The Project Gutenberg eBook, Memoirs of the Dukes of Urbino, Volume I (of 3), by James Dennistoun, Edited by Edward Hutton

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Title: Memoirs of the Dukes of Urbino, Volume I (of 3)

Illustrating the Arms, Arts, and Literature of Italy, from 1440 To 1630.

Author: James Dennistoun

Editor: Edward Hutton

Release Date: April 19, 2013 [eBook #42560]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1



E-text prepared by Suzanne Lybarger, Linda Cantoni,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries. See

Project Gutenberg also has the other two volumes of this work.
Volume II: see
Volume III: (including the index) see


Transcriber’s Note

This work was originally published in 1851. As noted in the original, footnotes marked by an asterisk were added by the editor of the 1909 edition, from which this e-book was prepared.

Obvious printer errors have been corrected without note. Other errors are indicated by red dotted underlining. Hover the cursor over the underlined text to see a pop-up Transcriber's Note. These notes are also contained in a Transcriber's Errata List at the end of this e-book. Certain spelling inconsistencies have been made consistent; for example, Pietro della Francesca has been changed to Piero della Francesca; Rafaelle to Raffaele; and Pintoricchio to Pinturicchio.

Full-page illustrations have been moved so as not to break up the flow of the text.

This e-book contains some phrases in ancient Greek, which may not display properly in all browsers, depending on the fonts the user has installed. Hover the mouse over the Greek text to see a popup transliteration, e.g., βίβλος. A List of Greek Transliterations can also be found at the end of this e-book.





title page











From a medallion in the possession of his Nephew,
James N. Dennistoun of Dennistoun




IT is surely unnecessary to make any apology for this second edition of the Memoirs of the Dukes of Urbino. Notwithstanding all that has been done in the last fifty years by historians on the one hand, and by imaginative writers on the other, with the object of elucidating the history of that part of Central Italy which lies within the ancient confines of Umbria, or of appreciating the humanism of that Court which was once a pattern for the world, this book of James Dennistoun's remains the standard authority to which every writer within or without Italy must go in dealing in any way with these subjects. This very honourable achievement has been won for the book by the eager and methodical research of the author, who made himself acquainted with all available original sources, and in the years of his sojourn in Italy must have read and turned over a vast number of MSS., of which some have since been printed in various Bollettini, but a great number still remain in those Italian libraries which, always without an efficient catalogue and often without an excuse for one, are at once the delight and the despair of the curious student. For this reason, if for no other, such a work as this was not easy to supersede, and so, though a later writer always has an advantage, it was not outmoded by the careful and loving work of Ugolini in his Storia de' Conti e Duchi d'Urbino, which was written, I think, in exile.

But Dennistoun's Dukes of Urbino is not merely a history of the houses of Montefeltro and Della Rovere, of-viii- their famous and most brilliant Court, and of that part of Italy over which they held dominion, but really a work in belles-lettres too, discursive and amusing, as well as instructive. It deals not merely with history, as it seems we have come to understand the word, a thing of politics—in this case the futile and childish politics of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Italy—but illustrates "the arms, arts, and literature of Italy from 1440 to 1630." And indeed this programme was carried out as well as it could be carried out at the time these volumes were written. The book, which has long been almost unprocurable, is full, as it were, of a great leisure, crammed with all sorts of out-of-the-way learning and curious tales and adventures. Sometimes failing in art, and often we may think in judgment, Dennistoun never fails in this, that he is always interested in the people he writes of, interested in their quarrels and love affairs, their hair-breadth escapes and good fortunes. How eagerly he sides with Duke Guidobaldo, chased out of his city of Urbino by Cesare Borgia! It is as though he were assisting at that sudden flight at midnight, and, whole-heartedly the Duke's man as he was, almost fails to understand what Cesare was aiming at, and quite fails to see what Cesare saw too well—the helplessness of Italy, at the mercy, really, of the unconscious nations of the modern world. Such failures as this make his work, indispensable as it is, less valuable than it might have been, but they by no means detract from the general interest of the story. That is a quarry from which much has been hewn, and a good many of those enduring blocks which go to make up so popular and charming a work as John Inglesant came in the first instance from Dennistoun's volumes.

A second edition then, of such a work, as it seems to me, needs no excuse. What must, perhaps, be excused is my part in it, the intrusion of another personality into what was so completely the author's own. Yet I can truly say-ix- that I have intruded myself as little as possible, and, indeed, so far as the text goes, it stands almost as Dennistoun left it, with the correction of such errata as were due partly to the printers and partly to the oversight of the author. The notes which have been my business, my only part in the work, have filled the leisure of three years. They are far from being complete, and are imperfect in a thousand ways, as I know perhaps better than any one else, but they are as good and as useful as I could make them, and represent in some sort the work not of three years, but of ten. As for my intention in republishing Dennistoun's book with notes from my hand, I can frankly say that I undertook it from a love of all that concerns Italy, and especially Umbria, and therefore I have worked at it with joy through the long winter evenings, and in summer I have often raised my eyes from my manuscript to watch the dawn rise over Urbino and the beautiful great hills among which she is throned. And you, too, had you watched her thus, would have been sure that no labour of love could be too great for her. And then Dennistoun's book is so fine a monument of the love England has always borne to Italy. And I would be concerned in that too. Yet sometimes I have thought that, in spite of all my labour—and, though I loved it, labour it was—rather than sitting down to annotate another man's work, I should have done better to write my own. Friends, such as one must hear, were neither slow nor without persistence in impressing this upon me. I heard them and shook my head. I am not an historian, but a man of letters. This book is, after all, the work of one who thought well of facts, while I cannot abide them. For one idea, as I know well, I would give all the facts in the world. So the writing of history is not for me; for history is become a sort of science, and is no longer an art. And therefore I gladly leave her to the friend to whom I humbly dedicate-x- my edition of this book, and to the virile embraces of Mr. William Heywood, who first led me into this nightmare of facts from which I am but just escaped. Let them settle it between them. For me there remains all the uncertainties that, God be thanked, can never be decided or be proved merely to have happened.

Thinking thus, I soon gave up any thought of writing the history of the Counts and Dukes of Urbino myself, and turned a deaf ear to those who would tempt me to it. I went on with my notes, however, partly from the joy one feels in playing with fire and all such mysterious and dangerous things, and partly from a hope that one day they might serve in some sort as finger-posts to an Englishman who should take up this subject and study it over again, from the beginning, more simply than Dennistoun was able to do.

As for Dennistoun's book, it always had my love, and day by day as I have worked through and through it, it has won my respect. Full of digressions, a little long-drawn-out, sometimes short-sighted, sometimes pedantic, it is written with a whole-hearted devotion to the truth and to the country which he loved. The facts are wonderfully sound, and if that part of the book for which it was most highly praised when it was first published—the chapters that deal with the history of Art—is become that which we can praise least, we must remember that in art, in painting more than anything else, fashion is king, and that the thrones from which we have driven Guido Reni, and perhaps Raphael, setting up in their stead other masters, are as likely as not to be in the possession of usurpers to-morrow, and we in as bad a case as our fathers.

Perhaps I may say a word about the illustrations. The book was one which lent itself very easily to illustration, and the great generosity of the publisher in this matter has been of the greatest satisfaction to me. I have sought in selecting my pictures to reflect the-xi- spirit of the book, which concerns itself with many a hundred things besides the Counts and Dukes of Urbino. As well as trying to give the reader all the portraits, or nearly all, that I could find, of the Montefeltro and Della Rovere Dukes, their Duchesses and courtiers, the men of letters, and the painters with whom they surrounded themselves, and the pictures of their gallery, I have made an attempt to illustrate the dress of the time—at a wedding, for instance, or in time of mourning; and seeing that this is for the most part a feminine business, I have chosen very many portraits of ladies, not only because they were beautiful, though there was that too, but also because they illustrated the manners of dressing the hair, or the wearing of jewels, and so forth; and I think this may be cause for entertainment as well as knowledge.

With regard certainly to two of the portraits I reproduce, I should like to suggest that they are of more than a superficial importance. I refer to the portraits of "Giulia Diva" and "Cesare Borgia," reproduced on page 330 of Vol. I. from contemporary medals now in the British Museum, by the courtesy of Mr. G.F. Hill, who had casts made for me.

The first, that of "Giulia Diva," I suggest is a portrait of Giulia Bella, Giulia Farnese, that is, mistress of Alexander VI. If it be so it is very precious, for no portrait of her is known to exist, and though in this medal, struck about 1482, she seems already middle-aged, we most probably see there the portrait of her whom the Pope would scarcely let out of his sight. Of the two reputed portraits, the nude figure, lying on the tomb in the apse of St. Peter's, was carved some thirty years after her death, and since the monument it adorns commemorates a Farnese Pope, it is little likely to be the beautiful Giulia who was in some sort the shame and not the boast of her house. Ruined now by the Puritanism that suddenly overwhelmed the Papacy after the Council of Trent, the body is almost completely-xii- hidden by the horrid chemise Canova made for her to reassure his master. The portrait of Giulia Farnese, which Vasari tells us is painted in the Borgia apartments, has never been identified.

As to the medal of Cesare Borgia, we are, I think, on surer ground. It bears his name, and was struck, Mr. G.F. Hill tells me, about 1500. In the Borgia apartments, as we know, he was certainly represented, and though his portrait has never been surely identified, this medal agrees so perfectly with Pinturicchio's portrait of the Emperor there, before whom S. Catherine of Alexandria (always supposed to be a portrait of Lucrezia Borgia) pleads, that we may well believe we have in that figure a contemporary portrait of one of the greatest and most romantic personalities then living.

My thanks are due to Mr. J.W. Dennistoun of Dennistoun for his courtesy in allowing me to reproduce the portrait of James Dennistoun, which forms the frontispiece to this work, and for his kindness in lending me the book from which I have drawn a good part of the Memoir which follows this preface. I have also to express my gratitude to Professor Zdekauer, Professor Anselmi, Mr. Edmund G. Gardner, Mr. William Heywood, Mr. G.F. Hill, Mr. William Boulting, and Mrs. Ross, for various assistance and kindness freely given whenever I sought it. I desire also to thank Mr. H.G. Jenkins for the infinite pains he has taken with the illustrations and the production generally of so large a book.

Edward Hutton.

London, September, 1908.



JAMES DENNISTOUN of Dennistoun and Colgrain was descended from the ancient and noble Scots family of the Lords de Danzielstoun. The first of his house of which authentic records can be traced is Sir Hugh de Danzielstoun, witness to a charter from Malcolm Earl of Lennox, who lived during the reign of Alexander III of Scotland, who died in 1286. His son, Sir John de Danzielstoun, was the associate-in-arms of his patriotic brother-in-law, the Earl of Wigton, and of Sir Robert Erskine in the reigns of Bruce and David II. His son, Sir Robert, was one of the young men chosen from among the "magnates Scotiæ" in 1357 as hostages for the payment to Edward III of 100,000 marks of ransom for the release of David II. He seems to have been a prisoner in England for a long time. With him the direct line of the house of Danzielstoun failed, and the representation devolved upon his brother Sir William de Danzielstoun, the first of Colgrain. So we find that in 1828 James Dennistoun of Dennistoun, the father of the author of this work, having succeeded to his father 1816 in the estates of Colgrain, Camis-Eskan, and Kirkmichael, proved his descent as heir male of Sir John de Danzielstoun Lord of Danzielstoun, and obtained the authority of-xiv- the Lord Lyon to bear the arms proper to the chief of his house[1] and thereupon assumed as his designation, Dennistoun of Dennistoun. He married in 1801 Mary Ramsay, fifth daughter of George Oswald of Auchencruive, in the county of Ayr, and of Scotston, in the county of Renfrew. By her he had thirteen children, and died on June 1st, 1834.

James Dennistoun of Dennistoun, the author of this work, was born on the 17th March, 1803, in Dumbartonshire, and spent the greater part of his youth with his grandfather, George Oswald of Scotston, to whom he owed, as he said, his first impulse towards letters. About the year 1814 he and his brother George were placed under the care of a tutor, the Rev. Alexander Lochore, later minister of Drymen parish. He then proceeded to Glasgow College, and later read for the Bar, though with no intention of practising. He passed advocate in 1824, but seems by then and for long after to have been gathering information regarding the old families of Dumbartonshire, which he placed at the disposal of Mr. Irving, who acknowledges his indebtedness to him. It was in 1825 that he went to Italy, spending Christmas in Rome with a few friends, and meeting there Isabella Katherina, eldest daughter of James Wolfe Murray, Lord Cringletie, whom he married in 1835. In 1836 he sold the family estates, including Colgrain and Camis-Eskan, and purchased Dennistoun Mains in Renfrewshire, the property which gave name to his house. His visits to Italy then became frequent, their most important result being the Memoirs of the Dukes of Urbino, which he published in 1851. He died some four years later, on February 13th, 1855, and-xv- was buried at his own desire in the Greyfriars churchyard, Edinburgh, not in the family vault at Cardross.[2]

The best contemporary account of his life appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine for June, 1855, which he was so fond of quoting.

"Mr. Dennistoun," we read there, "was born in Dumbartonshire in 1803, and was the representative of the knightly house of Danzielstoun in Renfrewshire, one of the oldest Scottish families. He was educated at the College of Glasgow and qualified himself for the Bar in Edinburgh; but his taste took a different direction, and being possessed of sufficient fortune, he turned aside from the legal profession and devoted his whole attention to literature, in connection chiefly with the Fine Arts. He was an amateur of Art according to the true and proper meaning of that designation—he loved and admired Art, and studied to appreciate the best examples that the world possesses. Though in following out these studies he devoted much of his time to the Italian school, as there painting first arose in strength, yet he was no bigoted admirer, and could appreciate the qualities of all kinds of Art, whether Italian or German, ancient or modern. He then aimed at giving to the public the ideas he had formed regarding its principles, and the facts he had collected as to its history. He could not unfold before all his friends and visitors portfolios filled with sketches, done by himself, of passes in the Alps, or of scenery in the Tyrol, or of views of the Temple of the Sibyl at Tivoli, of Mount Vesuvius, etc.; but to all who wished to learn, he could impart in a manner the most simple and unpretending, but with a clearness and elegance that impressed and charmed all who were privileged to hear him (and these were many), information and instruction on almost every-xvi-thing relating to Art: while he often explained and illustrated what he stated by reference to examples he had himself collected—many of them of great rarity and value.

"He was a member of most of those societies formed for collecting materials for, and adding to and illustrating the literature of Scotland, and besides editing several important publications by the Bannatyne and Maitland Clubs, contributed many interesting papers on subjects connected with Art to most of the leading periodicals, particularly to the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews.

"His first work, we believe, was the edition of Moysie's Memoirs of the Affairs of Scotland from 1577 to 1603, which he contributed to the Bannatyne and Maitland Clubs in 1830. This was followed by the Cartularium Comitatus de Levenax, ab initio seculi decimi tertii usque ad annum MCCCXCVIII, edited by Mr. Dennistoun, and printed for the Maitland Club by Mr. Campbell of Barnhill. In 1834 another illustration of Lennox history proceeded from Mr. Dennistoun's pen, in a reprint of The Lochlomond Expedition, with some Short Reflections on the Perth Manifesto, 1715. He also edited the volume of The Coltness Collections, 1608-1840, for the Maitland Club, in 1842. The Ranking of the Nobility, 1606, was printed, along with some other papers, in The Miscellany of the Maitland Club.

"A residence in Italy gave a new bent to his pursuits. One of the first-fruits of these Transalpine studies was a deeply interesting paper on The Stuarts in Italy, published in the Quarterly Review for December, 1846. But by far the most considerable result of Mr. Dennistoun's Italian sojourn was his Memoirs of the Dukes of Urbino, published in three volumes in 1852. This work is of great value, as illustrating the state of Italy during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the portion devoted to the Arts of the period being particularly interesting; and it is-xvii- to be regretted that from a delicacy carried perhaps too far, he has curtailed this important section—the one he could best handle—from fear, as he states in the preface, of trenching on ground entered on by his friend, Lord Lindsay.

"Mr. Dennistoun was the writer of the article on Mr. Barton's 'History of Scotland' in the Edinburgh Review for October, 1854; and also of the analysis lately given in the same periodical of the Report by the Commission on the National Gallery, which is very masterly, and, indeed, the only successful attempt yet made to grapple with that huge accumulation of facts and opinions of all kinds.

"He had just lived to complete another very interesting work, consisting of the Memoirs of Sir Robert Strange, the excellent engraver, and of his brother-in-law, Andrew Lumisden, secretary to the Stuart princes, and author of the Antiquities of Rome. Sir Robert Strange was the maternal grandfather of Mrs. Dennistoun. To that lady, Isabella-Katharina, eldest daughter of the Hon. James Wolfe Murray, Lord Cringletie, a Lord of Session, Mr. Dennistoun was married in 1835."

In the Report from the Select Committee on the National Gallery, published by order of the House of Commons in December, 1853, we find Dennistoun as one of the witnesses. His evidence appears to have been of some value, and the articles which he wrote for the Edinburgh Review, both before and after the Report was published, are excellent both in tone and substance.

"You are the possessor," he was asked, "of a small and, I may say, very choice collection of Italian pictures, are you not?"

"A collection of early Italian pictures," he answered. And, indeed, in his day such a collection must have been very rare in England, or, in fact, anywhere else. These pictures were sold with other works of art that had been-xviii- in his possession, on Thursday, June 14, 1855, and by the courtesy of Messrs. Christie, Manson & Woods, of King Street, St. James's, I am able to print the catalogue they prepared for the sale, and the prices the pictures fetched.










Of that distinguished Amateur,


The PICTURES comprise choice Examples of the Italian School, commencing with the Works of some of the earliest Masters; also of the Spanish, German, Flemish, French, and English Schools.

The other WORKS OF ART include three very interesting early Paces, of Niello Work; Tryptics, of Ivory and Bone; a few Bronzes; Majolica Plates; Illuminated Miniatures; a Crucifix, in Boxwood, etc.


Will be Sold by Auction, by




On THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 1855,


May be viewed Three days preceding, and Catalogues had, at Messrs. CHRISTIE and MANSON’S Offices, 8, King Street, St. James’s Square.


Note: The figures in brackets are the prices at which the works they refer to were bought in.


On THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 1855


Early Florentine1The Virgin, suckling the Infant£15s. 
Fra Angelico da Fiesole2The Madonna, and St. John£66s. 
Fra Angelico da Fiesole3The Resurrection, two soldiers sleeping beneath—very small. Pronounced by Dr. Waagen "a genuine picture."£442s. 
Fra Angelico da Fiesole4The Virgin enthroned, with two saints at her side. A very interesting small work. From the Gerini Gallery; on which Dr. Waagen says, "In this little picture all that earnestness and spirituality peculiar to that master is expressed"£5614s. 
Berna di Sienna5The Stoning of St. Stephen—painted on gold ground£210s. 
Giottino6The Crucifixion, on gold ground—small, with pointed top£510s. 
Giottino7The Crucifixion, with the Maries and the centurion and soldiers beneath—on gold ground, with pointed top£515s. 
Giottino8The Crucifixion, with the Virgin and St. John; the Magdalen kneeling at the foot of the cross—small square.£44s. 
Taddeo Gaddi9The Epiphany, and Visitation—parts of a predella£198s.6d.
Gentile da Fabriano10The Holy Family, seated before a building, the Magi in adoration, in the singular landscape background£21  
School of Memmi11The Virgin and Child—a fragment£310s. 
S. Memmi12The Virgin and Child, with saints on gold ground—a fragment. From the collection of M. Lauriani of the Vatican—unframed£25s. -xxi-
Cos. Roselli13The Miracle of St. Augustine. An interesting composition of nine figures£1515s. 
Don Lorenzo Monaco14The Nativity: the Virgin kneeling, St. Joseph seated on the ground, the Infant in a manger, the shepherds and angels above. From the collection of M. Lauriani, Librarian of the Vatican£919s.6d.
Giovanni Sanzi15The Madonna and Child£1212s. 
Sano di Pietro di Sienna16The death of Santa Monaca, who is being laid in the tomb by the Saviour and a bishop. An interesting specimen£99s. 
Duccio di Sienna17A beautiful small tryptic, in five parts: in the centre the Virgin and Child enthroned; on the wings St. Nicholas, St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. Jerome, on gold ground; the Emperor Constantius and Empress Helena, and the Entombment on the outside of the wings. This interesting work is most perfectly preserved£2211s.6d.
Greek School18St. Nicolas: a Byzantine painting—on gold ground [Transcriber's Note: price missing in original]   
Lorenzetti di Sienna19A large tryptic: the Virgin and Child, with two angels in the centre; two saints presenting devotes on each wing—painted on gold ground, with pointed tops£309s. 
G. Schiavone20An altar-piece, on gold ground, described by Dr. Waagen as "an altar-piece by Gregorio Schiavone, in different compartments: in the centre the Virgin and Child; at the sides a sainted monk and John the Baptist; above, in the centre, the dead Christ, supported by two angels; at the sides, St. Anthony of Padua and St. Peter Martyr; below, on a predella of unusual height, two male and two female saints, inscribed 'Opus Sclavoni discipulus Squarcione S.' This is the best specimen known to me of this scholar of Squarcione; some of the heads are of good expression, the colouring of the flesh is less-xxii- cold, the outlines of the forms less hard and cutting than usual"£464s. 
Giovanni Sanzi21Portrait of Raffaele, when a boy. The head is small, the neck long, the slight figure is clothed in a tunic tight to the throat, from which it hangs straight and loose, after the Italian fashion of the fifteenth century, and though ill adapted for elegance of drapery, its deep crimson colour and gold embroideries give a certain richness to the meagrely designed costume; on a white ledge under the figure is written in a hand much resembling that of Raffaele, "Raffaele Sanzi d'anni sei nato il di 6 Ap., 1483. Sanzi padre dipinse"; the back of the panel bears these words, also in old characters, "Rittratto del Piccolo Raffaele Sazi [Transcriber's Note: should be 'Sanzi'] d'anni sei nato in Urbino il di sei di Aprile 1483, Sanzi dipinse." A pamphlet addressed by Mr. Dennistoun to the Editor of the Art Union, proving the correctness of the day of Raffaele's birth as stated in the picture, accompanies it£5513s. 
Bronzino22Portrait of Luigo Allemanno [Transcriber's Note: should be Luigi Alamanni], the Florentine poet, in a black dress£55s. 
Baroccio23Portrait of the last Duke of Urbino, in a black dress, with a gold chain and badge of the Golden Fleece, his hand resting on a book£62s.6d.
Raffaellino del Colle24La Madonna del Garofalo—on copper. A beautiful copy from Raffaele—in frame carved with figures£132s.6d.
Al. Allori25Portrait of Torquato Tasso, in a black and crimson dress, holding a manuscript. Animated and delicate in conception, and carefully treated£265s. 
Titian26Portrait of Ariosto, in a blue dress. The very rare engraving by Persin accompanies it£851s. 
Paris Bordone27A Venetian Nobleman£55s. 
School of Fiesole28The Nativity, with landscape background£910s. -xxiii-
Timoteo della Vite29The Magdalen, holding the vase and a book, in a landscape. Purchased from M. Lauriani, librarian of the Vatican£6  
School of Perugino30The Epiphany: the Holy Family, seated before a building, the Magi presenting their offerings, their attendants in the background£298s. 
M. Albertinelli31The Virgin and Child, seated, in a landscape£77s. 
Gaudenzio Ferrari32The Nativity: The Virgin and St. Joseph kneeling over the Infant, who lies on the ground, three angels in adoration beyond, the angel appearing to the shepherds in the distance£187s. 
Cima di Conegliano33The Virgin, in a blue dress, her hands clasped, with the Infant seated before her on a window-ledge; a crimson drapery behind. Signed "Joannes Bta. Cone lanensis"£243s. 
Correggio34The Virgin, kneeling in adoration over the Infant, with architecture in the background—on copper£315s. 
Andrea d'Assisi35The Virgin and Child, on gold ground—panel—in architectural frame of the period£515s.6d.
Garofalo36The Nativity: The Virgin, St. Joseph, and a Shepherd, kneeling in adoration over the Infant, near a cavern; with beautiful landscape background£232s. 
Michele, of Florence37The Virgin and Child, with an Angel, surrounded by a border of bone carved with figures—circular£55s. 
P. Tibaldi38The Annunciation, with a choir of angels above£818s.6d.
Baroccio39Head of an Angel£9  
L. da Vinci40The Virgin and Child, holding a pear. Purchased at Urbino, of the Vecciarelli Family£313s.6d.
Scarsellino di Ferrara41Christ in the garden£3  
School of Perugino42St. Roch—a small figure£610s. 
Paduanino43Head of a duchess of Medicis—a fragment£115s. 
School of Giotto44Saints invoking Christ—two illuminated miniatures£410s. -xxiv-
School of Titian45The Virgin and Child, on a grassy bank, gathering flowers£315s. 
School of Giotto46The Pentecost. A beautiful miniature, on vellum, with rich border£815s. 
School of Giotto47The Crucifixion, with Saints. A beautiful miniature, on vellum, with rich arabesque border£414s.6d.
School of Titian48Portrait of a Lady of the Medicis Family: Pellegrina, daughter of Bianca Capello, in a richly ornamented dress£414s.6d.
A. del Sarto49The Resurrection. An interesting small work in the Master's first manner. From the de Angelis Gallery, at Sienna£414s. 
C. Maratti50The Holy Family£33s. 
Bronzino51The Virgin and Child, with St. Joseph and St. John. A very grand and beautiful design—circular, on panel[£210s.0d.]
G. da Carpi52The Virgin, in a crimson and blue dress, seated, with the Infant in her lap, before a sculptured portico; a green drapery suspended above—circle on panel. The Orsini Arms on the frame£14115s. 
Luigi Agresti53The Last Supper. Very richly coloured, with the engraving£6  
School of Brescia54The Virgin and Child, enthroned, with saints and angels in adoration£4  
F. Vanni55The repose of the Holy Family—small£2  
Schedone56The Virgin and Child£113s. 
School of Parma57A female saint, holding a salver of fruit—very elegant£44s. 
School of Ferrara58The Holy Family, with St. Francis and St. Jerome£99s. 
Guardi59A view on a canal, at Venice, with figures£110s.6d.
Guardi60A view on the grand canal—the companion£110s.6d.
Scorza, of Genoa61A pastoral landscape£16s. 
S. Rosa62A romantic bay scene, with figures—evening£410s. 
Serani63St. Cecilia, playing on the viol da gamba£57s.6d.
Testaferrata64A Roman piper£11s. -xxv-
Antonilez di Serabia65St. Raymond of Penaforte. From the Standish Gallery£313s.6d.
Montelinez di Serabia66St. Anthony, seated reading, near a chapel, with mountainous background. From the Standish Gallery£22s. 
Zurbaran67The Madonna of Mercy—four figures kneeling round her. From the Standish Gallery[£215s.] 
Murillo68The vision of St. Augustine of Canterbury: the saint is washing the feet of the Saviour, who appears in the likeness of a pilgrim; from his mouth proceed the words "Magne Pater Augustine tibi commendo Ecclesiam meam." This fine gallery picture was purchased from Don Julian Williams, by Mr. Standish, for £600, at Seville, in 1825; it was originally painted for the nuns of San Leandro Order of St. Austen, and sold by them during the troubles caused by the army of Soult, in 1810, to Dr. Manuel Real, from whom it passed to Don J. Williams. The picture is mentioned in the work of Herrera and d'Aviles Guia de Seville, 1832£19910s. 
Velazquez69Portrait of a Cardinal, seated, holding a book, the chair surmounted by shields of arms. Full of dignified character. From Cardinal Fesch's gallery£44s. 
School of Cologne70La Madonna Addolorata, in a crimson dress, a light-coloured robe. A very dignified figure. A fragment[£110s.] 
Wilhelm, of Cologne71The Marriage of St. Catherine with St. Agnes. They are in the foreground of a landscape, with buildings in the distance. From M. Wyer, of Cologne£143s.6d.
Van der Maire72St. Catherine, presenting a devotee. An interesting fragment£515s.6d.
Van Eyck73A fine dyptic, with the Annunciation: the Virgin kneeling, the Angel in a rich dress, holding a sceptre:—the portrait of the donor outside. From the Collection of M. Wyer, of Cologne£3918s. -xxvi-
Henri Blaes La Civetta74A tryptic, with the Virgin and Child in the centre, seated, in a landscape; St. Christopher and St. Anthony on the wings; an owl, the emblem of the Master. From the Collection of M. Wyer, of Cologne£176s.6d.
Dionysius Calcar75The Crucifixion: The Virgin and St. John weeping, with landscape background£88s. 
School of Hemmelinck76St. Natalitia, seated, holding a book, on which is a hand, cut off; with architectural background. From the same collection£121s.6d.
Matth. Guinendenwald77Portrait of Philip le Bel, in a crimson dress and black hat, wearing the collar of the Golden Fleece£6.  
Van der Goes78The Virgin and Child, enthroned; a damask drapery behind; landscape background seen on each side£221s. 
Lucas van Leyden79A very small female head—a fragment18s.  
Martin Schoen80A tryptic: the Crucifixion, with the figures carved in wood, and painted background in the centre; the wings painted with the six stations; carved canopy work over the centre; the descent from the Cross painted on the outside£121s.6d.
Sustermans81Portrait of Galileo£410s. 
Sustermans82Portrait of a Florentine lady£24s. 
Van Dyck83The Adoration of the Magi—a sketch in grisaille£28s. 
Van Dyck84Portrait of the Earl of Strafford, in a black dress. Purchased from the Earl of Mar's collection, in 1805£55s. 
Teniers85A landscape, with peasants and poultry near a cottage—upright—on copper£37s.6d.
Camphuyzen86A farm, with cattle, and a man milking a cow near a well. Very richly coloured£610s. 
Jan Steen87Portrait of a Burgomaster£515s. 
Poelemberg88The Riposo of the Holy Family, under a ruined building£210s. 
Wouvermans89Travellers, reposing under a sunny bank, near a pool of water£3312s. -xxvii-
Van Falens90Camp suttlers, with horsemen and numerous figures. From the Collection of Sir James Stuart£510s. 
Swaneveldt91A study of ruins—on paper£12s. 
Watteau92A fête champêtre£110s. 
Rigaud93Portrait of a French lady, holding a row of pearls£310s. 
Venetian94Portrait of the admirable Crichton, in black dress, seated holding a sword and a book; with long inscription. Dated 1581, with the engraving£132s.6d.
Roman School95Portrait of the Cardinal of York, in his robes. Purchased at his villa, at Frascati£110s. 
Sir P. Lely96Portrait of the Countess of Southesk, (la belle Hamilton) in a white satin dress, seated, holding a viol da gamba, in a landscape, from the collection of C.R. Sharpe, Esq.[£717s.6d.]
Sir Joshua Reynolds97A very small head of a lady15s.  
Anthony98Henselope Burn14s.  
Andrew Wilson99The Cascatelle, at Tivoli, with shepherds and goats in the foreground, admirably painted£3312s. 
J.M.W. Turner, R.A.100A farm in the Highlands£28s. 
Rev. J. Thompson101The Trosacks. A beautiful finished study, given by the artist to Mr. Dennistoun in 1829£3  
J.M.W. Turner, R.A.102Fishing boats caught in a squall£815s. 
Millais, A.R.A.103A cottage barn, in Essex: a sketch of figures on the back£410s. 


104Eleven silver touch-pieces, for the King's Evil, of the Stuarts; and three bronze Papal coins£5  
105A pair of red silk stockings, worked with gold. Belonged to the last Duke of Urbino£6  
106A curious ivory die, representing a man seated; and four silver dice, in the form of men and women seated£1  
107A pair of brass church candlesticks£115s. 
108The Virgin and Child—a relief, in bronze£115s. 
109The Flagellation—a relief, in bronze£115s. 
110A miniature portrait of Queen Mary, mounted in silver, with slab of agate on the back£46s. -xxviii-
111Raffaele School—Lo Spasimo di Sicilia—a drawing, in Indian ink and pen 6s. 
112A chalice, of silver, and copper gilt, with three busts of Niello work on the base£315s. 
113A female saint, in embroidery 5s. 
114Head of St. Peter, in tapestry. From the Cardinal of York's Villa£36s. 
115The Crucifixion, worked in ancient lace for an altar cloth£22s. 
116A very rare caterpillar's web, of unusual size[£2]  
117St. Mary, of Egypt, of pietra-dura, on lapis-lazuli ground£1210s. 
118A Majolica plate, with St. Jerome, in a landscape: signed by Maestro Giorgio, 1521—imperfect£315s. 
119A fragment of a Majolica plate, with Mercury, with the initials of Maestro Giorgio, 1534 15s. 
120The agony in Gethsemane—a Limosine enamel£1  
121St. Dietburgha—painted on a caterpillar's web£16s. 
122A half dyptic, with two saints in relief in ivory, and Byzantine inscription£111s. 
123A crucifix, elaborately carved in boxwood, containing a rosary of silver thread£1  
124A large bronze Papal seal, with the Holy Family, and 8 smaller bronze seals—one of them, Johann Russell£25s. 
125Venus on a dolphin—a Venetian bronze, on oriental alabaster plinth£310s. 
126A bronze inkstand, supported on eagles, and surmounted by a figure£310s. 
127The Entombment—a relief, in bronze£1010s. 
128A small ivory dyptic, with the Crucifixion, and the Virgin and Child, with two saints, in high relief, on gothic arches£1010s. 
129A very interesting Pax, of Niello work, with Christ bearing his Cross, and appearing to Mary, inscribed above "Jacobus Suannes Cole"; the dead Christ, and emblems of the Crucifixion, in the lunette above£1010s. 
130Another Pax, of niello, with the dead Christ and angels, inscribed beneath, "Pax tibi Pilastus," and frieze of arabesque; the Creation above—mounted in ivory£9  
131A curious bone tryptic, with the Crucifixion, attended by saints; St. Peter and St. Paul on the wings£818s.6d.
132A very interesting early Pax, of Niello, with the Virgin and Child enthroned, the latter holding a rosary; two saints kneeling on each side; a die on the ground in the centre[£215s.] 

The total amount realised at the sale was £1398 15s. 6d.



DURING nearly one hundred and ninety years, five Dukes of Urbino well and ably discharged the duties of their station, comparatively exempt from the personal immoralities of their age. The rugged frontier of their highland fief had, in that time, been extended far into the fertile March of Ancona, until it embraced a compact and influential state. Saving their subjects, by a gentle and judicious sway, from the wild ferments that distracted democratic communities, and from the yet more dire revolutions which from time to time convulsed adjoining principalities, they so cultivated the arts of war, and so encouraged the pursuits of peace, that their mountain-land gained a European reputation as the best nursery of arms, their capital as the favoured asylum of letters. That glory has now become faint; for the writers by whom it has been chiefly transmitted belong not to the existing generation, and command few sympathies in our times. But the echoes of its fame still linger around the mist-clad peaks of Umbria, and in the dilapidated palace-halls of the olden race. To gather its evanescent substance in a form not uninteresting to English readers, is the object of the present attempt. Should it be so far successful as to attract some of his countrymen to the history, literature, and arts of Italy, they will not, perhaps, be ungrateful to the humble pioneer who has indicated a path to literary treasures hitherto inadequately known to them. For such-xxx- an undertaking he possesses no qualification, beyond a sincere interest in the past ages of that sunny land, and a warm admiration for her arts during their epoch of brilliancy. But a residence there of six years has afforded him considerable opportunities of collecting materials for this work, which he has been anxious not to neglect.

A great portion of the duchy of Urbino, including its principal towns, has been thrice visited, and nearly every accessible library of Central Italy has been examined for unedited matter. To these researches, time and labour have been freely given; and in the few instances when his attempts were foiled by jealousy or accident, the author has generally had the satisfaction of believing that success would have been comparatively unproductive. To this, two exceptions should be mentioned. He was prevented by illness from recently visiting the libraries or archives at Venice; and the Barberini Library at Rome has been entirely closed for some years, in consequence of a disgraceful pillage of its treasures. Should the latter be again made accessible, the MSS. amassed by the Pontiff under whom Urbino devolved to the Church, and by his nephews, its two first Legates, can hardly fail to throw much light upon the duchy. The invaluable treasures of the Vatican archives have been to him, as to others, a sealed book; but the Urbino MSS. in the Vatican Library, those of the Oliveriana at Pesaro, and of the Magliabechiana at Florence, have afforded copious sources of original information, and have supplied means for rectifying omissions and errors of previous writers. Some of these materials had been freely drawn upon by Muzio, Leoni, and Baldi, biographers of the early dukes of Urbino, who have not, however, by any means exhausted the soil; the amount that remained for after inquirers may be estimated from the single instance of Sanzi's almost unnoticed rhyming Chronicle of Duke Federigo, in about 26,000 lines.

