms, the more willingly did their genius pluck by the way those graceful aids and appliances which spontaneous nature offered in a land of beauty; and every new combination which that awakened genius inspired, induced, and to a certain extent authorised, fresh novelties.

The modifications thus introduced have been distinguished in modern phrase by the term naturalism, in contradistinction to those traditional forms and spiritualised countenances which constitute the mysticism of mediæval art. It would lead us too far from our subject to trace the progress of naturalism from such early symptoms as we have indicated, until portraits, at first interponed as donors of the picture, or as spectators of its incident, were habitually selected as models for the most sacred personages. That the adaptation of nature to the highest purposes of art, by skilful selection and by judicious idealisation, is the noblest object which pictorial genius can keep in view for its inventions will-168- scarcely be contested. But another consideration, inherent in the axioms of the mystic school, was too often lost sight of by the naturalists. The portraiture of criminal or even vulgar life, in deeply religious works, is an outrage upon all holy feeling, whether in the example of Alexander VI., who commanded Pinturicchio to introduce into one of the Vatican frescoes his own portrait, kneeling before the ascending Redeemer;[111] or in the case of those painters in Rome whose favourite model for the Saviour has of late years been a cobbler, hence known in the streets by the blasphemous name of Jesus Christ.

To the naturalism which became gradually prevalent in most Italian schools after the beginning of the fourteenth century, there was, in the fifteenth, added another principle of antagonism to mystic feeling. In purist nomenclature it has been denominated paganism, but it seems to consist of paganism and classicism. By the former is to be understood that fashion for the philosophy, morality, literature, and mythology of ancient Greece and Rome, which, introduced from the recovered authors of antiquity, was assiduously cultivated by the Medici in their lettered but sceptical court, until it left a stamp on the literature and art of Italy not yet effaced. Under its influence, the vernacular language was neglected, or cramped into obsolete models; dead tongues monopolised students; the doctrines of Aristotle and Plato divided men, clouding their faith, and warping their morals from Christian standards; the beauty of holiness yielded before an ideal of form; and that unction which had purified the concep-169-tions and guided the pencils of devotional painters, evaporated as they strove to master the technical excellences of the new manner. To the maxims and principles of revived pagan antiquity, the philosophic Schlegel has traced the selfish policy and morals of Italian tyrants and communities; but it seems easier to detect their fatal tendency in painting and sculpture than upon statecraft and manners.

Classicism, as here used, means that innovation of antique taste in art which arose out of renewed interest in the picturesque ruins of Rome, in her mighty recollections, in the excavation of her precious sculptures, and which imparted to pictorial representations sometimes a hard and plastic treatment, sometimes ornamental architecture, bas-reliefs, or grotesques. By paganism a blighting poison was infused through the spirit of art, while classicism has often ennobled the work and enriched its details, without injury to its sentiment. To schools such as those of Florence and Padua, wherein nature or classic imitation prevailed, there belonged the materialism of facts, the severity of definite forms.[*112] These qualities obtained favour from men of mundane pursuits and literary tastes; from citizens greedy after gainful commerce and devoted to political intrigue; or from princes who patronised, and pedants who deciphered, long forgotten, but at length reviving lore. The "new manner," as it was called, had, in Michael Angelo, a supporter whose mighty genius lent to its solecisms an irresistible charm. Yet against such innovations protests were long occasionally recorded. An anonymous writer, in 1549, mentions a Pietà, said to have been designed by "Michael Angelo Buonarroti, that inventor of filthy trash, who adheres to art without devotion. Indeed, all the modern painters and sculptors, following the like Lutheran [that-170- is, impious] caprices now-a-days, neither paint nor model for consecrated churches anything but figures that distract one's faith and devotion; but I hope that God will one day send his saints to cast down such idolatries."[113] In a land where mythology had slowly been supplanted by revelation, especially in a city successively the capital of paganism and Christianity, these influences were necessarily in frequent antagonism, or in forced and unseemly juxtaposition. Whilst art thus lost in sentiment, it gained in vigour; and although classic taste and the study of antique sculpture unquestionably tarnished its mystical purity, may they not have preserved it from the fate of religious painting in Spain, which, debarred by the Inquisition from access to nude models, and elevated by no refined standard, oscillated between the extremes of gloomy asceticism and grovelling vulgarity? The paganism of the Medici and Michael Angelo scared away the seraphic visions of monastic limners, but it also rescued Italy from religious prudery, and saved men from addressing their orisons to squalid beggars.[*114]

The brief sketch which we have thus introduced of the progress and tendency of Christian art, may be fittingly concluded by the definition of it supplied by Baron v. Rumohr, one of the laborious, learned, and felicitous expositors of mediæval art whom the reviving taste of later times produced. "It is consecrated to religion alone; its object is sometimes to induce the mind to the contemplation of sacred subjects, sometimes to regulate the passions, by awakening those sentiments of peace and benevolence which are peculiar to practical Christianity." To narrate its extinction in the sixteenth century, speedily followed by the decline of all that was noblest in artistic genius, is a task on which we are not now called to enter. We approached the subject because, in the mountains of-171- Umbria, that mystic school long maintained its chief seat; because there its types sank deepest into the popular mind; and because it reached its culminating point of perfection and glory in Raffaele of Urbino.

We are fully and painfully aware how opposed some of these views are to the received criticism and popular practice of art in England; but it were beyond our purpose to inquire into the many causes which combine to render our countrymen averse from the impartial study, as well as to the even partial adoption of them. Hogarth, the incarnation of our national taste in painting, saw in those spiritualised cherubim which usually minister to the holiest compositions of the Umbrian school, only "an infant's head with a pair of duck's wings under its chin, supposed always to be flying about and singing psalms."[115] The form conveyed by the eye, and the description of it traced by the pen, are here in accurate unison. Alas! how hopelessly blinded the writer's mental vision. As directly opposed to such grovelling views, and contrasting spiritual with material perceptions of art, it may not be out of place here to cite a passage from Savonarola, whose stern genius gladly invoked the muse of painting to aid his moral and political reformations. "Creatures are beautiful in proportion as they participate in and approximate the beauty of their creator; and perfection of bodily form is relative to beauty of mind. Bring hither two women equally perfect in person; let one be a saint, the other a sinner. You shall find that the saint will be more generally loved than the sinner, and that on her all eyes will be directed."

These quotations illustrate two extremes,—ribald vulgarity on the one hand, and transcendental mysticism on-172- the other, between which the standard of sound criticism may be sought. It would be as unreasonable to suppose Hogarth capable of comprehending or appreciating the fervid conceptions of Christian art, as to look for sympathy from Savonarola, with his pot-house personifications. Each of those styles has its peculiar merit, which cannot fairly be considered with reference to the other: they differ in this among many respects,—that whilst English caricatures and Dutch familiar scenes are addressed to the most uncultivated minds, Umbrian or Sienese paintings can be understood only after long examination and elevated thought. The former, therefore, gratify the unintelligent many, the latter delight an enlightened few.

The difficulty of justly appreciating this branch of æsthetics is greater among ourselves than is generally imagined, as our best authorities have entirely misled us, from themselves overlooking its true bent. More alive to the naturalism and technical merits of painting than to subtleties of feeling and expression, they are neither conscious of the aims nor aware of the principles of purist art. They look for perfection where only pathos should be sought. Burnet, a recent and valuable writer, considers Barry "one of those noble minds ruined by a close adherence to the dry manner of the early masters," an analogy which cannot but surprise those who compare the respective works of those thus brought unconsciously into contrast. Even Sir Joshua Reynolds was not exempt from prejudice on this point, for he sneers at the first manner of Raffaele as "dry and insipid," and avers that until Masaccio, art was so barbarous, "that every figure appeared to stand upon his toes." There is but one explanation applicable to assertions thus inconsistent at once with fact and with sound criticism, in a writer so candid and generally so careful. Living in an age devoid of Catholic feeling (we employ the phrase in an æsthetic sense), which classed in the same category of contempt-173- all painting before Michael Angelo, and speaking of "an excellence addressed to a faculty which he did not possess," he assumed, without observation or inquiry, that "the simplicity of the early masters would be better named penury, as it proceeds from mere want,—from want of knowledge, want of resources, want of abilities to be otherwise; that it was the offspring, not of choice, but of necessity." No argument is required to convince those who have impartially studied these masters, that a condemnation so sweeping is erroneous. In our day, the number of such persons is happily increasing, but there are still many impediments to a candid appreciation of the subject. So long as art was the handmaid of religion, its professors were ranked almost with those who ministered in the temple, and interpreted the records of inspiration. In absence of priests, their works became guides to popular devotion, and consequently were addressed to spectators who came to worship, not to criticise; whose credulous enthusiasm was nourished by yearnings of the heart, not by the cold judgment of the eye. How different the test applied by men who look upon such paintings as popish dogmas which it is a duty to repudiate, it may be to ridicule! How futile the perhaps more common error of trying them by the matured rules of pictorial execution, apart from their object and intention! Connoisseurship in painting, especially in England, has indeed too long consisted in a mere appreciation of its technical difficulties, and perception of their successful treatment. For it was not until Raffaele had attained grace, and Michael Angelo had mastered design,—until Correggio had blended light and shade into happy effect, and Titian had taught the gorgeous hues of his palette to mingle in harmony, that such perfections were looked for, or reduced to a standard. Why, then, apply such standard to works already old ere it had been adopted? The very imperfections of general treatment, the absence of linear-174- perspective and anatomical detail, tended to develop what should be chiefly sought and most valued in these early productions; for the artist's time was thus free to elaborate the heads and extremities, until he gave them that grace and expression which constitutes their interest and their charm.

There are, however, no longer wanting writers in England, as well as in Germany, France, and Italy, to appreciate their lofty motives, and solemn feelings, and gentle forms. In the words of Ruskin, whose earnest and true thoughts are often most happily expressed, "the early efforts of Cimabue and Giotto are the burning messages of prophecy, delivered by the stammering lips of infants," but they are unintelligible to "the multitude, always awake to the lowest pleasures which art can bestow, and dead to the highest," for their beauties "can only be studied or accepted in the particular feeling that produced them." Under the modest title of Sketches Lord Lindsay has enriched our literature with the best history of Christian art as yet produced. He has brought to his task that sincerity of purpose, veneration for sacred things, and lively sense of beauty, which impart a charm to all he puts forth; and he has peculiarly qualified himself for its successful performance, by an anxious study of preceding writers, by a faithful, often toilsome, examination of monuments, even in the more obscure sites of Italy, and by a candour and accuracy of criticism seldom attained on topics singularly liable to prejudice. Public intelligence and taste must improve under such direction, notwithstanding passing sneers at "his narrow notions of admiring the faded and soulless attempts at painting of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries," or sapient conclusions that "the antiquities and curiosities of the early Italian painters would only infect our school with a retrograding mania of disfiguring art, and returning to the decrepit littleness of a period warped and tortured by-175- monkish legends and prejudices."[116] In order to be comprehended, such "curiosities" must not only be seen, but studied maturely: both are in this country alike impracticable. When Wilkie first entered Italy, he found nothing to rank them above Chinese or Hindoo paintings,[*117] and could not discern the majestic simplicity ascribed to the primitive masters. Yet, ere six weeks had passed, he recorded the conviction "that the only art pure and unsophisticated, and that is worth study and consideration by an artist, or that has the true object of art in view, is to be found in the works of those masters who revived and improved the art, and those who ultimately brought it to perfection. These alone seem to have addressed themselves to the common sense of mankind. From Giotto to Michael Angelo, expression and sentiment seem the first thing thought of, whilst those who followed seem to have allowed technicalities to get the better of them, until, simplicity giving way to intricacy, they seem to have painted more for the artist and the connoisseur than for the untutored apprehensions of ordinary men." So, too, in writing to Mr. Phillips, R.A., he says, "respect for primitive simplicity and expression is perhaps the best advice for any school."[118]

Neither are religious innovations a necessary accompaniment of such tastes among ourselves, as is too generally supposed. The present reaction in favour of Romanist views, prevalent in England among a class of persons, many of whom are distinguished by high and cultivated intellect, as well as by youthful enthusiasm, takes naturally an æsthetic as well as theological direction. The faith and discipline, which they labour to revive, having borrowed some winning illustrations and-176- much imposing pageantry from painting, sculpture, and architecture, their neophytes gladly avail themselves of accessories so attractive. Nor can it be doubted that the same qualities which render such persons impressionable to popish observances, predispose them to admire or imitate works of devotional art. Yet there is no compulsory connection between these tendencies. Conversion to pantheism is not a requisite for appreciating the Belvidere Apollo or the Medicean Venus; and a serious Christian may surely appreciate the feeling of the early masters, without bowing the knee to their Madonnas,—may admire the

"Prelibations, foretastes high,"

of Fra Angelico's pencil, whilst demurring to the miracles he has so charmingly portrayed.

There is another observation of Wilkie's which merits our notice: "Could their system serve, which I think it may, as the border minstrelsy did Sir Walter Scott, it would be to any student a most admirable groundwork for a new style of art." This somewhat hasty hint must be cautiously received. The very absence of technical excellence interests us in the formal compositions and flat surfaces of the early masters. We feel that movement and distance, foreshortening and relief, symmetry and contrast, tone and effect, are scarcely wanted, where "a truth of actuality is fearlessly sacrificed to a truth of feeling." We are forced to admit that men who regarded form but as the vehicle of expression, attained a severe grandeur, a noble repose, very different from exaggerated action. Archaisms of style are, however, ill suited to our times. Originally significant, they are now an affectation—the offspring of penury or perverted taste, rather than of spiritual purity. So must they seem in modern productions, affectedly divested of the artificial means and improved methods which centuries of progress have developed, by artists who forget their academic studies and-177- neglect the contour of the living model, without attaining the old inspiration. The spirit which animated devotional limners being long dead, any imitation of their style must be mechanical—a reproduction of its mannerism after its motives are extinct. Whilst, therefore, I endeavour to point out the merits of the old religious limners, it is with no wish to see their manner revived. Among a generation whose faith has been remodelled, whose social and intellectual habits have been entirely revolutionised, the restoration of purist painting would be a mockery. But it should not, therefore, be forbidden us to study and sympathise with forms which, though rigid and monotonous, were sufficient to express the simple faith of early times, and in which earnestness compensates the absence of skill, and fervour the lack of power.

During the early years of the thirteenth century, there appeared on the lofty Apennines of Central Italy, one of those mysterious beings who, with few gifts of nature, are born to sway mankind; whose brief and eccentric career has left behind a brilliant halo, that no lapse of time is likely to dim. Giovanni Bernardoni, better known as St. Francis of Assisi, by his eloquence, his austerities, and all the appliances of religious enthusiasm, quickly gathered among the fervid spirits of his native mountains a numerous following of devoted disciples. In a less judicious church, he might, as a field-preacher, have become a most dangerous schismatic; but, with that foresight and knowledge of human nature which have generally distinguished the Romish hierarchy, the sectarian leader was welcomed as a missionary, "seraphic all in fervency," and in due time canonised into a saint, whilst his poverty-professing sect was recognised as an order, and became one of the most influential pillars of the Papacy.

It was

"On the hard rock
'Twixt Arno and the Tiber, he from Christ
Took the last signet."


From the desolate fastnesses of Lavernia, which witnessed his ascetic life and ecstatic visions, to the fertile slopes of Assisi, where his bones found repose from self-inflicted hardships, the people rallied round him while alive, and revered him when dead. Nor did the religious revival which his preaching and example there effected pass away. Acknowledged by popes, favoured by princes, his order rapidly spread. In every considerable town convents of begging friars were established and endowed. Still, it was in his mountain-land that his doctrines took deepest root, among a race of simple men, reared amid the sublime combinations of Alpine and forest scenery, familiar from their days of dreamy youth with hills and glades, caverns and precipices, shady grottoes and solitary cells. The visionary tales of his marvellous life, penetrating the devotional character of the inhabitants, became favourite themes of popular superstition.

"A spirit hung,
Beautiful region! o'er thy towns and farms;
And emanations were perceived, and acts
Of immortality, in nature's course
Exemplified by mysteries, that were felt
As bonds on grave philosopher imposed,
And armed warrior; and in every grove
A gay or pensive tenderness prevailed."[119]

Assisi in particular was the focus of the new faith. To its shrine flocked pilgrims laden with riches, which the saint taught them to despise. This influx of treasure had the usual destination of monastic wealth, being chiefly dedicated to the decoration of its sanctuary. During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the best artists in Italy competed for its embellishment, and even now it is there that the student of mediæval art ought most to seek for enlightenment.


With the legends of St. Francis thus indelibly stamped on the inhabitants, and with the finest specimens of religious painting preserved at Assisi, it need scarcely be matter of surprise that devotional art, which we have endeavoured to describe, should have found in Umbria a fostering soil, even after it had been elsewhere supplanted by naturalist and pagan novelties; for the feelings which it breathed were those of mystery and sentiment—its beauty was sanctified and impalpable. By a people so trained, its traditional types were received with the fervour of faith; while to the limited range of its themes the miraculous adventures of the saint were a welcome supplement. The romantic character of these incidents borrowed from the picturesque features of the country a new but fitting element of pictorial effect, and for the first time nature was introduced to embellish without demeaning religious painting. But let us hear Rio, the eloquent elucidator of sacred art, upon this subject. "To the Umbrian school belongs the glory of having followed out the leading aim of Christian art without pause, and without yielding to the seductions of example or the distractions of clamour. It would seem that a peculiar blessing belongs to the spots rendered specially holy by the sainted Francis of Assisi, and that the odour of his sanctity has preserved the fine arts from degradation in that mountain district, where so many pious painters have successively contributed to ornament his tomb. From thence rose to heaven, like a sweet incense, prayers whose fervour and purity ensured their efficacy: from thence, too, in other times, there descended, like beneficent dew upon the more corrupt cities of the plain, penitential inspirations that spread into almost every part of Italy."

Since these pages were written I have met with a passage in the introduction of Boni's Italian translation of the work just quoted, which I subjoin, at the risk of some repetition, as a fair specimen of the ideas on Chris-180-tian art now entertained by many on the Continent, but as yet little known to English literature.

"On the Umbrian mountains, by Assisi, slept, in the peace of Heaven, St. Francis, who left such sweet odour of sanctity in the middle ages. Round his tomb assembled, from every part of Christendom, pilgrims to pay their vows. With their offertories there was erected over his grave a magnificent temple, which became the point of concourse to all painters animated by Christian feeling, who thus displayed their gratitude to the Almighty for their endowment of genius, who in that solitude laid in a new store of inspiration, and who, after leaving on these walls a testimony of their powers, returned home joyful and enriched. Cimabue, among the first that raised a holy war against the Byzantine mannerism,[*120] there painted the most beautiful of his Madonnas; his pupil, the shepherd of Bondone, there traced those simple histories which established his superiority; thither sped the artists of Siena, Perugia, Arezzo, and the best of the Florentines,—the beatified Fiesole, of angelic life and works, Benozzo Gozzoli, Orcagna, Perugino, and, finally, Raffaele, the greatest of painters.

"Thus was there formed in the shadow of that sanctuary a truly Christian school, which sought its types of beauty in the heavens; or, when it laid the scene of its compositions here below, selected their subjects from the sainted ones of the earth. Its delight was to represent, now the Virgin-Mother kneeling before her Son, or seated caressing or holding him up for the veneration of patriarchs and saints; now the life of Christ, his preaching, his sufferings, his triumph; or, again, to embody the touching legends told in these simple times, or the martyrs crucified by early tyrants, or an anchorite's devotion in a lonely-181- cave, or some beatified soul borne away on seraph's wings; or a religious procession, the miracle of a preacher, the solemnity of a sacrament: but ever, images of solace and of hope, cherubs singing and making melody, maidens contemplating with smiles the opening heavens, the scenes begun on earth but continued far beyond the clouds, where the Madonna and the Saviour are seen, radiant with serene exultation, beholding the concourse of suppliant faithful beneath."

But lest, in quoting from writers zealously devoted to the Roman Creed, we may seem to admit that such sympathies belong not to Protestant breasts, it will be well to appeal to one whose pen has, with no common success, combated the usages wherein popery most startles those whose faith is based on the Reformation. "I never looked at the pictures of one of these men that it did not instantaneously affect me, alluring me into a sort of dream or reverie, while my imagination was called into very lively activity. It is not that their drawing is good; for, on the other hand, it is often stiff, awkward, and unnatural. Nor is it that their imagination, as exhibited in grouping their figures or embodying the story to be represented, was correct or natural; for often it is most absurd and grotesque. But still there is palpably the embodiment of an idea; an idea pure, holy, exquisite, and too much so to seem capable of expression by the ordinary powers either of language or of the pencil. Yet the idea is there. And it must have had a mysterious and wondrous power on the imagination of these men, it must have thoroughly mastered and possessed them, or they never could have developed such an exquisite ideal of calm, peaceful, meek, heavenly holiness, as stands out so constantly and so pre-eminently in their paintings." In noticing the cavils of connoisseurs upon these paintings this author happily observes, that they were "looking for earthly creatures and found heavenly-182- ones; and, expecting unholy expressions, were disappointed at finding none but the holy."[121]

We may here remark, in passing, the nearly coeval introduction of a class of themes which, though innovating upon the purity of Catholic faith, were admirably adapted to develop the mystic tendencies of devotional painting. It was about the thirteenth century that the Madonna acquired the unfortunately paramount place in the Romish worship she has since been permitted to hold. Her history became a favourite topic of Franciscan and other popular preachers, at once facile and fascinating. Not content with describing the scriptural events of her life, they adopted traditions regarding her birth, marriage, and death; or the more abstruse and questionable legends of her miraculous conception, her assumption, exaltation, and her coronation as queen of heaven, and the cintola or girdle by which she drew up souls from limbo. It would be quite foreign to the matter in hand were we to examine the orthodoxy of these devotional novelties, or their influence upon the social estimate of the female character. Enough to observe that they speedily enriched Christian art in all its branches, but chiefly in Umbria, where, in accordance with the prevailing popular taste, such of them as partook of dogmatic mystery gained a preference over more real or scenic incidents. The early Giottists were wont to close their dramatic delineations of her earthly history with a peaceful death, its only artistic licence being the transit of her soul in the shape of a swaddled babe. But the Madonna-worship of this more spiritual school was satisfied with nothing short of her translation in the body, direct to realms of bliss from amid a concourse of adoring disciples. In like manner, the old Byzantine painters inscribed over her image one uniform epigraph, "the Mother of God"; whilst the-183- devotional masters delighted to seat her beyond the skies, where her blessed Son placed a diadem upon her brows as the queen of heaven. It hence became an established practice of the latter to depict her charms, not after the mould in which nature cast fair but frail humanity, but to clothe them in abstract and purer beauty appropriate to one whom, though incarnate, they were taught to regard as divine.



The Umbrian school of painting, its scholars and influence—Fra Angelico da Fiesole—Gentile da Fabriano—Pietro Perugino—Artists at Urbino—Piero della Francesca—Fra Carnevale—Francesco di Giorgio.

THE Umbrian art, of which we have attempted to trace the origin, has not hitherto met with the notice which it merits. Lanzi allowed it no separate place among the fourteen schools under which he has arranged Italian painting, and, by scattering its most important names, has lost sight of certain characteristics which, rather than any common education, link its masters together. Nor was this omission wonderful, for the Umbrian painters and their works were dispersed over many towns and villages, none of which could be considered the head-quarters of a school, and to visit these distant localities would have been a task of difficulty and disappointment. The patronage of princes and communities seems to have been sparingly bestowed in that mountain-land. Assisi, adorned by many Florentine strangers, was mother rather than nurse of its native art, and other religious houses wanted the means or the spirit to follow her brilliant example. Hence the comparatively few opportunities afforded to the Christian painters of Umbria of executing great works in fresco, the peculiar vehicle of pictorial grandeur; and alas! of these few, a considerable proportion has been lost to us under the barbarism of whitewash.[122] The re-185-vival of feeling for religious art, of late commenced by the Germans, and their persevering zeal in illustrating its neglected monuments, have established the existence of an Umbrian school in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; but its history remains to be written.[*123] The task would carry us too far from the leading subject of these volumes, yet we shall endeavour in a few pages to sketch its development, from the dreamy anchorites whose rude pencils embodied the visions of their favourite St. Francis, to Raffaele, whose high mission it was to perfect devotional painting,[*124] apart from the alloy of human passions, and to withstand for a time that influx of pagan and naturalist corruptions, which after his premature death overwhelmed it.

Two fanes were commenced in the thirteenth century near the Tiber, which became conspicuous as shrines equally of Christian devotion and Christian art. The cathedral of Orvieto for two hundred years attracted from all parts of Italy many of the best artificers in sculpture and painting, some of whom, arriving from Umbria, carried back new inspirations to their homes. The sanctuary of St. Francis, at Assisi, coeval with the dawn of Italian art, borrowed its earliest embellishments from Tuscany,[*125] where Giotto and his followers were ingrafting on design two novel ingredients—dramatic composition and allegorical allusion. The former of these elements distinguished the Florentine from contemporary schools, and-186- carried it beyond them in variety and effect, preparing a way for the pictorial power which Raffaele and Michael Angelo perfected. To the inspirations of Dante it owed the latter element, and to the enthusiastic though tardy admiration which his fellow-citizens indulged for his wildly poetical mysticism, may be ascribed the abiding impress of a tendency which not only authorised but encouraged new and varied combinations. The rigid outlines, monotonous conventional movements, and soulless countenances of Byzantium gradually were mellowed into life and beauty; but it is curious to observe how much sooner genius caught the spirit than the form,—how it succeeded in embodying expression long before it could master the more technical difficulties of design, action, and shadow. The credit claimed for Giotto of introducing physiognomical expression is, however, only partially true. Compared with the Greek works, or even with those of his immediate antecedents, Cimabue, Guido, and Margaritone, his heads, indeed, beam with animated intelligence, and feel the movement which he first communicated to his groups. Yet not less was the still and unimpassioned, but deep-seated emotion which the Umbrian painters embodied in their miniatures and panels, an improvement upon the lifeless and angular mechanism of the Byzantine artificers, although these very opposite qualities are generally condemned to the same category of contemptible feebleness by our pretended connoisseurs, glibly discussing masters whose real works they never saw, or are unable from ignorance and prejudice to appreciate. Such a state of art could not, however, remain wedded to a few fixed types. It was inherently one of transition, and necessarily led to a gradual abandonment of the Giottist manner of representation, while it enlarged the principles of composition introduced by Giotto. Beato Angelico, the first Florentine who successfully departed from that style, reawakening the old religious spirit, and embodying in it-187- forms of purity never before or since attained, forsook not wholly the Dantesque spirit. His passing influence yielded to a manner more in unison with the times, which was formed and nearly perfected by Masaccio; but still Dante was not left behind. Luca Signorelli, issuing from his Umbrian mountains and his Umbrian master, imbibed at Florence the lofty images of "the bard of hell," and energetically reproduced them in the duomo of Orvieto, in startling contrast with the works of Angelico, and other devoted masters, who had previously decorated that museum of art.

There, too, had been wrought some choice productions of the Pisan sculptors,[*126] but their tendency to clothe nature in the forms of antique design met with little sympathy, and no imitation, from students whose minds were preoccupied by tales of St. Francis, and thus it is unnecessary here to notice them further. The Sienese school is in an entirely different category. Without encumbering ourselves at present by the definitions and distinctions of German æsthetic criticism, we shall merely remark that the painters of Siena, from Guido until late in the fifteenth century, never lost sight of that sentimental devotion which we have already described as the soul of Christian art, and which so curiously pervades the statutes of their guild formerly quoted. The cathedral of Orvieto was founded in 1290 by a Sienese architect, who, as we may well suppose, brought some of his countrymen to assist in its embellishment, and to infuse these principles among the native students, who, from assistants, became master-artificers of its decorations. Nor was this the only link which connected Sienese art with the confines of Umbria. The scattered townships in the Val di Chiana preserve in their remaining early altar-panels clear evidence that these were supplied from Siena;-188- and Taddeo Bartolo, repairing thence in 1403 to Perugia, and perhaps to Assisi, left proofs that the bland sentimentalism of his native school might be united with a tranquil majesty, to which the Giottists had scarcely attained.[*127]

Having thus briefly touched upon foreign influences which told on the pictorial character of Umbria, we are prepared to consider the most remarkable artificers whom it has produced, especially in the duchy of Urbino. Of these the first place is due on many accounts to Oderigi da Gubbio,[*128] for, besides his claim to be founder of the schools of Gubbio and Bologna, he is celebrated among the most excellent miniaturists of his time by Dante, who has placed him in purgatory, a sentence justly deemed by Ticozzi somewhat severe for "the head and front of his offending," that of over-zeal in his art.

"'Art thou not Oderigi? Art not thou
Agobbio's glory, glory of that art
Which they of Paris call the limner's skill?'
'Brother,' said he, 'with tints that gayer smile,
Bolognian Franco's pencil lines the leaves:
His all the honour now, my light obscured.
In truth I had not been thus courteous to him
The whilst I lived, though eagerness of zeal
For that pre-eminence my heart was bent on.
Here of such pride the forfeiture is paid;
Nor were I even here, if, able still
To sin, I had not turned me unto God.
O powers of man! how vain your glory, nipt
E'en in its height of verdure, if an age
Less bright succeed not. Cimabue thought
To lord it over painting's field, and now
The cry is Giotto's, and his name eclipsed.'"[129]

Baldinucci has written a life of this master, chiefly in confirmation of his theory that all modern painting was-189- produced from the personal influence of Cimabue, a dogma combated by Lanzi. His death is placed in 1299, which would make him contemporary with that Florentine artificer, and Vasari calls him the friend of Giotto, who was much his junior. The preservation of his name is perhaps chiefly owing to Dante's notice, though the antiquaries of Gubbio now reject the lapidary inscription which claims for the latter a residence in their town. There is in truth a sad deficiency of facts regarding Oderigi, and no work from his hand being now known, speculation as to his style would be useless.[130] That the painters connected with Gubbio in the following generation may have been formed under his instructions, is however a conjecture fairly admissible.

Of these Cecco and Puccio were employed, probably as mosaicists, in 1321, upon the cathedral of Orvieto, whence they may have brought back to Umbria enlarged principles of art. But, abandoning conjectural grounds, let us notice the earliest Eugubinean painter whose works have survived to our own time. Guido Palmerucci is said to have been born about the time of Oderigi's death, while others consider him as his pupil. Assuredly the observation of Lanzi, which appears to rank him with the Giottists, is not borne out by the frescoes in his native town attributed to him, for these have nothing of the dramatic action which Giotto introduced, and their details, as well as their general manner, resemble colossal miniatures. This is especially the case in a figure of S. Antonio, the only remains of some mural paintings which covered the exterior of a chapel[*131] belonging to the college of painters, founded at Gubbio in the thirteenth century.-190- The character of the saint is grand, the attitude solemn, the expression spiritualised; and an Ecce Homo still in the Church of S. Maria Nuova there, exhibits a similar style. Among the few fragments of mouldering frescoes to be seen at Gubbio, I have found no others ascribed to Palmerucci, but Passavant tells us he wrought in the town-hall about 1345. At Cagli two interesting frescoes in the church of S. Francesco have been lately brought to light from behind a great altar picture, and successfully moved to the adjoining wall. They represent two miracles of St. Anthony of Padua, and I am inclined to ascribe them to Palmerucci, or some able contemporary. The actors and bystanders are equally remarkable for heads of staid devout composure, which under Giottesque treatment would have been in a far higher degree animated and dramatic. In the beautiful art of pictorial glass, Gubbio has also a notable name in Angioletto, who embellished the chapel-window of St. Louis at Assisi, and enriched the cathedrals of Orvieto and Siena with his gem-like decorations.

To the same city belongs the little we know of the Nelli family,[*132] yet that little is well calculated to call forth our regrets for their lost works. Martino Nelli was a junior contemporary of Palmerucci. In his fresco over the gate of S. Antonio, representing the Madonna enthroned, with elaborate architectural accessories, there may be traced an approach to the mild devotional abstraction with which the purist Christian artists tempered the

"Maternal lady with the virgin grace."

But in a smaller work of his son Ottaviano, the church of S. Maria Nuova possesses the very finest existing specimen of the Umbrian school, exempt from injury or restoration. The lovely and saint-like Madonna, the-191- seraphic choir that forms a glory around her, the Almighty crowning the "highly favoured among women," have perhaps never been equalled among the happiest embodyings of devotional genius; nor are the rich colouring, the accessory saints, and the portraits of the Peroli family, who, in 1403, commissioned this grand work, inferior in merit. He is supposed to have been born about 1375, and, after executing in Assisi, Urbino, and other circumjacent towns, works long perished, to have died in 1444. Of the mural paintings by his brother Tomaso, in S. Domenico and under the Piazzone of his native town, it is impossible to say more than that whatever of the family inspiration may have guided his pencil has been nearly obscured by cruel restorations.




After the fresco by Ottaviano Nelli in S. Maria Nuova, Gubbio

Among the pupils of Ottaviano,

"Who on high niche or cloister wall,
Inscribed their bright-lined lays,"

about Gubbio, are Pitali, Domenico di Cecchi, and Bernardino di Nanni: to these may be added Giacomo Bedi, a name that has escaped the historians of Italian art, by whom were painted in the church of S. Agostino four scenes in the life of the saint, which retain a freshness and force of colour equal to any productions of the age. With these the influence of Oderigi seems to have become extinct in his native town, before the close of the fifteenth century, long ere which it had, however, been transported elsewhere by Gentile da Fabriano, who, emerging from his Apennine home, reproduced in Florence and in Rome the characteristics of that master, amid universal applause, and, carrying them to Venice, founded there the religious feeling which the Bellini, Vivarini, and Cima di Conegliano sustained, imparting at the same time that taste for luxuriant colouring which Titian brought to perfection. But, ere we turn to the school of Fabriano, we may here translate from the original quaint Italian a-192- letter from Ottaviano, illustrative of the early patronage of art by the Montefeltrian family. No trace of the works there mentioned now remains.[133]

"To the illustrious and lofty Lady, the Lady Caterina, Countess of Montefeltro, and my special Lady.

"My special Lady, illustrious and lofty Madam, after due commendation, &c. I have received your benign letter, reminding me of the figures which I promised to make for your Ladyship. When your servant Pietro found me, I was on horseback, going upon certain business of my own, and so could not well tell him all my reasons, which I now expose to your Ladyship. When your Ladyship left Gubbio, I was, as you know, to furnish the palliotto;[134] after I had done it, I went from Gubbio to execute a small job which I had promised above a year past; for they would wait no longer, and I should have lost it had I not forthwith commenced. But I trusted that your Ladyship's kindness would hold me excused, for I counted that your commission, and that of my Lord, your son, would be completed against your Ladyship's return to Gubbio. In order, however, that your piety may be satisfied, I shall set myself warmly and fervently to do it quickly, and thus your intention will take effect. There is no one at S. Erasimo, so I must cause lime and sand be carried thither, and get them ground down, and-193- also wood for the framework. If your Ladyship would but write to the friars of S. Ambrogio, or indeed to your factor, to prepare these things for me: but if not, I shall do my best; for you, my special Lady, never had servant more willing to do your Ladyship's commands than myself, and so you may count upon me as a faithful servant to the utmost of my power. I believe I have instructions for the work you wish in S. Erasimo [representing] your son, my Lord, kneeling with his servant and horse before that patron saint. Thus I recollect everything your Ladyship wishes of me, and God grant me grace to perform it all. Prepared for whatever your Ladyship wills; your most faithful,

"Otaviano, painter of Gubbio.

"From Urbino, the last of June, 1434."

In a sketch having no pretensions to a history, we need not pause upon names now known only from old records, and must keep strictly to those whose genius has left a decided impress upon the development of art in Umbria. We therefore pass over artificers belonging to various communities along the Apennines who appear on the rolls of Orvieto, including several from Fabriano. About the middle of the fourteenth century, the latter town boasted an Allegretto Nuzio, some of whose altar-panels may still be traced in La Marca, embodying a sentimentalism of expression, combined with a richness in the accessories, which remind one strongly of the finest productions of Memmi, and lead us to suspect an infusion of the Sienese style.[*135] But the renown of Allegretto rests more on that of his pupil Gentile, whom we have already named as the first who carried the characteristics and fame of the Umbrian manner beyond the seclusion of its highland cradle.

Francesco di Gentile was born at Fabriano about 1370, and, after maturely studying all that was best there-194- and at Gubbio, he set forth to enlarge his field of observation. Florence was perhaps his first point of attraction, for nowhere else could he see such beautiful art. But resisting those seductions which the vast compositions of the Gaddi, Orcagna, and other Giottists held out to an ardent and youthful ambition, he preserved in their purity the holy inspirations of the fatherland, and meeting little sympathy for these among the fraternity of St. Luke, he sought for himself a more suitable companionship in the cloister of S. Domenico. There it was his good fortune to discover a man whose rare character realised those transcendental qualities, of which we read in the saintly legends of pristine times, without regarding them as real ingredients in human character.

Fra Giovanni da Fiesole had spent the years which other youths wasted on stormy pleasures in acquiring the art of miniature painting, and its sacred representations took such hold of his feelings, that, abjuring the world, he assumed the habit of St. Dominic. But finding that his art, far from interfering with the holy sentiments which a tender conscience considered as inseparable from his new profession, tended directly to spiritualise them, the neophyte continued to exercise it; and upon settling himself in the convent of S. Marco, he extended his style to fresco, ever adhering to those pure forms of celestial bliss which no one before or since has equalled. It is related of him that, regarding his painting in the light of a God-gift, he never sat down to exercise it without offering up orisons for divine influence, nor did he assume his palette until he felt these answered by a glow of holy inspiration. His pencil thus literally embodied the language of prayer; his compositions were the result of long contemplation on mystic revelations; his Madonnas borrowed their sweet and sinless expression from ecstatic visions; the passion of our Saviour was conceived by him in tearful penitence, and executed with sobs and sighs. Deeming the forms-195- he thus predicted to proceed from supernatural dictation, he never would alter or retouch them; and though his works are generally brought to the highest attainable finish, the impress of their first conception remains unchanged. To the unimaginative materialism of the present day, these sentences may seem idle absurdities, but they illustrate the character of Fra Giovanni, and no painter ever so thoroughly instilled his character into his works. Those who have not had the good fortune to see any of these cannot form an idea of the infantine simplicity, the immaculate countenances, the unimpassioned pathos apparent in his figures, nor of the transparent delicacy of his flesh-tints, and the gay and cheerful colouring which he introduces into the details, without injury to the angelic grace of the whole. These qualities procured for their author the epithet of Angelico; his personal virtues were acknowledged by an offer of the see of Fiesole, which his humility declined and by the posthumous honour of beatification; his paintings, to borrow the words of Vasari, elevated the utmost perfection to the ideal of art, by improving without abandoning its original type; and, in the characteristic language of Michael Angelo, he must have studied in heaven the faces which he depicted on earth.[136]

Such was the instructor with whom, although his junior, Gentile thought it no disparagement to place himself,[*137] and his works testify to his having caught much of the spirit as well as the elaborate finish of his master. But whilst Angelico passed his time in decorating the cells of his convent with frescoes, whose holy beauties have confirmed the faith and purified the secret contemplations of many a recluse, his pupil returned to the world, to follow-196- up a successful career. Called to Orvieto about 1423, he there painted two altars, which, though not his best works, are peculiarly interesting in contrast with the grand productions which at a later period his master executed for that cathedral.[*138] In the registers of the fabric, he is, in 1425, designated as "master of the masters"; and the fame which he thus acquired brought him successive commissions at Florence and Siena, after which he was extensively employed in enriching the cities of Umbria and La Marca with works of which no trace now exists.[*139] Among these towns were Gubbio and Urbino; but still more interesting to our immediate subject,—the development of art under the Feltrian dukes,—is the altar-piece executed by him at Romita, near Fabriano, and now plundered and scattered by the French, part of which adorns the Brera Gallery at Milan. The Madonna is crowned by her Son, the Dove fluttering between them, the Father rising pyramidally behind, amid a choir of cherubim; below, in the empyrean void, is an arch spanning the sun and moon, on which stand eight angels, making melody of praise on various instruments. So extended was the reputation of this work, that Raffaele is believed to have been attracted thither in his youth, to imbibe that devotional sentiment which he was destined to advance to its culminating point of excellence. Another fountain of his early inspiration was the famous, but now defaced, Madonna of Forano, near Osimo, whose angelic beauty is described as well-fitted to have left an indelible charm upon minds less pure and enthusiastic than his. On the mere evidence of its ecstatic loveliness, it was generally ascribed to Beato Angelico; but as there is no account of the Frate having visited La Marca, it may probably have been produced by Gentile, when his return to his native mountains had freed him for-197- a season from mundane impressions, and had restored him to the sanctifying influence of its legendary abstractions.




After the gonfalone by a pupil of Fiorenzo di Lorenzo in S. Francesco Montone

From thence he proceeded to Venice, where many of his most brilliant performances were achieved; but these, too, are nearly all lost to us. There, in contact with the busy world, and sharing its honours, distracted, it may be, by the bright tints and smiling landscapes just then imported from northern lands, his devotional inspirations were gradually tinged by naturalism. His principal commission was a fresco of the naval victories of the Republic; and I have seen a small picture by him of the rape of the Sabines, whose feeble paganism belongs, no doubt, to his later years, and sadly proves how essential were these inspirations to his success. At Venice he opened a school, which enjoyed high reputation, and which probably numbered among its pupils Pisanello, the Vivarini, and Bellini, although chronology throws a doubt upon some of Vasari's assertions as to this point. A new field of glory opened before Gentile, when invited by Eugene IV. to decorate with mural paintings the since rebuilt church of the Lateran, where he painted four prophets in chiaroscuro, and placed below them the life of the Baptist,—works unfinished at his death in 1450, and now destroyed, but which Michael Angelo, little qualified as he was to appreciate the delicacies of religious art, characterised as worthy the gentle name of their author.

On quitting the cloister of S. Marco, Gentile had carried with him a portion of the devotional feeling which hung around the studio of Fra Giovanni, and along with it much of the taste for rich ornaments, for gold and brocades, for fruit and flowers, in which both of his instructors delighted. But whilst Allegretto and Angelico kept such foreign aids in subservience to the predominating sentiment of their works, their pupil caught from the great world, in which he freely mingled with credit and applause, an admiration of mundane grandeur which, in his-198- later compositions, is singularly combined with the spirit of religious art. His immaculate Madonnas are worshipped less by angelic choirs of cherubim and seraphim, than by the great ones of the earth in their trappings of dignity; and of all sacred themes, the Epiphany, or adoration of the Magi kings at the stable of Bethlehem, was his choice. Such is the magnificent altar-panel which he wrought in 1423, for the church of the S. Trinità at Florence, now one of the most precious monuments in the Belle Arti there. Still more gorgeous is his crowded composition painted for the Zeni of Venice; but there he has contaminated the purist spirit of Christian painting, for in the suite of the eastern kings is portrayed the patron of the picture, with all the gallant company who attended his embassy from the Republic to Usamkassan, sovereign of Persia. The unequalled variety of groups, the elaborate splendour of oriental costumes, the crowd of horsemen in contrasted attitudes, the lavish adoption of gold, form a dazzling but harmonious whole, which has scarcely any parallel in painting. It is not improbable that this and similar works, besides introducing a new element into the semi-Byzantine practice of the Venetian school, may have spread to Albert Durer and other Germans, who long after visited that

"Ruler of the waters and their powers,"

an influence carried by them to Nuremberg and Cologne, to enrich the already gaudy tendencies of ultramontane taste. But Gentile da Fabriano possesses another claim upon the student of early painting, hitherto inadequately noticed. To the lessons of his father, a learned mathematician, he may have owed the linear perspective which, in many of his productions, anticipated the improvements of Piero della Francesca. This is observable in the Zeno picture, and still more in a small predella in my possession, where his favourite theme, the Epiphany, is completed-199- by a background accurately laid out in lines and compartments, such as we see in the Dutch gardens of the seventeenth century. But to this question we must return.

Among the artists who maintained in Umbria the influences left by Ottaviano and Gentile, two were of special merit, Nicolò Alunno, of Foligno, and Benedetto Bonfigli, of Perugia. Their works have been often confounded, but with the latter only have we to do, for, besides being nearer to Gentile both in age and in manner, he is generally considered as the master of Pietro Perugino,[*140] and thus forms a link in the artistic chain which we are endeavouring to establish, through the best Umbrian painters, from Oderigi of Gubbio to Raffaele of Urbino. Of Bonfigli there are several interesting and well-preserved specimens in his native town, dated about 1466, but it must be owned that none of the earliest known works of Perugino exhibit much trace of his style. These, however, are all supposed posterior to Pietro's first visit to Florence, where his ideas must have undergone vast development from the examples of Masaccio and other masters, who there formed a galaxy of talent about the middle of the fifteenth century.[*141] In that city he formed his early friendship with Leonardo da Vinci, which Sanzi says was cemented by parity of age as of affection; and it is singular how little such sympathy can be traced in their genius or works. When, on the other hand, we contrast the placid features which Vannucci uniformly limned, rarely ruffled by sorrow, never clouded by sin, with the furious mien and restless energy of Michael Angelo's creations, we may well credit Vasari's story of their quarrel, and can account for the scrimp justice accorded to the painter of Città della Pieve by his-200- Florentine biographer. They pretend not, indeed, to the bold character of Signorelli, nor even to the severity of Mantegna, or Piero della Francesca; but those who criticise them as stiff, timid, and monotonous, in contrast with the performances of the next generation, would arrive at more just conclusions did they include in the comparison those painters who had preceded him, and whose example was his early guide.

Let us turn to Urbino. Lanzi tells us that Giotto, Gentile da Fabriano, and their respective followers, left works in that little capital; where Pungileone has shown that Ottaviano Nelli exercised his profession from 1428 to 1433, and Paolo Uccello of Florence in 1468, with other artists detected by the same zealous antiquary. Of such works, however, nothing can now be traced. The oldest paintings I could discover there were those in the oratory of St. John Baptist by Lorenzo and Giacomo di San Severino, Lanzi's blunders regarding whom have been corrected by the Marchese Ricci. The principal composition is the Crucifixion, with a dramatic action influenced by Giottesque feeling: the three other walls seem to have been occupied by a history of the titular saint, two passages of which are almost destroyed. Those remaining, though not exempt from retouching, are sufficiently preserved to enable us to detect a masterly and novel arrangement, and a character of devotion more consistent with the Umbrian manner, though marred by hard colouring. The date 1416 is added to the painter's epigraph. We learn from an old chronicle that Antonio da Ferrara painted the Montefeltro chapel in the church of S. Francesco in 1430, a fact scarcely reconcileable with Vasari's assertion that he was a pupil of Angelo Gaddi. He is also said to have executed an ancona for the church of S. Bernardino, portions of which may probably be recognised in some figures still in the sacristy. In that-201- of S. Francesco at Mercatello, among several memorials of a similar period, are {1843} two frescoes characterised by grand design, ample draperies, and full colouring, but deficient in delicacy. The lunette of the marriage of St. Catherine outside the door is somewhat later, and very superior, and may be from the pencil of Pietro della Francesca. Of none of these works, nor of two good panel pictures in the same church, have I been able to find any account. In the hospital of S. Angelo in Vado is a panel altar picture in utter ruin, which has possessed surpassing beauty. The martyrdom of St. Sebastian is there powerfully conceived, and executed with the finest feeling. The inscription seems to have been, Hieronymus Nardia Vicentis fecit; the date probably towards the close of the fifteenth century. Such is the beggarly account we have to offer of early art in the country of Raffaele, and thus might we dismiss the speculations of those who would fondly trace its primary influences on his dawning genius.

But though time and whitewash have combined to narrow this branch of our inquiry, we must not overlook an artist who ranks high among the reformers of painting, and upon whom the patronage of Duke Federigo was specially lavished. His family name has not come down to us, but he is generally known by the matronymic of Piero della Francesca, from the Christian name of his mother, though sometimes designed Pietro del Borgo, or Il Borghese, from Borgo S. Sepolcro, his native town. His life has unfortunately been left in much obscurity by his only biographer Vasari, who might have well bestowed somewhat more pains upon the career of one born in a neighbouring town, who left his finest works at Arezzo, and whose merits he is more inclined to magnify than to slight. The loose assertions of this author have been adopted by most succeeding writers, without addition and with little investigation; but of the school in which-202- Pietro acquired the rudiments of his art, and of the earlier period of his career, we remain still uninformed, though his age and Apennine origin favour the conjecture that he may have imbibed his first lessons from works of Ottaviano Nelli the contemporary Umbrian master.[*142] Beyond question two very different manners appear in the productions of his pencil; the first, crudely composed and laboriously frittered into detail, with much of the contracted ideas and bright tinting of the old miniaturists; the second, broad and masterly in conception, and executed with a flowing pencil, though retaining an elaborate finish. Both styles are united in a little picture at Urbino, which we shall presently describe, the Flagellation being in the earlier, the three portraits in the larger manner. If born, as Vasari incorrectly states, in the last years of the fourteenth century,[*143] Piero, instead of being patronised by Guidobaldo I., must have reached at least eighty-four in that Duke's time; indeed, he would have been past middle life ere Federigo, whom, as we shall presently see, he calls his chief patron, succeeded to that state in 1443. "Guidobaldo Feltro" may, however, probably be a mistake of Vasari for Count Guidantonio, in which case a solution would be afforded for several of his manifold contradictions; and at that court, if not in earlier life, our artist might have been the associate or pupil of Nelli. Passing over works now lost which del Borgo is stated on the same authority to have executed at Pesaro, Ferrara, Ancona, and Loreto, we find him called by Nicholas V. to Rome, where his frescoes appear to have been destroyed in the many alterations made on the Vatican Palace before that century closed.

Piero della Francesca is also asserted by Vasari to have been one of the most profound mathematicians of his day,-203- and to have improved perspective and the management of light by an adaptation of geometrical principles to painting. The latter of these opinions has been received, and constitutes the highest claim of this master upon the historians of art. The point has not as yet been illustrated by any writer competent to pronounce with accuracy upon such pretensions,[*144] but the merit of having shown how to ameliorate perspective, especially in architectural design, is generally granted to Piero. Pascoli and others have regarded him as its father. Lanzi thinks him the first who revived the ancient Greek notion of rendering geometry subject to painting in general, although Brunelleschi, Paolo Uccelli, and others had already applied the same principles with less science to architectural details; and he combats the priority in these respects asserted by Lomazzo for Foppa of Brescia. The claims of Leon Battista Alberti,[*145] the architect, seem to have been settled by Vasari's opinion that distance was better described by his pen than delineated by his pencil. The same author enlists our sympathy in favour of Il Borghese, representing him as defrauded of his fame by an unscrupulous scholar, Fra Luca Pacioli, a Franciscan, who, after learning from him mathematics, availed himself of his instructor's after blindness to plagiarise his manuscripts, and-204- eventually published them as his own.[*146] Into this controverted matter we need not enter, further than to pronounce with Tiraboschi, Rosini, and Gaye a verdict of not proven, and to observe that the celebrity attained by the friar's scientific works ought to reflect some merit upon his instructor. Yet justice to both parties requires us to extract the generous testimony volunteered to the painter by his pupil, in dedicating to Duke Guidobaldo his Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, &c.: "Perspective, if closely looked into, would certainly be nothing without the aid of geometry, as has been fully demonstrated by Pietro di Franceschi, our contemporary, and the prince of modern painting. During his assiduous service in your Excellency's family, he composed his short treatise on the art of painting and the power of linear perspective, which is now deservedly placed in your library, rich with books in every branch." These, surely, are not the words of a literary pirate; indeed, Vasari's whole account is vague and confused. After telling us that Pacioli had appropriated the matter of Piero's many MSS., then existing at Borgo San Sepolcro, he adds that most of his writings were deposited in the Urbino library, where it is obvious that neither he nor those who have repeated his assertions ever sought them. After every possible search, I have reason to believe that that library now contains but two treatises by Il Borghese, nor have I found any evidence of others having ever been there. Both are in Latin, and are fairly transcribed on vellum in contemporary hands, with diagrams upon the margin.[147] The former is entitled De Per-205-spectiva, but the subject is, in fact, Light,[*148] and its effect upon objects and colours. In place of a general title, it sets out with a dictum that "light is to philosophical inquiry what demonstrative certainty is to mathematics." The volume, bearing the arms and initials of Duke Federigo, must have been written for his library: though anonymous, it is clearly the work referred to in a dedication which we shall presently quote, the only other MS. upon perspective in the collection being that by Vitellioni (No. 265).

The other volume has for title Petri Pictoris Burgensis de Quinque Corporibus Regularibus. The five bodies discussed in it are, the triangle of four bases, the cube with six faces, the octagon with eight faces and as many triangles, the duodecahedron with twelve faces and as many pentagons, the icosahedron with twenty faces and as many triangles. We shall extract from the dedication to Guidobaldo I. a passage relating to the essay and its author: "And as my works owe whatever illustration they possess solely to the brilliant star of your excellent father, the most bright and dazzling orb of our age, it seemed not unbecoming that I should dedicate to your Majesty this little work, on the five regular bodies in mathematics, which I have composed, that, in this extreme fraction of my age, my mind might not become torpidly-206- inactive. Thus may your splendour reflect a light upon its obscurity: and your Highness will not spurn these feeble and worthless fruits, gathered from a field now left fallow, and nearly exhausted by age, from which your distinguished father has drawn its better produce; but will place this in some corner, as a humble handmaid to the numberless books of your own and his copious library, near our other treatise on Perspective, which we wrote in former years. For it is usual to admit, at the most luxurious and festive banquets, fruits culled by a rude and unpolished peasant. Indeed, its novelty may ensure its proving not unpleasing; for though the subject was known from Euclid and other geometers, it is now [first] applied by me to arithmetical science. At all events, it will be a token and memorial of my long-cherished attachment and continual devotion to yourself and your illustrious house."