The reigns of Dukes Federigo, Guidobaldo I., and-xxxi- Francesco Maria I., from 1443 to 1538, formed the brightest era of Urbino, and included the most stirring period of Italian history, the golden age of Italian art; but our regnal series would be incomplete without Dukes Guidobaldo II. and Francesco Maria II., who prolonged the independence of the duchy until 1631, when it lapsed to the Holy See. Its history thus naturally divides itself into five books, representing as many reigns; yet, as these sovereigns were of two different dynasties, it will be convenient to consider separately the origin of each, and the influence which they respectively exercised on literature and the fine arts, thus giving matter for four additional books. In Book First of these we shall briefly sketch the early condition of the duchy, with the establishment of the family of Montefeltro as Counts, and eventually as Dukes, of Urbino; but, regarding Duke Federigo as the earliest of them worthy of detailed illustration, we shall, in Book Second, with his succession, enter upon the immediate scope of our work.

Among many interesting publications upon Italy which have recently issued from the English press, is that of Signor Mariotti.[3] With a command of our language rarely attained by foreigners, he has clothed a vast mass of information in an exuberant style, savouring of the sweet South. As an episode to his sketch of Tasso, he dedicates to the two dynasties who ruled in Urbino a single page, in which there occur seven misstatements. John or Giovanni della Rovere was never sovereign of Camerino; his cousin, Girolamo Riario, held no ecclesiastical dignity; the "unrivalled splendour" of the Montefeltrian reign at Urbino did not extend over even one century; the wife of Giovanni della Rovere was neither daughter nor heiress of Guidobaldo I. of Urbino, nor had-xxxii- she any "just claim to his throne"; Duke Francesco Maria did not remove either his library or treasures of art to Mantua. These slips, by a writer generally painstaking and correct, surely indicate some deficiency in the accessible sources of information regarding a principality which has for centuries been proverbial, in the words of Tasso, as "the stay and refuge of gifted men."

The truth is, that although the Dukes of Urbino figure everywhere as friends of learning and patrons of art, no work has yet appeared establishing their especial claim to such distinction, in a land where courts abounded and dilettanteship was a fashion. That of Riposati has indeed given us the series of these sovereigns, but his biographical sketches are meagre, and chiefly illustrative of their coinage. The lives of Dukes Federigo and Francesco Maria I., by Muzio and Leoni, are excessively rare; Baldi's crude biographies are either recently and obscurely published, or remain in manuscript. Out of Italy these authors are scarcely known. This paucity of illustration is not, however, the only cause why these princes have continued in unmerited obscurity. Whilst endeavouring to guard himself against undue hero-worship, and to subject the policy and character of those sovereigns to the tests within his reach, the author has been obliged in some instances to assume the functions of an advocate, and to defend them from charges unjustly or inadvisedly brought. This will be especially found in the life of Duke Francesco Maria I., who, as the victim of Leo X., and the opponent of Florence, has met with scanty justice from the three standard historians of that age in Italy, France, and England. The patriotism of Guicciardini, as a Florentine, was inherently provincial; as a partisan of the Medici, he had no sympathies with a prince whom they hated with the loathing of ingratitude; as an annalist he never forgot the day when he had cowered before the lofty spirit at the council-board.-xxxiii- All that he has written of Francesco Maria is therefore tinged with gall, and his authority has been too implicitly followed by Sismondi, who, uniformly biassed against princes by his democratic prejudices, and seeing in Guicciardini an eminent denizen of a nominal republic, and in the Duke a petty autocrat, decided their respective merits accordingly. Again, Roscoe could save the consistency and justice of Leo only by misrepresenting the character of his early friend and eventual victim, and has not shrunk from the sacrifice. It has thus happened that, whilst ordinary readers have scanty access to details regarding Urbino and its dynasties, these names have been unduly excluded from many a page in Italian annals which they were well qualified to adorn.[4]

To separate from the tangled web of Italian story threads of local and individual interest would be fatal to unity of texture and subject. It will, therefore, be necessary to treat Urbino and its Dukes as integral portions of the Ausonian community, and, while distinguishing every characteristic detail, to view them as subsidiary to the general current of events. But, since this course offers at every moment temptations to launch our tiny bark on a stream perilous to its pilot, prudence will keep us mostly among those eddies which, unheeded by more skilful mariners, may afford leisure for minute observation. If it be thought that the martial renown of Federigo and Francesco Maria I. merited more ample accounts of their campaigns, we may plead that arms are but a portion of our object. To mankind battle-fields are instructive chiefly from their results; while foreign and domestic policy, the progress of civilisation and manners, of letters and art, are in every respect themes of profitable inquiry.

In a work undertaken with the hope of attracting-xxxiv- general readers to the history and arts of Italy, controversial disquisitions would be misplaced. The student may detect occasional attempts to reconcile contradictory narratives and jarring conclusions; but religious discussion is excluded from these pages. The author is a Protestant by birth and by conviction, but it has been his endeavour to judge with candour, and speak with respect, of a Church which is the "parent of our religion," and which, during a great portion of his narrative, was catholic in the strict sense of that often misapplied term. He has mentioned without flattery, extenuation, or malice, such private virtues and vices of the various pontiffs as fell within the scope of his inquiry, leaving it to others to fix the delicate line which is supposed to divide personal errors from papal infallibility.

A considerable portion of these volumes was written in Italy, before the close of Pope Gregory's reign, and under impressions formed upon the existing state of the country. It has been their author's good fortune to know much of that attractive land during the last twenty years of the long peace, and to admire her substantial prosperity and steady progress. Between 1825 and 1846 he has seen in her cities new streets and squares rising, thoroughfares opened, gas-lights generally introduced, ruinous houses substantially rebuilt, crumbling churches and palaces renovated, shops enlarged and beautified, cafés, hotels, and baths multiplied and decorated, public drives and gardens created, equipages rivalling those of northern capitals, museums formed, galleries enriched, the dress and comforts of the population greatly improved, the street nuisances of Rome removed, the lazzaroni of Naples clothed.

In the rural districts he has observed cultivation spreading, waste lands reclaimed, irrigation and drainage carried on, the great highways rendered excellent, whole provinces opened up by new roads, railways rapidly extending, rivers-xxxv- and torrents bridged, palatial villas springing up round the towns and watering-places, banditti suppressed, the peasantry ameliorated in aspect. He has learnt, from crowded ports and spreading factories, that capital was increasing and industry being developed.

He has also noticed that, without organic changes, the political condition of the people was being modified; that Tuscany enjoyed the mildest of paternal governments; that in Lombardy, Piedmont, and Naples, many repressive statutes were in abeyance; that in Turin and Florence restraints upon the press were tacitly being relaxed; that scientific congresses were generally permitted, and political economy freely discussed; whilst, in regard to Rome, he ascertained the practical truth of a popular sarcasm, that prohibitory laws were usually binding but for three days.

While conscious of all this progress, the author felt that much remained to be done. He knew that the advance of the country was only comparative, and rendered more apparent by her long previous stagnation. He daily had before him solecisms in policy, errors of administration, official indolence or corruption; above all, ample proofs that priests were no longer adapted for ministers of state. He believed that intellect was needlessly or unwisely shackled, and that, to ardent or speculative minds, the full blaze of knowledge might be less deceptive than a compulsory twilight.

But, on the other hand, he was deeply convinced that, in material welfare, the Italian people were already far above the average; that any sudden change was more likely to endanger than to augment it; that, to a nation so listless yet so impressionable, so credulous but so suspicious, self-government was a questionable boon; at all events, that the mass of its present generation was infinitely too ignorant and unpractised, possibly too conceited and self-seeking, to comprehend the theory of a constitution, or to perform the duties it would necessarily impose. He-xxxvi- knew further, that those who vaguely longed for change were usually blind to the benefits which their country already enjoyed, and had no definite or plausible plan for the removal of its grievances without perilling its advantages. He felt satisfied that, should an occasion ever present itself for testing their Utopian theories, native leaders, united in aims and worthy of their reliance, would be wanting. The movement party in Italy then scarcely numbered a man who had a considerable property to stake, a social position to lend him influence, or tried business habits to gain the confidence of his fellow-citizens. Those who stood prepared to pilot the vessel through revolutionary storms were, for the most part, persons whose detected intrigues, or rash outbreaks, had already driven them, with little credit, into exile, where, cut off from intercourse with home, and associating chiefly with kindred spirits expelled from other lands, they forgot much which it was important to keep in view, and learned little of that candour and moderation which are the true leaven of politics. Neglecting there those practical reforms of which Italy stood really in need, they devoted themselves to one idea. They set up the phantom of political unity as a new faith; they decreed that its worship should be the condition of their country's resurrection, and that all who demurred to it should be hunted down. Had they read Dante, or remembered what they hourly had seen, heard, and said in their native land, they would have known that their idol, like the image in Nebuchadnezzar's dream,[5] was of incongruous and incompatible materials; that their unitarian scheme was antipathic to every passion and prejudice of those upon whom they would thrust it.

Under such impressions were written the very few allusions to the actual state of Italy which this work contains. The aspirations of her regenerators after nation-xxxvii-ality and constitutional freedom have since been fostered by her spiritual ruler, and prematurely fired by an explosion of French democracy. Subsequent events, under altered circumstances, may accordingly seem to have invalidated opinions therein expressed; but the end is not yet. The present continues overshadowed by gloom, and the torch of hope glimmers but dimly in the distance. A sincere interest in the country and its people dictates our prayer that the God of nations may grant an issue realising the fondest anticipations of genuine patriotism, and eventually crown these struggles with results compensating their recent evils.

Yet when we recollect the condition of Italy as we left her shores four short years ago,—when we contrast the calm then around her institutions, the stillness of her every-day life, the careless ease of her nobles, the physical enjoyment of her middle classes, the simple well-being of the peasantry under their own vines and fig-trees,—we must sigh to see so much positive happiness perilled for contingent ameliorations which, if ever attained, may, like most political experiments, fail to realise the promised benefits.

"Let him who sees mad war like deluge sweep
Surrounding regions, learn his peace to prize;
Let the poor bark with sides unripped, which tries
In vain by helm and sail its course to keep,
Make for the port. He lives perchance to weep,
Who quits the genial air and smiling skies
For depths unknown. O blind desire unwise
Of mortals, spurning thus on earth to creep!
O when, in this his mouldering garment frail,
Did man, whose thread soon breaks and joins no more,
Clear his own path, or by his power prevail?"[6]

In a work of history, party politics ought to have no place; and when the nations are moved there is little inducement to assume a prophet's mantle. We, therefore,-xxxviii- gladly leave a topic on which perhaps too much has been said. Possibly some Italians, to whom we have formerly represented that it were

"Better to bear the ills we know,
Than rush on others that we wot not of,"

may yet admit the truth of this suggestion. May they never personally realise the adage, that those who originate revolutions reap all their evils, without living to share their fruits!

A few words regarding the method adopted in these volumes. Of the names most conspicuous in Italian literature and art, a considerable proportion will there find a place; but readers who expect to see their productions enumerated, and their merits submitted to exhaustive criticism, will be disappointed. All that our limits permit, after rapidly sketching the revival of knowledge and the progress of that sacred painting which emanated from Umbria, is to mention those who have contributed to shed lustre over the duchy of Urbino, or who shared the patronage of its princes. The amount of notice allotted to each is therefore proportioned rather to its local importance than its absolute excellence; but, satisfied from experience how seldom a wide-spread interest attaches to individual details, our aim has ever been to generalise even those points demanding a more specific notice in connection with our immediate subject.

As the recurrence of foot-notes in a popular narrative unpleasantly distracts the reader from its continuous course, these have been avoided, unless when especially called for; and the necessity for them in citing references has been in a great degree anticipated, by prefixing a list of the leading authorities consulted, which it is hoped will generally bear out views that have been honestly formed, after examining what seemed the best sources of informa-xxxix-tion. Extracts have been introduced, where it appeared desirable to preserve the style or words of an author; but they are in most cases rendered (literally rather than with elegance) into English, except such specimens of poetry as could not be fairly estimated from a translation. Documents and episodical details, which would have encumbered the text, are appended to the respective volumes.[7]

The majority of proper names being Italian, are written in that language, excepting such as, like those of places, and titles of popes and sovereigns, have long been familiar to English ears in a different orthography. In such matters uniformity of practice is the main object to be attended to, and having to choose between names as they were actually used and their English synonyms, we have preferred Giacomo Piccinino, Giulio Romano, and Lorenzo de' Medici, to James the Little Fellow, Julius the Roman, and Lawrence of the Medici.[8] There will often be mentioned districts and divisions of Italy which are defined by no exact political or geographical limits; it may therefore be well here to explain in what sense these somewhat convertible terms are employed. Central Italy may be considered to contain the papal territory and the three Tuscan duchies; Upper and Lower Italy include all the Peninsula, respectively to the north and the south of these states. Again, Lombardy is used as a generic-xl- term for the whole basin of the Po, the Polesine being that portion of its delta, north of the river, which belonged to the Dukes of Ferrara. Romagna stretches from the Po to the Metauro, from the Apennines to the Adriatic; La Marca, or the March of Ancona, continues the same sea-board to the Tronto: these two districts were long the cradle of Italian prowess, the allotment-land of petty princes; both were partially comprehended within the more ancient landmarks of Umbria, a mountain province lying east of the Tiber. The lower basin of this classic stream contained Sabina on the east, and the Patrimony of St. Peter on the west; the Comarca lying south of the Teverone stream, and the whole wide plain around Rome being called the Campagna. Tuscany, including the Sienese, ran northwards from the Patrimony, beginning below Orbetello; and Naples is familiarly called by Italians The Kingdom, having, until a recent date, been the only royal state in their fatherland.

Our chronology also requires the use of certain conventional terms, which ought to be defined. Assuming the close of the fifteenth century as the zenith of Italy's glory in letters and arts, in politics and arms, the only word specifically indicating that period is cinque-cento; but seeing that its lustre was attained under military and civil institutions, and was rendered permanent by studies and artistic creations, derived from the middle ages and breathing their spirit, the phrase mediæval is extended to include that period.

Few things are more baffling to students of history than the true worth of money in different states and ages, and its relative value in reference to our own standards. It is impossible to over-estimate the convenience which tables, showing the fluctuations of currency and prices among different nations, would afford; but the difficulties-xli- of completing them may perhaps be insuperable. In order to supply this desideratum, however imperfectly, a few observations are here submitted.

In considering the value of money at different periods, a variety of circumstances must be kept in view. There are, however, four elements to be embraced by all calculations for such a purpose: (1) the comparative weight of the coinage; (2) the respective amounts of alloy introduced into the standard of precious metals; (3) the effect produced on gold and silver value by the discovery of America; (4) the fluctuations in prices of commodities. The last of these elements includes and depends upon the others, so that a tariff of prices at various times might be practically sufficient for the object contemplated. The impediments, however, to obtaining such a tariff are apparently insurmountable. Statistical facts, incidentally mentioned by historians, or gleaned from original documents, must be received with large allowance. Articles of costly luxury in one age became abundant in another, and are at all times affected by local or temporary causes. Quality was also variable; horses, oxen, sheep, and poultry, reared or fed in rude times or uncultivated districts, cannot fairly be compared with those perfected by care and expense; the same may be said of wines, fruits, clothing; even land is saleable according to its condition, fertility, or situation. The test usually resorted to in such inquiries is corn; but weights and measures, seldom uniform, are with difficulty ascertained at remote periods, while exceptional prices are more frequently noted than average ones, by observers prone to record striking events rather than every-day facts. There are, however, some apparently admitted data not altogether unavailable for our immediate purpose.

During the period embraced by our memoirs of Urbino, the standard of value prevalent in most parts of Italy was the golden florin or ducat. Of these probably equivalent terms, the former was generally employed in-xlii- Central Italy, the latter in Lombardy. According to Villani, the florin of Florence, in 1340, weighed 72 grains of pure gold, 24 carats fine. Sismondi, in referring to a period about a century later, estimates its weight at of an ounce, or 60 grains. Orsini reckons it, in 1533, at 70 grains, 22 carats fine. On the whole, it appears, from Cibrario and other authorities, that this coin, and its successor the zecchino, have maintained an almost uniform weight down to the present time. Assuming that gold in Italy had then the same coinage-value as in England, it appears from calculations, founded upon Fleetwood's data, that the florin was, at these various periods, equivalent in contemporary English coin to 3s. 6d., 4s. 8d., and 5s. 10d. Again, the ducat of Venice is estimated by Daru at 4 franks in 1465, at 4 in 1490, and by Sanuto at 4s. English in 1500. Riposati, in a careful analysis of the coinage of Gubbio, proves that the conventional Urbino florin of 1450 should have contained 63434/59 grains of silver, besides alloy, which would at that time have yielded 3s. 9d. English, or at our present pure silver value (5s. 6d. to the ounce) 7s.d.

It would follow, from these several opinions, that the florin or ducat of Italy, in the fifteenth century, was equal to from 3s. 6d. to 4s. 6d. in contemporary English circulation, which disposes of two elements for our calculation. The remaining two must have been inadequately kept in view by Cibrario, Ricotta, and Audin, who respectively value the florin of 1400 as now worth 16 francs, that of 1490 at 14 francs, and that of 1500 at 12 francs; while in the Library of Entertaining Knowledge it is set down at 10s. English in 1480. But if we assume the analogy of English prices as collected by Fleetwood, the result will be very different. From these it appears that an average cost of wheat and oats per quarter, in the fifteenth century, was about 5s. 2d. and 2s. 6d., while the wages of labourers and artisans were respectively 3½d. and 4½d. a day. Accord-xliii-ingly, if corn be taken as the test, money was then ten times beyond its modern value; while, if we include labour and luxuries, the actual depreciation must appear much greater. We are greatly encouraged to find such an inference not very different from that adopted by three recent and important authorities. Prescott values the Spanish ducat of 1490 at 39s. 4d., and Macaulay states that of Florence in 1340 at 40s. sterling, while Sismondi calculates it at about 48 francs. On the whole, then, we venture to assume that the Italian ducat or florin of the fifteenth century was nearly equal to the present Spanish dollar, and that it would have purchased about twelve times the amount of necessaries and luxuries which that coin now represents in England—a discrepancy of course lessened in the next and each succeeding age, especially as the precious metals continued to flow in from the new hemisphere. This estimate is, however, offered with great deference, and only as a general approximation to the truth, by no means applicable to numerous exceptional cases.[9]

In closing these preliminary observations, it is a pleasing duty to acknowledge the facilities obligingly placed at the author's disposal by kind friends in Italy and at home. The urbanity with which Monsignore Laureani afforded every assistance compatible with the stringent regulations of the Vatican Library, demands a tribute tempered by regret that death should have prematurely removed him from a trust which he usefully and gracefully discharged. To Don Pietro Raffaele, of the Oliveriana Library at-xliv- Pesaro, and to the Abbé Francesco Raffaele Valenti, of the Albani Library at Urbino; to Signor Luigi Bonfatti, of Gubbio; to the archivists of many towns, and to the directors of not a few galleries in Italy, a large debt of gratitude has been incurred. The intimate acquaintance with the treasures of Italian art possessed by the Commendatore Kestner, minister from the Court of Hanover at the Holy See, was, with his wonted kindness and courtesy, freely rendered available. Mr. Rawdon Brown, whose profound knowledge of Venetian history and antiquities will, it is hoped, be ere long appreciated in England, as it already is in the Lagoons, has communicated most important documents, which the author was unable personally to inspect. Mr. F.C. Brooke, of Ufford Place, Suffolk, has likewise supplied some valuable notices. The embellishments of these volumes owe much to the friendly assistance of Mr. Lewis Gruner, an artist whose generous character and happy exemption from professional jealousies are not less remarkable than the success of his burin and the excellence of his taste. With a liberality unusual among English collectors, Dr. Wellesley, Principal of New College Hall, Oxford, threw open his stores of Italian historic art, and allowed the use of several rare medallions. To these, and to many whose good wishes have cheered him on, the author's thanks are thus heartily, though inadequately, offered.



Memoir of the Authorxiii
Catalogue of the Picture Sale of the Authorxix
Author’s Prefacexxix
List of Illustrations of Volume I.xlix
Chronological Table of Contents of Volume


Topography of the Duchy of Urbino—Origin of the Italian communities—Their civil institutions and military system—Their principle of liberty—Political divisions of Romagna; opposed to modern speculations regarding centralization3
Origin of the Counts of Montefeltro, and of their sovereignty in Urbino and the surrounding country—Their early genealogy—Guido Count of Urbino—Antonio Count of Urbino22
Guidantonio Count of Urbino—The Ubaldini—Oddantonio Count of Urbino—Is made Duke—His dissolute habits and speedy assassination42-xlvi-


The birth of Count Federigo—Condition of Italy—His marriage and early military service—The Malatesta his inveterate foes—He takes S. Leo—Is invested with Mercatello61
Count Federigo succeeds to Urbino and acquires Fossombrone—His connection with the Sforza family, whereby he incurs excommunication—His campaign in the Maremma—Loses his eye in a tournament85
Count Federigo enters the Neapolitan service—His two campaigns in Tuscany—Fall of Constantinople—Peace of Lodi—Nicholas V.—The Count's fruitless attempt at reconciliation with Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, followed by new feuds with him—Death of his Countess Gentile102
Count Federigo's domestic life—His second marriage—New war for the Angevine succession to Naples—Battle of San Fabbiano—Conclusion of the war—Humiliation of the Malatesta120
Count Federigo's home administration and court—Description of his palace and library at Urbino—His other palaces—The resources of his state147
Count Federigo's varied engagements—Battle of La Molinella—Death and character of his enemy Malatesta—Affairs of Rimini177-xlvii-
Birth of Prince Guidobaldo—Count Federigo captures Volterra—Is again widowed—Receives the Garter and the Ermine—Is made Duke of Urbino—His patronage of learned men207
The Duke of Milan assassinated—Count Girolamo Riario—The Pazzi conspiracy—Duke Federigo's campaigns in Tuscany—Progress of the Turks233
The war of Ferrara, and the death of Duke Federigo—His character and portraits258


The early promise of Duke Guidobaldo I.—Count Girolamo Riario assassinated—The Duke's marriage—Comparative quiet of Italy295
State of the papacy at the election of Alexander VI.—His election, character, and children—The aspect of Italy at the close of her golden age—The disputed succession of Naples reopened—Character and views of Charles VIII.—Proposed league to oppose him frustrated—State of the Roman Campagna—The old and new military systems in Italy315
Italy ill prepared for the French invasion—Duke Guidobaldo sent against the Orsini—Lucrezia Borgia's second marriage—Descent of Charles VIII.—He reaches Naples and retreats—Battle of the Taro—The Duke engaged in the Pisan war—Is taken prisoner by the Orsini and ransomed341-xlviii-
The crimes and ambition of the Borgia—Murder of the Duke of Gandia—Duke Guidobaldo's expeditions against Perugia and Tuscany—He adopts Francesco Maria della Rovere as his heir—Louis XII. succeeds to Charles VIII., and to his views upon Italy—Cesare Borgia created Duke Valentino—Duke Guidobaldo at Venice363
The condition of Romagna—Cesare Borgia overruns and seizes upon it—The spirit of his government—Naples invaded by Louis, and handed over to Spain—Lucrezia Borgia's fourth marriage379
Duke Guidobaldo's retired life—Cesare Borgia surprises and seizes Urbino—The Duke's flight—The diet of La Magione—Rising in the Duchy, and his return—He again retires399


I.Poetry of the family of Montefeltro427
II.Inventory of articles taken by Brigida Sueva di Montefeltro, alias Sister Serafina, into the Convent of Corpus Domini433
III.Poetry of Ottaviano degli Ubaldini436
IV.Instrument containing the concessions demanded by the citizens and acceded to by Count Federigo, on being chosen as their Seigneur438
V.Devices and mottoes of the Dukes of Urbino443
VI.The illuminated MSS. in the Urbino Library446
VII.Duke Federigo of Urbino a Knight of the Garter450
VIII.The army of Charles VIII., in 1493460
IX.The battle of the Taro, in 1495463
X.The arrival of Duke Valentino at the French Court468
XI.Ludovico Sforza's entry into Lyons, in 1500470
XII.Sonnet to Italy by Marcello Filosseno472
XIII.Marriage festivities of Lucrezia Borgia at Ferrara, in 1502473
 Genealogical TablesAt end of book



James Dennistoun of Dennistoun. From a medallion in the possession of his nephew James W. Dennistoun of DennistounFrontispiece
View of Urbino. (Photo Alinari)22
The Battle of S. Egidio. After the picture by Paolo Uccello in the National Gallery. Portraits of Carlo Malatesta and his nephew Galeotto "il Beato"44
Leonello d'Este. After the picture by Pisanello in the Morelli Gallery, Bergamo. (Photo Alinari)54
Nicolò Piccinino. From a bronze medal by Pisanello. By the courtesy of G.F. Hill, Esq.70
Vittorino da Feltre. From a medal by Pisanello in the British Museum. By the courtesy of G.F. Hill, Esq.70
San Leo and Maiuolo. From a drawing by Agostino Nini78
Federigo of Urbino. From the XV. Century relief in the Bargello, Florence. (Photo Alinari)86
Francesco Sforza. From the XV. Century relief in the Bargello, Florence. (Photo Alinari)98
Federigo, Duke of Urbino, and Battista, his wife. From the picture by Piero della Francesca in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. (Photo Alinari)120
Allegory. After the picture by Piero della Francesca in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. (Photo Alinari)122
Allegory. After the picture by Piero della Francesca in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. (Photo Alinari)124
Sigismondo Malatesta. Detail from the fresco by Piero della Francesca in the Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini. (Photo Alinari)132
Urbino. From an original drawing by Agostino Nini of Bologna148
The Flagellation. After the picture by Piero della Francesca in the Sacristy of the Duomo, Urbino. Supposed portraits of Duke Federigo and Caterino Zeno. (Photo Alinari)152
Fifteenth-century Court of the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino. (Photo Alinari)162
Pio II. at Ancona. After the fresco by Pinturicchio in the Cathedral Library, Siena. (Photo Brogi)178
Portrait of Leon Battista Alberti. From the relief by Pisanello in the Dreyfus Collection194-l-
Pope Sixtus IV. From a miniature prefixed to the dedication copy of Platina's Lives of the Popes in the Vatican Library202
Battista Sforza, Duchess of Urbino, second wife of Duke Federigo. From the bust by Francesco Laurana in the Bargello, Florence. (Photo Alinari)214
Federigo of Urbino and his Family. Detail from the picture by Justus of Ghent, in the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino. (From the Ducal Collection.) (Photo Alinari)216
Lorenzo de' Medici. From the fresco by Ghirlandaio in S. Trinità, Florence. (Photo Alinari)238
Giuliano de' Medici. (Photo Alinari)240
The Birth of Venus. Supposed portrait of Simonetta Cattaneo—mistress of Giuliano de' Medici. Detail from the picture by Sandro Botticelli in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. (Photo Alinari)242
Astorgio III. de' Manfredi. From the picture by Scaletti in the Pinacoteca of Faenza258
Federigo di Montefeltro. After the picture by Justus of Ghent, once in the Ducal Collection at Urbino, now in the Palazzo Barberini in Rome. (Photo Anderson)266
The Contessa Palma of Urbino. After the portrait by Piero della Francesca in the National Gallery280
Guidobaldo I. From a picture in the Colonna Gallery in Rome296
Caterina Sforza. After the picture by Marco Palmezzani in the Pinacoteca of Forlì. (Photo Alinari)306
Isabella of Aragon. After the drawing by Beltraffio in the Biblioteca Ambrogiana, Milan. (Photo Anderson)310
Pope Alexander VI. Detail from a fresco by Pinturicchio in the Borgia apartments of the Vatican, Rome320
"Diva Julia." From a bronze medal ca. 1482 by L'Antico in the British Museum. By the courtesy of G.F. Hill, Esq.330
Cesare Borgia. From a medal ca. 1500 in the British Museum. By the courtesy of G.F. Hill, Esq.330
Julius II as Cardinal. From a medal in the British Museum. By the courtesy of G.F. Hill, Esq.330
St. Catherine of Alexandria. Supposed portrait of Lucrezia Borgia by Pinturicchio. Detail from a fresco in the Borgia apartments of the Vatican, Rome. (Photo Anderson)344
Bianca, daughter of Ludovico Sforza. After the picture by Ambrogio de' Predis in the Biblioteca Ambrogiana, Milan. (Photo Anderson)352
Cesare Borgia as the Emperor. Detail from the fresco of the Disputa of S. Catherine in the Borgia apartments of the Vatican. (Photo Anderson)364




  The duchy of Urbino, how composed3
  Its characteristic features, and traditional topography4
  Origin of Italian communities4
  Rise of the Guelph and Ghibelline factions5
  Counts of the empire6
  Republics established in Italy7
  Opinions regarding their spirit8
  The seigneurs attain to sovereignty10
  Practical distinction of Guelph and Ghibelline11
  Early military system12
  Origin and influence of free companies14
  The term Republic misapplied15
  Their principle of liberty examined16
  Political divisions of Romagna and La Marca in the fifteenth century18
  Opposed to modern speculations and the aims of Young Italy19
  Mariotti's admissions regarding freedom20


  Examples of these ideas in the dynasties of Urbino22
1160. The early Counts of Montefeltro are invested with Urbino22
1371. Invited to Cagli22
1384. Received at Gubbio22
1433. Acquired Casteldurante23
1445. Purchased Fossombrone23
1474. Sinigaglia given to the della Rovere23
1513. They obtained Pesaro and Gradara23
  Statistics of the state so composed23
1160-1631. Its dynastic changes24
  Early genealogy of the Montefeltri24
1160-1815. The Counts of Carpegna25
1154. Antonio, first Count of Montefeltro25
1216. Buonconte, first Count of Urbino25
1268. Count Guido the Elder, his prowess26-lii-
1282. Takes Forlì by stratagem27
1289. Excommunicated as a Ghibelline27
1296. Abdicates and becomes a friar28
1294. Abdication of Celestine V.28
 Succeeded by Boniface VIII.28
1296. His feuds with the Colonna29
 He recalls Count Guido to the world30
 Dante's confession of the Count30
 How far consistent with fact32
 The Count's piety attested by Boniface33
1298.Sept. 27.His death at Assisi34
1300. The struggles of his successors35
1377. Antonio Count of Urbino36
1384. Extends his sway over Gubbio, Cagli, and Cantiano37
1390. His mild government and literary tastes37
1404.May 9.His death announced to the authorities of Siena by his son38
 His children39
 His daughter Battista, wife of Galeazzo Malatesta, Lord of Pesaro39
 Her literary acquirements40
 Battista takes the veil40
 Misfortunes of her daughter Elisabetta41


1404. Guidantonio Count of Urbino42
1408. Made Lord of Assisi42
1413. And Vice-general of Romagna43
 Braccio di Montone43
1417.Nov. 11.Election of Pope Martin V.44
1418.Dec.Count Guidantonio made Duke of Spoleto44
1420. Braccio reconciled to the Pope45
1424.March 4.The Count marries Caterina Colonna45
 His disputes with the Brancaleoni45
1430.Sept. 3.Made Captain-general of Florence46
1431.March 3.Election of Pope Eugenius IV.46
1438.Oct. 9.Death of Countess Caterina47
1442.Feb. 20.Death of Count Guidantonio47
 His children47
 His daughter Brigida Sueva's singular history48
 His natural children49
 Origin of the Ubaldini della Carda49
 Notice of Ottaviano Ubaldino50
1424. Birth of Count Oddantonio of Urbino51
1443.April 26.Made Duke of Urbino51-liii-
 His vicious career52
1444.July 22.His assassination53
 His intended marriage55
1439-1443. Two original letters from him to the magistrates of Siena56
  The dukedom lapsed on his death58


  Federigo Count of Urbino61
1422.June 7.The mystery and misstatements regarding his birth61
1424.Dec. 22.Set at rest by his legitimation62
 The Brancaleoni of Mercatello63
1430. Their heiress Gentile betrothed to Count Federigo64
 The state of Italy at this time64
 Rome and the Papacy65
 Florence and Central Italy66
 Lombardy and Venice67
1433. Federigo sent to Venice as a hostage68
1434. Made a companion of the Hose68
 Becomes a pupil of Vittorino da Feltre at Mantua69
 Character and system of Vittorino70
1433. Federigo knighted by the Emperor71
1437.Dec. 2.His marriage72
 Nicolò Piccinino successor of Braccio di Montone72
1438. Federigo serves under him in Lombardy74
1439. Next, under his brother-in-law Guidaccio Manfredi, Lord of Faenza74
 A midnight alarm74
 The Malatesta hereditary rivals of the Montefeltri75
 Sigismondo Pandolfo Lord of Rimini opposed by Federigo75
1440.June 29.The battle of Anghiari77
1442. Federigo recovers Montelocco77
1441. Description of S. Leo78
 Federigo takes it80
 Position of Francesco Sforza80
 Pedigree of the Sforza family80
1443. Federigo after his father's death rejoins Piccinino81
 Visits Naples with him81
Nov. 8.Sforza defeats Piccinino at Monteluro82
 Sanzi's description of that battle82
 Federigo invested with Mercatello83
1444. He protects Galeazzo Malatesta's seigneury of Pesaro83
1445.Feb. 21.Is challenged by Sigismondo Malatesta of Rimini83



1444.July 22.Federigo accepted as successor of Duke Oddantonio in Urbino85
 Conditions imposed by the people86
 The state of Central Italy87
 Contemporary sketch of Federigo88
 Spite of Sigismondo Pandolfo89
 Sale of Pesaro and Fossombrone90
1445.March 16.Marriage of Alessandro Sforza, who becomes Lord of Pesaro91
 Mistakes of Sismondi91
 Francesco Sforza's breach with Filippo Maria Visconti and Sigismondo Malatesta91
June 22.He is supported by Federigo, and visits Urbino92
1446. His position at La Marca, which he loses92
April.Federigo excommunicated by Eugenius for adhering to Sforza93
 The fortune of war changes93
1447. Sforza is reconciled with the Duke of Milan94
Sept. 3.Sigismondo attacks Fossombrone95
Feb. 23.Death and character of Eugenius IV.95
 Death of the Duke of Milan96
1450. Succeeded by Francesco Sforza97
1447. Designs of Alfonso of Naples upon Tuscany97
1448.March.Opposed by Federigo for the Florentines98
 Sigismondo tricks Alfonso, and attacks Fossombrone98
Sept.Alfonso and Federigo return home99
1449. Sigismondo attempts to dupe Federigo, but is foiled99
1450. Federigo made Captain-general by the Duke of Milan100
June 29.Peace between Naples and Florence100
 Loses his eye in a tournament101


1450. The peace of Italy threatened by new combinations102
 Federigo quits the service of Milan for that of Naples103
 The King employs him without exacting sureties103
1451. The Emperor Frederick III. comes to Italy, and is crowned at Rome103
1452. The Neapolitan campaign in Tuscany under Federigo and the Duke of Calabria103
1452-1453. Federigo goes to Naples, and returns in the spring104
1453. Attacked by malaria fever104
July 26.His letter to the Priors of Siena104-lv-
 Uninteresting conclusion of the war105
May 29.Fall of the Greek empire, and taking of Constantinople106
1454. Efforts of Nicholas V. for a general league against the Turks107
April 9.The peace of Lodi107
1455.Mar. 24.The death and character of Nicholas V.107
1454. Federigo's friendly visit to the King of Naples108
1455.Jan. 26.The King ratifies the league with an unfortunate reservation109
1457. Federigo takes measures for humbling Sigismondo109
April.Visits Florence, Bologna, Milan, and Mantua109
 His fruitless interview with Sigismondo at Modena110
June.He goes to Naples for assistance; many intrigues there110
 Death of his Countess Gentile111
Nov. 7.Asks a mortar-founder from Siena111
 He attacks Sigismondo112
1458.May 2.His despatch to the Priors of Siena112
July 1.Death of Alfonso of Naples113
Aug. 6.Death of Calixtus III.113
 Ambitious intrigues of Giacomo Piccinino, who seizes on part of the ecclesiastical territory114
 Federigo continued as Captain-general by Ferdinand of Naples115
 New disputes for the crown of Naples115
1459.May 27.Pius II. summons a European congress at Mantua116
 His mediation between Malatesta and the Count of Urbino116
June 21.His letter to Federigo117
 His award in favour of Federigo119