This must have been written after 1482, when, if Vasari's dates be accurate, Piero was at least eighty-four years old, and had been blind during five lustres; a circumstance which, though not entirely inconsistent with his cultivation of the exact sciences, would occasion an impediment not likely to be passed over by him, when pleading as an apology the disabilities of age. The researches of Abbé Pungeleoni have, however, established that no such calamity had befallen our painter in 1469, when he was the guest of Giovanni Sanzi, at Urbino; and it is no way referred to in Pacioli's dedication, written in 1494, while he was still alive. Altogether, it may be questioned whether that alleged bereavement was not one of Vasari's many inaccuracies, the most valuable portion of whose account of this master is a notice of the frescoes executed by him in the choir of S. Francesco, at Arezzo, wherein are depicted the Discovery and Exaltation of the true Cross, and the Vision and Victory of Constantine. These noble works, uniting a happy application of his favourite studies on perspective and light, with a grandeur-207- and movement unknown to most of his compositions, are now mere wrecks,[*149] in which, however, may be traced not a few ideas subsequently appropriated by more celebrated artists. The most remarkable of them is the Vision, the original drawing for which has been published by Mr. Young Ottley. In the play of light and the management of chiaroscuro, there is far more profound study than was usual among his contemporaries, and in no other work of so early a date have these been as successfully treated. By a not very intelligible juxtaposition, the companion compartment is occupied by an Annunciation, grave, solemn, almost severe, as are most of his later paintings. The lowest and largest space on either side of the choir, is filled by the Battle, whilst Constantine prays in a corner, surrounded by his courtiers. These may have suggested to Raffaele the same subject for the Stanze, but they afford no details calculated to animate his pencil. Soldiers, horses, and banners are, indeed, mingled together with a bustle and energy of action hitherto unattempted; but the effect is neutralised by an all-prevailing confusion, and by a want of groups or episodes to concentrate the spectator's scattered interest or admiration. The design is generally good; the modelling and character of the heads are, as usual, excellent; the costumes are richly varied; and the horses remind us, by their action, of Pisano's pictures and medals. If it be true that Raffaele has repeated some of the noble ideas here freely lavished, it seems more probable that, in his Liberation of St. Peter, he wished to excel the tent scene, than that he bore in mind the crowded men-at-arms when composing the Victory of Constantine. The elements have conspired against this chef-d'œuvre of Pietro del Borgo. Its walls were frightfully riven during last century by an earthquake, and its menacing cracks have since been shaken by thunderbolts. Although the repairs have been judiciously-208- limited to securing the plaster, without attempting any restoration of the frescoes, several compartments are almost wholly defaced. Some female groups, however, remain, which yield to nothing that Masaccio has left for the plaudits of posterity.

In much better preservation is a hitherto unnoticed painting on the wall of a chapel in the cathedral of Rimini, dated 1448. It represents Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, whom we have so often named in the first volume of this work, kneeling in prayer before his patron saint, Sigismondo, king of Hungary. The wide and once beautifully graduated landscape has unfortunately suffered; but the favourite dog,[*150] crouching behind, is evidently as striking a likeness as his master, whose dignified character and serious pose give to what is but a laboriously accurate portrait, the spiritualised grandeur of a noble devotional composition. It embodies the verity of nature, exempt from the vulgarity of naturalism.

We have to lament the disappearance of whatever works in fresco Pietro del Borgo may have executed for Urbino, unless we attribute to him, on an already noticed lunette over the outer doorway of S. Francesco, at Mercatello, a beautiful half-length Marriage of St. Catherine. Of the small pictures, which he is said by Vasari to have painted for that court, one only remains; it is in the sacristy of the Urbino cathedral, and is a monument of great interest as regards the master and his patrons. On one side is the Flagellation of Christ before Pilate, in an open court enriched with a beautiful perspective of colonnades and architectural ornament. On the other is introduced a detached group of three figures in conversation, magnificently attired, who are generally called at Urbino the successive sovereigns Oddantonio, Federigo, and Guidobaldo I.; but their ages, compared with that of the painter, are irreconcileable with such a supposition. The-209- Abbé Pungeleoni, in his Life of Sanzi, considers them to represent Count Guidantonio and his successors, Oddantonio and Federigo; or they may more probably be portraits of Oddantonio and the two evil counsellors who led him and themselves to destruction, as narrated in our third chapter.[151] In the graphic character and fine modelling of their features is displayed one of those peculiar excellences which Il Borghese was able, from his knowledge of perspective and light, to introduce into the practice of pictorial art, and which he is said to have carried out by making finished figures of clay, and draping them with various materials. This precious little picture is signed Opus Petri de Borgo Sci. Sepulcri, and we have already quoted it as illustrative of both his first and second manner. I have been so fortunate as to trace three more of the Urbino pictures of this master, hitherto unnoticed. At the devolution of the duchy to the Holy See, they found their way into the possession of Urban VIII., and now adorn the private apartment of his successor, Prince Barberini, at Rome, where they pass under the name of Mantegna. The first, a portrait of Duke Federigo and his son, has been already described. Having been executed about 1478, when Guidobaldo was five or six years old, and when the painter, according to Vasari, was above eighty, it would afford conclusive evidence against the hitherto received date of Pietro's birth.[152] The other two are companion pictures, and though hung too high, appear in excellent preservation. Both are architectural designs on panel, one representing the court of a palace, the other a basilicon-like interior, with elaborate plastic decorations and very clever perspective;-210- a variety of figures are introduced, but the subjects are not known.[*153] To these, and still more to some of his earlier productions, may be applied the observation of Fra Castiglione, that "the works of Pietro, and those of his contemporary, Melozzo da Forlì, with their perspective effects and intricacies of art, are appreciated by connoisseurs rather than admired by the uninitiated."[*154]

The important influence of Pietro del Borgo upon Umbrian art is confirmed by Vasari, in naming among his scholars Perugino and Signorelli, the latter of whom worked at Urbino in 1484, and again, ten years later. But were our information as to his pupils more ample, we might probably find among them Melozzo da Forlì, to whom, and to other names connected with the duchy we shall return in our thirty-first chapter. Prominently among its painters, Lanzi has enumerated Bartolomeo Corradi, who became a predicant friar by the title of Fra Carnevale. Nothing is known of this talented limner beyond the fact that he combined his art with the duties of parish priest, at Castel Cavellino, and died soon after 1488. His best known work was executed for the great altar of S. Bernardino, near Urbino, as an ex voto commemoration of Federigo's piety on the birth of his son in 1472. In it the Duke's portrait, and those of several of his children, are said to be introduced. Indeed, there are not wanting old authorities who regard the Madonna and Child as likenesses of Countess Battista and her infant-211- Guidobaldo. I receive with caution a conjecture which, repugnant to the ideas of Umbrian art at that period, would fasten a charge of profane naturalism upon one whom I should gladly consider as a purely Christian painter. Pungeleoni ascribes to him a small devotional picture preserved in the church of the Zoccolantines at Sinigaglia, in which two accessory figures probably represent the Prefect Giovanni della Rovere and his wife, the sister of Duke Guidobaldo I.; but their marriage only took place about the supposed time of this painter's death; and, at all events, had the Abbé ever seen it, he could not have mistaken it for a sketch of the altar-piece of S. Bernardino. The latter remains in the Brera, at Milan, among the unrestored French plunder; and I have sought in vain for other identified works of Carnevale in the duchy, although inclined to attribute to him more than one fine but nameless altar-picture which I have found there.[155]

Our description of Duke Federigo's palaces has made us acquainted with the name of Francesco di Giorgio, a painter and sculptor, as well as an architect and engineer. In the two former of these capacities he can be appreciated only in his native Siena, where two of his very rare pictures remain in the Belle Arti.[*156] His ten-212-dency to Umbrian feeling is obvious, and had Padre della Valle been acquainted with the productions of Fabriano and della Francesca, he would have detected in him a nearer approach to their manner than to that of Signorelli. But his fame depends on his numerous creations in architecture and fortification; whilst his inventions in military engineering were important additions to the art of war, as then conducted. Vasari's brief and blundering notice of him was supplemented by the researches of Padre della Valle, whose greedy patriotism maintained for him the merit of the Urbino palace, a claim of which we have formerly disposed.[157] Gaye, and the editor of the Florentine edition of Vasari {1838}, have added many new and interesting notices;[*158] but his name has of late received still more ample illustration at the hands of Carlo Promis, of Turin, by whom his life and principal writings have been edited, at the expense of the Chevalier Saluzzi. Francesco, son of Giorgio, son of Martino of Siena, was born in a humble rank about 1423; and, our earliest notice of his professional labours is in 1447, when we find he was one of the architects of the Orvieto cathedral. In 1447, we find him in Duke Federigo's service, which Promis supposes him to have entered shortly before; and there he appears to have remained until the death of that prince in 1482. The palace of Urbino having been already many years in progress, and not being mentioned by him, there is no reason to suppose he was much occupied upon it; and we find his own pen attesting the onerous duty imposed upon him by Federigo, as his military engineer. In July 1478 he was attached to the allied army, which the Duke commanded; and, in his autograph MS. speaks of having a hundred-213- and thirty-six "edifices" on hand at once by his order. Among these, doubtless, there were many strongholds in the duchy; and he has left descriptive plans of Cagli, Sasso Feretro, Tavoletta, and Serra di S. Abondio. From various authorities cited by Promis, we may add, as probably of his construction, Castel Durante, S. Angelo in Vado, Orciano, S. Costanzo, S. Agata, Pietragutola, Montecirignone, S. Ippolito, Montalto, La Pergola, Cantiano, Fossombrone, Sassocorbaro, Mercatello, Costaccioro, Mondavio, and Mondolfo, besides numerous churches which he certainly planned for Federigo. The fortresses of Urbino have been estimated at nearly three hundred, a number which must seem at once superfluous and incredible, but for the entire change which the arts of war and defence were then undergoing, consequent on a general introduction of artillery.[*159] Federigo, perceiving the importance of strengthening his castles and citadels against

"The cannon-ball, opening with murderous crash
The way to blast and ruin,"

not only kept in active employment the most able engineer whom Italy then possessed, but, according to that artist's testimony, by his own experience and judicious suggestions, greatly facilitated the tasks which he imposed upon Francesco di Giorgio.

Nor was it his professional services alone which the Sienese artist placed at his patron's disposal. The documents published by Gaye and Promis show him accredited on various occasions as the Duke's envoy to the government of his native city; and his Liber de Architectura is dedicated to Federigo, at whose request, probably, it was composed. Vasari adds that he portrayed him both in painting and on a medal; and, in return perhaps for-214- these diversified labours, that prince thus interceded for his admission into the magistracy of Siena.

"Mighty and potent Lords and beloved Brethren;

"I have here in my service Francesco di Giorgio, your fellow-citizen and my most favourite architect, who desires to be placed in your magnificent magistracy, as the ambition of his genius, excellence, prudence, and worth. I therefore pray your Highnesses that you will be pleased to elect him thereto, and to admit him into the number of your public men, which I shall regard as a special boon, as will be more fully stated to you on my behalf by your mighty ambassador. And your Lordships may be assured that were I not convinced that only good, faithful, and useful service is to be looked for from him, I should not propose him, nor intercede in his favour. And nothing more gratifying could I ever receive from your Lordships, to whom I offer and commend myself.

"From Durante, the 26th July, 1480.

"Federicus Dux Urbini ac Durantis Comes,
et Regius Capit. Gener., et S. Ro. Ecclesie Gonfalonierus."[160]

Although this request was unsuccessful, so well was Francesco appreciated at home, that on several occasions Duke Guidobaldo vainly applied to the magistracy for his services. Yet he was frequently employed in the duchy from 1484 to 1489, the palace at Gubbio affording him partial employment. His military reputation being now widely spread, he had commissions from various princes, especially the sovereigns of Milan and Naples; but through these labours we need not follow him. The time of his death is not known; he, however, outlived most of the fortresses he had raised for Federigo, which were dismantled by order-215- of his son, on abandoning his state in 1502, a policy suggested by confident reliance on his subjects' attachment, as the best guarantee of his eventual restoration. Francesco's MSS., dispersed in various libraries, are described in Promis's first volume. One of them, on architecture, transcribed for Guidobaldo II., was presented by him to Emanuel Filibert, Duke of Savoy, in 1568, and now ornaments the Royal Library at Turin. The invention of that variety of bastion called in Italy baluardo, and in Germany bollwerk, has been claimed for several engineers, among whom are three names belonging to Urbino,—Duke Francesco Maria I., Centogatti the painter, and Commandino the mathematician. Promis, in the second volume of his work already quoted, disposes of all these pretensions in favour of Francesco di Giorgio. His learned discussion may be allowed to decide this point, to which little interest now attaches, as well as the question of explosive mines for the destruction of military defences. Such an application of gunpowder had already been partially resorted to, but the Sienese engineer first established its importance and methodised its application.



Giovanni Sanzi of Urbino—His son the immortal Raffaele—Early influences on his mind—Paints at Perugia, Città di Castello, Siena, and Florence—His visits to Urbino, and works there.

WITH Giovanni Sanzi[*161] we have already made acquaintance as an epic poet. The patient labour of the Abbé Pungeleoni, and the critical acumen of Passavant, have amply refuted Malvasia's spiteful, and Lanzi's careless but often quoted assertions, that the father of Raffaele was an obscure potter, or, at best, an indifferent artist, from whom his son could learn little.[162] Those only who have traced out his pictures in the remote townships and villages of his native duchy, and who estimate his works by coeval productions, can appreciate his real merits. Giovanni Sanzi was of a humble family in the village of Colbordolo, a few miles east of Urbino, for whose fictitious ancestry of artists there has been substituted by his painstaking but most puzzle-headed eulogist, a pedigree of peasantry from the middle of the fourteenth century. The son of one Sante, he assumed the patronymic Santi or Sanzi, which was subsequently euphonised by Bembo for his son into Sanzio. His grandfather Peruzuolo, after-217- his losses by the Malatesta forays already alluded to,[163] had sold the petty holdings he possessed at Colbordolo, and removed his family to Urbino, where Sante became a retail dealer in various wares, and where he seems to have died in easy circumstances in 1485, nine years before his son. The inquiries of Pungeleoni have failed to ascertain the time of Giovanni's birth, but it was probably to these losses that the poet thus touchingly alludes, in his dedication,[164] as the impulse under which he became a painter:—"It would be tedious to relate the many straits and headlong precipices through which I have steered my life since fate devoured in flames my paternal nest, wherein was consumed all our substance; but arriving at the age when perhaps inclination would have led me to some more useful exercise of talent, of the many lines by which I might have gained a living, I devoted myself to the marvellous art of painting, which indeed (in addition to the round of domestic cares, of all human concerns the most ceaseless torment) imposes a burden heavy even to the shoulders of Atlas, and in which distinguished profession I blush not to be enrolled." Neither are we enabled to throw any light upon the lessons to which Giovanni resorted for instruction in the calling which he thus, at some sacrifice of material interests, had adopted. The catalogue of contemporary artificers introduced into his Chronicle, including all that was eminent from Gentile da Fabriano to Leonardo da Vinci, shows a most extensive acquaintance with their respective styles, as well as their names.[165] Mantegna is one of them whom he specially extols; there is, however, no similarity between their productions. Yet, though we know nothing of Sanzi's artistic education, the works which Nelli, Gentile da Fabriano, and Piero della Francesca left in Urbino must have influenced his early impressions; and it is singular-218- that nothing is said by them of these, and others who painted in the duchy, beyond the passing notice bestowed with little discrimination on all his contemporaries. The marked exclusion from this list of Justus of Ghent is plausibly conjectured by Passavant to indicate a professional jealousy of one who treasured as his secret the so-called oil painting brought by him from Flanders, and certainly never attained by Giovanni. Sanzi's manner partakes generally of the Umbrian character,—grave, reflective, self-possessed, without aiming at dramatic effect or artificial embellishment, yet not deficient in variety, or graceful expression. More severe than Perugino, he approaches the serious figures of Melozzo da Forlì, but subdues their naturalism by an infusion of devotional sincerity and simple feeling. He is partial to slender forms and delicately drawn feet and hands, but the contours are dark and hard, the flesh-tints dull and heavy, tending to cold gray in the shadows, and generally deficient in middle tints and reflections. His female faces are oval, often of a dusky complexion, and their foreheads singularly full. In the nude, he was in advance of his age, and in landscape he attained great proficiency. Pungileone enumerates about twenty of his pictures, many of them still in their original sites, and exhibiting considerable inequality of merit. But his capo-d'opera, and one of the most important monuments of Umbrian art, is the fresco in the Tiranni chapel, at S. Domenico of Cagli. In the recess over the altar is the Madonna, enthroned between two angels, in one of whom is understood to be portrayed the young Raffaele, then a child of eight or nine years old. At the sides stand Saints Peter, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, and John Baptist. On the lunette above, Christ has just emerged from his tomb in the mountain rock: a glorious Deity, the conqueror of death, he bears in his left hand the banner of salvation, while his right is raised to bless a redeemed-219- world, and scattered around lie six guards asleep, foreshortened in various and difficult attitudes. The vaulted roof displays a choir of angelic children, sounding their instruments and chanting songs of glory to the Saviour, who occupies its centre, holding the book of life: and on the external angles are small medallions of the Annunciation. There is, perhaps, no contemporary painting superior to this in grandeur of composition and stately pose of the figures; nor is it less admirable for novelty of composition and variety and ease of movement. The design is at once correct and flowing, and the expression, though fervid, oversteps not truth and nature. Passavant well observes that the breadth, vigour, and dexterous treatment of this painting proved its author to have been well practised in fresco, although but one other such work of his has escaped destruction or whitewash. In his house at Urbino, there is a small mural painting, removed many years since from the ground-floor to the first story, which tradition fondly claims as a boyish production of Raffaele, but which Passavant ascribes to Sanzi, conjecturing it to represent his wife and child. It is impossible to pronounce a satisfactory judgment as to the master, from the load of over-painting in oil. Though called a Madonna and Child, it seems rather a gentle mother, who, having hushed her babe to sleep upon her knee, reads from the breviary on a stand by her seat, and the composition and attitudes present a charming naïveté and natural expression. Connoisseurs agree in rejecting its claims as a work of Raffaele; nor does it quite resemble his father's usual type, though it is difficult to substitute any more plausible theory for the conclusion of Passavant. The reader may form his own judgment from the accompanying outline, bearing in mind that much of the drapery belongs to the pencil of a merciless restorer.


Rafaello Sanzi di Anni Sei nato il dì 6 apr. 1483 Sanzi Padre dipinse

Gio. Sanzi pinx. L. Ceroni sculp.


From a picture once in the possession of James Dennistoun

Such was the father to whom there was born at Urbino,-220- on the 6th of April, 1483,[*166] a son Raffaele[167]; the superiority of whose qualities to those of preceding artists, and to ordinary men, has been acknowledged in several languages by the epithet "divine." Although ever the object of pride and popularity to all Italy, the incidents of his life have, until of late years, been comparatively neglected, and more ample justice has been rendered to his fame by ultramontane than by native biographers. Vasari's narrative, though compiled with more than his usual pains, and lavish in laudatory epithets, is far from satisfactory. Its author was the partial historian of a rival school, the favourite pupil of its jealous head. As a Florentine, moreover, he was bound by Italian usage to keep in shadow the merits of all "foreign" competitors and teachers. Raffaele he never saw, whose best pupils had left Rome ere Vasari visited the eternal city: with his Apennine home, its records and memorials, the latter had probably no per-221-sonal acquaintance. While, therefore, we own our obligations to the writer of Arezzo for many important facts and valuable criticisms, we feel surprised that during above two centuries no attempt was made to supplement his obvious deficiencies.




After the portrait by himself in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Another meagre life of Raffaele, composed soon after his death, and upon which Vasari seems to have drawn largely, was published by Comolli in 1790, from an anonymous MS.

It may be well to preface these observations by borrowing a passage of equal aptness and eloquence from an able review of Passavant's work.[168]

"We may doubt whether in the whole range of modern history, or within the compass of modern Europe, one moment or one spot could be found more singularly propitious than those which glory in Raffaele's birth. He was happy in his parentage and in his patrons, in his master and in his pupils, in his friends and in his rivals: the first misfortune of his life was its rapid and untimely close. He was late enough to profit by the example, early enough to feel the living influence of four of the greatest masters of his art, of Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Giorgione, and Fra Bartolomeo. The art of painting in oil had been introduced into Italy barely half a century before his birth; its technical difficulties were already mastered, but it still awaited a master's hand to develop its latent capabilities. His short life included the Augustan age of papal Rome, the age of its splendour and magnificence, if not of its power, and he died almost before the far-off sound of the rising storm had broken the religious calm, or foretold the coming miseries of Italy. The two pontiffs whom he served out-shone the most illustrious of their predecessors in their luxurious tastes and lavish patronage of the fine arts; and these arts still served the Church, not only with the grateful zeal of favoured-222- children, but with the earnest devotion of undoubting faith.... In the age of Raffaele, while the rich and often graceful legends of the Catholic mythology still retained their ancient hold on the popular belief, the growing taste among the learned of the day for the literature and philosophy of ancient Greece had done much, by softening their early rudeness ere it chilled their early feeling, to mould them to the higher purposes of art. Christian art too, relinquishing at last her long attachment to traditional types and conventional treatment, was willing to exchange a fruitless opposition to the graces and beauties of ancient art, for a bold attempt to enlist them in her service."

In truth, when we examine the character and the times of those men who have left the stamp of their genius most deeply on the mind or destinies of mankind, we generally find a providential adaptation of the one to the other. So was it with the greatest masters of art. Had Michael Angelo appeared a century sooner, he would have found the public unprepared, by a gradual advance of naturalism, for the revolution which he was destined to bring about. They would have seen in him the terrible, without perceiving how much truth accompanied it. Deprived of the sympathy and encouragement which no wayward spirit ever more demanded, he would have failed to achieve the marvellous, and might have perhaps scarcely risen above the monstrous. Leonardo da Vinci could, in any epoch, have given sweet or intellectual qualities to beautifully moulded features, but instead of enlightening the world upon the theory and practice of his art, and developing the infant powers of mathematical engineering, he might in an earlier age have been an alchymist, in a later one the improver of spinning-jennies. Titian, who would have been cramped by the lessons of a Crivelli, grew to manhood ere the league of Cambray had curbed the golden coursers of St. Mark's; and thus he formed-223- his beau-ideal of noble bearing ere the subjects for his pencil had ceased to be the arbiters of Italy, the merchant-princes of the world. A mind such as Raffaele's, would in all circumstances have found or created materials of beauty. He might have been the purest of devotional painters in the days of Giotto, a reformer of corrupted taste in those of Bernini; but, placed on the confines of the old manner and the new, it was his proud distinction to perfect them both.

Our antecedent remarks on the Umbrian masters have afforded us data for ascertaining the state of painting in the duchy at the advent of Raffaele. There were, indeed, few pictures within its bounds upon which the youthful aspirant might form an exalted style, but in his father he possessed an instructor competent to point out all that was worthy of study among contemporary limners, as well as to initiate him in the mechanism of his profession.[169] Too early was he deprived of this advantage,[*170] but not before he had been the companion of his parent's labours. Whilst we refuse to even his precocious genius the credit of working upon the fresco at Cagli,[171] the introduction of his portrait into it proves that he witnessed its progress. It was perhaps on similar opportunities that he imbibed, before the beautiful Madonnas of Romita and Forano, those purely devotional inspirations which are believed to have influenced his earlier and happier creations.[172]

With a mind thus prepared, and with the encouraging example of the Feltrian court, where talent and genius were sure passports to patronage and distinction, he was sent to study at Perugia soon after his father's death. This bereavement, which clouded his domestic peace not less than his artistic prospects, occurred in 1494, and was immediately followed by the loss of his maternal grand-224-father and grandmother, leaving him in the hands of a selfish and litigious stepmother. At this juncture, his guardian and paternal uncle Bartolomeo judiciously selected as a master for him Pietro Vannucci, called Perugino,[*173] the tender melancholy of whose candid and unimpassioned countenances contradict Vasari's wanton libels on his fair name, not less than a motto on his self-limned portrait, first noted by Mr. Ruskin, which indicates his belief that the fear of God is the foundation of artistic excellence.[*174] Whatever difference of opinion regarding the merits of that painter may have originated in the occasional inequality of the works attributed to him, no contemporary sent forth more scholars of excellence, or so faithfully maintained the integrity of Christian sentiment against ever increasing innovations. Unfortunately we are possessed of no authentic particulars regarding the interval which young Sanzio spent in a studio so congenial to his nature, or the paintings in which he had a hand; and thus those years most important to the formation of his character and style are a blank in his biography.[*175] At Perugia and elsewhere there are a few devotional pictures ascribed to him, by tradition or as signed with his initials; but even were their authenticity less doubtful, their insignificance and entire conformity to the type of Perugino would almost remove them from-225- criticism. The admitted fact that Pinturicchio, a man of high genius, and about thirty years his senior, had recourse to the beardless Raffaele for designs, when employed to paint the cathedral-library at Siena, establishes thus early the two leading features of his after life, supereminent ability and conciliatory manners; and two of these drawings remain to prove how superior were the conceptions of the boy, to the execution of his matured comrade, excellent as that beyond all question is. He probably attended Perugino to Fano in 1497, when painting those lovely altar-pieces in S. Maria Nuova, which yield to no other production of his placid and expressive pencil, although we can scarcely accept a tradition which ascribes to the pupil some Madonna groups in the predella, upon the ground of their excelling his master's capacity.




After the picture by Giovanni Santi, in the Pinacoteca of Urbino

Raffaele is supposed to have returned in 1499 to a home where he found few attractions. The moment was unpropitious for attracting the ducal patronage. Guidobaldo had retired from the Bibbiena campaign invalided and dispirited; the descent of French armies upon Italy banished from his thoughts the congenial pursuits of peace, and he repaired to Venice to take part in the coming strife. There was little inducement for the young Sanzio to establish himself at the board of an ungracious stepmother, so he set forth to try his fortunes at the neighbouring capital of Vitelli, and Città di Castello was enriched by the first works undertaken on his own account. One of these, S. Nicolò di Tolentino crowned by the Madonna, has disappeared in the rapine of the French revolutionary invasion; but another altar-picture of the Crucifixion, lately obtained from the Fesch Gallery by Lord Ward, enables us to appreciate this artist's extraordinary promise. But for the name Raphael Urbinas, this would probably be ranked with the works of Perugino in which he was assisted by his pupil; and such as best know the paintings of that master at his happiest-226- moment, can most appreciate the compliment of classing with them the unaided though imitative efforts of a lad of seventeen. The Sposalizio of the Madonna, abstracted from Città di Castello by the French, and now at Milan, is of four years later date, being marked 1504; but it was little more than a repetition of a similar work of his master, which, during the same havoc, was carried across the Alps, and remains at Caen in Normandy.[*176] The only specimen of his pencil still in the city which was the cradle of his fame, is a processional standard of the confraternita de' giustiziati in Trinity Church, representing on its two sides the Trinity with Christ on the Cross, and the Creation of Eve.[*177] Though a mere wreck, it shows a novelty of composition and a delicacy of execution already distinguishing him from the manner of Perugino.

The fame of these maiden efforts spread along the valley of the Tiber, and the novice was soon recalled to Perugia, to paint for the Oddi family an altar-piece of the Coronation of the Madonna, now with its predella in the Vatican Gallery. In rich and varied composition, it excels all antecedent representations of this favourite Umbrian theme, and establishes a decided advance beyond the standard of beauty adopted by Perugino. Now, too, he began his wonderful series of small devotional pictures, embodying the Madonna in conceptions of beauty which none other but the sainted limner of Fiesole has ever approached. On this his first emancipation from Umbria, he became acquainted with the classicism and naturalism then revolutionising art. At Siena, his perception of beauty was gratified by an exquisite Grecian statuary group of the Graces, which he transferred to his tablets, and afterwards reproduced-227- in a picture. Tempted by the proximity of Florence, he seems to have then glanced at, rather than examined, those new elements which Masaccio and Verocchio had introduced, and which a host of able masters were enthusiastically developing.[178]

Ecce Homo



From the picture by Giovanni Santi in the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino

The miserable state of his native duchy, as well as his many professional engagements, fully accounts for his prolonged absence from it; but a better state of things was now restored, of which he hastened to avail himself. He reached Urbino in 1504, before midsummer of which year, the Duke had returned to enjoy a tranquil home, for the first time during above two years. The visit was well timed, and fraught with important results to the young painter, for, besides sharing his sovereign's patronage, he became known to his sister, widow of the Lord Prefect, and to her son, who was about that time formally adopted as the future Lord of Urbino. The accession of Julius II., uncle to this youth, and his partiality to art, opened up a wide field of promise to one thus favourably introduced to the Pope's nearest relatives. But these dazzling prospects, and the charms of a cultivated court, were postponed to that professional improvement for which he thirsted; and, after executing some minor commissions for Guidobaldo, the young Sanzio hastened back to the banks of the Arno, where the muse of painting was rewarding the worship of her ardent and talented votaries with revelations of high art rarely before or since vouchsafed. The favour he had already earned from the Prefectress is testified by the following recommendation, which he received from her on setting out.


"To the magnificent and lofty Lord, regarded with filial respect, the Lord Gonfaloniere of Justice of the distinguished republic of Florence.[179]

"Magnificent and lofty Lord, respected as a father! The bearer hereof will be Raffaele, painter of Urbino, who, having a fine genius for his profession, has resolved to stay some time at Florence for study. And knowing his father to be very talented, and to possess my particular regard, and the son to be a judicious and amiable youth, I in every way love him greatly, and desire his attainment in good proficiency. I therefore recommend him to your Lordship, in the strongest manner possible, praying you, as you love me, that you will please to afford him every assistance and favour that he may chance to require; and whatever such aids and obligations he may receive from your Lordship, I shall esteem as bestowed on myself, and as meriting my special gratitude. I commend myself to your Lordship.

"From Urbino, 1st October, 1504.

"Joanna Feltria de Ruvere,
Ducissa Soræ et Urbis Prefectissa."

This letter probably obtained him more civility than substantial benefit; as his various Florentine works attributed to this period were commissioned by private parties. Among these was Taddeo Taddei, correspondent of Bembo, and a well known friend of letters, for whom he painted the Madonna del Cardellino and another Holy Family, and of whose hospitalities and many favours he expresses a deep sense, in recommending him to his uncle's good offices at Urbino, whither the Florentine probably repaired to visit its famed court. Other kind-229- friends and patrons were Lorenzo Nasi and Angelo Doni; but his chief object seems to have been the society and instructions of the best painters, which the acquaintance of his early master Perugino with Florence, as well as his own winning manners, must have facilitated. Leonardo da Vinci, whom Giovanni Sanzi couples with Perugino, as

"Two youths of equal years and equal love,"

was then at the height of his fame, and in direct competition with Michael Angelo, the eventual rival of Raffaele, whose energetic genius was already striding forward on his ambitious career. Fra Bartolomeo was adapting their new and advanced style to the devotional feeling which hung around his cloister in the frescoes of Beato Angelico. Domenico Ghirlandaio was dead, but his mantle had fallen on a son Ridolfo, whom the young Sanzio selected as his favourite associate, to the mutual advantage of both. In such companionship did Raffaele study the grand creations of preceding painters; borrowing from them, or from living artists, ideas and expedients which his fertile genius reproduced with original embellishments. The influence of Da Vinci may be distinctly detected on some of his Madonnas and portraits of this period,—that of the Dominican monk on others, and on his general colouring; but the fresco of the former at S. Onofrio, and many works of the latter, prove that they reciprocated the obligation, by freely adopting his design. Early prepossessions as yet kept him exempt from the contagion of mythological compositions; but in portraiture he found a new and interesting field, and several admirable heads, produced at Florence, attest his great success, as a naturalist of the most elevated caste.




After the picture by Timoteo Viti in the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino

In an æsthetic view, the paintings and drawings executed by Raffaele at Florence are of infinite importance, but it would lead us much too far to examine the progressive development and naturalist tendencies which they display.-230- We have not attempted to separate his various residences there from 1504 to 1508; for during these three years and a half, that city may be regarded as his head-quarters, varied by visits to Perugia, Bologna, and Urbino, which we shall now notice. In 1505, he was summoned to the first of these cities to execute three altar-pictures; one of which, at Blenheim, has been beautifully engraved by Gruner[*180]; another adorns the Museo Borbonico; the third, representing the coronation of the Madonna, is in the Vatican. Of the last commission some curious particulars are preserved. The nuns of Monte Luce having selected the young Sanzio, on the report of several citizens and reverend fathers, who had seen his performances, agreed to give him for the picture 120 golden ducats, and to another artist, Berto, 80 more for the carved framework and cornice, including three predella subjects; 30 ducats of the price being paid in advance. Raffaele's impatience to return to his studies soon carried him again to Florence, and a new contract for execution of the work was made in 1516; but death had removed both the abbess and the artist ere it was fulfilled, and ten years more elapsed before the picture was terminated by his pupils. The earliest attempt of Raffaele upon fresco, in the church of S. Severo, at Perugia, is dated 1505; its chief interest arises from being a first and incompleted idea of the grand composition which, originating with Orcagna and Fra Angelico, he developed in the Disputa of the Vatican Stanze. Two years later he revisited Perugia, to paint for the Baglioni one of his noblest and most elaborate altar-pictures, which, indeed, may be regarded as his first important dramatic composition. Its subject was the Entombment; the many extant sketches for which, prove the care exercised upon the cartoon, which he prepared at Florence. It is now the chef-d'œuvre of the Borghese Gallery, and its beautifully pure predella-231- is preserved in the Vatican. The same subject was treated by Perugino, in, perhaps, the finest of his panel pictures, which now ornaments the Pitti Gallery.




After the picture by Raphael called La Donna Velata in the Pitti Gallery, Florence

We shall not discuss whether Raffaele's acquaintance with Francia was formed by correspondence, or during a visit to Bologna, but one letter addressed by him to that charming artist is preserved, referring to much previous intercourse, and to a friendly interchange of drawings, and of their respective portraits. Their works, at all events, were mutually well known to each other, partly no doubt through Timoteo Viti, the pupil of both. It is worthy of note that Sanzio, writing to this friend after quitting Florence, the hotbed of classicism and naturalism, commends his Madonnas as "unsurpassed in beauty, in devotion, or in execution," thus showing the comparative value he attached to these respective excellences, among which "truth to nature," the favourite test of Vasari and later critics, has no place; and it is only when he comes to speak of the artist's own portrait, that he lauds it as "most beautiful, and life-like even to deception." It was this common sentiment that linked these master-minds: Raffaele was in the main a devotional painter, Francia was almost exclusively so.

The year 1506 was momentous to Urbino. In the spring Guidobaldo returned, after a long absence from his capital, occasioned by pressing solicitations of his brother-in-law the Pope, that he would remain near him. The following autumn brought the Pontiff in person to visit his relation, at whose court his Holiness spent four days. During part of this year, Raffaele is supposed by Passavant to have resided in his native city, and possibly he may there have been presented to Julius; at all events he must have become known to several members of the polished circle at Urbino, whose acquaintance ere long proved useful and honourable to him at Rome, and who were able to forward his interests, both with that Pope-232- and his successor. Such were Giuliano de' Medici, Castiglione, Bembo, and the Cardinal Bibbiena, while the high tone of intellect and taste, which prevailed in that select society, was calculated to improve as well as gratify his noble nature. Nor was his pencil idle in the Duke's service. Our information does not enable us absolutely to decide what of his Urbino works were produced on this occasion, and which of them are referable to his former visit, but we willingly adopt Passavant's classification of the pictures he is supposed to have painted for Guidobaldo, the first three being ascribed by that author to the year 1504.

1. Christ in the Garden, with three disciples sleeping in the distance, No. VIII. of Passavant's Engravings, a Peruginesque picture, "of miniature finish" as described by Vasari, before whose time it had passed to the Camaldolese Convent at Urbino, having been gifted by Duchess Leonora to two members of that fraternity at her son's baptism. Long subsequently, a prior of the Gabrielli is said to have alienated it to his own family; and in 1844 it was purchased from the Roman prince of that name by Mr. William Coninghame, at the sale of whose interesting collection in 1849, it was acquired by Mr. Fuller Maitland of Stansted in Essex.

2. and 3. Two small pictures which, unless commissioned as ex voto offerings, belong rather to the class of romantic than devotional compositions. They represent St. George and St. Michael subduing their respective monsters, allegories of their triumphs over sin. The former of these is supposed to have been executed for Guidobaldo, and presented by him to the French King, by whom the latter was ordered as its companion. Both remain in the Louvre.

4. Another St. George slaying the Dragon with a lance, while the former one uses a sword. This picture, signed on the horse trappings Raphello V., is of especial-233- interest to our countrymen, the Knight's knee being encircled by the Garter of England, as patron of that order: it was painted by the Duke's command in commemoration of his receiving this distinction; and in all probability was carried as a present to Henry VII. by Castiglione, in 1506, when he went to London as proxy at his master's installation. There it graced the palace of the Tudors and Stuarts until sold for £150 by the Commonwealth to Lord Pembroke. It was subsequently purchased by Catherine of Russia from the Crozat Collection, in which it is engraved.




After the spoiled picture by Raphael in the Galleria Barberini in Rome

5. and 6. Two easel pictures of the Madonna, stated by Vasari to have been commissioned for the Duke of Urbino, are traced by Passavant to the Imperial Gallery at St. Petersburg, and to M. Nieuwenhuys of Brussels.

7. The portrait of Raffaele by himself, now in the Florence Gallery, is understood to have been executed at Urbino in 1506, whence it was carried to Rome by Federigo Zucchero, and placed in the academy of St. Luke, until obtained thence by the influence and gold of Cardinal Lorenzo de' Medici. Passavant considers that the hair and eyes have been darkened by restorations, and corrects a mistake of the Canonico Crespi, who has occasioned some confusion by mistaking an old copy of it still in the Albani Palace at Urbino for a fresco, and by writing to Bottari in 1760 as if he had there discovered an original likeness of Sanzio.[*181]

The Holy Family and St. John in the Ellesmere Collection, called the Madonna del Passeggio, is alleged to have been presented by a duke of Urbino to Philip II., and by him to the Emperor. Thence it is traced through Queen Christina to the Odescalchi and Orleans Galleries. Passavant appears to consider the Penshanger Madonna to have also been painted in the duchy. To the same period are ascribed missing portraits by Sanzio of Duke Guido-234-baldo I. and his Duchess, as well as of Bembo, Giuliano de' Medici, and others of their court.

Though somewhat out of chronological order, we may here mention the portrait of a duke of Urbino, with those of Julius II., and a Magdalene, all said to have been from his easel, and to have belonged to the ducal family, particulars of which will be found in the list of Urbino pictures in the Appendix to our third volume. It, however, seems doubtful if he ever did portray either of his successive legitimate sovereigns; but a half-length of Lorenzo de' Medici, the usurping Duke, was purchased in Florence by the late M. Fabre about twenty-five years ago, and is now in the museum bequeathed by him to Montpellier. It is ascribed to Raffaele, and there is a good copy of it in the hall of Baroccio at the Uffizi of Florence. We have not connected any other works of his with Urbino, which, after the visit of 1506, he was not destined again to see.

Writing from Florence to his maternal uncle, on the 21st of April, 1508, he expresses his regrets for the recent death of Guidobaldo, in brief and somewhat common-place terms; and, passing to other matters, begs that the Duke's nephew and heir may be requested to recommend by letter his services to the Gonfaloniere, for employment on some frescoes then in contemplation at Florence. He desires that the favour may be asked in his own name, as essentially advantageous to his views, specially commending himself to the young Prefect as an old servant and follower. Yet it would seem that he had already made for himself a better title to such patronage, in a mural painting of the Last Supper in the refectory of S. Onofrio. The recent discovery of this precious work, after centuries of oblivion, restores to him the credit of his most important Tuscan production, and adds another to the many attractions of Florence.[*182]



Raffaele is called to Rome, and employed upon the Stanze—His frescoes there—His other works—Change in his manner—Compared with Michael Angelo—His death, character, and style.

THE letter alluded to at the close of our preceding chapter may be regarded as the matured result of Raffaele's careful study of the Tuscan masters, and an index of his resolution to rival the admired cartoons which had recently placed Da Vinci and Buonarroti at the head of living artists. Another scene was, however, reserved for his triumphs. Julius II. had begun to construct the metropolitan church and palace of Christendom with an energy befitting his character and the undertaking. Michael Angelo and Bramante were already in his service, and he sought to enlist talent and genius from all quarters for this object. The friendly influence of the ducal family, the recommendations of Bramante, or his own extending fame, possibly an acquaintance formed with him at Urbino in 1506, may have suggested Raffaele as a worthy associate in the work. On the Pope's summons he abandoned his projects at Florence early in the autumn of 1508, and, leaving several pictures to be finished by his worthy follower Ridolfo Ghirlandaio,

To the great city, an emporium then
Of golden expectations, and receiving
Freights every day from a new world of hope."

The tower of Borgia, named from Alexander VI., was at that period the pontifical residence, and on its decora-236-tion the best artists had been successfully employed. The lower story was terminated under Alexander by Pinturicchio and his pupils; the upper had already engaged the hands of Piero della Francesca, Signorelli, and Perugino, but several of its compartments remained unpainted. One of these was assigned to Raffaele, and so gratifying was his success that the Pope, with headlong and unhappy haste, ordered all the finished frescoes of the upper suite to be demolished, and the four rooms of which it consisted to be delivered over to his unfettered discretion. This lamentable precipitancy effaced many works of inestimable importance to art, and condemned the noblest productions of pictorial genius to walls in every respect ill-adapted for their reception. The frescoes now occupying these stanze are to Italian painting what the Divina Commedia of Dante is to Italian poetry: the lovers of both, in despair of imitating their excellences, have expended their enthusiastic admiration in volumes of illustrative criticism. These compositions of Raffaele form a magnificent epic in which are strikingly interwoven the endowments of human intellect, the doctrines of Catholic faith, and the incidents of ecclesiastical history, all as conducing to the triumphs of the Christian church.

The four rooms may be regarded as four books, each subdivided into as many themes or cantos. In the Camera della Segnatura, the ceiling presents allegorical figures of Poetry, Jurisprudence, Philosophy, and Theology, with a large composition on the side walls corresponding to each. For Poetry we have Mount Parnassus, with Apollo and the Muses on its laurel-clustered summit, surrounded by the most famous bards and minstrels. Jurisprudence is a severely simple group, consisting of Prudence, Temperance, and Fortitude, the virtues by which justice is promoted on earth; while the text-books of Roman and Canon law are issued by Justinian and Gregory IX., in subsidiary panels. Philosophy is em-237-bodied in the famous School of Athens, as it has been incorrectly named, where fifty figures, attending a scholastic disputation between Plato and Aristotle, include the noblest names of ancient science, the selection of whom displays extraordinary knowledge of the history of mind. Theology, generally called the Disputa del Sacramento, is divided into two scenes. Seated in the heavens amid an angelic choir, the Holy Trinity is surrounded by the Madonna, the Precursor, and a glorified assemblage of patriarchs, prophets, and warriors of the Old Testament; apostles, evangelists, and martyrs of the New Dispensation. Below, the fathers of the Church and its most eminent divines expound to an audience of distinguished personages the mysteries of faith, which are symbolised by the Eucharist exposed upon an elevated altar in token of man's redemption.

The stanza called that of Heliodorus has on the roof four signal manifestations of himself by the Almighty to the patriarchs. The first mural compartment represents the holiest mystery of the Romish faith established in the Miracle of Bolsena, whereby a doubting priest was supernaturally convinced of the divine presence in transubstantiation. Opposite is the miraculous deliverance from prison of St. Peter, the founder of the Romish Church; and the two corresponding subjects illustrate the power committed to his successors for arresting the invasion of pagan force personified in Attila, and for cleansing from the temple of Christ its sacrilegious plunderers, with Heliodorus at their head.

Having thus illustrated the divine origin of man's chief faculties, and of ecclesiastical authority, Raffaele in the two remaining rooms exchanged allegory for historical delineation. That called the Stanza del Incendio shows us the Coronation of Charlemagne by Leo III., and the justification of that Pontiff on oath in presence of the same Emperor; the Victory of Leo IV. over the Saracens-238- at Ostia, and his supernaturally staying a conflagration which threatened the basilicon of St. Peter,—a theme belonging rather to the category of the second room. The ceiling here, having been executed by Perugino, and reverently spared by Raffaele from the sweeping sentence of Julius, has no immediate bearing upon these subjects, though full of fervid feeling.

The last and largest of the suite is called the Hall of Constantine, whose religious history is there delineated in four leading scenes: his Baptism, by St. Silvester; his Vision of the Cross before Battle; his Victory over Maxentius at the Ponte Milvio; and his Donation of Rome and its temporalities to the successors of St. Peter. The roof, of posterior date and far inferior merit, has nothing to do with Raffaele's creations.

This meagre outline may indicate the leading theme of these the grandest compositions of modern art; but to form an idea of their difficulties, of the varied and profound knowledge they display, of the many noble episodes they embrace, and of all the interesting portraits they embody, demands no brief or light study, no ordinary learning or accomplishment. Nor is it easy to appreciate their technical merits or artistic beauties, vast as is their extent, with baffling and insufficient cross-lights, and a surface considerably impaired. Hence the general disappointment felt by casual and superficial visitors, and the superior gratification afforded by good engravings of the series. In these, and in the not less perfect tapestry-cartoons which it is the privilege of our country to possess, may be appreciated Raffaele's unity of composition, his symmetrical and unostentatious design, his full contours and flowing lines, and the earnest but unaffected sensibility which distinguishes his transcendent works.

That the whole sixteen mural paintings and two of the ceilings were designed by Raffaele is beyond question; the portions executed by himself, and those assigned to-239- his pupils, are matter of keen controversy, upon which we need not enter. It is, however, agreed that the Camera della Segnatura, and half that of Heliodorus, belong to the reign of Julius, whilst the Stanza del Incendio was painted under Leo X., when Sanzio's manifold employments and commissions obliged him to entrust too much to his scholars. Of the Sala di Costantino only two figures, painted in oil as an experiment, had been finished when premature death closed his career of glory. The price allowed for each fresco seems to have been about 1200 ducats of gold.[183] Theology, the earliest of the series, painted immediately on his arrival at Rome, has most of the freshness and devotional sentiment of his early genius and Umbrian education. It and the Philosophy are most pregnant with abstruse scholarship, drawn in part from the learned companionship of Duke Guidobaldo's court. The glowing and harmonious colouring of the Heliodorus, and Miracle of Bolsena fully equals any known production of Venetian art; and in the Incendio, the Heliodorus, and the Battle of Maxentius, we have the energy and vigour of Michael Angelo, without his exaggerations. In all may be seen the vast stride he had made from the timid Cenacolo at Florence, while his transition from Peruginesque hatching to a full and free streak, and a bold handling, is particularly traceable in the Disputa, which Passavant justly characterises as surpassing every antecedent effort of pictorial art.

The death of Julius II. in 1513, eventually proved nowise detrimental to Raffaele's advancement; for the new Pope not only followed out those decorations which he found in progress at the Vatican, but soon made new calls upon their artist, whose labours during the remaining seven years of his short span appear almost beyond belief. Of the Stanze, ten new subjects were composed, and-240- several of them in part executed by him in that time, besides the architecture and all the elaborate decoration of the Loggie, the finished cartoons for twelve or thirteen large tapestries, the decorations of the Farnesina, Bibbiena, Lante, Madama, and Magliana villas, the frescoes of Sta. Maria della Pace, the Chigi Chapel in Sta. Maria del Popolo, a variety of altar and cabinet pictures, including his Madonnas of San Sisto and del Pesce, the Sta. Cecilia, and, last but most glorious of all, the Transfiguration; besides numerous portraits, and many drawings for the burin of Marcantonio. Add to this a journey to Florence in 1514, his architectural designs for several palaces there and at Rome, a general superintendence of the antiquities in and around the Eternal City, and the principal charge of the building of St. Peter's, at a yearly salary of 300 scudi.

The necessary results of thus over-taxing mind and body was prejudicial to the quality of the works, and to the constitution of their author. His paintings, left in a great measure to pupils, often showed a hurried and inferior execution, ill compensated by the broader treatment which he was forced to adopt. The metropolitan fabric, itself an ample occupation for the highest genius and constant industry of one man, languished under inadequate superintendence. The delicate frame of Raffaele, exhausted by mental fatigue, was incapable of resisting the first attack of disease.

But brief and utterly imperfect as this sketch has hitherto been, we must now greatly curtail it, and pass by many of his most glorious undertakings, to touch upon one or two general views.




After the picture by Raphael, once in the Ducal Collection at Urbino, now in the Brera, Milan

The devotional influences of the Umbrian school, from which Raffaele must have imbibed his youthful impressions, were reproduced in his juvenile works under forms of loveliness new to that mountain land. His visits to Florence offered fresh inspirations, and taught him to-241- ingraft upon the conventionalities of Christian art, whatever his keen sense of beauty could cull from the creations of beneficent Nature. But he painted her and all her works,

"Not as they are, but as they ought to be;"

nothing mean or debasing found a place in his inventions, and homely accessories were either refined or thrown into shade. On the banks of the Arno he became acquainted with another class of elegant forms, wherein the ancients had developed a beau-ideal, faultless in its external qualities, but alien to religious sentiment. The reaction against paganism, which Savonarola's eloquence had effected in the Tuscan capital, contributed perhaps to save Raffaele from this snare; but at the court of Rome, and more especially under the Medicean Leo, the temptation became too strong. Before the twofold seduction of incarnate beauty and classic forms, the types of his pristine admiration were gradually effaced, and his fidelity to them waxed faint. After elevating Christian painting to its culminating point, he lent himself unwittingly to its degradation, by selecting depraved loveliness equally for a Madonna or a Venus, by designing from it indiscriminately a Galatea or a saint. True, that what he lost in purity is, in the opinion of many, more than counterbalanced by his progress towards breadth and vigour; but without entering upon so wide an element of controversy, we may note the fact that, though all his pupils boldly followed that "new manner," their career was one of rapid descent, and that those who departed most widely from their master's purest conceptions have obtained least admiration from posterity.

Yet we must in a great measure acquit Raffaele of participating in the corruption which he shrank from combating. No work of depraved taste or immoral tendency has been brought home to his pencil, though the dissolute habits of his age readily applauded such liber-242-tinism in Giulio Romano, Titian, and Correggio. As to the long current statement, that his premature death was a well-earned result of vicious indulgences, the evidence, when sifted by recent research, entitles him to at least a negative verdict. No contemporary testimony gives the slightest countenance to the charge. It originated in a vague and random sentence of a commentator upon Ariosto, wherein four assertions out of six are palpably unfounded, and its gossiping character procured it a too ready admission from Vasari. The pure character of his works meets it with an effectual contradiction, on which those who best understand physiological conformation will most implicitly rely:—

"Love is too earthly, sensual for his dream;
He looks beyond it with his spirit eyes."

Another allegation remains to be examined, more detrimental to the artist, though less so to the man. During his progress through various styles, and in the composition of many works, Raffaele is said to have freely appropriated the ideas of others. There can scarcely be a doubt that his Graces were suggested by the antique marble at Siena; that several noble conceptions were transferred by him from the Carmine to the Vatican; that a group in the Incendio del Borgo was borrowed from Virgil's Trojan epic; that the arabesques of the Loggie were partly taken from the thermal corridors of Titus; and that other still more curious resemblances have been detected by an acute writer to whom we have already referred.[184] But such appropriations were established by authoritative precedents, from the conventionalities of Christian painting to the plagiarisms of Michael Angelo. The right to repeat themselves or others was recognised, though men of high genius rarely stooped to its absolute exercise. Raffaele,—"always imitating, always original," if we follow Sir-243- Joshua's not unbiased strictures,—will accordingly be found, on closer examination, to have adapted rather than adopted the thoughts of others. Like the busy bee, culling sweets from every flower, he separated the honey from the wax, and reproduced, in new shapes and varied combinations, whatever of beauty he met with in nature or art. We may add another dictum of Sir Joshua,—"his known wealth was so great, that he might borrow where he pleased without loss of credit." These considerations seem fairly applicable to the influence exercised by Michael Angelo upon a few works of Sanzio. But if not the canon of criticism must be impartially administered. When the vigour of Buonarroti is adjudged to have been filched from Signorelli, his stalwart anatomy acknowledged as the legacy of Pollaiuolo; when Domenichino stands arraigned for transferring to his chef-d'œuvre, the communion of St. Jerome, the exact motive and theme of his master, Ludovico Caracci's canvas in the Pinacoteca at Bologna, it will be time to admit Reynolds's proposition, that "it is to Michael Angelo we owe even the existence of Raffaele, and that to him Raffaele owes the grandeur of his style." Sanzio, in truth, shrank not from competing with whatever he deemed worthy of emulation. But his was a fair and friendly rivalry, however little its spirit was understood or reciprocated by the wayward and overbearing Florentine, whose charge against Raffaele and Bramante of undermining him with Julius II., adduced in an idle letter, is not only contradicted by the character of these great men, but it is palpably improbable. To their influence, Buonarroti ascribes the suspension of that Pontiff's tomb, regarding which we shall have much to say in our fifty-third chapter. But as neither of them were sculptors, and as the Florentine was not yet known to the Pope, either as an architect or a painter, such jealousy would have been absurd; whilst the taunt of Sanzio's owing all he knew of art to Michael Angelo can only be regarded as the-244- petty ebullition of a notoriously wayward temper. The employment of the latter upon the huge bronze statue of his Holiness at Bologna, was the real reason for the interruption of the monument, which it was reserved for Duke Francesco Maria I. to have completed.

Between these great masters no parallel can be fairly drawn, and had they wrought in the same town they would seldom have been placed in rivalry. But belonging to different states, and heading the antagonist schools of Rome and Florence, the sectional spirit of Italy has placed them in contrast, and has adopted their names as watchwords of local jealousy. In truth, Raffaele's advancement in anatomical accuracy was a necessary consequence of the growing naturalism of his time; and the improvement could not fail to develop the breadth of his pencil, as well as to enlarge the sphere of his compositions. The absolute amelioration of his works, after he settled at Rome, was therefore inevitable from the spirit of the age acting upon a genius not yet matured. That spirit Michael Angelo exaggerated rather than embodied; and to the purer taste of his rival many of his productions must have been beacons rather than models. There is, indeed, some truth, with much malice, in the sarcasm of Pietro Aretino, that the former painted porters, the latter gentlemen. Induced, perhaps, by some such idle sneer, Raffaele executed his Isaiah, to prove that the new manner was not beyond his grasp; but this, his first, and fortunately his last work, in which a direct imitation of the terrible Florentine is discernible, is now the least admired of his mural paintings; and some portion of its Michael Angelesque character has even been attributed to the after-restorations of Daniele di Volterra. The Poetry in the Stanze and the frescoes in the church of La Pace, which he has been supposed to have borrowed from the same source, are traced by more recent critics to works of Andrea l'Ingegno at Perugia and Assisi. After these observations, it is scarcely-245- requisite to notice the remark of Vasari regarding the opportunity stealthily afforded to Raffaele by Bramante for plagiarising from his rival's gigantic creations on the roof of the Cappella Sistina. The casual manner in which the allusion is made does not warrant its being taken up, as it has been, in the light of a charge against the honour both of Sanzio and his friend; and even had it been so intended by the Florentine, various circumstances, besides the high character of those inculpated, are sufficient to negative the charge. If Raffaele followed Buonarroti's manner, it must be admitted that he alone did so without thereby deteriorating his own. Nor ought we to forget that most critics by whom this question is handled have merely repeated the loose views of the biographer of Arezzo, whose great aim it was to prove that the excellences of Sanzio were all borrowed from his Florentine contemporaries.

The parallel which suggests itself between these gifted competitors[*185] has been thus stated with equal eloquence and truth: "The genius of Michael Angelo differed from that of Raffaele even more in kind than in degree; limited in its object, but intense in its energy, it gloried in the exhibition of its own colossal strength, and looked with contempt on those gentler graces that waited unbidden on the pencil of their favourite worshipper. When the rivals approached, it was by no common movement; Michael Angelo stood aloof on the lofty eminence he had chosen; it was Raffaele alone who dared at times to traverse the wide space that divided them. So great were the difficulties, so bold the attempt, that all his success, rapid and wonderful as it was, would have seemed almost necessary to rescue a character less modest and unassuming than his, from the charge of hardihood and-246- presumption. With a noble candour he could scarcely have learned from his haughty antagonist, Raffaele was among the first to see, the most prompt to acknowledge, the new grandeur he had given to art.... Even when he rises to the very confines of sublimity, it is still the sublimity of the beautiful; and when Michael Angelo stoops for a brief space to court the aid of beauty, it serves like a transparent veil to soften rather than conceal the native sublimity of his genius.... Michael Angelo, the painter of the old covenant, has embodied his genius in the stern and gigantic forms of Moses and the Prophets; but he failed where Raffaele has shown as signally his skill, in the gentle dignity of the Saviour and the heavenly purity of a mother's love.... In his paintings, as in his character, there appears an unconsciousness of excellence, a consummation of art carried up to the simplicity of nature, that anticipates criticism, and allows us to indulge undisturbed in a fulness of admiration, which grows on the reason long after it has satisfied the heart. In Michael Angelo's best works there is often, on the contrary, somewhat so strange and so studied in gesture and attitude, so evident a design upon our wonder, as almost to provoke us to resistance, and impair the pure magic of the effect by attracting our attention to the cause."[186]

Honoured by the Pontiff and his brilliant court, idolised by a band of enthusiastic pupils, engrossed by distinguished commissions, Raffaele had few thoughts to bestow on his early home. His ties there had become few and feeble. His father's house had entirely failed; his only near relation was a maternal uncle, who retained his warm affection, and scarcely survived him. In writing to that uncle in 1514, to acquaint him with his signal success and augmenting wealth, he desires special commendations to the Duke and Duchess, modestly suggesting-247- that they might be pleased to hear how one of their servants was doing himself honour. Gratifying as his extending reputation must have been to them, we find no trace of special exertions on their part to promote it. Indeed, they had ample occupation on their own concerns, in the revolution which soon after exiled them during the rest of Leo's pontificate.



After the picture by Raphael in the Louvre

One of Raffaele's best patrons was Agostino Chigi, a Sienese banker, who, after a most successful career at Rome, became in the prime of life the millionaire of his day, and who employed his great wealth, and the preponderating influence it gave him with the papal government, in a judicious promotion of art. His commissions to Raffaele include the mural paintings of his chapel in the Madonna della Pace, the architecture, sculpture, and mosaics of his other chapel in the Madonna del Popolo, and the architecture and internal decorations of his urban villa, now the Farnesina. The last has a melancholy interest, from being the latest work which exercised the cares of the illustrious artist. Whilst superintending its frescoes in March, 1520,[187] a summons from the Pope brought him with hurried steps to the Vatican, where, arriving overheated, he was detained in a large and chilly saloon until perspiration was checked. An attack of fever naturally followed, which, advancing to the stage called pernicious, proved too much for his delicate and over-excited frame, especially when still further exhausted by injudicious bleeding, in a belief that the attack was pleurisy. Aware of his danger, he sought support in his hour of need from the ministrations of religion and the rites of his Church. Such is the now received account. The most authentic particulars are contained in a letter, dated from Rome five days after his death.

"About ten o'clock on Good Friday night [April 6th]-248- died Raffaele of Urbino, the most gentle and most eminent painter, to the universal regret of all, but especially of the learned.... Envious death, cutting short his beautiful and laudable undertakings, has torn from us this master, still young, upon his very natal day. The Pope himself indulges in uncontrolled grief, and, during the fifteen days of his illness, sent at least six times to visit and console him.... We have, indeed, been bereaved of one of rare excellence, whose loss every noble spirit ought to bewail and lament, not simply with passing words, but in studied and lasting elegies. He is said to have left 16,000 ducats, including 5000 in cash, to be divided for the most part among his friends and household; the house of Bramante,[188] which he purchased for 3000 ducats, he has given to the Cardinal [Bibbiena] of S. Maria in Portico. He was buried at the Rotonda, whither he was borne by a distinguished cortège. His soul is beyond a doubt gone to contemplate those heavenly mansions where no trouble enters, but his memory and his name will linger long on earth, in his works and in the minds of virtuous men.—Much less loss, in my opinion, though the populace may think otherwise, has the world sustained in the death of Agostino Chigi last night, as to which I say little, not yet having heard of his affairs. I have only learned that, between cash, debts owing to him, securities, alum-mines, real estate, bank capital, appointments, bullion, and jewels, he has left eight millions of golden ducats."

It may be that Raffaele was timeously taken from the evil to come; since death exempted him from witnessing like Michael Angelo, a deluge of mediocrity he would have been powerless to withstand. But the blow was deadened by no such calculation, and seldom have obsequies so pompous been accompanied by grief as universal. By the bier, around which his funeral rites were celebrated, there-249- was hung his great picture of the Transfiguration: the inspired beauty of its upper portion, and the unfinished state of the remainder, most touchingly testified his almost superhuman powers, and their untimely extinction. The place of his sepulture was behind an altar in the Pantheon Church, for the erection and endowment of which he provided by testamentary bequest, and where his bones have of late been reverently but unwarrantably disturbed. This selection appears to have been dictated by the recent interment near the spot of Maria Bibbiena, the grand-niece of his friend the Cardinal, to whom he had been betrothed, and who had lately predeceased him. The little that we know of this engagement is from the painter's own letter to his uncle in 1514; and it would seem to have been sought by the Cardinal rather than by the bridegroom, who appears to have abandoned his matrimonial arrangements to friendly match-makers with more than Italian indifference. The idle tale of his looking to a Cardinal's hat is now set at rest, as well as nearly all the gossip that had long circulated as to his supposed dissolute habits, and his liason with that Roman matron whose ample contours and rich flesh-tints have come down to us on his canvasses, and who, whether his mistress or not (examples of such licence being then almost universal), seems to have been a favourite model in his school.[189]

The same pure taste and feeling for beauty, which characterise the frescoes and pictures of Sanzio, would have raised him to equal excellence in other branches of art. They are visible in his architectural compositions, and in his numerous drawings. The statue of Jonah in the Sta. Maria del Popolo, supposed to have been modelled, if not wrought, by his hand, proves what he might have attained in sculpture. He had no time for literary undertakings,-250- but some sonnets, casually preserved on the back of his sketches, exhibit him as a cultivator of letters. An interesting result of his official charge of the antique monuments remains in an eloquent report to the Pope, in which,

"Rome's ancient genius, o'er its ruins spread,
Shakes off the dust, and rears its reverend head."

Its authorship has given rise to some controversy, and it seems not unlikely that the materials supplied by Raffaele were thrown into shape by his friend Castiglione.

It would be interesting as well as easy to adduce from contemporary pens proofs of the general admiration for his talents, and popularity of his manners. But we close this notice, too brief for the subject, though already exceeding our due limits, with the testimony of his earliest biographer, and of one of his most recent critics. Vasari thus commences his life of Sanzio: "The great bounty which Providence occasionally displays, in heaping upon a single individual an unlimited measure of favours, and all the rare gifts and graces which generally are distributed over a long interval and many characters, may well be seen in Raffaele Sanzio of Urbino. Equally worthy and engaging, he was endowed with a modesty and goodness sometimes united in those who, adding to a certain noble refinement of disposition the attraction of amiable manners, are gracious and pleasing at all times and with all persons. Nature presented him to the world when, already vanquished in art by the hand of Michael Angelo, she wished to be outdone by Raffaele, alike in art and in courtesy. In him she luminously displayed the most singular excellences, conjoined with such diligence, discretion, grace, comeliness, and good breeding, as might have concealed even the greatest blemish, or the most hideous vice. Hence it may safely be asserted, that those who possess such rare qualities as were united in Raffaele of Urbino are not mere human creatures, but rather, if such language be-251- allowable, mortal divinities." Still more eloquent is the passage lamenting his untimely death: "Oh, happy and blessed spirit, every one delights to talk of you, to dwell upon your actions, and to admire every design which you have left. Well might the art of painting die when this her noble child was called away; for when his eyes were closed she was left all but blind. To us, his survivors, it now remains to follow the example of his excellent manner, cherishing in our memory, and testifying by our words, the remembrance due to his worth and our own gratitude. For in truth we have colouring, invention, indeed the whole art brought by him to a perfection hardly to have been looked for; nor need any genius ever think to surpass him." In the words of a writer upon whom we have already drawn:—"Cut down in the flower of his age, and,—like a favoured tree of his own most favoured land, while laden with golden fruit, bearing in still unopened blossoms the promise of a yet brighter future,—he was mourned widely as he was admired, deeply and truly as he had been loved. Young as he was in years, and modest in his bearing, there is a feeling of reverence blended in the fond regret with which even strangers dwell upon his memory, recount his virtues, and seek to read their impress and reflection in his works."[190]

A critical examination of the peculiar merits of Raffaele's pencil, and of the benefits which he brought to art, would lead us further than this sketch will permit: yet there are certain points so apparent even to superficial observers, some qualities so unanimously dwelt upon by his eulogists, that it would be incomplete without a passing notice of them. To him the perception of beauty was a sixth sense, ever in exercise, and applied to the creations of his genius, as well as to his studies from nature. To its test were submitted those traditional forms of devotional art which influenced his early training; it imparted life and move-252-ment to Perugino's so-called monotonous poverty; it modified the dramatic action of the Florentine manner; it caught the full tones of Fra Bartolomeo, and gave dignity to the simper of Leonardo; it showed that anatomical accuracy required no muscular contortions; it realised the grand without verging upon the monstrous; it separated grace from grimace. This was an innate and personal gift, that could neither be taught nor imitated. The elevated character, harmonious composition, correct design, and just colouring which Raffaele stamped upon his school, were manifested in various degrees by his pupils, but the spirit of their master was a boon from nature, which none of them could seize or inherit. There are impetuous and daring minds who delight more in the energy of Michael Angelo's terrible forms; others luxuriate with greater fondness on the mellowed depth of Titian's magic tints; whilst to some the artificial contrasts of Correggio's brilliant lights, and Leonardo's unfathomable chiaroscuri have irresistible charm. These eminent qualities are, however, the separate endowments of four individual minds; but Raffaele, deficient in none of them, possessed, in no less perfection, other more important requisites which we have noticed. It was this happy union that rendered him the unquestioned prince of painters, while the ready obedience of his unerring hand enabled him to realise the pure conceptions of his refined mind with a delicacy and truth which seem to defy imitation.

Yet his sterling merit was undeviating propriety in the conception and execution of his works. Nothing ever emanated from his pencil offensive to religion, morals, or refinement; all that bears his name would honour the most fastidious reputation. To him accordingly there was granted a purity of taste, in none other united to equal genius. It was this that maintained the elevation of his style amid the conflicting difficulties and temptations of that "new manner" which it was his mission to perfect.-253- Thus, although it is in the productions of his second period that we find the beau-ideal most perfectly realised, yet, even his later works, which descend to a closer imitation of nature, seldom fail to invest her with a dignity rare in the external world. In proportion, therefore, as he discovered or adopted the more elaborate resources and processes of his art, his ripening mind supplied him with themes and conceptions worthy of them, and of immortality. The various series of subjects which he invented for the Stanze, the Tapestries, and the Loggie, indicate a grasp of intelligence, a variety of acquirement, never before or since brought into the service of art, and establish beyond question that the intellect of Raffaele fully equalled his taste.[*191]



Timoteo Viti—Bramante—Andrea Mantegna—Gian Bellini—Justus of Ghent—Medals of Urbino.

HAVING thus traced the advance of painting in the duchy of Urbino, from Oderigi da Gubbio, the friend of Dante, to Raffaele Sanzio, its facile princeps, it might be well to pause, and leave its rapid descent under a new dynasty of dukes to be followed in a future portion of our work. Yet there are still some native names, belonging to the better period both by date and by merit. Of these the principal was Timoteo Viti, who was born of reputable parentage in Urbino about 1470, and whose mother Calliope was daughter of Antonio Alberti of Ferrara, by whom the Giottesque manner had been brought to that city. Timoteo was sent to Bologna to profit by the instructions of Francesco Francia, and remained there from 1490 to 1495. The Christian painters of that city had chosen for their Madonnas a peculiar type, which, after being transmitted through several artists, attained its perfection from Francia's pencil. It may be distinctly traced in the best remaining specimen of Lippo Dalmasio, of whom we have already spoken,[192] a lunette in fresco, representing the Madonna and Child between two saints, which is over the door of S. Procul at Bologna. There we find a pensive cast of head gently bent on one side in dreamy contemplation,—the sweetly naïve features, with less indeed of a divine or seraphic expression than we see in those-255- imagined by the Florentine and Sienese masters, but whose look seems to indicate that, though of earth, their owner was not earthy,—though a child of fallen humanity, she had not tasted of actual guilt. Those who know the Madonnas of Francia need not be told that they resemble sinless women more than beautiful beings. Somewhat of the same sentiment may be traced in the earlier productions of Timoteo Viti. Thus his Magdalen, which, though now in the Pinacoteca of Bologna, was painted for Urbino, is a grand figure in red drapery largely cast, standing in front of a wide cavern. Her girlish countenance appears too pure and gentle to have felt carnal passion, too placid to have wept over human sin; her reverential attitude aspires heavenward, without, like most of her class, appearing to loathe the earth. The mild character of Timoteo, as well as his promising talents, established him in the friendship of his master, whose diary touchingly records the affection with which he bade god-speed to his pupil, on quitting his studio.[193]

St. Sebastian



From the picture by Timoteo Viti in the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino

Few of this painter's early works are identified, and no frescoes from his designs appear to survive; but his altar-picture painted for the Bonaventura chapel in the church of S. Bernardino at Urbino, and now by the hazards of war in the Brera at Milan, offers one of the most remarkable compositions of the age. The Annunciation, that graceful theme of Christian art, had hitherto been treated upon one uniform type, and though ever attractive was generally trite. The Virgin surprised by her heavenly visitor was a subject requiring, in contrast, the purest earthly and celestial beauty which the painter could invent. The early masters sought not to introduce any-256- other character than that of hallowed loveliness, refined from worldly sentiment; their successors added what was meant for grace of manner, which in their hands generally fell into affected mannerism. Timoteo held a middle course, giving play to his fancy, but restraining its flight by the spell of holy reverence. Amid a fine and far-stretching landscape stands the Virgin, nobly beautiful, gazing with prayerful aspect upon an angel, whose demi-figure issues from a cloud. Far above her head the infant Saviour, supported by a dove in a triangular halo of dazzling splendour, descends from the skies to become incarnate in the womb of Mary; his foot poised upon a globe, and the cross resting in his left hand, whilst his right is raised in benediction. The archangel with out-stretched arms indicates the mother to the child, and the child to the mother, thus beautifully executing his mission by an expressive sign. In front of her, but on a lower level, so as to appear of less majestic presence, stand the Precursor and St. Sebastian; the former points to the principal group as the fulfilment of a cycle of prophecy which in his person was complete; the latter is a graceful prototype of that long series of martyrs who were destined to seal with blood their testimony to the atonement thus initiated. One portion of this novel theme had been anticipated by Giovanni Sanzi, in whose representation of the same subject at the Brera, though composed after old conventional ideas, the divine Infant is seen descending from the Almighty upon the Virgin, instead of the dove, which usually figures as the Holy Spirit. But such innovations were looked upon with watchful jealousy by a Church wedded to traditional conventionalities. Doubts were raised as to the orthodoxy of this representation of the Trinity, and an unfortunate ruddy tint suffused over the plumage of the snowy dove was construed into a stain on the immaculate character of the conception, which is usually represented as coincident with the Annunciation.-257- The altar-piece was removed to undergo along with its author a searching examination, which resulted in its restoration as an object of devotion, and in his escape from the rigours of the Holy Office.

Two altar-pictures by Timoteo remain in the cathedral-sacristy of his native city,[*194] besides a St. Apollonia in the church of the Trinità. These exhibit much soft expression and devotional feeling, combined with considerable breadth of execution; yet they scarcely possess the simple sentiment of the earlier Umbrian artificers, the noble character of Sanzi, or the fervour and finish of Francia. During his residence at Urbino, he may not improbably have influenced the young Raffaele's opening genius; but, ere long, fame's many-tongued trumpet told him how much he had to learn of his countryman, from whom he soon received an invitation to assist in executing the commissions which were crowding upon him at Rome; and, like many other gifted artists, Timoteo deemed it no degradation to work under his younger but more matured genius. Although one of the latest painters who retained that devotional spirit which we have endeavoured to trace from the Umbrian sanctuaries, his manner, at an after period of his life, changed with the influences to which he was exposed in the atmosphere of the Vatican; and some of those works produced under the superintendence of Raffaele which are generally ascribed to his hand, such as the Sybils in the S. Maria della Pace,[*195] display a very decided tendency to "the new manner." Few paintings have given occasion to greater variety of opinion and conjecture than this fresco, both as to the share in it which belongs to-258- Timoteo, and as to the source from which the conception was derived. The theme is unquestionably referable to an authority older than that of Michael Angelo; and it is remarkable that, instead of the charge of plagiarism from his great rival being brought home to Raffaele, as has been frequently asserted, the former must have owed to Perugino, Pinturicchio, and Andrea d'Assisi the idea of rendering the sybils of mythological fable subservient to religious representation.[*196] By all these artists, pagan pythonesses had been grouped with scriptural prophets, as foreshadowing the mysterious plan of human salvation, and the fresco of the Pace must be regarded as a felicitous adaptation of Umbrian feeling to the tastes of such a patron as Agostino Chigi, deeply imbued with the classic tendencies of the Roman court.[197] The repeated restorations to which this fine work has been subjected render criticism of its merits in a degree nugatory, but the inferiority of the Prophets to the Sibyls is generally admitted.

Vasari, after communication with our painter's family, represents him as pining for his native air in the capital of Christendom, where his stay cannot have been of very long duration, as we find him in 1513 one of the magistracy of Urbino. Here he shared his time between the sister arts of poetry, music, and painting, "delighting to play upon various instruments, but especially the lyre, to which he sang improviso with uncommon success." On Vasari's authority, we are also told that he "was a cheerful person, naturally gay and jovial, handsome, facetious in conversation, and happy in his jokes." One of the most remarkable productions of his Raffaelesque period is a Noli me tangere (the appearance of Christ to the Magdalen after his resurrection), in the chapel of the Artieri, at Cagli,-259- executed about 1518, which has been, perhaps, over-praised by Lanzi and others: the difficulty of the subject may in some degree disarm our criticism of its rather crowded and ungainly composition. On the whole, the merit and beauty of the few known productions of his pencil may well make us regret those which have disappeared, or which pass under other names; and, although Passavant accuses him of affectation and mannerism, the constraint apparent in some of his earlier productions may possibly be more justly ascribed to awkwardness. Pungileone supposes him to have returned to Rome in 1521, two years before his death, and there to have acquired a number of the cartoons and drawings of his friend Raffaele. Of these, and his own designs, a considerable portion passed a few years ago into the Lawrence collection, which the vacillation and ill-timed economy of our rulers allowed to be in a great measure dispersed.

Few artists have been the subject of more controversy than Bramante. His architectural works procured him high reputation, for he is associated with the genius of Julius II., and the vast piles of the Vatican: but his name and family have been disputed, as well as the place and province which gave him birth; while his biographers, besides confounding him with an entirely different person, Bramantino of Milan, have aggravated the confusion by conjuring out of these two a third artist, who exists only by their blundering. Bartolomeo Suardi, instead of being master of Bramante, as Orlandi and others have supposed, was a pupil who, from attachment to his instructor, added to his own name the diminutive Bramantino. He chanced, however, to have a scholar, Agostino, who, by also adopting that designation, has further perplexed matters; three persons being thus almost inextricably mixed up. For our purpose it is enough thus to supply a key to these masters, and to observe that their relative merits coincide-260- with their chronology; the first being a bright light of the golden age, the last an obscure painter of the decadence, who has left us little beyond the reflected lustre of a borrowed surname. But although the minute diligence of Lazzari and Pungileone seems to have set this matter at rest, their tedious disquisitions supply few important facts or useful criticisms, and a brief notice will suffice for our present purpose.

Donato Bramante appears to have been born at Monte Asdrualdo, near Fermignano, in 1444, of parents in comfortable circumstances. As his first efforts were devoted to painting, he would naturally find instructors among the Umbrian artists already noticed; but for his education we have no particulars, beyond a conjecture that he studied under Fra Carnevale.[*198] At his father's death, in 1484, he was already abroad, probably in Lombardy, where most of his pictorial works were produced, and where some frescoes may still be seen, meriting no ordinary meed of approbation, and particularly distinguished by fidelity in portraits and accuracy of architectural perspective; qualities learned, doubtless, from the productions of Melozzo da Forlì and Piero della Francesca. Of these mural paintings, the most interesting remains in the church of the Canepa, at Pavia, and exhibits the artist presenting a model for that building to its founder, Duke Gian Galeazzo Sforza, his Duchess, and his mother. Rosini ascribes to him freedom of design, ease in movement and draperies, grand conceptions, and much ability in perspective. Indeed, whilst the colder genius of ultramontane nations has seldom occupied itself with more than one branch of art, many Italian masters attained to excellence in several; and Bramante's reputation as an architect being established, his engineering talents were called into exercise by Ludovico il Moro, upon the fortifications of Milan. There-261- too he built several churches, and constructed as a sacristy for S. Satiro, one of those small round Grecian fanes which have been considered so peculiarly his own, that various churches of that type are ascribed to him on no better grounds than their form. The conception is, however, of earlier origin, for it appears in not a few miniatures and small devotional panels of the preceding century. He had adopted it in a little chapel of the Madonna di Riscatto, on the banks of the Metauro, opposite Castel Durante, said to have been his earliest work, and the idea was freely used by Perugino and his pupils, Raffaele included. It takes the form of a round building cased by Corinthian pilasters, in an easel picture preserved at Urbino, in the sacristy of Sta. Chiara, which is interesting as an architectural study, and has been attributed to Bramante, or to Giorgio Andreoli, the porcelain enameller of Gubbio. A symmetrically elegant Doric chapel, at S. Pietro in Montorio at Rome, is the chef-d'œuvre of this classic style, and it was reproduced by della Genga in scenic decorations prepared at Urbino for the representation of Bibbiena's Calandra.

As the flower of Bramante's life went by during his long stay in Upper Italy, it is there that his pictorial talents must be appreciated, and that his most numerous, if not his most famous fabrics, may be found. But when Lombardy became the battle-field of Italian independence, when art was there neglected and personal safety compromised, he bethought him of the monuments of antique genius still scattered over the capital of her classic times, and came to Rome in quest of improvement as well as employment. The moment was not propitious, for Alexander VI. was no Maecenas. Yet in the public works, both of fresco-painting and architecture, Donato had a share; and he supplied designs for several private churches and palaces, varying the scene of his labours by prolonged visits to Naples and Tivoli.


On the accession of Julius II. his star rapidly rose to the zenith of his reputation. His Urbino extraction was a recommendation to the new Pontiff, which his talents fully justified, while the vast conceptions and daring energy of his Holiness found in Bramante a willing and apt minister. To raise a temple wherein the Christian world might worship the living God, was a project worthy of their united genius, and it was entertained in a manner befitting the enterprise. There, grandeur of design was seconded by resolute purpose; nor were means and will deficient for levying from the piety or fears of mankind contributions apparently inexhaustible. But in a struggle with time, man is seldom victorious. The shadows of age, falling upon the Pontiff and his architect, warned them that their day was far spent. Anticipating the night that approached to arrest their labours, they worked with a zeal which knew no repose, but which proved fatal to the stability of their fabric. Death overtook them both ere any part of St. Peter's approached to completion, yet not before the too hurried masonry had begun to yield under its own weight. The inadequate foundations occasioned much supplementary trouble and outlay to those who conducted the edifice towards a conclusion, which it did not reach until 1626, a hundred and twenty years after it had been begun by Bramante.

By some who witnessed the rapid and indiscriminate destruction of old St. Peter's,—that ancient basilicon, which early art had done its best to decorate, which Christian devotion had sanctified by cherished traditions, and over which time had cast a solemn halo,—Bramante has been blamed as a reckless innovator; and the charge meets a ready response from those who, in their search for primeval monuments of Catholic faith, pass from the glare and magnificence of the modern fane to mourn over broken sculptures and shattered mosaics buried in its rayless crypt. It would be easy to defend the architect at-263- the expense of his master; but upon looking more closely into the charge, we shall find that the original fabric having become ruinous, its reconstruction was begun half a century before the accession of Julius, and that its last remains were not removed until a hundred years later. Thus it would seem that the demolition of so much that is ill replaced to the churchman and scholar of art, even by the gorgeous temple which commands our wondering admiration, must have proceeded from other reasons than haste. The slippery foundations that from time to time have occasioned infinite anxiety and expense, both for the church and adjoining buildings, were doubtless the original cause which lost us the basilicon of Constantine.

But Julius was not the man to devote himself exclusively to one idea, even though a favourite one. Wishing to provide a palace for his successors worthy of the neighbouring fane which he had founded, he put the Vatican into Donato's hands. That pontifical residence, after being enlarged by Nicolas V. and Sixtus IV. was in a great measure reconstructed by Alexander VI., whose predecessor, Innocent VIII., had erected a casino in the adjoining gardens of the Belvidere. In order to unite this casino to the palace, Bramante contrived a double corridor, the vast intervening area of which he designed for festive spectacles. This fine idea, left by him unfinished, was marred by succeeding architects, who broke up the extensive court by cross galleries and unseemly appendages. We may, however, pardon the transmutation, as it has afforded admirable accommodation for the treasures of art, ever since accumulating in these almost boundless museums. In that handsome street to which Julius bequeathed his name, there may be seen near the church of S. Biagio, straggling vestiges of vast substructions, with rustic basements resembling the gigantic masses of fabulous ages, on which have been reared some mean and modern dwellings. These are the sole remains of a vast undertaking, nobly-264- conceived by the Pontiff, and ably commenced by his architect, in order to unite under one palace the scattered law-courts and public offices of Rome. But it was Bramante's misfortune to serve a restless spirit, which attempting more than the span of human life could overtake, left its finest conceptions abortive.

The merits of Bramante were appreciated by his contemporaries as well as by posterity, and gained him a substantial meed of honour and wealth. At the pontifical court he moved in a circle where refinement perfected the emanations of genius, and which included the choicest spirits of a brilliant age. Enriched by papal favour, magnificent in his expenditure, frank and joyous in his nature, he lived up to the advantages of his position, and made his palace the resort of many celebrities: there his Umbrian countrymen, Perugino, Pinturicchio, and Luca Signorelli, frequented his board; and after his death the house was bought by his friend Raffaele. He was a poet, for in Italy all sentiment readily falls into rhyme; but he was likewise a man of the world, whose natural tact and ready fluency compensated for a defective education. Dying in March, 1514, he was buried beneath that splendid fane which he had founded, but which many successive architects failed to raise. No monument testifies the gratitude of his countrymen, yet his name is entwined with garlands of undying verdure, and some of the noblest Italian piles bear the impress of his solid and enduring style.

Fra Bernardo Catelani was a Capuchin monk of Urbino, whose devotion sought scope in the exercise of Christian art, and who is generally considered a follower of Raffaele, although this is doubted by Grossi. Nor does it much matter, for the only work now identified with his name is an altar-piece of the Pietà with two attendant saints, in the church of his order at Cagli. Still less is-265- known of one Crocchia of Urbino, named by Baldinucci as a pupil of Raffaele. His countryman, Centogatti, is said to have exercised the arts of architecture, sculpture, and painting, and to have instructed Duke Francesco Maria I., and also Gian Battista Comandino, in engineering. To him Lomazzo ascribes the invention of baluardi, and the erection of walls round his native town; but in both respects he appears mistaken, as we have had occasion to show in speaking of Francesco di Giorgio.[199]

The patronage extended to Francia by Duke Guidobaldo seems, from Vasari's authority, to have been of a very undiscriminating character, for his commissions to that painter of sweet Madonnas consisted of a Lucrezia, and a set of horse-trappings, whereon was depicted a blazing forest, with various animals escaping from it. Gaye has recovered some facts as to the favour bestowed by this dynasty upon Andrea Mantegna. In 1511, Duchess Elisabetta wrote to interest her brother, the Marquis of Mantua, in favour of his son Francesco, expressing herself as mindful of the regard she had borne his father, on account both of his own merits and his devotion to her family. Andrea's acquaintance with Giovanni Sanzi, already referred to, may have been formed on his journey to Rome in 1488, or on his return thence in 1490; but his fame had ere then reached Umbria, for in 1484 Ludovico Gonzaga, bishop of Mantua, wrote to the Prefect della Rovere, pleading his excuse for declining an order for a Madonna, his time being engrossed in the palace of Mantua. Vasari further tells us that Marco Zoppo, another Lombard painter, took a portrait of Guidobaldo when in the Florentine service. To his reign probably-266- belongs a very grand specimen of Giovanni Bellini in the church of S. Francesco at Pesaro. We have already noticed him as a pupil of Gentile di Fabriano; and his visit to the duchy may have enabled him to confirm his early devotional impressions, by there depicting that favourite theme of the mystic school, the Coronation of the Madonna, surrounded by witnessing saints. The countenances, though without the unearthly inspiration belonging to the Umbrian art, have great beauty softened by reverential sentiment, and a colour which glows even through the dirt of centuries. In the Sta. Maria Nuova of Fano are preserved two of Perugino's finest works, the Annunciation, and the Madonna enthroned between six saints, exhibiting all the qualities of his best time, with less timidity than belongs to his manner. The latter was executed in 1490, and the predella had been considered equal to Raffaele, who of course was then too young for such an undertaking. Such are some of the remaining pictures which must have influenced taste and art in the duchy. The catalogue is far from complete, for in the obscure villages may still be discovered altar-panels of scarcely inferior importance, besides not a few transported thence to Milan, Berlin, and other galleries.

We owe to Lord Lindsay some very interesting views on the influence of early Teutonic art beyond the Alps, a subject long overlooked and still far from exhausted.[200] Among its masters no celebrity equals that of Jean Van Eyck. He was not only capo-scuola in the Low Countries and inventor of a new method and vehicle of painting, but was the first to introduce that "feeling for nature and domestic sentiment" which, subordinate at the outset to religious delineation, has continued, through many phases, and for the most part with strictly naturalist aims, to characterise the Flemish pencil. The fame of his mechan-267-ism spread into Italy, and Vasari speaks of a bath scene being sent by him to Duke Federigo of Urbino. This was, however, probably the same work described as belonging to Cardinal Ottaviani by Facio, who wrote about 1456. In a room lighted by a single lamp, a group of nude females issued from the bath, an aged beldame, their attendant, bathed in perspiration, their thirsty dog lapping water. A mirror accurately gave back the scene, reflecting the profile of the one whose figure was turned from the spectator. Without, was elaborate and far-spreading scenery, with men, horses, castles, hamlets, groves, plains, and mountains, dexterously graduating away as the evening shadows fell. Keeping in view the state of art at that time, this painting, of which all further trace mysteriously vanishes, must have exercised an important influence. The borrowed illumination, the mirror reflections, the nude forms, the heated atmosphere detected by its physical effects on animal life, the minutely pencilled landscape, the delicately receding perspective, were all more or less innovations in Italy, apart from the colour and surface produced by the new process.

Among the followers of Van Eyck who first made their way to the Mediterranean shores was Josse or Justus of Ghent, who, under the signature of Justus de Alemania, appears to have executed an Annunciation in fresco, at the convent of Sta. Maria di Castello at Genoa in 1451.[*201] Admiration for Van Eyck's bath scene may probably have obtained for him an invitation to Urbino, where, however, he does not seem to have shared the ducal patronage, but was employed by the fraternity of Corpus Christi to paint for them an altar-piece, which, after nine years of labour, was completed in 1474, and is still preserved in the church of Sta. Agata.[*202] It was executed in oil, about ten feet square without the now missing predella, and seems to-268- have cost 500 florins, besides materials. Its subject was appropriately the Institution of the Eucharist, in contradistinction from the Last Supper, and it is treated after the manner of the Romish mass,—Christ distributes the sacramental wafer to his Apostles kneeling round a table, over whom hover two white-draped angels of the Van Eyck type. Four personages stand apart, spectators of the sacred mystery, and these, by the legitimate rules of sacred art, might be portraits. Among them may be easily recognised the Duke; and a turbaned figure is said by Baldi to be the ambassador from Usum-cassan, King of Persia, while visiting the court in 1470-1, on a mission to unite the Italian princes in a league against the Turk,—a fact garbled by Michiels, whose commendations of the picture are greater than its distance above the eye allows me to confirm or challenge, as, without scaffolding or a very strong glass, all detailed criticism must be in a great measure conjectural. Neither have I discovered that influence upon art at Urbino which he and Passavant impute to this Fleming, whose only other known work in Umbria was a now lost church standard.

Art has in many instances been able largely to compensate the liberality of its early patrons. Besides preserving to after times the person of those

"Whose barks have left no traces on the tide,"

it has frequently transmitted to us the form and comeliness of men whose characters, actions, or talents have left an impress on their age. Although the pencil and the chisel were at first rarely dedicated to portraiture, a mode of representation arose in Italy during the fifteenth century which supplied this want with singular success. Reviving classical taste found few more attractive relics than the coins and medals of Greece and her colonies; but their imitators, struck with the inferiority of those under-269- the Roman empire, adopted, and even surpassed, the bold style and high relief of the former. When almost every principality in the Peninsula possessed a mint, and die-cutting was a usual branch of the goldsmith's craft, there were great facilities for the new art. The circulation of precious metals being very limited, trade was then conducted chiefly by barter, or by the transmission of coin in sealed bags, stamped with the value they contained, whilst small transactions were made almost solely in copper money.[203] Heroic medals, which soon became the established meed of egotism and incense of flattery, were at first cast,—and, when machinery became more perfect, were struck,—in an alloy of copper, under the name of bronze. Those of the fifteenth century were of great size, varying from one to four and a half inches in diameter; many bear the names of well-known sculptors and painters as their artists, and exhibit a grandeur of conception unequalled in other numismatic productions.[*204] About three hundred and seventy-five such medals have been published in the Trésor de Numismatique et de Glyptique, and although the procédé Collas there adopted in general fails to preserve the sharpness and finish given to the originals by careful retouching, no work of art is so delightful a companion to Italian mediæval history. Zannetti's elaborate collections on Italian coinages, and the fifth volume of Cicognara's great work upon sculpture, may also be consulted with pleasure and advantage.


The only medallist of Urbino now known was called Clemente, and, besides the portrait by him to be immediately noticed (No. I.), he is said to have ornamented the great hall of the palace with six round bas-reliefs of Duke Federigo's exploits. Seven medals of that prince have come to my knowledge, all of extreme rarity: the first five are described and engraved in the Zecca di Gubbio; the first, second, and fourth in the Trésor de Numismatique; the sixth is probably unnoticed elsewhere. The heads of all are in profile.

No. I. A medallion of 35/8 inches diameter. The Duke's bust is in armour, on which are chased a Lapitha reducing a Centaur, and other emblematic devices; his cap, called by the French a mortier, is of the usual cinque-cento form, exactly resembling a round Highland bonnet. The legend is a Latin couplet, signifying,

"He comes, another Cæsar and another Roman Scipio,
Whether he gives to the Nations Peace or fierce Wars."

The reverse is redundant in allegory. In base, the eagle of Jove supports with extended wings a stage whereon are three devices,—the globe of command, with on one side a cuirass, buckler, and sword, and on the other a clothes-brush[205] and olive-branch; overhead are the planetary signs of Jupiter between Mars and Venus. On the vacant spaces are the names of the hero, "Federigo the Invincible, Count of Urbino, a.d. mcccclxviii.," and of the artist, "The work of Clemente of Urbino." The surrounding astrological legend runs thus:—

"The fierce Mars and Venus, in conjunction with the mighty Thunderer,
Unite to give you Kingdoms, and influence your Destiny."

The date indicates this medal to have commemorated his campaign in Romagna against Colleone, in 1467, and not-271-withstanding the questionable taste of crowding in so many symbolical appendages, its merit is ranked high by Cicognara (see his eighty-sixth plate).

No. II. A medal 16/8 inches across, which was probably cast at Naples in 1474, by order of Ferdinand, in honour of Federigo's visit and installation as a knight of the Ermine. Being no doubt prepared before his arrival, the likeness is not striking. Round the bust is "Federico Count of Montefeltro, Urbino, and Durante"; on the reverse, over a collared ermine, "Royal Captain-General. The work of Paulo di Ragusa."

No. III. A similar but smaller medal, executed after he had been elevated to the dukedom. His head is bald, and the legend is "Federigo the Montefeltrian, Urbino's Duke;" over the ermine, "Never," the motto of the Order.

No. IV. A medal 33/8 inches across, commemorating his dignities of Duke and Gonfaloniere of the Church. Round his bust in armour, with the mortier cap, we read, "Of the divine Federigo Duke of Urbino, Count of Montefeltro and Durante, Royal Captain-General, and unconquered Gonfaloniere of the Holy Roman Church." On the reverse he is represented in a cuirass, mail-coat, jack-boots, and the mortier cap, mounted on a heavy war-horse in housings of mail. He moves forward, stretching forth his truncheon in the attitude of anxious command, a two-handed sword on his side. Legend, "The work of Sperandei," who was a native of Mantua, greatly patronised by the sovereigns of Ferrara.

No. V. is a magnificent production, and of peculiarly English interest. On a medal 4¾ inches across, clasped round by the badge and gothic motto of the Garter, is a noble bust of Federigo in armour, his massive bald head uncovered. The reverse has five winged loves supporting an ample basin, from whence issue two grape-laden cornu-272-copiæ; between them the crowned eagle of Montefeltro sits on a globe of command, gazing sunward, and supporting the armorial shield of that house, with the papal arms in pale as borne by the Gonfaloniere: the contracted inscription "Duke Fe." appears on the ground. Riposati conjectures that in this device may be preserved the design of a fountain for serving wine to the populace during the festivities on his investiture with the English order; at all events, this piece, in size and style, perhaps the grandest medallion of the age, bears interesting testimony to the honour in which that decoration was held.

No. VI. Among the Vatican Urbino MSS. (No. 1418) is a case containing two impressions, stamped on leather, of another medallion, which we have nowhere else met with. It is 3½ inches in diameter, and round the head is "Federigo Duke of Urbino, Count of Montefeltro, Royal Captain-General and Gonfaloniere of the Holy Roman Church." The reverse gives us a mounted knight cap-a-pie, who tramples down an armed soldier, while charging others who fly; in the distance are seen cities, and a martial host. Legend, "Mars gives him a worsted foe, Victory secures him fame. mcccclxxviii. The work of Gian Francesco, of Parma." This alludes to his successes against the Florentines when general of Sixtus IV.

No. VII. A medal of Federigo by Francesco di Giorgio, has neither been described nor preserved, unless it may have been No. V. above.

We have no medal of Duke Guidobaldo I.; but two have come down to us, representing his consort and her favourite Emilia Pia, so similar in character as to indicate probably the same artist and period, which Riposati presumes to have been in the Duchess's widowhood.

I. Elisabetta's bust on a medallion 3½ inches in diameter; her hair braided under her cap, and gathered behind into a long pendant tail or fillet plaited with-273- ribbon; her forehead, neck, and shoulders ornamented with chains; legend, "Elisabet Gonzaga, the Feltrian, Duchess of Urbino": which we give. The mystic science of emblematic devices was often used by medallists without proper discrimination; and Riposati avows himself unable to interpret its allegorical reverse: the French editor describes it as a nearly nude female reclining on the ground, her head supported against a wicket, grasping in both hands a fillet from which a wig flies away, with the motto, "This tell to fugitive Fortune"; he interprets her attitude as contemptuous towards a passing opportunity, in allusion to her recent widowhood spurning fresh ties.

II. The medal of Emilia was evidently a posthumous memorial; we reproduce it also. It is 3¼ inches broad, the bust in the costume of the Duchess, and is inscribed "Emilia Pia the Feltrian": on the reverse, a tapered pyramid crowned by a cinerary urn, with "To her chaste ashes." The whole is studiously classical, and pagan in feeling. Her name Pio, turned into the adjective pia, becomes a complimentary epithet.

In order to dismiss this branch of our subject, we may here mention, that, although a few smaller medals were struck for the second dynasty of Urbino, none of them are worthy of special notice; indeed, this art was entirely degenerate after 1500.





Birth and elevation of Sixtus IV.—Genealogy of the Della Rovere family—Nepotism of that pontiff—His improvements in Rome—His patronage of letters and arts—His brother Giovanni becomes Lord of Sinigaglia and Prefect of Rome—His beneficent sway—He pillages a papal envoy—Remarkable story of Zizim or Gem—Portrait of Giovanni—The early character and difficulties of Julius II.—Estimate of his pontificate.

ON the 21st of July, 1414, in the village of Celle, upon the Ligurian coast, near Savona, there was born to Leonardo della Rovere and Luchina Muglione, a male child, who, fifty-seven years thereafter, was called to fill the chair of St. Peter, from whence he showered upon his numerous relations temporal and ecclesiastical dignities. That Pontiff was Sixtus IV.; of these relatives many have already found a place in our pages; and from their stock sprang the second ducal dynasty of Urbino.

Upon the origin of this family a mystery has been thrown, by writers devoted to adulation rather than to truth. There was established near Turin a race of della Rovere, lords of Vinovo, whose nobility is traced from the eighth century, and from whom it was the pride of Sixtus to claim a descent, which his flatterers readily humoured, and which the annalists of Urbino adopted as an article of their political creed. Posterity has repudiated the allegation, for "in Italy, at least, it is vain for heraldry to tell a tale that history will not substantiate."[206] The seigneurs of Vinovo were not, however, loath to admit a blood connection with two Popes, who, in return for such aggregation-278- to the old stock, conferred cardinals' hats upon their cousins of Piedmont. Although the tombstone of Leonardo was said to exhibit the Vinovo bearings, with a suitable difference, his humble birth is universally admitted. The burgess of Savona plied a fisher's trade, and even his son is supposed to have followed in boyhood the same apostolical calling; an occupation singular rather than inappropriate, for one destined to wear "the fisher's ring," and to wield the authority of him who was divinely called to be a netter of men. The superstition or policy of Sixtus stamped with unmerited importance certain quasi-supernatural incidents attending his birth. Whilst pregnant, his mother dreamt that a boy was born to her, whom two Franciscan friars forthwith clad in the tunic, cowl, and cord of their order. The name Francesco was accordingly bestowed on the child, whose gestures seemed to confirm its sacred vocation, the first motions of its little hands being those of benediction. Whilst undergoing the usual ablutions, the infant appeared faint and dying, whereupon its mother vowed that, if preserved to her, it should wear the Franciscan dress for the next six months. The removal of this habit having on two occasions been followed by dangerous illness, the boy's destination to a monastic life was confirmed, and his training conducted accordingly.[*207]

After rapid progress in classical and dialectic studies, he went to the university of Bologna, and in his twentieth year maintained various public disputations before a general chapter of his order at Genoa, with erudition and success which astonished his audience, and gained him the marked commendation of his superiors. He then gradu-279-ated in philosophy and theology at Pavia, and in his public displays distinguished himself by a simple and perspicuous style of argument comparatively exempt from the jingle of words that usually characterised these exercises. His celebrity extending in all directions, he was engaged by the authorities of many large towns to deliver lectures, which were attended by the most learned ecclesiastics, his preaching being not less acceptable to the people of all ranks. His friendship and counsel were sought by the distinguished men of his time, including Cardinal Bessarion; and he employed his pen in various religious controversies, especially in one, carried by other disputants to blows, between two branches of Franciscans, the Minims and Predicant Friars, as to "whether the blood of Christ shed in his passion partook of his divinity." Having attained the rank of General, he proved most zealous in the inspection and reform of the convents under his jurisdiction, personally visiting them in all quarters. At length, in 1467, he was made Cardinal by Paul II., whom he was chosen to succeed on the 9th of August, 1471.

We have had occasion, in a previous portion of this work, to notice the policy of Sixtus as it affected the duchy of Urbino, and it forms no part of our plan to enter further into the events of his pontificate. Neither need we detail those in that of his nephew Julius II., except in so far as they fall to be narrated in our Third and Sixth Books. Our present purpose is to offer a condensed view of the della Rovere family, preceding its establishment in the sovereignty of Urbino, and to enliven what would otherwise be a dry genealogical sketch, by a few passing observations on the character of its two Pontiffs, and on the influence of their reigns.

The children of Ludovico Leonardo della Rovere by Luchina Stella Muglione were these:—

1. Francesco, afterwards Sixtus IV.-280-

2. Raffaele, whose line will presently occupy our attention.

3. A sister, whose husband Giovanni Basso and children were adopted into the family of della Rovere and bore that name. They were:—

1. Girolamo of Recanate, made Cardinal of S. Chrisogono in 1477, and died in 1507.

2. Antonio, who married in 1479 Caterina Marciana, niece of Ferdinand of Naples, and died soon after.

3. Guglielmo, who died in 1482.

4. Francesco, Prior of Pisa.

5. Bartolomeo.[208]

4. Iolanda, who married Girolamo Riario, and, dying in 1471, left:—

1. Cardinal Pietro Riario, the favourite of his Uncle Sixtus IV., who died in 1474.

2. Girolamo, Lord of Forlì, and, in right of his wife, Caterina Sforza, sovereign of Imola, whose name is familiar to those who have followed our narrative, and who was assassinated in 1488. Among their children were Ottaviano, dispossessed of his states by Cesare Borgia in 1500; Orazio, Bishop of Lucca; Galeazzo; and Cesare, Patriarch of Constantinople. Their line still subsists in the Riario Sforza of Naples, one of whom was in 1846 Cardinal Camerlingo at Rome.

3. Ottaviano, Bishop of Viterbo.

4. A daughter, married to one Sansonio, whose son Raffaele, made Cardinal of S. Giorgio in 1477, has been mentioned as an accomplice in the Pazzi conspiracy.


Raffaele della Rovere, younger brother of Sixtus, had, by Teodora Manerola—

1. Bartolomeo, Bishop of Ferrara and Patriarch of Antioch.

2. Giuliano, who became Pope Julius II., and whose natural children were—

1. Raffaele, who married Niccolosa Fogliano of Fermo, and was murdered in 1502.

2. Felice, famed for her beauty and talents, who married Gian-Giordano Orsini, not Marc Antonio Colonna, as stated by Roscoe.

3. Leonardo, created Prefect of Rome in 1472. He died 1475, leaving no issue by Giovanna, natural daughter of Ferdinand King of Naples. According to Giannone, she was Catarina, daughter of the Prince of Rossano, by Dionora, sister of Ferdinand, and she brought him the duchy of Sora, which descended to his heirs.

4. Giovanni, Duke of Sora, Prefect of Rome, and Seigneur of Sinigaglia, to whom we shall return.

5. Luchina, whose children were adopted as of the della Rovere name. By her first husband Gabriele Gara, a gentleman of Savona, she had—

1. Raffaele.

2. Sisto, Cardinal of S. Pietro in Vinculis, who died in 1517, aged forty-four. His death is said to have been occasioned by terror for the menaces of Leo X., who suspected him of aiding his cousin the Duke of Urbino in recovering his state, by advancing money out of vast benefices, estimated at 30,000 to 40,000 ducats a year. De Grasses describes his frame as exhausted by shameless debaucheries, and adds, that he could neither read nor write. The latter assertion is so incredible as to throw-282- doubt upon the former; yet such an accusation in the diary of a papal master of ceremonies seems to infer that similar immoralities were then scarcely regarded as scandalous in the sacred college. The taint left by Alexander VI. had not yet been effaced by blood and tears in the sack of Rome.

3. Sista, whose first husband, Geraud d'Ancezun, died in 1503, after which she married Galeazzo, son of Count Girolamo Riario.

By her second husband, Gian-Francesco Franciotti Lucca, a merchant in Rome, who was her junior by eleven years, Luchina had—

4. Galeotto, Cardinal of S. Pietro in Vinculis, and Archbishop of Benevento, who died in 1508, aged twenty-eight. In 1505 he was appointed to the Cancelleria, and his public revenues, amounting to 40,000 ducats a year, were liberally administered in the patronage of letters.

5. Nicolò, who left a son Giulio.

6. Lucrezia, wife of Marc Antonio Colonna, who fell at the siege of Milan, in 1522.[209]

Giovanni della Rovere, Prefect of Rome and Seigneur of Sinigaglia, died in 1501, having married in 1474 Giovanna di Montefeltro, who, dying in 1514, had issue—

1. Federigo, who died young.

2. Francesco Maria, who, as Duke of Urbino, will occupy attention in our next Book.-283-

3. Maria, married in 1497 to Venanzio Varana, Lord of Camerino, who was slain in 1503, with three of his sons, by order of Cesare Borgia. Another son, Sigismondo, shared the campaigns of his maternal uncle the Duke of Urbino, and failing to recover his patrimonial state from the usurpation of his uncle Giulio Cesare Varana, was assassinated at his instigation in 1522: his wife was Ottavia, daughter of Giulio Colonna. A scandalous intrigue of Maria in her widowhood will be mentioned in the life of her brother,[210] but it did not prevent her finding a second husband in Galeazzo, son of Girolamo Riario, Lord of Forlì.

4. Costanza, who died unmarried at Rome in November, 1507.

5. Deodata, a nun of Sta. Chiara at Urbino.

On the accession of Sixtus, the papal treasury was supposed to be full of money and jewels, which it had been the passion of Paul II. to accumulate. Yet he declared that but 5000 crowns were found in bullion, and the few precious stones that were forthcoming appeared not to have been paid for. Notwithstanding this seeming disappointment, which was very generally discredited, and the outlay of 20,000 crowns for the funeral of Paul, and for his own coronation, he discharged the debts of several antecedent pontiffs, and particularly those due by Paul for St. Mark's palace. But these heavy expenses, with the alleged simony attending his election, and the enormous sums lavished by his nephews, gave colour to an allegation that he had seized and misapplied large hoardings of his predecessor. The favour bestowed by him upon his nephews was excessive, even in days when nepotism was at its height, and his fondness for the two Riarii originated suspicions casting a dark shadow upon his moral character;-284- while gossip, with its usual inconsistency, lent currency to the surmise that they owed to him their paternity as well as the advancement of their fortunes.[211] One of his early acts was to confer upon Pietro, the elder of them, and upon Giuliano della Rovere, cardinal's hats on the same day. These cousins were, however, of very opposite habits, and so long as Pietro lived, Giuliano's influence with his uncle was small. The former, known as Cardinal of S. Sisto,

"Whom the wild wave of pleasure ever drove
Before the sprightly tempest, tossing light,"

was magnificent beyond example, lavish in his tastes for silver and gold stuffs, splendid dresses, spirited horses. He was surrounded by troops of retainers, and filled his house with rising poets and celebrated painters. He was munificent to the learned, generous to the poor, and frequently celebrated public banquets and games at prodigious expense. Though he lived but two years and a half after his elevation to the purple, he had in that brief space completed a rarely equalled career of civil and ecclesiastical preferment, of public extravagance, and personal debauchery. Taddeo Manfredi, Lord of Imola, having been expelled by domestic intrigues, was bribed by the Cardinal with 40,000 crowns to assign that fief to his brother Girolamo Riario, an arrangement sanctioned willingly by Sixtus, reluctantly by the consistory. After making a progress to Lombardy and Venice as papal legate, with a pomp unequalled even in an age of splendour, Pietro returned to Rome, and died in January 1474, of fever aggravated by previous excesses. Panvinio says he seemed born to waste money, and estimates his expenditure whilst cardinal at the enormous sum of 270,000 golden scudi.[212]


The wars into which the Pontiff recklessly plunged, from rage against the Medici and anxiety to consolidate a sovereignty for Count Girolamo, occasioned vast expense, and the deficiency of his exchequer led him to adopt expedients of an eventually dangerous tendency. Panvinio asserts for him a disreputable priority in the creation of places and offices, in order to raise a revenue by their sale. The simony thus systematised tended at once to taint the morals and degrade the reputation of the Roman court. Under Borgia's pontificate we have seen it carried to a frightful height, and attended by scandals the most heinous; in that of Leo X. it became a mainspring of the Reformation.

Yet it was not by wars alone that the papal treasury was embarrassed, nor were the bounties of Sixtus limited to claims of nepotism, for he reaped from many the praises due to a liberality large rather than discriminating. The whirlwind of Turkish invasion had lately swept over the ruins of the Eastern Empire, and for the Christian princes who fled before it, abandoning their states to seek a precarious hospitality, Rome formed the natural refuge. Thither came the expelled despots of Albania and the Morea, the crownless queens of Cyprus and Bosnia, all of whom received from the Pontiff a welcome and honourable entertainment due to their misfortunes and to their virtual martyrdom. To such European princes as visited the Eternal City, in performance of their religious duties, he accorded a splendid reception. But there were other outlays still more creditable to him, as adorning the city and ameliorating the condition of its inhabitants. He was the first pope who earnestly set about rescuing from degra-286-dation the monuments of ancient Rome, and improving the modern city. Among numerous public buildings erected, restored, or decorated by him were the Ponte Sisto, the great hospital of Santo Spirito, the old Vatican Library, the aqueduct of Trevi, the churches of La Pace, il Popolo, S. Vitale, S. Sisto, S. Pietro in Vinculis, and many others. To the Riarii, by his encouragement, we owe the Cancelleria Palace and the adjoining church of S. Lorenzo in Damaso. The restoration of that of the SS. Apostoli, begun on a grand scale by his nephew Pietro, was interrupted by the early death of that dissolute minion, whose tomb remains in the choir, finely conceived and beautifully executed. Nor was public convenience overlooked amid such magnificent creations. As Augustus was said to have replaced his capital of brick with one of marble, it became proverbial that Sixtus rebuilt in brick what he found of mud. He paved the streets, re-opened the sewers, conveyed the aqua vergine to the heart of the city. By proclaiming the jubilee at the end of twenty-five years, instead of each half-century, he doubled the influx of pilgrim revenues; and, warned by the catastrophe of its preceding celebration, when crowds had been trodden down on the Ponte S. Angelo, he provided for the devout multitude a new access to S. Peter's by the bridge which bears his name. His beneficial undertakings, however, extended far beyond the Eternal City: he cleared out the choked harbour of Ostia, thoroughly repaired the crumbling church of St. Francis at Assisi,[*213] and began, in honour of the Santa Casa at Loreto, that gorgeous fane which was unworthily finished by the next Pontiff of his name. Neither was he indifferent to the social disorganisation of his metropolis. He curbed its lawless state by a rigorous police. Public begging was strictly suppressed; and all who could not prove some legitimate means of livelihood-287- were banished. Malefactors of every sort, after summary conviction, were whipped through the streets, and consigned to the galleys or the gallows. Daily executions took place for a time, and though the measures adopted were both sanguinary and oppressive, order and security were in a great degree restored to the thoroughfares.