  Federigo's domestic life120
1454. His sons Buonconte and Antonio legitimated120
1458.Oct.Buonconte dies at Naples of plague120
 Death of another son, Bernardino120
1459. Count Federigo's marriage to Battista Sforza proposed121
 Errors of Sismondi regarding her (note)121
 Her education and accomplishments121
Nov.Her betrothal at Pesaro122
1460.Feb. 10.Her marriage celebrated at Urbino122
 Giovanni Sanzi's description of her122-lvi-
1459. New wars in Italy interrupt the long-proposed Turkish crusade123
 Unpopularity of Ferdinand of Naples123
 State of the Angevine claimants to that crown123
1458.May 11.Jean Duke of Calabria made Seigneur of Genoa123
1459. Supported in his designs upon Naples by France, Genoa, and Florence124
 Opposed by Pius II. and the Duke of Milan, who adhere to the Italian league124
Oct. 4.The Duke of Calabria sails from Genoa to invade Naples124
1460. Venice and Florence become neutral124
 Giacopo Piccinino deserts to the Angevines125
Mar. 30.Evades Federigo and reaches the Abruzzi125
April.The confederates follow him thither125
July 7.Ferdinand is beaten at Sarno125
 Armies of the League and of Piccinino meet at San Fabbiano126
 Tournament before the battle126
 Accident to the Count of Urbino126
July 22.Battle of San Fabbiano127
Mistakes as to the date of it (note)127
Aug. 2.The confederates retreat128
 Anecdote of Count Federigo129
 Ferdinand saved by his Queen's intercession130
 Count Federigo re-engaged by Pius II.130
Oct.Rome threatened by Piccinino130
Dec.Count Federigo goes to Rome for Christmas131
1461. Sigismondo Malatesta put on trial131
1462.Apr. 14.Burned and excommunicated132
1461.June.Count Federigo crosses the Apennines132
July.His conversation with Pius II. on ancient history133
Oct.He reduces Aquila and Sora133
Is complimented by Pius II.134
1461-1462. Visits Rome and Naples134
1461.Mar.Angevine prepossessions of the Genoese changed by a revolution135
July 17.Total defeat of King René there135
 George Scanderbeg supports Ferdinand135
1462. Sigismondo Malatesta's force augmented135
Aug.Count Federigo hurries into La Marca to meet him136
12.Overthrows him at the Cesano, near Sinigaglia137
Rejects his offers of friendship137
Oct. 6.His conduct approved by Pius II.138
Nov. 3.Made lieutenant-general of the ecclesiastical forces139-lvii-
Sept. 20.Mondavio capitulates to him; the miseries of war139
Oct. 22Giovanni Malatesta taken prisoner at Montefiori, and liberated by him140
31.He obtains Verucchio by a dishonourable trick, and winters there140
Aug. 18.Piccinino defeated at Troia141
Sept. 13.The Prince of Tarento deserts the Angevines141
1463.Aug.Piccinino follows his example141
1464. The Duke of Calabria finally quits Italy141
1463.July.Fano besieged by Count Federigo142
Sept. 28.It is surrendered by Roberto Malatesta143
His generosity to Sigismondo's family143
The satisfaction of Pius143
Oct. 5-25.Sinigaglia and Gradara surrender to Federigo144
Venice mediates in behalf of Sigismondo144
He humbles himself to the Pope, and is absolved145
Nov. 1.Peace with the Malatesta, giving the Count an accession of territory146


1463-1464. The home administration of Federigo147
 Scantily illustrated by his biographers147
 His court and establishment150
 Its hospitalities152
1454. A new palace begun at Urbino154
1463-1464. Its appearance154
 Designed by Luziano Lauranna155
 Federigo's patent in his favour156
 And continued by Baccio Pontelli157
 Who makes a plan of it for Lorenzo de' Medici157
 Fallacy regarding Francesco di Giorgio158
 His frieze of trophies and pompous inscription158
 Description of the palace, and view from it159
 Its decorations in stone and intarsia160
 Fallacy as to its museum of art161
 The saloons for books and manuscripts162
 State of bibliography at this period163
 Federigo a collector of manuscripts164
 Attested by Sanzi and Vespasiano164
 Regulations of his library167
 Notice of its librarians168
 Its extent and cost168
 The stable-range built by Francesco di Giorgio169
 Cost of the palace170
 Anecdote of its foundation170-lviii-
 Churches founded by Federigo171
 Description of his palace at Gubbio171
 His other residences174
 The extent and resources of his state175


1464.Aug.The projected crusade abandoned177
14.Death of Pius II.; succeeded by Paul II.177
Sanzi's lines on his death178
Sept. 28.Count Federigo made Gonfaloniere of the Church179
Explanation of that title (note)179
Oct. 24.Returns to Urbino after visiting Naples179
1465.July.His expedition against Anguillera179
Nov. 20.Death of Malatesta Novello of Cesena180
1466.Jan.His state annexed to the Church by Count Federigo180
Mar. 8.Death of Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan180
Count Federigo goes to Milan181
June 6.Is reappointed captain-general by Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza181
Returns home181
 The protracted tranquillity and glory of Italy182
1465.July 12.Murder of Giacomo Piccinino at Naples183
1464.Aug. 1.Death of Cosimo de' Medici, Pater patriæ184
1464-1466. State of parties in Florence184
1466-1467. The exiles engage Colleoni to invade Tuscany185
1467.May 15.Federigo's honourable condotta by the League185
July 25.Battle of La Molinella in the Bolognese, where field artillery was first used187
Giovanni della Rovere distinguishes himself187
1468. Federigo visits the Duke of Milan190
June.Sent by him to meet his bride at Genoa190
July.Returns home190
Sept.Recalled to Milan190
Oct.Presented by him with a palace in that city190
Nov.Reduces Brisella190
1469.Jan.Commissioned by him to wait upon the Emperor190
March 1.Returns home190
1468.Oct. 9.Death of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta191
 His character and tastes191
 His service in the Morea194
 Pretensions of his son Roberto on Rimini195
 The Pontiff outwitted by him195
1469. Rimini besieged by Alessandro Sforza196
Aug. 30.Great victory of Federigo near Rimini199-lix-
His generosity200
Nov.Roberto regains his father's state201
1470. Federigo in high favour with Galeazzo Maria200
 Rupture of the League from foolish jealousies200
1469.Dec. 3.Death of Pietro de' Medici201
1470.Dec. 22.The League renewed201
July 7.Federigo's letters to the Signory of Siena201
1471. 28.Death of Paul II.202
 Roberto Malatesta invested with Rimini203
1472.Mar. 28.Marries Princess Elisabetta of Urbino203
April.Note as to his title of Magnificent203
1471. Federigo attends the coronation of Sixtus IV.203
 Entertains the Persian envoys at Urbino204
1472. Entertains Cardinal Pietro Riario at Gubbio205


1472.Jan. 24.His son Guidobaldo born at Gubbio207
June 18.Captures Volterra; its sack211
Misstatements regarding his great MS. Hebrew Bible212
His triumphant welcome at Florence212
His fortunate position213
July 6.The death of his Countess Battista214
His letters on that event214
Notice of her life and character216
Her portrait218
Aug. 17.Her obsequies219
1472-1474. Federigo at home219
1474.Aug. 20.He goes to Rome220
21.Is invested with the ducal dignity220
And is made Gonfaloniere of the Church221
Obtains the Golden Rose221
The marriage of his daughters Giovanna and Agnesina222
Sept. 11.Is invested with the order of the Ermine at Naples223
And with that of the Garter at Grottoferrata224
 Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere sent against Città di Castello225
Nov. 2.A new league225
 Federigo's patronage of learned men225
1475. Books dedicated to him227
 Curious letter to him from the Priors of Arezzo228
 Testimony of Vespasiano231
 And of Giovanni Sanzi231



1476.Dec. 26.Assassination of Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza234
 His character by Sanzi235
1477.Jan.Federigo prepares to march upon Milan, but attacks Montone236
1473. Count Girolamo Riario invested with Forlì and Imola236
 He is betrothed to Caterina Sforza236
 Her education and character237
1477. Their marriage237
 The friendship of Sixtus for Lorenzo de' Medici soon interrupted237
 Revolutions in Florence usually sprang from family feuds239
 Origin of the Pazzi conspiracy239
1478.April 26.It explodes; Giuliano assassinated240
 Italian conspiracies and politics241
 The Pope is compromised242
 Lorenzo appeals to his fellow citizens243
 The parties to a new war in Tuscany243
 The Duke's letter to an astrologer244
 The campaign narrated by Federigo245
 He breaks his leg247
Dec. 23.He goes to the baths of Petriolo247
1479.May 23.He leaves Petriolo247
 Defection of Roberto Malatesta247
 The Florentines successful at Thrasimene, but worsted in the Val d'Elsa247
Nov. 12.Colle surrenders248
Its siege painted on a bicherna (note)248
 State of the Italian artillery248
 Notices of it by Duke Federigo249
Nov. 20.He goes to Siena and receives a donative251
27.A truce for three months251
 The unfortunate position of Florence, and disorganisation of its army251
Dec. 6.Lorenzo de' Medici goes to Naples to negotiate a treaty252
1480.Mar. 25.Peace proclaimed252
Dec.Humiliation of the Florentines before Sixtus253
1479-1480. Intrigues of the Duke of Calabria at Siena253
 Federigo winters at the baths of Viterbo253
 He receives the Sword and Hat253
1480.May 19.His letter to the magistrates at Siena254-lxi-
 He returns home254
 Count Girolamo takes possession of Forlì254
 Description of his Countess255
1474-1479. Progress of the Turks in Europe256
1480.Aug. 11.They take Otranto by concert with the Venetians257
 Consequent panic in Italy, and new combinations of its powers257
 Federigo summoned by Ferdinand, but detained by Sixtus257
1481.May 3.Death of Sultan Mahomet257
Aug. 10.Otranto recovered from the Turks257


1481. Sixtus combines with the Venetians against Ferrara258
 Federigo declines their offers, and vainly inculcates peace259
1482.April 17.He is engaged to command the League in defence of Ferrara259
23.His departure for the campaign260
 Description of the seat of war261
May 3.War declared by Venice262
11.The Venetians besiege Ficheruolo262
4.Federigo's letter to Lorenzo de' Medici262
He goes to Milan and Mantua for reinforcements264
20.Returns to La Stellata264
June.Fatal effects of malaria264
29.Ficheruolo taken265
July.Ferrara hard pressed, but obstinately defended by Federigo265
His appeal to the Pontiff, who perseveres in his schemes of nepotism265
Lawless condition of Rome266
Federigo attacked by fever, and relapses266
He resigns his command, and retires to Ferrara267
Sept. 10.Prepares for death and expires267
Simultaneous death of Roberto Malatesta269
Character of Duke Federigo, by Poggio Bracciolino270
By Francesco di Giorgio270
By Pirro Pirotti and Cyrneo271
By Vespasiano272
Anecdotes preserved by him273
His military commands282
His funeral283
His body subsequently exposed283-lxii-
1482. Notice of his portrait, by Piero della Francesca, with his Countess284
 By Mantegna, with his son285
 By an unknown artist286
 By Fra Carnevale287
 By Justus of Ghent288
 By an unknown artist288
 His children and their marriages289


1482. Retrospect for Duke Federigo's reign295
1472.Jan. 24.Birth of his son Guidobaldo, who is confirmed by Cardinal Bessarion296
July 6.Death of Guidobaldo's mother296
 His precocious genius and sweet temper296
 Attested by his tutor Odasio297
1482.Sept. 17.His father's death299
 Position of the duchy299
Sept. 17.Investiture of Duke Guidobaldo I.300
 He is continued in his father's command301
1483.Jan. 6.Sixtus deserts the Venetians, and joins the League301
 Guidobaldo in the service of Naples303
July 19.Death of Costanzo Sforza of Pesaro303
1484.Aug. 13.Death of Sixtus IV.304
29.And election of Innocent VIII.304
11.Treaty of Bagnuolo305
1485. The Pontiff attacks Naples.305
 Guidobaldo retained by him305
Aug. 11.Peace restored305
1486. Guidobaldo serves under Trivulzio306
 The regency of Ottaviano Ubaldini terminates306
1488.April 14.The assassination of Count Girolamo Riario, and revolution at Forlì307
 Energetic measures of his widow307
 The regulations and manners of the court of Urbino309
 Duke Guidobaldo betrothed to Elisabetta Gonzaga of Mantua311
1489.Oct.Their marriage and disappointment of children312
1490. Comparative repose of Italy313
1492.April 7.Death of Lorenzo de' Medici314
July 25, 29.And of the Pope314
Aug. 11.Succeeded by Alexander VI.314



1492. Condition of the papacy on the accession of Alexander VI.315
 His family descent and debauched life316
 Circumstances of his election317
 His children and their scandalous conduct318
 Pedigree of the Borgia320
 The aspect of Italy at the close of her golden age321
 Described by Guicciardini322
 Sketch of the disputed succession of Naples, and its results322
 The condition of Milan and Venice325
 And of Florence326
 Character of Charles VIII. of France, and his views upon Italy327
 Negotiations for an Italian League frustrated by Pietro de' Medici328
 State of the Roman Campagna and its rival barons329
 Their feuds fire the train331
 Ludovico il Moro invites Charles into Italy331
1493. Military circumstances of Italy332
 The condottiere system gradually abandoned333
 Condemned by Machiavelli334
 A new system introduced335
 Lances, stradiotes, and infantry335
 The Swiss infantry337
 The lansquenets and Spaniards338
 Introduction of fire-arms and artillery338


1494.Jan.Alfonso II. succeeds to the crown of Naples341
 Position of the Italian powers at the invasion of Charles VIII.341
 Alfonso's efforts to conciliate the Pontiff and his children342
 His son Cesare made Cardinal Valentino343
 The Pope employs Guidobaldo against the Orsini344
 His first attack of gout344
 The marriage of Lucrezia Borgia to Giovanni Sforza of Pesaro344
 Its scandalous orgies345
June.Her visit to Urbino345-lxiv-
 Double-dealing of Alexander with Alfonso345
 The calamities of the French invasion346
 Description of Charles VIII. by Guicciardini346
 And by Mantegna347
 And by Ludovico il Moro347
 The campaign opened by Sir Bernard Stuart of Aubigny348
Aug. 20.Charles leaves Vienne and reaches Milan348
 Alfonso alone prepares to oppose him348
 Sends the Duke of Calabria into Romagna348
 He is supported by the Duke of Urbino, but without avail348
Nov. 9.Tuscany welcomes Charles, and expels the Medici349
 This revolution graphically described350
 Financial expedient proposed at Florence351
Dec. 31.Charles enters Rome351
1495.Jan. 28.Leaves it for Naples351
23.Alfonso abdicates the crown, and dies soon after351
Succeeded by his son Ferdinand II., who retires to Ischia352
22.Charles takes possession of Naples352
Mar. 31.A new League formed against the French352
1494.Oct.Ludovico il Moro becomes Duke of Milan353
1495. The demoralisation of the French army353
May 20.It leaves Naples353
July 6.Battle of the Taro, at Fornovo354
Oct.It re-enters France354
July.Ferdinand II. restored at Naples354
1496. Whose French garrison surrenders355
 Results to Italy of this invasion355
1495. The Pisan war, in which Guidobaldo was engaged by the Florentines356
 Their conduct leads to fresh discord356
 And to an invasion by Maximilian357
 Guidobaldo recalled by the Pope to aid in restoring Ferdinand II.357
1496.Oct.Who dies soon after358
Peace again troubled by Alexander, who attacks the Orsini358
Aided by Guidobaldo358
 His petty campaign against Bracciano359
1497.Jan. 23.Is beaten, and taken prisoner360
 The Venetian Signory interfere in his behalf361
 A heavy ransom extorted from him with the Pope's connivance361



1497. Ambitious nepotism of Alexander VI.363
 Divorce of Lucrezia363
June 15.Murder of the Duke of Gandia364
Its mystery and scandals364
Its effect upon the public366
And on the Pope366
19.His oration, repentance, and relapse366
 Followed by new favours to Cesare Borgia369
Sept. 5Who returns from his Neapolitan embassy a rejected suitor369
1498.Aug.Marriage of Lucrezia to the Duke of Bisceglia369
 Guidobaldo's expedition against the Baglioni of Perugia369
 He is engaged by the Medici to arm for their restoration to Florence370
 Failure of the expedition370
 His illness at Bibbiena370
1499. He adopts his nephew Francesco Maria della Rovere, as heir of the dukedom371
1498.April 7.Death of Charles VIII.372
Succeeded by Louis XII.372
 His views upon Italy372
 State of parties there372
 Ambition of Alexander to secure to Cesare a sovereignty373
Sept. 17.His ecclesiastical orders annulled, and his embassy to Paris with the King's divorce373
28.Letter of the Pope to Louis374
 By whom Cesare is created Duke Valentino375
 He aspires to the crown of Naples375
 His magnificence375
1499. Again rejected by a Neapolitan princess375
 His intrigues as to Louis' divorce375
 A new league against the French proposed376
 The marriage of Duke Valentino376
Oct. 6.The French conquer Lombardy and enter Milan377
June.Guidobaldo's visit to Venice, and condotta by the Signory377


1499. Valentino's schemes upon Romagna379
 Its condition, as detailed by Sismondi379-lxvi-
 Strictures upon his views383
 Valentino marches upon Imola384
 Our last notice of Caterina Riario Sforza384
Dec. 31.He takes that town, and goes to Rome385
1500. Ludovico il Moro carried captive to France385
 The prodigality of the Borgia386
 Supplied by sacrilege and simony387
Oct. 27.Cesare, supported by the French, seizes Pesaro388
1501.April 22.And Faenza; murder of its princes389
 He is made Duke of Romagna389
 Sismondi's eulogy on his administration389
 Imitating Machiavelli and Filosseno390
 But contradicted by Sanuto391
 The true spirit of his government392
 Arrested in his designs upon Bologna and Florence392
Sept. 3.Seizes upon Piombino393
 Louis invades Naples393
 Its partition betwixt France and Spain394
 Abdication of Federigo of Naples; he retires to France, where he died in 1504394
1503. His kingdom passes to Spain394
1501. New crimes and intrigues of the Borgia395
 Lucrezia's fourth marriage to the Prince of Ferraro396
1502.Jan. 18.She visits Urbino on her way home397
 Her reformed life397
1519.June.Letter of condolence on her death397


1502. Guidobaldo's retired life399
1500. Visits Rome for the Jubilee399
1501.Nov. 6.Death of his brother-in-law the Prefect399
1502.April 24.Succeeded by his son Francesco Maria399
 The Duchess of Urbino at Venice400
 New schemes of Valentino400
June 20.He surprises Urbino401
28.The Duke narrates his flight to Mantua401
Further details407
 He finds refuge in Venice409
 Improbable rumour regarding him409
June 21.Cesare enters Urbino410
 And seizes Camerino411
1502. His brutal character411
 He goes to Milan, and justifies himself with Louis XII412
 His lust of further sway412
Sept.Diet at La Magione of the menaced princes412-lxvii-
1502. Character of Liverotto da Fermo412
Oct. 5.S. Leo lost to Valentino and retaken413
8.Letter from him (note)414
A general rising throughout Urbino414
Cruelly checked by Don Michelotto415
But supported by the confederates of Magione415
Valentino retrieves himself, and recruits his forces415
18.Guidobaldo returns and is welcomed416
28.Valentino wins back the confederates418
Dec. 8.Finding resistance vain, the Duke retires in broken health419
1503.Jan. 27.His despatch to the Doge of Venice422
31.And narrative of his escape to that city423


  Authors in the family of Montefeltro427
  Specimens of their compositions428
  Wardrobe inventory of Sister Serafina433
  Poetry of Ottaviano Ubaldini436
  Concessions of Duke Federigo to the citizens on his election in 1444438
  Devices and mottoes of the Dukes of Urbino443
  Illuminated MSS. in the Urbino Library446
  The MS. Hebrew Bible446
  The MS. Latin Bible447
  The MS. Dante448
  The MS. Lives of the Dukes of Urbino449
  Duke Federigo made a Knight of the Garter450
  His letters to Edward IV. and the English courtiers450
  Anstis' account of it456
  Sanzi's account of it457
  Porcellio's account of it459
  Army of Charles VIII. in 1493460
  Battle of the Taro in 1495463
  Duke Valentino's arrival at the French court in 1498468
  Ludovico il Moro's entry into Lyons in 1500470
  Marcello Filosseno's sonnet on Italy472
  Lucrezia d'Este's marriage festivities at Ferrara, 1502473

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





Topography of the Duchy of Urbino—Origin of the Italian communities—Their civil institutions and military system—Their principle of liberty—Political divisions of Romagna; opposed to modern speculations regarding centralization.

THE country which composed the Duchy of Urbino, and which nearly corresponds with the modern Legation of Urbino and Pesaro, is situated upon the eastern fall of Central Italy, between the 43rd and 44th parallels of north latitude. It stretches along the Adriatic, and extends about forty miles in length, and as many in breadth. From the Apennine ridge to the coast, it includes modifications of surface, climate, and soil, suited to a variety of natural productions, and admirably calculated for the development of the human frame. On the summit grew those magnificent pines which gave to the district of Massa the epithet of Trabaria, from the beams which were carried thence for the palaces of Rome, and which are noticed by Dante as

"The living rafters on the back
Of Italy."

Below these stretched forests of chestnut and oak, succeeded by hardy orchard trees, and in the lower grounds by the olive and vine, to which its ever broken and undulating surface is peculiarly favourable. Through-4- numberless ravines are conveyed copious streams, supplying abundant water-power for grinding rich harvests, grown in the alluvial valleys, and in the plains which open upon the sea. From its shores are drawn ample supplies of fish. Its mountains and manors abounded in game, so long as that was protected by resident princes. In its rugged Apennines, which around Cagli tower to the height of 5000 feet, no valuable minerals have been discovered; nor do its mountain torrents admit of navigation, but with two coast-harbours this was scarcely felt as a privation.

For the topography of the duchy our chief authority is Cimarelli, who wrote about two centuries ago, and who begins it about forty years after the flood! It was an absurd whim of Italian mediæval authors, which has prevailed almost till the present day, to wander among the traditional or imaginary cycles of remote ages, extolling the antiquity of their theme at a sacrifice of truth and credibility. Into such extravagances we shall not be tempted. It is enough to say that this district formed part of ancient Umbria, and is in some degree identical with that known to Roman history as Gallia Senonia. When the Western Empire crumbled to pieces, it was broken up into many petty communities, some of which adopted for themselves republican institutions, while others fell into the hands of military adventurers, who transmitted their sway to their descendants in hereditary right, founded upon personal enterprise or the consent of their subjects. After the nominal regimen of the occidental empire had been transferred across the Alps, these new communities and counts often sought from its titular emperor a confirmation of their self-constituted rights. This demand, recognising in name a sovereignty already substantially theirs, was willingly accorded as the basis of a transaction flattering to one party, momentous to the other. But the gradually opening ambition of the Church, and the extension of-5- her temporal rule into Romagna and La Marca by the donations of Pepin, Charlemagne, and the Countess Matilda, introduced another competitor for dominion in these provinces. Her claim was made good, in some cases by a voluntary surrender on the part of men whose piety prevailed over their love of power, in others by force of arms; but by most of the mountain chiefs, and by a few of the free towns, loyalty to the emperor's shadowy authority was used as a pretext for resisting a new element which threatened their own sway. The two rival parties which sprang out of these circumstances came to be distinguished as Guelph and Ghibelline, although their watchwords were often adopted by local or temporary factions.

Many circumstances tended to an extensive establishment of political independence among the small states thus formed in Italy during the Middle Ages. Distance and the unsettled state of the Peninsula having reduced to little more than a name the direct imperial sovereignty of

"That imperious bird,
Whose double beak a double prey devours,"[10]

the emperors endeavoured to render it still available to their political importance, through the intervention of military vicegerents. To each of these a certain territory was conveyed, generally with the title of count, which they were understood to govern for behoof of the empire. Practically, however, they were nearly secure against any strict accounting for their stewardship, and, provided they attended the imperial banner in the field with a befitting following, paid with tolerable regularity the annual cense, or contribution exigible under their tenure, and did homage as vassals at the imperial coronations, they were-6- allowed to enjoy or abuse unquestioned what rights of sovereignty they thought fit to assume. Nor was there any effective check upon the marauding spirit of conquest, which in that age formed the natural outlet of personal ambition; and these feudatories were left to fight with their neighbours whenever their swords were not called into requisition by their common over-lord: still more were they allowed to deal undisturbed with the people submitted to their jurisdiction, who were of course presumed to endure and obey.

At a period nearly coeval with the formation of these independent fiefs, and much antecedent to the aggregation of civic communities in other parts of Europe, we find the peninsular towns advancing into importance. Their establishment was favoured by the absence of a perfect feudal organisation,[*11] for men exempt from such fetters associated together more readily than those in transalpine lands. The fertility of the soil, and consequent density of population, admitted of cultivators congregating in homes of their own choice; and the malaria generated in that luxurious climate often rendered isolated dwellings insalubrious.[*12] The peasant-hamlets thus formed were quickly augmented by the influx of all who sought protection from external foes or tyrannical masters. The increase of population brought strength; strength gave security; security attracted wealth and numbers; and these united elements created intelligence and public spirit, the only sure basis of liberty. Their first necessity-7- being self-defence, their dwellings were placed in sites of natural strength, and soon girt by walls. The enemies they most dreaded were the adjoining lords, to whose jurisdiction they nominally belonged, but whose claims they were not unfrequently able to meet, either by formidable resistance, or by a charter of privileges, which the emperors, ever willing to curb their barons, were seldom loath to accord. The independence thus wrung from the counts was cemented by the spirit of civic liberty, while the development of municipal strength and privileges gave to citizens a social and political pre-eminence over the rural population, beyond what they attained in countries where feudalism served to link the agricultural class with the central authority. Among men united for a common object, and thrown upon their own resources, the popular element early developed itself. Such communities finding themselves without a master, a position which, when real freedom was unknown, only exposed them to attacks from stronger neighbours, their instinct of self-preservation, ere long, induced attempts at self-government. Townships consequently multiplied, developed themselves into cities, and became republics.

Thus rose the Italian republics, not as is often superficially supposed, in the mercantile cities alone, but in almost every township of Upper Italy. Their constitutional forms not only varied from each other, but were constantly fluctuating, under a desire for novelty, the contests of rival factions, and the influence of external events. Republics they were, in so far as they owned no hereditary head. They believed themselves self-governed, because their ever-recurring revolutions were their own act, or at least were effected by their own instrumentality. But the democratic element seldom long existed in purity.[*13] After the émeute was over, a self-constituted-8- oligarchy, a rich and designing citizen, or an ambitious prelate, often stepped in, to enjoy that power for which the people had fought, until these, roused by some too undisguised tyranny, or by some new caprice, rushed to the piazza, and threw off their masters, leaving it to chance or intrigue to give them new ones.

Lamartine, the eloquent advocate and partially successful hero of popular rights, has admitted that there can be no progress unless "many interests are injured," and that "such transformations are not operated without great resistance, without an infinity of anguish and private misfortune." This, however, is no place to raise the question, how far the benefit of so much political liberty was balanced by the inadequate guarantee of person and property, inherent in such a state of things, or whether the security of domestic peace would have been too dearly purchased by a partial sacrifice of popular power. Yet few who argue these points will deny that whatever influence the republican constitutions of Italy may have had upon the individual happiness of their own citizens, they sowed the seeds of that intelligence, that freedom of thought, that ardent aspiration for the amelioration of mankind, which have ever since so beneficially acted upon European civilisation.

The liberty of Italian republics has been frequently misapprehended, and will disappoint those who seek in it such safeguards of life and property as freedom in its modern sense is understood to afford. Under no form of civilised government were those guarantees more feeble or ineffective than where tyranny of the wayward and irresponsible many was substituted for domination by one. The philosophic Guizot has even condemned these republics as "utterly irreconcilable with security for life (that first ingredient in social existence) and with progress;" as "incapable of developing freedom or extending the scope of institutions;" as tending to "limit their range-9- and concentrate authority in a few individuals." To these conclusions we must demur, and they appear inconsistent with the just tribute he gracefully pays to the intelligence, wealth, and brilliancy of Italian democracies; to the courage, activity, genius, and general prosperity of their denizens. But the argument and inferences of this French historian are easily reconcilable with a political creed largely prevailing among his countrymen, who find in centralisation the triumph of our age, the panacea for social anomalies. To that end has doubtless tended the progress of Europe during the last four centuries, and more especially the present rapid career of events, whether for ultimate weal or woe must be hereafter seen. Yet whilst we hesitate to paint the Ausonian republics in the utopian colours of Sismondi, we cannot adopt the narrow proportions ascribed to them by his less enthusiastic countryman. They filled the Peninsula with separate aims and paltry interests at a time when union was its sole security, yet they trained men to self-government, the first step towards that constitutional freedom without which nationality itself is a questionable boon.

The growth of communities opposed by every interest to the domination of the imperial counts was viewed by these with natural jealousy. But in many instances their alarm proved groundless, as eventually some of them came to swell the very power which they were originally established to limit. Those towns which, from the fault of their site or other incidental circumstances, did not increase in population and wealth, found themselves defenceless in a land where might made right. They therefore often passed, after a more or less feeble resistance, under the sway of some powerful feudatory, or, by voluntary surrender of their unsubstantial independence, sought from his strong arm protection against the grasp of more dreaded neighbours, or redress from the ravages of rival factions which lacerated their internal repose. The title-10- usually assumed with the authority thus acquired was that of Signore, which in the following pages is generally rendered by Lord or Seigneur, there being no term in our idiom adapted to express exactly a jurisdiction at no time known to our constitution, but resembling the "tyranny" of the old Greek commonwealths. The same word is used to designate those citizens or military adventurers who, by force or popular consent, acquired a temporary or enduring mastery in the free towns of the Peninsula. Widely different in its exercise as in its origin from feudal jurisdiction, the power which had thus been more or less derived from the people was for the most part temperately wielded. The territorial baron dwelt among his citizen subjects, conforming to their usages and encouraging their progressive civilisation. His authority was originally personal, but in many instances it was skilfully used as a foundation for family claims, which talent or influence enabled a series of persons of the same race to make good. But, as in Celtic chieftainship, rules of hereditary succession were less attended to than individual fitness for the change. Younger branches often excluded the elder ones, and in some cases, such as the Malatesta,

"The bastard slips of old Romagna's line,"

illegitimacy seems to have been practically a recommendation.[*14] To those at all conversant with Italian history, it may be superfluous to add that, while some of these petty sovereigns

"Did fret and strut their hour upon the stage,
And then were heard no more,"

others, more able or more fortunate, founded dynasties to which, as promoters of commerce, literature, and the fine-11- arts, modern civilisation is largely indebted, and from whom are descended several reigning families of Europe.

No circumstance more generally affected all governments in Italy, or is of more importance to a comprehension of their history, than the contests of the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Upon this wide and complicated topic it is unnecessary now to enter, further than to state, as a general rule, that the feudatories adhered to the emperor, whilst the self-governed communities were more partial to the Guelphic or papal faction. This was natural, as the Ghibelline or imperial party was essentially opposed to democratic tendencies, while the Church had, from various causes, become almost identified with popular principles. But the distinction was often inapplicable; for these words underwent the usual fate of party epithets, changing and counterchanging their signification with time and place, until the original meaning was lost, though their fatal influence on human passions remained unmodified. For alas! in all ages,

"Some watchword for the fight
Must vindicate the wrong, and warp the right;
Religion, freedom, vengeance, what you will,
A word's enough to rouse mankind to kill."

Thus, free cities which, like Florence, were regarded as strongholds of the Guelphs, were occasionally by a sudden revolution thrown into the hands of the opposite faction; even the Ghibelline nobles were sometimes induced, by ambition or pique, to make their peace with the Church; whilst more unprincipled holders of power sought to extend it by alternately selling their services to either party, and in turn betraying both. It also happened that counts of the empire, on obtaining the seigneury of towns, found these so much the most valuable portion of their dignities, that they were glad to strengthen their title to them by accepting papal investitures, instead of holding-12- them by the sword, or by popular will. The pontiffs readily promoted a device, which converted into ostensible supremacy the vague and undefined claims they asserted to temporal domination, whether arising out of Countess Matilda's donation, or from other disputed titles; and they hesitated not to include even imperial countships in their charters. They thus transferred to the Holy See feudal presentations of money and military service which were legitimately due to the emperors, whose waning influence in Italy rendered such usurpations little hazardous; whilst the vassals, suiting themselves to the change of times, were content to hold their sovereignty as vicars of the Church, instead of as counts of the empire. Little did they deem that the rising sun, which they were thus prompt to worship, would eventually consume them, root and branch!

Yet the tenures and investitures of these seigneuries constituted but a pseudo-feudalism, resting upon a basis entirely different from that of the barons of northern nations. Among the latter, land, as the only known element of political power, was monopolised by the sovereign, who doled it out, under such conditions as he deemed fit, to those whose good swords were best able to defend it and the donor. The principle thus diffused from the centre radiated through the mass. The nobles parcelled out their great estates in various portions among friends and dependents, military service being the consideration chiefly exacted, in times when a circulating medium was scanty, and the pecuniary wants much restricted. This system established two main results. The hardy and patriotic soldiery who peopled the rural territory were the nerve of the nation, whilst the landless population, being destitute of individual importance, gradually drew together for mutual support, and settled in communities under the protection of some powerful lord or influential monastery. But in the Ausonian peninsula-13- natural causes induced gregarious habits and social influences, whereby the peaceful pursuits of trade and money-making were promoted. An efficient soldiery was, however, rendered requisite for the small states by the very circumstances which most contributed to their general prosperity,—their numbers and near neighbourhood, the competition of commercial communities, the struggles of political or family factions. Yet in proportion to the development of that prosperity, and the increase of wealth and refinement, the reluctance of substantial and sedentary citizens became more decided to the inconveniences and hardships of the field. For them the art of war was scarcely less a calamity than its miseries; the more they had to lose, the less willing or able were they to defend it. There are few evils in life which money may not remedy or alleviate, and when it was found that substitutes could be hired to relieve them from military service, the problem was satisfactorily solved. Fighting became a separate profession, and its duties no longer distracted those who had other occupations. Thus arose the condottiere system, by which any bold baron or experienced captain, having formed round his banner a corps of tried and daring spirits, leased their services and his own for a stipulated term and price. Their whole arrangements being avowedly mercenary, they had no patriotism, no preference for standards or watchwords. The highest offer secured them, and when their engagement expired, or their pay fell into arrear, they were free to pass over to the enemy, or seek any other master. But besides their fixed stipend, they had perquisites from the hazards of war: the ransom of rich prisoners accrued to the leaders, while the soldiery were glutted by the occasional booty of a sacked city.

The changes occasioned by this system influenced Italy in its military, political, and social relations. Formerly, a truce disarmed the combatants, and sent them to forget-14- their discipline in their domestic duties. Now, one campaign followed another, teaching the same free companies new evolutions and more perfect lessons in martial science; or if a piping time of general peace ever arrived, their leaders scrupled not to keep them in practice by a private adventure of pillage against some feeble victim, until they should be required for the fresh contests which a few months were sure to develop. Their armour, accoutrement, and drill thus became more complicated; men-at-arms and lances were considered the only effective troops. But their efficiency was counteracted by another result of stipendiary warfare. Exempt from enthusiasm in any cause, their tactics became a money question. To close a campaign by a series of brilliant successes was to kill the goose that gave them the golden eggs: to carry havoc into the adverse ranks was damaging to those who might be their next paymasters or comrades. Sanguinary conflicts brought them danger without advantage, whilst the capture of an opponent or a camp ensured for them a rich prize. War was, in fact, a game which they were paid to play, with no interest in the stakes beyond their individual opportunities of plunder. Equally indifferent to past victories or future fame, they cared little for beating the enemy, could they but reach his baggage-waggons, or temporise until he could buy them off. Battles, thus deprived of their dangers and stirring incidents, became great prize-fights, in which the victors deserved no sympathy, and the conquered required no commiseration. Gain was substituted for glory, languor for gallantry, calculation for courage. Patriotism slumbered; honesty of purpose and energy of action fell into disuse; the parties in the match, careless of victory, manœuvred only for stalemate. Hence the political results of Italian campaigns were inconsiderable, compared with the forces in the field, the time consumed, and the resources expended. Impoverished states were generally left without defenders-15- and even wealthy belligerents were liable to a sudden and immediate desertion by their hireling bands. Still more fatal were the moral effects upon the people. The feudal system rendered every occupier of the soil a soldier, ready to stand by his king and country; and it transmitted to more peaceful times "a bold peasantry, their country's pride" and best defenders. But it was otherwise with the brave spirits of the Ausonian commonwealths; they were bound to the banner of some privileged bandit, who served the best bidder, whilst the mass of the community became indifferent to a native land for which they were never called upon to hazard life or limb. The stipendiaries fought for or against freedom, faith, country, and comrades; the citizens endured their outrage or purchased their mercy. In the end, the military were brutalised, whilst the civilians became enervated. The former were made venal, the latter cowardly. The master-mind of Machiavelli, after the French invasions of 1492-9, saw these mischiefs, and would have remedied them by his plan for a civic militia; but it was too late, and the degeneracy engrafted upon the national character of Italy by the condottiere system still cankers it to the core.

Although the states which grew up under these varying circumstances are universally known as the Italian Republics, this phrase is scarcely correct in our idiom. The leading peculiarity of mediæval Italy was the separate sovereignty of its petty principalities, and towns of minor rank, in which democratic constitutions were but incidental and transient distinctions, progressively disappearing as the dark ages were succeeded by a cycle of golden radiance. The Italian Republics might, therefore, be more aptly named the Italian Communes or Commonwealths. This misnomer has also given rise to somewhat confused views regarding the amount of liberty enjoyed in these states, especially since their history has become known to-16- us from the pen of one whose democratic prepossessions, though clothed in eloquence, are so tempered by benevolent philosophy as those of Sismondi.

Liberty is a word of vague signification, both as to quality and degree. In a political sense, it has at least three meanings: personal freedom, self-government, national independence. Let us test the application of each of these qualities to the Italian commonwealths. Neither in them nor in any contemporary state, was freedom of person known in name or in fact. Individuals had no guarantee against oppression by their rulers, nor security from their powerful neighbours; no great charter constituted for them a claim of right to personal protection. In this respect there was little difference between the subjects of a petty autocrat and those of a democratic faction,—between the tyranny of one or of many: but in Venice, that most prosperous and permanent of all the commonwealths, which Roscoe, by a happy antithesis, has described as a "republic of nobles with a populace of slaves," and which especially arrogated the republic as its title, individual safety was at the lowest grade.

In most of the communities, self-government, or the sovereignty of the people, had scarcely a reality as regarded the masses. Under the seigneurs, when the hereditary principle was weak, it was oftener supplemented or infringed by the sword than by the popular will. In the few commonwealths which, during the fifteenth century, preserved their democratic institutions, such as Florence and Siena, the guilds and companies constituted indeed a quasi-representative system; but these had generally fallen into the hands of privileged classes, and even the shadow of power which clung to them was constantly torn away by some ambitious burgher, or misused for the extermination of a rival faction. Indeed, the most liberal of their constitutions corresponded in the main to our own municipal machinery, limiting the privileges of self-government to-17- certain classes in the cities, and entirely excluding from them the rural population. The value at which these privileges were held may be estimated by the indifference of immediately adjacent despotic states, whether languishing under the savage tyranny of a Malatesta,[*15] or enjoying the beneficent sway of a Montefeltro. Even when, outraged beyond endurance, they rose against their oppressors, it was much more frequently to set up a new autocrat, than to seize for themselves power which the example of their democratic neighbours appears to have invested with no charm. We may therefore fairly conclude that the self-governed citizens of Ancona, Assisi, and San Marino, enjoyed no envied advantages over those of the surrounding principalities, which unquestionably outshone them in historical and literary illustration.

Since, then, the peculiar quality which infused extraordinary mental vigour into the Italian commonwealths, and imparted to them a social influence beyond their real importance, consisted neither in personal security nor in self-sovereignty, it must have chiefly depended upon the only remaining description of freedom, their nationality. By this phrase we mean not that mere independence of foreign and barbarian sway, which it was long the papal policy to vindicate by oceans of blood and treasure, but the maintenance in each community of a separate and supreme political status, frequently co-existent with municipal franchises and local administration, but always irresponsible to neighbours or to nominal over-lords, whether emperor or pope. The elevation of sentiment which such a position infused, both into communities and individuals, forms the noblest feature in Italian mediæval history. The honours, the privileges, and the responsibilities of citizenship were thus maintained in more immediate contact with-18- those of the commonwealth, whereof the humblest might boast himself a participator. Besides this, there ensued many advantages of a more material description. By giving each small state its own capital, the wealth and patronage belonging to a seat of government, and in most instances to a court, were secured for it. The residence of its sovereign and officials retained in home circulation not only the revenues of the principality, but the income drawn by him from foreign fiefs and from military adventures. It kept up a permanent aristocracy of talent and genius as well as of rank and wealth, such as it was the pride of most of these courts to encourage and protect. The practical operation of these causes may be illustrated from the condition of Romagna and La Marca during the fifteenth century. About one half of the present papal territory there was then divided among the following independent states:—

Ferrara,held as aMarquisateby thed'Este.
Imola"""Alidosii and Sforza.
Forlì"""Ordelaffi and Riarii.
Pesaro"""Malatesta and Sforza.
S. Angelo, &c."Seigneury"Brancaleoni.
Città di Castello"""Vitelli.
Spoleto"Dukedom, not hereditary.
Camerino"Seigneuryby theVarana.
Sinigaglia"Seigneuryby thedella Rovere.


It may seem strange that a territorial arrangement which, unless cemented by a confederacy, is condemned by the publicist as fatal to national strength, should have formerly ensured to Italy, as it had done to ancient Greece, no ordinary measure of those benefits which national independence is supposed to secure. But it is still more remarkable that the nationality prescribed by political empiricists nowadays as a remedy for all her woes should be directly opposed to the system under which she became the harbinger of European improvement and civilisation. This subject, if followed out, would lead to disquisitions, for which these pages are no place. Enough to observe, that the centralisation which united these twenty-two commonwealths under the papal sway, is still, after two centuries, their standing grievance. A spirit of discontent now broods over that district, although government is mildly administered, and taxation is moderate for a land so productive. But twenty-two capitals have been absorbed, and consequently humbled and empoverished. Hinc illæ lacrymæ! Yet theorists, sweeping away ancient landmarks, and overstepping natural boundaries, would begin their speculative ameliorations of the Ausonian peninsula by provincialising nine of her ten remaining capitals; they would diffuse desolation, propagate discontent, and call them nationality. The projects of union and strength that tinge such day-dreams are met by a perhaps insurmountable barrier, in the abundant local jealousies which have survived the independence of multitudinous petty states, and which, as in Spain, often amusingly startle strangers in that country.[16] When an Italian talks with ardour of his patria, or devotes his energies to illustrate its history or its heroes, he means not Dante's land,

"Circled by sea and Alps, parted by Apennine,"


but the village which gave him birth, or, at most, the province in which he dwells. Such is the boasted and burning patriotism of Young Italy, however her advocates may gloss over the fact.

These are, however, matters belonging rather to speculation than to history, and from which it is time to return. That we have not unreasonably questioned the tendency of the old Italian democracies to promote individual felicity, and the safety of personal rights, may be presumed from the dictum of one whose prepossessions are all in their favour. The views stated in the following passage in the main bear out those observations we have hazarded, and illustrate the tendency of republicanism, in its sternest forms, to pass under oligarchy or despotism.

"Our ancient republicans loved their institutions, not so much in proportion to the amount of happiness and security which they afforded to the mass, as to the share that each individual was allowed to take in the sovereignty of the state. Liberty was for them rather an essential element of life than a source of enjoyment. Public spirit was the mainspring which determined all private exertion. Freedom they understood to be the identification of every citizen with the state. Hence patriotism gradually prevailed over liberty. Every one was vitally interested in the advancement of his country's greatness and power, endangered his life and property, sacrificed his domestic comforts, and even submitted to vexatious and arbitrary laws, whenever the safety of the republic seemed to require it. In their eagerness to assert the supremacy of their native state, they acceded to the concentration of power into one or a few hands, and gave rise to the establishment of oligarchy and despotism. But those patricians and tyrants still constituted the state, and although the sovereignty with which they had been provisionally invested became, in their hands, oppressive and perma-21-nent, yet those national governments were looked upon with devotion and pride, as the emanation of popular will and the depositaries of popular power."[17]



Origin of the Counts of Montefeltro, and of their sovereignty in Urbino and the surrounding country—Their early genealogy—Guido, Count of Urbino—Antonio, Count of Urbino.

THE first princely dynasty of Urbino affords examples of most of the phases of mediæval jurisdiction on which we have briefly touched in our introductory remarks.

From the mists of the dark ages which brooded over the mountains of Central Italy, there emerged a race who gradually spread their paltry highland holding over a broad and fair duchy. In the territories earned by their good swords, and their faithful services to the Church, it was their pride to foster the lessons of peace, until their state became the cradle of science, of letters, and of art. The Counts of Montefeltro, a fief long held by imperial grant, gradually established the seigneury over the neighbouring town of Urbino, which thenceforth gave them their title, and in the thirteenth century they received investiture of it from the popes. Invited in 1371 by the people of Cagli to supplant the usurping Ceccardi, and in 1384, by those of Gubbio,[*18] to expel the tyrannical race of-23- the Gabrielli, they were soon recognised as Church-vassals in both. Casteldurante, partially conquered from the Brancaleoni by Count Guidantonio, was erected into a countship in his person by Martin V. in 1433; and his son Federigo obtained by marriage the remaining fiefs of that family, including S. Angelo in Vado, Mercatello, and Massa Trabaria. Fossombrone was bought by the same Federigo in 1445, from Malatesta of Pesaro. Mondaino, Tavoleta, Sassocorbaro, La Pergola, S. Leo, Sant'Agata, and other townships, were wrested at intervals by the Counts of Urbino from their hereditary foes the Malatesta. The ducal house della Rovere owed to papal nepotism the rich endowments of Sinigaglia and Mondavio in 1474, and those of Pesaro, Gradara, and Novilara in 1513.




The state which had thus been by degrees extended over much of Romagna and La Marca constituted the Duchy of Urbino, and received no further increment of territory. It contained seven episcopal cities, a number of smaller towns, and some three or four hundred "castles," by which must be understood fortified villages, for in that land of interminable contests, every hamlet became a stronghold. Penna da Billi was the original capital of Montefeltro. S. Leo, in the same wild and rugged district, was by nature one of the most impregnable fortresses in Italy; yet we shall have to detail its capture by surprise or treachery on three several occasions. Fano, with its-24- small circumjacent territory, though nearly in the middle of the duchy, continued to hold directly of the Church.

The early lords of Montefeltro were raised to the rank of counts of that fief by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa about 1160, a favour which seems to have long borne fruits in their Ghibelline principles. Their first investiture as Church-vassals was from Honorius III., in 1216, but it was not till towards the close of that century, that we find them designated Counts of Urbino, a title which they used in common with Montefeltro, until the dukedom of Urbino was conferred upon Federigo in 1474.[19] On the death of his son, Duke Guidobaldo, in 1508, the ecclesiastical investitures fell by failure of heirs male; but the dynasty was revived in the person of Francesco Maria della Rovere, who happened to be nephew of Pope Julius II. as well as of the Duke, and who thus founded the second ducal line. With his grandson, Duke Francesco Maria II., the male investiture again ended in 1631; and the days of gross nepotism being past, Urban VIII., who then filled the chair of St. Peter, instead of presenting the lapsed sovereignty to his nephew Cardinal Barberini, incorporated it with the states of the Church, and discharged the claims of consanguinity in modified measure by appointing him the first legate of Urbino and Pesaro.

It would be quite foreign to the object of this work were we to pause on a preliminary research into the remote antiquities of the house of Montefeltro. Like many other distinguished Italian genealogical stems, it had attained vigour ere modern history dawned. Nor shall we follow tradition in its mazy attempts to trace the hardy plant from the feeble seedling, which, whether of indigenous growth, or transalpine origin, took root upon the Apennine cliffs of Carpegna. In the twelfth century-25- it put forth three leading branches, distinguished as those of Carpegna, Pietra Robbia, and Monte Copiolo. Whilst the last of these gradually acquired an important sovereignty, and earned undying distinction in Italian history, the eldest, less favoured by energy, talent, or opportunity, forcibly recals the unprofitable servant in the parable. The Counts of Carpegna continued to hold their tiny mountain fief, with its sovereign jurisdiction, in such utter insignificance, that their names gained no note during the centuries of turmoil which passed over them. Their eagle nest sent forth no eagle spirits. After the peace of 1815, the Camera apostolica, anxious to abolish privileges no longer consonant to the altered policy of Europe, bribed the Count with 300,000 scudi (65,000l.) to surrender the entire fief, with all its jurisdictions and immunities, and on the following day disposed of the allodial estates for one-fifteenth of that sum.[20]

It seems admitted that Antonio, the first Lord of Monte Copiolo, or his son Montefeltrano, performed some important services[*21] to the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, when he visited Italy for his coronation in 1154, and in return for these obtained, among other investitures, the countship of Montefeltro. From thence arose the distinctions, and the Ghibelline principles, which have preserved not a few names of this race in the picturesque pages of mediæval history; but we shall not attempt from these tattered leaves to disentangle their affiliation, or to distinguish their respective deeds of glory. Their extending influence took the direction usual in these days, and Urbino, the nearest township, tempting the ambition of Buonconte, he had the address to procure a double investiture of its sovereignty, from the Emperor Frederick II.,-26- and again, in 1216, from Pope Honorius III., by virtue whereof he became both count and vicar of that city. But parchments and bulls were then but imperfect title-deeds, and it was by the sword that they in general fell to be completed. The citizens of Urbino had hearts of oak and frames of iron wherewith to maintain their privilege of self-government, nor was it until after a struggle of nearly twenty years that they submitted to the seigneury of Buonconte. The succeeding century and a half found the Counts of Urbino occupied in ever-recurring struggles with the Church, originating from their Ghibelline policy, and occasionally complicated by the republican aspirations of their citizens. Upon these scenes of petty strife we need not dwell; but one of the race was far too striking a personage to be passed over in silence.

The earliest notice we have of Count Guido, the elder, is in 1268, when the youthful Corradino came into Italy to dispute the crown of Naples with Charles of Anjou. At Pisa he was met by the Ghibellines of Romagna and Tuscany: among them was the Count of Urbino, who obtained some laurels in the subsequent brief campaign, although spared from the crushing reverse at Tagliacozzo, having been left to maintain the imperial interests in Rome, with the title of Senator. In after years he acted as captain-general of the Ghibellines with such energy and judgment, that in 1281 all Romagna was subject to his sway, and he established Forlì as the capital of his new conquests. Martin IV. met the crisis by sending thither Giovanni di Appia, called in the old chronicles Gianni di Pa, one of the most esteemed condottieri of France, to sustain his interests as rector of the Church. The siege of Forlì ensued, where Guido had recourse to one of those stratagems which, to borrow the language of Villani, established his reputation as "a sagacious man, more cunning than any Italian of his time, masterly alike-27- in war and in diplomacy." Gianni having carried Faenza by the treachery of Tribaldello,

"Who op'ed Faenza when the people slept,"

he made similar overtures for the betrayal of Forlì, which were accepted by order of the Count. On a stipulated day, in May, 1282, one of the gates was abandoned to the besiegers, the garrison withdrawing by another port as these entered. Delighted with their bloodless conquest, and deceived by the apparent cordiality of the citizens, the advanced guard threw aside their arms, and committing their horses to the charge of the inhabitants, prepared to enjoy the spoil. Meanwhile Guido, whom they supposed in full retreat, fell upon and dispersed their reserve who were posted in the plain; he then formed his infantry in the position which the enemy had occupied, and reentering the town with a division of cavalry, surprised the captors, who, unprepared for resistance, fled to their rendezvous, where they fell an easy prey to the Ghibellines at the moment they looked for support from their friends. The success of this stratagem equalled its dexterity, and long was the fatal day remembered, which

"Piled in bloody heap the host of France."

The Guelphic party were roused to fresh efforts, though rather of gold than of steel: within a year, Forlì and Meldola had been surrendered to Gianni by their inhabitants, and in 1286, Guido, having made his peace with the Pope, was absolved from excommunication.

But this reconciliation was short-lived. Within three years he merited new censures, by accepting from the Pisans the command of their troops against the Guelphs of Florence and Lucca, along with the seigneury of their republic. Whilst he held that authority, the fearful tragedy of Count Ugolino was perpetrated in the Torre della fame, but we may presume him guiltless of its horrors, since neither the naive narrative of Villani, nor-28- the magnificent episode of Dante, alludes to his name, whilst impugning that cold-blooded murder. Meanwhile the people of Urbino had taken advantage of his absence and embarrassments to rally for their freedom round the papal banner. Wearied of these struggles, and fretting under their penal consequences, he once more humbled himself before his ecclesiastical superior, and obtained absolution in May, 1295.[*22] It was probably the cordial reception which his overtures met from Celestine V., that obtained for that pontiff, after his canonisation, a high degree of devotional repute among the people of Urbino. The romance of most men's lives goes by in youth; that of Count Guido was reserved for his declining years. Embued with the devotional enthusiasm which St. Francis evoked from the mountains of Umbria, he deemed the Pontiff's pardon an inadequate expiation of his accumulated rebellions. Casting aside the gauds of sovereignty, sheathing the sword which he had never drawn but to conquer, he assumed the cord and cowl of the new order, and in the holy cells of Assisi, sought that peace which it had been the aim of his previous life to trouble.

This monastic seclusion, upon which he entered about the close of 1296, was, however, ere long, broken in upon by one of the most remarkable pontiffs that has occupied the chair of St. Peter, whom we must briefly introduce to the reader. Boniface VIII., of the ancient Roman house of Gaetani, was elected in the end of 1294, to supply the vacancy occasioned by the abdication of Celestine V., a visionary anchorite, whom six months' experience had convinced that the triple tiara was a load ill-suited to his brows. His resignation was chiefly brought about by the intrigues of Cardinal Gaetani, of whom Celestine is said to have pre-29-dicted that he would attain to the papacy by the arts of a fox, rule it with the fury of a lion, and die the death of a dog. Chosen at an age already much exceeding the ordinary span of human life, Boniface wielded his sovereignty with a boldness of will and an energy of purpose rarely found even in the prime of manhood; and dying at eighty-six, he had in nine years shaken the thrones of many monarchs, by pretensions and intrigues untried by his predecessors. It would be foreign to our purpose to trace his career, and to reconcile the various and contradictory estimates of his character: those who wish to glance at the state of this controversy may consult the pages of two recent periodicals, in which the respective views of ultra Romanist and Protestant writers are ably developed.[23]

But to the point which more especially regards our subject, the feuds between Boniface and the house of Colonna. The validity of his election had been early questioned, and was long disputed, on the ground that the rights of his predecessor, as a legally chosen pope, were indefeasible by abdication. Such doubts, it may be well conceived, the fiery spirit of Boniface could ill brook, and upon a rumour that two cardinals, sons of Giovanni Colonna, had been heard to express them, he at once summoned them to his presence to state their opinion upon that delicate point. This was in 1296, after the Pontiff's fierce character had been amply developed by a reign of two years; and these cardinals instantly withdrew from Rome to the strongholds of their family, from whence they issued an answer, respectfully avowing their misgivings as to the matter in question, and offering to submit them to the decision of a general council. But their flight, and the delay of a few days, had been construed by the haughty Vicar of Christ as acts of con-30-tumacy; and even before their offensive manifesto reached him, he had directed the thunders of the Church against the two Colonna, visiting on their devoted heads the accumulated offences of all their line, without allowing them an opportunity of explanation or defence. The bull of excommunication proceeds, with more than wonted elaboration of abusive epithets, to designate the obnoxious race, as "detested by their dependants, troublesome to their neighbours, enemies to the community, rebels against the Church, turbulent in the city, fractious to their allies, thankless to their benefactors, unwilling to obey, incapable of command, devoid of humility, agitated by passion, fearless of God, regardless of man." A general proscription of their whole family and adherents, and a sequestration of their vast property, was followed up by the siege of Palestrina, their principal fief. Finding his exertions unequal to the reduction of that fortress, Boniface bethought him of the military experience of the old Ghibelline monk of Montefeltro, and demanded of him counsel, silencing his religious scruples by a preliminary absolution for the sin of reverting to worldly schemes. Thus pressed, Count Guido advised recourse to deceitful promises as the surest means of conquest; and "the bard of hell," who is an authority for this passage in his life, hence consigns him to the doom of an impenitent sinner. But let us hear the poet, through the version of Carey:—

"A man of arms at first; I clothed me then
In good Saint Francis' girdle, hoping so
To have made amends. And certainly my hope
Had failed not, but that he whom curses light on,
The high priest, again seduced me into sin;
And how and wherefore listen while I tell.
Long as the spirit moved the bones and pulp
My mother gave me, less my deeds bespake
The nature of the lion than the fox:
All ways of winding subtlety I knew,
-31-And with such art conducted that the sound
Reached the world's limit. Soon as to that part
Of life I found me come, when each behoves
To lower sails and gather in the lines,
That which before had pleased me then I rued,
And to repentance and confession turned;
Wretch that I was, and well it had bested me!
The chief of the new Pharisees meantime,
Waging his warfare near the Lateran,
Not with the Saracens or Jews (his foes
All Christians were, nor against Acre one
Had fought, nor trafficked in the Soldan's land),
He his great charge nor sacred ministry
In himself reverenced, nor in me that cord
Which used to mark with leanness whom it girded.
As in Soracte Constantine besought,
To cure his leprosy, Silvester's aid;
So me to cure the fever of his pride
This man besought. My counsel to that end
He asked, and I was silent, for his words
Seemed drunken: but forthwith he thus resumed:
'From thy heart banish fear; of all offence
I hitherto absolve thee. In return,
Teach me my purpose so to execute,
That Palestrina cumber earth no more.
Heaven, as thou knowest, I have the power to shut
And open, and the keys are therefore twain,
The which my predecessor meanly prized.'
Then yielding to these forceful arguments,
And deeming silence yet more perilous,
I answered, 'Father, since thou washest me
Clear of that guilt wherein I now must fall,—
Large promise with performance scant right sure
Shall make thee triumph in thy lofty seat.'
When I was numbered with the dead, then came
Saint Francis for me; but a cherub dark
He met, who cried, 'Wrong me not! he is mine,
And must below to join the wretched crew,
For the deceitful counsel which he gave:'
E'er since I've watched him, hovering at his hair.
No power can the impenitent absolve,
For to repent and will can ne'er consist,
By contradiction absolute forbid.
-32-Oh misery! how I shook myself when he
Seized me and cried, 'Thou haply thoughtst me not
A disputant in logic so exact!'
To Minos down he bore me, and the judge
Twined eight times round his callous back the tail,
Which, biting with excess of rage, he spake,
'This is a guilty soul that in the fire
Must vanish!' Hence, perdition doomed, I rove,
A prey to rankling sorrow in this garb."
Carey's Inferno, xxvii.

Such is the passage that has given a celebrity to Count Guido, which neither his prowess nor his alleged treachery could have conferred.[*24] Yet there are not wanting doubts as to the fidelity of this picture of his latter days; indeed, the whole charge against him in the affair of the Colonnas has been considered apocryphal by the apologists of Boniface VIII., and is rejected by Franciscan writers. Villani, whilst confirming the fact that the chiefs of that lawless race were cajoled by the Pontiff into a surrender of "their noble fortress" upon terms which were shamefully violated, drops no hint that Guido was a party to the fraud. Nor is there any reason to suppose his Holiness in want of a prompter, such faithlessness being then in usual practice for political ends, and the old chronicler expressly tells us that the conscience of Boniface was very readily stretched for gain to the Church, under cover of the axiom that the end justified the means. Against these authorities the vision can scarcely be deemed of historic weight, especially as such breach of good faith was, probably, in the eyes of Dante, a less heinous offence than his reconciliation with the Guelphs.[25] Indeed the poet in the-33- Convito ranks him with those noble spirits, "who, when approaching the last haven, lowered the sails of their earthly career, and, laying aside worldly pleasures and wishes, devoted themselves to religion in their old age."[*26] Of the merit or efficacy of such sacrifices at the dread tribunal, it belongs not to erring man dogmatically to judge: for our purpose it is more appropriate to notice the following brief of Boniface to the Franciscan superintendent of La Marca, as remarkable evidence of the devotional zeal which actuated the Count in assuming the monastic vows, and which

"When joy of war and pride of chivalry
Languished beneath accumulated years,
Had power to draw him from the world."

"Our beloved son, the noble Count Guido of Montefeltro, has repeatedly conveyed to us personally, and through credible informants, his wish, desire, and intention, after communing with his own heart, to end his days in God's service, under the monastic habit, as a means of effacing his sins against Him, and the mother Church of Rome; and this with the full assent of his wife, who is said to be willing to take upon herself the vows of perpetual chastity. We, therefore, commending in the Lord his devotional aspirations, which seemed disposed in all prudence to admit the spirit of counsel, and in order to the more free fulfilment of his vow,—will that his household be paid out of what movables he possesses, and that he assign to his wife from his real estate as much beyond the amount of her dowry as may give her a hundred pounds in Ravenna currency yearly, during her life, a divorce having been first duly pronounced between them, in the form customary and becoming when a vow of chastity has been undertaken. And we further desire that all such personal effects as may remain, after-34- remunerating his attendants, shall be securely deposited, and lie in the hands of responsible persons in the meantime, until we shall come to further resolutions regarding the real and movable property which he now has. And further, as the advanced age of his consort places her beyond suspicion, it is our will that she have leave to remain in her present position, if she cannot be persuaded to a monastic retirement." After conferring on the Superintendent the authority requisite for carrying these resolutions into effect, the Pope concludes by desiring that it be left to the Count's unbiassed decision, whether he will enter one of the military orders, or adopt the more rigid rule of the friars minor of St. Francis. This letter is dated from Anagni the 23rd of August, 1296.[27] The option thus given him in no way shook his intention of conforming to the ascetic rule of "poverty and Francis:" and although his Countess Costanza did not follow his example by assuming the monastic vows, she passed the eight remaining years of her worldly pilgrimage in the not less strict seclusion of Santa Chiara at Urbino, a convent especially favoured by her posterity, and of such rigid discipline that the nuns went barefoot and wore no linen, rising habitually at midnight, and but once a year permitted to approach the grating in order to see their nearest relatives. Her lord's remaining life was of shorter span, as he died at Assisi on the 27th of September, 1298, and is said to have been interred in the church there. That his courage was not unmingled with cunning seems established rather by some incidents in his life than by the bitter lines of the Ghibelline bard; that his piety was shadowed by superstition is a conclusion suggested by the closing scenes of his life, and still more by his most stirring years having bent to the slavish control of astrological quackery to a degree exceeding even the darkness of his age. His zeal founded the family-35- chapel, which may yet be seen in the lower church at Assisi,—its frescoes cruelly defaced; and the devotion of his family was long after specially directed to the service of St. Francis and Santa Chiara.[*28]

During the next century, the pedigree of the Montefeltri, and their feats of arms against rival seigneurs, such as the Brancaleoni, the Malatesti, and the Ceccardi, are involved in confusion which we need not stay to extricate. Heroes they were, but in fields which the wide glance of history has overlooked: they found no Thucydides to depict their gallant deeds, no Froissart to chronicle their fame. Fighting under Ghibelline colours, their victories were followed by papal vengeance, affording a pretext for new risings of their urban subjects, in one of which Count Federigo and his son were torn to pieces about 1322. But though Guelph was then the ordinary watchword of freedom, and though all who desired self-government were wont to rally round the Church, they often found, like the frogs in the fable, that they had gained a worse master. As a specimen of the papal legates of his day, we may mention Guglielmo Durante,[*29] a predicant friar, who presided over the ecclesiastical territories in Romagna, about the beginning of that-36- century, giving his name to a town in the duchy of Urbino which he rebuilt, and which long afterwards became Urbania. His tomb is in the church of the Minerva at Rome, one of those fine monuments where architecture and sculpture unite to perpetuate the dead, and over which mosaic throws the magic of rich colouring. The inscription, after enumerating his legal and liturgical works, thus celebrates the energetic qualities of this mitred warrior: "Savage as a lion against his foes, he tamed indomitable communities, he put church rebels to the sword, and reduced the vanquished to servitude." No wonder that the citizens of Urbino preferred to such pastors a return under their hereditary lords. Nor was Umbria the only theatre of Feltrian prowess. Among the republics, Pisa was as devotedly Ghibelline, as were these counts among the great feudatories. Intimate political relations were the natural result, and the Pisans were seldom without one of that race as their seigneur to maintain the common cause against their Guelphic rivals of Florence and Lucca.

Antonio Count of Montefeltro and Urbino, eighth or ninth in descent from Antonio first Lord of Monte Copiolo. His family having for some years been expatriated, and their state a prey to intestine broils, the harassed citizens recalled him in 1377 as representative of their ancient chiefs; and from that time we can follow with tolerable certainty the generations and history of the Montefeltri. The imperial party in Italy was now reduced to a mere name, fitted rather for a cry of faction than to be the rallying point of international feud. The authority lost by the emperors in Central Italy had passed to the pontiffs, and Count Antonio, emancipating himself from the spell that had bound his race to a falling cause, gave to his posterity an example of loyalty to his over-lord the Pope. He is mentioned in a chronicle of 1384 as introducing certain reforms in the administration of justice, which before publication were submitted for approval by-37- the municipal council of Urbino, and eight years thereafter he put forth various amended statutes and constitutions. His good sense was rewarded by peace at home and acquisitions abroad. Cagli and Gubbio drove out their domestic tyrants the Ceccardi and the Gabrielli, in order to welcome his sway,[*30] and he conquered Cantiano from the latter after a nine years' struggle. Benedict IX. welcomed him as an obedient son of the Church, and established him by new investitures in these towns, as well as in the former holdings of his family.[*31] His bitter strife with the Malatesti was with difficulty appeased by mediation of that Pontiff and of the Venetians. Allied with Florence, Siena, and Milan,[*32] he gained the fame of a gallant captain, whilst his exertions to govern his people with humanity and justice established his reputation as a mild, generous, and benignant prince. His prudence, high counsel, and lofty spirit are lauded in an old chronicle of Forlì;[*33] and a sonnet, inspired by religion rather than poetry, and ascribed to his pen, will be found in the Appendix I.

The death of Count Antonio was announced to the government of Siena by his son, in terms which, exceeding the formal expression of ceremonious regret,-38- afford a pleasing specimen of official intercourse in early times. The original, in rude Latin, is preserved in the Archivio Diplomatico at Siena.

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

"Mighty and potent Lords, special Fathers; I should gladly communicate news more pleasant both to your magnificences, whose true and unwavering son I am, and to myself; but whatever they may be, they ought to be freely reciprocated where there exists true strength of affection, and intact purity of friendship, in order that such guileless amity may rejoice with a friend in prosperity, and may sustain, support, sympathise with, or even defend him in misfortune. And being made aware by information from others, as well as by personal experience, of the sincere affection and mutual interchange of favours continued between your progenitors and my own, I have decided, with tearful words, bitter sighs, and sad wailings, to inform your magnificences, to whom I faithfully commend myself and state, how, on the 29th of last April, the potent Lord my father, of unfading memory, yielded his noble spirit to the Almighty Creator of all, paying the timely but, alas, unavoidable debt, and separated from the flesh by force of fever, after disposing of his worldly affairs, and receiving the holy eucharist and other sacramental rites of our religion, with a mind distinct to his last hour. Ah me! wretched and afflicted, doomed to such distress! Dearest fathers, the loss of such and so great a parent torments and agitates me; what and how eminent a son have you and your community lost in him. It is indeed beyond the power of nature herself to replace to your magnificences one of greater or even equal affection, or to supply such a father to me who fain would imitate him. For he curtailed my cares, relieved-39- my sighs, appeased my fears, cleared my entanglements. One only consideration soothes and mitigates my mental affliction, and the grief that envenoms my heart, that since fate has bereaved me of such a parent, it may find for me another in you, magnificent fathers, whom I heartily beseech to assume a paternal care of me your child, and of my state, and to counsel me in my affairs as a steady son, who will in no way abandon these recollections, and my paternal associations. Prepared for all compliance with your wishes, your magnificences' son,

"Guido Count of Montefeltro and Urbino.

"Urbino, 9th May, 1404."

Count Antonio died in April, 1404, and by his wife, a daughter of Ugolino Gonzaga, left,

Upon the last of these sisters we must dwell in some detail, for she was conspicuous among the ladies of high birth, whose acquirements gave illustration to her age. By contemporary authors, her talents and endowments are spoken of in most flattering terms, whilst her character is celebrated for piety and justice, benignity and clemency. She corresponded with many of these writers, and employed her pen in theology and poetry. Among other moral treatises, she is said to have written upon human frailty, and on the true faith. In such exercises she found a resource amid the large share of public and domestic calamities which shadowed her lot. Her marriage was celebrated in 1404, when about twenty-one years of age, with Galeazzo Malatesta, heir of the seigneury of Pesaro, a spiritless creature entirely devoid of the martial qualities of his race, and whose incapacity so disgusted his subjects-40- that, after two years, he was driven out. He subsequently sold his birthright by a transaction which we shall describe in our fifth chapter, and, forsaking his wife, consoled himself in old age with another mate. Battista, with her only child, fled from her rebellious subjects to Urbino, and at the court of her brother found a ready welcome. When the Emperor Sigismund arrived there, on returning from his coronation at Rome in 1433, she was selected to pronounce, in his honour, a Latin harangue, which is published, but now possesses little interest. Her poetic vein had been encouraged by her father-in-law, who, anticipating the literary tastes which prevailed among the Italian princes later in this century, gained the surname of Malatesta degli Sonetti, from his success in that class of compositions. Several of the Italian sonnets and canzoni which passed between them are preserved in manuscript, as well as some of her letters in Latin.[35] Specimens of both are printed in the Appendix No. I., including a letter of Battista written for an interesting purpose. Cleofe, her husband's youngest sister, had married Teodoro, eldest son of an emperor of Constantinople, and despot of the Morea, but this splendid alliance was embittered by persecutions on account of her faith, which at length induced her thus to state the case to Martin V. The result of this appeal does not appear, but the subject of it is believed to have outlived his Holiness about two years.[36]

The ill-starred and virtually widowed lady of Pesaro eventually took the veil, by the name of Sister Gerolima, in the Franciscan convent of Santa Lucia at Foligno,-41- where she died in 1450. Another monastery of the rigorous order of Sta. Chiara, dedicated by her at Pesaro to the Corpus Domini, had in 1443 received her daughter Elisabetta, whose lot was scarcely less unfortunate. Her husband, Pietro Gentile Lord of Camerino, fell a victim in 1433 to fraternal jealousy, leaving an only child Costanza, whom we shall subsequently notice as first wife of Alessandro Sforza, the supplanter of her grandfather in the seigneury of Pesaro, and as mother of Battista Countess of Urbino.



Guidantonio Count of Urbino—The Ubaldini—Oddantonio Count of Urbino—Is made Duke—His dissolute habits and speedy assassination.