There is reason to fear that the stern discipline, whereby he vindicated public manners, was not applied to his personal habits. Yet the character given of him by Infessura, whereon depends most of the scandal by which his memory has been blackened, appears so grossly exaggerated as to defeat its own end, and to establish a charge of prejudice, if not of malevolence, against its author. To transcribe it would be to stain our pages; but its purport is summed up in some ribald Latin verses, borrowed, probably, from Pasquin, which impute to the Pope every imaginable iniquity and disgraceful indulgence, and congratulate Nero in being at length exceeded in crime.[*214]

Although the name of Sixtus, as a friend of letters and arts, has been dimmed by the more glorious ones of Nicolas V. and Leo X., which at no long intervals preceded and followed him, the memorials remaining of his judicious patronage are interesting and important. Innocent III., in building the Hospital of S. Spirito, had embellished it with six frescoes illustrative of its destination. To these Sixtus added twenty-seven others, forming a cycle of the personal and public incidents of his life, from his mother's miraculous vision, to his anticipated introduction into Paradise by St. Paul, in recompense of his-288- piety. These paintings are no longer visible; nor do we know from whose pencils the vast series emanated, but in the Sistine Chapel, which perpetuates his name, and was his most important artistic undertaking, his choice was unexceptionable. Apart from the celebrity conferred upon it by the subsequent impress of Buonarroti's stupendous inventions, the series wherein the lives of our Saviour and of Moses are contrasted constitutes a chapter of scarcely equalled importance in the progress of Christian painting. Who can view the mighty themes of that oratory,—the types and antitypes of scriptural history on its walls, the creations of Omnipotence on its roof, the final Judgment over its altar,—without gratitude to the della Rovere pontiffs, by whom these triumphs were commissioned, and for the most part carried out? This may, indeed, be called the foundation of the Roman pictorial school. Giotto, Fra Angelico, Gentile da Fabriano, and Masaccio had, indeed, visited the metropolis of Christendom, but no pontiff before Sixtus had summoned hither, and at once employed, all the most distinguished artists of Central Italy. The glorious band, though headed by Perugino,[*215] consisted of Florentines,—Signorelli, Botticelli, Rosselli, della Gatta, and Ghirlandaio; but these soon returned to the art-loving and art-inspiring Arno, leaving on the plain of the Tiber few other works, and a most transient influence, in exchange for the classical ideas which they had imbibed in "august, imperial Rome," and which quickly supplanted the sacred traditions of their native school. Although Pinturicchio was not associated in their labours upon the Sistine, he was busy upon other not less important mural decorations, which still adorn the churches of Aracoeli, Sta. Croce in Geru-289-salemme, and S. Onofrio. But Sta. Maria del Popolo was especially the scene of his triumphs, under the auspices of various Cardinals della Rovere, and other members of the consistory, who were instigated by example of his Holiness to such laudable employment of their exorbitant incomes.

Panvinio speaks of this Pope's solicitude to gather from all Europe additions to the library founded by Nicolas V., and attest his having first put it upon a satisfactory footing, by appointing qualified persons to superintend it, and by assigning it an adequate endowment. Though the rooms in which he placed books have been devoted to other purposes, ever since Sixtus V. removed the augmented collection to its present site, a most interesting memorial of the Pontiff's family and court remains, and has till lately adorned its original locality. It is a fresco, now transported to the Vatican Picture-gallery, wherein Sixtus sits in a noble hall of imposing architecture, with his librarian Bartolomeo Sacchi, surnamed Platina, kneeling at his feet, and pointing to an inscription, which enumerates in rough Latin verses, those ameliorations for which Rome was indebted to his Holiness. In attendance stand his two favourite cardinal nephews; Pietro, with features expressive of unrefined sensualism, wearing the russet habit of the mendicant fraternity, from whose discipline he emerged to lavish ill-gotten gold with rarely equalled prodigality; whilst in the cold and unimpassioned countenance of Giuliano, we vainly seek for those massive features, and that angry scowl, which the pencil of Raffaele subsequently immortalised. The group is completed by the two younger nephews, Girolamo, Lord of Forlì, gawky and common-place in figure, with the Prefect Giovanni, of blunt and burly aspect. It would be difficult satisfactorily to render so large a group in these pages, but we give an unedited and speaking likeness of the Pontiff from a miniature of the same size prefixed to-290- the MS. of Platina's Lives of the Popes, dedicated to him and now in the Vatican Library.

Besides the claims of this fresco upon our notice, from representing the important members of the della Rovere family, it would be still more interesting to us, were it, as formerly supposed, from the pencil of Pietro della Francesca, court-painter of Urbino. It is now, however, ascribed, almost beyond question, to a pupil of his, sung by Giovanni Sanzi, as

"Melozzo, dear to me,
Who to perspective farther limits gave."

His accurate study of geometrical principles taught him the most difficult art of foreshortening, which he particularly adapted to ceilings and vaulted roofs with a magical effect heretofore unattempted. Applying a like treatment to the human form, he succeeded in giving to the features a relief not inferior to that attained by the plastic manner of Squarcione and his followers, but infinitely excelling them in natural and noble character; and thus, for the first time since the revival, as in the picture just described, he gave to simple portraiture the stamp of historical delineation. Melozzo, by birth a Forlian, had probably attracted the notice of Girolamo Riario, on taking possession of his new state, and the patronage bestowed upon him by the Count and his brother the Cardinal, reflects credit upon their discrimination. In 1473, he was employed by the latter to paint, in the apsis of SS. Apostoli at Rome, our Lord's Ascension in presence of the apostles, one of the grandest works of the time, miserably sacrificed by the destructive alterations of last century. Some much over-daubed fragments of this wonderful composition are built into the great stair at the Quirinal Palace, and single heads are preserved in the sacristy of St. Peter's.

The favour of this Pontiff, whom the prejudiced Infessura has libelled as "the enemy of literary and reputable men,"-291- included merit from every quarter. Baccio Pintelli, of Florence, was his chief architect; Antonio Venezianello was conjoined by him with the Umbrian della Francesca and Signorelli to decorate the sacristy at Loreto; he pensioned Andrea d'Assisi, when early blindness had clouded those great gifts ascribed to him by Vasari; the Tuscan Verrocchio, who had come to Rome as a goldsmith, became, by his encouragement, a sculptor of eminence, and the inventor of that charming style which da Vinci brought to perfection in Lombard painting.

Deferring our notice of Giuliano, the favourite nephew of Sixtus IV., we shall now mention his younger brother Giovanni, immediate ancestor of the della Rovere Dukes of Urbino. He was born in 1458, but we have no information as to his life before his uncle's elevation. The ancient and honourable dignity of Prefect of the favoured [alma] city of Rome was held by the Colonna, from the time of Martin V., until the death of Antonio, Prince of Salerno, in 1472. His son, Pier-Antonio, had been named to that office in reversion by Pius II., but, upon the ground of nonage, Sixtus set aside his claim and appointed his own nephew Leonardo della Rovere. He, too, having died in 1475, the Pontiff conferred the prefecture, (with remainder to his eldest son), on his next brother, Giovanni, to whom, on the 12th of the preceding October, he had given an investiture, in full consistory, of Sinigaglia, Mondavio, Mondolfo, and Sta. Costanza. At the same time, his marriage with Giovanna, second daughter of Federigo, the newly-created Duke of Urbino, was celebrated with becoming pomp, her dowry being 12,000 ducats; and on the 28th the almost childish couple made a festive entry into their tiny state. The Duke's presence and influence, though gladly given, were probably not required to secure them a rapturous welcome, for elevation from obscure provincialism to petty independence was ever a welcome-292- boon to an Italian community. To signalise and commemorate the auspicious event, a young oak tree was planted in the piazza, with the motto in Latin, "Long may it last," and was inaugurated amid boundless and universal joy. A tournament was next day celebrated, succeeded by a ball, in which the sovereigns and their new subjects freely mingled.

From the narrative of Fra Graziano[216] we learn the immense benefit which the new order of things brought to that hitherto obscure town. Though boasting a certain importance under imperial Rome, it had become so decayed as hardly to afford stabling for twenty horses. The Prefect lost not a moment in meeting the exigencies of his position; and though but a boy in years, proved himself possessed of matured wisdom. Summoning from all quarters the best architects and engineers, he opened new streets, and paved them; built palaces, churches, convents, and a large hospital; constructed a harbour, erected a citadel, and fortified his capital. But his most happy expedient was the encouragement of an annual fair, which, gradually extending in importance, rendered Sinigaglia a mart of commerce, and continues to this day the most important in Italy.[*217] Nor were his exertions confined within the city. Mondaino and other places of minor note shared these improvements; and he brought from Lombardy and Romagna a population of skilful agriculturists, to clear and cultivate the forest lands which spread far around, until his state became a fertile and corn-exporting district.

The moral welfare of his people was meanwhile not overlooked; and the strict propriety which he exerted himself to maintain, was enforced by example as well as by precept. In his own practice, and in the circle of his-293- sanctimonious court, the decencies of life were enforced with an almost monastic discipline, strangely at variance with the usages of his age, and the temperament of his near relations. Fra Graziano sums up his character as moderate in his tastes, prudent in his counsels, mild, liberal, and just in his administration, devoutly religious in his observances. His consort possessed virtues, graces, and accomplishments worthy of her husband's merits and her own beauty.

The Prefect does not, however, seem to have been able in person to superintend the beneficent administration which he had the good sense to institute, for the Pontiff's doating nepotism required much of his presence after the loss of Pietro Riario. The youthful couple accordingly spent several years at the Vatican; and on their return home, in 1479, Giovanni was presented by the city of Sinigaglia with twelve silver cups weighing eighteen pounds. In 1482, they were again sent for by Sixtus, who gave his nephew a palace on the Lago di Vico. Even after his uncle's death, the Prefect enjoyed a large share of papal favour, having from Innocent VIII., the baton as captain-general of the Church. But, on the accession of Alexander VI., the star of the della Rovere waned. In Cardinal Giuliano his Holiness saw a powerful and talented rival; in the Prefect an obstacle to his ambitious views for his bastard progeny. The former prudently retired to France; the latter lived quietly in his vicariat.

In 1494, the Lord of Sinigaglia signalised himself by a feat worthy the freebooting practice of his times. Zizim, or Gem, son of Mahomet II., had right by his father's will to half the Turkish empire, but was expelled by his brother Bajazet, in 1482.[*218] Having fled to Rhodes, and placed-294- himself under the protection of the Grand Master, Bajazet offered the latter a pension of 40,000 (or as some say 450,000) golden ducats, on condition of his being retained in safe custody. From Rhodes he was removed to France, and, in 1489, was brought to Rome, where, though received with much distinction by Innocent VIII., he found himself virtually a prisoner, or hostage. Bajazet, after failure of an attempt to have him assassinated, agreed to pay that Pontiff and his successor, the same yearly subsidy of 40,000 ducats for his custody and entertainment, besides supplying the Holy See with various important Christian relics from Palestine. In 1494, the Sultan's usual annual pension having been remitted to Rome through one Giorgio Bucciardo, accompanied by costly presents for Alexander VI., the envoy, on leaving Ancona, where he had disembarked, was set upon and plundered by Giovanni della Rovere. After appropriating most of the treasure, to extinguish alleged arrears of pay from the Holy See to himself and his troops, the Prefect sanctified the deed by dedicating the residue to pious works, employing the rich oriental stuffs for church ornaments. Soon after, there were circulated in Rome, certified copies of a correspondence between Alexander and the Sultan, with the oral instructions of his Holiness, which Bucciardo had been induced to divulge, and which throws a curious colour on this chapter of diplomacy.[219]

The envoy, on being accredited to the Sultan, had to state to his Highness, that the King of France was advanc-295-ing upon Rome and Naples, in order to dispossess Alfonso, the Pope's vassal and ally, and to carry off Gem, with the project of providing him with a fleet, and supporting him in an invasion of Turkey. That as his Holiness had incurred great expenses in military preparations against a danger thus affecting the Sultan as well as himself, he prayed from him an advance of the 40,000 ducats due in November, to be remitted by the bearer. And he was further to induce his Highness to adopt every means likely to alienate his Venetian allies from French interests in the approaching struggle, and to attach them to the party of Naples.

The Sultan's answer is contained in a letter addressed to the Pontiff, wherein this passage occurs:—"For these reasons, we began, with Giorgio Bucciardo, to consider that for your Potency's peace, convenience, and honour, and for my satisfaction, it would be well you should make the said Gem, my brother, die, who is deserving of death, and detained in your hands; which would be most useful to himself and your Potency, most conducive to tranquillity, and further, very agreeable to myself! And if your Mightiness is content to oblige me in this matter, as in your discretion we trust you will do, it is desirable, for maintenance of your own authority, and for our full satisfaction, that your Mightiness will, in the manner that seems best to you, have the said Gem removed from the straits of this world, transferring his soul to another life, where it will enjoy more quiet. And if your Potency will do this, and will send us his body to any place on this side of our channel, we, the foresaid Sultan Bajazet Chan, promise to pay 300,000 ducats at any place your Mightiness may stipulate, that your Potency may therewith buy some sovereignties for your sons." To this cold-blooded offer are added many general professions of eternal amity towards his Holiness, and promises that his subjects will everywhere forbear from aggression upon Christians; and after stating that-296- he had in the envoy's presence taken his oath for the performance of all these obligations, he concludes thus:—"And further I, the aforesaid Sultan Bajazet Chan, swear by the true God, who created the heaven, the earth, and all things therein, in whom we believe, and whom we adore, that I shall make performance of every thing contained above, and shall never in any respect countermine or oppose your Mightiness. From our palace at Constantinople, the 15th of September, in the year of Christ's advent, 1494."

Although discredit was thrown upon these documents by the Roman court, and the whole affair was alleged to be a device of Cardinals della Rovere and Gurk, to screen the Prefect at the Pontiff's expense,[220] it appears clear that a bribe was offered by Bajazet for the destruction of his brother, who did not long survive this incident. Alexander accepted 20,000 ducats from Charles VIII. to put Gem into his hands during six months, as a tool for his ambitious design upon the East; and in the treaty between his Holiness and the French monarch, dated 15th January, 1495, there is a special article that the former should consign "the Turk" to his Majesty as a hostage, to be kept in the castle of Terracina, or elsewhere, in the ecclesiastical territories, from whence Charles came under a promise not to remove him "unless in case of need, in order to prevent an invasion of the other Turks, or to make war upon them." He also bound himself to defend the Pope from any descent of the Infidel upon the Adriatic coast, and, on quitting Italy, to restore Gem to his custody, his Holiness meanwhile continuing to draw the Sultan's pension, and for due observance of these conditions, Charles bound himself in a penalty of 800,000 ducats. By another article he undertook to arbitrate in the complaint brought against the Prefect, in the affair of Bucciardo and the captured subsidy. It is-297- further stipulated that the Cardinal della Rovere should be restored to favour, and replaced as legate at Avignon; and that, on termination of the Neapolitan enterprise, Ostia should be again surrendered into his hands.[221]

This oriental Prince's sudden demise, which soon followed, was attributed to various causes, but a general belief imputed it to poison, in implement of the Pope's engagement to Bajazet. Zizim is represented as far superior to his countrymen in mind and attainments; and we shall by and by find him honoured as a Maecenas of literature. A very different impression is, however, left by the amusing, but obviously caricatured, description of him transmitted from Rome in 1489, by Andrea Mantegna, the painter, to his patron the Marquis of Mantua:[222]—"The Turk's brother is here, strictly guarded in the palace of his Holiness, who allows him all sorts of diversion, such as hunting, music, and the like. He often comes to eat in this new palace where I am painting,[223] and for a barbarian, his manners are not amiss. There is a sort of majestic bearing about him, and he never doffs his cap to the Pope, having in fact none; for which reason they don't raise the cowl to him either.[224] He eats five times a-day, and sleeps as often; before meals he drinks sugared water like a monkey. He has the gait of an elephant, but his people praise him much, especially for his horsemanship; it may be so, but I have never seen him take his feet out of the stirrups, or give any other proof of skill. He is a most savage man, and has stabbed, at least, four persons, who are said not to have survived four hours. A few days ago, he gave such a cuffing to one of his interpreters that they had to carry him to the river, in order to bring him round. It is believed that-298- Bacchus pays him many a visit. On the whole he is dreaded by those about him. He takes little heed of any thing, like one who does not understand, or has no reason. His way of life is quite peculiar; he sleeps without undressing, and gives audience sitting cross-legged, in the Parthian fashion. He carries on his head sixty thousand yards of linen, and wears so long a pair of trowsers that he is lost in them, and astonishes all beholders. Once I have well seen him, I shall forward your Excellency a sketch of him, which I should send you with this, but that I have not yet fairly got near him; for when he gives now one sort of look and then another, in the true inamorato style, I cannot impress his features on my memory. Altogether he has a fearful face, especially when Bacchus has been with him. I shall no longer tire your Excellency with this familiar joking style; to whom I again and again commend myself, and pray your pardon if too much at home." Homely it is in good earnest, being written in the Lombardo-Venetian dialect, some passages of which baffle translation.[225]

It is, however, time to return from the digression into which this singular and romantic history of the Turkish Prince has tempted us. Alexander, greatly exasperated by the insults put upon his envoy, and by the loss of a most opportune remittance, threatened the Prefect with deprivation of his state; but finding his people, and the neighbouring communities prepared to stand by him, deferred his vengeance. Notwithstanding a reference of the whole affair to the French monarch, by the treaty of 1495, nearly six years elapsed ere Giovanni della Rovere was formally absolved from the daring exploit. He was not spared to witness the revival and aggrandisement of-299- his family's fortunes by his elder brother's election to the papal throne. On the 6th of November, 1501, death found him already attired in a winding-sheet appropriate to the devotional habits of the age, the cowl formerly worn by the beatified Fra Giacomo della Marca.

Two miles west from Sinigaglia, on a rising ground which overlooks the city, commanding the fertile vale of the Misa, from its Apennine rampart to the bright waves of the blue Adriatic, there stands a convent of Zoccolantine Franciscans. It was founded by the piety of the Prefect and his consort; it was the chosen retreat of their devotional hours, and was selected by them as the spot for their last repose. There he was laid, agreeably to his dying wish, in the Franciscan habit; and a plain marble slab in the pavement commemorates his titles, and her worth, "in prosperity and adversity comparable, nay preferable, to the best and noblest of her sex." There, too, was composed by Father di Francia, guardian of the convent, that brief record of the merits of his sovereign and patron from which the preceding sketch has in part been compiled. The original MS. has disappeared in the general havoc of ecclesiastical treasures; but in the adjoining church there has been marvellously preserved from the sacrilegious rapine of French invaders, from the selfish gripe of unscrupulous collectors, and from the merciless ignorance of modern restorers, an interesting memorial of the persons, piety, and artistic tastes of this princely pair. Into a small picture of the Madonna and Child are introduced, on either side, portraits of Giovanni della Rovere and his wife, their arms devoutly crossed, their dress displaying no royal gauds except her simple string of pearls, and a large crystal bead suspended from his neck by a double gold chain. Their regular and unimpassioned features are, probably, somewhat idealised by the pencil of one more happy, as well as more habituated, to embody inspirations of religious mysticism, than to por-300-tray the indexes of human passion. Nothing is known of the artist, but he must have been among the foremost in the Umbrian school.

By his will, the Prefect left his only son under the joint guardianship of the Venetian senate, his widow, his brother the Cardinal, and the gallant Andrea Doria, whose faithful services we have formerly mentioned. To his consort he bequeathed 20,000 ducats, and 7000 to each of his daughters. On the 18th of November, Francesco Maria rode through Sinigaglia, to receive the allegiance of his subjects; but being only eleven years of age, his mother continued to govern for his behoof, whilst his education was chiefly conducted at the court of her brother, the Duke of Urbino. For a time she was spared the fate of the Romagnese princes; and it was not until Guidobaldo's second flight that the arms of Borgia reached her frontier. Aware how deeply her personal safety was perilled by the approach of so sanguinary a foe, her friend Doria, who commanded the garrison, sent her off disguised in male apparel; and, after a fatiguing flight through mountain-paths, she reached Florence, accompanied only by one confidential servant and a female attendant. The defence of her citadel against an overwhelming force being utterly vain, Doria retired just before the massacre of his allies by Cesare Borgia, which we have recounted in our nineteenth chapter of this work. There, too, we have narrated the young Prefect's escape to France, where he remained under his uncle's auspices, until the latter was called to assume the triple tiara. Giovanna lived until 1514, and passed from worldly trials just before adverse fortune had again exiled her son from his rightful states. Ere we proceed to consider his eventful life, we shall close this chapter with a few brief notices of his uncle Giuliano, the greatest of the della Rovere race.

An account of Julius II. should be, in a great degree,-301- a history of Italy during the crisis of its fate; but as we have in other portions of this work to glance at those events of his life and pontificate most connected with the politics of Urbino, and with the succession of his nephew to that duchy, we shall here, as in the case of his uncle Sixtus, limit ourselves to a few notices of his character and personal history, including his exertions in behalf of art.

Giuliano della Rovere[*226] was in most respects the reverse of Pietro Riario, his cousin and rival in the affections of Sixtus IV. Moderate in his tastes and habits, his attendants were chosen for their orderly lives; his equipages were as scanty as the exigencies of rank would permit; his table was economical as his apparel, unless when called upon to show fitting hospitality to persons of distinction. Among the virtues with which he adorned the dignity of cardinal, Panvinio enumerates the modesty of his demeanour, the gravity of his address, the elegance of his winning manners. The less partial Volterrano characterises him as somewhat severe in disposition, and of a genius ordinary as his learning. Dignities were conferred upon him in rapid succession by his uncle, including the sees of Albano, Sabina, Ostia, Velletri, and Avignon, with the more important offices of Grand Penitentiary and Legate of Picene and Avignon. The latter appointment occasioned his prolonged residence out of Italy during the reign of Innocent VIII., and afforded him a convenient escape from the snares of his inveterate enemy Alexander VI. Their mutual disgusts, arising from opposite characters and rival interests, were, according to Infessura, brought to a climax by the Cardinal's adherence to Neapolitan interests, in December, 1492, on the question of Leonora Queen of Hungary's divorce. He then retired to his citadel-see at Ostia, where, at the-302- abbey of Grotta Ferrata, his moats and battlements remain, witnesses to his warlike spirit, as well as to the perils of those troubled times. But, considering himself even there insecure, he ere long withdrew to Naples, whence, after narrowly escaping seizure by the Pope's emissaries, he again reached Ostia in an open boat. On the approach of an army under Nicolò Count of Pittigliano, he fled thence to France, leaving the garrison in charge of the Prefect, who soon capitulated, on condition that neither he nor his brother should incur ecclesiastical censures. Grotto Ferrata was about the same time seized and delivered over to Fabrizio Colonna, on payment of 10,000 ducats.

The outrages which the Cardinal had thus received at the hands of the Borgian Pontiff, in unworthy vengeance for his honest opposition to the nepotism and other scandals which then disgraced the Vatican, galled his pride, tending to rouse that fierce spirit which, although alien to the character ascribed to his earlier years, became the bane of his pontificate. This was, indeed, the turning point of his life, and it developed a policy utterly at variance with his ultimate views. Having attended Charles in his march across the Alps, his ardent temperament often aided to sustain that weak monarch's wavering resolutions. Had he then considered more his country's interests, and less his private wrongs, the storm might yet have been averted, and Italy might have been spared, for a time, from those ultramontane armaments which he now conducted into her bosom, but which it was the aim of his after-life to eject. The French King, having achieved his rapid acquisition of Naples, instigated the Colonna to seize upon Ostia, and, as he passed northward, restored it to its cardinal-bishop, who there once more sought security from the Pope. But Giuliano found in his stronghold no adequate protection against so bitter and unscrupulous a foe. Alexander, on the retirement of-303- the French army, entered into an alliance with the reinstated King of Naples, and in 1497 employed Gonsalvo di Cordova to reduce Ostia, whose garrison had embarrassed the navigation of the Tiber, and intercepted supplies from his capital. Eschewing the risks of an unavailing resistance, the Cardinal once more escaped by sea, and rejoined Charles at Lyons, whilst the Great Captain was rewarded for his easy conquest with the Golden Rose.

Cardinal della Rovere, having in 1597 been declared enemy of the Holy See, and deprived of his benefices by the Pontiff, against the will of the consistory, withdrew for security to his native shores, and awaited at Savona the conclusion of what was to many of his order a reign of terror. At the moment of Cesare Borgia's invasion of Urbino, he narrowly escaped the fate destined for his brother-in-law Guidobaldo, and his nephew, the young Prefect. On pretence of a complimentary mission to Louis XII., the papal fleet had sailed towards Provence, with orders to visit Savona, where, if the Cardinal did not voluntarily pay his respects to the envoys, he was to be inveigled on board, and carried off. But warned by past experience against civilities emanating from such a quarter, he escaped the danger by cautiously evading the perilous invitation.

The sudden and unanimous election of Giuliano to succeed Pius III.—which we have elsewhere narrated—may well be deemed marvellous, considering the various interests that distracted the conclave, and the influence still ostensibly possessed in it by Valentino, the arch-foe of the Rovere race. There could be no more convincing proof that all parties were tired of the recent system, nor of their resolution to put an end to similar enormities. His morals, though hitherto far from immaculate, were pure in comparison with those which prevailed around him; above all, his lapses were neither matter of bravado,-304- nor of open scandal.[227] His errors were of a loftier range, and if more directly perilous to the public, they belonged to a nobler category, and sprang from generous and praiseworthy impulses, and tended to public objects and the elevation of the papacy. Ascending a throne shaken by complicated convulsions, succeeding to a treasury drained for selfish ends, and to an authority waning under long-established abuses, it was his bounden duty to beware ne aliquid detrimenti respublica capiat. But, not content with resisting such further "detriment to the commonwealth," and with recovering the ground recently lost, his conscience, more perhaps than his ambition, urged him to new triumphs. He was a great pontiff after the mediæval estimate of the papacy. Little occupying himself with the bulwarks of a faith which he presumed impregnable, or the dogmas of a church still paramount over Christendom, he considered the temporal sovereignty and aggrandisement of the Keys to be his special vocation. Like the early Guelphs, he regarded Italy as St. Peter's patrimony, to be vindicated from all intruders: to establish her nationality, and extirpate the barbarian invaders, were merely steps to that end. Italian unity, though not as yet proposed for political aspirations or utopian dreams, was the result towards which this policy would probably have led both Julius and his successor, had the former been longer spared, and had the narrow views with which the latter pursued it not involved him in continual difficulties, and accelerated the decline of papal ascendancy.

But no personal ambition ever dictated the schemes of Julius, nor did a thought for the nations whose destinies he hazarded ever cross his mind. In the spirit of a crusader he marched against Perugia and Bologna; he-305- personally superintended the siege of Mirandula; and when he donned the casque and cuirass, it was because they were to him more familiar than the wiles of diplomacy. A stranger to those dilatory tactics which we shall find marring the reputation of his nephew, the Duke of Urbino, success crowned his aggressive measures and impetuous movements, when greater circumspection might have been attended with less advantageous results; and it was his good fortune not to outlive those reverses which his precipitation almost necessarily incurred. He was, in truth, gifted with qualities and talents befitting the camp rather than the consistory, and Francis I. pronounced him a better general of division than a pope. Had he been bred a condottiere, the political aspect of Italy might have been convulsed by him, and the papacy might have suffered still more from his sword than it did from his policy. Yet if his militant tastes occasioned greater scandal than the less blustering turbulence of Alexander and Leo, and have proved equally detrimental to popery, they are hallowed in the eyes of its champions in consideration of his purer motives. By them accordingly he is upheld as one of its pillars, while by most historians he has been mentioned as a favourable exception to the prevailing bad faith of his times. Yet, though greedy of conquest, he was far from indifferent to those internal reforms requisite for the stability of his government. According to Capello, the Venetian envoy, he possessed great practical sagacity, and was led by no one, though willing to hear all opinions. His judicious measures added two-thirds to the revenue of the Holy See, chiefly by correcting the depreciated currency in which it was paid. In personal expenses he was penuriously sparing, contracting with his house-steward, to whom he allowed but 1500 ducats for the monthly bills of the palace.[228]

But this picture has its reverse. In the two following-306- chapters of these memoirs we shall find the head of the universal Church harassing his flock by perpetual warfare—the high-priest of the Christian hierarchy seemingly indifferent to the purity of Catholic rites, and utterly oblivious of peace and charity.

By lovers of art the memory of Julius II. will ever be embalmed among the foremost of its princely patrons, and his appreciation of literature may be learned from his remark, that letters are silver to the people, gold to the nobles, diamonds to princes. We have elsewhere to speak of his vast undertakings in architecture, sculpture, and painting, which earned from Vasari the reputation of a spirited pontiff, bent upon leaving memorials of a zealous and liberal encouragement of art. His lavish outlay on St. Peter's strikingly contrasts with his habitual economy. To meet it he authorised a general collection, towards which the Franciscans gathered 27,000 ducats, and in 1507 he proclaimed a sale of jubilee indulgences. This device laid all Christendom under contribution, and proved so productive that he and Leo were tempted almost annually to repeat it, little aware what weapons they were thus forging for future schismatics. The example of his uncle Sixtus, in summoning for the decoration of his capital whatever talent merited such patronage, was followed up by him with the energy belonging to his nature. Besides commencing the metropolitan fane, the immense cortile, corridors, and loggie of the Vatican, and the unequalled frescoes of the stanze, he was truly the founder of a museum of ancient art. He rescued the Laocoon and rewarded its discoverer; the Apollo and the Torso took their epithet of Belvidere from the pavilion in which he placed them.

Rome owes to him, among other improvements, one of its longest and finest streets, bearing his name, where he began a series of palaces for public offices and the courts of justice, unfortunately never completed. The-307- churches which he re-founded or decorated include S. Pietro in Montorio, Sta. Agnese, SS. Apostoli, and the Madonna del Popolo. In the last of these are the beautiful windows which he brought two famous glass-painters from Marseilles to execute; and beneath them those purest specimens of the revival, in which he invited Sansovino's exquisite chisel to commemorate his talented rival Ascanio Sforza, and his cousin the Cardinal of Recanati. For objects so laudable the moment was propitious, and fortune seconded his efforts; but it was more than chance which enabled him to select at once the greatest painter, the most gifted sculptor, and the first architect whom the modern world has seen,—to give simultaneous employment worthy of their genius to Raffaele, Michael Angelo, and Bramante.

His successor has found among ourselves a biographer[*229] who brought the enthusiasm of a eulogist to grace the more solid qualifications of a historian, whose eloquence has thrown around the era of Leo a brilliancy leaving in comparative obscurity the pontificate of Julius, whence many of its rays were virtually borrowed. But the progress of our narrative will lead us to introduce some less flattered sketches of the Medicean pontiff. In stimulating the search for choice fragments of antique sculpture, the son of Lorenzo de' Medici but followed the course which his father had indicated, and which Julius had zealously pursued. St. Peter's, perverted under him into a crowning abuse destined to wean men from their old faith, had been founded by his predecessor as the mighty temple of a church, Catholic in fact as well as in name. Michael Angelo, summoned by Julius to decorate his capital with the grandest of his efforts in architecture, sculpture, and painting, was banished by his successor to waste his energies in engineering the marble quarries of Pietra Santa. Raphael was diverted by Leo from that cycle of-308- religious frescoes which the genius of Julius had commissioned, in order to distract his powers upon multifarious, less important, and less congenial occupations.

Nor need we fear a comparison between these pontiffs on more important points of their respective policy. The wars of Julius were undertaken for the aggrandisement of the papacy, and his nephew was used as an instrument to that end. Those of Leo were waged for the interests of his family at the expense of the Holy See. The former is reported to have left five millions of golden ducats in the treasury; the latter unquestionably burdened it with heavy debts. The measures of Julius may have encouraged divisive courses and a schismatic council; but those of Leo matured the Reformation, and permitted a small cloud, which he might have dispersed while forming upon the horizon, to spread unheeded over the heavens, until Central Europe was withdrawn from the light and influence of the Roman church.

In fine, during the pontificates of Sixtus and of Julius more was done for the encouragement of literature and arts, for the temporal extension of the papacy, and for the embellishment of its metropolis, than has ever been effected in any similar period. The combined reigns of the two Medicean popes have left no equal memorials. It cannot be doubted that the patronage bestowed by his ancestors on men of science and letters was liberally continued by Leo; yet it is as much to the zeal of partial historians, as to his own policy of success, that he stands indebted for the halo of glory which marks his as a golden age. In many instances he but followed out the aims of Julius, reaping their undivided glory; in others he fell sadly short of his predecessor in energy and comprehensive views. The bad seed which he freely scattered ripened into irreparable mischiefs under his vacillating nephew, and the sack of Rome, which we shall by and by describe, was their crowning calamity.-309- After that event the proud city was once again left desolate and impoverished, the prey of barbarian spoilers; its population thinned, its court outraged, its glories gone. When the judgment of posterity has passed into a proverb it is too late to question its equity, or to appeal from its fiat, and the name of Leo the Tenth will thus remain identified with his age as the star whence its lustre was derived, although Italy was then brightened by not a few orbs of scarcely inferior brilliancy or less genial influence.





Youth of Duke Francesco Maria I.—The League of Cambray—His marriage—His first military service—The Cardinal of Pavia’s treachery—Julius II. takes the field.

TO the family della Rovere, whom we have traced in the preceding chapter, an heir was born on the 25th of March, 1490. His father, the Lord Prefect, acknowledged his arrival to be a divine blessing, and, as then usual, testified gratitude by the selection of his baptismal names. St. Francis was the established tutelary saint of the family, under whose guidance Sixtus IV. believed himself to have obtained the tiara, and to whom his brother the Prefect addressed his orisons for a male child. It came into the world on the fête of the Annunciation, and was immediately christened Francesco Maria,[*230] in honour of the saint and of the Madonna. In this, his only male offspring, centred the hopes and interests of the Lord of Sinigaglia; and after his death, in 1501, the boy was carried to the court of Urbino, where his progress was watched with almost paternal anxiety by Duke Guidobaldo. His mother occasionally visited there after her widowhood, although from motives of perhaps misplaced delicacy, she resided chiefly on her husband's fiefs of Sora and Arci in the Neapolitan territory.

The first care of his uncle Guidobaldo was to obtain for him a renewal of the prefecture of Rome, which his father had held; and as that appointment was in the hands of Alexander VI., an enemy of the della Rovere, the Duke-314- of Urbino had recourse to the influence of Louis XII. with the Pontiff. This application was warmly seconded in the same quarter by the Cardinal of S. Pietro in Vinculis, paternal uncle of Francesco Maria, and an adherent of the French interests. The readiness wherewith his Holiness accorded this dignity, and even held out hopes of marrying his niece, Angela Borgia, to the young Prefect, induced his uncles to hint at their project of adopting him as heir to the dukedom, a step which required the papal sanction. But they were met by temporising answers, and found, ere long, that the apparent frankness of Alexander was but a cover to that deep-laid plot of destruction, involving both Guidobaldo and his nephew, which we have already developed.

Meanwhile, Francesco Maria's education advanced in letters and arms, with every aid which books, talented preceptors, and distinguished society could afford. His earliest instructor had been Antonio Crastini of Sassoferrato, a man of excellent judgment, and well skilled in theology and philosophy, to whom his father had entrusted the command of Sinigaglia, and whose services were eventually rewarded by Julius II. with the sees of Cagli and Montefeltro. Ludovico Odasio still resided at the court of his former pupil Duke Guidobaldo, who placed under his superintendence his youthful relation. The lad, though small in stature for his years, was remarkable for strength and activity, as well as for an active temperament and lively talents. He was liberal, and even careless, of money; but all his pleasure was in the military art, all his ambition centred in martial glory, for Nicolò of Fossombrone, and another famous astrologer, had predicted from his horoscope high deeds of arms. After passing hours in the study of history and classical literature, and of those sciences wherein princes then sought pre-eminence, he found relaxation in horsemanship and martial exercises, under the eye of such honoured veterans of Duke Federigo-315- as still wore their well-won laurels in the palace of his son. Thus was his youthful mind moulded to the noblest forms of chivalry, without those idle appendages which the affectation of other times has exaggerated into caricature.




After the picture by Titian in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence
(From the Ducal Collection)

The whirlwind that broke in upon this calm, and sent the Lords of Urbino and Sinigaglia into houseless exile, has been described in the eighteenth chapter of these memoirs. Francesco Maria, after accompanying his uncle's midnight flight as far as Sta. Agata, reached Bologna through mountain paths; and, having by great prudence escaped the attempts of Giovanni Bentivoglio to apprehend him, in compliance with Valentino's orders, he made his way by Genoa to Savona, where his uncle, the Cardinal della Rovere, resided. But the latter, not satisfied of his security, and anxious to place him where he would have better means of improvement, sent him to his see of Avignon, and thence recommended him to Louis XII., who received him with high favour. In the court then established at Lyons he resumed his education, especially in those military and personal accomplishments for which it was distinguished, and quickly acquired great proficiency in the French language. There he attached himself much to the youthful Gaston de Foix, acting as his page of honour, and gained some notice from the King, who bore testimony to his precocious attainments in chivalry, by bestowing upon him the order of St. Michael ere he had completed his thirteenth year.

The events already recorded in connection with the death of Alexander VI., restored Francesco Maria to his rights unquestioned; but his first care was to obey a summons of his cardinal uncle, who had been elected to the tiara. Travelling from France with his cousin-german Galeotto Franciotti, whom Julius had named to the hat just vacated by himself, he reached Rome amid public rejoicings on the 2nd of March, 1504. He immediately received the command of a hundred men-at-arms, and-316- steps were promptly taken for his public recognition as heir-apparent of Urbino. Accompanying Guidobaldo into the Marca, he was welcomed at Sinigaglia, on the 17th of June, by the unanimous voice of his people. On the 18th of September he was invested with the dukedom of Urbino in reversion, when he received the homage of his future subjects with a ceremonial which we have described at p. 37, and which was attended by delegates from all parts of the state, to adhibit the consent of their constituents. As a finishing stroke to these measures for consolidating the della Rovere sovereignty, a marriage was about the same time contracted between the Prefect and Leonora Gonzaga, daughter of Francesco Marquis of Mantua. To this arrangement, which turned out in all respects fortunate, the wishes of her aunt, the Duchess Elisabetta of Urbino,[*231] were mainly conducive; and preliminaries were negotiated by Count Castiglione, whose high favour with both contracting parties, as well as his diplomatic address, well qualified him for the mission. It was announced in January, 1505, but the ceremony was postponed for four years, on account of their youth. To the charms of the bride, Castiglione bears this tribute: "If ever there were united wisdom, grace, beauty, genius, courtesy, gentleness, and refined manners, it was in her person, where these combined qualities form a chain adorning her every movement."

Venetian Wedding-Dress



After the picture called “La Flora” by Titian
in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence

But although too young for matrimony, the Prefettino was allowed to flesh his maiden sword under his future father-in-law's command, in the expedition undertaken by Julius against the lords of Perugia and Bologna. In a military view the campaign was totally uninteresting; but-317- in some skirmishes before Castel S. Pietro, Francesco Maria gained his general's approbation, and thus favourably entered upon the career wherein he was destined to high distinction. The greater part of his time was spent at Urbino, acquainting himself with the people over whom he was to reign, and with the duties that awaited him. Its limited court was rich in merit, and beneath an exterior of elegance and high polish, learning and accomplishments of every sort were cultivated and honoured to a degree elsewhere unknown. The laxity of morals which, notwithstanding the example of both sovereigns, accompanied that refinement, may be estimated from an anecdote sadly instancing the failing in Francesco Maria's character, which proved the bane of his whole life. We shall narrate it in the words of an anonymous diary, already largely drawn upon for the reign of Guidobaldo I.[232] "The Duke, [Guidobaldo] having brought up about his person one Giovanni Andrea, a bravo of Verona, he made him his favourite, and conferred upon him the order of the Golden Spur, as well as the fief of Sasso-Corbaro, and some mills on the Foglia. He was extremely handsome and generally liked; and it happened that Madama Maria, daughter of the late Prefect Giovanna of Sinigaglia, and widow of Venanzio of Camerino, who had been slain by Cesare Borgia, was residing in Urbino with her son. Being still young, she fell in love with this Giovanni Andrea, and was reported to have borne him a son. Whereupon her brother, the Prefect, sent for him one Saturday evening, and in the ducal chamber beset him with his people, and assassinated him with twenty-four blows. At the same moment, one of his attendants went out and slew a servant of Madama Maria, who was said to have delivered their messages. On the following evening, being Sunday, the body was carried to the cathedral with distinguished honours, accompanied by all the gentlemen of the ducal household, and by-318- a concourse of the citizens, for he was generally lamented by persons of every rank, and no one had died for a length of time more regretted. And this occurred on the 6th of October, 1507."

We have elsewhere endeavoured to sketch the brilliant society in which the Prefect's youthful mind was developed; in due time we shall find several of its prominent members crossing him in the tangled weft of human destiny, as friends or foes, according to their several interests. We have also noticed the affectionate duty he continued to interchange with the Duke and Duchess, and the circumstances in which he succeeded to their state. Guidobaldo closed his life of suffering on the 11th of April, 1508, and on the 14th Francesco Maria, after high mass in the cathedral, produced the will naming him heir of the duchy and dignities.[*233] The gonfaloniere of Urbino then presented to him the city keys in a great silver basin, and also its standard, accompanied with a complimentary address. He next was arrayed in the ducal mantle of white satin doubled with gold brocade, and a cap faced with ermine, over which was placed the coronet; then mounting a superb charger richly housed, he was escorted through the principal streets by an enthusiastic multitude shouting "Rovere and Feltro, Duke and Prefect!" in whose joyous hurrahs it would have been difficult to identify the disconsolate populace who not many hours before had raised their coronach over Guidobaldo's mortal remains. On returning, his horse was seized as their perquisite, and his mantle torn into shreds, which were scrambled for as relics to be treasured in memory of the day.

This spontaneous loyalty, and their satisfaction at the maintenance of their national independence, did not, however, prevent the citizens from recollecting their interests. On the new Duke's first appearance at Urbino the autho-319-rities had gathered round his horse to kiss his hands and knees, and to beseech attention to their wishes. Pleading recent fatigues, he declined entering then upon business, and the gonfaloniere, readily accepting the excuse, summoned a sort of parliament of the principal inhabitants to decide what favours and privileges should be asked as a preliminary to their homage. Estimating this movement at its actual value, rather than by its bearing upon any theories of self-government, Baldi has entered into no details of these demands: their object may, however, be guessed at from the municipal concessions made by Francesco Maria on the 31st of May, whereby precedence was granted to the gonfaloniere over the podestà; and the salaries of the city physician, lawyer, and schoolmaster were undertaken by the sovereign, who also consented to a modification of the imposts on agricultural produce.[*234]

Although the popularity both of the extinguished dynasty and of the youth who was destined to replace it, together with an absence of all conflicting claims, rendered the succession safe and certain, every measure which prudence could suggest had been taken by the Pope to secure its being peacefully effected. A few excitable spirits having assumed arms, in apprehension of some revolutionary movement, a proclamation was issued on the morning subsequent to the Duke's decease, commanding all to lay them down. On the 17th a papal brief was addressed to the people, condoling with them on their bereavement, and applauding their dutiful and orderly reception of Francesco Maria. An envoy, deputed by the community to present their answer, returned on the 30th, delighted with the gracious reception he had met with, and with the Pontiff's flattering assurances. The ceremony of swearing allegiance was out of delicacy postponed until the 3rd of May, the day subsequent to-320- his respected predecessor's funeral. Summonses for both solemnities were issued to the various communities in the following terms:—

"Right well-beloved,

"On the second of the ensuing month will be celebrated the obsequies of the illustrious Lord Duke, our father of happy memory, for which it behoves you to send here in good time as many as possible of your well-qualified fellow-citizens, suitably dressed for the occasion. And to such of them as you shall please to choose, you shall give a special mandate for adhibiting the oath of fidelity to us in name of your community, taking care that it be in regular form as a public instrument. From Urbino, this 25th of April, 1508.

"Franciscus Maria Dux Urbini,
Almæ Urbis Præfectus."

The deputations willingly rendered the required homage, for they considered this perpetuation of their independence as a boon doubly grateful in the person of a sovereign representing their old and loved dynasty, whose opening character promised no unworthy successor to his esteemed uncle and father. During some days the Duke attended to various demands and representations of the commissioners, and, by well-timed favours to their different cities, quickly established himself in the good graces of his new subjects. The Duchess Regent proved a kind and prudent counsellor until he came of age, and long continued her assistance in his affairs of state, residing at his court while he had a home to share with her. The great discretion and good feeling he now manifested towards her, and the scrupulous anxiety he testified to retain around him all Guidobaldo's tried friends and servants, quickly ripened the popularity which his fortunate position had sown, and which eventually enabled him to recover and maintain his sovereignty in circumstances nearly desperate.




Supposed portrait of Duchess Leonora, from the picture by Titian in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence


The restless spirit of Julius fretted against the resistance still offered by the Venetians to his incorporating with the papal states those places in Romagna which they had seized, upon the fall of Valentino, nor would he accept the compromise which they proposed, of surrendering Rimini, on receiving from him a formal investiture of Faenza. They were also suspected of irritating by their intrigues the feverish state of that district, and of undermining the preponderating influence which it was his policy there to establish. On pretext of crowning Maximilian, whose title to the imperial dignity had not been completed by that formality, the Pontiff invited him to march into Italy, and support his views. The Emperor, in accepting the proposal, demanded free passage through the Venetian territories, with a threat of forcing his way, if obstructed. Assured of support from their ally of France, the Signory offered compliance, on condition of his going unarmed: but, spurning such terms, he, in February, moved with an army upon the valley of Trent. He was, however, effectually held in check by the Venetian generals, Nicolò da Petigliano and Bartolomeo d'Alviano; whilst Louis, besides sending Gian Giacomo Trivulzio to their support, instigated the Duke of Gueldres to carry fire and sword into Lower Germany. Maximilian, finding his hands full, made a hasty truce with the Venetians in May, and turned to punish Gueldres. The Venetian and French armies being thereupon disbanded, the moment seemed to Julius favourable for renewing his designs upon Romagna, and in the following November he sent the Cardinal of Sta. Croce to take part in negotiations, which had been opened at Cambray, for reconciliation of the Emperor and the French monarch. Maximilian readily lent himself to any measures calculated to efface his recent disgrace in the Alpine valleys, and to recover some places in Friuli which had remained in the enemy's hands; Louis was induced to accede, in-322- order to wrest from Venice such portions of the old Visconti duchy as owned her sway; and Ferdinand joined the coalition in hopes of regaining several Neapolitan sea-ports, over which the Lion of St. Mark still waved in security of certain advances by the Republic for the wars of Lower Italy. Out of these elements there was concluded, on the 10th of December, a famous treaty, which denounced the Venetians as ambitious perturbators of Italy and all Christian lands, and declared war against them as the common enemies of the allies, who pledged themselves to take the field before April, for recovery of Ravenna, Cervia, Rimini, and Faenza to the Holy See, and of the territories respectively claimed by the other contracting powers in Austria, Lombardy, and Calabria. A subsidiary article took Francesco Maria under their special protection, and guaranteed his states; whilst by another the Duke of Ferrara was left free to become a party, on payment to the Emperor of a sum of money in dispute between them. Such was the notable League of Cambray, misnamed holy, on the vague pretext that the maritime Republic, by retaining Ravenna and Cervia, impeded the pacification of Christendom, and a general armament against the Turks. Not only was it an innovation upon the established custom of pitting the German and French interests against each other, and settling their differences on the blood-stained plains of Lombardy, but, as the first great coalition of European powers for one common political object, it may be regarded as founding the modern system of diplomacy.

Yet, though this formidable confederation was the child of his own brain, matured by the address of his legate, Julius shrank before the Promethean monster, and paused ere he animated it by his ratification. Well might it startle him to find that his labours for the ulterior emancipation of Italy from foreign yoke were about to divide one of her finest states among her most formidable ultra-323-montane foes. Had Duke Guidobaldo been spared a little longer, his cool head and pacific disposition, as well as his friendship for the Signory and his influence with the Pope, might have counteracted the unnatural combination; but the die was cast, and the Pontiff had only to await the course of events for an opportunity of undoing his present work.[*235]

Unable to hold a military command, which would have better suited his talents and tastes than the duties of Christ's vicegerent upon earth, Julius gratified his family predilections by appointing his nephew Francesco Maria to be captain-general of the ecclesiastical troops. His investiture took place in the church of S. Petronio, at Bologna, on the 4th of October, 1508, when he received the pontifical baton from the Cardinal of Pavia, a prelate whose destiny we shall find, ere long, fatally bound up in his own. But the time for active service not being yet arrived, he contented himself with a review of the forces thus placed under his charge. Being considered equal to such a command, it is not surprising he should think it time to celebrate his long-projected nuptials.[*236] On the 5th of November, Julius wrote to the Duchess Elisabetta, to send a lettiga or litter, with three horses, in order to bring his bride on a visit to Urbino, where the-324- ceremony took place on Christmas Eve, 1508.[*237] The letters, addressed to Federigo Fregoso by Bembo, who arrived on the 19th, unveil some proofs of the bridegroom's felicity which it were more decorous to pass over; but its revelations throw light upon the contrasted feelings of the still mourning court. "Our reception was truly chilling: no joy or hilarity in the palace; even in the city its wonted aspect; our happy youth himself quite frigid; but there is hope that he will become more ardent...." Writing a week after the marriage, he says that as soon as it was over, the Duke manifested the most unbounded affection, which became daily more passionate; and declares that he had never met with a more comely, merry, or sweet girl, who, to a most amiable disposition, added a surprisingly precocious judgment, which gained for her general admiration.[238] This event was hailed at Urbino with great public rejoicings and sumptuous fêtes, and the triumphal arches, theatres, and other architectural and pictorial works required for the occasion, were executed under the direction of Timoteo Vite and Girolamo Genga. In 1843 I saw, in the hands of Padre Cellani, at the Augustine convent in Pesaro, an interesting memorial of this marriage. It is a small MS. psalter, with a frontispiece illuminated in the manner of the Veronese limners, representing Nathan rebuking David, whose crown and sceptre are fallen to the ground—a singular theme for a bridal present, which, from the legend "Lionor Gozaga Urbini Ducissa," with the impaled arms of the two families, it may have been. The Lady Leonora was about his own-325- age, and, although neither her beauty nor accomplishments have met with the same celebration as those of her aunt the Duchess Elisabetta, we shall have ample opportunity of observing in her character much energy and good sense, with undeviating affection to her husband; whilst the pencil of Titian has preserved to us a person which in a sovereign must have been lauded as handsome.


Franz Hanfstaengl


Possibly a portrait of Duchess Leonora of Urbino. After the picture by Titian in the Imperial Gallery, Vienna

From his honeymoon happiness the boy-bridegroom was speedily summoned to the field. After issuing a preparatory apostolic admonition to the Signory, on the 27th of April, 1509, Julius ordered his nephew to assume offensive operations against Romagna, supported by the Baglioni, Vitelli, and other vassals of the Church. The Duke was already on foot, and after some skirmishes before Rimini, he attacked Brisghella on the 4th of May; the place speedily surrendering, he occupied himself in saving its inhabitants, so far as possible, from the miseries of a sack, which Muratori denounces as worthy of the Turks, and which Roscoe unwarrantably imputes to him as an act of wanton cruelty. Following up this success, he, with youthful enthusiasm, adopted various expedients for harassing the enemy, but obtained still more credit for the judgment displayed in a singular dilemma, which might have disconcerted a more experienced commander.

There existed between some bands of Spanish and Italian soldiery in his camp, various heart-burnings ready to kindle at a spark. Ramocciotto, an Italian captain, having been sent upon secret duty, as evening approached his men were seized with a vague impression that he had met with foul play from the Spaniards. Just then, during a wrangle among some camp-followers about a baggage-mule, one of them called out in stentorian voice, "Taglia! taglia!" meaning that the packing-cords should be cut. These words, which rang through the stilly air, were mistaken for "Italia! Italia!" and were caught up by the feverish followers of Ramocciotto as a watchword, which-326- they loudly echoed, and rushed to arms. Their cry and action were repeated by most of the troops, who had just finished their evening meal, and in a moment the camp was a scene of inexplicable confusion, the fury of some and the consternation of others combining to produce a general panic. Francesco Maria and his officers were taken by surprise, but with great presence of mind he ordered an advance upon Faenza as the readiest means of restoring order. The gloom of twilight now settled down upon the camp, augmenting the embarrassment, and ere the troops evacuated it, a good many Spaniards had been cut down in the mêlée. Military discipline at length prevailed, and the Duke, finding the town on its guard, returned to quarters. Ramocciotto's reappearance appeased the originators of the tumult, but it was not till next day that a stern inquiry detected its casual origin. Thus did the promptitude and prudence of the juvenile general save his character from compromise, and his little army from disaster.[239]

The ecclesiastical army consisted of eight thousand infantry and one thousand six hundred horse, a force by no means adequate for the service it was called upon to perform. The Pontiff, with fatal partiality, had entrusted the entire control of the commissariat and stores for the campaign to the Cardinal of Pavia, of whom the remark passed into a proverb, that whoever would make up a jerkin of every colour should employ the words and actions of the Legate of Bologna. Francesco Alidosio was second son of the Lord of Castel del Rio, an inconsiderable mountain fief adjoining the state of Imola, which latter, after being long held in sovereignty by his family, had been bought or wrested from his grandfather by-327- Sixtus IV. and the Sforza. Having been educated for the Church, he attached himself on the death of that Pontiff to Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, whose entire favour and confidence he won, not only by long personal service, but by firmly withstanding various offers made him by the Borgia to dispose of his master by poison. As soon as his patron was placed in the chair of St. Peter, his services were rewarded by a scarlet hat, followed by the see of Pavia, the rich office of Datario, and other valuable preferments. But his character had been regarded as so questionable, in the scandalous pontificate of Alexander, that many objections were raised in the consistory to his promotion, and even the silver-tongued Jovius attributes his rapid advancement to the advantages of a fine person and an unscrupulous pliancy of principle. The influence he had obtained over the open-hearted Julius was maintained by his facility in accommodating himself to the outbreaks of his patron's impetuous temper; and it entirely blinded the Pope to the danger of reposing implicit confidence in such a counsellor. But the Cardinal, not satisfied to share these favours with another, did all in his power to obtain an undivided mastery over his affections, and especially to supplant his nephew in his regards. The means which he adopted to effect this were, as we shall soon see, to thwart all the Duke's plans, and throw upon him the blame of their failure. But the mainspring of his hopes and intrigues was the restoration of Imola to himself or his brother; and as the policy of Julius rendered him deaf to such a request, even from a favourite, the latter scrupled not to purchase his object from the French, by betraying to them those interests with which as legate of Bologna he was entrusted.

Francesco Maria accordingly found his movements hampered at every turn by the scarcity of supplies, and, in answer to unceasing remonstrances, had from the Legate abundance of fair words and sounding promises-328- leading to no result whatever. This was the more provoking, as sound policy required a speedy conclusion to operations carried on in a province that, though in hostile hands for the time, was eventually destined to remain under the papal sway, towards which it was therefore of importance to conciliate the population, rather than to oppress them by military exactions. Notwithstanding these difficulties, the Duke reduced the castles of Granaruolo and Roscio, Faenza surrendered, and the siege of Ravenna seemed approaching a favourable conclusion, when the Venetians, panic-stricken by the French successes in Lombardy, and especially by the rout they had sustained on the 14th of May, at Vaila in the Ghiaradadda, sued for peace. They hoped, by offering to the Pope, the Emperor, and the Spaniard, all the places occupied on their respective territories, to conciliate these powers, and so be enabled to maintain themselves against French aggression. Their envoy addressed himself to arrange with the Legate a suspension of arms, whilst he should forward to the Pope a formal renunciation of the disputed towns in Romagna; but the wily Cardinal, who, whether from inherent dishonesty, or with some selfish end in view, seems to have acted with invariable bad faith, urged him to resign these places directly into his own hands, and, when the agent persisted in adhering to his instructions, he was thrown into irons and threatened with a halter. Nor was this the only manifest instance of the Legate's treachery; for besides thwarting the Duke on every occasion, and keeping him in the dark as to most important arrangements, he sent some of his own adherents to attack and pillage the garrison of Faenza, as it quitted the city upon a capitulation accorded by himself. Francesco Maria, disgusted with his duplicity, of his own authority liberated the envoy, and so was brought into angry collision with the Cardinal, thus aggravating a quarrel ere long to end in blood.




After the picture by Titian in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence


The difficulties of the youthful commander were increased by the inopportune arrival of four thousand Swiss mercenaries, who, finding matters in train for a pacification which would dash their hopes of booty, could scarcely be restrained from an immediate assault upon Ravenna. Their ruffianly intentions being insidiously encouraged by the Legate, it was only by great prudence and decision that the Duke prevented them from sacking that city, when evacuated on honourable terms by the Venetian authorities. This conciliatory policy was rewarded by a speedy surrender of Cervia, followed on the 11th of June by that of Rimini, the last of the towns claimed by Julius, upon which Francesco Maria lost no time in disbanding his army and returning home. As soon as he was gone, the Cardinal, steady only to his duplicity, imprisoned the Venetian officers who had imprudently lingered within his reach. Although this campaign lasted but six weeks, and produced no considerable engagement, it afforded to the young Duke an insight into mankind, as well as a lesson in military affairs, which enabled him to pass at once from boyhood to the experience, as well as the reputation, of an able commander.

As soon as Francesco Maria was liberated from camp duties, he sent to Mantua for his bride, and at his uncle's desire carried her to visit Rome. The Roman citizens, ever devoted to festivity, received him with distinction, due not less to his personal merit than to his high rank and near relationship to the Pope. Among the pageants exhibited in honour of his marriage were tilting in the Piazza Navona, and a masque celebrating his successes in Romagna, after the manner of those triumphs which that capital used to witness some fifteen centuries before. He carried Giuliano de' Medici with him to the papal court, and effected his reconciliation with Julius, who, suspecting him of some intrigues at Bologna, had given orders for his imprisonment; thus swelling that debt of-330- the Medici to his family, which Leo X. subsequently and most ungratefully expunged.

The Duke also used his influence for removal of the interdict from Venice, the tried ally of his house; and this the Pontiff more readily granted, having now gained all he hoped from the compact of Cambray, and being ready for any new coalition that might tend either to aggrandise the Holy See or to liberate Italy from foreign yoke. He therefore cared not for the remonstrances of his late coadjutors against his abrupt secession from their common policy; and, aware how little signified Maximilian's languid operations, he only sought an apology for putting himself in direct opposition to the French, whose successes in Lombardy were assuming a serious aspect. This was soon afforded by the hollow counsels of the Cardinal of Pavia, whom he had despatched to the camp of Louis on pretence of congratulating him upon his victory at Vaila, but in fact to watch his intentions. In this monarch the Legate found one as ambitious as his master, and not more scrupulous than himself; he therefore with characteristic treason encouraged the projects he had shrewdly penetrated, stipulating in return for the sovereignty of Imola, as soon as Louis should, by his secret aid, add Bologna and Romagna to his Milanese possessions. As an underplot in this drama of ingratitude and treachery, the Cardinal of Rouen proposed that Julius should be deposed by a general council, with a view to securing for himself the tiara. Such at least were the ends which the French King soon after openly pursued; and those historians who seek to establish a case against the Cardinal of Pavia, explanatory of his subsequent conduct, charge him with thus early selling himself to Louis, and betraying his partial and confiding patron the Pope.

The Legate, therefore, on his return to Rome, warmly seconded the Pontiff's views. A rupture with France was the preliminary move in the game he had arranged with-331- Louis, and his zeal in promoting it seemed the surest disguise of his ulterior designs. Florence and Ferrara were bound to the French interests, while Venice was their determined foe; so it only remained for the Pope to join stakes with the Signory, and the party was made up. His intrigues to secure the support of Spain, Austria, and England, and to retain the Swiss in his service, do not require our particular notice.

Unwarned by recent events in Romagna, and blinded by affection for his nephew, and for the Cardinal of Pavia, to the character of the latter, and to the insuperable antipathy which had grown up between them, the Pope, unfortunately, again delegated to them the joint conduct of the war. The first advance was made against Ferrara, with the view, doubtless, of restoring the Polesine to Venice, and extending the temporal sway of the Keys to the banks of the Po. Francesco Maria, who, after wintering in Rome, had returned home with his Duchess in May, entered the Ferrarese ere July was over, at the head of six thousand infantry, and one thousand five hundred horse, and quickly became master of a great part of that duchy. But this army was unequal to operations against the city of Ferrara, strong in its surrounding marshes; and an expected contingent of ten thousand Swiss were intercepted by Chaumont, the French general (called Ciamonte by Guicciardini,) and sent back to their mountains by the combined means of force and gold. The naval armament against Genoa, then in the hands of Louis, proving also a failure, and the Cardinal Legate conducting his department as unsatisfactorily as before, the Duke of Urbino heard with joy that the Pontiff was on his way to the scene of operations. On the 15th of September he passed through Pesaro, leaving the Apostolic benediction, and various indulgences, in acknowledgment of his enthusiastic reception. When he reached Bologna, he found Modena, which had lately surrendered to his army, threat-332-ened by Chaumont in person, and a strong feeling abroad among the ecclesiastical officers, that they had been deluded by the Legate, who prevented them from clenching their success by the capture of Reggio, and had wiled them to a fruitless demonstration before Ferrara, thereby not only wasting precious time, but exposing the army to great hazard, and leaving Modena and Bologna uncovered. The Pope immediately directed his nephew to send the Cardinal, under arrest, to Bologna, which he did, with every mark of consideration; but the extraordinary influence which that sneaking spirit exercised over the frank and open-hearted Julius, diverted his suspicions, and was rewarded with new favours.

The unpromising aspect of his affairs, which brought the Pontiff in person to Bologna, did not improve. Disappointed of the assistance he looked for from Switzerland and Naples, feebly supported by his allies of Venice and Mantua, his troops were reduced to a defensive position, fatal to the prestige which had attended their first successes. Encouraged by this state of matters, and by the approach of Chaumont's powerful army, the friends of the exiled Bentivoglii began to agitate for their restoration to the sovereignty of Bologna. Nor were these the worst mortifications awaiting the proud spirit of Julius. The clergy of France had met at Lyons, and decided upon convoking a general council at Pisa, to sit in judgment upon his conduct, a movement already openly supported by Louis, the Emperor, and Florence, and by five members of the Sacred College. These anxieties fretted his fractious temperament into an illness, so serious at his advanced age, as to threaten a fatal termination; and in the prospect of thus losing the mainspring of the war, his confederates were little inclined to compromise themselves by fresh exertions. His courtiers, too, alarmed at the prospect of clinging to a falling cause, beset him with persuasions to obtain a truce on any terms. But they mistook-333- the character with whom they had to deal. In deference to their representations, he opened a negotiation with the French general, wherein, far from assuming a suppliant air, he prescribed as a preliminary stipulation, the sacrifice of the Duke of Ferrara to his vengeance, as a rebellious vassal. Thus passing

"Out of the speech of peace that bears such grace
Into the harsh and boisterous tongue of war,"

he sent a summary threat to his Venetian allies, and to the Marquis of Mantua, that unless their promised contingents instantly marched to his support, he would arrange matters with the French King for their extermination.

The moral influence of this indomitable courage retrieved his affairs. The Venetian, Mantuan, and Neapolitan succours successfully and quickly arrived; many small free companies flocked to his standard; and the Bolognese factions postponed their movement till a fitter moment. Breaking off all negotiations, he thundered censures against Chaumont and the Duke of Ferrara, and ordered his now ample army to assume offensive operations. His physical energy was at the same time restored, and the threatened eclipse proved but a passing cloud, from which his indomitable genius burst forth with renewed brilliancy.



The Duke routed at Bologna from the Cardinal of Pavia’s treason, whom he assassinates—He is prosecuted, but finally absolved and reconciled to the Pope—He reduces Bologna—Is invested with Pesaro—Death of Julius II.

IN December the Duke of Urbino returned the challenge to a general engagement, which Chaumont had boastfully given him a few months before, and, after carrying some places of minor importance, encamped before Mirandola. To the surprise and no small scandal of all, the Pontiff, scarcely recovered from a dangerous malady, and braving the unusual rigours of the season, repaired to head-quarters. In reply to representations of his advisers against a step hazardous to his health, and unusual, if not unbecoming, in the head of the Christian Church, he urged the necessity of vigorously, and at any personal risks, meeting the disgraceful and schismatic proposal for a council at Pisa,[*240] by proving himself both able and willing to perform the duties of his high office, in wielding its temporal and spiritual arms against all enemies and perturbators of the Church, as well as in maintaining its doctrines, and supporting its friends. This ill-judged decision is said to have been strongly prompted by his evil genius the Cardinal of Pavia, who, speculating upon the chance of its cutting short his master's life, made sure of, at all events, turning to the advantage of his French friends the command at Bologna, which upon the Pope's departure would once more devolve-335- upon him as legate. Guicciardini further charges him with promoting the bootless demonstration against Mirandola, in order to divert the army from Ferrara, whose inadequate defences might have rendered it an easy as well as important conquest. In the first days of the year, Julius reached the camp, attended by three cardinals, and took up his quarters in a cottage exposed to the fire of the walls. It is stated in an old chronicle, that a cannon ball having fallen close to his pavilion, the enraged Pontiff ordered it to be sent to Loreto as an ex voto offering, and threatened to deliver over the place to a sack. Severe cold and deep snow in nowise daunted him, and his presence alarming the garrison, whilst the besiegers were stimulated to exertion by his persuasions, the town was soon reduced, but, by extraordinary exertions on the part of Francesco Maria, was saved from pillage.[*241] Its garrison had been commanded by a natural daughter of Gian Giacomo Trivulzio,[*242] who, on being rudely asked by the Legate, in presence of Julius, if she were the woman who would hold the place against the Pontiff, replied, "Against you I could easily have defended it, but not against him."

Julius, satisfied with this success, retired to Ravenna: whilst his nephew, who about this time was warned by the Doge of Venice of a plan concerted by the Cardinal of Rouen for poisoning him, led the army towards Ferrara. As the best means of relieving that town, and perhaps in concert with the treacherous Legate, Trivulzio, who since Chaumont's death, commanded the French troops, amounting to fifteen thousand lances, and seven thousand infantry, now marched upon Bologna, avoiding a battle, which the Duke of Urbino would gladly have hazarded. The latter, however, by forced marches arrived there before him, and encamped at Casalecchio, three-336- miles south of the city. The French army was by this time at Ponte Laino, about five miles north-west from the gate; and the Duke lost no time in advising the Legate of the position of affairs, offering to throw two or three thousand men and some artillery into Bologna. After losing much valuable time in consultation with some of the citizens, the Cardinal declined these as unnecessary. This answer appears to have converted into certainty the suspicions which Francesco Maria had long entertained of his coadjutor's good faith. He knew the garrison, consisting of about twelve hundred troops, to be utterly inadequate to resist the French; he was also aware that the exiled Bentivoglii, then hovering about at the head of a strong band of adherents, were eagerly looked for by their numerous partisans within the walls, to whom the Cardinal had rendered his ecclesiastical authority doubly odious, by a series of oppressive measures totally inconsistent with its usual mild sway, and intended, no doubt, to promote his own treasonable ends, by alienating the inhabitants from the established order of things. Strongly impressed with the urgency of the crisis, the young Duke persisted in his intention of reinforcing the garrison, but some older officers, persuaded by renewed assurances from the Cardinal, overruled him in council, and their march was postponed until morning,—a delay fatal to the cause, and pregnant with complicated evils.

So little was the Duke of Urbino satisfied with this resolution, that he posted videttes under the walls, and spent the night in reconnoitring with his staff. Midnight had just passed when a confused murmur from the city attracted his attention. The word Chiesa! or church, seeming to prevail amid the din, he had hope that the Legate's authority was maintained; but presently the watchword being heard more distinctly, it proved to be Sega! Sega! signifying "The saw! the saw!" a badge and war-cry of the Bentivoglii. After some time lost in-337- painful suspense, it was ascertained from the sentinels that the French and the Bentivoglii were masters of the place. Aware of his critical situation, but retaining his presence of mind, Francesco Maria gave instant orders for a retreat, fixing a point of rendezvous five miles on the road towards Romagna. Thither he marched his cavalry in perfect order, by the level country, and was followed by the Venetian and other infantry along the high ground. The latter, being set upon at once by the enemy and the country people, fell into confusion, and, but for the Duke's strenuous persuasions, and a successful charge which he made with his cavalry upon their assailants, their officers would have given way to a general panic, and the army must have been annihilated. The coolness of their juvenile commander so far reassured them that the retiring army encamped on the morrow between Forlì and Cesena, without much further loss than their artillery and baggage.[243] The vast quantity of booty obtained for this misconducted affair the nick-name of "donkey-day."

Bologna was lost on the night of the 21st of May, and, beyond all question, it fell from the Legate's fool-hardiness or treason. The catastrophe which followed it called forth a bitterness of feeling fatal to impartial judgment, and the historians whom we have chiefly followed were friendly to the Duke of Urbino, and consequently prejudiced against the Cardinal.[244] Yet, after full allowance for this-338- circumstance, there seems no reasonable doubt that the latter secretly favoured the French interests, and neutralised those measures by which Francesco Maria would have saved the city. He placed the gates in charge of noted partisans of the exiled family, by whom they were opened after nightfall to receive the Bentivoglii, followed by the main body of the French army. It was even alleged that he had previously sent away his most valuable effects; at all events, he wanted courage to share the success which had crowned his treason, and, in real or pretended panic, escaped upon a mule, disguised in a lay habit, and attended by only two followers. Nothing could palliate his flight without an attempt to warn the Duke of his danger, or to concert measures for the preservation of his army; and his whole behaviour lays him open to the suspicion of an intention to sacrifice both. Against such a combination of untoward events the friends of the Church could not struggle, and the mass of the Bolognese, smarting under recent oppression, welcomed their former rulers with joy, and vented their insensate fury in smashing the bronze statue of the Pope, which Michael Angelo had executed in the short period of fifteen months, and which was afterwards cast into a cannon bearing the Pontiff's name.

From Castel del Rio, a petty fief which his family had retained after losing the seigneury of Imola, the Cardinal on the 22nd sent courier after courier to Julius at Ravenna, preoccupying his ears with representations against his nephew, upon whose cowardice he cast the whole blame of the recent disaster. The latter, having sought an audience of the Pope, found him alike prepossessed against him, and deaf to his self-justifications; indeed, his attempts to unmask the traitor were denounced as suggestions of envy-339- and malice, and he was superseded in his command. A temper less forbearing might well be incensed by this climax of injury, at the hands of one whose bad faith and malignity had long rankled in his fiery bosom. To see his uncle at once sacrificed and cajoled, to be himself made the scapegoat, while the true criminal was trusted and honoured, were trials beyond endurance, even apart from the taunt by which they were aggravated. As he quitted the presence-chamber, towering with just indignation, and accompanied by two officers and as many orderlies, he unluckily met the Legate on his mule, attended by a hundred light-horse. Regardless of his escort, the Duke rushed upon him and plunged a poignard into his entrails, which passed through to his saddle.[*245] The blow was repeated by the officers, his guard attempting neither redress nor vengeance, and in a few minutes the Cardinal had gone to his dread account, exclaiming repeatedly in Latin, "From crime comes mischief." This deplorable event happened on the 24th of May.[246] Its details are variously stated, and one account says that the rencontre occurred ere the Duke had seen his Holiness, while the Legate was returning from an audience; on the whole, we have preferred that of Giraldi, whose uncle was an eye-witness.

Francesco Maria was quickly aware of the horror of this outrage, and immediately after arranging matters in the camp, retired to his state, to repent, it is hoped, as well as to abide its results.[247] The sacrilegious nature of the offence-340- might indeed be palliated in the letter, by the lay dress which the Cardinal chanced to wear, but his episcopal dignity and holy character as vicegerent of the papal authority were notorious, and the blind partiality of Julius seemed to have increased as his misconduct became more palpable. The situation of that old man was indeed calculated to bend even his stern nature. He had committed an enterprise of doubtful policy, and against which a large portion of the Church was openly declared, to his most trusted friend and to his favourite nephew. The design had utterly miscarried; Bologna, acquired by him so happily, was lost; a victorious enemy was within a few leagues of him; and his friend had been murdered by his nephew, after mutual recriminations of treachery. The attendant cardinals and prelates, jealous of a more favoured brother, exulted in the deed while condemning its manner; but their master is described by Paris de Grassis as giving way to the most exaggerated demonstrations of excessive grief, renouncing food and shutting himself out from converse. After hastily authorising negotiations with Trivulzio, he set out for his capital in a litter. At Rimini he was startled by a formal citation to appear before the Council of Pisa, and passed through Pesaro on the 11th of June. But on reaching Rome his spirit had rallied. On the 18th of July he summoned a general council at the Lateran, and declared that of Pisa schismatic and null; he thundered excommunications against Louis, the Florentines, and all its adherents; he deprived the cardinals who attended it; and declared war anew against France, as an enemy of the Church and of Italy. About the same time he suspended his nephew from all his dignities, and-341- summoned him to answer at Rome for the assassination of the Cardinal of Pavia.

The accounts we have of the proceedings against the Duke of Urbino upon this charge are somewhat contradictory. Baldi says that his impetuous temper, ill-brooking the severity of one whom he was conscious of having honestly served, tempted him to throw off his uncle and seek an engagement under Louis; and the monitory issued against him by Leo X. in 1516 charges him with employing Count Castiglione on such a mission: but this foolish idea quickly passing, he obeyed the citation. On his arrival, attended by Castiglione, he was put under arrest, and obliged to give bail in 100,000 scudi to await the sentence of a commission of enquiry, consisting of six cardinals, one of whom was Giovanni de' Medici, afterwards Leo X. The process was long and complicated, for the Duke had many proofs, oral and documentary, to adduce of the Legate's secret intelligence with the French and the Bentivoglii. The pleading in his defence, by Filippo Beroaldo the younger, has already been referred to as in the Vatican library, and is a very remarkable declamation. Instead of urging the hot blood of one-and-twenty in extenuation of a sudden outbreak of fury under strong provocation, it justifies the assassination as merited by the Cardinal's notorious and nefarious treasons. Representing his life and morals in the darkest colours, it brands his boyhood as base; his puberty as passed in flagitious intercourse with bawds and gamblers; his youth as debauched by bribery, peculation and sacrilege; his mature age as degraded by the sacrifice of friends, the plunder of provinces, the open sale of sacred offices. It charges him with having had the throats cut of four eminent citizens of Bologna, against whom no accusation was brought, and leaving their bodies in the piazza; and further alleges that, having heard of the beautiful daughter-in-law of one of these victims, he sent-342- for her to his presence, when his attendants, alarmed by fearful cries, broke open the doors and discovered him in the act of violating her person. After narrating his manifold treacheries towards the Pontiff and the Duke, the advocate, far from palliating the homicide, boasts of it as a public service, and, declaring that Francesco Maria was an instrument in the Almighty's hand for the great and benevolent purpose of ridding mankind of such a monster, only laments, for the public weal, that the holy inspiration which dictated it had not been sooner vouchsafed to this "liberator of the commonwealth." Lowering his tone, however, towards the close of this inflated oration, he appeals to the judges to spare a hero whose promise of future usefulness was precious to Italy, and in whose acquittal many princely personages were interested. The fierce philippic of Beroaldo was reproduced under a poetic garb in the satirical ode of Giovio, which Roscoe has printed. Neither authority can be deemed unprejudiced, but public feeling seems to have confirmed these invectives, and even Guicciardini attempts not to answer for the Cardinal's good faith.

Whilst this investigation was experiencing the law's delay, Julius was attacked by a quartan ague of a dangerous character. With wonted wilfulness, he refused all proper nourishment, eating only fruit, until his constitution was nearly exhausted. A fainting fit having occasioned rumours of his death, tumults arose, but were vigorously suppressed by the Duke of Urbino, who by a happy device got the Cardinal of S. Giorgio to carry him the viaticum. The apparition by his bedside of the person supposed likely to succeed him at once recalled his energies, and induced him to adopt the most likely means of disappointing such expectations. He therefore no longer hesitated to eat an egg, into which two yolks had been introduced by the Duke's order, that he might take twice as much sustenance as he was aware of; and from-343- that hour his strength rallied. A deep-rooted affection for his nephew, rekindled by this double service, prompted him to a reconciliation, and in his first burst of gratitude he granted him absolution for his crime, and sent him home with a donative of 12,000 scudi. But as his Holiness had been induced to this reconciliation by personal favour, and perhaps by at length perceiving the Legate's faithlessness, Francesco Maria declined availing himself of such an acquittal; and the process for murder, resumed at its own instance, hung over him until, on the 9th of December, a consistorial bull issued, fully absolving him of the charge.

But to return to the seat of war, whence this untoward incident had removed the Duke of Urbino at a moment of peculiar interest. The King of Spain having contributed a powerful contingent, the new armament against Louis was placed under command of Raimondo di Cardona, viceroy of Naples, with the Cardinal de' Medici as legate. The Venetians, as before, were parties to this league, as well as Henry VIII.; Florence, still in the hands of its republican faction, and the now restored Bentivoglii, supported the French; whilst Maximilian, though its nominal adherent, was as usual equally inefficient in war or peace. Romagna again became the destined scene of the new struggle, and there, as in Lombardy, its chances proved adverse to Louis. The Duke of Urbino, apparently from an unworthy jealousy, refused to act under the Viceroy's command, but he gave free passage to the army on its route through his state, supplying it with provisions, and permitting his troops to march under its banner. He even repaired to Fossombrone, to testify respect and hospitality to the general, but, suddenly taking alarm, and suspecting sinister intentions, he withdrew to Urbino in a somewhat ungracious manner. Light may be thrown upon these eccentric-344- movements from the correspondence of Castiglione, by which it would seem that Julius, relapsing into suspicion, had about this time spoken of his nephew as a traitor, who deserved to be quartered for maintaining, through Count Baldassare, a secret understanding with France and Ferrara; indeed, that he even diminished his company by sixty men-at-arms, and threatened to place the Duc de Termes over his head. It is not unlikely that, disgusted by this new insult, he may have intrigued with the French party in a moment of weakness. At all events, so deeply was the Pope mortified, that, in an access of renewed irritation, he declared him rebel, and absolved his subjects from their allegiance. Francesco Maria was consequently absent from the bloody field of Ravenna, where his early friend the chivalrous Gaston de Foix met a heroic but premature death. The French army which he commanded paid dearly, by his loss and that of their best troops, for a nominal victory which eventually proved a ruinous reverse. It was gained by the Duke of Ferrara's well-timed charge, and of forty thousand left dead in the field, above half had fought under the lilies of France. Indeed, but for the Viceroy's disgraceful flight, in a panic by some attributed to his suspicion of the Duke of Urbino, it might have been considered a drawn battle. So great was his terror that he passed through Pesaro with but two attendants, leaving his Spaniards to regain the Neapolitan frontier as they might.

This remarkable engagement took place on Easter Day, the 11th of April, but four days after the Pontiff had issued the bull against his nephew.[*248] Notwithstanding this fresh provocation, the latter afforded every support to Cardona's troops, who,

"Masterless, without a banner fled";-345-

and, after placing his family out of harm's way, in S. Leo, hastened to Rome to console the Pope. But his Holiness was in no melting or wavering mood. With the brief remark, "At all events, I have united our enemies," he quickly repaired the recent breach by recalling the bull against Francesco Maria, and presented him with the baton of command. The Duke, remedying past misunderstandings by new exertions, hurried to Romagna to rally the broken battalions of the league, and to raise fresh levies. Ere the French could recover from the paralysing effects of their dearly bought success, he had regained that country, and, on the 21st of June, took possession of Bologna without a blow. Following up his advantage, he mastered with equal ease Modena, Parma, and Piacenza; but Reggio offered a resistance worthy of the heroic ages. It was held for the Duke of Ferrara by Count Alessandro Ferrofino, who, having detected some of his soldiers attempting to spike the guns, set them astride upon a mortar, and blew them into the air, assuring the bystanders that he most willingly would serve his Holiness in the same way. When ecclesiastical censures were thundered against the garrison, he made its chaplain return a pop-gun excommunication of the Pontiff. After two months had passed in this bootless struggle, Alfonso sent his countersign to the commandant as an authority to surrender; but, aware that his master was then at Rome, in the Pope's power, the Count returned it, vowing that he would not yield till hunger had driven him to eat off his right hand; adding, however, that, if his Highness had a fancy to give away the fortress, he was ready to consign it, with all its contents, by inventory, to whoever might be commissioned to relieve him of the command. This proposal was complied with, and the indomitable captain-346- marched out his little garrison, with a safe conduct from the Pope whom he had defied.[249]

The Emperor, ever ready to abandon a falling cause, withdrew his contingent from the French service, and acknowledged the authority of the Lateran council, which had been opened on the 3rd of May. The Duke of Ferrara, too, thought it full time to make his peace with the Pope; while Louis, thus abandoned, could no longer maintain a footing in Italy, where but a few strongholds remained in his possession; and Milan was restored to Maximiliano Sforza, son of Ludovico il Moro. The overtures of Alfonso were, however, unavailing, being met in no generous spirit by his ecclesiastical overlord. On proceeding to Rome to plead his own cause, he was called upon to surrender his fief to the Holy See, and was treated as a prisoner. By the energetic aid of the Colonna chiefs, he escaped to his impenetrable swamps, and hastened to accredit Ariosto as his minister to appease the Pontiff, a mission which totally failed, the poet's silver tongue having barely obtained grace for himself as envoy of a rebel. Francesco Maria marched, by order of Julius, towards the Polesine, but malaria prevailing there after recent inundations, fever ravaged his army, and their leader averted the fate of his grandfather in these fens, by a timely retreat to his mountain air. We are gravely told by Giraldi that "the house of Ferrara mysteriously bears the name of the Deity" [Est], an idea which their repeated escapes by similar apparently special interpositions of Providence may have suggested.

It was during the Ferrarese expedition, and avowedly at the Pope's urgent desire, that the Medici were re-established at Florence by the league. The Duke of Urbino's absence from that enterprise has been accounted for by Guicciardini and Giovio, as the result of personal-347- feeling against the Cardinal Giovanni, and as contrary to his uncle's instructions. This innuendo becomes important from being the first symptom of misunderstanding between the dynasties of Urbino and Florence, and as apparently the origin of Guicciardini's prepossessions against Francesco Maria, which, adopted by subsequent writers, especially by Roscoe and Sismondi, have led to very general misrepresentations of his after policy and motives. The whole intercourse of that Duke with the Medici, down to 1515, affords a virtual contradiction of latent enmity at this juncture, and the special charge in question is inconsistent with the facts stated by Leoni, who avers that, had Francesco Maria not been then engaged in operations against Ferrara, he would gladly have accompanied the combined forces to Florence, and that he actually connived at their carrying with them a portion of his artillery, contrary to private instructions from his Holiness, who, when the moment for action arrived, is alleged to have favoured the independence of Florence, perhaps under some vague apprehension of eventual dangers from Medicean ambition.

Italy, now freed from ultramontane oppressors, saw Milan restored to its native princes, and Florence again in the hands of her most influential family. Thus far had the favourite aims of Julius been attained; but, instead of hailing these events as the basis of a general pacification befitting his advanced years, he fretted in the recollection that Naples yet owned a foreign yoke, and that Louis was still intent upon vindicating his title to a Cisalpine dominion. The convulsive throes of a stranded leviathan were no unfit parallel to the versatile efforts wherein the old man consumed his waning powers. But, in the multifarious projects which agitated his yet elastic mind, the interests of his again favourite nephew were not forgotten. A brief of the 10th of January, 1513, granted to the latter plenary remission for all his un-348-dutiful errors against the Church, as a prelude to new favours, which must now be detailed.[250]

His uncle had entertained a scheme of purchasing for him the vague rights over Siena which the Emperors had long, though ineffectually, asserted; but a more hopeful expedient for his aggrandisement opportunely presented itself. We have, in a former chapter, narrated the circumstances under which Alessandro Sforza became invested with Pesaro in 1445. His grandson Giovanni, the outraged husband of Lucrezia Borgia, died in 1510, leaving, by his second marriage, an only son Costanzo, about a year old. Galeazzo, natural brother of Giovanni, who was himself of illegitimate birth, governed the state, as tutor of this nephew, until the child's death, in August, 1512, and so entirely acquired the good will of the people, that they proclaimed him their seigneur. The odious tyranny exercised by all petty princes of Italy is a fertile theme for dreamy poets and philosophising liberals; but, whilst the relative oppression was much the same under all forms of government in the Peninsula, personal safety was perhaps best maintained in those least exposed to internal convulsion. From such shocks the minor sovereignties were more exempt than the republics, and the residence of a court was beneficial as well as flattering to the community; hence the fall of an hereditary dynasty was, in almost every instance, lamented by its subjects. These are not, indeed, necessarily the best judges of their-349- own welfare; yet their deliberate and repeated convictions, when free from the influence of demagogues, and tested by impartial history, can hardly be remote from truth.

The investiture of Pesaro had legally lapsed by the young Costanzo's death, and although, in many instances, the assumption of similar rights by illegitimate claimants had been passively permitted by the Church, Galeazzo would have gladly shrunk from a contest which the avowed policy of the reigning Pope rendered inevitable and hopeless. Tempted, however, by the unanimous support of the people, he assumed on his own account the authority he till now had held in behalf of his nephew. Julius instantly recalled the Duke of Urbino from Lugo, to commence operations for the reduction of Pesaro, with Cardinal Sigismondo Gonzaga as legate. After a brief resistance, Galeazzo surrendered the citadel, on the 30th of October, by a capitulation which insured him an annuity of 1000 scudi of gold, and the allodial holdings of his family. These he conveyed to the Duke for 20,000 ducats, including the Villa Imperiale, and on the 9th of November he quitted Pesaro, attended by nearly the whole population, who bewailed with bitter tears the extinction of a dynasty to whom they were fondly attached. The melancholy procession accompanied their lord as far as La Cattolica, from whence he retired to Milan, and there met a violent death in the following year.

The Cardinal Legate remained at Pesaro to administer the government in behalf of the Holy See, and the Duke returned home. Julius had already made one exception to his policy of bringing the minor fiefs under direct sway of the Church, by renewing the investiture of Urbino in favour of his nephew, and the opportunity was too tempting for repeating a measure recommended by the ties of natural affection. The unmerited suspicions and hasty severity which he had manifested towards Francesco Maria-350- seemed to warrant some consideration; there was also an arrear of about 10,000 scudi of pay and advances, by the late and present Dukes, in the wars of the Church, which her exhausted treasury was unable to discharge, but for which it was desirable to secure compensation ere the tiara should encircle a less friendly brow.[251] Accordingly, one of the Pontiff's latest acts was to gain the consent of the consistory of his nephew's investiture in Pesaro, to be held in vicariat for the annual payment of a silver vase, a pound in weight. The bull to this effect is dated the 16th of February, 1513, and on the 21st his busy spirit was at rest. Three weeks later, the Duke and Duchess of Urbino took possession of Pesaro, and were flatteringly welcomed. Indeed, the people, finding the fate of the Sforza sealed, appeared to have looked about for any means of emancipation from ecclesiastical rule; and, ere Galeazzo had quitted the capital, the council entertained a proposal to petition the Sacred College in favour of Francesco Maria as his successor. This step, whether suggested by Julius or not, greatly strengthened his hands in carrying through the arrangement which he had at heart, and it enabled the citizens to receive their new lord with peculiarly good grace.



Election of Leo X.—His ambitious projects—Birth of Prince Guidobaldo of Urbino—The Pontiff’s designs upon that state, which he gives to his nephew—The Duke retires to Mantua.

THE Duke's influence, as head of the della Rovere family, was paramount in the conclave, composed as it was of relations, friends, and creatures of the late Pope in overwhelming majority. The election was therefore to a great degree in his hands, and when it fell upon the Cardinal de' Medici, he rejoiced in the elevation of a personal friend. He and his brother Giuliano, their nephew Lorenzo, and their cousin Giulio, afterwards Clement VII., had been welcome guests at Urbino, during their family's long exile from Florence. Indeed, we have noticed Giuliano as one of the most brilliant ornaments of Guidobaldo's court, where he resided so long that the apartment devoted to his use still bears his name in the palace. The restoration of the Medici to supremacy in their native city had been the doing of Julius; the choice of their cardinal as his successor was the act of his nephew.[*252] Thus was the bond of friendship confirmed by ties of gratitude. But from such fetters princes are often prone to assume an exemption, and Francesco Maria was destined to experience that they are not more binding upon pontiffs.[253]


Leo X. has been one of the most fortunate of men. His all but sovereign birth was still more distinguished by the merit of his family, to which history has done the amplest justice. His natural talents and tastes were not only of a high order, but were perfectly adapted to the golden age in which he lived, and to the high career for which he was destined. His rapid and premature advancement to the first dignities of the Church stimulated instead of relaxing his mental discipline. He obtained the triple tiara at the unprecedented age of thirty-seven, and wore it during the brightest period of the papacy. Though cut short in the flower of manhood, he lived long enough to link his name with the most splendid era of modern history, and although his measures accelerated the crisis of the Reformation, he died ere their seed had borne that dreaded fruit. In fine, his eventful life has been celebrated by at least one biographer worthy of the theme. On the wide field which such a character opens we shall have little opportunity to expatiate. Our narrative has to do with its darker shadows, and to hold up this Pontiff as the implacable foe of a dynasty which had singular claims upon his favour and consideration.

Leo X



After the picture by Raphael in the Pitti Gallery, Florence

The general estimate of Julius and of his successor has been shrewdly conceived and tersely expressed by Sismondi. "The projects of the former had prospered beyond the ordinary calculations of policy; his impetuosity, by surprising his enemies and throwing all their plans into confusion, had often availed him more than prudence-353- could have done; he had also extended the temporal possessions of the Church beyond what any of his predecessors had effected. Yet he had caused so many mischiefs, he had occasioned such vast bloodshed, he had so swamped Italy with foreign armies, even while he pretended to rid her of the barbarians, that his death was hailed as a public blessing, and the cardinals responded to the feeling of Rome, Italy, and all Christendom in desiring that his successor should in no respect resemble him. As he had been old, restless, impatient, and passionate, they sought to replace him with one less aged, and whose tastes were for literature, pleasure, and epicurean indulgences.... Leo was quite the opposite of his predecessor; his temperament was far less stern, irascible, or unforgiving. Towards intimate associates his manners were singularly cheerful and gracious. The protection he extended to letters and arts, the favours which he lavished upon savants, poets, and artists, drew from all Europe a chorus of commendation. But, on the other hand, his character fell very short of that of Julius in frankness and elevation; all his negotiations were stained by deceit and perfidy. Whilst he talked of peace he fanned the flame of war; no pity for the inhabitants of Italy, crushed by barbarian hosts, ever influenced his conduct. His ambition, nowise inferior to that of his predecessor, was not veiled, even to himself, by motives equally respectable. His object was not the independence of Italy, nor the aggrandisement of the Church, but the advancement of his own family."

The Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici, second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, was elected Pope on the 11th of March, 1513, and was crowned on the 19th. The Duke of Urbino had repaired to Rome to offer his congratulations in person, and attended the solemn installation at the Lateran, with twenty-four mounted gentlemen and as many footmen; but mingling regard for the dead with respect for the living, he and all his suite appeared in-354- black velvet and satin, as mourning for his uncle. The device worn on the Pontiff's liveries at this pageant, was in harmony with his previous character and present professions: under a golden "yoke" was inscribed the word suave, meaning something more winning than the scriptural phrase "easy," from which it was borrowed. When two more years had gone by, Francesco Maria was an outlaw, crushed under that gentle yoke, and stripped of his all; whilst the Duke of Ferrara, the next great feudatory of the Church who followed in the procession, could scarcely maintain himself by French aid, until the death of his pontifical oppressor enabled him to parody on his medals another and more appropriate text, in memory of his escape, "Out of the LION'S mouth." At this coronation there was witnessed an unwonted spectacle, the fruit of Alexander's aggressions on the Campagna barons. The humbled chiefs of Colonna and Orsini walked side by side, and their reconciliation was commemorated by a rare medal, on which the crowned column of Colonna is fondly hugged by the Orsini bear, with the motto, "For their country's safety." Francesco Maria's reception was as cordial as distinguished, for the promptings of ambition had not yet transformed Leo's naturally bland and gracious nature into unrelenting and bitter hate. He was accordingly confirmed in his dignities, and retained for a year as Captain-General of the Church, with 13,844 ducats of pay, besides 30,000 of allowances for his company of two hundred men-at-arms, and a hundred light cavalry; nor could words exceed the kindness of the letter in which Bembo intimated this to him on behalf of the Pope.[254]

When the coronation fêtes were over, he returned home to enjoy one of those brief intervals of repose which rarely-355- fell to his lot. His almost continual absence on military service had indeed been greatly felt in his capital, and most of the distinguished men who frequented it under Duke Guidobaldo were now dispersed. Some of them, however, had continued towards his nephew their friendship and services, either under his own banner or in diplomacy. Among these was Baldassare Castiglione, to whose good offices the reconciliation of Francesco Maria with Julius has been partly attributed. In the affair of the Cardinal of Pavia, the Count warmly espoused his part, and invented for him, as a deprecatory device, a lion rampant proper on a field gules, holding a rapier, and a scroll inscribed, Non deest generoso in pectore virtus, "Worth is never wanting in a generous breast"; but this emblem was seldom used, being odious to the college of cardinals, as approving a sacrilegious precedent. Castiglione's elegant endowments were especially qualified to gain him the ear of a prince whose pride it was to emulate his predecessors, as much in the grace of their court as in the fame of their arms; and the preference for so small a state shown by him whom monarchs would have delighted to honour, was fit subject for gratitude, independent of the real services which the Duke derived from the friendship of one so well versed in business. It is stated, although on doubtful authority, that he went upon a mission from Urbino, to urge on Henry VIII. a descent upon Calais,[*255] in the hope of such a diversion recalling Louis from Italy. If so, it was probably in arranging the treaty of Malines on the 5th of April of this year. In the prospect of adding Pesaro to his dominions, Francesco Maria had promised to Castiglione a fief in his depen-356-dencies, and in September, 1513, a charter was granted to him of Novillara, erected into a countship. The letter of donation specially mentions the faithful, sincere, and acceptable services of Baldassare; his elegance in the Latin and Italian languages; his skill in military and civil affairs; and confers upon him this favour rather in earnest of future and more ample benefits, than as a reward of the fatigues, perils, and anxieties which he had already undergone for the Duke.[*256] Of this grant he received a willing confirmation from Leo X., to whom, on his elevation, he had borne Francesco Maria's first congratulations. The brief to this effect dwells on the peculiar satisfaction with which the Pope thus testified, from long acquaintance, his high merits, his distinguished birth, his literary acquirements, his military fame, and his exemplary devotion to the Holy See.

The estate thus associated with Castiglione is generally said to owe its name to its "noble air"; and certainly upon the Italian principle that a healthful atmosphere must be sought in high places, that of Novillara ought to possess unusual virtues. But the learned Olivieri has corrected this vulgar error, and has derived its denomination from the Latin nubilare, which he renders as an open shed for the housing of grain,—a grange, as it might be called. He has traced it back to the twelfth century, and to the fourteenth ascribes an imposing tower of three commodious stories built here by the Malatesta. Hither was conducted, on her first arrival, Camilla of Aragon, bride of Costanzo Sforza Lord of Pesaro; and its inaccessible situation did not prevent a splendid manifestation of the general joy, in fêtes and pageants, commemorated in a volume of excessive rarity, which seem more proportioned to the affectionate gallantry of her husband and subjects, than to the resources of their state, or to the conveniences of-357- this palace. Representations of the community of Pesaro induced Francesco Maria to obtain from Castiglione a restitution to them of this Castle, in 1522, under promise of replacing it by an equivalent, which was never redeemed. Years passed away, notwithstanding repeated remonstrances on the part of Camillo, son of the Count, in which he even induced the Emperor to join. At length, in 1573, Guidobaldo II. conferred a tardy compensation, by granting to Count Camillo the Castel del Isola del Piano. This Duke had previously built an addition to the palace of Novillara, with elaborate decorations never completed. At his son's marriage with Lucretia d'Este, this fief, then worth 500 scudi a year, was settled upon her, but rarely occupied. It subsequently caught the young prince Federigo's fancy, who had planned for its beautiful gardens and frescoes, when untimely death cut short his schemes, and brought the nationality of Urbino and Pesaro to a close.

In the present day Novillara consists of about a hundred houses, huddled together, threaded by narrow alleys, and walled in by terraces. It overlooks Pesaro and Fano, the valleys of the Isauro and Metauro, with the hilly land which separates them. Northward the eye rests on Monte Bartolo, but southward it roams as far as Loreto, and in clear weather the Dalmatian coast may be discerned. The tower of the Malatesta, which formed a landmark to the whole surrounding country, fell in 1723, and the dilapidated fabric of the della Rovere now harbours a few squalid families, adding another to the melancholy wrecks of departed grandeur too frequent in this fair land. Yet Novillara will pass down the stream of Italian literary history as the title of its courtly lord, and its magnificent panorama may well repay the traveller who has leisure and strength to scramble to its summit.

The early policy of Leo was entirely pacific. The leading aim of his diplomacy was to soothe those irritations-358- which his predecessors had fomented throughout Europe, and to heal the wounds thence resulting to Italy. His only aggressive measures during 1513 had been directed against the French, with the patriotic view of thwarting renewed attempts upon the Peninsula, in which they were seconded by Spain and Venice. In this object he was successful, but as the various and complicated transactions by which it was effected are foreign to our immediate purpose, we refer the reader for details to the tenth, twelfth, and thirteenth chapters of Roscoe's delightful work, although naturally representing them in the lights more favourable to the Pontiff's motives than we are prepared fully to approve. Power is, however, a dangerous draught, often exciting the thirst it seeks to slake. Before the Keys had been many months in Leo's possession, the establishment of his own family in the two fairest sovereignties of Italy became the object for which he was to

"Cry havock, and let slip the dogs of war."

Anticipating changes which might occur upon the death of Ferdinand II. of Spain, he conceived hopes of throwing off foreign domination in Naples, and providing for it a king of Italian birth, in his own brother Giuliano the Magnificent. With this ulterior advancement in fancied perspective, he removed him from the management of affairs at Florence, and substituted his nephew Lorenzo, intending ere long to assert for the latter a titular as well as a virtual sovereignty, and to extend his sway over all Tuscany, Urbino, and Ferrara. These ambitious and revolutionary projects required powerful aid, which could be most readily secured by finding a sharer in the adventure. Such a one readily occurred in Louis XII., whose consent to copartnery could scarcely be doubted, when his long-cherished acquisition of the Milanese was offered as his share of its gains. It was no serious objection to this scheme that it inferred a total subversion of Leo's anti--359-gallican policy; and, intent only upon his new views, he secretly negotiated with the French King to bring once more into Lombardy those troops which, but the year before, he had been the chief means of ignominiously chasing beyond the Alps. Should this move place the great powers in general collision, there was all the fairer chance for papal ambition in the scramble; and it mattered little that Italy should again be laid in ashes, and saturated with blood, so that the Medici became arbiters of her destiny.

With a view to these arrangements, Giuliano was betrothed in the following year to Filiberta of Savoy, maternal aunt of Francis, heir to the French crown. But a fatality seems to have attended most papal diplomacy: based upon nepotism or personal ambition, it was generally thwarted by its own fickleness or imbecility. Doubtful of the success of his scheme upon the crown of Naples (which Louis was little disposed to gratify, although prepared to concede to Giuliano the principality of Tarento), or impatient perhaps of waiting for its becoming vacant, the Pontiff turned his views upon Parma and Piacenza, as a convenient interim state for his brother, to be aggrandised by the purchase of Modena from the Emperor for 40,000 golden ducats. But here he was met by a difficulty of his own recent creation, for the establishment of Louis at Milan must have proved dangerous to the proposed principality of Giuliano; so, once more shuffling the cards, he prepared some new combinations for preventing the French expedition into Italy. One of these was an intrigue to detach the Venetian republic from the party of Louis, for which purpose he sent thither his adroit secretary Bembo, whose memorial to the senate has been printed by Roscoe. This attempt, however, entirely failed, and the King's death, on the 1st of January, alone prevented the detection of his faithless ally.[257]


In returning from Venice, Bembo paid one more visit to the Feltrian court, now at Pesaro, rejoicing in the recent birth of an heir to the Dukedom. There he found many changes. The gay and accomplished circle, in whose lighter or more pedantic pastimes he had borne a willing part, was scattered, many of its members like himself to hold appointments of trust and dignity. But it was a sincere satisfaction to him again to meet the Duchess Elisabetta, now recovered from the deep despondency he has so touchingly described, and enjoying the society of her accomplished niece and successor, as well as of her former mistress of the revels, the merry Emilia Pia. In company of these ladies, the diplomatist forgot during a brief interval the cares of state, and lingered for two days on the excuse of indisposition, until he thought it necessary to explain his delay in a letter to Cardinal Bibbiena of the 1st of January, 1515.[258] The fatigues of riding post a hundred and forty miles from Chioggia in two days and a half required this repose, and induced him to continue his journey in less hot haste. Yet Bembo, with all his accomplishments, was but a sunshine courtier, as we shall see some fifteen months later.

It would seem that, at the time of Giuliano's marriage, the idea of providing for him large additions in Romagna to his Lombard principality was the leading motive of his brother's policy, and that the Dukes of Urbino and Ferrara were already viewed as stepping-stones to his exaltation. The command of the pontifical troops was accordingly bestowed upon him as Gonfaloniere, on the 24th of June, 1515, at once an injustice and an insult to Francesco Maria, in whose hands its baton remained unsullied.[*259] The fair professions with which the Duke was-361- superseded were vague and unsatisfactory, and he received warning from various quarters of the sinister designs whereof he was the destined victim. These, however, being as yet immature, the Pontiff maintained professions of unwavering favour, and, in a brief dated on the 16th of August, he assures the Duke that he will readily regard certain services as entitled to the largest and most liberal remuneration in his power.

Yet Giuliano must be acquitted of the ingratitude and perfidy shown to his former friend by the Pope and his nephew Lorenzo. The hospitalities of Duke Guidobaldo had in his case fallen upon no arid soil. His fondest recollections of lettered intercourse and of youthful love were centred in Urbino. He remembered that it was Francesco Maria who, six years before, had interposed to screen him from the jealousies of the late Pontiff, and who had warmly urged the restoration of his family in Florence. He therefore firmly refused to acquiesce in any projects which would aggrandise himself at the Duke's cost; and, in token of good will, while on his way to France, made a detour to visit him at Gubbio, where he thus addressed him: "I have heard, my Lord, that it has been represented to you how the Pope has a mind to take your state from you, in order to give it me; but this is not true, for, on account of the kindness, favour, and benefits I ever have received from your Excellency and your house, I should never consent to it, however much desired by his Holiness, lest other princes of your rank should resolve, in consequence, never again to give such refuge at their courts as was granted to me and mine. Be assured, therefore, that, whilst I live, you not only will receive no molestation on my account, but will be ever regarded by me as an elder brother."[260] Upon these assurances, Francesco Maria not only suspended the defences of his duchy, which he had begun to put in order, but-362- accepted an engagement for himself, with two hundred men-at-arms and a hundred light horse, under Giuliano, the pontifical captain-general. To secure himself, however, against all contingencies, he applied to the Pontiff for leave to bring into the field a thousand infantry, in addition to his usual following. The scruples of Giuliano did not in any way soften his brother, whose intrigues against Urbino are prominent in the curious despatch of his secretary Bibbiena, which Roscoe has printed under date the 16th of February.

Louis XII. died on the 1st of January, 1515, and was succeeded by his second and third cousin, Francis I. This event changed not the projects of Leo in behalf of his brother, whose marriage to the Princess of Savoy was solemnised in February, and who was received by the French monarch with kindness and distinction. To render his position fully worthy of the match, the Pope invested him with Parma, Piacenza, and Modena, yielding a revenue approaching to 48,000 ducats. He likewise settled a large pension upon the princess, and provided for the pair a magnificent palace in Rome, to which they were welcomed with a pomp unusual even in these days of pageantry.

Leo's position with reference to Francis I. was in many respects embarrassing, and the defence of his policy, elaborately undertaken by Roscoe, has established the writer's bias rather than the Pontiff's rectitude. That monarch was steadily pursuing those schemes upon the Milanese which Leo had the year before suggested to his predecessor; and the amicable relations established with the Medici by Giuliano's marriage gave him additional reason to rely upon the Pontiff's support in the struggle which must follow his descent upon Italy. But to restrain the French beyond their Alpine barrier was the favourite, as well as the natural policy of his Holiness, and it was that which tended most to the security of his brother's newly-acquired Lombard sovereignty. He therefore, in-363- July, after some months of anxious vacillation, avowed his adherence to the league of the Emperor with the Kings of England and of Spain, to which Florence, Milan, and the Swiss were parties. Yet he was far from hearty in the cause, and, during the brief campaign which succeeded the arrival of a French army in Lombardy, the ecclesiastical contingent limited their efforts to watching the safety of Parma and Piacenza. Nor did the other allies show much more zeal, excepting the Swiss, whose impetuous valour brought on the pitched battle of Marignano on the 13th of September, and lost them the prestige which had stamped their infantry as invincible. The costly victory there gained by the French was speedily followed by a surrender of his claims upon Milan by Duke Maximiliano Sforza, who was content to enjoy for the remainder of his life a home and pension provided by his conqueror.[*261]

The principal object of Francis being thus effected, he was not indisposed to reconciliation with the Holy See, for which Leo had sedulously retained an opening by keeping Ludovico Canossa throughout the contest as an accredited agent at the French head-quarters. But the Pontiff met the usual reward of trimmers. The tardy accommodation offered by his envoy came too late to save Parma and Piacenza, for which alone he had become a party to the war. The French monarch would not hear-364- of renouncing what he insisted were intrinsic portions of the Milanese, but offered to meet with the Pontiff and arrange in person a lasting amity, Bologna being named for the interview. Upon the diplomatic arrangements which there occupied these potentates in the end of the year we need not touch, further than to notice that the intercession of Francis in favour of the Duke of Urbino, which the latter had hastened, after the battle of Marignano, to bespeak by means of a special envoy, proved quite ineffectual. It obviously was dictated less by any interest in the Duke's welfare than by the wish to thwart a favourite project of his fickle ally, and it at once was met by reference to an article which the Pope had adroitly inserted in the treaty, that Francis should in no way interfere for the protection of any undutiful vassal of the Holy See. From Bologna Leo proceeded to Florence, where he remained most of the winter, maturing his schemes for the ruin of Francesco Maria.

The death of Ferdinand of Spain in January, 1516, soon reawoke the ambitious hopes of Francis, by reminding him of his predecessor's dormant claims upon the Neapolitan crown. But a new combination of circumstances gave another turn to his thoughts. The efforts of the Venetians to recover Verona and Brescia from Maximilian brought the latter into Lombardy at the head of fifteen thousand Swiss troops, by whom Lautrec, the French general, was for a time hard pressed, and Leo, ever anxious to conciliate a conqueror, hastily sent Cardinal Bibbiena with reinforcements to the Emperor's camp. Yet the storm, passing off suddenly and harmlessly, left few traces besides jealousy, which the prudence of that wily legate scarcely prevented from arising in the mind of Francis towards his slippery ally.

These vacillations on the part of Leo have been slightly touched upon, in order to clear the ground for displaying his ambitious nepotism in its proper field,—the duchy of-365- Urbino. This, his prevailing weakness, had met with many disappointments. No opening occurred for its exercise in the direction of Naples. Parma and Piacenza had passed from his grasp, by reluctant surrender to a professing ally. But, worst of all, his favourite brother Giuliano, the object in whom centred most of his schemes, had been removed by death on the 17th of March, not without surmise of poison from the jealousy of his nephew Lorenzo.[*262] Although his great popularity favoured the ambitious views which were thrust upon him by the Pontiff, his mind lay rather towards elegant pursuits and splendid tastes, than to such high aspirations. Indeed, the Venetian ambassador, Capello, represents his dying request to Leo as in favour of Urbino[*263]; but the Pope waived the discussion of a point upon which his resolution was taken. Lorenzo, his successor in the papal favour, was a much more willing, though less conciliatory, instrument of his Holiness's designs.

Lorenzo de' Medici was eldest son of Pietro, the first-born of Lorenzo the Magnificent.[*264] He was born on the 13th of September, 1492, and his youth was passed amid many trials. His father, after ten years of exile from Florence, had been drowned in the Garigliano, in 1504, and, four years thereafter, his sister Clarissa's marriage with Filippo Strozzi involved him in a second banishment. He was of good person and gallant presence, endowed with a stirring spirit, but destitute of generous or heroic qualities. Giorgi, another Venetian envoy, even considered him scarcely inferior in cunning and capacity to the redoubted Valentino. The government of Florence was committed to him by Leo, on his uncle Giuliano being called to a higher destiny, and feeling his advancement-366- restrained by the prior claims, as well as by the moderation of the latter, he is believed to have removed him by poison; at all events he was immediately named to succeed him as gonfaloniere of the Church.