COUNT GUIDANTONIO found himself, on his succession, hampered by debts incurred in purchasing another ample investiture in vicariate from Boniface IX., which cost him 12,000 golden florins. But prudence quickly retrieved these embarrassments, and not only enabled him to add materially to his territories and influence, but to raise his house to unprecedented distinction. In 1408, the mountain republic of Assisi sought protection from his sway; and this was approved by Gregory XII., to whom he adhered in opposition to the antipope Benedict XIII.[*37] The disgraceful schisms which at this time agitated Europe, and convulsed the Church, had their influence upon the Count of Urbino, who refused to desert Gregory when he and his rival Benedict were simultaneously deposed by the general council of Pisa, as a means of restoring union and peace to-43- Christendom. Ladislaus of Naples, adopting the same policy, appointed the Count his grand constable, and leader of the war he was carrying on against John XXII., the de facto pope, by whom he was consequently excommunicated. Guidantonio, however, made his peace with the Church in 1413, and was created its gonfaloniere, and vice-general of Romagna; thereafter he was for some time occupied against Braccio di Montone, who carried fire and sword into his territories, on his failing to make good part of the ransom of Carlo Malatesta, for which he had become security.[*38] This Braccio was a fair specimen of Italian captains of adventure. His ancestors were among the magnates of Perugia, which, under the guidance of an oligarchy, had stretched its sway over much of Umbria, extending almost from sea to sea. "But man's estate being ever unstable, when its citizens, indolent by inclination, had thus greatly augmented their dominion and wealth, their pride swelled with their means. They who had vanquished their neighbours, waxing savage in their very vitals, set to conquer each other; hence there arose fierce discords and cruel feuds. Verily the city of Perugia was in those days most liable to changes, for it was alternately governed by the nobles, or seized by the mob; in either case supremacy having been obtained by arms and violence, rather than by equity and moderation, the victors cruelly massacred or exiled their opponents." This quaint description, borrowed from Campano, the biographer of Braccio, was then applicable to almost every city and township of the Peninsula. It was his hero's fate to be expatriated in early life by some such convulsion,-44- and nothing was left him but his good sword, to cut his way therewith as a condottiere, until he established a despotic authority in his birthplace, and won a high place in the martial annals of Italy. Even after his death at the Lake of Celano, his name was during half a century cherished by his followers as the prestige of victory, and we shall often find the Braccian bands, under Nicolò Piccinino, opposed to those of his constant rivals the Sforza.



After the picture by Paolo Uccello in the National Gallery. Portraits of Carlo Malatesta and his nephew Galeotto “il Beato”

Cardinal Ottone Colonna, formerly bishop of Urbino, having been raised to the papacy in 1417, by the title of Martin V., Guidantonio lost no time in rendering him homage by an envoy, whom he next year followed in person, meeting the Pontiff at Mantua. His well-timed adhesion was repaid by a life-grant of the dukedom of Spoleto, after which he returned to defend his frontiers from his turbulent neighbour of Montone. On his arrival in Italy in 1419, Martin found his states greatly disorganised, and the temporal sway of the papacy deeply infringed by many seigneurs and communities, who had made themselves independent during the secession to Avignon, and in the prolonged schisms which had succeeded the return of Urban VI. to Rome. None of these had so much reason to dread the reckoning likely to follow the re-establishment of Christ's vicars in their ancient capital as the tyrant of Perugia, who was now at the height of his power. Unable to frustrate the impediments which Braccio threw in the way of his progress southward, the Pontiff paused at Florence, which he entered on the 26th of February; but even there he found a populace in the interest of his rebellious feudatory, and ever ready to outrage him with such taunts as "Martin Pope, not worth a plack."[39] Aware of the hazard of delay, and of the importance of gaining over a spirit so powerful for good or evil, Martin invited Montone to an interview, and found-45- means to conciliate him by a compromise, recognising him as vicar of Perugia, Assisi, Todi, and Jesi, on his surrendering Orvieto, Terni, Narni, and Orte.[*40] He at the same time engaged his military services to reduce Bologna, then standing out for the deposed Pope John XXIII., who, on the fall of that his last stronghold, repaired to Florence to make submission to the reigning Pontiff, and died there in the end of that year.[*41] Martin's difficulties being thus overcome, he was enabled during the autumn to proceed in peace to Rome, and there to re-establish the metropolis of Christendom.

The Pope had availed himself of Braccio's visit to Florence to call thither the Count of Urbino, in order to effect a reconciliation between these rivals. Guidantonio, on this occasion, had from the magistracy of that city, as well as from his own over-lord, a highly honourable welcome, and in March, 1420, received, at the hands of his Holiness, the Golden Rose, a compliment usually conferred upon royalty.[*42] Three years later, he found himself widowed by the death of Rengarda, daughter of Galeotto Malatesta, Lord of Rimini, whom he had married in 1397, and who left him childless. After an interval, he strengthened his intimate relations with the Pontiff, by marrying Caterina, daughter of his brother Lorenzo Colonna, an alliance which secured him a series of further favours, in addition to a dowry of 5200 florins of gold. The nuptials were celebrated at Rome with great rejoicings, in the spring of 1424.[*43]

The house of Urbino had hereditary feuds of long standing with the Brancaleoni, a race of Guelphic principles, whose fiefs lay along the Apennines from Gubbio-46- to Montefeltro, including all Massa Trabaria and the upper valley of the Metauro. Their recurring contests ended in a victory, or were compromised by a marriage, from which the former were usually the gainers. Upon pretences which it is needless amid conflicting statements to investigate, and assured of the Pontiff's support, Guidantonio had seized upon Castle Durante and other fortresses in 1424, and on the death of Bartolomeo Brancaleoni, leaving only a daughter,[*44] he arranged her marriage with his natural son Federico, whose fortunes we shall hereafter have to follow. The large territory thus absolutely or virtually placed under the Count continued with his posterity so long as the independence of Urbino was preserved.

To the impression which Guidantonio had made on his visit to Florence some ten years before he probably owed the baton of captain-general, sent him in the autumn of 1430 by that republic in their campaign against Lucca. But there he reaped no laurels. In an engagement fought in the face of his protestations, he suffered from Nicolò Piccinino a total discomfiture, and, throwing up the command in disgust, he returned home early next year. About the same time his prosperity received a further check in the demise of his steady friend the Pontiff, who lived to see the schism that had perplexed the Church during half a century finally healed by the death of all his competitors for the chair of St. Peter. The triple tiara passed to the brows of Eugene IV., who visited Martin's undue partiality for his own family the Colonna, by escheats which they flew to arms to avenge. The Lord of Urbino, naturally leaning to the party of his wife's relations, lost the Pontiff's favour; but he gained a well-wisher in the Emperor Sigismund, who, while returning to Germany from his coronation at Rome, was magnificently entertained at that court, and conferred the honour of-47- knighthood upon his host and the young Count Oddantonio.

The death of Countess Caterina, on the 9th of October, 1438, seems to have in a great degree broken the fine spirit of her husband, who immediately retired to pass ten days in devotional exercises at Loretto, and thenceforward devolved all his military cares upon his natural son Federigo. His few remaining years were given to pious works, to which the cathedral of Urbino and the church of San Donato, both founded in 1439, bear witness; and he is said to have then habitually worn, under his ordinary dress, the habit of St. Francis, in which he was interred. His death took place on the 20th of February, 1442,[*45] and he was buried in San Donato, where his cowled effigy is still seen on the pavement, his spurs of knighthood hanging from his sheathed sword-hilt, with a barbarous inscription, which will be found in the Appendix to our third volume.

On the demise of this prince, who has been sometimes confused with Count Guido the elder, "the city of Urbino was," in the simple words of an old chronicle, "left widowed and desolate." Of his character and merits, whatever has reached us is favourable. The doggerel verses of his epitaph celebrate his clemency and justice; his religion was manifested by the tenor of his latter years, the general respect of his contemporaries honoured him through life, and he left behind him an extended frontier and a condensed state. His surviving children were—


Count Guidantonio also left two natural children:


Count Oddantonio from infancy gave promise of a character combining the virtues of his immediate predecessors with talents rare in any rank. But prematurely

"Lord of himself, that heritage of woe,"


the good seed was choked by tares springing from the too fertile soil; and a prince on whom nature and fortune, imperial and papal favour, concentrated their bounties, perished miserably and disgracefully ere he had attained to manhood. His birth occurred in 1424 or 1426,[*48] his youth being distinguished by remarkable progress in liberal studies, and by rapidly mastering those accomplishments befitting the spurs of knighthood, with which he had been decorated in childhood by the Emperor Sigismund. Soon after his father's death, he repaired to Siena, to obtain from Eugene IV. a confirmation of his hereditary states, and to supplicate a renewed investiture of the dukedom of Spoleto. But the pontifical jurisdiction over the long-abandoned Italian provinces was as yet imperfectly consolidated, and Braccio di Montone had but recently shown to what peril it might be exposed by the restlessness of an overgrown feudatory. Profiting by this experience, his Holiness evaded compliance with Oddantonio's second request, but softened the refusal by conferring upon him the title of Duke, along with his patrimonial territories.


We have from the pen of Pius II. a narrative of this ceremonial, which took place on the 26th of April, 1443. "He who was to be created duke by the Pope repaired to his residence, suitably dressed, and arrayed in a mantle of gold, open on the right side from the shoulder to the ground. Thence he followed the Pontiff, holding the lower extremity of his cope, as he descended to the [cathedral] church to hear mass, and when his Holiness took his seat, he placed himself on the first step at his feet. Next he was made a knight of St. Peter, by girding him with a sword (which after three lunges in the air he resheathed) and by receiving three strokes with it on the shoulders, whilst his spurs were buckled on. The Duke-elect then kneeling, swore and promised reverence and obedience in time to come to the holy Church and to the Pope, serving him in all its behests, and defending his jurisdiction, rights, and territories, and bound himself to pay yearly on St. Peter's day, for his new dignity, a white hackney suitably accoutred. The Pontiff then placed the ducal cap on his head, and the sceptre in his hand, and the new Duke, having therewith kissed his Holiness's foot, was led by the two youngest cardinal-deacons to his place between them. Finally, having taken off his cap, he returned to the Pope's feet, and presented him with an offering of gold coin at his discretion, and, on conclusion of the mass, departed between the two cardinals, decorated with the ducal dignity: this was the ceremony performed by Eugene IV. for Oddantonio."

This Duke's brief life is shrouded in mystery; for contemporary authorities do not enable us to pronounce with certainty on the enormous vices wherewith tradition and innuendo have vaguely blackened his memory, whilst the narratives of Galli and Baldi, composed for his successors in a spirit of adulation rather than of truth, clearly overplead his defence. The testimony of Pius II. is so direct as to one atrocity, barbarous almost beyond-53- belief, that it would be equally difficult to reject it, or crediting the tale, to limit the probable enormities of a wretch so inhuman. The accusations against him are that, intoxicated by good fortune, he cast off his early discipline, forgot the lessons of philosophy, and placing himself unreservedly in the guidance of dissolute favourites, dismayed his subjects by outrages the most licentious, and by cruelties the most revolting. The instance mentioned by Pius II. is that he had one of his pages, who had neglected to provide lights at the proper hour, enveloped in sear-cloth coated with combustibles, and then setting fire to his head, left him to the horrors of a lingering agony.

The account transmitted to us by his apologists mingles pity with our blame. They say that, desirous of suitably regulating his government, he listened to the silver-toned suggestions of his crafty and covetous neighbour, the Lord of Rimini, by whose advice he employed, as confidential ministers, Manfredi Pio da Carpi, and Tomaso Agnello da Rimini, men selected by Sigismondo as fitting instruments for his ruin. That, acting upon the instructions of their principal, these agents by precept and example debased the mind and corrupted the morals of the young prince, with the view of rendering his person and rule odious, and of accelerating a popular revolution, which might peril his life, or, at least, place his territories within the grasp of Malatesta. That in prosecution of this diabolical plot, they promoted loathsome orgies and shameless debaucheries, until the leading citizens, indignant at the dishonour which daily violated their domestic circles, rose at the instigation of Serafius, a physician whose handsome wife had been seduced by Manfredi. In the riot which followed, the two favourites and their master met a tragical end, and their bodies were exposed to nameless atrocities; but whether the popular vengeance was equally merited by, and inflicted upon the three, or whether the Duke was accidentally slain without being involved in these disgraceful malpractices,-54- is a point likely to remain at issue. It would seem probable, however, from this passage of an old chronicle transcribed in the Oliveriana Library, that political discontent had a part in the rising: "On the 22nd of July, 1444, at lauds [three o'clock a.m.], Oddantonio was slain in his own hall, and along with him his familiar servants Manfredo de' Pii and Tomaso da Rimini; and forthwith the people of Urbino in one voice called for Signor Federigo, who at once took possession of the state. On the 1st of August, public proclamation was made of the abolition of imposts and of the assize of salt, and all penalties were remitted."[*49] The same writer speaks vaguely of previous intestine broils, slaughters, and alarms, with other symptoms of feeble government, all indicating considerable disorganisation in the duchy, of which the Malatesta and Bartolomeo Colleone availed themselves to harass its frontiers.[50]

Leonello d'Este



After the picture by Pisanello in the Morelli Gallery, Bergamo


There were tinges of peculiar sadness in the gloomy fate which thus overtook this unhappy youth. In the preceding summer he had been betrothed to Isotta, daughter of Nicolò Marquis of Ferrara, and but three months before his death, had attended the nuptials of her brother Leonello. On that occasion he spent fifteen days in joyous excitement, preluding, as he hoped, similar festivities in his own honour. After the piazza of Ferrara had glittered with a gallant show of chivalrous exercises, and had witnessed the semi-religious pageant of St. George's triumph over the dragon, it was, as if by magic, converted into a forest-scene, studded with goodly oaks amid a thick jungle of underwood, the haunt of numerous wild animals. Upon these the sportsmen wrought their pleasure, until the place was strewed with bodies of bullocks, steers, wild boars, and goats. As a test of the attendant good cheer, we have a return of provender consumed, amounting to 2000 oxen, 40,000 pairs of fowls, pheasants and pigeons without number, 20,000 measures of wine, and 2000 moggie of grain, besides 15,000 pounds of sweetmeats, and 12,000 of wax candles.[51] On the conclusion of festivities congenial to his tastes, but ill-suited to his impending fate, the young Duke lingered in dalliance with his bride, returning home only the eve of the fatal night which summoned him

"From that unrest which men miscal delight."

It remains doubtful whether his own marriage was ever completed, as supposed by Litta, but Isotta's cup was fully charged with bitters. During the festive celebration of her after nuptials with one of the Frangipani, the partner and lover of her maid of honour fell dead in the dance, an evil omen too fully realised in domestic dissensions which soon sent her back to her brother's court.


The Duke was buried in the church of S. Francesco, but his remains are said to have been subsequently removed to the chapter-house of that convent. In a neglected cloister leading from the church, there may still be seen two monuments bearing the Montefeltro arms, one of which, canopied by light columns of spiral Gothic, has a stork, holding in its mouth a scroll.[*52] Here probably was the ill-fated Oddantonio's tomb; the nameless dead to whom the other was dedicated may have been his grandfather, Count Antonio, or the Countess Rengarda, both of whom were interred in these precincts, where their graves were opened and identified in 1634.

There is little inducement to dwell on the few notices remaining of one whose character and fate merit no sympathy. Yet among a rich store of letters from the Montefeltrian princes to the government of Siena, we have selected two written by Oddantonio in Italian; one is characteristic, the other calculated to throw a more favourable light upon his disposition.

"To our very noble and well beloved, the Podestà, Priors, and Vice-counts of Siena.

"Mighty and potent Lords, dearest Fathers; After commendations: Having heard that, in your magnificent city, stakes will shortly be run for, I should have much pleasure in sending to it one of my racers;[*53] but understanding that there are reprisals between your magnificent community and the illustrious lord, my lord father, I beg you, for my protection and security, to let me have by the bearer, whom I send on purpose, a safe conduct in such ample form as your magnificences may think fit, on whose singular favour I rely, ever recommending myself to your-57- lordships. From Urbino, the 10th of November, 1439. Your magnificences' son,

"Oddantonio, Count of Montefeltro,
Urbino, and Casteldurante.

"Our noble and beloved;

"Though we should wish to write you things pleasant and consolatory, we must lay before you what our Lord God has ordered; and although you ought to participate in all our circumstances, whether prosperous or adverse, yet it is with grief and much bitterness of heart that we inform you how it has been the will of our Lord God to call to himself the soul of our lord and father, who passed from this miserable life on the 20th instant, between nine and ten at night [i.e. about half-past three a.m. of the 21st], before Thursday morning. And his death occurred in the course of nature, from the violence of fever, the proper sacraments of the Church having first been received as became a faithful Christian, with the utmost humility, contrition, and devotion, and having disposed in due form of his own affairs, and those of his children and state, and all his other concerns. I feel assured that you will be as much vexed and grieved at this event in mind and heart as myself; and this with reason, for the misfortune and severe loss is yours as much as mine, and keeping in view his worth, excellence, and good conduct, and the affection he bore you, I may say it specially touches you. In whose steps we shall do our best to tread, by a conduct at once satisfactory to you, and beneficial to our state, as to this city and people, and the others that we have to govern, that so you may be satisfied with our future conduct, and constrain yourselves to conform to the will of our Lord God, and be comforted. And we pray you to do thus, and to regard the welfare of this city and of our state as recommended to you, to which effect we firmly rely upon you. And by help of God's grace and the good advices-58- of our said lord and father, with the counsel and aid of worthy friends, and our own right intentions, matters will go on well and to your satisfaction. If we have been [tardy] in advising you of these things, do not be astonished, as this was done advisedly and for good purpose.

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

"Urbino, the 24th February, 1443."

It does not distinctly appear whether the dignity of Duke was merely personal, or limited to the heirs male of Oddantonio's body. At all events it must have lapsed on his death, as it was not only dropped by his successor in the state, but Count Federigo, even after his new creation, called himself "first" Duke; in this he was followed by his descendants down to Francesco Maria II., the last of the race, who alone designated himself sixth Duke, counting from Oddantonio.[*54]




The birth of Count Federigo—Condition of Italy—His marriage and only military service—The Malatesta, his inveterate foes—He takes S. Leo—Is invested with Mercatello.

WITH Federigo, successor of Duke Oddantonio, commences the proper subject of these volumes, but we are met by a preliminary difficulty as to his birth and parentage, which has baffled many of his biographers. It would be useless, as well as tedious, to enumerate and examine the host of conflicting and often inconsistent authorities on this vexed question.[55] The amount of blundering and contradiction to which it has given rise is scarcely conceivable, considering that most of our authorities either frequented the court of Urbino during his own and his son's time, or had access to contemporary documents. Seven separate theories have found supporters:—1. That Federigo was son of Count Guidantonio, born in wedlock; 2. That he was his natural, but legitimated son; 3. That he was his natural son, passed off as the child of his first wife Rengarda, after a pretended pregnancy; 4. That he was son of Bernardino della Carda and his wife Anna, sister of Count Guidantonio, adopted by the latter whilst he had no son; 5. That he was their son, passed off as the child of Countess-62- Rengarda; 6. That he was their son, passed off as a natural child of Guidantonio; 7. That being their son, and Anna or Aura being daughter of Guidantonio, he was adopted or passed off as son of the latter, though, in fact, his grandson.[56] It would follow that he might have been either nephew, brother-in-law, or son of Bernardino. All doubt on this subject is set at rest by a formal legitimation from Martin V., of 22nd December, 1424, which I discovered in the Archivio Diplomatico at Florence, in favour of Federigo, as son of Guidantonio by a maiden of Urbino. This document is alluded to by Galli, Reposati, and others; but its existence has been often denied, notwithstanding the almost equally valid evidence of that Count's testament quoted by Riposati, wherein, failing his lawful sons, he substitutes his "legitimate son" Federigo as his universal heir.

It is very remarkable that the filiation of Federigo to the Ubaldini is adopted by a majority of those writers who lived under him and his son, giving colour to a conjecture that it may have been encouraged at their court as masking the flaw in their pedigree. This, however, is but an unsatisfactory explanation. His character and brilliant distinctions could well dispense with the honours of birth;-63- and in this century, bastardy, so far from inferring a blot on the princely escutcheons of Italy, or presenting a bar to sovereignty, seemed, as in the dynasties of Este and Scala, as well as in the Malatesta, already referred to, to constitute a preference. But in order to explain his special affection for the Ubaldini, it has been supposed that his mother was of that stock, and that he was at first brought up by them, in deference to the jealousy of Countess Rengarda. This motive soon ceased by her death, when the infant was received and cherished in his father's palace.

Federigo di Montefeltro is generally said to have been born on the 7th of June, 1422, and the earliest incident of his childhood was his premature betrothal.[*57] The mountain-land from whence spring the Metauro and the Foglia, including some of the loftiest Apennine summits, was then called Massa Trabaria, and had been long held in fief by the Brancaleoni. Mercatello was the petty metropolis of some twenty townlets which obeyed Bartolomeo, the last male of that race. Art has given to his merits a record withheld by history, and the few travellers who visit the church of S. Francesco in that town, a very shrine of local æsthetics, will pause to admire his Gothic-64- tomb, beautiful even through its disguise of recent whitewash, and to read this touching epitaph:—"Joanna Aledusia during her life erected this monument of affection to Bartolomeo Brancaleone, prince of this place, her most faithful husband, and to herself." This lady was born an Alidosio of Imola, and being left with an only daughter, Martin V., to whom the fief had lapsed, conferred its interim administration upon Count Guidantonio of Urbino, as rector, with promise of a new investiture to his son Federigo, on condition of his marriage with the orphaned Gentile. They were accordingly affianced ere the boy-bridegroom had completed his eighth year, and the spouses were brought up together under the fond and judicious tutelage of the Lady Joanna.

The return of the popes to Rome was the beginning of a new act in the great drama of Italian mediæval history. Deserting their proper capital, they had left it for above a century a prey to faction, strife, and rapine, which there was no authority to control, nor any holier influence to modify. The example of such disorganisation spread through the Peninsula, and aggravated dissension in all its cities. In absence of the papal court, the gloom of a dark age again brooded over the ecclesiastical states, for the few sparks of learning had been carried by emigrant churchmen to Provence. But, with its restoration, Rome became once more the metropolis of Christendom, and Italy began to feel that kindling glow, which, radiating from its centre, disseminated the cheering light and healthful flush of knowledge and civilisation over the globe. In one respect, however, and that a material one, was the position of the papacy altered. The protracted scandal of recent repeated schisms had shaken men's reliance on its infallibility; the fierce bickerings between popes and anti-popes, hurling anathemas and bandying abuse, had raised in the spectators a doubt if their cause could be more-65- sacred than their weapons. The days when an emperor would hold the stirrup for a successor of St. Peter were passed away. Nor were affairs altogether satisfactory as regarded the domestic security of the latter. The dread of again losing their sovereign court formed a convenient check upon the factious citizens of Rome; but the barons of the Campagna were restless neighbours and turbulent vassals, and though the Gaetani and Frangipani were no longer formidable, the Savelli, the Orsini, and the Colonna by turns carried fire and sword into each other's holdings, or scoured the streets of Rome itself in their forays. To assert an effectual jurisdiction over the province immediately surrounding their capital, and to maintain their waning influence abroad, became the two great objects of successive pontiffs during the fifteenth century: one of these was perhaps a painful necessity, the other originated a policy ruinous to Italy; both occasioned frequent appeals to carnal weapons, pregnant with mischief to the Holy See.

Among many anomalies in the papacy, was the inverse ratio of its foreign influence and its domestic strength. Even whilst Rome and its vicinity had been most lawless, whilst the authority of popes in preceding centuries had been most fettered by faction, or most exposed to seditious outrage, their spiritual sway attained its height, and was acknowledged over Christendom without question. The reason is obvious. The religious spirit of the age bowed to ecclesiastical domination, while the factious temperament of the Romans fretted under all restraints of order. After their long exemption from the personal control of the popes, it became more than ever requisite to curb these feverish citizens, and to break down their robber noblesse: we shall hereafter see by what unscrupulous means, and at how great a sacrifice of character, this was finally effected by Alexander VI. But the popedom, whose unity had been rudely shaken by schism and-66- absence, began, after its return to Rome, to suffer manifest inroads from the extension of their political individualities by the chief states of Europe. In order to maintain itself against this new tendency, it had recourse to a like policy; it sought by temporal aggrandisement to compensate the decay of spiritual authority. During its antecedent struggles with the empire, the cause of the Church had been that of freedom, its rallying cry the watchword of liberty. In those days its successes were hailed as a boon by the communes of Italy. Even the feudatories, whose jurisdiction had grown up under shelter of the imperial name, were glad to confirm their title by enrolling themselves as vassals of the Holy See. But when the successors of St. Peter began to develop ulterior aims,—when they descended into the arena of mere political ambition, and sought to aggrandise their territorial dominion by intrigue and arms,—a marked reaction took place. The princes and republics of the Peninsula stood on their defence against a new power of discord, the most fickle in its policy, the most unscrupulous in its expedients, that they had yet been called to resist. The ultra-montane nations pressed on to cope with or to conquer those degenerate Vicars of Christ, who, abandoning their high calling as shepherds and pacificators of Christendom, became its perturbators.

The rapid sketch which we have given in our first chapter of the seigneuries and communities of Central Italy may suffice to exhibit the general condition of Umbria, the March of Ancona, and Romagna as far as the Po. In Tuscany, democratic institutions had taken deeper root, among a population addicted rather to arts than to arms, and preferring wealth earned by industry and commercial enterprise to the precarious glory and profits of the sword. Their peaceful habits permitted capital to accumulate; its increase gave them a stake in its security; leisure and consequent intelligence-67- enabled them to mature ideas of liberty beyond those of neighbouring states. It was in Florence especially that a more perfect system of municipal institutions established communal freedom upon a firmer basis, which, amid the ceaseless convulsions of domestic factions, and even through the long atrophy of later Medicean domination, has preserved for that city a political and intellectual pre-eminence, finely acknowledged by old Sanzi in his exclamation,

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

In the adjacent commonwealths of Pisa, Lucca, and Siena, similar results sprang from somewhat analogous causes, although they were from time to time, in the words of Dante,

With tyrants, and a great Marcellus made
Of any petty factious villager,"

until, by degrees encroached on by their more powerful neighbour, they were finally absorbed in the state which owned the Arno's queen as its capital.[*58]

Lombardy was no longer the emporium whence commercial wealth circulated over Europe, but her cities, surrounded by plains of unequalled fertility, gave no signs of decay, her universities were crowded by transalpine students. She had fully realised the stinging reproaches of Alighieri,—

"Thy living ones
In thee abide not without war, and one
Malicious gnaws another, ay, of those
Whom the same wall and the same moat contain;"

but her Ezzelino and Can della Scala were no more, and many of her petty principalities had been merged in the wide-spreading duchy of Milan, or the mainland conquests of Venice. The Lion of St. Mark was in the ascendant-68- during the fifteenth century, and, though we have no occasion to follow the fleets of Venice as they spread terror among the Turks, we shall in due time find her terra-firma policy complicating the relations and hampering the diplomacy of Italy. Naples, long exposed to the calamities of a disputed succession, which we shall hereafter explain, endured the feeble sway of the notorious Joanna II., by whose death in February, 1435, the crown passed to Alfonso V.,—notwithstanding her death-bed recognition of the claims of the first Angevine dynasty, then represented by the good King René of Provence,—and the dynasty of Aragon was continued by his illegitimate descendants until the close of this century.

Having thus endeavoured in a few pages to exhibit the condition of those Italian states with which our narrative will have to do during the life of Federigo, we must resume its interrupted thread. Martin V. was succeeded in 1431 by Eugene IV., a noble of Venice, who, eager to undo the favours bestowed by Martin on his own relations, sought a quarrel with the Colonna and their adherents, including the Count of Urbino. This misunderstanding was patched up by mediation of the Venetian signory, upon an interchange of hostages, among whom was included Federigo. It thus became necessary for him to repair to Venice, where he was received in the college or council, and acquitted himself so well that the Doge, Francesco Foscari, foretold his rise to great eminence in after life. The favourable opinion thus formed was daily confirmed by his engaging manners, and he conciliated the noble youths, who admitted him into their fashionable and very select club or fraternity of the calze, or hose, so called from their uniform.[59] The plague having appeared, he was permitted-69- by the Doge, after a residence of fifteen months, to retire to the court of Mantua, then presided over by the Marquis Gian Francesco Gonzaga, whose marriage with a Malatesta connected him with both the wives of our Count Guidantonio. His welcome there was cordial and distinguished, and during two years he enjoyed advantages which beneficially influenced his after life. In the Marquis's children he found fellow-pupils as well as playmates, and, under their father's eye, was taught the theory of war and the practice of military exercises, until he became one of the most skilful swordsmen and equestrians of his day.

But it was to the tuition of Vittorino de' Rambaldoni da Feltre[*60] that we may ascribe his progress in those tastes and accomplishments, for which in his person and that of his son, Urbino became eminent. This Vittorino was excelled in learning by few of his contemporaries, and none of them equalled his reputation as an instructor of youth. He was born at Feltre in 1378, and sent to the university of Padua. After completing, under Giovanni da Ravenna, the training in grammar, dialectics, and philosophy which then constituted the basis of a liberal education, he learned Greek from the famous Guarino of Verona. His powerful mind being attracted to mathematics, and finding his means unable to command the instructions of Pelacane of Parma, he proffered the most menial services about his person, in hopes of picking up some crumbs of knowledge in his service. But the mercenary professor was not to be melted without gold, and the poor student was left to struggle unaided with the difficulties of exact science, until he thoroughly mastered its truths. It was in 1425 that the Marquis of Mantua induced him to move, with his already celebrated school, to that capital, for the purpose of teaching his children. The lessons of Vittorino were well bestowed on the young princes of Gonzaga, but-70- especially on their sister Cecilia, whose name is not least remarkable among those prodigies of female learning produced in the Italian courts of that age. When but ten years old she wrote Greek with singular purity, and her life of celibacy was devoted to literature.

The peculiarity of Vittorino's system was its extending the field of his labours beyond the mere scholastic tuition of his time. Without neglecting the severer studies, he varied them by light accomplishments, and relaxations of person and mind which proved alike healthful to both, such as music and drawing, horsemanship, fencing, and all manly exercises. Its success was testified by an influx of pupils from transalpine and oriental lands, as well as from every state in Italy. These for the most part resided in his house, under the immediate influence of his training and example, which were not less admirably calculated for inculcating high moral excellence, than for the development and direction of genius. A man of more simple tastes, winning manners, and pure life was rarely found, and, by a happy blending of rigid discipline with mild temper, his influence was beneficially extended over even the least ductile of his flock. At his board, the rich acquired habits of frugality, the poor were welcomed with generous consideration. Careless of worldly gain, his earnings were freely spent in providing for their wants, and at his death in 1447, he left not enough for his funeral. No work remains from his pen, but he has given ample proof of his influence on the age, in the eminent names that issued from his academy, to illustrate Italian letters, either as sovereigns or savants. A beautiful and rare medal of him by Pisanello presents a fine allegory: the pelican baring its bosom to feed its little ones happily suggests the unwearying self-sacrifices of a conscientious instructor, whilst the legend designates him as father of all human studies. Sanzi's tribute to his character is at once happy and just:—


"Brilliant his powers of thought, unmatched his zeal,
For science in her varied walks: his life
And manners holy; yet on gentle crafts
And joyous themes right heartily intent."



From a bronze medal by Pisanello

da Feltre


From a medal by Pisanello in the British Museum

In the autumn of 1432, the Emperor Sigismund, while returning from his coronation at Rome, was entertained by Count Guidantonio with magnificent hospitalities at Gubbio[*61] and Urbino, and bestowed knighthood both on the Count and his son Oddantonio.[*62] On reaching Mantua,-72- he conferred the like honour on the Gonzaga princes, and extended it to their guest the young Federigo, who was recalled home whenever his father had been restored to a good intelligence with the Pontiff. His marriage was celebrated on the 2nd of December, 1437, after he had completed his fifteenth year, and he at once entered upon the government of his wife's paternal fief.

In an age when society consisted of those who fought, those who wrought, and those who prayed, the young Count of Mercatello belonged to the first of these classes, and the duty now devolved upon him of carrying into practice those lessons of warfare which had varied the routine of his more abstruse studies. Under the military system which we have already explained, he had to choose what free captain he would serve with, until experience should qualify him to raise an independent banner. The condottieri then of greatest name were Nicolò Piccinino and Francesco Sforza, names which will soon be familiar to our pages. The first of these was of birth so humble as to own no other surname than that conferred on him in ridicule of his tiny stature, and appears to have been equally destitute of those varied talents and enlarged views which enabled several of his contemporaries to consolidate and transmit the power gained by their swords. But though unworthy of historic fame,[*63] his dwarfish body contained a daring and indomitable spirit, which, after considerable service under Braccio di Montone, the first general of his age, was rewarded with the hand of his-73- niece; and, notwithstanding the blame of occasioning his defeat and death at the Lake of Celano in 1424, Nicolò kept together his veterans, obtaining, as leader of that gallant band, a reputation of which his own qualities were unworthy. Yet he was unable to cope with Francesco Sforza, whose first service had been under Joanna II. of Naples, but who after having, in 1441, won from Filippo Maria Visconti, rather by fear than favour, the hand of his natural daughter Bianca Maria,[*64] eventually established himself as his successor in the duchy of Milan.

The Council of Basle, opened in July, 1431, to concert measures for extirpation of the Bohemian heresy, had occupied itself in reforming alleged abuses in the Church and the papal prerogatives. A collision with Eugene IV. was the natural result, when he fled to Florence, leaving his state a prey to Sforza, Piccinino, the Colonna, and other military adventurers. As the best means of bridling these bandits, he bribed the first of them to turn his arms against the others, by offering him the vicariate of La Marca,

"That land
Which lies between Romagna, and the realm
Of Charles."[65]

But by degrees all Italy was involved in the struggle, Alfonso of Naples, the Florentines, Genoese, and eventually the Venetians, supporting the Pontiff, whilst Filippo Maria Visconti, the Angevine party at Naples, and the city of-74- Bologna sided with the Council. In this war Piccinino led the Milanese army, and among his independent captains was Bernardino della Carda, who dying in 1437, his company of 800 men-at-arms was divided between his son Ottaviano and the young Federigo di Montefeltro. In the end of May, 1438, the latter set out for Piccinino's camp, assisting at the siege of Brescia, and in the opening of the Lombard war, where the rival generalship of Nicolò and Sforza was first brought to the test, with results more interesting in a military than an historical view. It is not to be supposed that services performed by so youthful a soldier could much influence the campaign, but they appear to have been approved by his commander.

Guidantonio Manfredi, generally known by the contemptuous abbreviation of Guidaccio, had been brought up at the court of Urbino, during his father's temporary banishment from his hereditary fief of Faenza, and had married a daughter of Count Guidantonio di Montefeltro. In the division of parties which we have just explained, both these feudatories adhered to the Milanese, but as their neighbour, the Lord of Rimini, was at first a partisan of the league, and as Bologna had but recently thrown off the papal authority, Filippo Maria considered it advisable to strengthen his forces in Romagna. Federigo was accordingly ordered to join his brother-in-law Guidaccio, and acquitted himself creditably in various skirmishes with the Tuscan troops, under Gianpaolo Orsini. The only personal incident preserved of this petty war is one to which he was in the habit of alluding, with something of the superstitious dread that pervades the good Sanzi's account of it, although its character was rather grotesque than horrible. Having marched from Faenza in bright moonlight, with a party of 400 horse on a foraging expedition, a noise like the clashing of arms was suddenly heard at a distance, which immediately being repeated close at hand, the troops, with fierce and terrified aspect,-75- rushed on each other, and for about ten minutes fought and struggled pell-mell, while their frightened horses, partaking in the panic, neighed and bolted in all directions. Dawn discovered a scene of strange confusion; the infantry mounted, the cavalry on foot, many lying wounded on the ground, not a few horses killed, others with broken or disordered harness. This senseless alarm was never accounted for, and was consequently ascribed to diabolical influence.

But he was soon recalled by home interests from under the command of Guidaccio. The Malatesta, whose descent will be found in the annexed table, had for some generations held several fiefs in Romagna and the March of Ancona, and although a bold and warlike race, the usage in their family of separating its seigneuries among various sons, legitimate or natural, prevented any of them from acquiring more than a provincial reputation or influence, until Sigismondo Pandolfo made himself famous by his struggle with Count Federigo, and by the memorials of art which embalm his otherwise detested name. The youngest of three bastard brothers,[*66] he survived to unite their territories with his own, and although connected with the Montefeltrian princes by the marriages of his aunt and brother, he became a bitter enemy to the Count of Urbino. Indeed the latter of these alliances, which we have noticed at page 48, served to foster the family feud. Violante di-76- Montefeltro had from Eugene IV. in 1431, when a mere infant, some form of grant of her native mountain-land in vicariate, in virtue whereof, and of her assumed rights as heiress of her nephew Duke Oddantonio, in default of his male issue, a pretended title was eventually trumped up, in competition with Federigo's succession,[67] at all events as regarded Montefeltro, some townships of which had already passed in various ways to the Malatesta, with whom she intermarried. An incursion upon the territory of Guidantonio, in the autumn of 1439, accordingly commenced a strife which, with occasional brief interludes, endured above twenty years, and which Sanzi thus deplores:—

"For e'en when fortune crowns the first essays
Of reckless hardihood, a reckoning hour
Of rapine, grief, and misery impend.
Such the destruction which these rival powers
Reaped from protracted broils and savage war,
While neighbouring cities, castles, towns, were sacked,
And high-born chiefs the double risk incurred
Of death or exile. There, for twice twelve years,
Italia's flower and might contended, till, in fine,
To right, by prudence, constancy, and force upheld,
Heaven gave success; the Eagle gnawed the heart
Of the great Elephant."[68]

Had Sigismondo Pandolfo possessed temper and judgment equal to his courage and ambition, he might have obtained and consolidated a powerful sovereignty, which his liberal and cultivated tastes would have rendered glorious in arts as well as arms. But deeply tainted with—

"That poison foule of bubbling pride,"

his lofty daring was sustained by no continuous impulse,-77- his impetuous efforts were crowned by no success; the selfishness of his political aims was equalled by the vainglorious direction he gave to art; his energies were wasted in contests with Federigo, a rival against whom he had neither any just quarrel, nor any chance of success; his patronage was monopolised by poets who flattered, and medalists who portrayed himself and his favourite mistress Isotta.

The first foray of Sigismondo into the wild valleys of Montefeltro was repaid by Federigo, in a successful descent upon the richer possessions of the Malatesta; but he was checked by a serious wound, before the petty fortress of Campi, and on his recovery rejoined Guidaccio. Piccinino, having again changed the seat of war from Lombardy to Romagna, crossed into Tuscany, and during the summer of 1440, carried on an active but unsuccessful campaign in the upper valley of the Tiber, till it was closed by his complete defeat at Anghiari, leaving his baggage and half his army in the hands of the Florentines. This battle has obtained a singular notoriety, and affords a valuable test of condottiere tactics, where combats were interested calculations, not internecine onsets. Machiavelli, the opponent of that system, asserts that only one man lost his life, out of some thirty or forty thousand combatants, and he by a fall from his horse; whilst the largest calculation of slaughter on both sides gives but seventy killed and six hundred wounded. Federigo was little interested in that campaign, but ere long found occupation in the defence of his wife's rights, disputed by Alberigo di Brancaleone. This pretender had seized on Santa Croce and Montelocco, both of which the Count recovered in the autumn of 1442, after a severe action, which first tested his military skill. Sigismondo Pandolfo, having secretly abetted this onset, was punished by an attack upon S. Leo.

That small city was the capital of Montefeltro, although-78- this honour has been claimed for Penna di Billi. Its situation is perhaps the most singular in Europe. In a country whose rugged mountains and precipitous ravines seem monuments of some tremendous primeval convulsion, there stand uptossed two isolated pinnacles, the very obelisks of nature, rising on three sides sheer from the valley. On the remaining side of each, a narrow and rapidly descending ridge connects the summit with the surrounding level, affording toilsome and precarious footing to mules and mountaineers. On either peak, a fortress commands a cluster of dwellings, nestled wherever the rocky crest afforded footing, and inhabited by men of iron hearts and stout sinews. The larger of these is S. Leo, the smaller Maiuolo, and we shall often have occasion to mention them as the chief strongholds of Montefeltro, to which they both originally belonged,[*69] though S. Leo had for some time been possessed by the Malatesta. Its loftiest pinnacle was crowned, in classic times, by a temple dedicated to Jupiter Feretrius, affording an easy etymology for Montefeltro: a later era found it sheltering a Christian hermit, whose ascetic virtues obtained canonisation, and who left his name to the township which rose around his cell. During the competition for her crown which ravaged Italy in the tenth century, and rendered that the most dismal as well as confused period of her dark ages, S. Leo became the refuge of King Berengarius, from whence he long defied the arms of his eventually successful rival Otho the Great: of its protracted siege, however, in 962-3, no incidents worthy of credit have come down to us. Its circuit is estimated at two miles, and not the least peculiar of its phenomena is a spring of excellent water near the summit, sufficient perennially to supply the mills. The accompanying engraving, from a sketch taken on the spot,-79- will best convey an idea of this remarkable site, but we may quote Sanzi's description of it, and of its surprise by Federigo.[70]

"A city yonder stands, San Leo hight,
Whose crest the sky menaces; 'gainst its strength
No force has e'er prevailed, with scathed cliffs
And rocks environed, heavenward uprearing
Its summit, by a single path approached,
Trod singly by the citizens. Earth holds
None other deemed impregnable.
To it the Count his daring aims addressed;
And, knowing that a rock, which few to scale
Would venture, jutted midway from the ridge,
At midnight's murky hour the spot he gained,
With few but agile comrades, well prepared
With ladders; then alone and stealthily
The outposts reconnoitred, slumbering all,
Like men who knew no fears save from on high.
Next scaling one by one that arduous rock,
And reaching thence the level space beyond,
The town his soldiers entered silently.
Sudden uprose their cry, with clash of arms,
And furious blows and crackling flame, the work
Befitting, whilst the startled garrison,
Knowing nor whence nor what the sounds,
No struggle made, but rushed in desperation
Or here or there, whilst others stood transfixed
To find themselves befooled. Not more surprised
Was he who gained the golden fleece, to see
From the plough's furrow armed men spring forth,
Than were these luckless denizens to find
Their stronghold carried in the sudden fray."

San Leo

A. Nini, del. A. Marchetti, sculp.


From a drawing by Agostino Nini

A somewhat different account of the means by which S. Leo was taken, has been adopted by Baldi, from Volpelli's history of that place.[71] Matteo Grifone, who, from being a miller at S. Angelo in Vado, became a-80- staunch follower of Count Federigo, and subsequently a general in the Venetian service, obtained permission to attempt a surprise. Accompanied by twenty picked men, he, in a dark and rainy night, gradually made his way to an outpost which he knew to be seldom occupied, and there left all but one comrade, with whom he effected an entrance by means of scaling-ladders. Silently and stealthily they two went from house to house, fastening each door with the chain which usually hung outside. At dawn, Federigo by concert led his troops to a feigned assault, to repel which the garrison sallied down the ridge. Grifone then, hastily admitting his men, closed the gates upon these skirmishers, and displaying in the piazza eight pair of colours which he had brought, raised the cry of Feltro! Feltro! The few defenders left in the citadel, conceiving the town to have been carried, and its inhabitants (who being barred into their dwellings could offer no resistance) to have sided with the enemy, surrendered without a blow. A temporary reconciliation with Sigismondo soon followed, by the interposition of Francesco Sforza, who gave to Malatesta his natural daughter Polissena in marriage, as a means of strengthening his hold on La Marca.

The father of Sforza, whether by birth a peasant or a gentleman, had owed his fortunes to his sword, which won him wealth and honours in various Italian states, especially in Romagna and Naples.[*72] His son succeeded to these honours, as well as to the command of his veterans, and inherited talents and address of still higher quality. Availing himself of the enfeebled papacy, and the confusion into which the ecclesiastical states fell during the contest of-81- Eugenius IV. with the Council of Basle, he overran La Marca, whilst Fortebraccio menaced Rome itself. In order to save the latter, Eugenius abandoned the former to Sforza, with the title of Marquis, and the authority of Vicar; this bribe was accepted, and the service rendered for it was the restoration of his supremacy over the rest of the papal territory. On the death of Joanna of Naples, Francesco Sforza, now the first soldier of his day, acknowledged René as her successor, and when that monarch, by withdrawing in 1442, left the kingdom to his rival Alfonso, Sforza lost his Neapolitan dignities and estates. The sacrifice was more than compensated by his marriage with the Duke of Milan's natural daughter; yet for a time this splendid alliance brought with it no good fruits. Filippo Maria had acceded to it with indifferent grace, and jealousy of his son-in-law led him, in 1443, to join Eugenius and Alfonso in a combination for wresting from Francesco the March of Ancona.

Nicolò Piccinino being again hired to serve against his old enemy, Count Federigo preferred, after his father's obsequies, joining him before Monteleone to remaining idle at home, Sanzi assuring us,—

"That martial practice was his sole desire,
Ready his guard to mount by night or day,
And deeming cowardly the love of quiet."

He immediately attended his general to an interview with the King of Naples at Terracina, embarking at Civita Vecchia; and the impression made by him on that monarch is thus finely given by the same chronicler, in language splendid as his reception:—

"As its bright rays the comet's track precede,
So the Count's virtues harbingered his way.
And as Apollo scattering o'er the dawn
His plumes of gold, along the orient sky,
E'er he emerges calmly from his couch,
Bears in his brilliant orb the blazing signs-82-
Of bounteous disposition: thus the youth
Round the king's inmost heart himself entwined
With hope's sweet fillet, and a lodgment made
Firm as the solid nail in growing tree."[73]

After three days spent in concerting plans for an attack upon La Marca, Nicolò returned to Tuscany, but Federigo was invited by Alfonso to remain with him until the campaign should open. Ere long, however, he rejoined his troops at Viterbo, and, after a foraging march through the enemy's country, reached Fano just before Sforza, who had for some time remained there awaiting his Venetian and Florentine contingents, put Piccinino once more to the rout at Monteluro. Giovanni Sanzi, then a youth residing at Colbordolo, went forth to see the battle, which he describes with much spirit:—

"War's crash and clang were there; the horseman's charge
With shock impetuous, and with ringing cheers
That seemed the vaulted sky to scare. There, too,
Men huddled lay on earth with dismal howls,
Their drums and spears a booty: some the while
Encouraging, some eager, some dismayed.
The very air, with clouds surcharged and dim,
Seemed wailing for the slaughter of that day,
Its fierce assaults and sanguinary scenes."

The Count shared not in this defeat, but lent opportune aid to rally the broken and disorganised troops, and was-83- about this time rewarded by Eugenius with his promised investiture of the countship of Mercatello. In July he repaired to the baths of Campagnatico, in the Maremma, to recruit from an attack of fever, but on his return found new occupation from the Lord of Rimini.

The grandfather of that seigneur was Galeotto Malatesta, whose patrimony included Rimini, Faenza, and Fossombrone, and whose elder brother, Malatesta Malatesta, had transmitted the fief of Pesaro to his great-grandson Galeazzo. This Galeazzo was a man of feeble parts and degraded character, altogether unable to maintain his authority over a disgusted people, or to cope with his bold and ambitious cousin Sigismondo of Rimini. After the defeat of Monteluro, he had reluctantly received into Pesaro some of Piccinino's stragglers, and Sigismondo availed himself of this pretext to persuade his father-in-law Sforza to seize and make over to him that city. But Francesco, intent on sustaining his interests in La Marca, soon left the affair in the hands of Sigismondo, who, although able to overrun the surrounding country, could make no impression upon the capital, held by Count Federigo, even after its poor-spirited lord had withdrawn to Forlì. Thus baffled for eighteen months, the impetuous Sigismondo, by way of cutting short the contest, sent to Federigo this insolent challenge:—

"To the Lord Federigo of Montefeltro, Captain-General of the illustrious Count Francesco Sforza.

"Mighty Lord,

"Your lordship knows the difference long existing between us, and, if you judge rightly, you will perceive the fault to lie on your side, not on mine. Patience is no virtue of mine, and so far from appearing disposed to amend them, you daily multiply your errors. Anew have you written calumnies against me to the Court of Rome, and caused ill to be spoken of me. I am determined to-84- bear it no longer, but to show, with my person against yours, that I am a better man than you, for in sooth you are a bad one, and do amiss to affront me. I therefore send to you Signor Giovanni da Sassoferrato, my chancellor, with full authority to inquire as to the duel which by your letter you have already accepted. And although Signor Giovanni holds a public instrument of mandate, I wished to write this letter as of more ample authority, praying that you will accept it: which I feel assured you, as the brave man you avow yourself and ought to be, will do; and that you will thereupon please to send one of your people of weight, informed of your wishes as to the manner, time, and place of our fighting, so that all may be settled. I have said of weight, that he may be qualified to fix upon a place with him whom I shall send, so that we may understand each other. And that this your agent may repair hither in safety with four horses, this letter will be an ample and valid safe conduct for his freely coming, staying, and returning. And in case of your refusal, which I do not believe, I warn you that I shall proceed against you more or less, according to the usual practice, as I may see fit.

"Sigismondo Podolfo di Malatesta.[74]

"Rimini, the 21st of February, 1445."

This cartel was answered as became a high-spirited knight; but, on reaching the rendezvous under the walls of Pesaro, Federigo was surprised to find his adversary absent. No explanation appears of this failure beyond Sanzi's expressive exclamation,—

"Ah! foul dishonour to the recreant lord!"

and Sigismondo, covered with ridicule, was glad to patch up a truce with his cousin Galeazzo.[*75]



Count Federigo succeeds to Urbino and acquires Fossombrone—His connection with the Sforza family, whereby he incurs excommunication—His campaign in the Maremma—Loses his eye in a tournament.

IT was during the siege of Pesaro that Federigo heard of the horrible catastrophe, by which his brother Oddantonio, on the 22nd July, 1444, atoned the excesses of his brief sovereignty. But this assassination, the result of a sudden outbreak, indicated no general disloyalty to the race of Montefeltro. The virtues and moderation of Guidantonio were fresh in men's minds; Federigo was personally liked, and his recent feats of arms, under the eyes of his countrymen, were accepted as first fruits of a growing fame. The fief might indeed be held as lapsed by the close of the male line, but there were abundant precedents of reinvestitures to illegitimate successors, and the citizens of Urbino, shocked at their own outrage, sought to remedy the past by a prompt return to duty.[*76] Sanzi accordingly tells us that the factious and blood-thirsty populace wonderfully united in electing as their seigneur the heroic Federigo, who, meanwhile, informed by the bishop of the tumult and its results, had repaired to Urbino, where, on the following day, conditions were formally offered and accepted as the terms on which he was chosen. The instrument containing the demands of the people, and his replies to each, will be found in the-86- Appendix IV., and throws some light upon the extent of popular rights, and the manner of enforcing them, in the despotic communities of Italy. Divested of the rude style in which they were expressed, these concessions were to the following purpose:—




From the XV. Century relief in the Bargello, Florence

On the 1st of August proclamation was made of a reduction of imposts, the regulation of salt measures at thirty-three pounds to the quarter, and the remission of condemnations. Besides these conditions, Federigo granted or confirmed to his capital a constitution, which, however, was rather of a municipal than political character, and which consisted in two general councils, one composed of thirty-two, the other of twenty-four, citizens. These preliminaries arranged, deputations flocked from Gubbio and the other communities to offer their obedience, and were soon followed by congratulations from neighbouring powers.

The political aspect of Central Italy, and the condition of her princes, during this century, are thus sketched by a recent writer:—"Their feeble and unquiet domination was obtained sometimes by usurpations from rivals, from the people, or from the Church, sometimes by authority wrested originally from pope or emperor, and subsequently sanctioned, which was wielded now with more, now with less, rigour; but all of them were encompassed by a numerous following, were devoted to the profession of mercenary war, and were at once the abettors and dreaders of rebellions, ambushes, poisonings. Various were the vicissitudes of these chiefs. In order to oust a competitor, they would offer large concessions to the Church or the populace, and having attained to sovereignty would gradually curtail these until the community called in another master, to be in like manner supplanted by a third. In other cases they compromised their disputes by partitioning cities or principalities. Frequently the Pontiff would-88- favour one faction in order to put down another, and to profit by their mutual strife; again, he would elevate a third over them both, under cloak of freedom. It was, in short, constant wavering between abuses and concessions, tyranny and licence; the seigneur intent upon extending his influence, although by dishonest means, the people prompt to diminish it even to anarchy."[79]

This description might be justly applied to the Montefeltrian holdings under most of their early counts, but a brighter day dawned upon the duchy with Federigo's accession, and Urbino had the singular fortune during the next hundred and ninety years, and under the sway of two dynasties numbering five sovereigns, to be equally exempt from oppression and disorder, from domestic broils and disputed successions; to be governed by princes not less beloved at home than respected abroad, whose brows might be graced by olive or laurel, according to the spirit or the exigencies of the time, but who ever entwined with it the myrtle wreath.

The policy and manners of Federigo, equally prudent and conciliatory, confirmed the favourable anticipations previously formed, and are thus depicted by his contemporary Sanzi:—

"His flower of youth was bursting into bloom;
Mild beyond measure, merciful and just,
Fervent in piety, in counsel sage;
Heedless of thirst or hunger, cold or heat;
Unworn by watching, vigorous his frame,
Gladsome his gentle mien; prompt to obey,
Or play the master as the case may be,
Or to persuade: rare gifts in warrior bold!
Wary and watchful in his generalship,
The hearts of e'en his foes he knew to win
By kind forbearance in the battle field.
From anger, pride, and avarice exempt,
But courteous, liberal, eloquent, and true,
In him each lofty grace spontaneous grew."


If the accusation be well founded, which we have formerly stated against Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, of corrupting Oddantonio's morals, in the hope of supplanting him in his seigneury, the easy succession of Federigo must have brought him bitter disappointment. His total failure before Pesaro aggravated this annoyance, and he vented his spite by simultaneous inroads on two opposite quarters of Urbino. A conspiracy against Federigo, discovered about this time, was also perhaps the fruit of his intrigues; but, being discovered, its authors were led to the block, whilst the adherents of Malatesta were repulsed from the frontier. In this state of matters, the Count of Urbino (for the dukedom had died with Oddantonio) was surprised by an offer from Galeazzo Malatesta to sell him the seigneuries of Pesaro and Fossombrone, nominally his, which he found himself incompetent to defend from his rapacious neighbour of Rimini. The proposal was tempting, for both these possessions lay admirably to Urbino, and would extend its frontier to the Adriatic. But Federigo's position was one of delicacy between Sigismondo Malatesta on one hand, and Francesco Sforza on the other, both anxious to acquire those fiefs, and both his personal enemies. The death at this very juncture of his old friend and commander Nicolò Piccinino, which appeared to complicate his embarrassment, proved the means of relieving it. Sforza, having watched his rising reputation, calculated more advantage from his friendship than his opposition, and availed himself of the opportunity presented by Piccinino's demise, to make conciliatory overtures. Before committing himself, Federigo offered his services to the Pope, which being declined, with full licence to dispose of them as he pleased, he at once closed with Sforza, accepting a command, with four hundred lances and as many infantry, for the common defence of their respective states. This arrangement transferred his banner from the Braccian to the Sforzan party, battalions originally embodied under-90- the rival captains from whom they were respectively designated, but distinguished in name, and regarded as the type of opposite systems, long after their founders had passed away. The tactics of Braccio di Montone were rapid and decisive, the policy of Attendolo Sforza cautious to a proverb; extremes which the Count of Urbino's practice was considered happily to have combined. In order to complete the necessary stipulations, he repaired to Fermo on a visit to Francesco, and passed some weeks there, returning on the 10th of December.

It remained to adjust the affair of Pesaro and Fossombrone. The despicable lord of these fiefs had a granddaughter, Costanza Varana, whose pedigree in relation to the Montefeltrian princes we have explained, and who had gained the affections of Alessandro, brother of Francesco Sforza. Federigo, unable to pay for both seigneuries, or unwilling to hazard the odium which so sudden an aggrandisement might incur, proceeded on the 9th of January to Jesi, and proposed to the two Sforza that Francesco should purchase Pesaro for Alessandro, who should marry Costanza, whilst Fossombrone should be united to Urbino.[*80] The suggestion being no less agreeable than beneficial to all parties, it was heartily acceded to, and, ere many weeks passed, an arrangement was completed, whereby Galeazzo, exchanging the alarms of insecure sovereignty for a contemptible retirement, made over Pesaro to Alessandro and Fossombrone to Federigo, for the respective sums of 20,000 and 13,000 ducats or florins of gold, reserving the mills and his other allodial property; and thereafter withdrew to Florence, where, on the death of his talented and neglected wife Battista di Montefeltro in a convent, he married a lady of the Medici, and is said to have ended his ignoble life in misery. On-91- the 16th of March, the nuptials of Alessandro Sforza with Costanza Varana were happily accomplished; she inherited much of her grandmother's capacity, and transmitted it to her youngest daughter, Battista, who in due time became second wife of Count Federigo.[81]

This partition, apparently so advantageous to Francesco Sforza, was but the beginning of mischief. His son-in-law Sigismondo, ever

"On brawls and battle-fields intent,"

could ill brook the disappointment of his designs upon two fiefs long in his family, and admirably suited to consolidate his territory by incorporating Fano with Rimini; still less could he submit to be cut out of them by his especial enemy Federigo. Another circumstance had lately occurred to exasperate against Francesco his ever jealous father-in-law the Duke of Milan. Ciarpelion, one of his favourite captains, had been induced to accept from Visconti the command vacated by Piccinino's death, but his application for a furlough was answered by the provost-marshal, who hanged him after inflicting horrible tortures. Thus were his wife's father and his daughter's husband united against the Lord of La Marca, nor did they find it difficult to rekindle in the Pope and the King of Naples their dormant jealousies of a soldier of fortune, whose possessions were desirable spoil to them both. He was consequently assailed at once by three of the chief powers of Italy, and by several of the petty feudatories and independent captains, whilst, as Florence and Venice were but lukewarm allies, he had no efficient aid to look for, beyond that of his recent but faithful friend Federigo. With him accordingly he drew more-92- closely the bonds of amity, and in the end of June paid him a visit of five days at Urbino, accompanied by his family, when Sanzi tells us they exchanged reciprocal pledges of a romantic brotherhood in arms, preparatory to the empty dignity of general-in-chief, conferred upon the Count by Sforza on the 15th of July.

The province which accidental circumstances had subjected to Francesco gave him but a feeble tenure of sovereignty. It extended along the Adriatic sea-board from Sinigaglia to the Tronto, including the Marshes of Ancona and Fermo, lately the richest portion of the Papal States. But time was wanting to consolidate his dominion, and to give him that hold upon the affections and interests of his people which is ever wanting to upstart potentates. The very extent of his territory thus became an element of peril, and the danger was aggravated by the ill-timed accession to it of Upper Abruzzo as far as Pescara, which, throwing off the yoke of Alfonso, placed itself under his protection, giving another pretext to the confederates for accelerating their attack. This, however, the Marquis[82] anticipated by hurrying to the north, and attacking his son-in-law's possessions about Fano. Leaving there an army, under his brother Alessandro and the Count of Urbino, to intercept the Milanese forces, he proceeded to Florence, and by the aid of Cosimo de' Medici obtained a considerable sum of money. On his return he carried La Pergola after a gallant defence. But these exertions were all in vain. His subjects, proverbially fickle, bound to him by no hereditary attachment, and alarmed by the extensive preparations maturing for his destruction, prepared to abandon his cause, and seek for protection under their former ecclesiastical masters. Ascoli first raised the standard of insurrection, and-93- slew Rinaldo, uterine brother of the Marquis; but the contagion quickly spread, and although, by forced marches and the most strenuous efforts, he for a time kept the country in obedience, and even recovered several revolted castles, the loss of Rocca Contrada, seduced by the intrigues of Sigismondo, closed the most available pass that remained to him. From that moment his cause seemed desperate, and it became his object to provide for the safety of his troops and few remaining strongholds during the approaching winter, in the hope that spring might bring him better fortune. The garrisons of Fermo and Jesi were succoured, and his cavalry were quartered in the valleys of Urbino, whilst he took up his quarters in Pesaro. But ere the year ended, Fermo his capital rose, and the garrison were starved into a capitulation.

Federigo had shared in all the fatigues of this campaign, and had gained what distinction could be gathered from its skirmishes and petty sieges. He thus earned the special indignation of Eugenius, whose legate vainly represented to him the folly of adhering to a cause irretrievably lost. Even after Alessandro Sforza had been induced by these arguments to give his adhesion to the Pontiff, the Count of Urbino, deeming it disgraceful to swerve from his plighted troth, afforded shelter and protection at Gubbio to the Marquis's family, thus compelled to retire from Pesaro. His reward was papal excommunication, and a new inroad on his devoted state by the Perugian troops, at the instance of Filippo Maria Visconti.

But the tide of adversity had nearly spent itself. The Venetians and Florentines, at length roused to exertions in behalf of their ally, brought their forces into the field. The former advanced to support Cremona, which belonged to Sforza, but was now assailed by his father-in-law; the latter marched three thousand cavalry and a thousand foot into Romagna. Francesco and Federigo, on the strength of this seasonable reinforcement, resumed the-94- offensive, and challenged the ecclesiastical army to a trial of strength, the Count adding a special defiance to personal combat with Sigismondo. Both invitations were evaded or declined, and as the Sforza battalions marched round the camp of an enemy superior in numbers,—a clang of triumph echoing from their trumpets,—and assailed them with hisses and insulting cries, the moral effect was perhaps equal to a victory.[83] This was in October, and during the autumn many petty successes were gained over Malatesta about Pesaro, Alessandro Sforza having reunited his interests with those of his brother. The Venetians were meanwhile so pressing upon Visconti in Lombardy that he hastened to make overtures of reconciliation with his son-in-law, who, gladly profiting by the opportunity to retrieve his damaged position, found some paltry excuse to shake himself loose from the Republic, and, by one of those rapid tergiversations which free lances were privileged to perform, turned his arms against his defenders. Policy, if not honour, justified this course, for the declining health of Filippo Maria held out to Sforza new hopes of the Milanese succession, and gave him a strong inducement to defend that territory from neighbours so powerful and ambitious. The confederacy being thus broken up, peace was restored to Romagna by a treaty of the 11th March, 1447; but Sigismondo, deeply disgusted at the entire failure of his calculations, which, presuming on the utter ruin of Federigo, had made sure of acquiring Urbino, Montefeltro, Durante, Gubbio, Fossombrone, and Pesaro, impatiently awaited an opportunity for revenge.-95- In the autumn of that year he was enabled by the cabal of a few discontented citizens to seize Fossombrone, but within three days it was recovered by Federigo, to the great joy of its inhabitants, who celebrated by thanksgivings and festivals their release from a tyrant's odious yoke. The misery of these intestine wars is illustrated by an anecdote mentioned of this assault, that the Count conceived it necessary to stimulate the ardour of his soldiery by promising them the pillage of this his own city; and he is stated to have earned the praise of a most just and lenient prince, by restraining their fury until he had placed the women in safety.

During the year 1447, there occurred two deaths of great moment to Italy, those of Pope Eugenius IV. and Filippo Maria Duke of Milan. Gabriele Condolmiere of Venice owed his promotion to his countryman Gregory XII., whose nephew he is said to have been, and received the triple tiara in March, 1431, when but forty-eight years of age. His reign was one of turbulence, for the convulsions consequent upon his policy disorganised Italy, and threatened Christendom with a new schism. Putting himself at once in hostility with the Colonna, whose power had grown formidable under their kinsman Martin V., he exposed Rome to be pillaged by their lawless bands. Soon after, he was glad to fly in disguise to Florence, leaving his capital in the hands of a republican faction, and oppressed by the partisans of Braccio. As the last hope of recovering a portion of his territory from the various condottieri who ravaged it, and "dreading a perilous contest more than an ignominious peace,"[84] he recognised Francesco Sforza, the most influential of them, as Lord or Marquis of La Marca, and created him Gonfaloniere of the Church. But with the bad faith which marked the age, he sought to rid himself of the instrument as soon as his purpose was served. Restless in his policy, headstrong in-96- his counsels, to him in a great measure was owing that perturbed state of Italy, which, when once become normal, continued, until the descent of the French in 1492, to realise the graphic description of Machiavelli: "Peace it cannot be called, whilst the princes were frequently fighting; neither can such struggles well be regarded as warfare, where men were not slain, nor cities sacked, nor sovereignties sacrificed; for so feeble became these strifes, that they were commenced without alarm, were conducted without risk, and closed without damage."[85] Nor was his management of spiritual interests more commendable. His quarrel with the Council of Basle gave him a rival antipope, and might have cost him his tiara, but for an unexpected overture of the last Emperor of Constantinople to unite the Greek and Latin Churches. Such, however, was his good fortune, that the completion of that union, the cruel persecutions he directed against the Hussites, and his ascetic rejection of personal indulgences to which he was indifferent, have gained for him the reputation of a zealot in faith, a saint in morals, and withal a pillar of the papacy.

The Pontiff's death was followed within six months by that of Filippo Maria, last of the Visconti, a race whose sway in Milan is alleged to date from the eleventh century, and whose twelve princes of that city have been commemorated by the flattering pen of Giovio. They owe their place in history rather to the importance of their duchy, and to the European marriages of their later generations, than to personal illustration. The immediate succession to Filippo Maria convulsed Upper Italy during nearly three years, and the dispute, when revived half a century later, brought upon the Peninsula those barbarian aggressions from which she has till now been a chronic sufferer. His only child, the illegitimate Bianca Maria, had been reluctantly bestowed by him on Francesco Sforza, whom his jealous temper regarded as a rival and-97- enemy, instead of conciliating as a son and useful ally. The house of Orleans were heirs of line of his family, but their title derived little strength by their mother's legitimacy, where female descent could give no valid claim to inheritance. The late Duke's testamentary bequest of his sovereignty to Alfonso of Naples, was clearly beyond his legal powers, so that the best right seemed that of the Emperor, in virtue of the lapsed fief. But ere any one of these four competitors was aware that the succession had opened, the citizens of Milan possessed themselves of the vacant authority, and their example was partially followed in neighbouring towns, several of which attempted to establish a Lombard republican confederacy with Milan at its head. In the struggles which ensued, and to which Venice and Florence became parties, the Count of Urbino took no share. The fate of Milan was decided rather by famine than the sword, and in February, 1450, the populace escaped from their sufferings by accepting Sforza as successor of his father-in-law.

The Milanese succession was not, however, without its influence on Central Italy, and upon the fortunes of Count Federigo of Urbino. In the late contest on the Lombard plains, Florence and Venice had, in observance of a long-established and obvious policy, opposed the ambitious projects of Filippo Maria, but had acceded to the new Pontiff's proposal for a congress at Ferrara, in order to arrange a general peace. To this Visconti lent himself in no good faith, having concerted with the King of Naples that they should each attack one of these republics, as soon as Francesco Sforza should be secured to their side. Even whilst the congress was sitting, Alfonso obtained a footing in the Upper Val d'Arno, and although the death of his confederate abrogated their secret understanding, the opportunity of pursuing his selfish designs upon Tuscany continued favourable; for Venice was occupied in a fresh struggle with Sforza, and his own pretensions-98- upon Milan, under the late Duke's will, would be much enhanced could he bear the trophies of Florence to the banks of the Po. He, however, offered to abstain from hostilities, on condition that free passage and provisions were allowed to his army, and that the city, now ruled by Cosimo de' Medici, should renounce its Venetian alliance. It required but little consideration to reject terms which would have opened to him the Milanese, where his success must have destroyed the balance of power in the Peninsula.

Disappointed of Siena, which refused his fair offers, Alfonso turned into the valley of the Cecina, and having possessed himself of Pomerance, Campigli, Castiglione,[*86] and other townships in the Maremma, proposed to winter there. But he was promptly checked by Count Federigo, whom the Florentine Council had taken into their service,[87] and the spring arrived without any considerable movement or advantage on either side. There now occurred an incident highly characteristic of his bitter foe Sigismondo, in which he showed to advantage by the contrast. The Lord of Rimini, having been engaged by Alfonso, received from him 30,000 ducats in advance of pay, but, more intent upon selfish ends than on his promised service, he misapplied the money, and availed himself of the Count's absence from Urbino to repeat his attack upon Fossombrone and some neighbouring castles. In order to palliate this breach of faith, he wrote to the King that it was in truth a well-laid scheme for his benefit, Federigo being sure to hasten from Tuscany for the defence of his own subjects. The calculation was however defeated, as the Count, with the fidelity seldom found or-99- expected among free lances, refused to quit his post, resting the safety of his people upon their own gallantry and devotion. When Alfonso perceived this, he summoned Malatesta to join him, but, whether from innate treachery or apprehension, he preferred offering himself and his contingent of above two thousand men to the Florentines, against whom he was actually engaged to serve. Apart from the unpleasant position in which it placed himself, this tergiversation seemed to Federigo so outrageous a treason as to require from him a special protest; but his usual conscientious adherence to a temporary banner prevailing over honourable scruples and personal disgust, he kept the field, and even consented to adjourn all private quarrels with Sigismondo to the end of the campaign. It was marked by no circumstance of interest beyond the King's ineffectual attempt upon Piombino, the peninsular capital of a petty fief belonging to the Appiani, then confederates of the Republic. The marsh-fever of the Maremma,

"Where the path
Is lost in rank luxuriance, and to breathe
Is to inhale distemper, if not death,"

seconded its brave resistance, and Alfonso was glad to return home in the autumn after sacrificing a portion of his army, while the Count of Urbino retired to his state. But during their joint service under the Florentine banner, Sigismondo had found opportunity for the exercise of his intriguing spirit. Demanding audience of Federigo, he remonstrated against his having aided in the establishment at Pesaro of a stranger, to the vast detriment of its hereditary seigneurs the Malatesta, so long neighbours and kindred of the Montefeltri; and in token of the thanklessness of that service he showed a bond, whereby Alessandro Sforza had allied himself with Sigismondo for the partition of Urbino and its dependencies. With such evidence before him, Federigo lent himself to an offer made by the false-100- Lord of Rimini to turn the tables against Sforza, and to surrender all of the Montefeltrian territory that he had gained two years before, provided the Count would aid him in ousting the intruder from Pesaro. But with characteristic treachery he availed himself of a favourable moment to attack that town single-handed, and Federigo, satisfied of his utter faithlessness, rushed to the rescue, reclaiming by this new and noble-minded service the gratitude of Alessandro and of his brother. As soon as the latter was acknowledged Duke of Milan, he offered the Count of Urbino an engagement, in highly complimentary terms, stating that, after full consideration to whom he could worthily commit the conduct of his army, whereon depended the whole welfare of his state, he had fixed upon Federigo, having long known and clearly ascertained his extraordinary and unfailing fidelity, authority, gravity, prudence, promptitude, justice, wisdom, and diligence in the conduct of every great enterprise.[*88] The Tuscan war being over, this appointment was readily accepted by the Count, although suffering from a painful and dangerous accident.




From the XV. Century relief in the Bargello, Florence

In honour of the Duke's exaltation, he had proclaimed a tournament at Urbino, which Sanzi assures us was preceded by omens of evil. In particular, his mother, influenced by a horrible dream, besought him on her knees to abandon the intention. Though a firm believer in astrology, his mind repudiated this superstition, which however diffused among all ranks a feeling of vague anxiety as the jousting day approached. Just then there arrived Guidangelo de' Ranieri, a gentleman of Urbino, who had gained the prize in a recent passage of arms at Florence; he was met at the city gates by the Count, who embraced him, placing on his neck the knightly guerdon of a golden chain. Being asked to run a course with him, Guidangelo would have excused himself, and is even said-101- to have earned a sharp reproof for forbearing to touch him, in deference to the prevailing apprehension of some impending mishap. On repeating the course, the knight being mounted on a small charger, his lance, after striking Federigo's armour, glanced upwards, and was shivered against his vizor. He received the stunning blow between the eyebrows, where it shattered the bone of his nose and knocked out his right eye. Recovering himself, however, he kept his seat, and consoled those who flocked around in consternation, by assuring them of a speedy cure, and that one of his two good eyes remaining, he would still be able to see better than with a hundred ordinary ones. This courageous bearing was perhaps the best recipe, and his cure appears to have been rapid and easy; but the damage to his features may be presumed from subsequent portraits representing him in profile, which, whilst concealing the loss of his eye, exaggerated the prominence of his broken nose.[*89]



Count Federigo enters the Neapolitan service—His two campaigns in Tuscany—Fall of Constantinople—Peace of Lodi—Nicholas V.—The Count’s fruitless attempt at reconciliation with Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta; followed by new feuds with him—Death of his Countess Gentile.