This renewed outrage upon Francesco Maria's military rank,[*265] and the death of the only individual of the Medici upon whom he had any reliance, warned him of the approaching crisis in his fate. The influence of Alfonsina degli Orsini in favour of her son Lorenzo stimulated the Pontiff's projects, unwarned by a prediction of Giuliano that, by following the courses of the Borgia, he would probably suffer their fate. The immediate pretext, adopted for outpouring the accumulated vials of papal wrath, was the Duke's declining to march his troops into Lombardy under Lorenzo as gonfaloniere, in consequence, as Giraldi informs us, of information that his death was resolved upon should he trust his person within his rival's power. Accordingly, Leo was no sooner returned to Rome, than, affecting to consider this refusal, as the act of overt rebellion by a subject against his sovereign, he issued a severe monitory against his feudatory, summoning him thither to answer various vague or irrelevant charges, one of these being the Cardinal of Pavia's slaughter, of which he had already received no

"Ragged and forestalled remission,"

on a report subscribed by Leo himself. Various diplomatic functionaries at the papal court vainly interceded that he should appear by attorney, instead of surrendering in person; and he meanwhile garrisoned Urbino, Pesaro, and S. Leo. The Duchess Dowager, whose arms had frequently received and fondled the infant Lorenzo, while her husband's court sheltered the elder members of his house, hastened to Rome as a mediatrix; but it was-367- with difficulty she made her way to the Pope's presence, and she obtained no mercy for her nephew, nor protection for her own alimentary provisions out of the duchy, his Holiness refusing to listen to any propositions until the Duke had obeyed the monitory by appearing at Rome before the 2nd of April. In consequence of his failure to do so, a bull of excommunication went forth on the 27th, depriving him of his state, and all dignities held of the Holy See, and absolving his subjects from allegiance, on pain of ecclesiastical censures. By a gratuitous exercise of malevolence, the papal influence was employed with the King of Spain for confiscation of Sora, and his other patrimonial holdings in Naples, thus visiting him with instant beggary. On the 18th of August, his dukedom and ecclesiastical baton were conferred upon the unworthy Lorenzo, who, in the following month, was also invested with the prefecture of Rome.




After the picture by Bronzino in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence

The value of political gratitude is strikingly illustrated in the fact, that these outrageous measures were adopted, in a consistory composed for the most part of creatures of the della Rovere family, with the single dissentient voice of Cardinal Grimani, of Venice, Bishop of Urbino, whose independence earned him an exile from Rome. Nor was this the only painful lesson of the worth of courtier fidelity now taught to that illustrious house. Even the civilities of Bembo to the Duchess Dowager sank to a low grade, as he thus acknowledges in a letter to Bibbiena of the 19th of April:—"The Lady Duchess of Urbino, whom I visited yesterday (a duty which I, however, very rarely perform), commends herself to you, as does also the Lady Emilia. On these dames the Signor Unico [Accolti] dances attendance. He is more than ever in the heat of his old passion, which he declares now numbers five lustres and a half; and he has better hopes than heretofore of at length obtaining the consummation of his desires, having been asked by the Lady Duchess to improvisare, by which-368- means he trusts to move that stony heart to tears—at the least. He is to rehearse in two or three days, and as soon as he does so, I shall report to you: would that you could be here, as he is sure to do it right well." It can scarcely be doubted that this innuendo was meant to apply to the more exalted of these ladies. Whether as a caustic sneer, or a current scandal, it comes ill from such a quarter, and only adds a new proof of the poet's inordinate conceit. Nor did it go unpunished, for we find such vain effrontery thus lashed by Gandolfo Porrino, a contemporary satirist:—

"In such affairs the palm he gives to one beyond all gold,
Urbino's Duchess dowager, your cousin scarce yet old.
Long at that court Lord Unico had paragoned her face,
With words and pen, in wondrous phrase, to angels' matchless grace.
Till, gazing on those saint-like eyes, while tears bedimmed his own,
The secret of his passion thus he breathed to her alone:
'All goddess fair! my love for thee all other loves exceeds,
No Launcelot, no errant knight, its lightning course outspeeds!
Prithee with me participate the boon that cannot cloy,
And share in mutual confidence a bliss without alloy.'
Unlike those artful hypocrites who evil speeches spurn,
But wink at acts, the prudent dame thus answer did return:
'Remember that we hapless wives must each their lord obey,
Tyrant or kind, his dread behests we never may gainsay;
Mine is the Duke, to whom your wish propose, should he assent,
As well I wot, right readily your whim shall I content.'
Confounded by her sarcasm the carpet-knight was left
Poor victim of his vanity, of self-respect bereft."

The now inevitable war was opened by a simultaneous movement upon the duchy from three several quarters. Renzo, that is, Lorenzo da Ceri, accompanied by Lorenzo de' Medici and a powerful army, advanced from Romagna; Vitello Vitelli marched upon Massa Trabaria; and, on the 12th of May, Gianpaolo Baglioni seized on Gubbio.[*266]-369- The force thus poured upon the state amounted to seventeen thousand foot, above a thousand men-at-arms, and near two thousand light horse. That which Francesco Maria could bring into the field numbered about nine thousand men, and being averse to entail upon his subjects the miseries of an unavailing struggle, he authorised their surrender, excepting the citadels of Pesaro, Urbino, S. Leo, and Maiuolo, which he garrisoned for resistance. His attempts to obtain the mediation or support of foreign powers entirely failed. Their sympathy and condolence were freely doled out to him, but none gave hope of efficient aid, except Maximilian, whose promises, on this as on all other occasions, proved quite worthless. It only remained to bow, as his uncle Guidobaldo had done, before the storm, and await happier times. On the 31st he sent off from Pesaro his consort, in an ailing state, his infant son, and the dowager Duchess to their relations at Mantua, with such valuables as they could transport in six or eight vessels, and, speedily following them, he embarked at midnight and reached that city in disguise.

Pesaro, after an eight days' siege, capitulated on honourable terms, in breach of which Tranquillo Giraldi, the commandant, was hanged upon a vague accusation of bad faith. Urbino having, by order of its sovereign, been surrendered without a blow on the 30th of May,[*267] the community, on the 16th of June, sent deputies to kiss the Pope's feet on taking possession of the state, in hopes of obtaining relaxation of the interdict; but his Holiness raised it only for such as adhered to the existing order of things. He committed the government of the town to its new bishop, Giulio Vitelli, who intrigued at all hands to induce the magistracy to follow the example set them-370- in other places, of petitioning his Holiness to give them an independent sovereign, in order that the exaltation of his nephew to the dukedom might seem a popular measure. On the 16th of June the interdict was removed from all the duchy except S. Leo, which alone held out; but, faithful to the proverb of hating him whom he had injured, the Pontiff was deaf to all entreaties for restoration to church privileges of his victim, who consequently remained in hiding at Goito near Mantua, apart from his family, that he might not involve them in excommunication, and giving out that he had fled across the Alps, in order to baffle those who sought his life.

The example of Guidobaldo kept alive his hopes of regaining his sovereignty, as that Duke had done, by means of S. Leo. But ere he could organise measures for a descent, he had the grief of learning its fall. As there is always something of romantic adventure in the surprise of a place impregnable by ordinary expedients, we may dwell for a moment on the third and last successful leaguer of this fortress. The garrison consisted of a hundred and twenty men, one tenth of whom had fallen in its defence. After three months spent in hopeless assaults, a Florentine carpenter, named Antonio, observing from the opposite heights the absence of sentinels over one of the most precipitous parts of the rock, attempted to make his way up the face of it, sometimes aided by plants and bushes in the clefts, but generally driving iron spikes into their crevices, and fastening ropes, ladders, or beams, as he advanced. After four nights of this perilous toil he reached the wall, which he found, as expected, without defenders. Having reported the way accessible, a number of light infantry were entrusted to his guidance, whom he ordered to strip their headgear and shoes, and to strap upon their backs their shields, swords, and hatchets. On the 30th of September, under cover of a wet and foggy night, he conducted these safely to the summit, ac-371-companied by a drummer and four pair of colours. At daybreak, an alarm was given from the watch-tower of an assault upon the gate, towards which the besiegers had sent a party; and, whilst the defenders hurried in that direction, Antonio, with some fifty men, cleared the walls, displayed their colours, and beat to arms. Ere the garrison had recovered their presence of mind, the gate was opened by the escalading party to their comrades, and the place was carried. The citadel was held for twenty-five days longer by a handful of desperate men, but they at length surrendered to one Antonio Riccasoli of Florence, who placed upon the castle a vainglorious inscription, claiming for himself the genius of another Dedalus. The fortress had been commanded by Sigismondo Varana, Count of Camerino, the Duke's young nephew, assisted by an experienced captain of the Ubaldini; and the good treatment experienced by the garrison gave rise to a suspicion of treachery on their part, Sigismondo alone being sent to Volterra as prisoner of war. Much of the Duke's treasure was taken, and the loss of S. Leo proved a serious blow to his interests.[268]



The Duke returns to his state—His struggle with the usurper—His victory at Montebartolo.

MEANWHILE the fatal wars originating in the League of Cambray were finally concluded, by a treaty offensive and defensive, between the young monarchs of France and Spain, guaranteeing their respective Italian possessions, which was signed at Nogon on the 13th of August, and was followed by that of London on the 29th of October, to which the Pope, the Emperor, Charles V., and Henry VIII., were parties. A general pacification having been thus obtained, Francesco Maria was further than ever from assistance in recovering his rights, yet the moment seemed not unfavourable for a single-handed attempt at asserting them. The numerous condottieri of all nations, thus thrown loose without prospect of new occupation, offered him their services on very easy terms, preferring employment on the credit of eventual pay, with the chance of interim pillage, to a life of listless beggary. The French and Venetians secretly favoured any adventure which should rid their territories of such odious inmates, and the Duke found no great difficulty in mustering, by the beginning of the year, three thousand eight hundred infantry and six hundred light horse. He placed the latter under his wife's cousin, Federigo Gonzaga, Marquis of Bozzolo, a young man who singularly mingled the staid wisdom of a veteran commander with the jovial manners of a free companion, and was thus equally the confidential adviser of his general, and the idol of his men. He had-373- also become a personal enemy of Lorenzo, from having been deprived by him of the command committed to him by Giuliano de' Medici. This motley army was composed of tried soldiers, but was deficient in the material for a sustained campaign, notwithstanding the Duke's great exertions and sacrifices, by borrowing money at all hands, and by selling his wife's valuables, to provide for it the most necessary munitions. Before taking the field, he, on the 17th of January, addressed to the Sacred College, and publicly placarded, this earnest protest and vindication of his measures, which, although prolix, is an important manifesto.

"Most reverend and respected Lords: I have ever flattered myself that the long persecutions, which exposed me to so many perils, have not lost me your Reverences' favour, nor rendered you personally hostile to me; indeed, I feel assured that you have always looked upon me with compassion, and pitied my misfortunes. Nor did I enjoy, amid such adversities, any consolation more efficacious than my conviction that your Sacred College considers me in nowise worthy of such persecutions. But, as I always have been, am, and shall through life continue, your most humble and obedient servant, I hold myself bound to account to you for every action, and to defend myself from whatever imputations my enemies may have made to your very reverend Lordships, in whom repose all my hopes of protection.

"I presume that you have heard of my new enterprise against my own state, dictated, not by any desire to disturb, embarrass, or molest the interests of the Church, but rather by a wish to commit my life upon the hazard of the war, trusting that God will so direct its issue as that my innocence, so known to his divine providence, may be equally manifested to all the world. And in this assurance I proceed, not rashly or presumptuously, but aware that-374- neither my resources, which are at present next to nothing, nor those of the most potent monarch, would suffice to resist the might of his Holiness, supported as he is by all the sovereigns and powers of Christendom; relying, moreover, on Almighty God, the King of kings, who can, and, as I hope, will, aid and defend me in this calamity, since He, to whom the hearts of men are open, knows that I have no other expedient left for my peace or life itself. After having betaken myself to the illustrious Lord Marquis, my father-in-law, at Mantua, and placed myself in a sort of voluntary imprisonment; after having lost my fortresses, and nearly all my worldly possessions; and having even made up my mind to promise his Holiness not to make any attempt upon my state, or disturb his nephew, to whom he had given it,—my sole wish being to live; still, so far from obtaining a relaxation of the censures, other and harsher interdicts were constantly issued against me, with positive injunctions to my distinguished father-in-law not to harbour me in his territory. Nay, I daily discover plots against my life by poison or the dagger; which, however, I attribute not to my Lord his Holiness, convinced that his clemency and goodness are irreconcilable with so ardent a thirst for my blood, and such perfidious ingratitude for the numberless benefits which, setting aside more remote recollections, he and all his house received from myself, when in straits similar to what I now endure, but rather to my enemies, who, in effecting my ruin, bring infamy upon his Holiness, and think thus to force me to flee for my life into Turkey.

"Compelled, then, by these considerations, I have set forward towards my own home, in the belief that, even should my death ensue, infamy never can; and in the conviction that, if it was right for his Holiness, whilst living as a cardinal in honour and dignity, to occasion the cruel sack of Prato, in order to regain those rights of citizenship from which he had been outlawed, it will be far more-375- justifiable in me, an outlaw, not from one city, but from all Christendom, and deprived, not merely of my temporal dignities, but almost of the means of subsistence, the sacraments of the Church, and the intercourse of mankind, by a persecution which directs at once temporal and spiritual weapons against my station, life, and soul;—it will, I say, be justifiable for me to attempt my restoration to the state, of which, in the opinion of my own people, and of all men except his Holiness, I am the legitimate sovereign. I therefore supplicate your most reverend Lordships, by the pity due to such as have blamelessly fallen into misfortune, that you will deign to afford me protection, falling upon some means or expedient for mitigating the Pontiff's feelings; seeing I cannot but think that your influence, his own natural goodness, and my innocence must break down that obduracy which the unjust lips and guileful tongues of my adversaries have raised towards me in the mind of his Holiness; for, to regain his favour, there is no submission or endurable penance that I would refuse. And, should I not be deemed worthy of such compassion, you, my very reverend Lords, may at least condescend in silence to favour my cause with your best wishes and thoughts, and efficiently to recommend me to the unfailing bounty and justice of God. If my success be as signal as I hope, I shall stand indebted to your most reverend Lordships, believing that the Almighty has heard your reasonable desires, and extended his protection to me through your merits. Or, on the other hand, should my puny force not be overborne by the weight of the papal power, backed by spiritual weapons, it will be a palpable miracle, and proof sufficient that my innocence, though on earth condemned by men, will be cleared in Heaven by a higher and more equitable Judge. And so, ever kissing humbly your Reverences' hands, I commend myself to your favour. From Sermene, the 17th of January, 1517."


The narrative of Giraldi[269] is a safe authority as to many details of this enterprise, his uncle Benedetto having been an officer much in the Duke's confidence. We, therefore, venture to extract the harangue which he puts into the mouth of Francesco Maria, before marching from Sermene, not, of course, as his verbatim address to his followers, but as containing the understanding on both sides of their respective obligations.

"'Soldiers and Comrades, I have assembled you here, in order that you may fully learn my mind and intentions, and that I may know yours. I therefore acquaint you that I have arranged with your leaders, who have promised, and bound themselves by articles, to accompany me into my state of Urbino, and to re-establish me in my home, and to maintain me there during life, indifferent to pay or remuneration beyond such as I may be able to give,—I confiding to them my state and person, in reliance upon your good faith. I now wish to know if you are all agreed to follow me in this enterprise; and, should this be your pleasure, I desire from you an oath never to abandon me on any contingency that may occur, and that, in case of being forced to quit me by the pressure of events without completing our undertaking, you will oblige yourselves to return to this place as a rendezvous, and, further, that you shall not desert me for any offers or bribes of the enemy. Avowing to you at the same time that, at this moment, I have not above a ducat a-piece to give you, I nevertheless feel confident our gains will be great, unless fortune be more than adverse; and I promise that all the booty will be yours, and that I shall be your comrade, never sparing my life while it lasts. If you accept these my terms, you must all swear to observe them; otherwise I shall not move from this territory of my brother-in-law.' Whereupon they all, with extended hands, took an oath never to abandon him-377- during life; and so they set forth in the name of God, on the 17th of January, led by Federigo di Bozzolo."

The Pontiff was taken at unawares, for, believing his enemy utterly crushed, he made light of such warnings as had reached him of a contemplated movement against the duchy; but now that the expedition was matured, he knew well the slight hold which the usurper had upon the affections of his nominal subjects. Nor was he more at ease as to the inclinations of his new allies in Lombardy, whose stipendiaries had thus suddenly turned their arms against him. His anxiety was in no way diminished by the representations of his confidential friend Bibbiena, who, actuated perhaps by some lurking kindness for the house of Urbino, urged him to abandon the Borgian policy he had in hand, until such persuasions were silenced by the threatened poignard of Lorenzo. Ere effectual precautions could be adopted in Romagna, Francesco Maria had rallied round him eight thousand infantry and fifteen hundred horse, most of them veterans, and with these he marched about the middle of January. Passing Rimini, where his rival lay "sorely perplexed and bewildered" (to use the phrase of Minio, the Venetian envoy), he advanced under every discouragement of an inclement season, his men wading through snow to the middle, and swimming frequent-swollen torrents. From the secrecy of his preparations and the poverty of his resources, his commissariat was altogether inadequate; but, on reaching his frontier, the refusal of Gradara to submit afforded his men an excuse for compensating their privations by its sack.

His subjects had been prepared by emissaries for a general revolt. On the 1st of February, Count Carlo Gabrielli raised the cry of "Feltro! Feltro!" at Gubbio, and it was enthusiastically responded to through the smaller towns. On the 5th, the Duke was within a few miles of Urbino, then held by Bishop Vitelli, with a-378- garrison of two thousand men, who, distrusting the inhabitants, summoned their militia to muster at S. Bernardino, and closed the gates as soon as the city had thus been cleared of its able-bodied men, refusing to readmit them on pain of instant death. The excluded citizens vented their indignation at this trick, in threats and abuse of the garrison from under the very walls, which at length provoked a sortie of four hundred infantry in order to disperse them. At this juncture, a squadron of one hundred cavalry, sent on by Francesco Maria under Benedetto Giraldi of Mondolfo, for the purpose of supporting the expected rising in his favour, arrived three miles below Urbino, and, whilst breathing their horses, heard that the enemy were abroad. Benedetto immediately left his little force in charge of his brother Annibale, and rode on with but five officers to reconnoitre. The adventure which followed, equally worthy of a bold knight-errant and a Christian soldier, must be told as in the Dialogue of his nephew Tranquillo. "Coming suddenly upon the detachment, about half a mile from the town, Benedetto exclaimed, 'Look there! as these are the first of our master's foes we have fallen in with, it would surely be a shame to let them get back to the city without a taste of us: I am therefore resolved to make a dash at them, and if you will follow me, by God's grace we shall have the first victory.' This said, he rushed into the midst of them, with vizor up and lance in rest, overthrowing many by the shock. His weapon having broken, he performed prodigies with his sword, and, aided by his followers, who had not shrunk from his summons, the enemy's leaders were slain, and their whole battalion dispersed in panic through the fields, where most of them were put to death by the excluded townsfolk, who had mustered at the first alarm. I, too, came up with our squadron, in time to cut off a good many of them; but I had little cause to congratulate-379- myself upon that success, for, passing near my brother [Benedetto], he said to me, 'Annibale, I am killed.' Whereupon, looking towards him, I observed a cut in his face, and told him to fear nothing, as face wounds were not mortal; but he replied, 'It's worse than that, for I am run through the body by a pike.' At these words my heart seemed riven asunder; yet, in order not to alarm him, I desired him to cheer up, and commend himself to God Almighty, and to the most glorious Mother of the Saviour, and to vow his armour and horse to Loreto, adding that I too would offer a housing worth twenty-five ducats. 'I am content,' answered he, 'to give this horse, a gallant Turkish charger bestowed upon me by the Marquis of Mantua, along with these arms; but I have only one favour to ask of the Saviour of mankind, which is, that he will permit me to live long enough to confess myself.' As he said this an Observantine friar, who had on former occasions confessed him, came up, and, after thanking God for having heard his prayer, he summoned the monk, and returning to Cavallino confessed himself. There being no surgeon at hand, a gentleman of Mantua named Stigino cleansed the wound by suction, and ascertained that the bowels were not pierced, which afforded me much hope. I sent for many surgeons. The first that arrived was Maccione of Fossombrone, who dressed the wound with charmed bandages, a thing that much displeased my brother; and for conscience-sake he refused to be doctored in that way, until persuaded by a friar, who assured him there was no sin, seeing that there had been no diabolical incantation used; and, being told of numerous miracles effected by these cloths, he submitted to them, and ere long was restored to health."

The sally-party from the garrison having been repulsed by Giraldi's squadron, aided by a considerable force from Gubbio, Fossombrone, and Sinigaglia, which just then most opportunely appeared, they found little safety by-380- returning to quarters. The citizens still within the walls rushed to arms, even the women and children showered missiles on the retreating soldiery, and the Bishop, dispirited by the disaster, capitulated next day. But being seized with a panic, his garrison withdrew ere their safe-conduct was signed, and were beset by the infuriated troops and inhabitants, who attacked them on every side with arms, bludgeons, and stones, slaying or capturing them to a man. The Duke thus entered his capital, and was welcomed with demonstrations of joy, only equalled by those which, fourteen years before, had hailed his uncle's return in similar circumstances.

As it was no easy task to restrain an army so composed from reaping the spoils of victory in a way opposite to wishes and the interests of Francesco Maria, he lost no time in employing them against Fano, a town which, not belonging to his state, might with less scruple be abandoned to plunder. The assault, however, miscarried through Maldonato, a Spanish captain, whose treasonable correspondence with Rome began already to be intercepted, and was ere long exposed. After this check, the troops were dispersed among the villages, until the inclement weather should pass; their head-quarters were at Montebaroccio, a very strong position midway between the upper part of the duchy, which acknowledged its legitimate sovereign, and the cities of Pesaro, Fano, and Sinigaglia, which were garrisoned by the ecclesiastical troops.

Meanwhile the Pope, trusting to time more than the sword for ridding him of an enemy destitute of all resources, had directed his nephew to leave them an open field, until his preparations for their destruction should be complete. He hastily called upon the Emperor and the Kings of France and Spain for assistance, whilst Lorenzo was mustering the ecclesiastical and Florentine militia, under Guido Rangone of Modena, Renzo da Ceri, and-381- Vitello Vitelli. No expense was spared from the papal treasury to raise an overwhelming force, and Lorenzo borrowed 50,000 golden florins from his fellow-citizens. Charles contributed four hundred Neapolitan lances, and Francis promised three hundred more, on condition of the surrender by Leo of Modena to his ally the Duke of Ferrara. By these means was levied an army of fifteen to eighteen thousand infantry, a thousand men-at-arms, and at least as many light cavalry, with fourteen pieces of artillery.

The Lord of Urbino appears to have looked without reason for reinforcements from Venice,[*270] but Minio mentions that his army now consisted of twelve thousand foot, and that he had received a money subsidy from an unknown quarter, probably his father-in-law, the Marquis of Mantua. Yet his position was in all respects critical. In an enterprise depending on prompt success, each hour lost was the enemy's gain. His present life of bootless and bootyless inaction disgusted his Spaniards, who not only murmured, but, unmindful of their vow of service, began to desert to the ecclesiastical camp, attracted by superior pay. Worst of all, the enthusiasm that had enabled Guidobaldo to win back his state for a brief interval, now languished in the cause of his nephew, whose coup-de-main had failed, and whose resources were inadequate to a prolonged struggle, the burden whereof must fall upon his loyal subjects. In these circumstances, he resorted to an expedient which relieved the dull incidents of a petty campaign by one of a novel and romantic character. Hoping to bring the war to a speedy issue, he sent Suares de Lione, a Spanish officer, and his own Secretary, Orazio Florido, with the following instructions, and message to his adversary:—

"As it is creditable to a prince warring for any cause, to endeavour that his object should be effected with the least-382- bloodshed and injury to the country, especially if it be his intention to become its sovereign, and as I conceive that the Lord Lorenzo must share in this sentiment, I have devised an expedient most convenient to both of us. For if he desire the acquisition of this state as ardently as appears from the late and present campaign, he will be delighted to satisfy that longing promptly, and without further burden to its inhabitants, by putting to the test his own bravery and that of his troops. I therefore empower you, Captain Suares and Orazio, to challenge him forthwith to combat in any place he likes; four thousand men against four thousand, or three, two, or one thousand, or five hundred, or one hundred, or twenty, or four, or any smaller number he may choose, provided he and I are included,—all to be on foot, with the usual arms of infantry; or lastly, if he will fight me alone with the readiest arms, so much the better, that thus, by the death or imprisonment of one of us, the victor may obtain the most satisfactory solution of his wishes, and relieve the lingering suspense of not a few.

"Relying on the courage of his Lordship, and many about him of not less honourable pretensions, that these so reasonable proposals will be received with pleasure, I shall await your return, promptly to prepare for whatever alternative he may accede to. I limit the answer to three days; adding that, if he prefer fighting in considerable numbers, he may do so with three hundred picked men of the light cavalry, armed with lance, sword poignard, and mace. Or, if none of the aforesaid conditions please him, which I cannot believe possible, remember to offer that, if he will engage with these three hundred light horse, and all my infantry, he may have the advantage of five hundred or a thousand foot beyond what I can bring into the field, equally armed. And the present memorandum you will deliver into his Lordship's hands."[271]


This step, natural to a gallant soldier of almost desperate fortunes, with neither means nor inducement for a prolonged struggle, could have no recommendation for his opponent, now at the head of an overwhelming force, backed by the papal treasury and the united arms of most European powers. Lorenzo felt nettled at a proposal which it would have been folly to accept, but which could scarcely be declined without incurring a slur; and, after answering that he could entertain no such cartel until his challenger had evacuated those places which he had forcibly seized, his temper showed itself by arresting its bearers, notwithstanding their safe-conduct. The Spaniard was speedily released; but the secretary was sent to Volterra or Rome, to be disposed of by the Pope, where, with revolting treachery and meanness, he was subjected to imprisonment and torture, in the hope of drawing from him the secrets of his master, whose vigorous resistance Leo strongly suspected to be backed by the French monarch.

The war was now carried on by manœuvres and skirmishes, which have no interest beyond the light they throw on the spirit of this unequal contest. Among the reinforcements that flocked to the papal standard was an undisciplined band which crossed the Apennines from Tuscany, carrying fire and sword through the highlands of Montefeltro. The Duke was unable to leave the low country exposed by marching in person to the relief of his faithful mountaineers, but sent into these defiles a squadron of light horse, who, falling upon the rabble at unawares, amply avenged their excesses. On the 25th of March, the inhabitants of Montebaroccio, having voluntarily admitted a body of papal troops, were visited by severe retribution as a warning to others; the place was sacked and burned by the Spaniards, seven hundred men and fifty old women being put to the sword,—a repulsive comment upon the Duke's boast, that though the walls of his towns were held for others, the hearts they contained-384- were all his own. These partial successes turned the tide of feeling somewhat more favourably for the della Rovere cause, and we learn from the Minio despatches, that the war, unpopular at Rome from the first, now occasioned great anxiety to the government, from the difficulty in raising funds to continue it. The Pope retired frequently to his villa at La Magliana, less from the love of field sports, than to indulge his chagrin.[*272] Such were his straits for money, that he deposited jewels in pawn with the Cardinal Riario, for a loan of 7000 ducats. This sum, with 5000 more, having been despatched to Pesaro in a convoy of waggons, was captured by the Duke, and along with it were found certain letters, written in name of his Holiness, advising Lorenzo, in the event of any suspicion attaching to the Gascons in his service, either to ship them at once for Lombardy, or to have them summarily massacred. These missives, having been circulated in the ecclesiastical camp, occasioned a prodigious ferment, and it was with the utmost difficulty that Lorenzo, by denying their authenticity, induced the French troops to remain under his command, until an opportunity offered of conciliating them by the plunder of Sta. Costanza.

After many complicated movements in the lower valley of the Metauro, attended with no decided advantage, and important only as having enabled the youthful Giovanni de' Medici to flesh that sword which soon after won him the laurels of a bright but brief career, the papal army sat down before Mondolfo. The resistance of that small town was encouraged by the state of the besiegers, and embittered by their savage reputation. The Minio despatches of this date represent them as suffering from a scarcity of provisions and a dearth of bread and wine, adding that "the captured castles envy the dead, by reason-385- of the cruelties practised on the survivors." Its garrison consisted of two hundred Spaniards and three hundred militia, so determinedly supported by the inhabitants, that breaches opened during the day were made up before morning, mines were met by counter-excavations, and subterranean galleries were often scenes of death-struggles. Provoked by this obstinacy, Lorenzo swore never to raise the siege until he had razed the place to its foundations, put the males to the sword, and handed over the women to the Devil's service. But in the end of March, a few days after he had uttered this savage bravado, his own career was arrested. Whilst, with more bravery than prudence, he served a battery in the dress of a common soldier, a Spaniard, to whom his person was known, marked him from the walls, and shot him as he leaned upon a cannon to take aim. The ball took effect above the left ear; and the wound extended down his neck to the shoulder.[273] He was removed to Ancona, and for above a week continued in extreme danger, refusing to be trepanned; but by the end of the month his convalescence was complete.

The Pontiff "evinced extreme grief" at so untoward an accession to the mishaps of this ill-advised and unlucky campaign. It had hitherto been conducted by Renzo da Ceri and Vitellozzo Vitelli, who were supposed to thwart the usurper from an apprehension that he might become another Cesare Borgia. The Cardinal de' Medici, however, attributed these successive miscarriages to the incapacity of Renzi, and seriously complained to the Venetian envoy that, in consequence of his reputation in the Signory's service, "we engaged him for this under-386-taking, and don't perceive that he has effected anything. While he commanded a small infantry force, he appeared never to be idle for a day, yet, since he has been at the head of an entire army, he has contrived to demean himself very ill, and to show that he is not a man of great exploits." It will be curious to find this very officer afterwards employed by the Cardinal when Pope, and fully bearing out the mean opinion here expressed of him, when his present impugner had the folly to instruct him with the defence of Rome itself.

Neither the dissatisfaction of his subjects nor the coldness of his allies inclined Leo to abandon an enterprise which exhausted his resources and bathed Italy in civil blood. Thundering forth a new and more severe excommunication against Francesco Maria and his abettors, he, on the 30th of March, despatched a cardinal legate to the camp, under whose command things went from bad to worse. The defence of Mondolfo was protracted with extraordinary resolution. Even after a large space of wall had been thrown down by two mines, the besiegers were kept at bay during ten hours of hard fighting, whilst the women supplied missiles and coppers of boiling water, and the priests, waving aloft their crucifixes, mingled absolution of the dying with prayers for the survivors. This vain struggle against fearful odds ended in an ill-observed capitulation, in defiance of which the town was sacked and set on fire. Two incidents may illustrate the undisciplined state of the troops. Before entering the place, two Spanish and a Ferrarese soldier agreed to share equally their respective booty. Whilst the Italian fought, his comrades were plundering, and eventually refused to divide the spoil according to stipulation, an evasion in which they were backed by their countrymen. The Ferrarese, with permission of his officers, challenged his faithless partners, and a ring, or rather square, having been cleared, by tying together eight pikes, he sprang into it,-387- armed but with sword and half-shield, offering to fight them both at once, a proposal which they prudently evaded by surrendering a just portion of their plunder. After the town had capitulated, "a wrangle arose between an Italian and a German about a flagon of wine, the former raising the shout of 'Italy! Italy!' the latter responding 'Germany! Germany!' Whereupon the infantry came to blows, and many were killed on either side; and when, at the peril of his life, the right reverend Cardinal had well nigh quelled the fray, an Italian struck a German captain on the head with his musket and killed him. This made the fight rage fiercer than ever, and the Spaniards having sided with the Germans, the Italians were routed, and all their quarters pillaged, including those of Signor Troilo Savello. The army remains divided and dispersed; most of the Italians are departed, whilst the infantry have betaken themselves towards Fano, and continue thus separated." It is curious to detect in these and similar incidents[274] an undercurrent of national feeling, during that dreary age when the Peninsula was torn into sections by communal policy and dynastic ambition. Had that cry of Italia! Italia! been then raised by her leading spirits, with earnest good faith, apart from individual ends, how different had been her after fate and present attitude!

The legate, who thus, with difficulty and personal danger, averted a general massacre, was the Cardinal Bibbiena, not de' Medici, as accidentally misstated by Roscoe. After long employing his diplomatic talents against his former friend, the Lord of Urbino, he now compassed his final ruin by exertions of the camp, for which he was less qualified. The mutinous mêlée which he had witnessed prepared him for the discovery, that moneys raised by extraordinary exertions were ill-spent upon an army "thrice as numerous on pay-day as in action." It was, therefore,-388- to the commissariat and finance that his chief attention was given; but, warned by the recent explosion of national antipathies, he separated the quarrelsome soldiery in various cantonments around Pesaro. The Italians garrisoned the city and Rimini, the Spaniards were encamped on the adjoining Monte Bartolo, the Germans lay on the middle of that hill around the Imperiale palace, the Corsi (Dalmatians) occupied the foot of it, and the Gascons bivouacked on the adjacent plain. The last of these were in very bad repute at Rome; and finding themselves kept for several weeks in that exposed situation, many deserted to the della Rovere camp at Ginestreto, near Montebaroccio. After letting slip an apparently favourable opportunity for striking a blow at these disorganised troops, Francesco Maria subsequently did so by a surprise, which we shall narrate in his own words, addressed next morning to the Duchess.

"To the most illustrious Lady, my Consort, my lady Eleonora di Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino, &c.

"Most illustrious Lady, my Consort,

"Since the enemy took the field I have often wished to come to action, and have used my ingenuity for this object, little heeding their superiority to my brave band, both in men-at-arms and in infantry, but all to no purpose. At length, finding that his Reverence the Legate, Renzo di Ceri, Vitelli, and their other principal leaders had retired into Pesaro, with a host of men-at-arms, whilst about three thousand foot, with the light horse and the Gascon wings, lay on the road to Fano, the Spanish lansquenets and the Corsi, to the number of at least six thousand, being quartered in the Imperiale, there seemed a chance of having at them. Accordingly, at half-past eleven o'clock last night, on ascertaining their position, and the most effective mode of attacking it, I advanced at the head of my infantry and a detachment of cavalry. After passing the Foglia, I sent-389- the latter to a certain spot in the plain, and, leading the rest by the hill-side to the summit of the Imperiale, I charged the enemy about two hours after daybreak, and, by God's grace and the gallantry of my men, routed them ere they could form, killing, and taking many. So sudden and vigorous was our onset over the rocks on the seashore, that they were unable to gain their houses; and, as we drove them with great loss over the hill, they were intercepted below by my cavalry, so that between the two few escaped. Some of the officers made their way into the church of S. Bartolo, and into the palace of the Imperiale, where they attempted to fortify themselves, but with a few of my people I soon captured them all. We followed the fugitives with great slaughter to the very gates of Pesaro, the garrison of which, at least five thousand strong, would neither support nor admit them, whilst the Gascons, though witnessing the rout and drawn up in battle array, equally withheld succour. Thus, without loss, we remained masters of their camp, their colours, many prisoners, and all their officers but two who were killed; and I, having taken up my quarters here, hasten to inform your Excellency of these particulars.

"But I must not omit to tell your Ladyship how, three days since, as Signor Troilo Savello, on his march from Rome with fifteen hundred foot and some horse, was avoiding the outpost at Sassoferrato, and attacking my castle of Sta. Abonda, he was routed and rifled by a couple of hundred infantry and a few cavalry from my garrison at Pergola, and scarcely escaped being himself taken. In Montefeltro, too, several incursions of the Florentines have been repulsed; and between Massa and Lamole seven hundred of them, who had taken post on a hill and in a very strong pass, were well beaten and driven out of it by a hundred of my people.

"I wished to give your Ladyship all these particulars, that you may share with me the encouragement they afford-390- us. The favour which God has this morning vouchsafed us, and for which our gratitude is due, gives me hope that the justice of my cause will be daily advanced by new successes; and so to your Ladyship do I commend myself: from my joyous camp near Genestreto, 6 May, 1517.

"Consors, Franciscus Maria Dux Urbini, &c.
ac Alme Urbis Prefectus."[275]

To this spirited despatch little remains to be added. The assailants ascended from the Rimini side, leaving below a strong body of horse to cut off the fugitives. The troops being discouraged by the absence of Maldonato's Spaniards, who had straggled behind, and by the late hour at which, owing to blunders of their guides, they reached the mountain, the Duke encouraged them with assurances that the chances of success were greatest after daybreak, as the sentinels would be less on the alert; and for an omen of victory, and a badge to distinguish them from the enemy, he desired them to twine oak twigs, emblematic of his name, round their headgear. He led their file in person; and after a complete victory was left with eight hundred prisoners on his hands, besides the entire camp equipage and much booty. Next day the Gascons, who had not shared in the rout, came over in a body to Francesco Maria, headed by Monsieur d'Ambras, who returned to the court of Francis I., after publicly declaring that he would no longer permit his men to be sacrificed by officers that could neither protect them nor annoy their enemy, but would leave them under a prince whose tactics and discipline were a pattern even to his foes. This secession did not, however, prevent his master bolstering up the papal policy by loans of 100,000 livres Tournois to Lorenzo, and half that sum to the Pontiff, a course condemned by Sismondi in his French history.



Continuation of the ruinous contest—The Duke finally abandons it—Death of Lorenzo de’ Medici—Charles V. elected Emperor.

ABOUT this time a serious conspiracy against Leo was discovered. The prime mover in it was Alfonso Petrucci, Cardinal of Siena, whose property having been confiscated, and his family ruined by the Pontiff, he burned for revenge, and induced one Battista, a famous surgeon of Vercelli, along with the Pope's valet, to enter into his views. Leo being ill of fistula, it was arranged that Battista, who had procured recommendations as a skilful operator, should introduce poison into the dressings. The plot was revealed in time, and the Pontiff used every art, with promises of reconciliation and renewed favour, to entice the principal culprit to Rome. Having with difficulty effected this, he imprisoned him, along with his brother-cardinals Raffaello Riario and Bandinello Bishop of Sauli, along with the captain of the Sienese troops. Cardinal Alfonso was secretly put to death; the surgeon and the valet were publicly hanged and quartered; Sauli, condemned to perpetual imprisonment, was liberated but to die; while Riario, after purchasing at a high rate restoration to his escheated dignities, spent the brief remainder of his life in voluntary exile. Cardinals Soderini and Adriano of Corneto (the latter of whom held the sees of Hereford and Bath, and was papal collector in England), having confessed in open consistory their privacy to the plot, escaped from Rome. The former was saved by chancing to ride-392- out to the chase on a mule, instead of going as usual in his litter, which followed at some distance, and was seized by the guard in consequence of his scarlet robe being left in it, whilst the culprit, in a simple chaplain's dress, fled to the Colonna strongholds. A mystery which hung over the fate of Adriano has been partially cleared up by my friend Mr. Rawdon Brown from the Sanuto Diaries, wherein it appears that he safely reached Venice through Calabria, and that the occasion of his unaccountable disappearance was a journey to the conclave on Leo's death, not his flight from Rome in the present year, as stated by Guicciardini, Valeriano, and Roscoe.[276]

Thus baffled in the field, and betrayed in the consistory, Leo found a great effort necessary. On the 20th of June he wrote a letter to Henry VIII., which has been published by Rymer, representing, in vague generalities, and abusive terms, the outrages committed against the dignity and temporal dominion of the Church by relentless robbers and adversaries, and enjoining him to contribute assistance, in the way to be orally explained by the bearer, a predicant friar named Nicholas.[277] He also made renewed instances with his other allies for more efficient aid against his contumacious vassal in Umbria, and sent to levy six thousand Swiss. In order to raise money for these new expenses, he, on the 26th of June, created thirty-one cardinals, thus at once filling his treasury with the price of their hats, and surrounding himself by chosen adherents. Nor did he omit still more profligate expedients. He had repeatedly profited by Maldonato's perfidy in the Urbino war, and now offered him 10,000 ducats, with the dignity-393- of cardinal to his son, if he would deliver up Francesco Maria alive or dead.[278]

After the affair at Imperiale, the Papal troops keeping close in their garrisons, Francesco Maria had recourse to a partisan warfare of sallies and surprises, which greatly harassed them, but did not give sufficient employment to his own somewhat unmanageable levies. He had now ascertained from intercepted letters the full extent of Maldonato's treason; but, ere he ventured upon making an example, he thought it well to put his troops into good humour by a foraging expedition, which should also free his own state from their burdensome presence. Gian Paolo Baglioni, Lord of Perugia, had, during the whole campaign, been in the field against the Duke with three thousand men, and his relation and rival Carlo, exiled by his intrigues from that city, besought Francesco Maria's aid for his re-establishment. No proposal could have been more opportune, and the Duke drew all his forces towards the vale of Tiber.

But his army, disorganised by the intrigues of Maldonato and one Suares (not the bearer of his cartel), broke out into tumult at Cantiano, clamouring for pay or pillage, and both of these officers, heading the mutiny, insulted and threatened their general. In this predicament, his adherents quickly collected from the neighbouring villages some money, church plate, and other valuables, which brought the refractory troops into better humour; and the opportune news of considerable booty having been obtained beyond the frontier, by the advanced guard of Gascons, induced them to move upon the Pianello di Perugia. The Spanish troops whom the Duke had brought from Lombardy consisted of two battalions, that of San Marco under Maldonato, and that of Verona under Alverado. The disaffection was confined to a portion of the former, and had for some time been detected through-394- intercepted correspondence of their officers. On the march through the Apennines, Francesco Maria gradually prepared their comrades of Verona for the vengeance he had in store for the traitors. When all was ready, he halted on a small plain, and, whilst the surrounding defiles were being occupied by his staunchest adherents, he formed the Spaniards into a square, with their officers in the middle, whom he thus addressed: "Gentlemen and Captains! You are aware how I entered this country under your protection, and how, in committing myself into your hands, on your promise never in life or in death to abandon me, I relied upon your long-established reputation that you never had betrayed any of your leaders. I now, however, find that some among you seek miserably to sell me, and so for ever stain your honourable name; and this I presently shall prove, if you think fit, with the double object of saving myself from assassination and you from disgrace, but on condition that you shall at once take such steps as you deem best adapted to rescue me from pressing peril, and yourselves from lasting contumely." This harangue, falling upon well tutored ears, was answered by shouts of "Death to the traitors! reveal them at once!" Proofs were then read that Maldonato had engaged to slaughter the Duke and Federigo del Bozzolo, for the bribe of a life-pension to himself of 600 ducats, an episcopal see to his son, and double pay during the whole campaign to his troops. There is said to be a standard of honour among thieves; that of the Spaniards was piqued by this melodramatic impeachment of their truth, and the opportune discovery of further treasonable documents in the baggage of Maldonato's mistress exasperated them to fury. That craven captain threw himself at the feet of Francesco Maria, whom he had recently insulted, and prayed for mercy; but the latter withdrew from the square, saying that he left the affair to the soldiery. A cry then arose, "Let the faithful officers come out!" They did so, leaving-395- eight whose names had been denounced, and who were instantly massacred by the troops. Thus was the army saved from destruction by the coolness and decision of its leader, and the companies of San Marco and Verona, purged from the imputation of perfidy, were from that day embodied in a single battalion.

Having so happily scotched the vipers that endangered his safety, the Duke of Urbino made his descent upon Perugia. After a short siege, during which he extended his forays as far as Spoleto and Orvieto, spreading alarm to the gates of Rome, that city capitulated on the 26th of May, receiving Carlo Baglioni as its master, and paying a ransom of 10,000 scudi, which Vermiglioli, the biographer of Gian Paolo, alleges the latter, with the bad faith usual in that age, to have shared, although the money had been raised from his own adherents. The same authority now estimates the Duke's army at twelve thousand men, with which it was his intention to make a diversion into the Florentine territory. But hearing that the Legate had taken the field, he hurried back across the Apennines, though too late to save Fossombrone and La Pergola. His wish of engaging the enemy having been foiled by their retreat into Pesaro, he had recourse to his former tactics of removing the seat of war from his own state, and turned his arms against the more wealthy towns of the Marca. Many of these, including Fabriano, Ancona, and Recanati, compounded for exemption from military violence, by paying seven or eight thousand ducats each. Corinaldo was saved by a well-timed sally, but Jesi, contrary to the wish of Francesco Maria, was sacked by his Spaniards, to whom his orderly and methodical way of laying the country under contributions, and pillaging only the refractory, was far from acceptable.

The lesson he had given to these free lances appears for a time to have borne fruit, and the following report by Minio, of a conversation with the Pontiff, affords honour-396-able testimony to their steadiness, whilst it exhibits very graphically the character of the contest at this juncture. "I afterwards inquired of his Holiness if he had any news? He told me Francesco Maria was encamped under a castle named Corinaldo, situated in the Marca, and that infantry had been detached from his Holiness's army for its defence, so he hoped not to be disappointed; a trust wherein I think the Pontiff will be deceived, as he was regarding the other places. I said to him, 'It is a good sign, his inability to make any further progress, and merely laying siege to a few inconsiderable castles;' and to this his Holiness rejoined, 'He does it to raise money, as he did by the other places.' He then told me that Don Ugo de Moncada had been with the Spaniards, but was unable to make any settlement; adding, with an air of surprise, 'I was willing to give them three arrears of pay, yet they did not choose to come away, but despatched a friar to say that should I undertake an expedition against the infidels, they are willing to accept this offer, and serve.' I answered, that if so, they were willing to fight against the infidels on the same terms for which they now served Francesco Maria against the Holy See! The Pope evinced little hope of an agreement with these Spaniards. On my observing, 'The Viceroy [Don Ugo] has quitted Naples, we know not wherefore, unless it be to come to your Holiness's assistance,' he replied, 'They do say they are coming to aid me;' and then continued, with a smile on his lips, 'See what a mess this is! The French suspect these Spaniards of playing them some trick, and the Spaniards fear lest the French, through Francesco Maria, should attack them in the kingdom of Naples.' In order to elicit something more, I said that I deemed it mere suspicion on either side; and he replied, 'It is so.' I next asked how his Holiness stood with the Swiss? and he answered, 'We shall have the Grisons, but the Cantons have not yet decided, though they were to do so in a diet; at all events,-397- I shall have some, and I have sent them the pensions they required of me.'" On the 14th of July, two days after this despatch, Minio reports that Don Ugo had been dismissed by the Spanish troops, drawn up in three fine battalions, with the following reply: "That they did not intend to desert Francesco Maria, unless war were waged [by him] against their most Catholic King, or some attempt made to occupy the kingdom of Naples, or unless his Holiness shall commence hostilities against his most Christian Majesty; in any other event they meant to keep their faith to Francesco Maria, and would in no respect fail him."

From various passages in the same envoy's despatches, it is clear that these jealousies, though here ridiculed by Leo, were shared by himself in a high degree: his own policy being generally hollow and Machiavellian, he looked for no longer measure of good faith from his allies. Ever since interest had been made at Bologna by Francis I. in behalf of the Duke of Urbino, the Pontiff regarded him as at heart adverse to all nepotic schemes upon that principality; and, at this particular juncture, suspicion was strengthened by a variety of circumstances, singly of little moment. Among these, were the retention by his Holiness of Modena and Reggio; the apparent slight of passing, in the late wholesale distribution of cardinal's hats, over Ludovico Canossa, who, while legate in France, had gained the King's affections, more perhaps than was approved at the Vatican; the dilatory advance of those French lances long since promised to Lorenzo de' Medici; but most of all the adherence to the della Rovere banner of the Gascons, who owed at least a nominal allegiance to the French crown. Influenced by these doubts, and the apparently interminable expenses of this miserable and mismanaged contest, the Pope so far lost heart, about the end of July, as to hint at an accommodation.

The Duke of Urbino's next move was to repeat at-398- Fermo his Perugian policy of restoring an exiled faction, by expelling Ludovico Freducci, then head of the government, who after a gallant struggle suffered a complete rout, with the loss of six hundred slain. The Duke then directed his march upon Ascoli, but was recalled by learning the approach of two thousand Swiss to reinforce the papal troops. Hurrying to intercept them, he by forced marches suddenly appeared near Rimini, where he found that, simultaneously with their arrival, M. de l'Escu had at length brought up his three hundred French gens-d'-arms, with instructions from Francis to arrange, if possible, some issue to this unhappy war. Nor was the Legate disinclined to the proposal, for the Pontiff had been playing a ruinous game, which disgusted his allies, alienated his subjects, and drained his treasury.

An interview was, therefore, held at the monastery of La Colonella, between the Duke, Cardinal Bibbiena, and the French captain. A guarantee of 10,000 ducats of income in any residence he should select was offered to Francesco Maria, if he would resign his state. But he declared himself ready to die rather than so to sell it and his honour, avowing, however, that if the Pope were resolved to deprive him of his sovereignty on account of the Cardinal's slaughter, he would abdicate in favour of his infant son, and carry his army to Greece, to fight for the recovery of Constantinople. When negotiations had been thus broken off, as described by Giraldi, the smooth-tongued churchman, nothing abashed by the contrast of their early familiarity with their present circumstances, invited him to partake of a splendid collation. This he courteously declined, and retired to breakfast with l'Escu, answering the Cardinal's remonstrances by a jesting but pungent remark, that "priests kill with wine-cups, soldiers with the sword." The Duke making somewhat minute inquiries as to the Swiss reinforcements, the Legate laughingly asked, "if he destined for them such a supper-399- as he provided for the Germans and Spaniards at the Imperiale"; to which he rejoined, "And why not, if they are my foes?"[279] Nor was the taunt lost upon him. Next night he led his men through the Marecchia, and surprised the Swiss levies who were quartered in S. Giuliano, a suburb of Rimini beyond that river. Notwithstanding a gallant resistance, they were driven into the stream, with severe loss on both sides, whilst Francesco Maria, after receiving a ball in his cuirass, dexterously withdrew from his perilous position, under cover of the smoke raised by a vast funeral pile, on which he left the bodies of four hundred slain, amid a mass of combustibles. He now resumed his projects of carrying fire and sword into Tuscany, and reached the Upper Vale of the Tiber at Borgo S. Sepolcro, but, for want of artillery, was unable to do anything against the fortified places. The Duke's whole policy in this protracted and inconclusive warfare has been severely blamed by Roscoe, and there can be no doubt that, in his circumstances, rapid and aggressive tactics were most likely to succeed. Had he, by a series of uninterrupted advantages, maintained the impression made at his first onset, or had he risked all in one engagement when his enemies had been daunted by Lorenzo's severe wound, it is clear, from the Minio despatches, that Leo might have been frightened into fair terms, at a moment when treason was rife even within the Sacred College. The like result would, perhaps, have been attained with greater certainty, had he, instead of harassing his own territory and La Marca with an exhausting civil war, carried his arms at once across the Apennines, and, by threatening Siena or Florence, made it a question whether the Medici were to lose Tuscany or gain Urbino. But we shall have ample reason, in other instances, to perceive-400- that procrastination was more natural to him than energy, and, in the present case, delays for a time appeared injurious to his enemies rather than to himself. It is, however, fair to admit that, whilst his biographers continually claim for him anxiety to bring on a decisive action, even the prejudiced Guicciardini never accuses him of having evaded one.

A general feeling gained ground that this weary and wasteful strife was approaching its close. The Duke's mercenaries, seeing no prospect of their pay, which was contingent on complete success, and dissatisfied with their limited opportunities for pillage, began to look out for some more profitable engagement. Their most Christian and most Catholic majesties had also combined to bring the struggle to a conclusion, by recalling their respective subjects from the army of Francesco Maria; nor did the Spaniards think it a disgrace to entertain tempting offers for their secession from a cheerless enterprise. Three of their captains accordingly went to Rome, on the 6th of August, apparently with his sanction, and offered for 60,000 ducats to place the whole state of Urbino in the hands of these two monarchs, for their award as to which competitor should be preferred. The Pontiff at first made a show of entertaining this proposition, in so far at least as regarded the duchy proper; but this was probably a pretext for gaining time until the arrival of four thousand lansquenets, whom he expected from the Emperor. Accordingly, on the 14th, in an audience with Minio, he denounced these terms as "the most brutal possible, nor could Francesco Maria send to demand of me what he does, were he the Grand Turk, and encamped at Tivoli! He wants us to give him up the places we hold, namely, Pesaro and Sinigaglia: see, by your faith, what notions he has! We really desired this agreement, that we might attend to the Turkish affairs, but these people are indeed elated and brutal." The like opinion prevailed at Rome,-401- and the imperial ambassador deprecated the arrangement to his Holiness as disgraceful. It was therefore rejected after some delay; nor was it until the papal court had taken new alarm, on the Duke's movement into Tuscany, that the Spaniards were bought off by the auditor of the treasury, who had been sent for the purpose to their camp near Anghiari. He was met by the Duke, with his faithful partisan di Bozzolo, and the Spanish captains. After a protracted discussion, the former went forth, moved almost to tears, exclaiming, "It is impossible for me to accept these terms." In his absence it was agreed that the duchy should be given up to Lorenzo, and that the Spaniards should accompany Don Ugo de Moncada towards Naples, after receiving 50,000 ducats, under an obligation to serve in reinstating Lorenzo in Urbino, if called upon to do so.

On hearing these stipulations, Francesco Maria had an altercation with the Spanish captains, which ended in his riding over to the quarters of his other adherents, who yet remained faithful, and who were with difficulty dissuaded from falling upon the renegades. An idea now entertained, of making a last stand in the highlands with that residue, was soon abandoned, for similar influences were at work on them. But, mindful of their solemn obligation not to quit the field until victory had crowned their enterprise, they resolved to retire with honour intact. The Gascons, accordingly, by the mediation of l'Escu and Guise, obtained from the Pontiff not only an exemption from their engagement, but such a capitulation for the Duke of Urbino as he might, with due regard to his dignity, accept. In order to persuade the latter to such a course as circumstances rendered necessary, the entreaties of his friends were added to the pressing instances of Don Ugo and the French generals. The French and German troops, after receiving 25,000 ducats, were to fall back upon Milan, leaving him safely at Mantua; but the Italian-402- soldiery appear to have shared no part of this golden harvest.

The conditions obtained for Francesco Maria were as follows: Plenary absolution for himself, his family, and adherents, from ecclesiastical censures; permission to him and them to retire where they pleased, and to take any service except against his Holiness; leave to remove all his private property in arms, artillery, and furniture, especially his MS. library; the enjoyment of their usufructuary rights to the dowager and reigning Duchesses; a general amnesty and exchange of prisoners, including Sigismondo Varana. This convention was accepted by his Holiness on the 16th of September, and it fell to Bembo's lot, as papal secretary, to affix his signature to what he, perhaps, persuaded himself were favourable terms for his former friend and benefactor.

The conduct of the Spaniards was regarded with universal contempt and disgust. As they withdrew towards the Neapolitan territory, a formidable band four or five thousand strong, the men of Gubbio stood on their defence, but those of Fabriano, less alert, were surprised and pillaged to the value of 2000 scudi. "But if the wretches sinned at Fabriano, they did penance at Ripatrasone; for, in trying to sack it also, many of them were slain, and the survivors were taken to Gerbe, in Africa, where they nearly all died,—some from drinking too much, some from drinking too little. The former by great good luck were drowned, and the latter, marching through that country in the parching summer heats, with water scarce, and no wine, perished of thirst; so that they had better have followed the Duke to marvellous enterprises and mighty gains, rather than have left to the world a degraded name." There is something quaint in the concentrated rancour wherewith Giraldi thus dismisses these selfish adventurers; and not less so in the following rustic memorial. Grateful for their-403- escape, comparatively scathless, from perils which nearly menaced them, the people of Maciola, a village two miles from Urbino, placed in their church a votive picture to the Madonna, which is still inscribed with these simple verses:—

"A horrible war [raged] in the state of Urbino,
In fifteen hundred and seventeen,
[With] many troops brave and chosen
Led by the Duke Lorenzino,
When Francesco Maria into his duchy
Was returned, with capital troops,
Spaniards, Mantuans, and other clans,
Each one a paladin in arms;
Urbino then, and all the district,
Being in great peril and dread.
Oh, Virgin Mother! ever kind to us,
Often did the host approach our walls,
And God alone it was who defended them:
Therefore has been dedicated to thee this image by thy worshippers
Of Maciola, with their grateful vows."

In the war thus concluded, Francesco Maria struggled for eight months, single-handed and penniless, against the temporal and spiritual influence of the Holy See, backed by all the continental powers. Unable to carry his object by a coup-de-main, he was in the end vanquished by the superior resources of his oppressor. In a parting address to his subjects, he assumed the tone of victory, asserting that he withdrew, not under compulsion, but from consideration of their interests, which a prolonged struggle must have deeply compromised. Thus retiring with honour, he promised to return to them with glory, when he could do so without detriment to their welfare. He was escorted by l'Escu as far as Cento, whence he rejoined his family at Mantua, presenting his consort with sixty-four standards, taken during this brief and unequal campaign, wherein his talents had been developed, his character strengthened, his fame extended.


We have dwelt somewhat minutely—it may be tediously—upon these events, for the contest was one of vital moment to Francesco Maria, his duchy being at once the theatre of operations and the guerdon of victory. Yet this petty war was pregnant with results of wider interest; for the enormous drain of money it occasioned so aggravated the financial difficulties of the papacy, as to bring to a crisis those abuses which finally matured the Reformation. The Minio despatches abound in proofs of the desperate state to which the treasury was reduced, and of the simoniacal expedients resorted to for ready money. One of these may be noted as compromising Bembo, who so often re-appears in these pages. He and Sadoleto had, since Leo's accession, monopolised his private brieves, which afforded them a handsome return, from gratuities and bribes, to the exclusion of the other papal secretaries. Now, however, the latter offered to their needy master a purse of 25,000 ducats, if admitted to share the spoils, which was greedily accepted, without regard to vested interests; and his Holiness was delighted to find the purchase-money of his ordinary secretaryships thereby raised at once from 6000 to 7000 ducats each. The imposition of one tenth laid on the clergy, avowedly for the proposed Turkish crusade, was absorbed by this Urbino campaign, which was thought to have cost the Holy See thirty thousand men, and a million of scudi. Even Henry VIII. was applied to for a loan of 200,000 ducats, which he characteristically evaded by offering 100,000, on condition of levying for himself the clergy tenths. But let us take the Pontiff's own statement, volunteered to Minio:—"See, by your troth, what a business this is! The war costs us 700,000 ducats; and we have been so ill served by these ministers, that worse cannot be imagined: this very month we had to disburse 120,000. When we commenced the war we had some few funds, which we had not chosen to touch, but the Lord God has aided us. We should never-405- have thought it possible to raise 100,000 ducats, and we have obtained 700,000; see how astonishing this is! Had we deemed it possible to obtain 700,000 ducats, we would have undertaken the expedition against the Turks single-handed."

But where was the minion for whom all this crime and misery had been perpetrated? From Ancona he paid a brief visit to the Vatican, on his way to Florence, where he slowly recovered from his severe wound, only to plunge deeper in debaucheries more congenial to his degraded character than the privations of military life. He was never named during the rest of the contest, but as soon as it was over he met his uncle at Viterbo, where, and in the neighbouring country, the papal court passed most of October in field sports. His hard-won sovereignty seems to have afforded him little satisfaction or interest; but in the following year he became an instrument for the further promotion of his uncle's ambition. His marriage having been negotiated through Cardinal Bibbiena to Madelaine de la Tour, daughter of Jean Count of Boulogne and Auvergne, a relation of the French monarch, the titular Duke of Urbino proceeded to Paris in the spring of 1518, for the double ceremonial of his own nuptials, and the Dauphin's baptism, at which he stood sponsor on the 25th of April, as proxy for the Pontiff. Both these events were celebrated with much festive merriment in the gay capital of France, and the young couple were overwhelmed by splendid dowries and wedding-gifts by the Pope and the Monarch. But their bridal joy was of brief duration. The Duchess died in childbed on the 23rd of April following, and was followed to the grave five days after by her husband, who expiated with his life the dissolute vices in which he had continuously indulged. Their child survived to be a scourge of the Huguenots, in the person of-406- Catherine de' Medici, wife of Henry II. of France, mother of Francis II., Charles IX., and Henry III.,—in the last of whom the line of Valois and the descendants of Duke Lorenzo became extinct.

Hearing of Lorenzo's desperate state, the Pope despatched Cardinal Giulio de' Medici to maintain at Florence the supremacy of his house. The titular dukedom of Urbino passed, in terms of the new investiture, to the infant Catherine; but the territory was unceremoniously seized by his Holiness, notwithstanding the wish of its inhabitants for restoration of their legitimate sovereign. Montefeltro, with S. Leo and Maiuolo, was assigned to Florence, in security or compensation for 150,000 scudi said to have been advanced in the late war, and the remainder of the duchy was annexed to the Church. The walls of its capital, whose loyalty to its native princes amid all their reverses is finely commemorated in the current appellation of Urbino fidelissimo, were thrown down, and its metropolitan privileges transferred to Gubbio, which had shown itself less devoted to the della Rovere interests.

We may here mention the fate of Gian Paolo Baglioni, known to us, in 1502, as one of the confederates of La Magione, who, in the quaint words of an unpublished chronicle, escaped the violin-string of Michelotto at Sinigaglia "to fall into the pit which he had digged." We have more lately seen him, in 1517, buying off Francesco Maria from the city of Perugia, with a bribe shared by himself, and have at the same time alluded to the broils there raging between various members of his family. These it would be beyond our purpose to follow; but they were attended by a series of bad faith on his part, and of suffering on that of the people, which gained for him the merited title of tyrant of Perugia. Less, perhaps, with the intention of vindicating the latter, than of liberating-407- himself from a talented and unscrupulous vassal, who, long accustomed to rule supreme in that city, ill brooked and scarcely yielded that obedience to the Holy See which Julius II. had imposed on him in 1506, Leo summoned Gian Paolo to Rome in 1520, with amicable professions. There he arrived on the 16th of March, and next day sought an audience of the Pontiff in S. Angelo, the gates of which were immediately closed upon him as a state prisoner. After he had lingered for some months in mysterious durance, unconscious of the charge brought against him, a plan was formed to liberate him, disguised as a woman who visited the castellan; but at that juncture the Pope, who, according to the gossip of a contemporary diarist, had dreamt at La Magliana of a mouse escaping from a trap, sent a summary order for his execution, which took place secretly on the 11th of June.

The singular good fortune which accumulated coronets and crowns on the brows of Charles V., until he found himself sovereign by inheritance of a large portion of Europe, here demands our notice. The Emperor Maximilian had, by Mary, daughter and heiress of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, a son Philip, who predeceased him in 1506, after marrying Joanna, daughter and heiress of Ferdinand and Isabella of Aragon and Castile. Joanna being disqualified by mental imbecility, the united crowns of Spain devolved, on the death of Ferdinand in 1516, to her son Charles, who already held the Netherlands through his grandmother, Mary of Burgundy. As representative of the house of Aragon, he was also sovereign of Naples and Sicily; but the former crown required the papal investiture, which Leo was loath to bestow, partly with a vague hope of reserving it for one of his own race, partly from aversion to the establishment of a new line of foreign rulers in the Italian peninsula. On the death of Maximilian in January 1519, without having formerly received the imperial crown, his grandson, Charles, stepped into Austria, as his natural-408- heritage, and sought still further aggrandisement by offering himself candidate for the throne of Germany. Little as the balance of power was then comprehended in European policy, this young monarch's rapid acquisitions called forth many jealousies. Francis had a double motive for standing forward as a competitor for the empire;—the dignity was flattering to his gallant character and ambitious views, and he grudged it to a younger rival, whose overgrown territory already hemmed him in on every side. Leo, at heart disliking them equally, as ultramontane sovereigns formidable to Italy, on the ruins of whose freedom were based the successes of either, sought to play them off against each other, so as to weaken and embarrass both. But in spite of these intrigues, Charles was elected emperor on the 28th of June, 1519, when but nineteen years of age.

The Pope had covertly supported the claims of Francis, with whom he intended some ulterior combination for expelling the Spaniards from Lower Italy. But the accession of strength which their sovereign thus acquired gave Leo an excuse for changing sides, an evolution grateful to his faithless nature. The struggle was once more to be made in Lombardy, and, as Charles was bent upon wresting the Milanese from his rival, the opportunity seemed tempting of recovering Parma and Piacenza for the Church by his means. To men in the Duke of Urbino's desperate position, any convulsion would be welcome, as offering the chance of better things. The impression left by his biographers, that he maintained a cautious neutrality in the contest thus opening, is disproved by some documents in the Bibliothèque du Roi, which establish him as a retained adherent of the French monarch.[280] One of them is an undated draft of articles proposed by him, his nephew Sigismondo Varana, Camillo Orsini, the Baglioni, and the Petrucci, as conditions of-409- their entering the service of Francis, with the usual pay and allowances. They stipulated for his constant protection and support in the recovery of their respective states, and for the restoration of various allodial fiefs claimed by them in Naples, as soon as Francis should, with their aid, regain that kingdom. Francesco Maria, finding it necessary to quit the territory of his brother-in-law Federigo, now Duke of Mantua, who had been named captain-general of the ecclesiastical forces, and to surrender the allowance of 3000 scudi, hitherto made by him for the Duchess's maintenance, asked a pension of equal amount from his new ally, together with 1500 scudi in hand, to meet the expense of removing his family to a place of security, probably Goito. He accompanied these overtures with a plan for very extended operations upon Central Italy, whereby, with the assistance of Venice and Genoa, armaments by sea and land were to be directed in overwhelming force, at once against Tuscany and the Papal States. The result of this negotiation does not appear, but the only one of its provisions which seems to have taken effect was the Duke's pension, for which he writes thanks to the French Monarch from the camp of Lautrec on the Taro, the 27th of September, 1521. Giraldi mentions that he suddenly quitted the French service in consequence of a slight from Lautrec at a council of war, and he appears then to have retired to Lonno on the Lago di Guarda. From that lovely spot he watched the course of events, until the wheel of fortune should bring round his turn. The ladies of his family meanwhile lived in great seclusion at Mantua, and on the 19th of July, 1521, the dowager Duchess writes him, that she and his consort frequented the convents, soliciting from the nuns their prayers that God would direct his counsels, and vouchsafe the fulfilment of his wishes.[281] As the strife approached, these distinguished ladies withdrew-410- to Verona. Upon its progress we need not dwell. By his oppressive sway Lautrec had rendered the French name odious at Milan, and when the confederate army approached its walls, bringing with them Francesco Sforza, second son of Ludovico il Moro, and brother of Maximiliano their last native sovereign, the people hailed them as liberators, and expelled their foreign masters.



Death of Leo X.—Restoration of Francesco Maria—He enters the Venetian service—Louis XII. invades the Milanese—Death of Bayard—The Duke’s honourable reception at Venice—Battle of Pavia.

NEWS of the evacuation of Milan by the French reached Leo X. at his hunting-seat of La Magliana, five miles down the Tiber from Rome. Though not quite well, he hurried to his capital on the 24th of November, to witness the bonfires and rejoicings at their discomfiture, and on the morning of the 1st of December was found dead in bed.[*282] The mystery attending this sudden death of one in the prime of life has never been cleared up. Suspicions of poison were rife at the time, and have not been removed; they point at the Duke of Urbino or of Ferrara, whom he had grievously outraged, or at Francis I., whom he recently disgusted, as its probable but undetected author. In absence of tangible accusation or tittle of evidence, it seems needless to repel such a charge from Francesco Maria, especially as other accounts impute the Pontiff's dissolution to malaria fever, to a severe catarrh,[283]-412- to debauchery, or even to excessive exultation at the joyful news. So unexpected was the event that there was not time to administer the last sacrament, a circumstance which gave occasion to this bitter epigram, in allusion to the notorious venality of church privileges during his reign:—

"Why were not Leo's latest hours consoled
By holy rites? such rites he long had sold."[284]

Tidings so momentous to Francesco Maria reached him when on a visit to the Benedictine monastery at Magusano, on the Lago di Garda. He had audience on the same day with Lautrec and Gritti, the French and Venetian commanders, who bade him God-speed. Hurrying to his consort at Verona, he there spent two days in consulting with such friends as were at hand, and despatching courtiers to others, his resolution being taken to strike a speedy blow for recovery of his state. The impoverished finances of the papacy encouraged the attempt, and he was quickly in communication with Malatesta and Orazio Baglioni, who had been in like manner despoiled of Perugia. But before assuming offensive operations, he commissioned a special envoy to lay before the conclave a statement of his grievances, and a justification of the measures he was about to pursue.[285] In two days more he reached Ferrara, with the Baglioni, at the head of three thousand foot and above five hundred-413- horse. On the 16th he was at Lugo, where, and all along his route by Cesena, numerous reinforcements poured in. "His subjects," to borrow the words of Muratori, "desired and expected him with clasped hands, because they loved him beyond measure for his gracious government." Anticipating a renewal of his "Saturnian reign," they, on his approach, flew to arms, threw the lieutenant of Urbino out of the palace window, and welcomed him with the well-known cry of "Feltro! Feltro! the Duke! the Duke!"

Pesaro received him on the 22nd, after a slight hesitation as to their relations with the Church; but the citadel was held by eighty men, there being no artillery at hand to bring against it. In absence of cannon-balls, it was carried by paper pellets thrown in from cross-bows, on which were written offers of a thousand scudi to the castellan, and twenty-five to each soldier. The terms were accepted, and the money advanced by Alfonso of Ferrara. On the day of the Duke's arrival there, a deputation from Urbino laid its homage at his feet, and, being thus secure of his own subjects, he turned to succour his friends. Taught by the lesson of three successive pontificates, whose policy it had been to crush the feudatories of Umbria, he saw the necessity of making common cause with such of these as still maintained a precarious independence. He therefore undertook the re-establishment of his nephew, Sigismondo Varana, and of the Baglioni, ere he devoted himself to the consolidation of his own authority. After two days' repose in Pesaro, he marched by La Pergola to Fabriano, where, hearing that Sigismondo had been cordially received at Camerino, he, on the 28th, turned towards Perugia, and, by the 5th of January, had reinstated the Baglioni, notwithstanding a spiritless resistance by their uncle Gentile, and by the vacillating Vitelli. Contrary to his own judgment,—but, as we shall presently see, by a happy chance,—he was induced to accompany his Perugian allies with seven-414- thousand men in a foray upon Tuscany, for the double purpose of annoying the Medici, by whom Gentile was supported, and of re-establishing Pandolfo Petrucci as tyrant of Siena.[*286] When, however, he found no responding movement from within, and that the army of Giovanni delle Bande Nere was hovering in the neighbourhood, he withdrew to Bonconvento, and endeavoured to gain credit for his forbearance by despatching to the magistracy of that city the following oily missive:—

"Most illustrious and most excellent Lords, much honoured Fathers:

"The true, ancient, and cordial friendship which has ever existed between your lofty republic and my most illustrious house, and the recollection I retain how invariably my distinguished predecessors have been united in special good-will with your city of Siena, induce me, being of the same sentiments, to follow in the steps of my said most eminent ancestors, resolving that there shall never be any failure on my part towards your noble commonwealth. And in order that your Excellencies may at present have some proof of this, I have, for the peace and order of your town, adopted the resolution which your envoys will comprehend from the tenor hereof, and which I feel assured cannot be otherwise than welcome and acceptable to you. I therefore pray you not only readily to give the like credence to what these envoys will tell you on my part, as you would to myself, but also to bear in mind the close and affectionate amity wherein-415- I am most ready to persevere, nor on your side restrain or fall short of our wonted and long-established kindliness, increasing, and, if possible, extending it by an ampler interchange of charity; for you will assuredly ever find me prepared and ready to benefit and uphold your republic as much as your Excellencies could ever desire, to whom I offer and commend myself. From Bonconvento, the 15th of January, 1522.

"Franciscus Maria Dux Urbini."[287]

In truth, the Duke's own affairs required his full attention, for the power of the Medici, though shaken, was still formidable, and its natural representative, the Cardinal Giulio, was influential in the Sacred College, and almost sovereign at Florence. Francesco Maria therefore observed a prudent neutrality, when the Bande Nere advanced to support the claims of Gentile Baglioni upon Perugia. These, being warned off the ecclesiastical territory by the consistory, turned up the valley of the Tiber, and, passing the Apennines, made a descent upon Montefeltro, where they plundered until the end of February,—an outrage for which the Cardinal was greatly blamed, as a convention had already been signed between him and the Duke for their respective states of Florence and Urbino. Much light is thrown upon these very complicated transactions by a careful examination of Castiglione's letters. To his dexterous diplomacy that convention seems to have been chiefly owing. He endeavoured to clench the reconciliation by an engagement for Francesco Maria in the Florentine service, and a marriage between Prince Guidobaldo of Urbino and Caterina de' Medici, daughter of Lorenzo, and heiress of his pretensions. The failure of this plan, from backwardness on the part of the Cardinal rather than of the Duke, was, perhaps, fortunate for the intended bridegroom's domestic-416- peace; and the contending claims which it was meant to solve never ripened into importance. The condotta had a better issue: avowedly for but one year, it seems to have been intended rather to neutralise a troublesome foe than with the idea of calling the Duke's service into actual requisition. Indeed, although he was nominally captain-general, with 9000 ducats of pay, besides 100 broad scudi for each of his two hundred men-at-arms in white uniform (three mounted soldiers counting as one man-at-arms), this was expressly their peace establishment and pay, to be increased in case of war.[288] Castiglione's success in these arrangements was facilitated by his having confided to Cardinal Giulio a refusal at this time, by Francesco Maria, of very flattering proposals from the French court, and the same good offices extended to disabusing the Duke in the eyes of Emanuel, the imperial ambassador, who, believing him committed to Francis, was countermining his interests in the consistory, and with the Cardinal.

Whilst immersed in these transactions, the election in which he was so deeply interested came suddenly to a conclusion, brought about indirectly by his means. The choice of the conclave astonished Italy, for it fell upon an ultramontane cardinal, unknowing and unknown in Rome. Adrian Florent,[*289] a Fleming of humble birth, was a man of mild temper, peaceful habits, and literary tastes. He had been preceptor of Charles V., and held the see of Tortosa. This selection so curiously illustrates the haphazard results, which have not unfrequently baffled both policy and intrigue in papal elections, that we may pause for a moment on the circumstances alleged by Guicciardini to have brought it about. The Medicean party had not strength, at once, to carry their Cardinal, in the face of-417- the old members of the College, who were adverse from introducing the hereditary principle into their selection, yet hoped in time to exhaust the patience or the strength of their seniors. But whilst Medici and Petrucci were thus ingeniously devising delays, news reached them of the Duke of Urbino's descent upon Tuscany, causing them respectively to tremble for their supremacy in Florence and Siena, and to question the policy of procrastinating at the Quirinal, whilst interests so momentous were elsewhere in peril. In this state of matters the Cardinal of Tortosa "was proposed, without any intention of choosing him, but that the morning might be wasted; whereupon his eminence of San Sisto, in an endless oration, enlarged upon his virtues and learning, until some of the members beginning to accede, the others successively followed with more impetuosity than deliberation, whereby he was unanimously then chosen Pope. The very electors could allege no reason why, at a crisis of such convulsions and perils for the papacy, they had selected a barbarian pontiff, so long absent, and recommended neither by previous deserts, nor by intimacy with any of the conclave, to whom he was scarcely known by name, having never visited Italy, nor had he any wish or hope to do so."[290] The Roman populace resented a choice which they felt as an insult, and as the cardinals emerged from durance, they were assailed by execrations of the mob.[*291]

Francesco Maria had every reason to be gratified by an election he had most unwittingly influenced, for the exclusion of Cardinal Giulio was of vast importance to his interests, which must have been seriously compromised by the nomination of a hostile pontiff, at a moment when his affairs were in so precarious a juncture. He accordingly lost no time in accrediting to Adrian VI. in-418- Spain, an envoy who pleaded his cause to such good purpose, that a bull was issued on the 18th of May, reinstating him in all his honours, including the prefecture of Rome, which, on the death of Lorenzo, had been conferred upon Giovanni Maria Varana, uncle of Sigismondo, whose state he had usurped under the sanction of Leo. Meanwhile his respectful and judicious demeanour had obtained from the Sacred College, before the Pope's arrival, an acknowledgment of his rights, upon the following conditions, dated at Rome, the 18th of February. "The Lord Duke of Urbino promises to accept neither pay, engagement, nor rank from any prince or power, and to take service only with the Apostolic See, should he be required; but if not called upon by it, to attach himself to no party without leave and sanction from the Pope, and the Holy See, as represented ad interim by the Sacred College. Also, he renews his obligation in future never to oppose the papal state; and further, for due observance of these terms, and more ample assurance of his Holiness and the Apostolic See, he binds himself within one month to deposit his only son as a hostage, in the hands of the Marquis of Mantua, captain-general of the ecclesiastical troops. On the other hand, the Sacred College undertakes to defend and protect the Lord Duke's person, as well as to maintain him in peaceful possession of the castles, fortresses, cities, and towns, held by him now or before his deprivation; and further, to use influence with our Lord the Pope for his reinvestment in the same, on the terms of his former tenure."[292]

Nor was it only from the Medicean faction that the Duke's tranquillity was threatened. Whilst his fortunes were yet in suspense, he was warned by Castiglione, then diplomatic resident at Rome for his brother-in-law the Duke of Mantua, that Ascanio Colonna was agitating certain vague pretensions on the duchy of Urbino,-419- through his mother Agnesina di Montefeltro. The nature of these claims, which were from time to time revived, is not very intelligible. All authorities make Giovanna, wife of the Prefect, older than Agnesina, wife of Fabrizio Colonna, both being daughters of Duke Federigo. Thus, even supposing Francesco Maria's title irretrievably annulled, by the deprivations he had successively sustained from Julius II. and Leo X., if the old investitures did confer any rights upon females, his nephew Sigismondo Varana, grandson of Giovanna, would have excluded the Colonna. Ascanio's intrigues were, however, neutralised by the dexterity of Castiglione, and the influence of the Duke of Mantua, until Francesco Maria's cordial reconciliation with the Church and the Emperor had rendered his position secure.[293] Even the Medici thereupon refused to promote the pretender's views, and his only adherent was Gian Maria Varana, who, having within a few weeks succeeded in recovering possession of Camerino, sought so to occupy the Duke of Urbino as to prevent his espousing the cause of Sigismondo, its rightful lord. The latter also looked for support to his wife's uncle, Cardinal Prospero Colonna, whilst the interests of his competitor were backed by Cardinal Innocenzo Cibò, his brother-in-law. But ere these respective claims could be tested, they were sadly set at rest by the death of "poor dear but ill-starred Sigismondo," as he is called by Castiglione, who was set upon and slain on the 24th of June by a band of assassins, whilst riding with five attendants near La-420- Storta. This foul deed, in accordance with the wild habits of that age, and the fratricidal tendencies of the Varana family, was imputed to Ascanio Colonna at the instigation of Giovanni Maria, uncle of the victim.

When reassured of pacific and equitable measures, Francesco Maria dissolved a defensive league for mutual maintenance, which he had formed on the 4th of March with the Baglioni, Sigismondo, and the Orsini, to which the Cardinal de' Medici was a party. The strongholds of S. Leo and Maiuolo, however, remained till 1527 in the hands of the Florentines, mortgaged for their advances to Leo in the late war. During these complex negotiations, an offer from Lautrec of service under the lilies of France was declined by the Duke, on a plea of reserving himself for the disposal of his ecclesiastical overlord. Nor was the opportunity he looked for long delayed. Pandolfo Malatesta, on ceding to Venice his pretensions upon Rimini, after being expelled therefrom by Duke Valentino, had accepted from that republic the castle of Cittadella near Padua, with large pay in their service. His son Sigismondo availed himself of the Pope's absence, and the unsettled ecclesiastical policy, to surprise Rimini and its fortress towards the end of May. The consistory hastily mustered all their means to meet the emergency, and called upon the Duke of Urbino as their vassal to take the field. His answer was that without money he could do nothing. About the beginning of August the rocca was retaken by Giovanni Gonzaga for the Church; but the place was not finally recovered till Adrian sent thither some Spanish troops, when the people at length rose, and drove out the interloper, whose cruelties had alienated all his supporters. In this paltry fray the Duke appears to have lent some trifling aid, which the Pontiff gratefully acknowledged in writing to Leonora on the 24th of December. When it was over, he turned to the internal affairs of his duchy, disorganised by the long and-421- severe struggle of which it had been the scene. In the spring of 1523 he brought home the ladies of his family

"Into their wished haven";

but of their once lively court we have little to record. Much had occurred to chasten the naturally staid temperament of Duchess Leonora. Retrenchment was imperatively imposed by accumulated debts and dilapidated finances: the brilliant assemblage which had frequented the saloons of Urbino seventeen years before was thinned by death, scattered by dire events, alienated by ingratitude, or seduced by newer attractions.

It was at this time that Pesaro seems to have become the permanent residence of the ducal establishment, although the original capital was frequently visited by its successive princes. Sanuto's Diaries afford us glimpses of life at that court, in detailing the journey to Rome of four Venetian envoys in March of this year. They arrived on Good Friday, half dead of fatigue, fear, and hunger, having ridden one hundred and twelve miles in two days, through wretched weather and a plague-stricken country. The two Duchesses of Urbino immediately sent them a pressing invitation to transfer their quarters from the inn to better lodgings. This was about sunset, and twilight had scarcely set in when both these ladies arrived in a fine gilt coach, lined with white cloth and trimmings of black velvet, drawn by four beautiful black and grey horses. They were suffering from fever, the younger Duchess having risen from bed expressly to visit the envoys, and apologise for a reception which, but for so unlooked-for an arrival, would have been more conformable to their wishes. Yet the apartment was tapestried from roof to floor, the beds with gold brocade coverlets, and the curtains very handsome. Next morning, after breakfast, the guests went to the palace to wait upon the Duchesses, who met them in the fourth ante-room, whence, after sundry ceremonies, they-422- handed the ladies and their attendants into the presence-chamber, newly done up with arrases, gilding, and a daïs of silk. After conversing in an under-tone for three-quarters of an hour, they retired with the like formalities. On Easter Sunday, after vespers, they had an audience of leave, when the younger Duchess, being very seriously indisposed, received them familiarly in a bed-chamber so small that they could not all enter it, renewing many excuses for their indifferent entertainment, in consequence of the religious observances, and the recent arrival of the household at Pesaro. On their return from congratulating the new Pontiff, the envoys passed by Gubbio, where the Duchesses again surprised them by a visit ere breakfast was over, attended by several lovely maidens.

The engagement which Francesco Maria had accepted, to command the Florentine armies for a year, did not call him from this retirement; it was important only as indicating an apparent reconciliation with the Cardinal de' Medici, to which the latter was induced by apprehension that he might have otherwise proved a formidable opponent to his interest in a future conclave. After a somewhat serious illness, the Duke repaired to Rome, to offer his homage on the arrival of Adrian in Italy, and was honourably received and formally invested with his restored dignities. He rode there escorted by two hundred lances, and was lodged by the Venetian ambassador in the palace of S. Marco. His late eventful history rendered him an object of general interest, and he was universally admitted to have borne his reverses with firmness, his successes with moderation. To commemorate these, he adopted this device, invented for him by Giovio,—a palm-tree, whose crest was weighed downwards by a block of marble, with the motto, "Though depressed, it recoils." This emblem of valour and constancy, which adversity could bend but could not break, he bore upon his banner and trumpets, and frequently introduced it in his coinage.


The repose of Italy was, as usual, of brief duration. Wearied of those contests in which the ambition of France had for thirty years involved the Peninsula, the leading powers began to regard Francesco Sforza's maintenance in the duchy of Milan as their best guarantee of peace. This policy was warmly adopted by the Emperor, interested alike in the welfare of the Neapolitan territory, and in humbling his rival Francis I. The result was a new confederation, to which the Pope, the Emperor, Henry VIII., Venice, Milan, and Florence were parties, but which brought on a general war, the very evil it was intended to avert. Francesco Maria's condotta with the Florentines being expired, he was named to succeed Teodoro Trivulzio, whose supposed French tendencies occasioned his removal from command of the Venetian troops. Those of the Church were committed to the Marquis of Mantua, and Prospero Colonna was general-in-chief of the League Lautrec and l'Escu[294] having been recalled, the Admiral Gouffier de Bonnivet was sent into Lombardy to make good the title of his master to the Milanese, whose daring spirit looked not beyond the glory of encountering single-handed the armies of Europe. This struggle, eventually so ruinous to Italy, so fatal to Rome, had scarcely commenced ere Adrian was called from events which he was in no respect fitted to direct. He died on the 24th of September, 1523,[*295] and was succeeded on the 19th of November by the Cardinal de' Medici, as Clement VII., whose first act was an adherence to the League.

Prospero Colonna did not long survive the Pontiff. From him, perhaps, Francesco Maria adopted the over-cautious policy which marked his military manœuvres during the remainder of his life, and which contrasts strongly with the dashing valour of his early career. For-424- this he has been severely blamed by Sismondi, and we shall see it attended with very miserable results. Fortunately for the Duke's fame, his reputation in arms had been firmly established before the later and more important years of his military prowess arrived. Ere the allies had completed their preparations, the French poured into Lombardy, carried Lodi, and laid siege to Cremona. The Venetian troops occupied the banks of the Oglio, where they were joined by the Duke of Urbino, as soon as he had received credentials and instructions from the senate; his own stipulated contingent, under his lieutenant-general Landriano, having already effected a junction.

Machiavelli, ever prone to cast reflections on mercenary troops, has remarked that the Republic lost her superiority from the time that she extensively employed them. This, however, is but a partial view of the case. By their means, backed by their maritime supremacy, and by her matchless diplomatic system, she gradually extended her mainland territory, in spite of the unmilitary genius of her people, until jealousy combined nearly all Europe against her in the League of Cambray. But there was another fault inherent in the organisation of her armies. Dark suspicion was the permeating principle of her policy. Each branch of the executive jealously watched the others. Magistrates distrusted their colleagues; fathers set spies upon their sons, husbands upon their wives; governors and governed doubted their paid troops, or countermined their selected generals. The senate accordingly sent with their stipendiary forces commissioners instructed to watch, and empowered to control, the leaders—a check necessarily inducing dissension, for, as Macaulay has happily remarked, what army commanded by a debating club ever escaped discomfiture and disgrace? Under the title of proveditori, these official spies performed some of the duties belonging to commissaries-general; and although this plan for controlling soldiers of fortune, who owed little fidelity-425- to the cause, and whose ruling principle was usually self-interest, might seem the result of wise precaution, it practically occasioned perpetual embarrassments, and fomented personal quarrels, paralysing operations in the field. Such an imperium in imperio had in this instance its usual results. Distracted councils and divided responsibility hampered free action, and rendered abortive the best-laid plans.[*296] Throughout the long war now opening, the system was pregnant with peculiar mischief, and it ought to bear much of the blame of that dilatory inefficiency which is charged against Francesco Maria. Thus the Proveditore Emo, at the very outset of this campaign, prevented him from crossing the Oglio to harass the retreat of Renzo da Ceri, who, after loitering away two months before Cremona, was recalled to the siege of Milan. The Duke, however, soon after advanced to the Adda, and during the rigour of winter occupied his troops in fortifying themselves at Martinengo, from whence they were enabled to annoy the enemy by continual forays towards Lodi.[297]


The command vacated by the death of Prospero Colonna was conferred upon Don Carlos de Lanoy, Viceroy of Naples, who arrived at head-quarters in the spring, and, upon drawing together the confederates from their winter quarters, found himself at the head of about twenty thousand foot, and four thousand lances and light cavalry. Among their leaders were the Constable de Bourbon, the Prince of Orange, and Don Ugo de Moncada, with all of whom we shall often meet during the next few years.

In the confederate army there were too many conflicting interests, too many rival leaders; but it was the peculiar misfortune of the Duke of Urbino to serve a power whose jealousy exceeded all rational bounds. It was not without considerable persuasion that he obtained of the Signory sanction to cross the Adda, and unite their troops, amounting to twelve hundred horse and six thousand foot, with the forces of the League. The first combined operation was directed against Gherlasco, which Francesco Maria, though in command of the rear-guard, was permitted to carry by assault with his own division, being greatly aided by using explosive shells. From thence they advanced to Vercelli, taking Trumello, Sartirana, and other places by the way. This movement was intended at once to cut off supplies from the French army posted at Novara, and to intercept a strong body of Swiss, for whom they were anxiously waiting. The allies having reached Vercelli, it became a race which army should first gain the bridge of Romagnano, to the west whereof lay the Swiss subsidy. The French had almost passed, when Lanoy fell upon their rear, which suffered immensely in men, baggage, and artillery; and-427- their commander, Bonnivet, was wounded. The credit of all these arrangements is claimed by Leone for the Duke of Urbino, whose annoyance may be imagined when he found himself arrested from reaping the full benefit of their success, by interference of Pietro da Pesaro, the Proveditore. That officer, standing upon the engagement of the Venetian contingent to serve only within the confines of the Milanese, objected to their passing the Sesia, which here formed its limit, and thus nullified the resolution of the confederates to follow up their partial victory by such a well-timed attack as might drive the enemy across the Alps. The indignant army appealed to Francesco Maria to break through this official obstruction, but the commissioner was right to the letter, and the stern Signory sanctioned no latitude of construction on the part of its servants. The Duke, however, gained his consent by private remonstrances, at once temperate and energetic, but especially by threatening to throw up his commission from the senate, and as a free captain to pass with his own company into the allies' service, leaving the Proveditore, with a disorganised contingent, to bear the whole responsibility of losing so admirable an opportunity of cutting short a struggle, which it was in every view the interest of his republic to close.[298]

The conduct of the French troops devolved, in consequence of the Admiral's wound, upon Piere de Terrail, Chevalier de Bayard, who was not long spared in a command which the blunders of his predecessor had rendered hopeless. On the 30th of April, whilst drawing off the rear-guard under the enemy's fire, a shot fractured his spine. Refusing to be carried from the spot, he had himself-428- supported against a tree, with his face to the foe, and continued to give his orders with composure: at length, feeling the hand of death upon him, he confessed himself to his faithful squire, kissing the hand-guard of his sword as a substitute for the cross. The imperialists remaining masters of the field, he was approached by the Constable Bourbon, to whose words of sympathy and regret he sternly replied, "Grieve not for me, but for yourself, fighting against your king and country." His fall was reported to Charles V. by the imperial envoy, Adrian de Croy, in these touching terms:—"Sire, although the said M. Bayard was in the service of your enemy, his death is certainly a pity; for he was a gentle knight beloved of all, whose life had been as well spent as ever was that of any of his condition, as, indeed, he fully testified at its close, which was the most beautiful I ever heard tell of." Thus fell, in his forty-ninth year, the flower of French chivalry, "the fearless and irreproachable knight." His army evacuated Italy before the end of May, and the Duke of Urbino being entrusted with the recovery of Lodi, found it defended by his relation and attached comrade-in-arms, Count Francesco del Bozzolo, who, perceiving his position hopeless, soon capitulated upon honourable terms.

After the ample details we had given of the comparatively unimportant Urbino war, our rapid glance at the events in Upper Italy, from 1521 to 1526, may seem superficial. But as these Lombard campaigns, although momentous to Europe, told very slightly upon the general policy of the Peninsula, and as Francesco Maria bore no prominent part in their varying results, we must be content to pass over them thus cursorily, rather than to carry the reader too far from the more especial object of these volumes. We may, however, pause for a moment upon the reception accorded to the Duke at Venice, when summoned thither to receive public thanks for his services, graphic details of which are supplied by the unedited Diaries of Sanuto.


After he had, in compliance with orders from the Signory, disbanded their infantry, and disposed of their cavalry in the mainland garrisons, he proceeded to the maritime capital. At Padua, the rectors had been premonished to pay him every attention; at the mouth of the Brenta, and on the outskirts of the city, he was met by two deputations, each consisting of thirty young men of distinction, and was addressed in a Latin oration, "which he did not understand." He was then escorted to the Rialto; and, after being welcomed by the Doge, and all the foreign ambassadors, except the French, he was led on board the Bucentaur, an honour paid only to highest rank or rarest merit; and thus, amid a flotilla of state galleys and gondolas, crowded with a lively population in gala attire, their princely guest was conducted along the grand canal, its palaces glittering with brocades and arrases, its windows radiant with sparkling eyes and rich carnations, such as Titian and Pordenone loved to commemorate in glowing tints. The Duke wore a suit of black velvet, with frock and cap of scarlet, and was housed in an apartment prepared at the Casa di San Marco, near San Giorgio Maggiore, with fifty ducats a day for his expenses.

This festive welcome took place on the 25th of June. Next day being Sunday, the Duke presented himself at the Collegio, dressed in black damask over a white doublet, with a rose-coloured cap; a small person, of indifferent presence [poca presentia]. He was received outside of the audience-hall by the Doge and Signory; when admitted, he spoke in a few words, and with low voice, of his constant readiness to serve their state with life and limb. To which the Doge replied, that he had acquitted himself well, but it was their trust that he would do still better in future, and that, being fully assured of his fidelity, they had selected him for captain-general. The privileges of citizenship had been given him many years-430- before, in compliment to his uncle Guidobaldo, but the general's baton was to be conferred upon him on the 2nd of July. In deference, however, to the predictions of an astrologer, he requested that his investiture might take place on the 29th of June, being St. Peter's day. Accordingly, the magnates and diplomatic functionaries of the most luxurious city in Christendom being assembled within its picturesque and time-honoured cathedral, Francesco Maria, was led in, magnificently arrayed in gold lama and damask, amid the din of trumpets and bagpipes. After celebration of high mass, during which he was seated on the Doge's left, the insignia, consisting of a silver baton, and crimson standard with the lion in gold, were blessed at the high altar, and consigned to his hands by the Doge, as badges of authority, which he then swore to employ for the glory of God, and for maintenance and defence of the Republic. This solemnity was hailed by the spectators' shouts, the clang of bells, the crash of martial music, the roar of artillery, and, as the Duke was conducted to his gondola by a long procession of military and civil dignitaries, the gorgeous piazza and gay canals displayed a splendour unwonted even in Venice.

Unfavourable rumours of the Duchess's health rendered him impatient to be done with these honours, and were probably the true reason for his desiring that the installation might be accelerated. But the fashionable club or company della Calza so urged his remaining for their festival, which had been fixed for the 3rd in compliment to him, that he could not well refuse a short delay in order to be present.[299] The sports were enacted on that usual scene of Venetian magnificence, the grand canal, decked out in many-tinted draperies, and thronged by gay parties. The club, with the Duke of Urbino and other honoured guests,-431- were conveyed in two large flat barges, lashed together and beautifully curtained, wherein assembled the most distinguished youths of both sexes, who revelled in music and dancing as they glided along the glassy surface. At length they stopped at the massive, but now crumbling, Foscari palace, to witness a race of four-oared gondolas, and concluded the entertainment with a supper on the Rialto. Next day their sports were renewed, with addition of a déjeuner, where fancy confections were presented to the principal guests—a triumphal chariot to Francesco Maria, an eagle to the imperial ambassador, and so forth.

On the 5th of July, after ten days spent in these monotonous gaieties, the Duke returned to Pesaro in his twelve-oared barge; but his repose there was brief, for the second act soon opened of that bloody drama wherein the ambition of Charles and Francis involved Italy. An incursion of imperialists into Provence under the renegade Bourbon had shifted the scene to France; but the French monarch, by a sudden movement across the Alps, transferred it once more into Lombardy, and took possession of Milan. The Signory hastily summoned their general from his duchy, to guard their frontier. The established order of Italian policy, however, rendering it probable that new and contradictory combinations would speedily arise, his instructions were to act upon the defensive; and a like temporising spirit prevailed in the councils of his Holiness, who secretly lent an ear to proposals of Francis for a combined effort to shake off the Spanish domination in Naples. The Duke's undecided tactics, so condemned by Sismondi, were therefore in accordance with orders, which the ever-present Proveditore took care were complied with. He thus had no share in the great battle of Pavia, which crushed the chivalry of France, accelerated the climax of Italian subjugation, and rendered Spanish influence fatally paramount in Southern Europe. It was fought on the 25th of February, 1525, and left Francis prisoner in his-432- rival's hands. Francesco Maria thereafter retired to Casali, suffering from a combined attack of gout and tertian fever, in which he was attended by his Duchess, who had hastened to see him.[*300]



New league against Charles V.—The Duke’s campaign in Lombardy—His quarrels with Guicciardini—Rome pillaged by the Colonna—The Constable Bourbon advances into Central Italy—The Duke quells an insurrection at Florence.

THE papal policy since the accession of Julius had been directed to two leading objects. The first was to prevent any ultramontane power from attaining a decided preponderance in Europe; the second, to recover Italy from the barbarians, and restore its Neapolitan and Milanese states to native dynasties.[*301] The only effective check upon the unprecedented dominion of the Emperor having been annihilated by the overthrow and imprisonment of his sole rival, it became necessary for the Pontiff, in conformity with the former of these purposes, to support the cause of France. The other object was more than ever important, now that Milan was virtually at the conqueror's mercy; and a proposition for confirming the sovereignty of Sforza in that duchy, and placing the Marquis of Pescara on the throne of Naples, appeared to His Holiness-434- happily to meet the exigencies of the case. Clement, possessing neither the discernment of Julius nor the finesse of Leo, saw no difficulty in effecting this convenient scheme, by simply uniting the independent states in a conspiracy to expel Charles beyond the Alps. But he reckoned without his host. The Marquis of Pescara, who was high in the imperial service, betrayed the plot in time to frustrate its execution. His death occurred soon after, from wounds received at Pavia, or possibly from poison, and the year was spent in intrigues and counterplots, which concern our present subject only as giving occasion to this letter, addressed by Francesco Maria to Cardinal Wolsey:—

"Most illustrious and most worshipful Lord,

"Having learned that his serene Majesty [Henry VIII.] has named me his adherent in the league lately made with his most Christian Majesty, it becomes a duty, which I by these letters discharge, to tender my respects, and humbly to kiss his hand, having no other proof at present to offer of the extreme obligation which, in addition to numberless others, I owe to his Majesty, for this affectionate and honourable recollection of me. And knowing the love which your most illustrious and reverend Lordship has ever exhibited towards my house, and especially for myself, I am satisfied (as, indeed, I have heard from the reverend Lord Protonotary Casale) that you have always borne in mind the services towards that crown of my most famous progenitors and myself. Whence, in addition to the boundless obligation I lie under to his most serene Majesty for naming me his adherent, I hold myself therein indebted to your most reverend and illustrious Lordship, considering it in a great measure owing to you. I have therefore written these presents, not as mere thanks, for I would not so commence what I cannot complete by words alone, but that you may know the great obligation I feel and have expressed, and-435- how intensely I desire an opportunity of effectively demonstrating my natural and deserved anxiety to do you service; the which will be clearly made patent to your most reverend and illustrious Lordship, so often as I have it in my power to act upon my intentions. And, recommending myself to your good favour, I pray that you still keep in mind my services to his majesty. From Verona the 14th February, 1526.


"El Duca d’Urbino."[302]

At length, in May 1526, a new confederacy was announced, in which the Pope, Francis I. (who had regained his liberty in March), Henry VIII., Venice, and Florence, were marshalled against Charles V., nominally to wrest from him the Milanese, which remained in his hands after the battle of Pavia. The citadel of Milan, however, was still held by Francesco Sforza; and the Duke of Urbino, by the senate's orders, led the Venetian troops from Verona to his relief, but under protest that he considered them unequal to the service. On his march, he received offers from an adherent of the Sforza to admit him into Lodi, and immediately detaching Malatesta Baglione to avail himself of the proposal, hastened onwards with the army to his support. The attempt was completely successful, and after a gallant resistance the imperialists evacuated the place on the 24th of June. This acquisition was of the utmost importance to the allies. It secured them command of the Adda, and gave them a strong position in the enemy's country, from whence they could operate with equal facility against Milan, Cremona, or Pavia.

The army of the League which now mustered at Lodi is estimated by Guicciardini and Muratori at sixteen thou-436-sand foot and four thousand horse. The Duke of Urbino was commander-in-chief of the Venetians; Count Guido Rangone held the same rank in the ecclesiastical forces, which included, however, the papal and Florentine contingents, led by their respective captains-general, Giovanni de' Medici and Vitello Vitelli. The embarrassment occasioned by so many commanders, under no common head, was especially felt by Francesco Maria, who, although admitted by Guicciardini to have been pre-eminent in rank, authority, and reputation, as well as actually leader of the combined army, was controlled by Pesaro, the Venetian Proveditore, and thwarted by the Pope's anomalous appointment of that historian himself as lieutenant-general, with ample indeed almost absolute powers in the army and throughout the states of the Church.

Francesco Guicciardini was a Florentine gentleman, born in 1482, and educated for the law, who, profiting by the partiality of Leo X. for his fellow-citizens, had held several important civil appointments, and had been successively named governor of Modena, Reggio, and Parma, to which Clement added, in 1523, a jurisdiction over all pontifical Romagna. He was gifted with considerable talents and great command of language, but these promotions had rendered him vain and overbearing. The accounts given us by the Urbino writers, of one whom they had good reason to regard with prejudice, should be received with caution; yet some anecdotes have come down which confirm the allegation of Leoni, that his dogmatical pretensions were neither authorised by etiquette, nor supported by his judgment or military experience.[303] No defect of character was less likely to meet with toleration from the blunt and hasty Francesco Maria, and in consequence of their being opposed to each other at the council--437-board, alike in momentous and trifling matters, scenes of insult and violence ripened aversion into rancour. In this contest the Florentine had the worst, but he amply availed himself of his pen as a means of vengeance; and in his History, which has become a standard authority, he studiously and throughout misrepresented the Duke of Urbino. Lipsius, while bearing strong testimony to his general truth and impartiality, admits that he on no occasion concealed his detestation of that prince. Later writers, especially Sismondi, have adopted his strictures with little modification, and an ingenious defence of the Duke, prepared by Baldi after his death, having never seen the light, the portraits of him hitherto passing current in history are exaggerations of a malevolent pencil. Yet it appears beyond question that an over-dilatory and cautious system increased upon Francesco Maria, and, in conjunction with other circumstances, greatly hampered his tactics and impaired their success, during his service under the lion of St. Mark.

The allied forces very considerably outnumbered those of Charles, who were scattered among several garrisons and detached positions. The moment, therefore, seemed propitious for following up their recent success, and effecting the main object of the campaign by a decided blow against Milan. That capital was occupied by about nine thousand imperialist troops, who blockaded Sforza in the citadel, and who, in letters casually intercepted, represented the citizens, though disarmed by their conquerors, as mature for a rising. A prompt movement for the relief of the hard-pressed fortress was therefore urged by Guicciardini, and seconded by the Proveditore, whose ear he had gained. The reasons by which Francesco Maria combated this proposal savoured unquestionably, even by Leoni's admission, rather of hollow excuses than of sound judgment, for whilst he awaited the Swiss auxiliaries, he allowed reinforcements to reach the imperial garrison.


Some light is, however, thrown upon this seeming inconsistency by an argument in his Discorsi Militari, wherein the Duke illustrates, from this very passage in his life, two axioms he broadly lays down,—that to rely mainly for the success of a war upon the support of a people, however gallant, is a great risk, if not inevitable ruin; and that no popular rising ever succeeded of itself, or without an overpowering force to second it. Considering that his uncle and himself had thrice regained their state by a popular emeute, this doctrine may seem ungracious from his mouth. Without, however, entering upon a question which the recent experience of Europe has greatly affected, or examining instances adduced by the Duke in support of his views, it seems likely that his reasoning was adopted to cloak some unavowed motive. Perhaps the alternative suggestion which he offered may afford some clue to the truth, keeping in view the relationship and confidential intercourse which had ever been maintained between the princes of Urbino and Ottaviano Fregoso. His proposition was that, instead of opposing their new and ill-disciplined levies to the veteran and lately victorious occupants of Milan, the allies should draw off towards Genoa, and there restore the supremacy of the Fregosi, thus giving time for the arrival of Swiss subsidies, and enabling them perhaps to intercept the reinforcements which Bourbon was bringing by sea from Spain. The motive alleged by Sismondi for this policy rests upon the broader ground of the Duke's desire to humble Clement, in revenge for all he had suffered, rather from the Pontiff's family than from himself; and it must be admitted that much of his conduct during this lamentable and inglorious war, until it ended in the sack of Rome, could scarcely have been different if actuated by that ungenerous calculation. Yet in the instance now under our consideration, it is but fair to notice Leoni's assertion, that his opinions were supported by Giovanni de' Medici delle Bande Nere,-439- whilst those of Guicciardini, obtaining the suffrages of the other leaders, carried the day.

With such diversity of opinion prevailing among commanders of nearly equal authority, it is not surprising that the advance upon Milan should have been most sluggish. After spending nine days in marching about twenty miles, the army, on the 6th of July, drew round that city, which the enemy, notwithstanding Bourbon's arrival the preceding night with the Spanish succours, are supposed by Sismondi to have been on the point of evacuating. The artillery having next morning begun to play upon the walls, a sally was made, and the allied troops, finding themselves under fire, behaved most scandalously, so that, had not Francesco Maria with the cavalry promptly supported the panic-stricken infantry of his own and the papal brigades, they must have suffered a total rout. Alarmed at these symptoms of unsteadiness, and unseconded by the expected insurrection within, the Venetian Proveditore and Guicciardini insisted upon a general retreat, as the only means by which their forces could escape destruction. In despair, they besought the Duke to take the retiring army under his command, a charge which he did not accept without taunting them on a result that so fully bore out his predictions, and proved their rashness in exposing an unorganised host of raw Italians to fight the veterans of Germany and Spain. But the moment was too critical for recrimination. Two hours before dawn the camp was silently raised, and the army withdrew in good order about twelve miles to Marignano. Their rear was effectually guarded by Giovanni de' Medici against any sally of the imperialists, but no less than four thousand of the foot were missing, having ignominiously deserted their colours.

Such is the account of Leoni and Baldi. Guicciardini, on the other hand, takes to himself credit for using every argument with the Duke against a retreat, which he-440- designates as uncalled for and infamous. Upon his despatches were, no doubt, formed the opinions expressed in the following letter of the Bishop of Worcester to Cardinal Wolsey:—

"Most Illustrious and Reverend Lord," &c.

"I have hitherto daily informed you of what was going on, by longer or shorter letters, as time permitted. At present nothing new has transpired, except that, on the night of the 7th inst., the Duke of Urbino, captain-general of the ecclesiastical and Venetian forces, after most strenuous and gallant operations against the enemy, from which a successful issue was expected, suddenly changing his intention, notwithstanding numerous protests, drew off his army to Marignano, a town ten miles from Milan. Which, though the Duke, as usual, entangles it with numerous reasons, has exposed him to no slight disparagement from the public. I have only further humbly to commend myself to your most illustrious Lordship. From Rome, 11th July, 1526.

"Your most illustrious and reverend Lordship's
Humillimum manicipium,

"Hič. Epš. Wigornieñ."[304]

The prejudices of Guicciardini are admitted by the Venetian Paruta, who tells us that the Signory were satisfied with their general's explanations, but cautioned him for the future, to communicate his views more frankly to the papal commissioner. It is a passage of history hard to clear up, and in every view redounding little to the credit of its actors, whether we most blame the Duke's policy or the unsteadiness of his troops. Exposures so disgraceful well merited the sneer, that the swords in that-441- army had no edge; and Sismondi admits that its spiritless conduct goes far to justify its leader's dispiriting tactics.[*305]

On the 22nd of July, the confederates, having been joined by five thousand Swiss levies, again approached the city, and were met by about three hundred women and children, whom Sforza had dismissed as embarrassing his defence. Shamed by their representations, the leaders, in a council of war, decided upon a new attempt to relieve the citadel, which, however, Giovanni de' Medici, after inspecting the works of the besiegers, opposed as too perilous. Whilst they lost time in these discussions, Sforza was fairly starved out, and surrendered the fortress on the 24th. Leoni and Baldi agree in charging these dilatory and unsatisfactory proceedings upon the other generals, and the total inefficiency of the army, rather than upon Francesco Maria's tactics. They may be considered as biased, but the following anecdotes will show how far the Florentine historian had reason to be impartial.

At one of the war councils held in the Certosa of Pavia, Guicciardini having cast some doubt upon an opinion expressed by the Duke, was thus answered: "Your business is to confer with pedants." These rude words were accompanied by a knock-down blow on the face, followed by an order to get up and begone! Leonardi, who preserves this incident, adds, "Such pugilistic sport was habitual to my Lord Duke; and it was well for those who could command their temper in reasoning with him, as he was ever ready to strike any one who argued against his views with disrespect." The historian's original prepos-442-session against Francesco Maria, is ascribed by Baldi to a vain ambition of precedence. While lieutenant-general of the papal forces he displayed it towards Guido Rangone, his superior officer, and insisted on taking rank at the council-board of the Marquis of Saluzzo, when he arrived in command of the French contingents. These absurd pretensions were at first treated with indifference, but finally brought him into a wrangle with the Duke, over whom he also claimed a similar right, from the fact of being in the papal service, waiving it only out of consideration for his sovereign rank. In that instance, also, he is said to have been struck by the choleric prince; at all events he was expelled from the council-chamber, and a strong representation of his misconduct was made to the Pope, who consequently cancelled his anomalous commission, and appointed him governor of Modena.