THE establishment of Francesco Sforza as Duke of Milan had virtually settled the affairs of Lombardy, for although the Emperor and the French King refused to recognise his rights to the Visconti succession, they deferred their respective claims upon that duchy till a fitter season. The Angevine pretensions to the crown of Naples were also in temporary abeyance, and the triple tiara had passed from the turbulent Eugenius to Nicholas V., whose early habits of scholarship continued undisturbed by ambitious dreams. There thus seemed no element of contention left, and a prolonged peace was the natural as well as the true policy of Italy. But, in the words of Sanzi,

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

So paltry were the pretexts, so remote the motives for renewed hostilities, that Sismondi is content to ascribe these to diplomatic intrigue, seconded by a general irritability of temperaments, and avows that, ere they were resumed, a review of interests and reconstruction of alliances became absolutely necessary. Venice and Florence had hitherto co-operated to protect themselves, and maintain a balance against the ambitious dynasties of Visconti-103- and Aragon; but jealousy of the terra-firma acquisitions of the former having induced her sister republic to league with Sforza, she consulted at once her safety and her vengeance by an intimate union with Alfonso. Sigismondo Malatesta being retained in her service, the Duke of Milan bought him over by an offer of better terms, and the Count of Urbino, finding himself thus exposed to the same contact with his personal enemy which had recently annoyed him in the Maremma campaign, renounced his engagement with Sforza, and as a natural consequence transferred it to the other side. The King of Naples, disgusted by the late treachery of Sigismondo, and by similar instances of light faith on the part of other Italian condottieri, had announced his determination to employ none of them without sureties for their fidelity. But he made an exception in favour of Federigo, declining his offer of the Venetian signory as his sponsors, on the ground that he knew his word to be sufficient guarantee. In consequence, however, of the coronation of Frederick III. at Rome, and his stay in Italy, it was not until 1452 that these arrangements were so far completed as to enable the Venetians to declare war upon Sforza in May of that year, and Alfonso to publish hostilities with Florence in the following month.[90]

The King being desirous of bringing into notice his natural son Ferdinando Duke of Calabria, the destined heir of his crown, now placed him at the head of 8000 cavalry, and half that number of foot soldiers, but bestowed on Federigo the rank and title of Captain-general. Entering Tuscany by Cortona, this army penetrated by the valleys of Chiana and Arno, carrying terror almost to the gates of Florence, and overrunning a vast extent of country. But no permanent impression was made, for, trusting to the artillery of Siena, which was refused him, Alfonso had not provided his troops with the means of-104- taking any strong places. It accordingly cost them six weeks to reduce Foiano, and after spending as long before Castellina, the bursting of their only battering-gun rendered further perseverance useless. Thus when they betook themselves to winter quarters at Aquaviva on the Mediterranean coast, they could boast no important result of the campaign. A colourable pretext was thus afforded for murmurs from the captains, many of whom served reluctantly under a commander so much their junior. Although these complaints reached Alfonso, they no way diminished his confidence in Federigo, whom he encouraged to meet such jealousy by redoubled exertions. In order to arrange a plan of operations, the Count repaired to Naples, and received from him a cordial welcome. As spring advanced, the pestilent air of the Maremma, which had formerly compromised the Neapolitan army in

"That sun-bright land of beauty,"

again proved their scourge. Many officers and men were attacked by fever, and among them the Captain-general, who was removed to Siena whilst his troops fell back upon Pitigliano.

The following letter, written by him during an earlier stage of his malady, and probably in reply to pressing invitations from the priors of that city, proves his reluctance to leave his post:—

"Mighty and potent Lords, dearest Fathers;

"Although I have experienced the singular goodwill, paternal affection, and love displayed by your lordships towards myself and my house, not only now and on this occasion, but in other times and circumstances, yet the renewed offers and cordial proposals so freely made me in your most courteous letters, in reference to this illness of mine, have imposed upon me further and greater obligations. Not that I admit these to render me more devoted to your lordships than before, seeing that I was already-105- your son, and as such sincerely attached to your state and magnificent community: but I desire your lordships to be aware that I acknowledge my obligations to be ever and greatly on the increase, and that I am most anxious to acquit them, so far as in my power, for the advancement of your lordships' honour and advantage. More I cannot at present; nevertheless, being desirous to do my best, I give your lordships infinite thanks; and having nothing new to offer, I yet tender what has been yours a thousand years past,—my state and person; assuring your lordships that, in so far as consists with my honour, your lordships may dispose of me and mine, as a son faithful and devoted beyond all others. Notwithstanding a violent and serious attack of illness, I have not thought fit to come to Siena, nor to repair to any other part of your lordships' territory (though ready to go thither with the same confidence as to my own house), because from the first I resisted leaving my illustrious Lord Duke, however unimportant my remaining by him might be. Since then, thanks to God, I have gone on improving, and am now pretty well, so that I hope to be speedily quite restored; whereof I wished to inform you, convinced that it would be gratifying to your lordships, from whom I pray instructions, should anything occur that I can do. From his Majesty's successful army at Aquaviva, the 26th of July, 1453.

"Federigo Count of Montefeltro, Urbino, and Durante,
Captain-general of the Serene King of Aragon."[91]

This campaign differed little in tactics, and no way in results, from that in which Federigo, under the Florentine standard, had lately contested much of the same ground-106- with Alfonso. We pass rapidly over the events of both, for although minutely dwelt upon by his biographers, and tending to develop his military science and reputation, they were marked by no brilliant incidents, and involved no general interests. Machiavelli, ever willing to sneer at mercenary warfare, observes that places were then deemed impregnable which in his day were abandoned as untenable, and explains the policy of the invaded to consist in avoiding a general engagement; "for they deemed it impossible to be ultimately worsted, so long as they were not beaten in any pitched battle, the loss of petty castles being recovered with returning peace, while more important places were secure in the enemy's inability to assault them."[92]

The Count's engagement was renewed by the King of Naples in autumn for another year on the same terms, which appear from the Oliveriana MSS. to have been 1500 ducats a month for his own pay, 8 ducats, of ten gigli, for each lance, and 2 for each foot-soldier; his company to consist of 700 lances and 600 infantry. No active service was, however, required; and the general pacification, to which Alfonso reluctantly acceded in January, 1455, restored matters to their former state,—the usual issue of such contests.

Europe was now startled by an event which exposed Italy to peculiar peril. The Eastern Empire had long been falling into feeble senility, and in proportion as her vigour relaxed and her frontier receded, the Crescent extended its domination, and menaced the Bosphorus. The Greeks appealed for aid to Western Christendom; but men's enthusiasm had become selfishness; the crusading spirit was extinct, and the cry echoed unheeded along the Mediterranean shores. The siege of Constantinople by Mahomet II., a barbarian endowed with qualities which would have shone in any sphere, might have been pre-107-vented or raised by very moderate efforts of the Italian powers; and it was not until the loss of that great capital, that they perceived the folly of their neglect, which had sacrificed the best bulwark of Europe against Ottoman aggression. But besides this general consternation, the maritime republics staggered beneath the blow, for it annihilated that trade with the Archipelago and the Euxine which had crowded their ports and filled their coffers; and when Constantinople fell, many wealthy Christian merchants, there resident, were stripped of their property, and passed into menial slavery. It was in the moment of universal alarm, that Nicholas V. urged a general reconciliation and league of Italy, with a zeal which, notwithstanding the doubts of Simonetta adopted by Sismondi, we believe to have been sincere. The congress held for this purpose at Rome was, however, distracted by narrow views and shallow intrigues, and broke up without effecting its object. Yet, ere long, policy prevailed over petty ends, and the peace of Lodi, signed in April, 1454, to which at first only Venice and Milan were parties, was ratified within a few months by all the Peninsular states, and secured to them a long period of comparative repose.

This pacification of Italy, which the Pontiff had ardently desired, he was not long spared to witness, for he closed his exemplary life on the 24th of March. Tommaso de' Parentucelli, though of Pisan parentage, was born and brought up at Sarzana, from whence he took his usual designation. He was early vowed to the Church in consequence of his mother's dream, and at the University of Bologna his progress attracted notice from the bishop, who took him into his family, where he remained for about twenty years. On the return of Eugenius to Rome, in 1443, he was elevated to the purple, as vice-camerlingo; and three years and a half later, was chosen to succeed that Pontiff. The tastes and habits of scholarship which-108- Nicholas had formed in early youth preserved their ascendency after this remarkable advancement. The first object of his government was the maintenance of general peace; and when he had failed to effect this, his uniform policy was neutrality. His attention was thus left free to follow out, for the benefit of his subjects, and of mankind, those aspirations for justice, and those enlarged views of mental development which formed his character. The revenues which other pontiffs of that age misapplied to promote miserable contests, or lavished on schemes of nepotism and courtly vices, he directed into more wholesome channels. Magnificent in all that could lend dignity to the religion of whose faith and ritual he was the guardian, careful of whatever could promote the dignity of his sacred office, an economical management enabled him largely to gratify his literary longings. At his court, habits of study were an unfailing recommendation; mental acquirements were duly honoured, and men of letters were sure of finding a generous and enlightened friend. With him originated the Vatican library, which, under liberal popes, and by favourable opportunities, has since been gradually augmented into one of the brightest ornaments of the papacy. His mild and useful reign ended far too soon for the welfare of Italy and the interests of letters, but the light which it diffused scattered the last shadows of the dark ages, and still gilds the remainder of this century.

It chanced that a few days before peace had been concluded, a subsidy of 36,000 ducats reached Federigo from the King of Naples, which he immediately offered to return, as no longer required. Regarding this as an act of unusual conscientiousness, Alfonso desired him to retain the money on account of future services; whereupon the Count, after sending home his company from the Tuscan war, attended the Duke of Calabria to Naples, to offer acknowledgments in person. To his suggestion, while-109- there, has been ascribed by Muzio and Baldi a double matrimonial alliance, now proposed between the hitherto hostile houses of Aragon and Sforza, as a means of cementing the new league, but of which only that of Hippolita Maria Sforza took effect. On the same authority we must attribute to him a selfish and ill-timed counsel, which marred that measure and perilled the peace of Italy. Whilst a party to the losing game which Sforza played in La Marca during 1445-6, several of his townships were seized by the Lord of Rimini, in whose possession they had since remained. With the ultimate hope of reclaiming these on some fitting opportunity, he is alleged to have reminded Alfonso of the scurvy trick played upon him in 1448 by Sigismondo, in passing over to the service of Florence after receiving his pay, and to have suggested such treachery as sufficient ground for specially excluding the latter from the league, and for reserving a right to make reprisals. The King adopted this hint the more readily, that he had other wrongs to settle with the Genoese and with Astorre Manfredi, seigneur of Imola; he accordingly, on ratifying the treaty of Lodi in January, 1455, introduced an exceptional clause against these three states, the effect of which was not only to keep up petty warfare in Romagna and Liguria, but eventually to entail upon his son a disputed succession which well-nigh cost him his crown.

It was the destiny of Urbino long to endure the full weight of Malatesta's troublesome qualities; to be in turn agitated by his intrigues, compromised by his instability, deluded by his duplicity, harassed anew by his inroads, and again cajoled by his hollow repentance. The Count, whose sense of honour was delicately susceptible, and who felt warmly for his people's welfare, could no longer brook such aggressions. Bent upon signally punishing them, he, however, before concerting measures with Alfonso, judged it prudent to visit Florence, Bologna, Milan, and Mantua,-110- in order to justify to their governments the necessity of making an example of his inveterate foe. Nothing could exceed the honourable reception accorded him at these places; but he did not obtain anything beyond general assurances or cold civilities in regard to the matter he had in view. The proffered mediation of Borso d'Este, Duke of Modena and Marquis of Ferrara, held out one last hope of an arrangement; so he paid him a visit on his return homewards, in May, 1457, and found that Malatesta was already his guest. The interview of these rivals is described by Sanzi and Baldi with details probably more dramatic than historical. The Lord of Rimini came reluctantly, with arms at his side and implacable passions in his breast; he commenced the discussion with a long catalogue of grievances, and quickly wrought himself up to violent and insulting language, which Federigo met by mild but firm remonstrance, ending with a proposal to settle by single combat, "hand to hand, in field, or plain, or valley," whatever misunderstandings could not be amicably disposed of by their host. Sigismondo, for answer, drew his sword, and after the parties had exchanged ferocious defiance, the Duke separated them, grieved at the total failure of his intervention. Before leaving Ferrara, the Count offered to submit to his arbitration their differences, the chief of which was as to restoration of the places in Montefeltro retained by Malatesta; but the latter declined any reference of the sort.

After provocations so aggravated, and in the certainty that opportunity alone was wanting to renew them in manner more perilous to his interests, Federigo no longer hesitated to act upon the reservations of the treaty of Lodi, and in June hastened to Naples, in order to obtain assistance. It happened that Giacopo, son of Nicolò Piccinino, was then in the Abruzzi with his company of adventure, retained by Alfonso, but waiting the chances of war. The Count, therefore, applied for permission to employ him-111- against Malatesta, who, like a true braggart, lost courage on finding himself exposed to just vengeance, and virtually excluded from assistance by the terms of the league. Recurring as usual to intrigue, he sent his eldest son Roberto to Naples, that he might gain favour with the beautiful Lucrezia Allagno, or del Lagno, who, though said to have equalled her Roman namesake in propriety, held the elderly monarch by the silken chain of youthful passion. Her dragon-like virtue did not exempt her from womanly weakness, and in exchange for the most brilliant ruby which the jewellers of Venice could supply, backed by an offer of his hand for her niece, Roberto gained her influence in his father's behalf. Months were lost in the counteracting this back-stairs interposition; and meanwhile Federigo was widowed by the death of Gentile, of whom nothing is known beyond the excessive stoutness of her person. These delays enabled him to prepare the munitions of war, and he addressed to the magistrates of Siena this request for a person qualified to cast mortars:—

"Mighty and potent Lords, and Fathers honourable and beloved:

"I have immediate want of a master mortar-founder, and being informed that there is in Siena one such, able and sufficiently qualified, who would well satisfy me, and whom I knew when detained there ill [in 1453], I urgently pray your lordships, as a particular favour, to give him leave of absence. And my need of him being urgent, I trust that he will come quickly along with the bearer hereof, and I shall so pay him his dues that he shall be well satisfied. I have reason to hope that your lordships will oblige me as to this artist, for in all that tends to the weal of your republic I would be most affectionate, and observant beyond any other ally you have in the world. As for the mortars, I want to use them against the Lord Sigismondo, the enemy of your lordships, to whom I com-112-mend myself. From Urbino, the 7th of November 1457."[93]

It was in this month of November that the Count and Piccinino at length took the field, although the season already warned them to winter-quarters in the inclement climate of the Apennines. After reducing several places near Fossombrone, Federigo, in order to save his own people, seized some townships of Carpegna, a tiny fief held by a branch of his family with whom he was at variance, and there left the troublesome troops of Giacopo until the spring. When it opened, notwithstanding the dilatory and heartless tactics of their leader, who, like a true condottiere, regarded decisive movements as fatal to his trade, this "war of petty sieges by petty armies," as it is aptly called by Sismondi, soon exhausted and humbled the refractory Sigismondo, whose unhappy condition is thus pitiably described in another interesting despatch to the Sienese authorities.

"Mighty and potent Lords, dearest Fathers:

"I have not cared to write sooner to your lordships, nothing further having been decided by the serene King regarding peace or war with the Lord Sigismondo; but I have at length determined to write this, in order that your lordships may not marvel at my silence, and that you may be informed how matters stand. And I hereby advise you how the Lord Sigismondo has sent many humble and respectful messages, through his son, to the serene King, supplicating that his Majesty would condescend to have mercy, and notwithstanding misconduct so gross as to merit no favour nor compassion, that his Majesty would take to himself his sons as his Majesty's slaves, and would deign to decide that they should not go begging their bread.-113- And the son besought his Majesty to permit that his father should come and throw himself at his feet, with a halter round his neck, publicly to crave mercy, bringing with him as much money as possible, and the jewels formerly offered; and should this not suffice, that his Majesty might take whatever else of his he would, until satisfied. His Serene Majesty replied that the youth should remain at Naples whilst he went to Magione, and that he would cause an answer to be sent through his council. Thus passed many days without further incident. And although the ambassador of the Duke of Modena strongly interceded, no further reply was obtained, nor any other resolution come to, things remaining in suspense. And I am informed that the serene King is decided to exact the sum demanded, of 27,000 ducats of the highest value, and 70,000 for expenses; besides insisting on restitution of my territory, without restoring his own conquests. But the Lord Sigismondo's people declare it impossible for him to give such a sum in cash, though he might pay 20,000 down, with the jewels, and as far as 60,000 by instalments, so that I do not see how the matter can well be arranged. I, however, hourly look for further advices, and your lordships will be informed of what I hear, for things cannot now remain much longer in suspense, Gottefredo being gone to Naples with the Lord Sigismondo's ultimatum. From Urbino, 2nd of May, 1458.

"Federigo Count of Montefeltro, Urbino, and Durante,
Captain-general of the Serene King of Aragon."[94]

These sanguine anticipations were, however, premature, as fortune had still some trials in store for Federigo. Alfonso's death took place on the 1st of July, that of Pope Calixtus III. a few weeks later; both events materially affected the struggle which he had thus regarded as at an-114- end. Indeed, the whole state of parties in that strife curiously illustrates the chances and changes on which depended success in the intestine broils of Italian feudatories and captains of adventure. The great ambition of the latter was to attain the sovereignty of some petty state, and Piccinino conceived himself, as representative of the Braccian influence, well entitled to watch an opportunity of turning it to such account. His calculation probably was that he might be able to possess himself of one at least of the seigneuries which Malatesta's ruin would vacate; but as the contest went on, that wily intriguer appears to have suggested to him Urbino as a richer guerdon, attainable by gradually wasting Federigo's resources, and finally at a fitting moment turning round to crush him.

The Duke of Milan's sympathies were naturally with the Count, who had stood by him single-handed in adversity, and in his cause had incurred those losses he was now endeavouring to recover, whilst the Lord of Rimini had betrayed him again and again, and with his own hands had strangled his natural daughter, the third wife murdered by this Bluebeard of real life.[*95] Yet such was Sforza's detestation of Giacopo as head of the old Braccian faction, and fear lest his ambition of sovereignty should be gratified, that he actually advanced money to support Sigismondo, who also obtained similar assistance from the Duke of Modena, jealous perhaps of the growing Montefeltrian influence. The Pontiff's death opened a new hope to Piccinino, and on the speculation of possibly making good a footing in Perugia, he profited by this vacancy of the Holy See to seize upon Assisi, Nocera, and Gualdo. Thus, within three months after his letter to Siena, Federigo found himself deprived of his only ally Alfonso,-115- deserted by his confederate Piccinino, and left to maintain the contest single-handed against an adversary suddenly enabled to rally under his standard some of the boldest adventurers of Romagna.

But the reaction in his favour was not long postponed. Ferdinand continued his commission as captain-general, with a pension of 6000 ducats assigned to him by Alfonso three years before; and fully aware of the importance of conciliating papal sanction to his own questionable sovereignty, commanded Giacopo to quit the ecclesiastical territory and return to the banner of Montefeltro. A miserable contest of sacked villages and barbarous reprisals was continued during autumn and winter, and though the advantage preponderated on the Count's side, these successes were at his people's cost.

Meanwhile the repose of Italy was exposed to more serious interruption. Alfonso V. of Aragon and Sicily had maintained his very doubtful title to the crown of Naples[96] by a happy union of energy and judgment. Devoting his life to Italy, he first established his reputation by a series of victories over his Angevine competitor, and then cemented his popularity by an easy and accessible address, by lavish profusion of treasure and honours, by a zealous pursuit and patronage of learning. The epithet of Magnanimous, which graces his name, was merited by his testamentary disposition as well as by his character. Having no legitimate issue, he left to his brother John his hereditary dominions in Spain and the islands, but conceived himself at liberty to bestow the crown of Naples, received at first as a gift and retained by the sword, upon his natural son Ferdinand, whose substitution to it had been sanctioned by two popes, recognised in various treaties, and formally voted by a native parliament. His chief confidant and agent in these arrangements had been his countryman Cardinal Alfonso Borgia, who at his death-116- filled the papal throne with the title of Calixtus III., and who, anticipating that bad faith and unscrupulous nepotism which, under Alexander VI., consigned to enduring infamy their subsequently canonised name, used his authority to supplant Ferdinand by his own nephew Pierluigi Borgia. With this view he, as suzerain of Naples, declared its sovereignty lapsed on the King's death without a legitimate son, and although he published a notice calling upon all claimants to appear for their interests, his real object was divulged by an offer to Francesco Sforza of his father's fiefs in the Abruzzi and Apulia, on condition of his enabling him to place the crown on Pierluigi's head. These intrigues were, however, frustrated by this Pope's death on the 8th of August; and his successor Pius II., a man in all respects his opposite, hastened to recognise Ferdinand, maintenance of peace in the Peninsula being the first requisite towards his grand project of a crusade against the Turks.

Full of this scheme, he summoned a congress of European powers at Mantua, which proved one of the most interesting assemblages recorded in mediæval history, and offered to Christendom the rare spectacle of a pontiff engaged in reconciling his universal flock. From the British Isles no adequate response answered his summons, "England being hopelessly convulsed by civil broils, and Scotland hidden in the ocean depths." His self-imposed task including the arrangement of all disputes, those of the rival Lords of Urbino and Rimini attracted early notice. Sigismondo attended at Mantua in person to plead his cause: that of Federigo, who reluctantly consented to transact with one whom he well knew no award, no promise, could bind, was conducted by an envoy. The treachery of the former being made manifest, he was condemned by the Pope to a pecuniary mulct, and, failing payment, to the surrender of some fastnesses in security. Thereupon new difficulties arose, Malatesta avowing him-117-self as yet unconquered, and ready to brave extremities rather than accept the proffered terms. His swaggering was thus checked by Pius:—"Hold your peace; our care is not for you, but for your house: our pity belongs to your subjects, not yourself, whose manner of life merits no commiseration. However you may defend it by a multitude of words, your whole life tells against you, and your sole plea is upon the deeds of an ancestry deserving well of the Romish Church. Hence is it that we seek to pacify your foes; and if you now resile from what is fair and equitable, we shall leave you in the slough wherein we found you: nor would it surprise us were the divine mercy to permit the poor to be afflicted for a season, that you may finally expiate your guilt by a bloody end, or by a wretched and impoverished exile." Daunted by these words, Sigismondo succumbed to terms approaching the award; but the other party, elated by success, would make no concession, though the Pontiff, indignant at such clinging to victory rather than conciliation, strove to settle the points still at issue.[*97] It was in this state of matters that he indited the following brief.

"To Federigo, Count of Montefeltro, &c.

"Beloved son, we salute you. It is our urgent desire, in accordance with the charge committed to us, that harmony should be restored between the dissentient faithful; and to this we are the more urgently bound, when misunderstandings arise between our own friends and the subjects of the Holy Roman Church. Seeing, therefore, that quarrels have for some time past prevailed under our vicars, between you and our beloved son the noble Messer Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta of Rimini, occasioning bloodshed, fire-raising, rapine, and the like calamities, and that worse evils impend, unless timeously averted, we have-118- thought fit specially to intimate to you our pleasure that a friendly adjustment should take place, rather than arbitrarily to employ our supreme authority to that end. Twice have we fully discussed this matter at Florence, and now again at Mantua, and in this good and pious work we have had the aid of the noble and our beloved son Francesco Sforza Duke of Milan. We entertained the hope of bringing the affair to a happy conclusion, and of ensuring you an honourable and lasting peace, in which your credit and advantage should be equally regarded; nor shall this hope be fallacious if you will at all accede to our mediation. But since you demand very rigid conditions, giving your ambassador no discretion as to modifying them, and limit us to merely ministerial interference, it is impossible for us to bring about a compromise; for rather than thus accept a compulsory dictation, Sigismondo is ready to try the chances of war, and expose himself to all impending risks. It is with equal grief and astonishment that we perceive another great explosion ready to burst forth. You despise the pacification we offer you, sure, enduring, advantageous, honourable though it be. You are victorious, and Sigismondo acknowledges you to be so; as worsted, he is ready to submit to terms, and if you consent to our arbitration the matter is settled. Better surely to accept a certain and favourable proposal than to hazard a doubtful hope. You are the conqueror; let not your rigour and obstinacy wrest from you your conquest. Often have we read and observed how mutable are the events of war, how rapid and various its reverses, how constantly in the end an over-confident victor is vanquished. We therefore exhort your Highness in the Lord to weigh well this matter, and if you deem an honourable peace advantageous to your affairs, to leave open for our mediation somewhat of the terms you have dictated to your envoy, in which case we repeat our assurance that you will best consult your own reputation and-119- advantage. Given at Mantua, 21st June, in our first year [1459]."[98]

The Pontiff's eventual decision was, that their conquests should be mutually restored, but that La Pergola, Pietrarobbia, and other townships should be given over to the Count, in compensation of damages; also that Malatesta should consign Sinigaglia and Mondavio as security for payment to Ferdinand of 50,000 ducats, in full of his debts to the crown of Naples; this money, or, failing it, these towns, to be given to Piccinino in lieu of all demands on account of services to Alfonso and Federigo. The only difficulty in carrying out these terms appears to have originated with that selfish adventurer, who, trusting to the terror with which his robber bands were regarded, and conceiving that he might extort still greater advantages from a Pontiff intent on promptly settling every divisive element in Italian politics, made several demonstrations against the ecclesiastical territory. But the temporising Nicholas had been succeeded by a practical and energetic statesman, who at once ordered the Count of Urbino to protect the interests of the Church.[99] In the following spring an interview between the rivals, in token of their perfect reconciliation, was brought about by the Duke of Milan. It took place in presence of a numerous and noble concourse, witnesses to studied displays of affectionate cordiality, which on one side were neither voluntary nor sincere.



Count Federigo’s domestic life—His second marriage—New war for the Angevine succession to Naples—Battle of San Fabbiano—Conclusion of the war—Humiliation of the Malatesta.

THOSE readers who have thus far followed our narrative of Count Federigo's military career may perhaps regret that its somewhat limited and monotonous interest should not have been varied by glimpses of his domestic life. A prince whose engagements were observed with rare fidelity, whose chivalrous honour was happily combined with practical good sense and unflinching justice, must have been almost necessarily a good husband and kind master. But, in accordance with the habits of his age and the calls of his condottiere profession, most of his time was passed in the field, and unfortunately in those times few bards and biographers considered any incense worth offering which did not savour of

"The pomp and circumstance of glorious war."

His marriage with Gentile being hopelessly barren, he had followed the example of his father by obtaining papal briefs of legitimation, in 1454, for his natural sons Buonconte and Antonio. With the latter we shall make acquaintance by and by; the former, a youth of remarkable promise, is supposed to have been his destined heir,[100] but having been sent on a mission to Alfonso at Naples, in October, 1458, he died there of the plague; and another brother, Bernardino, who had accompanied him on that-121- journey, scarcely survived his return. Berni, speaking from personal knowledge of these two princes, applies to them Virgil's high-flown compliment to Marcellus:—

"Ah, couldst thou break through Fate's severe decree,
A new Marcellus shall arise in thee!
Full canisters of fragrant lilies bring,
Mixed with the purple roses of the spring;
Let me with funeral flowers his body strew."[101]

Federigo and Battista

P. della Francesca, pinx. L. Ceroni, sculp.



From the picture by Piero della Francesca in the Uffizi Gallery

These bereavements probably predisposed their father to a proposal made to him at Mantua by the Duke of Milan, that he should marry his niece Battista Sforza, daughter of the Lord of Pesaro, whose descent we have already explained, and who was now about thirteen years of age.[102] Her mother's death, when she was but eighteen months old, had occasioned her being carried at an early age to the court of Milan, where those gifts and endowments were well cultivated for which her mother and great-grandmother had been renowned. Nearly of an age with her cousin Hippolita Maria, one of the paragon princesses of her age, whose marriage to the heir presumptive of the Neapolitan crown we have noticed, she shared her laborious education, and amply redeemed her own hereditary claim to the talents and classical acquirements then in vogue among the pedantic dames of Italy. With the like showy scholarship and precocious command of Latin rhetoric to which her female predecessors had been trained, she was put forward to welcome illustrious visitors at Milan and Pesaro, in harangues which we are assured were-122- sometimes prepared, sometimes extempore, but always elegant and appropriate.[103] The same contemporary authority attributes her engagement with Federigo to the influence of King Alfonso immediately upon Gentile's death; but the dispensation is dated the 4th of October, 1459,[104] and in the following month the betrothal took place at Pesaro, where great satisfaction was displayed, and a donation of 3000 bolognini, or 75 florins, was voted by the council to Alessandro, of which he would accept but two-thirds. The marriage was celebrated at Urbino, on the 10th of February, 1460; and we turn to Sanzi's Chronicle, in the hope of finding some interesting details commemorated by an eye-witness. These pomps are, however, unfortunately curtailed by the poet, anxious to resume the dull recital of little wars. He describes the bride as

"A maiden
With every grace and virtue rare endowed,
That heaven at intervals on earth vouchsafes,
In earnest of the bliss reserved on high."

Muzio most unaccountably omits all notice of the marriage; we, however, learn from Betussi that she was tiny in person, but inherited the gifts and eloquence of her grandmother, Battista di Montefeltro. These she publicly exercised at Mantua, in an oration addressed to Pius II., and answered in a compliment dictated either by his gallantry or critical acumen. Bernardo Tasso has pleasingly embodied the testimony of her contemporaries:—

"The first of them in equal favour holds
Demosthenes and Plato; reading, too,
Plotinus, while, in wisdom as in words,
Arpino's orator she well shall match;
Consort of one unconquered, Frederick,
Urbino's Duke and long-tried champion."[105]





After the picture by Piero della Francesca in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence





After the picture by Piero della Francesca in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence


Yet much learning distracted her not from the practical affairs of life. During her husband's ever-recurring absences, she administered his state with singular propriety, besides bringing him many children. On the fourth day after the ceremony, Federigo left his capital to visit the Pope at Siena, where he was magnificently entertained, returning home to pass the carnival with his bride.

New elements of discord were meanwhile fermenting, by which the Turkish crusade was indefinitely postponed. The popularity gained by the noble character of Alfonso of Naples, and confirmed by his residence in Italy, descended not to his successor. Ferdinand was already unfavourably known, from his sombre and revengeful temper, his falsehood and avarice; yet we look in vain for provocations or grievances adequate to justify the factious proceedings of his great barons. Resolved to supplant him, they made overtures to Jean, King of Navarre, the successor to Alfonso's hereditary dominions, whose eldest son, Count Viane, had already gathered golden opinions in Lower Italy. But Jean, more anxious to consolidate his kingdom than to augment it by outlying appendages, declined interfering, and the malcontents turned to the Angevine claimant of the Neapolitan crown. René the Good still reigned in Provence, occupied with his pen and pencil, and better fitted to be the bard of chivalry than its hero. His son, the titular Duke of Calabria, had established himself at Genoa in 1458, with almost sovereign authority, on the invitation of her citizens, who, finding themselves worsted in a contest, unwisely renewed by Alfonso, after the peace of Lodi, in order to avenge himself of the obstinately Angevine policy of that republic, naturally called to their aid his French rival. The Duke's winning qualities, and the sound judgment which he had manifested in their service, were well calculated to render him a competitor very formidable to the unprepossessing-124- Ferdinand. The Genoese, whose hearts he had thus gained, were ready to back him with a naval armament, reinforced by some galleys originally fitted out at Marseilles for the Turkish expedition, but placed by Charles VII. at René's disposal. Florence, a tried partisan of the Angevine succession, was faithful to her prescriptive policy, and now urged upon Venice the recent grudge which both republics owed to Alfonso of Aragon. But it was in vain that the Duke sought support from Francesco Sforza and the Pope. The former, with comprehensive glance, calculated the risks of French domination in Italy, and took his stand on the treaty of Lodi, which, uniting all her powers in one solemn national league, guaranteed the succession of Naples. He therefore respectfully declined from the Angevine candidate the same bribe which Celestine had vainly offered him of his father's holdings in the Abruzzi, and during the Congress at Mantua confirmed the Pontiff's inclination for the Aragonese dynasty.

In October, 1459, the Duke of Calabria made a descent on the Neapolitan coast, and his arrival gave the signal for an almost universal rising of the great barons of the kingdom. At this crisis of his fortunes, Ferdinand succeeded, through the Duke of Milan's strenuous exertions, in detaching from the Angevine party Venice and Florence, which assumed a neutral position. He also summoned Piccinino from schemes of personal aggrandisement in La Marca, to defend his crown; but that greedy freebooter, indignant at being called off his quarry, took the usual licence of condottieri, and opened a correspondence with his master's competitor. Warned of this by the Count of Urbino, the King and the Duke of Milan made every effort to retain Giacopo under the banner of Aragon, and we are assured that the Count, in their interest, went so far as to promise him a surrender of part of his newly recovered territory, should the adventurer not make good for himself any-125- other seigneury.[106] But trusting little to that slippery soldier, they desired Federigo and the Lord of Pesaro to concert measures for preventing his march into the Abruzzi. Their precautions were, however, defeated, for Piccinino, who then lay in Romagna, sent his baggage and camp-followers to be embarked at the nearest ports, and partly by dexterously misleading them as to his route, chiefly by forced marches of extraordinary rapidity, in three days scoured the Adriatic coast, and reached the Tronto without impediment. On the last day he is said to have done fifty miles, with twenty squadrons of men-at-arms and two thousand infantry—a feat which cost him many horses, and which he was believed to have effected by aid of the Lady of Loretto, before whose shrine he found time to prefer a passing orison. Possibly more important to his success was the adhesion of Ercole d'Este, and of the Lords of Rimini and Camerino, to the cause of Anjou, as well as orders privately given by the papal legate to accelerate the passage of his formidable company through the ecclesiastical territory.

Although the army of the League, following closely on that of Piccinino, had crossed the Tronto early in April, it was unable to effect a junction with Ferdinand, in consequence of the eastern side of the kingdom having risen against him, and of the passes being all well guarded. In this state of affairs the King's defeat at Sarno rendered his prospects still more gloomy, and his only remaining hope seemed to rest on the confederate force in the Abruzzi. It consisted of a strong contingent from Lombardy, led by Bosio Sforza, and of a less important brigade of ecclesiastical troops, besides the hardy mountaineers of-126- Montefeltro and the well-tried company of Alessandro Sforza, the whole commanded by the Count of Urbino. It was kept in check by Piccinino's army, superior especially in infantry and cross-bowmen, although of late considerably weeded of the Braccian veterans, many of whom had taken service under the Lords of Pesaro and Urbino.