Sismondi, embodying Guicciardini's one-sided narrative,[*306] has thrown upon Francesco Maria the entire odium of the ludicrously slow movements of the army, averaging about four miles on each alternate day, and of their double miscarriage before Milan. The fatal tendency of such measures, however they might have originated, admits of no question, and the responsibility of their failure must fall upon the most influential leader. It is always difficult in a heterogeneous confederacy to maintain that unity of purpose which may compensate for diversity of interests, and which can only be insured by prompt action and brilliant success. But the sentiment "that reputation was neither to be gained by risks nor lost by delays," which Bernardo Tasso puts into the Duke's mouth, in describing a council of war whereat he assisted,[307] not only advocates quite a different policy, but-443- too well confirms the charge brought against him as one of those

"Generals who will not conquer when they may."

When, however, he perceived victory to be hopeless, in an army distracted by the jealousies of rival leaders, he had proposed the nomination of a commander-in-chief, avowing himself ready to accord him implicit obedience. In this he was again thwarted by Guicciardini, who represented his suggestion to the allied powers as dictated by personal ambition of the post. The plan fell to the ground, and its author, fretted by the difficulties of his position, was attacked by severe illness. Of this the Proveditore availed himself to lead Malatesta Baglione, with three thousand troops, to Cremona. Like Milan, it was occupied by an imperialist brigade, who besieged in the citadel a handful of Sforza's adherents. The Duke's warnings as to its military difficulties having been received with indifference, this enterprise was on the point of miscarriage, on learning which he rose from a sick bed, and hurried with fresh forces to the scene of action. His presence infused new energy into the operations, and on the 23rd of September the town was evacuated by the imperialists upon capitulation.

This success was scarcely within his grasp when a courier arrived from Rome, with tidings which gave a new aspect to affairs. Clement, who had succeeded to the turbulence of his predecessors, without the energy of Julius, or the address of Leo, made himself a dangerous domestic foe in the Colonna,—broken, but not crushed by the rancour of Alexander VI. Cardinal Pompeo Colonna, a man indifferent to religion, whose unbounded ambition aimed directly at the tiara, and whose brows better became a condottiere's casque than a mitre, forgetting his duty as one of the Sacred College, entered into treasonable correspondence with the imperialist leaders; and his brother-444- Marcello, having been driven from his fiefs by the Pope, threw himself at the feet of Charles V., offering to support his views upon Italy if reponed by his assistance. They also used their influence at Venice in preventing his Holiness from raising a loan to recruit his crippled resources, and, in concert with Don Ugo Moncada, commander of the Neapolitan army, strove to alienate him from the League. Don Ugo, a Spaniard by birth, was the worthy pupil of Cesare Borgia, without his reputation for success. In every important engagement his sword had been tarnished by defeat; his character and personal adventures combined each brutal attribute of a condottiere, with scarcely a redeeming trait of honour. The plan of these confederates was by a coup-de-main to dictate terms to the Pontiff; or, failing success in this, to give occupation at home for the contingent he then maintained with the allied army of Lombardy. Accordingly, the Colonna troops, who had assumed a threatening attitude in the Campagna, were suddenly withdrawn beyond the frontier; and a son of Prospero Colonna hastened to the capital to throw himself at Clement's feet, assuring him of the pacific disposition of his house, and that their levies were destined for the imperial service at Naples. The Pope, being deceived into a belief so conformable to his wishes, turned a deaf ear to the warning of more clear-sighted men, and, disappointed of his loan, thought only of reducing a war establishment he could no longer pay. But so soon as his soldiery were dismissed, the Colonna recalled their army of two thousand men, which, led by Pompeo with equal celerity and success, reached the Lateran gate ere treachery was suspected. Resistance being hopeless, they, on the 20th of September, marched through the city into the Trastevere, where they were welcomed to refreshments provided by the Cardinal's order. Thence they passed into the Borgo S. Spirito, where are situated the Vatican, St. Peter's, and the castle of St. An-445-gelo, and within three hours had pillaged that rich quarter, sparing neither the palace nor the metropolitan church. The Pope, who had at first resolved to await death in his pontifical chair, scarcely escaped with a few valuables into the fortress, which, from unpardonable negligence, was entirely unprovisioned. To arrest these horrors, the Pontiff next day made a hasty four-months' truce, stipulating for the immediate evacuation of Rome, as the condition on which he should recall Guicciardini with the ecclesiastical troops from Upper Italy; three days, however, elapsed ere the troops withdrew, laden with a booty estimated at 300,000 ducats.[308]

Upon the capitulation of Cremona, Francesco Maria stole a few days for the society of his Duchess, and the affairs of his state, but was speedily recalled to his post by the unsatisfactory aspect of matters in Lombardy. The papal troops had been withdrawn; the garrison of Cremona, whose services the Venetians would not retain at his suggestion, had entered into new engagements with the enemy; fourteen thousand lanznechts, alias lansquenet infantry, under Georg v. Fründesberg, were marching from Germany by the Val di Sabbia to support the imperial cause. His first care was to check the pillage of Cremona, a service which the citizens acknowledged by presenting to him a golden vase weighing twenty pounds, and beautifully chased with appropriate devices. He found the Marquis of Saluzzo arrived with about five thousand levies from France, and that the bande nere, amounting to almost as many, had been engaged by that power, on Guicciardini's departure, whose absence proved a vast relief to him. The army is now estimated at twenty-five thousand-446- men by Sismondi, who, echoing the charges of that writer, severely blames the Duke for not supporting the naval attack made by the French upon Genoa, a scheme for which we have seen him contending at an earlier period. But a passage in his own Discorsi Militari expressly states the Venetian force at four thousand infantry and five thousand cavalry, to keep in check both Fründesberg's lansquenets and ten thousand men at Milan; and it explains his tactics to consist in making Cremona the centre of a line of defence, embracing Bergamo on the right, and Genoa on the left, which, being vastly too extended for his force, necessitated his keeping his men together, in order to move upon any exposed point. Accordingly, considering it most incumbent to intercept the battalions of Fründesberg, he, after throwing garrisons into some important places on his right flank, pushed towards Mantua with about ten thousand men. Although sadly impeded by dreadful weather, and by difficulties of transport, the Proveditore having secured all the cattle to carry his own baggage to Venice, he came up with the enemy at Borgoforte, on the Po, and, interrupting their passage, drove their main body down the course of that river. Deep snow and mud embarrassing his evolutions, he could only hang upon their rear as far as the Mincio, where they were met by a reinforcement with artillery from Ferrara. Thereupon the Duke recalled his skirmishers, and left the Germans to pass the Po unobstructed, on the 30th of November.

In this affair fell Giovanni de' Medici, whose birth we have formerly noticed.[309] His name is consecrated to military renown by a halo which his lion-heart well merited, and which has gained no additional brilliancy from the attempts of some writers to elevate his fame at Francesco Maria's expense. In this unworthy effort—as on too many like occasions—Guicciardini has been followed by-447- the historian of the Italian republics. The charges of misconduct adduced against the Duke of Urbino, in his movement against Fründesberg, are by no means borne out by the more detailed accounts supplied by Leoni and Baldi. He seems to have done everything that the state of the elements would allow; and even accused himself of occasioning the death of his faithful captain Benedetto Giraldi of Mondolfo, by answering his plea, that his charger was completely knocked up, with the sarcasm,—"What! you to whom I give a hundred scudi of yearly pay, have not a fresh pair of horses at such a moment!" Stung by this reproach, the gallant officer urged his steed to new efforts, and shared the fate of Giovanni de' Medici. The brigade of the latter, out of respect for their leader, assumed those mourning scarfs which procured them the name delle bande nere; and most of them soon after passed to Rome in the papal service.

The German lansquenets, whom Fründesberg had brought into Italy, were in fact a free company, levied by himself on a mere plundering adventure, without the pretext of pay. Alarmed at a reinforcement of so obnoxious a character, the confederates bethought themselves of renewed efforts. But disgusted with a drawling campaign, wherein no party had exhibited either good heart or doughty deeds, they had recourse to diplomacy, which, ever fluctuating between an inactive war and a solid peace, failed to create any general interest. The truce with Moncada being expired they had no difficulty in enrolling the unstable Pontiff once more on their side; but intent on his private quarrel with the Colonna, and burning to avenge the outrage lately received at their hands, he gave no co-operation to the League. His tortuous and feeble policy preferred rousing, by small intrigues, the old Angevine party at Naples against the imperial government, and sought the more sympathetic attractions of a petty strife with his refractory-448- vassals. Having engaged the bande nere, he let them loose to carry fire and sword into the Colonna holdings, depriving, at the same time, Cardinal Pompeo of his hat, and thundering excommunication against his whole race. As the spring advanced, he extended this inglorious warfare, with "a worse than Turkish" virulence, into the Neapolitan territory. Meanwhile, the Viceroy Lanoy, after narrowly escaping the fleet of Andrea Doria, landed ten thousand fresh troops at Gaeta, and advanced upon Rome, supported by Moncada and the Colonna. But the vengeance of God against the Holy City was reserved for other hands. After a slight check from the bande nere, at Frosinone, the Viceroy most opportunely received letters from his master, disavowing the Colonna, and breathing affectionate duty to the Pontiff. He thereupon made overtures of reconciliation, and after various demurs, prompted by the Pontiff's vacillating hopes and fears, but which, in the exhausted state of his treasury, appear the dictates of insanity, an eight months' truce was signed on the 15th of March, between the Pope and the Emperor. It provided for a mutual restitution of all conquests in Lower Italy, a restoration of the Colonna to their estates and honours, and a payment by his Holiness of 60,000 ducats towards the costs of the war. Should the French and Venetians accept of this truce, the lansquenets were to be withdrawn from Italy; at all events they and the Constable Bourbon's army were forthwith to quit the ecclesiastical and Florentine territories. Whilst intimating this arrangement to the Duke of Urbino, by a brief of the 16th of March, Clement represents it as dictated by stern necessity, the whole weight of the war having fallen upon himself, and as the sole means of saving his own existence, and preserving "all Italy from destruction."

Whilst these events were in progress in Lower Italy, the negotiations for a general peace had produced no fruits, conducted, as they were, with little good faith or honesty-449- of purpose. The only one really interested in prolonging the struggle was Francis I., whose children were still in his rival's hands. The Italian states, weary of a bootless contest, and disgusted by the feeble egotism of Clement, fell into inertness akin, perhaps, to the fascination under which the feathered tribes are said to become victims of their reptile-foe.

That foe was Charles Duke of Bourbon, son of Gilbert Count de Montpensier, who died at Pozzuoli, in 1495, by Chiara Gonzaga, sister of Elisabetta Duchess of Urbino. He was next heir to the crown of France, after Francis Duke of Angoulême, who succeeded to it as Francis I., and Charles Duke d'Alençon, whose blood had been attainted for treason. Louis XII., having removed this attainder, and restored the d'Alençon branch to their rights, incurred the deep displeasure of Bourbon, who was, however, pacified by receiving, at the age of twenty-six, the office of grand constable,—the highest dignity of the realm. He greatly distinguished himself in Francis's early Italian campaigns, but was recalled from the command at Milan in 1516, in consequence of his overbearing conduct and ambitious views. By Anna, sister of Charles VIII., whom he married in spite of a hideously deformed person, he had the dukedom of Bourbon, with an immense fortune; but his extravagant prodigality plunged him into great embarrassments, and a suit brought after his wife's death by the mother of Francis I.—whose love he was alleged to have slighted—threatened him with utter ruin, by evicting him from his wife's estates. In these circumstances, his jealous and fiery temper was ready to seize upon any pretext for entering into treasonable correspondence with the Emperor and King of England; and, on a promise of the crown of Provence, he undertook to head an insurrection in France as soon as Francis should cross the Alps. That monarch having discovered the plot, at once sought the Constable in one-450- of his own castles, and frankly told him what he had learned. The hypocrite had recourse to abject asseverations of innocence and fidelity, and was ordered to attend his sovereign into Italy; but, perceiving that his protestations had not removed suspicion, he fled in disguise to the territory of Charles, and was declared rebel. His perfidy and rancour now knew no bounds; he was ever after prominent and indefatigable in the wars against his country, and mainly instigated the descent upon Provence in 1524. He next entertained a hope of the dukedom of Milan, by Clement's sanction; but he had played away his honour in a losing game: despised by himself and his employers, the prestige of success passed from his arms. Yet his peculiar talent for courting popularity ensured him the zealous support of his troops, who knew also that a bankrupt in character and purse was the best leader for men intent upon pillage. To the single merit of a winning manner, he united many odious qualities. His unmeasured ambition was restrained by no principle, either as to its objects, or the means of attaining them. His pride was vain-glory, venting itself in capricious and ill-directed schemes, and stimulating into fury a wayward and sanguinary temper, which, when exasperated by exile and outlawry, became ungovernable.

During the war of Lombardy, the imperial generals were in a great measure left to their own resources, both as to its conduct and its supplies. Bourbon had for about a year maintained his army in Milan without pay, by merciless plunder of the townspeople, upon whom insult and outrage were unsparingly heaped. But their patience and their means were nearly exhausted, and the difficulty of recruiting his commissariat was greatly aggravated by judicious dispositions of the allied army, directed by the Duke of Urbino. A forward movement was therefore resolved upon, and as occupation and pillage were the only chances of keeping together such dis-451-organised troops, he led them in search of both. Indifferent whether the spoils of Florence or Romagna should prove the more convenient prey, he effected a junction with Fründesberg's new levies, whose circumstances and objects exactly corresponded with those of his own forces, and on the 30th of January their united divisions passed the Po.

Our authorities are in many respects contradictory regarding these operations, and especially as to the part which Francesco Maria took in them. He seems to have been laid up at Parma, with an attack of gout and fever, from the 3rd to the 14th of January, and to have spent most of the next two months with his Duchess at Gazzuolo in the Mantuese, for recovery of his health. It is insinuated by Sismondi that this was but an excuse for abandoning the field, at a moment when it would have been scarcely possible to pursue the policy, which that author ascribes to him, of never risking in a general action the prestige of invincibility. On the other hand, Leoni asserts that, at a council of war held in Parma on the 11th of February, plans for the campaign were proposed in writing by the different confederate leaders, when that sent by the Duke was treacherously suppressed by Guicciardini. Judging from the results of the campaign, there can be no doubt that the imperialists ought to have been attacked at this juncture; and if a general onset had been ordered on the 13th of March, when they broke out into open mutiny, Bourbon being obliged to fly for his life, or, a few days after, when Fründesberg, a monster of sacrilege and blasphemy, according to the Italian historians, died of apoplexy, they would in all probability have been totally exterminated. But they were the reserved instrument of divine judgments; and it signifies little now to speculate whether the immediate motives which paralysed the League were the Duke's ill-timed caution, his anticipation that the starving band would ere long of itself dissolve, or-452- his personal enmity to the Pope. It is, however, important to keep in view the cold and selfish character of Venetian policy, and the hampering influence which their system of proveditori necessarily had upon the measures of their generals.

When Francesco Maria returned to the camp, the imperialists, who had passed the Trebbia on the 20th of February, were slowly advancing through the ecclesiastical state of Modena upon Bologna. His tactic was to place them between two hostile armies; so the Marquis of Saluzzo, with the French, ecclesiastical, and Swiss troops, preceded them, leaving garrisons in the principal places, the Duke following with the Venetians, some thirty miles in their rear. Against this plan, which Guicciardini designates a strange proceeding, and which even Baldi most justly criticises, the other leaders vainly protested, alleging, among other reasons, that whilst the army in advance must be speedily weakened by detaching garrisons, the Venetians would probably hang back when their own frontier was freed from danger. News of the truce between the Pope and the Viceroy now arrived, and the Duke, disgusted at this new proof of Clement's fickleness, and indifference to his allies' interests, withdrew his army across the Po. But the courier who brought the treaty to Bourbon at Ponte-Reno, with an order to obey its provisions, was nearly cut to pieces by his troops, infuriated at this interference with their hopes of booty, and the Constable refused to abide by it. The fresh jealousy of their unstable ally, thus suggested to the Venetians, afforded their leader a new apology for not exposing their troops in a general action for the preservation of Bologna. But when Bourbon had passed by that city towards Romagna and Urbino, somewhat more spirit was infused into his movements, as the danger seemed to approach his own frontier. He immediately sent forward two thousand men to protect the duchy, and desired his-453- family to be removed for safety to Venice. On the 5th of March he had struck his camp at Casal-Maggiore, and proceeded in pursuit of the enemy. On that day they passed under Imola, which, with the other cities, was garrisoned by detachments of Saluzzo, in accordance with tactics already explained. Bourbon now scoured the plains of Romagna in search of plunder, skirmishing occasionally with the French division. When at Meldola on the 14th he bethought him of a descent upon Siena, whose old Ghibelline and anti-Florentine preferences promised him a welcome. He, therefore, penetrated the Apennines by forced marches up the passes of the Bidente, and on the 18th reached S. Pietro in Bagno, burning and pillaging as he went.

When the Constable's refusal to accept the treaty was known at Rome, Clement, more perplexed than ever, besought Lanoy to hurry on and induce him to a halt, or at all events to withdraw the Spaniards and men-at-arms from his command. To this the Viceroy with much apparent zeal consented; but doubts have been thrown on his sincerity, for both he and Moncada, whilst professing cordial co-operation with the Pope, are suspected of having secretly stimulated Bourbon's advance upon Rome, as the only means of appeasing the troops, trusting that the grandeur of the enterprise would, in their master's eyes, readily excuse its criminality. It seems doubtful whether Lanoy actually met the Constable; and his mission was understood to have exposed him to great personal risk from the lawless and ungovernable troops. He at all events conveyed to Bourbon a proposition for the immediate payment to his army of 80,000 ducats, with 60,000 more during May, on condition of their retreat within five days; these sums to be advanced by Florence, on the Viceroy's guarantee for repayment of one-half by the Emperor. The direct object of this proposal was to divert the impending storm from-454- Tuscany; and it was fully sanctioned by Clement, true to the policy of Medicean pontiffs, who ever regarded Florence as their patrimony, Rome as their life-interest. In the negotiations to which it gave rise there was a double difficulty. Whilst the demands of a mutinous and starving army were paramount to all other considerations, each party of the confederates struggled to throw upon another the burden of meeting them. The same selfishness sought individual security against the future movements of the general foe, by turning him upon some friendly frontier. The wealthy Florentines lavished their gold to send him back upon Upper Italy, which the timely distribution of a few thousand men in the Apennine gorges might have prevented him from ever quitting. The game of the Proveditore Pisani was to leave no obstacle in the way of his advance in any direction save that of the Venetian terra-firma domain, and to detain the Duke of Urbino with his army of observation as long as possible near that frontier. The French strove at all hazards to keep him clear of their Lombard conquests. The Pontiff, little dreaming of an attack upon his capital, was distracted between the care of Romagna and Tuscany, whilst his fickle imbecility deprived him of all sympathy at his allies' hands; indeed, in this conflict of interests, his pusillanimous tergiversations rendered him the weaker vessel, and he consequently became the chief sufferer. Nor did the Duke of Urbino escape suspicions of bad faith, for he is accused of a secret understanding not to impede Bourbon's descent upon Tuscany, which would naturally liberate his own duchy from danger. Guicciardini, indeed, not only considers revenge for former injuries of the Medici as the key to Francesco Maria's dilatory and inefficient proceedings against the imperialists, but regards his conduct as justified by the provocations received. These sentiments were at all events cherished by the soldiery of Urbino,-455- who wrote "FOR VENGEANCE" upon the houses which they fired on their march through the Florentine territory. Nor were these provocations light, for the grudge which Leo had bequeathed was aggravated by a continued retention of the fortresses in Montefeltro, and still more by an investiture of the entire duchy, granted in 1525 by Clement, in total defiance of the della Rovere rights, to Ascanio Colonna, whose claims we have already considered.[310] This grant, though virtually annulled by the same Pope's subsequent confirmation of the reinvestiture given to Francesco Maria by Adrian VI., gave rise to renewed anxieties on his part about two years later, and it was not until 1530 that we shall see them finally extinguished by the Duke's generous hospitality to his rival.

On the 22nd of April the Constable, finding the mountain peasantry exasperated to a dangerous pitch by the merciless rigours of his lawless soldiery, and his own sanguinary nature being goaded by their ribald taunts, cut short these miserable intrigues by advancing into Tuscany.[*311] The confederate leaders, having at length decided on saving Florence, united their divisions, and on the 25th passed the Apennines near the present Bologna road. The Duke now received an offer of his fortresses of S. Leo and Maiuolo, which still remained pledged to that commonwealth. This he answered by general professions, and next day, sending on the army to Incisa to intercept the approach of Bourbon, he proceeded with a band of faithful followers to the Tuscan capital. The republican faction, calculating upon his support, flew to arms and seized the Palazzo Vecchio, while once more the unpopular sway of-456- the Medici trembled in the balance. But the Duke, with a nobility of purpose that goes far to absolve him from suspicion as to his good faith with the Pope throughout this campaign, rejected the temptation of avenging his many wrongs, and, by extraordinary personal exertions, succeeded in quelling the insurrection, and maintaining the established government. Thus, for the first time, the city saw its Palazzo taken without a revolution following. In gratitude for this service his fortresses were immediately given up to Francesco Maria, who in due time received also the thanks of his Holiness. The act for their restitution was signed on the 1st of May, and on the 14th S. Leo was surrendered to his lieutenant Orazio Florido.

Bourbon's head-quarters were meanwhile at Montevarchi, near Arezzo, where, seeing his approach to Florence foiled, and the dissatisfaction of his followers on the increase, he decided upon making a dash at Rome; his only alternative being to lead them to pillage, or perish at their hands. As a blind to the Pope, he sent forward a courier to demand free passage to Naples; and, after receiving some supplies from Siena, he abandoned his artillery and heavy baggage in order to lighten his march. He began it on the 26th, and, notwithstanding incessant rains and an entirely disorganised commissariat, he passed without halt or question by Acquapendente and Viterbo to Rome.[312]




(Pages 33, 34)


THE same extremes of reprobation and flattery which alternate in notices of the Duke Valentino puzzle us as to his personal appearance. Giovio, the ardent collector of historical portraits, while describing those which he had brought together, thus comments upon that of Borgia:—"He is said to come of a plague-stricken stock and of corrupted blood; for a livid rush overspread his face, which was full of pimples shedding matter. His eyes, too, were deeply sunk, and their fierce snake-like glance seemed to flash fire, so that even his friends and comrades could not bear to look upon them; yet, while flirting with the ladies, he had a wonderful knack of playing the agreeable." The pen which inscribed these sentences was evidently charged with even more than its wonted gall; but, after every allowance, they cannot well be reconciled with a report of the Venetian envoy Capello, dated in 1500, and bearing that "the Pope loves and greatly fears his son the Duke, who is aged twenty-seven years; his head is most beautiful; he is tall and well made, and handsomer than King Ferdinand."

Nor can we attain to any more satisfactory conclusion from such pictures as are alleged to transmit his features. We have no key to identify as his any of the heads introduced by Pinturicchio into those fine but little noticed frescoes commissioned by Alexander VI. for the Torre di Borgia, now a wing of the Vatican Library. The exquisite medallists of Romagna do not appear to have exercised their skill upon his bust. Of easel portraits I am aware of six, which I mention for the curious in-460- such matters, although not prepared to consider any of them genuine.

1. The elegant effeminate-looking Spaniard in the Borghese Gallery, attributed to Raffaele, is now admitted to be a misnomer both of subject and artist.

2. A mean head, in the manner of Federigo Zuccaro, was purchased a few years ago at Rome by my late friend Monsignor Laureani, librarian of the Vatican, as that of Valentino, and passed from him, in 1844, to my friend the Cavaliere Campana. Its sinister and spiteful expression is not unworthy of such a monster; and allowing an artist's licence in disguising a complexion which no one would willingly represent, it might tally with Giovio's too graphic details. The figure is, however, short, while Capello describes Cesare as tall.

3. A letter from Giuseppe Vallardi to Count Cesare di Castelbarco Visconti was privately printed at Milan in 1843, in which he claims to have discovered in the Count's palace a portrait of Borgia by Raffaele, the original chalk study of which belonged to himself. From the mass of verbiage usual in similar Italian effusions of "municipal fanaticism," there may be extracted an allegation that the picture had been painted from that earlier drawing about 1508, and a bold inference is hazarded from their style that both were the handiwork of Sanzio. The lithograph, however, would entitle us to ascribe them rather to the Milanese school, and such is admitted to be the opinion of various connoisseurs. No fact is adduced to authenticate the head, or to show that Raffaele ever saw Valentino; indeed, the name seems to libel a countenance so gentle, refined, and unimpassioned.

4. Vallardi mentions in the same letter another Borgian head, by Giorgione, as in the Lochis Gallery at Bergamo, of which I cannot speak, not having seen it.

5. A handsome over-dressed youth was engraved for Gordon's Life of Alexander VI., in 1729, from a picture said to belong to D. Giuseppe Valetta of Naples, which I entirely failed in tracing while in Italy. Neither have I discovered any authority for supposing that soulless epicurean to be Cesare Borgia.

Finally, we may include Fuseli's notice of a picture by Titian, no longer, however, in the Borghese collection, representing a-461- conference between the Usurper of Romagna and Machiavelli. A finer subject for the pencil of that intellectual limner could hardly be found, but Valentino's prodigality was apparently never lavished on art.[313] In his eleventh lecture, Fuseli also mentions a portrait of Cesare by Giorgione, as hanging for study in the Royal Academy.



(Page 34)


THE loss of all early records of the Order, in consequence of their having long been entrusted to the private and insecure custody of its successive officers, has already placed us at disadvantage in noticing the admission of Duke Federigo, but from various sources we are enabled to glean much more satisfactory notices as to the election and installation of his son to this honourable knighthood. The chapter at which he was chosen is not preserved by Anstis, but its date is known from the following letter, the original of which, in Latin, I had the good fortune to discover in the Oliveriana Library at Pesaro.[314]

"Henry, by the grace of God, King of England and France, Lord of Ireland, to the most illustrious and potent Prince the Lord Guido Ubaldo, Duke of Urbino, our most dear friend, health and augmented prosperity. We wrote lately to inform your Highness that we had resolved upon forthwith summoning a chapter of our military Order of the Garter, for the purpose of creating your Sublimity a knight thereof, and by the same letters gave you tidings of such creation. We have now to signify how, in fulfilment of that our promise, we have made your Highness a Knight of that Order; and this we have done most cordially, not only on account of our old necessity, which formerly occurred to us with your father the illustrious Duke of happy memory, but also in consideration of your singular merit and-463- virtues. Indeed we are assured that henceforward your Highness will ever be regarded as our most attached cousin and intimate friend, which you will more fully learn from our distinguished cousin the Lord Talbot, a knight of that Order, as also from the Reverend [Richard Bere] Lord Abbot of Glastonbury, and the Venerable Sir Robert Shirbourn, Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, our counsellors and ambassadors, whom we have sent to offer our catholic and filial obedience to our supreme Lord [Julius II.]. To these our envoys we have committed all the knightly insignia of the Garter, to be made over to your Highness, and our anxious desire is that you will accept them in the same spirit of cordial affection in which they are sent. We pray you further to receive these our ambassadors as accredited in our behalf, and that you will please to aid them with your favour and counsels, which will be to us peculiarly agreeable. Finally, as the Venerable Mr. Robert Shirbourn, one of these our envoys, is by our command to remain for some time as our minister at the Roman Court to transact certain affairs of ours with our Lord his Holiness, we therefore beseech your Sublimity that you will vouchsafe to assist him, as our agent, with your gracious influence, which has great and just weight with our Holy Father, and that you will extend to him such favours as he may request; by all which you will do us a singular pleasure. Further, if it be in our power any way to oblige you, freely make use of us and ours. From our palace near Westminster, the 20th of February, 1503-4.[315]

"Henricus Rex."

The instructions to these ambassadors, dated the 20th of February, and printed by Anstis, run thus:—

"And after due recommendacions, and presentaciones of the Kinge's lettres [to Duke Guidobaldo], firste the saide Abbot of-464- Glastonburye shall make a brefe oracion, wherein he shall not onlye touche the laudes of the noble Order of the Garter, and of the Kinges Highnes as sovereigne of the same, but also declare the great vertues and notable deades of the saide Duke, and how his progenitors and auncestors have been accepted thereunto, and to theyr greate honor have used the same, with the desyrous mynde that the sayde Duke is to be honored therwithal; for the which consideracions and causes the Kinge's Highness, by the assent of the Companions of that Order, have been the rather moved and induced to name and elect him thereunto, trustinge verelie that, his greate noblenesse with other of his valiant actes and singuler vertues consydered, he shall not onlye greatlye honor the saide Order, but also take greate honor by the same. Shewinge fynallye that the Kinge's Highnes, for the singular zeale, love, and affection which his Grace beareth unto hym, hath sent hym them ornaments belonginge to the sayd Order, and with as good and hartye mynde wylleth hyme to be honored therewith as anye other prince lyvinge, desyring him therefore thankfullye to accept the same, and to use and weare it in a memoriall of his Grace, and of the saide notable and auncyant Order.

"And, after the proposition so sayde, they shall present theyr commyssyon unto the sayde Duke, and cause the same openlye to be read, and so followinge, the Abbot of Glastonburye shall in good and reverent manner requyre him to make his corporall othe for the inviolable observaunce of the same, lyke as, bye the tenure of the saide estatuts, every Knight of that Order is bownde to do, in form followinge:—

"Ego Guido Ubaldus, Dei Gratia Dux Urbinatis, honorificentissimi atque approbatissimi Ordinis Garterii Miles et Confrater electus, juro ad hæc sancta Dei evangelia per me corporaliter tacta, quod omnia et singula statuta leges et ordinationes ipsius dignissimi Ordinis bene sincere et inviolabiliter observabo. Ita me Deus adjuvet, et hæc sancta Dei evangelia!

"Which othe geven, Sir Gybert Talbot shall deliver the Garter to hym, and cause the same in good and honorable manner to be put about his legge, the saide Abbott of Glastonburye sayinge audablye thes wordes followinge:—


"Ad laudem et honorem summi atque omnipotentis Dei, intemeratæ Virginis et Matris suæ Mariæ, ac gloriosissimi martiris Georgii, hujus Ordinis Patroni, circumcingo tibiam tuam hoc Garterio, ut possis in isto bello firmiter stare et fortiter vincere, in signum Ordinis et augmentum tui honoris.

"Which thinge so don, the saide Sir Gylbert shall deliver unto the saide Duke the gowne of purple couler, and cause hym to apparrell hymself with the same, the saide Abbot of Glastonburye sayinge thes wordes followinge, at the doinge on of the same:—

"Accipe vestem hanc purpuream, quâ semper munitus non verearis pro fide Christi, libertate ecclesiæ et oppressorum tuitione fortiter dimicare, et sanguinem effundere, in signum Ordinis et augmentum tui honoris.

"And then followinge, the sayd Sir Gilbert shall cause the sayde Duke to do upon hym the mantle of blew velvett, garnyshed with the scute and crosse of Saint George, and the said Abbot of Glastonburye sayinge thes wordes:—

"Accipe clamidem cœlestis coloris clypeo crucis Christi insignitam, cujus virtute atque vigore semper protectus, hostes superare, et pro clarissimis tuis meritis gaudia tandem cœlestia promereri valeas, in signum Ordinis et augmentum tui honoris.

"And when the saide Duke shall be so apperrylled with the ornaments aforesaide, the saide Sir Gylbert shall put the image of Seinte George abowt his necke, the saide Abbott saying thes wordes:—

"Imaginem gloriosissimi martiris Georgii, hujus Ordinis patroni, in collo tuo deferes, cujus fultus presidio hujus mundi prospera et adversa sic pertranseas, ut hostibus corporis et animi devictis, non modo temporalis militiæ gloriam, sed perennis victoriæ palmam accipere valeas, in signum Ordinis et augmentum tui honoris."

Hollinshed, following Hall, informs us that "Sir Gilbert Talbot, Knight, Richard Bere, Abbot of Glastonburie, and Doctor Robert Sherborne, Deane of St. Paules, were sent as ambassadors from the King to Rome, to declare to Pius the third of that name, newlie elected pope in place of Alexander the Sixt, deceased, what joy and gladnesse had entered the King's heart-466- for his preferment. But he taried not the comming of those ambassadors, for within a moneth after that he was installed, he rendered his debt to nature, and so had short pleasure of his promotion.... The King caused Guidebald, Duke of Urbine, to be elected Knight of the Order of the Garter, in like manner as his father Duke Frederike had been before him, which was chosen and admitted into the Order by King Edward the Fourth. Sir Gilbert Talbot, and the other two ambassadors, being appointed to keepe on their journey unto Pope Julius the Second, elected after the death of the said Pius the Third, bare the habit, and collar also, unto the said Duke Guidebald."[316] It must, however, be observed that letters of safe conduct for these ambassadors are stated to have been issued under the Privy Seal on the 22nd of February, 1504, as if but then beginning their journey. This mission was in accordance with the statutes of the Order, which provided that, within four months of the election, special messengers should be despatched to invest each foreign knight with the insignia, and that, within eight months after the investiture, he should send a proctor to England to receive installation in his name.

We learn from Burchard that the three envoys reached Rome the 12th of May, 1504. They were met by Sylvester Gigli, Bishop of Worcester, Anglican resident at the papal court, and had a splendid reception. On the 20th they had an audience, when, the minister of Louis XII. having protested against Henry taking the style of France, they were admitted as the ambassadors of England only. No details have reached us of the investiture. The authority to which we naturally turn for the circumstances attending this interesting episode of our narrative is Polydoro di Vergilio, a native of Urbino, and historian of England; but a fact, which to the writer ought to have been of peculiar importance, is passed over without details. As, however, the supposed autograph copy of his History varies considerably from printed editions, we shall here quote from it the entire passage, proving the incorrect manner in which this work is given to the public.


"Alexandro Sexto mortuo, creatus est Pontifex Franciscus, Senensis antistes, qui Pii fuit Secundi ex sorore nepos, voluitque et ipse Pius Tertius in memoria avunculi vocari. Hic amicissimus erat regis Henrici [VII.], qui, ut primus omnium Christianorum principum bono patri de adepto pontificatu congratularetur, confestim Gilbertum Talbott equitem, Ricardum Beer Abbatem Glasconiensem, et Robertum Scherburn decanum divi Pauli Londinensis oratores designavit ad ipsum pontificatum. Sed Pius non expectavit gratulationem, qui obiit sexto et vigesimo die quam sedere coeperat. Creatur in ejus locum Julianus, Cardinalis Sti. Petri ad Vincula, patria Ligur, dictusque est Julius Secundus. Huic postea illi tres regis oratores congratulatum inerunt, quos Hadrianus Castellensis episcopus Herefordensis, quem paulo ante Alexander Cardinalem fecerat, Romæ hospitio excepit. Hunc rex Henricus sub idem tempus ab Herefordensi sede ad Bathoniensem ac Wellensem transferri curavit. At Hadrianus, ut præter sua quotidiana obsequia, quæ tam regi quam Anglis omnibus libens præstabat, aliquo diuturniori memoriæ monumento relinqueret, apud omnes testatum se memorem fuisse acceptorum beneficiorum ab Henrico, atque nomen Anglicum amasse, donavit regi palatium magnificum quod ipse Romæ in Vaticano ædificaverat, ornavitque regis insignibus, ut in ea luce hominum aliquod egregium opus nomini Anglico dedicatum conspiceretur.[317] Item, iidem oratores detulerunt habitum Garterii ordinis Guidoni Duci Urbini, principi seculo nostro Latinæ Linguæ simul ac Græcæ ac militaris disciplinæ peritissimo, quem Rex paulo ante in Collegium ipsius Ordinis asciverat. Dux postea destinavit in Angliam Baldasarem Castilliorum, natione Mantuanum, equitem tam doctrinâ quam bellicâ virtute præstantem, ut suo nomine ejus Ordinis cerimonias exequeret. Fuit Baldaser ab Henrico perbenigne exceptus, atque comiter habitus; qui, finitis ceremoniis, non indonatus, postmodum ad suum Decem redivit."[318]

There is thus no authority for a statement in the printed ver-468-sion of this History, adopted by Hall, Baldi, and others, that the decoration was conferred in consequence of Guidobaldo's own wish to belong to an Order, of whose illustration he had become cognisant from its having been borne by his father. Perhaps the requests which conclude the letter of Henry VII. may give the most satisfactory key to the royal policy. Informed, as he no doubt was, of the state of affairs at the Papal court, he must have been aware that to conciliate the Duke was the wisest course for those who had favours to gain from the Pontiff. Be this as it may, the Garter was received by Guidobaldo at Rome in June, as became so singular an honour, and was proudly worn next St. George's day in compliance with the rules of the Order. Having resolved suitably so to acknowledge the dignity by a special envoy to London, he selected as his proctor Castiglione, the choicest spirit of his elegant court. The first we hear of this intention is from the Count's letter of 2nd March, 1505, confidently informing his mother that he would probably be sent to represent his master at his installation in England. The plan, however, remained long in abeyance. Castiglione spent the autumn at the baths of S. Casciano in Tuscany, for an old injury or wound in his foot, and, in the end of the year, went on a mission to Ferrara.[319] At length he set out, on the 24th of July, 1506, accompanied by Francesco di Battista di Ricece, and Giulio da Cagli, with their respective suites. Among the presents he was charged to deliver to the King were some falcons, three of the finest racers of the Urbino breed, and a precious little picture, by Raffaelle, of St. George as patron of the English Order, which we have already mentioned at p. 233. He was at Lyons in September, and this notice of his arrival at Dover is preserved by Anstis:—

"The 20th of Octobre, the twenty-second year of our soverain lord, King Henry VII., there landed at Dover a noble ambassa-469-deur, sent from the Duc of Urbin, called Sir Balthasar de Castilione, whiche came to be installed in his lorde's name; whiche Duc had receyved before by the Abbot of Glastonbury and Sir Gilbert Talbott, being the King's commissionaris, the Garetier, &c., to the Ordre apperteyning. And, to mete with the said ambassadeur, was sent Sir Thomas Brandon, havyng a goodly companye with hym of his owne servants, all verely well horsed, unto the see-seyde; whiche, after they met togedre, kept contynnually compagnie with hym, and, when they approched nere to Deptford, ther met with the forsaid ambassadeur by the King's commandement, the Lord Thomas Dokara, lord of St. John's, and Thomas Writhesley, alias Gartier princypall king of Armes. Whiche lord of St. John's had in his compaignie thirty of his servaunts, all in a lyvery new, well horsed, every [one] of his gentlemen beryng a javelayn in his hand, and every yeman havying his bowe and a sheffe of arrowes, and soe convoyed hym to his lodging, and on the morrow unto London. And by the waye ther met with the said ambassadeur dyvers Italyens, as the Pope's Vicecollector, Paulus de Gygeles [Giliis], with dyvers [others]; and soe convoyed hym to the Pope's Vicecollector's hows, wher he was lodged."

Two days after Castiglione reached London he was sent for by the King, whose marked favour, whilst he stated the objects of his mission in an eloquent Latin address, is recorded in his own letters. The installation took place on the 10th of November, upon the following commission, printed by Ashmole:—

"Henry, by the grace of God, &c. Forasmuch as we understand that the right noble prince Gwe de Ubaldis, Duke of Urbin, who was heretofore elected to be one of the companions of the said noble Order, cannot conveniently repair into this our realm, personally to be installed in the collegiate church of that Order, and to perform other ceremonies whereunto by the statutes of the said Order he is bound, but for that intent and purpose hath sent a right honourable personage, Balthasar de Castilione, Knight, sufficiently authorised as his proctor, to be installed in his name, and to perform all other things for him, to the statutes and ordinances of the said Order requisite and appertaining. We, therefore, in consideration of the premises, will,-470- and by these presents, give unto you licence, full power, and authority, not only to accept and admit the said Balthasar as proctor for the same Duke, and to receive his oath and instal him in the lieu and place and for the said Duke, but also farther, to do therein as to the statutes and laudable usages of the said Order it appertaineth; and this our writing shall be to you and every of you sufficient discharge in that behalf. Given under the seale of our said noble Order of the Garter, at our mannor of Grenewiche, the 7th day of November, the twenty-second year of our reign."

After the ceremonial was concluded, the Count visited the other knights in the name of his master. This installation by proxy has given rise to a confusion that he was himself honoured with the Garter, which Roscoe first exposed. It is probable, however, that he was knighted by Henry, a dignity he had vainly looked for at the hand of Julius II. before his departure; at all events he received from him, besides gifts of horses and dogs, a gold chain or collar of SS links, from which depended two portcullises and a golden rose with its centre of silver. This chain, long peculiar to English chief justices, is traced by Dugdale from the initials of Saint Simplicius, a primitive Christian judge and martyr; and the badge was adopted by that monarch as heir of the Plantagenets through both rival roses. The decoration, mistaken by Marliani for the collar of the Garter, was destined by the Count as an heirloom, and it accordingly surrounded his armorial coat in that dedication copy of his letter to Henry, narrating the life of Guidobaldo, which he described by Anstis. On the 9th of February, 1507, he was at Milan on his return to Urbino, where he arrived about the end of the month, charged with affectionate letters and messages from Henry, and with rich presents. His conversation, of all that he had seen in a country so imperfectly known, was greatly relished by the Duke, and his anecdotes of its court, its wealth, and its wonders long continued to enliven the palace-circle of Montefeltro.



(Page 138)


CONSIDERING the importance of Sanzi's Rhyming Chronicle of Duke Federigo to the literary history of Urbino, and the almost total neglect in which it has hitherto lain, we shall here describe with some minuteness the only copy of it known to exist. It is a large and thick folio volume, No. 1305 of the Ottoboniana MSS. in the Vatican Library, written on paper in a firm Italian hand of the fifteenth century, expressly for the Duke Guidobaldo I., to whom it is dedicated. Some passages have been interpolated on the margin, and others are altered by pasting a new version over the cancelled lines, in a character slightly different from that of the text, of which, being probably autograph, a fac-simile is given on the following page.[320]

Transcriber's Note: handwritten text; see footnote 320 above


The general title, supplied in a much later hand, runs thus:—"Historia della Guerra d'Italia nel tempo de' PP. Pio e Paolo II., del 1478, in versi di Gioṽ. Sati al Duca di Urbino"; but the Chronicle itself is thus headed, "Principio del opera composta da Giohanni Santi, pictore, nelaquale se contiene la vita e gesti de lo illustrissimo et invictissimo Principe Federico Feretrano, Duca di Urbino." A prose dedication occupies four pages, and is followed by a prologue of nine chapters in verse; the poem itself is divided into a hundred and four chapters, arranged in-472- twenty-three books, the whole work consisting of about twenty-four thousand lines.[321] It may be not uninteresting to print the contents of these chapters, supplying the omitted titles of the two first.


Cap. I. [Of the race of Montefeltro preceding Duke Federico, and of his birth and betrothal.]

Cap. II. [Of the boyish embassies of Count Federico; of his education and marriage.]

Cap. III. Nel quale se tracta de la prima militia sua cum Nicolo Picinino.


Cap. IV. Nel quale si tratta la rocta di Monte Locho.

Cap. V. De la predicta rocta di Monte Locho.


Cap. VI. Nel quale se tratta el rincondurse del C. Federico cum Nicolo Piccino e el guerre de la Marca.

Cap. VII. Nel quale se tratta la morte del Duca Oddantonio el diventare el Conte Signore de Urbino.

Cap. VIII. Nel quale poi uarie cose, se tratta le rebillione de la Marca contra el Conte Francesco Sforza.

Cap. IX. Nel quale se tratta l'aspera guerra per Papa Eugenio al Conte Federico.

Cap. X. De varie cose e del tradimento de Fossambrone contra del Conte Federico.

Cap. XI. De la rotta del Signore Sigismondo ha Fossambrone.


Cap. XII. Nel quale se contiene la guerra de Toscana per il Re Alfonso contra Fiorentini, et la condutta del Conte Federico cum loro.

Cap. XIII. Nel quale se tratta de lo assedio di Pionbino per el Re Alfonso.

Cap. XIV. De la morte del Duca Phillippo, et diverse guerre de Lombardia.


Cap. XV. Nel quale se contiene la condutta del Conte cum el Re Alfonso, et la guerra di Toscana al tempo di Ferrante Duca de Calabria.

Cap. XVI. De uarie cose de Lombardia, et la lega quasi de tutta Italia, e l'andata del Conte a Napoli.

Cap. XVII. Parlamento insieme del S. Sigismondo et de Conte a Ferrara, per el mezo del Duca Borso.

Cap. XVIII. Resposta del Conte al S. Sigismondo nel predicto parlamento.


Cap. XIX. Nel quale se contiene la guerra fra el S. Sigismondo-474- el Conte de Urbino, et la uenuta del Conte Jacomo Piccinino contra del S. Sigismondo.

Cap. XX. De la preditta guerra.


Cap. XXI. Nel quale se contiene el principio et uarie guerre del Reame di Napoli al tempo del Duca Giohanni contra de el Re Ferrante.

Cap. XXII. Del andata del Conte Jacomo nel Reame contra de el Re Ferrante.

Cap. XXIII. De la rotta del Re a Sarno, et el correre scontro de dui Braceschi cum dui Feltreschi.

Cap. XXIV. Del fatto e l'arme de Santo Fabiano.

Cap. XXV. Del preditto fatto d'arme de Santo Fabiano.

Cap. XXVI. Del predicto fatto d'arme.


Cap. XXVII. Nel quale se contiene uarie e diuerse ribellione de cipta e castelli de la predicta guerra del Reame.

Cap. XXVIII. De la correria del Aquila a la citta, et la expugnatione de Albi.


Cap. XXIX. Nel quale se contiene le predicte guerre del Reame, et molti expugnatione de castelli, et lo assedio famossissimo de Casteluccio, et la uenuta del Signori chi erano in Abruzo per la sua liberatione.

Cap. XXX. De la oratione fatta a li militi del Conte, et la expugnatione di Castellucio.

Cap. XXXI. Dele preditte guerre del Reame e dela rotta del S. Napolione inela la Marca.


Cap. XXXII. Nel quale se contiene la rotta che dette el Conte al S. Sigismondo ha Senegaglia.

Cap. XXXIII. Del preditto fatto d'arme.

Cap. XXXIV. De la preditta guerra contra el S. Sigismondo, et lo aquisto de diverse sue terre.


Cap. XXXV. De la preditta guerra contra el S. Sigismondo, et la industriosa expugnatione de la Rocha de Veruchio, et la assedio di Fano.

Cap. XXXVI. Del medesimo assedio di Fano, et la uictoria di quello.


Cap. XXXVII. Nel quale se contiene l'ultima ruina del S. Sigismondo, landata del Papa Pio in Ancona et la sua morte, la creatione de Paulo II., la ruina del stato de Deifobo da l'Auguilara, et la guerra de Cesena, da poi la morte del S Malatesta.

Cap. XXXVIII. De la uictoria de Cesena la morte del Duca Francesco [Sforza] et l'andata del Conte ha Milano.


Cap. XXXIX. Nel quale se contiene la nouita de Fiorenza nel sesanta sei, et la guerra de Romagna per Bartholomeo da Bergamo.

Cap. XL. De la preditta guerra de Romagna.

Cap. XLI. Oratione del Conte a li suoi militi nante el fatto d'arme de la Mulinella.

Cap. XLII. Del bellissimo fatto d'arme fra Bartholomeo, el Conte a la Mulinella.

Cap. XLIII. Del preditto fatto d'arme de la Mulinella.

Cap. XLIV. De la preditta guerra, e 'l sachegiare el Conte alle del Amone.


Cap. XLV. Nel quale se contiene la guerra et lo assedio de Arimino per Papa Paulo.

Cap. XLVI. Del preditto assedio de Arimino, et una proua mirabile del S. Roberto.

Cap. XLVII. De la preditta guerra, e una alto pensiero del Conte per la liberatione de Arimino.[322]


Cap. XLVIII. De la preditta guerra, e locutione del Conte ali militi nante el fatto, d'arme da Ceresuolo.

Cap. XLIX. De la uenuta de le gente de la Chiesa a trouare el Conte.

Cap. L. Del bellissimo fatto d'arme da Cerisuolo.

Cap. LI. Del preditto fatto d'arme de Cerisuolo.

Cap. LII. Dela rotta dele gente de la Chiesa a Cerisuolo.

Cap. LIII. Del fine de la guerra di Arimino.


Cap. LIV. Nel quale se tratta la rebellione de Volterra contra Fiorentini, et l'andata del Conte per campegiarla.

Cap. LV. Del campegiare de Volterra.

Cap. LVI. Del sacho de Volterra.

Cap. LVII. Dela tornata del Conte a casa, et dela morte dela excellentissima donna sua, Madonna Baptista Sforza.


Cap. LVIII. Nel quale se contiene le fabriche et magni hedificii che fea murare el Conte, et inparte la sua uita altempo di pace.

Cap. LIX. Delo istudio del Conte, et dela venuta del Cardinale de Samsixto ad Ogobio.


Cap. LX. In questo se contiene l'andata del Conte ha Napoli, et molti honori et dignita quale habbe in quella andata.

Cap. LXI. Et quale tratta como el Conte fu fatto Duca de Urbino, et delo assedio dela cipta de Castello.

Cap. LXII. De varie turbulentie, et precipue de Romagna.


Cap. XLIII. Nel quale se contiene la venuta delo Re Ferrante a Roma, l'andata del Duca, et la dignita de la Galatera.

Cap. LXIV. Como el Duca receue la Galatea, et de la morte del Duca Galeazo Duca de Milano.


Cap. LXV. Del luoco, et como, el di che fu morto el preditto Duca Galeazo Maria.

Cap. LXVI. Discurso de la dubia uita de Signori et de grani ciptadini.


Cap. LXVII. Nel quale se contiene la tornata del Conte Carlo [Braccio] a Montone, le nouita de Penisia per la sua uenuta, et landata che lui fea contra Senesi.

Cap. LXVIII. Del andare el Conte a campo a Montone, et la expugnatione de esso Montone.


Cap. LXIX. Nel qual se contiene como el Signor Carlo Manfredi fu chaciato de Faenza da el fratello chiamato el Signor Galeotto; la mossa che fece el Conte in suo favore, et como nel tornare adrieto essendo a Sanmarino se ruppe uno piede.

Cap. LXX. Del modo et conmo el Duca se ruppe el piede, et de la grauissima sua egritudine et de la conjuratione contra li Medici in Fiorenza.

Cap. LXXI. De lo insulto contra de Laurentio de Medici, et de la morte del suo fratello Giuliano.

Cap. LXXII. De la destrutione de la casa de Pazzi, et del principio de la guerra de Toscano nel MCCCLXXVIII.


Cap. LXXIII.[323] Nel quale se tratta el primo anno dela guerra di Toscana.

Cap. LXXIV. Dela unione che fece insieme el Duca Alfonso Duca di Calabria, el Duca de Urbino.

Cap. LXXV. Delo assedio del Monte Samsavino, et dele dificulta che il Duca ui sostinne.

Cap. LXXVI. Oratione lunga del Duca ali militi al Monte Samsavino.

Cap. LXXVII. Dela preditta oratione.


Cap. LXXVIII. Del astutia che uso el Duca per hauere la triegua al Monte Samsavino.

Cap. LXXIX. Dela proposta del Duca dela triegua ali Signori del Campo, et dela expugnatione del Monte.[324]


Cap. LXXX. Nel quale se contiene el secondo anno dela guerra de Toscana.

Cap. LXXXI. De diuersi danni de Perusini, et dela morte del Conte Carlo, e altre cose.

Cap. LXXXII. Dela ruina de Casole, luoco de Senesi, et dela uitoria del Signor Roberto ala Magione.

Cap. LXXXIII. De molti danni de Perusini per el Signor Roberto, et l'aquisto per el Duca del Monte Inperiale.

Cap. LXXXIV. De liberarse li Perusini dali danni de Signor Roberto et delo assedio di Colle.

Cap. LXXXV. Del predicto assedio di Colle.

Cap. LXXXVI. Dela battaglia prima data ha Colle.

Cap. LXXXVII. De poi piu baptaglie data ha Colle, et la uictoria hauta di lui.

Cap. LXXXVIII. De l'andata di Lorenzo di Medici a Napoli, et la pace cum Fiorentini del Papa et del Re.


Cap. LXXXIX. Dela stantia del Duca a Viterbo, et dela dignita del Capello et dela Spada.

Cap. XC. Delo aquisto de Furli per et Conte Geronimo Riario, et prima del andata del Duca.

Cap. XCI. Dela uictoria di Furli, et la possessione de esso per el preditto Conte, et la uenuta de Turchi a Otranto.

Cap. XCII. De la guerra de Turchi in Puglia.


Cap. XCIII. Nel quale se contiene la guerra de Ferrara per li Venetiani contra del Duca Ercule di Este, et prima dela-479- practica de essa guerra, l'andata del Conte Geronimo a Vinesa.

Cap. XCIV. Dela preditta guerra de Ferara, et landata del Signor Roberto da Santo Seuerino a Vinesa.

Cap. XCV. Dela partita del Duca da Urbino per andare a Milano, e una disputa dela pictura.

Cap. XCVI. Dela ditta guerra de Ferrara, et dello assedio de Figaruolo.

Cap. XCVII.[325] Del preditto assedio de Figaruolo, le turbulentie de Roma, l'andata del Signor Roberto Malatesta.

Cap. XCVIII. Del ditto assedio de Figaruolo, e de la morte de Messer Pier deli Ubaldini al bastione dala Punta.

Cap. XCIX. Dela aspre battaglie quale deva el Signor Roberto da Santo Seuerino a Figaruolo.

Cap. C. Como el Signor Roberto da poi molte baptaglie vinse Figaruolo.


Cap. CI. Nel quale se contiene el ponte che fece el Signore Roberto per passare el Po, la rotta del Duca di Callabria a Campomorto.

Cap. CII. Como se parti da Castello le gente Feltresche, et andaro a Furli.

Cap. CIII. Dela egritudine del Duca, et la uenuta sua in Ferrara.

Cap. CIV. Dela morte del Duca, et del Signore Roberto Malatesta.



(Page 138)


THE inscription upon the humble headstone of the sovereigns of Sinigaglia in the nave of Sta. Maria delle Grazie, runs thus:—


Johannes de Ruvere,

Senogalliæ vetustissimæ civitatis
Dominus, Almæ urbis Prefectus,
Sori Arcanæque Dux, exercituum Sixti
Quarti, Innocentii Octavi, summus Imperator,
Maximorum Pontificium Sixti nepos,
Julii Secundi frater, cum uxore suâ
Joannâ Monfeltriâ, Fed