In July these contending armaments were in presence at San Fabbiano, on the Tordino, the Angevines encamped on the hill-side, the Aragonese in the plain, separated by a considerable extent of intervening level ground, on which marauding or exploring parties from each camp daily met. During one of these skirmishes, a defiance was given by Nardo da Marsciano to Francesco della Carda to break a lance, which was cheerfully accepted; and the challenge being repeated by Serafino da Montefalcone, it was taken up by one Fantaguzzo da S. Arcangelo. Two days were allowed for preparations, and, when the encounters took place, victory declared for the Aragonese knights, who, by order of Piccinino, were crowned with laurel, and escorted back to their camp by a pompous array of martial music. While aiding to keep the lists, Federigo, in making a dash at a straggler, spurred his charger, which suddenly bounding, so wrenched his back that he was rendered incapable of motion, and was lifted from his horse in exquisite pain. Being put to bed, with the prospect of a tedious cure, a council of war was held in his tent, when Alessandro Sforza, the next in command, advocated a general action; but the Count spoke long and strongly in favour of defensive tactics, and of saving the troops from continual skirmishes, exhausting to their strength and temper. The latter opinion was unanimously approved of; but Alessandro having exclaimed, with some show of mortified feeling, "You, however, have thrice had a tussle with the enemy," Federigo replied, "Well then, you may do the same, but with two or-127- three squadrons only, not putting the whole encampment under arms." Accordingly, two days after,[107] a partial onset was made, which, as both sides were supported by repeated reinforcements, gradually brought on a general action. The battle, thus commenced without plan or object, became a disorderly pell-mell fight, and hence, probably, its results were far more fatal than the usually bloodless engagements of hired companies, more anxious about their own safety than the cause which they supported for the nonce. Little can be gathered from the confused accounts of the Urbino writers, and that of Simonetta is obviously incomplete. From the latter it would seem that the Braccians strove to cross a deep ditch in front of their quarters, whilst Ricotti makes them successful in breaking through the enemy's line, too much extended under an apprehension of being outflanked by superior numbers. Again, the biographers of Federigo tell us that, learning the impending loss of a battle brought on against his advice, he rose from bed, had himself swathed in bandages, and, though unable to don his armour, was lifted on horseback, heading a charge of the reserve, which, although not crowned by victory, averted a certain and signal defeat. The contest was prolonged when night had closed in, and, after seven hours of severe fighting, the combatants withdrew to their respective quarters. Baldi, who dwells very fully on the Count's gallantry, quoting contemporary manuscripts, mentions that two horses were killed under him: but his courage was shown in triumphing over the agony of his malady even more than by exposing himself in the brunt of a battle which had become almost desperate. His conduct in both respects was done justice to by his followers, and much of his military reputation dated from-128- the disastrous fight of San Fabbiano. It is to be regretted that no return of its casualties has reached us, as it would have been curious to know the losses of the most bloody action of this age. Berni merely says that 400 horses and many men were slain. As to its immediate consequences, our authorities are again at issue. Simonetta, the historian of the Sforzas, and, consequently, a partisan of the League, admits that, though apparently a drawn battle, the disadvantage was greatly on the allies' side; that a portion of their troops fled from the field, and never drew bridle until they had crossed the Tronto, followed by the rest, during the stillness of the subsequent night. Sismondi also claims a victory for the Angevines, with the loss to their opponents of all their baggage and most of their horses. On the other hand, Baldi quotes two contemporary authorities, one of them a spectator, to prove that Federigo's army sacrificed scarcely more than four hundred horses, and that he did not break up his cantonments for at least ten days later, and even then only in consequence of progressive disaffection in the Abruzzi. He admits, however, that the confederate army exhibited a most pusillanimous spirit, and, but for their captain-general's exertions and authority, would have actually done what Simonetta lays to their charge, instead of eventually retiring beyond the Tronto rapidly, but in good order, with baggage and wounded, their retreat covered by a succession of ambuscades, which checked and severely punished the columns of Piccinino, while in disorderly pursuit.

The tournament which preluded this mortal strife proves that a spirit of chivalry still animated the Italian condottieri,[*108] who, in the words of Dante,

"Hired to a hireling, still with hirelings fights,
Ne'er asks the cause of quarrel nor its rights."


An anecdote of Federigo which occurred a few days later illustrates the same feeling. Piccinino, informed by spies of the panic prevailing among the allies, sought by all means to aggravate it, in order to rid himself of them without further bloodshed. He, therefore, on various pretexts, sent into their camp bearers of bad news, and exaggerated rumours from the south. One of these emissaries, being taken before the Count and asked what tidings, represented himself as commissioned by Giacopo to request that their plate and valuables might not be sent away, as he wished to have them for his own special use. Federigo, though blessed with uncommon command of temper, was irritated by this boastful and ill-timed insult, and, starting to his feet, exclaimed, "Reply to Piccinino, or whoever else sent you on this mission, that he who would win my property will have enough to do, and must first stake his own." Then, looking towards the sun, he added, "It is now late, but to-morrow I shall inquire by what means he is to get them." In the morning he accordingly sent his secretary, Paltroni, to inform the General that, having received such a message in his name, he desired to know how he proposed to gain these things, by pitched battle or single combat; that he was welcome to choose what way he pleased, as they would be well defended against one or many. But Giacopo repudiated the bravado imputed to him, and sent back the envoy with many compliments, so that this intended discouragement was, by the Count's tact, converted into a sort of triumph, at the expense rather than to the advantage of his designing adversary.

Ferdinand having lost every place of importance but his capital, the cause of Aragon was now most critically situated; and had the Duke of Calabria moved directly upon Naples, there can be little doubt that the French dynasty would have been seated, and probably established, upon the throne of one of the Sicilies. But he let slip-130- the favourable moment, influenced it is said by Orsini, Prince of Tarento. Such was the predominance enjoyed by this overgrown feudatory, that Alfonso had conceived a marriage with his niece Isabella sufficient to secure the crown to Ferdinand; yet was he the first to disturb the succession, and his whole power had been directed against her husband. It is said that love or duty, ambition or pique, working on woman's wit, induced her to hazard an appeal to her uncle's mercy, and that, disguised as a Franciscan monk, she made her way to his tent, where her expostulations moved the stern baron to give breathing time to Ferdinand, by diverting the Angevine arms from the capital to less important places. Simonetta, omitting this little romance of history, ascribes Orsini's policy to the selfish motive of prolonging a civil war which augmented his individual importance. Under this pressing necessity all thoughts of the Turkish crusade were abandoned; and even Pius postponed to a more fitting season, what he regarded as the cause of Christendom, in favour of one which Sforza had satisfied him was that of Italy. Both these sovereigns promptly advanced subsidies, and a small contingent of troops from Lombardy arrived in the confederate camp. The Count of Urbino's service as captain-general expired in September, when he would gladly have quitted a cause forsaken apparently by fortune, in order to protect home interests, always in peril from his neighbour of Rimini. But he was persuaded to accept a renewed engagement from the Pontiff, who in the autumn was recalled from Siena by the exigency of his capital.

Piccinino, consulting as much the advantage of his own company as that of the house of Anjou, made a descent upon the Sabine territory, and scoured the rich Campagna, until the Romans, tracing from their walls his path of fire, trembled for their insecure city. The army of the League was summoned in all haste for its defence, but their march-131- was delayed by divided councils and private aims, the leaders being averse to leaving exposed their interests in Romagna; and had Giacopo ventured to attack the Eternal City, instead of intriguing with a few of her discontented inhabitants, he might have anticipated those scenes of plunder and outrage inflicted on her in the following century by the lawless host of the Constable Bourbon. But it was reserved for a French renegade, leading a horde of ultra-montane banditti, to strike a blow, from which the Italian condottiere may have recoiled as sacrilegious. Fortunately, Federigo was thus spared the disgrace which tarnishes his grandson Duke Francesco Maria I., of sacrificing the metropolis of Christendom to dilatory movements and selfish ends. After losing three months inactively on the Adriatic, the confederates advanced into the Sabine country, and recovered several places lately seized by the Angevines. November having arrived, both armies went into winter quarters; the Count of Urbino at Magliano, near Narni, where he learned that his departure from La Marca had encouraged Malatesta to seize upon Mondavio, which under the late arrangement had become his, Sinigaglia being re-annexed to the Church.

Federigo and Alessandro Sforza repaired to Rome for the Christmas ceremonies, when there occurred a singular proceeding, commemorated by Pius in his Commentaries. An advocate of the papal courts brought before a full consistory the malpractices of Sigismondo Malatesta in a formal pleading, accusing him of rapine, wilful fire-raising, slaughter, rape, adultery, incest, parricide, sacrilege, treason, lese-majesty, and heresy, and praying his Holiness to listen to the suppliant voices of those who could no longer endure the tyrant's cruel yoke, and to avenge them by at length freeing Italy from a foul and abominable monster, in whose cities no good man's life was safe. None having replied to this oration, the Count of Urbino and his neighbour of Pesaro resumed the charges, alleging that many of the-132- culprit's worst enormities had been passed over; that his treacheries equalled the number of his transactions, that none ever trusted him without being betrayed, that he scoffed not at one or another point of faith, but at the whole evangelical system, in utter ignorance of religion. The Pontiff then, in a long speech, took credit for leniency, in not summarily consigning the offender to eternal perdition, and remitted the cause to the Cardinal of S. Pietro-ad-vincula. The report by his Eminence pronounced him guilty of all these crimes, and of disbelief in the resurrection or the soul's immortality; whereupon sentence went forth, depriving him of his state and dignities, and condemning him to the punishment of heresy. On a vast pile of combustibles raised before the steps of St. Peter's, was placed an effigy of Sigismondo from the mouth of which issued a scroll inscribed, "Here am I, Sigismondo Malatesta, son of Pandolfo, king of traitors, foe of God and man, condemned to the flames by a sentence of the sacred college." Fire being applied, the figure was consumed amid the curses of thousands, and in Easter week of 1461, formal excommunication went out against the brothers Malatesta.[109]




Detail from the fresco by Piero della Francesca in the Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini

When spring permitted new operations, the League, by a series of petty successes, restored the papal authority in the revolted townships, and punished Savelli, one of the great Campagna chiefs who had sided with the Angevine pretender. Then crossing the frontier into the Abruzzi, Alessandro Sforza encompassed Sulmona, whilst Federigo, by a most difficult march among the Apennine sierras, made a successful foray upon the enemy's unprotected country. From thence he suddenly returned, on hearing that Pius contemplated retiring from Rome to Tivoli during the dog-day heats, and warmly remonstrated with his Holiness on risking his person among a proverbially treacherous population, by whom Piccinino had been recently welcomed. To these entreaties, seconded by the-133- cardinals, the Pope replied that a residence among them was the surest means of recovering the affections of these citizens, and confirming their attachment to the Holy See. Thither accordingly he was escorted by the Count of Urbino with ten troops of horse; and the Pontiff dwells in glowing terms on their splendid horses, arms, and accoutrements, their shields glittering in the morning sun, their crests and morions dazzling beholders, each troop a forest of spears. "As they rode along the Campagna, Federigo, whose reading was extensive, inquired of his Holiness whether the generals of antiquity were armed like those of our day? Pius replied that all the weapons in actual use, as well as many now obsolete, may be found in Homer and Virgil, for though poets sometimes invent, yet they generally describe pretty correctly what has at some period existed. The conversation turning upon the Trojan war, which the Count endeavoured to depreciate, the Pontiff demonstrated its importance, and that its great reputation was not unfounded. Such pleasant and spirited discourse upon ancient history was prolonged between them to the Lucano Bridge, where the guard was dismissed; but, thereafter, his Holiness availed himself of a leisure moment at Tivoli to detail from Ptolemy, Strabo, Pliny, Quintus Curtius, Julius Solinus, Pomponius Mela, and other old authors, many appropriate particulars regarding Asia Minor and its limits, which had by chance been mentioned."

This interesting episode concluded, Federigo rejoined his army, and after accumulating vast booty from the villages, and carrying several fastnesses, dictated terms to the important city of Aquila. Thus passed the summer, and in October he was instructed to bring to obedience the Duke of Sora, who had thrown off allegiance to Ferdinand. Before attacking the town of that name he found it necessary to reduce the mountain fortress of Castelluccio, near the Garigliano; but its tiny garrison,-134- availing themselves of a strong position, held out against the defective artillery of that day until a large force had assembled for its relief. These, however, met from him so warm a reception that they were glad to retire, and leave not only the place but all the duchy of Sora at his mercy. This service was most grateful to Pius, who gladly saw an enemy on his very frontier brought to terms. In the next consistory he remarked that "this captain of ours with his single eye sees everything," and addressed to him the following complimentary brief, which Muzio has preserved. "To our well-beloved son, health and apostolic benediction: We have been duly informed of the courage wherewith you have met the enemy, and in how short a time you have carried the stronghold you were beleaguering. These marvellous exploits content us much, and are worthy of your wonted prowess and magnanimity. Dear to us is your person, and we would cherish your worth and valour. Proceed as you have commenced, and daily add to your good offices in behalf of ourselves and of his Majesty: let it be your endeavour by every exertion to augment your reputation, and you shall always be the son of our benediction. From Rome, at St. Peter's, under the fisher's ring, this 1st of October, 1461, in the eighth year of our pontificate."

During the dead season Federigo visited the Pope and Ferdinand, to concert measures for the ensuing campaign, and on its opening was again obliged to proceed against the Duke of Sora, who had evaded a submission extorted from him in the autumn. It was not, however, by such petty achievements that the Neapolitan succession was to be settled. Nominally a republic, Genoa was really an oligarchy, the sport of rival factions; but there had long been a leaning to the Angevine alliance, and no support could have been more useful to that house in its pretensions upon Naples. Without command of the sea, such pretensions were absolutely vain, and that commercial-135- community, situated between Provence and Lower Italy, not only secured to these a mutual intercourse, but formed a most available entrepôt for reinforcements and military stores. The French, originally received within its walls as allies, had become virtually masters of the maritime state; but in the spring of 1461 a popular revolution, occasioned by financial burdens consequent upon the Neapolitan war, and promoted by the Duke of Milan, overthrew the Angevine party, and obliged the French to seek shelter in the fortress. An army chosen from the chivalry of Languedoc and France was embarked at Marseilles to succour the Duke of Calabria, but his father directed the fleet conveying it to stand into the bay of Genoa, in hopes of easily re-establishing there the Angevine interests. He was, however, repulsed thence in July by a defeat so bloody and complete that his army was annihilated and his influence entirely overthrown. The cause of René, hitherto almost uniformly successful, never recovered this check, by which he lost at once a highly important reinforcement and a most serviceable ally. Other discouragements followed in rapid succession: the death of Charles VII. deprived him of a powerful coadjutor, the unlooked for convalescence of Francesco Sforza restored energy to his most active adversary, and a sudden descent upon Apulia by George Scanderbeg, the hero of Greece, with a seasonable reinforcement of Castriot horse, cheered Ferdinand's drooping spirits, and enabled him during the campaign of 1462 to recover his lost advantages.

Sigismondo Malatesta having recovered most of his territories in the previous year, Piccinino conceived the opportunity favourable for employing in the French interests his soldiery, no longer required for his own ends. He therefore dispatched an emissary with sufficient funds to retain some minor condottieri of Lombardy and Romagna, and to persuade Malatesta to march at their head into the Abruzzi. By this effort a force was raised which gave-136- extreme uneasiness to the Pope for the safety of La Marca, and from which great expectations were raised by the Angevines, in the belief that it would promptly advance southward. There was thus little difficulty in allowing Federigo to hasten from the seat of war in order to meet this new danger; and although he hurried onwards with extraordinary rapidity, he reached Sinigaglia an hour after it had been treacherously surrendered to its former master, the Lord of Rimini. Sigismondo, alarmed at this unexpected descent, made overtures to his old rival in an altered tone, interlarding general professions of regard with many wily suggestions that their common interests would be far safer with Sinigaglia in his hands than in those of the Church. Without entering upon this view of the matter, Federigo replied that, being in the field not as Count of Urbino but as captain of his Holiness, such private considerations must be postponed to a more fitting moment.

The rising sun was gilding the slumbering Adriatic on the 12th of August, when the Count appeared before Sinigaglia, after a forced march from the Chiento, thirty long miles distant, effected within as many hours.[110] During that day his army passed the Nevola, and sat down within a bow-shot of the enemy's camp. Had Malatesta at once charged these toil-worn troops, his victory might have been complete; had he occupied the city, or kept possession of his own well-fortified entrenchments, he might have waited another opportunity for striking a decisive blow. But from folly or cowardice irreconcilable with the fair reputation he held among contemporary free captains, he adopted the extraordinary resolution of a retreat upon Fano, and shortly before midnight silently quitted his camp. Federigo was, however, on the alert, and throwing himself on-137- horseback, sped on with a few mounted squadrons, whilst he ordered all his troops to follow with their utmost diligence. As he hurried forward, some of his staff, unaware of the precautions taken against surprise, remonstrated at the risk of thus rushing into danger; but he cheered them on, saying it was in like manner, and the same hour, and through this very country, that Claudius Nero had advanced after Asdrubal, when he beat and utterly overthrew him. Thus pressing onward he overtook the enemy at the streamlet of the Cesano, and with trumpet and shouts raised the cry to battle. Sigismondo, deeming it impossible for the army to follow after its severe exertions of the preceding night, conceived his pursuers to be but a handful of skirmishers whom it were well at once to dispose of. He therefore formed his rear-guard to receive their attack, thus giving the main body of his adversaries time to arrive. A full moon enabled the Count to perceive his advantage, without exposing his weakness; and, waiting until he was sufficiently supported, he charged with an impetuosity which cleared the rivulet, and so thoroughly routed the enemy that even their van felt the shock and took to flight. Before dawn Malatesta's army, although said to have outnumbered Federigo's as five to two, was scattered to the winds, whilst he escaped into Fano, and his eldest son to Mondolfo. The victor, after a day to recruit his men, withdrew into his own state, having no artillery wherewith to reduce Sinigaglia.

Sigismondo, ever prepared to cloak defeat by hypocrisy, sent a confidential envoy to the Count, charged with the same arguments and professions he had a few days before proposed to him, and commissioned to offer the hand of his eldest son Roberto for one of Federigo's infant daughters, in guarantee of their perfect reconciliation. For reply, the latter taunted him with his ever-broken faith, and rejected propositions which it would be dishonourable in him to entertain, as an officer of the Pope,-138- whose service he infinitely preferred to amity or relationship with Malatesta. This negotiation being reported to his Holiness by the legate, was approved in the following papal brief addressed to Federigo.

"If it be as reported to us, that accomplished master of treason and wicked plotter of profanity, Sigismondo Malatesta, a true son of perdition, has attempted in many and various ways to undermine your still incorruptible faith; and this, as we have heard, and as you have in part informed us, since he was worsted and overthrown near Sinigaglia, nay, driven to a disgraceful flight, by your superior might and the bravery of your soldiers: and he has at the same time added that, if we reduce him to do our kitchen service and to set our meat in order, you too will end by becoming our muleteer; promising you, however, an alliance with his family, provided you will either reinstate him in our favour, or abstain from annoying him: but we are aware how wisely you replied to his folly, and how your good sense brought him to confusion. It is superfluous for us to advise you as to the most prudent course; we would but encourage you heartily to persevere and keep at him, letting slip no opportunity of oppressing and humbling the enemy, and that you do your utmost speedily to terminate this war, and to liberate us and yourself from a most rascally foe, with whom no terms of peace can ever be relied on. And do not imagine, however much our ally the King of France may desire a truce in the kingdom of Hither Sicily, including in it Sigismondo as his adherent, that we shall suffer any to interfere as arbiter or judge between us and our subjects, except the Holy See which we represent. Proceed then, conquer, destroy, and consume this accursed Sigismondo, and in him neutralise the poison of Italy. Which if you do, as we hope, you will be most dear not only to us, but to all our successors in time to come, and we shall acknowledge your deserts by such recompense as shall by all be-139- considered adequate. It is not nobility that we hate, as is falsely asserted by him, but profligate and faithless nobles like himself, who has not hesitated to betray his mother and sovereign the Roman Church, and we shall not neglect to chastise him as God may give us opportunity. You, and all such as imitate your ways, we love right heartily, and shall honour and exalt to the utmost of our power while life endures, knowing well that authority is best maintained by punishments and rewards, and that in the opinion of all the world, Sigismondo has earned the former and you the latter. From Petriuolo with our own hand, this 6th of October, 1462."[111]

In implement of these promises, the Count, on the 3rd of November, received a commission as lieutenant-general of the ecclesiastical forces, which he had hitherto led as captain-general, and under his authority pursued with energy the invasion of his enemy's territory. On the 20th of September he obtained Mondavio, whose inhabitants averted a sack by paying 3000 ducats. This was followed by a surrender of the whole vicariat of Sinigaglia and territory of Fano, which he did his best to save from the miseries of war: but as it was necessary to keep his soldiery in good humour, he at Barchi allowed all the people to remove; then closing the gates, and disarming his men, he gave the word for a general assault upon the abandoned fortress, whose pillage was thus in some degree divested of the horrors usually attendant on such scenes, which are described by Sanzi in these feeling terms:—

"Alas, the wailing, the heart-rending woe!
The modest mansions and proud palaces,
The towers and petty castles, all o'erthrown;
Their dwellers madly rushing here and there,-140-
Their women weeping in dishevelled garb,
Imploring mercy for their little ones!
Ah, cruel fates, ah, tendencies accursed!
Such, Malatesta! the embittered fruits
Of thy dissensions and audacious deeds.
Unwearied foe to peace! How numerous
The victims of thy countless crimes, who thus
Their substance see in ashes or despoiled,
Themselves imprisoned and impoverished."

The Count now carried his victorious arms into the country of Rimini, and, after taking Mondaino, laid siege to Montefiori, which capitulated on the 22nd of October, when Giovanni, a son of Sigismondo, was made prisoner. Being demanded by the papal legate, it was not without considerable discussion that a preferable claim to his ransom was established for the lieutenant-general, who proved that the war was on his part one neither of selfishness nor vengeance, by freely restoring his liberty and personal effects, and escorting him in person from the camp with many kind and consolatory expressions. It is curious to contrast this chivalrous conduct with the unworthy trick by which Federigo dexterously, and apparently without any stain upon his good name, gained the citadel of Verucchio after the town had surrendered. He caused a letter, forged in the name of Sigismondo, and fastened with an old impression of his seal,[112] to be transmitted to the castellan, informing him that on a stated night a reinforcement of twenty men would arrive, whom he should be prepared to admit. At the indicated hour a detachment stealthily approached the gate, which was hastily opened to them on an alarm rising in the besieger's-141- camp; rushing upon the guard, they were quickly supported by their confederates, and the place was carried ere the garrison were aware that they had admitted enemies in the guise of friends. The few remaining weeks of open weather sufficed to reduce all the territory of Rimini, with most of that around Cesena; and when the snow fell Federigo repaired to Verucchio, whence he blockaded the city of Rimini during the winter.

The misfortunes thus heaped upon Malatesta were paralleled by those which befel the Angevine cause. Hastening to obtain succours from Piccinino, he found him paralysed by an almost equally decisive defeat received before Troia on the 18th of August. Within a month the Prince of Tarento gave his adherence to Ferdinand, a clear proof that the star of Aragon was in the ascendant; and although this example was not adopted by Giacopo until the following autumn, his intermediate exertions were directed to securing the means of dictating favourable terms for himself, rather than to saving the Duke of Calabria from reverses rapidly accumulating around him. In August, 1463, he made his peace, receiving Sulmona and many adjoining townships as a sovereign principality, and in spring the Duke, whose footing had during many months been limited to the island of Ischia, returned to Provence, finally abandoning his pretensions to Lower Italy. These evil tidings are said to have found his father René so absorbed in painting a partridge that the loss of a kingdom neither shook his hand nor ruffled its plumage.

After his bootless visit to the Angevine camp Sigismondo turned for aid to Venice, and obtained the Signory's mediation with Pius in his behalf. But the Pontiff, by a long allocution recorded in his Commentaries, justified to their ambassador the strong measures required against so incorrigible an offender, who thereupon directed his energies to providing Fino and Rimini with means of resistance. In the reopening campaign his opponent's first measure-142- was to bring Macerata and some other mountain fastnesses to terms, for which the noise of his guns sufficed. Thence he descended upon Fano, then held by Roberto Malatesta, and after the manner of the age preluded his attack by gathering in the harvest that awaited the townspeople's sickles. This delay allowed the languid ecclesiastical levies to arrive, and in July the siege was formed. Under a system of improved warfare few places would be more untenable, its position affording it no natural advantages, and lying open to assault by sea or land. It was otherwise in the infancy of artillery and military engineering. Much time and labour and some lives were expended before the besiegers' pieces could be brought to bear, or be protected from the heavy stones, weighing each 300 pounds, which were fired upon them from the ramparts. Sigismondo commanded the sea by means of vessels chartered at Venice, supplying the place with men, ammunition, and provisions; and although his fleet was seriously damaged by a flotilla of boats hastily manned by Federigo's orders, communications were quickly re-established under protection of some Venetian galleys: after these had been recalled, in consequence of urgent representations made to the Signory on behalf of the Pope, this service was performed by two Angevine galleys hired by Malatesta for the purpose. Neither perseverance nor courage in its proper sense were qualities of the Italian soldiery, even in their age of military reputation, and the discouragement resulting from this state of affairs was so aggravated by a terrific thunder-storm, under cover of which a sally captured their artillerymen and dismounted their guns, that it was with the utmost difficulty, and only by urgent representations to Pius himself, the lieutenant-general could keep his troops together. Aware that success constituted his best hold upon them, he redoubled his exertions, and in a short time had the satisfaction not only of remedying these reverses, but of seeing his opera-143-tions put on a really satisfactory footing. The prospect of pillage now carried his army to the opposite extreme; they could not be restrained from an assault, which they gave with such impetuosity that the terrified citizens capitulated whilst Roberto with his mother and sisters retired into the castle. These ladies, remembering the Count's generous conduct to their Giovanni at Montefiori, and preferring his clemency to the risks of further resistance, induced Roberto to surrender it on the third day, before a shot had been fired in its defence. The conditions appear to have been a general assurance of protection to persons and property; and when the Malatesta family presented themselves before their conqueror, the ladies in convulsive grief, he was assailed by persuasions from the legate and most of his officers and advisers—

"To keep the word of promise to the ear,
And break it to the sense."

They urged upon him that, in dealing with an enemy who had again and again set good faith at defiance, it was weakness to adhere to a capitulation, and thus lose the opportunity at length offered by fortune of avenging past injuries on the son of his foe; at all events that, under provocations so aggravated, he would be amply justified in observing the terms rather to the letter than in their spirit, and in exacting an ample ransom for his prisoners, as Sigismondo would, in the like circumstances, have assuredly done. These suggestions, though entirely conformable to the morality and honour of the age, were rejected by Federigo, to whose candid and generous mind they seemed mere sophistry. He, therefore, not only liberated the Malatesta, but escorted them to the place of their embarkation for Rimini. Pius has himself recorded the feelings with which he learned the fall of Fano. Rising from table, he spread his hands towards heaven, and poured forth thanks to the Almighty, who thus loaded-144- him with benefits. After which, he said apart, "There is now nothing to keep me at home; God calls me to his own war, and lays open the way; there is no reason for further delay." These, however, were projects destined to remain unfulfilled.

The moral influence of the Count's moderation, as well as of his success, was proved in the speedy surrender of Mondolfo and Sinigaglia, by which the whole vicariat finally passed from the Malatesta, and lapsed to the Church. Fano has ever since been included in the ecclesiastical territory, but Sinigaglia, conferred by Sixtus IV. on his nephew, Giovanni della Rovere, son-in-law of Federigo, became the cradle of the second ducal dynasty of Urbino, and an integral portion of their duchy. In order to reduce what remained of the Rimini fiefs, the Count presented himself before the stronghold of Gradara, a mountain village, even now retaining some interesting memorials of the Malatesta, which quickly followed the example of Sinigaglia,[113] as did Maiuolo, Penna di Billi, and S. Agata, in Montefeltro.

Accident now intervened to save Sigismondo from utter destruction. Some disputes between Venice and the Emperor, originating in commercial jealousies, exposed Trieste to an attack by the former. It happened that Pius, having been bishop of that place, interposed in his behalf. The Venetian Signory had observed with jealousy the progress of the Church along the Adriatic, which they looked upon as their own lake, and where their ascendancy was apparently secure, so long as its western sea-board continued to be partitioned among petty feudatories and communities. Their plan of indirectly thwarting the siege of Fano having failed, they seized this opportunity of making the recal of their armament against Trieste conditional upon an arrangement between his Holiness and Malatesta, urging that it ill became him to preach-145- Christian union as a preliminary to the Turkish crusade, whilst he pertinaciously instigated a selfish contest. It was not easy to evade or answer a plea which appealed to the Pontiff's ruling passion, especially as apprehensions began to be entertained that Sigismondo might in desperation sell his services, or even his territory, to the Infidel. Availing himself of this favourable opening, the culprit sent envoys from Rimini to Rome, to sue for peace on any terms. Those dictated by Pius were abundantly stringent to gratify vengeance and disarm apprehension. In order to expiate his flagrant heresies, commissioners, formally authorised by him, were to appear in the church of the Santissimi Apostoli, on a festival, during celebration of mass, and there publicly confess and recant their master's atheistical tenets. As an atonement for his treasons and temporal misdeeds, his possessions were forfeited to the Church, except Rimini and a few miles of the surrounding country, his conquests from Federigo being at the same time restored. Conditions of nearly equal severity were imposed on Malatesta of Cesena, and the remnant of territory allowed to the brothers was continued to them only during life, under burden of a heavy annual tribute. But for the imperious Sigismondo there was reserved a deeper humiliation. As the bishop who was commissioned to raise the interdict approached his capital, he and his people met him in suppliant guise. Proceeding to the cathedral, the prelate set forth the sins of the sovereign, and imposed upon the community three days of fasting and penance, with suspension of Divine ministrations. At the end of that interval, Sigismondo appeared on his knees before the bishop at the high altar, to acknowledge his errors, implore their remission, and pledge his future obedience: whereupon he and his people, who crowded around in the same abject attitude, were absolved, and received the benediction.

Thus ended twenty-four years of strife between Sigis-146-mondo and Federigo, which, necessarily occupying our narrative, may have unduly taxed the patience of our readers. When it began, the Malatesta owned the whole coast from Cervia and Cesena to the Fiumisino, near Ancona. Had their conduct equalled their daring ambition, they might, by acquiring the comparatively unimportant fiefs of Urbino, Durante, and Gubbio, and by absorbing the petty holdings which adjoined their northern frontier, have established a powerful state in the fairest and strongest provinces of Central Italy. But when the struggle closed, it left them but a precarious life-interest in mere fractions of that ample territory, the rest of which had gone to enrich the Church, or to aggrandise their especial enemies, the Montefeltri and the Sforza. The portion now accruing to Federigo, by authority of the Pope and the consistory, included about fifty townships between the Foglia and the Marecchia, which had been partly seized from himself and his predecessors, partly held as debatable land, subject to the strongest, but which henceforward continued incorporated with Urbino.



Count Federigo’s home administration and court—Description of his palace and library at Urbino—His other palaces—The resources of his state.

THE three years and a half which had now passed since the Count's marriage had been spent by him almost entirely in active service. During his long absences, the state was in a great measure administered by Countess Battista, who, notwithstanding her youth, is said to have held the reins of government with admirable firmness and good sense, as well as with a leniency and gentleness which conciliated universal popularity.[114] The remainder of his life had a more peaceful destiny, for not only was his almost domestic foe Malatesta now reduced to harmless insignificance, but Italy enjoyed comparative respite from her normal condition of unceasing strife. We are assured that Federigo turned to excellent account the opportunities this afforded for attending to the internal affairs of the duchy, and ameliorating the position of his people. But his biographers, deeming these objects much less momentous than his military exploits, have unfortunately left us almost in the dark regarding occupations and measures so infinitely more important, as distinguishing his views from those of his age and order. Of the laws which he promulgated, the manner of enacting and administering them, the organisation and exercise of justice, the operation and limits of popular rights, the extent and value of municipal suffrages, the system of taxation and finance, the tendency-148- and usage of trade, the statistics of the duchy, the internal condition and well-being of the people, we scarcely obtain a hint from those who prolixly dwell upon battle-fields, detail sieges, and trace countermarches, few of which offer variety of tactics or interesting results. Neither are manuscript authorities in this respect more useful than the published memoirs, for most of those we have seen are adulatory compositions, occupied only with matter calculated to enhance our appreciation of their hero as a successful general or patron of letters, but utterly neglecting the internal policy of his government. The peculiar quality of his mind unquestionably was that strict observance of good faith, a total absence of which is the fatal characteristic, the indelible stain of his age. There is thus every reason to believe that the conditions imposed upon him at his succession in 1443 would be rigidly fulfilled, and we have discovered no complaint ever made against him of their non-observance. They provide, according to the lights then enjoyed, for a popular election and control of magistrates, reduction of burdens, fiscal reforms, public education, and medical aid, restrictions on the prerogative in so far as it sheltered abuses,—and it is obvious that, if carried out in their true spirit, they must have offered no mean guarantees against such tyranny as the recent historian of the Ausonian Republics has sweepingly charged upon all mediæval dynasties.


A. Nini, del. A. Marchetti, sculp.


From an original drawing by Agostino Nini of Bologna

The few notices of his government wherewith Baldi has favoured us savour of those minute and paternal attentions which ensure to a prince great personal popularity. He tells us that the Count commissioned certain persons called revisors to perambulate the state, and investigate the condition of the people. Among the matters specially committed to them were these: To inquire into the requirements of the religious houses; to ascertain where maidens of good reputation were unable from poverty to obtain husbands; to inform themselves secretly-149- as to modest paupers; to learn what traders or shopkeepers were distressed by large families, debts, or any particular misadventure. In order to secure efficiency to this charitable espionage, these officers were privileged to pass at all times into the sovereign's presence, and it is said that a porter or groom of the chambers, who had rudely denied one of them access, was summarily punished by a public whipping. Following up this system, the Count, in his daily walks or rides, used to call to him the citizens individually, questioning as to their welfare and circumstances, or encouraging them in any enterprise or building they had undertaken. "But," continues the Abbot of Guastalla, "to such details we do not descend, as do some writers, overscrupulous about trifles; nor shall we tell how, on daily recurring occasions, he interfered to maintain the poor, to arrest litigation, to secure a pure administration of justice, to protect the honour of families, and to recompense his diligent servants. Still less do we collect his witty jests and pleasant sayings, as these are things far too petty and unbecoming the gravity of history, besides which, they all or most of them live in the memory and mouths of the people. But since splendour is a virtue peculiar to great princes, we shall touch upon some circumstances regarding the nobleness, the numerical grandeur, and the magnificence of his court."[115]

This passage fairly represents the pervading spirit of Italian biographies and local histories, though probably containing a latent sneer from Baldi at the earlier work of Muzio, whose "petty details," with those scantily supplied by Vespasiano, will be greedily gathered in a future page of this volume. Little deemed the reverend pedant how independent the historic muse would become of the stilts on which he, and many of his contemporaries, so unfortunately elevated her, or how infinitely posterity would have preferred his despised omissions to his solemn prosings!-150- Nor is this our only complaint. His illustrations of the Urbino court, thus magniloquently ushered, consist of a dull catalogue of twelve or fifteen noble names, ending with an apology for such trespass on his reader's patience, and a reference to some unpublished manuscript for details. This excuse is offered after devoting six pages, out of eight hundred, to the home interests and adminstrations of his hero. In supplement to these unsatisfactory allusions, we have recourse to such MSS. as detail the establishment which gained for Federigo's court the high reputation it enjoyed as a model of princely taste and munificence. Its constitution may be seen at a glance, from this minute return of its members, by one of their number.[116]

Counts of the duchy, and from other states45
Knights of the Golden Spur5
Judges and councillors2
Ambassadors and secretaries [at Naples, Rome, Florence, Milan, and Siena]7
Secretaries of state5
Clerks in chancery [or public offices]14
Teachers of grammar, logic, and philosophy [including Maestro Paolo, astrologer, and Gian Maria Filelfo]4
Architects and engineers [Luziano, Francesco di Giorgio, Pipo the Florentine, Fra Carnevale, and Sirro of Casteldurante]5
Readers during meals5
Transcribers of MSS. for library [besides many abroad]4
Choristers of the chapel3
Singing boys5
Workers in tapestry5
Dancing-masters for the pages2
Master of the palace keys1
Master of the household1
Chamber attendants5
Carvers and sewers3
Stewards of the buttery4
Grooms of the chamber19
Table waiters19
Various menial servants8
Masters of horse and purveyors of the stable5
Servants under them50
Keeper of the bloodhounds1
Keeper of the camel-leopard1
Total household of the Duke317
Captains in constant pay4
Colonels of infantry3


Ladies in waiting7
[After the Duchess's death, Madonna Pantasilea Baglione, sister of
Brozo Baglione of Perugia, was made governess to the Princesses.]
A great many female attendants. 
Elderly and staid gentlemen6
Servants of Prince Guidobaldo when a child7
Total establishment, so far as enumerated355

In this list may be detected obvious omissions, such as almoner, librarians, heralds, &c., and it would be much increased by adding servants of the noblemen entertained-152- at his court. Music appears only in the establishments of the chapel and of the guard, but in 1473, the Count was visited by Martino and Giorgio, two German lute-players, to whom he gave letters of recommendation on their departure for Siena.

The contemporary notice by Vespasiano affords us some standard of the qualities of this court, which, not less than the martial prowess and intellectual superiority of its Montefeltrian princes, constituted the glory of Urbino. "His household was regulated much in the manner of a religious establishment, and the five hundred mouths which it contained lived with almost monastic regularity. There were no mess-table manners there, no gambling nor blasphemous language, and all expressed themselves with the utmost moderation. The Prince having been entrusted by several personages of high station with their sons, to be instructed in military service, he, with good regard also for their good breeding, placed them in charge of a gentleman from Lombardy of distinguished manners, long resident at his court [probably Odasio], who exercised over these youths a paternal sway, gaining their respectful deference, and correcting their little errors, until an exemplary carriage became habitual to them." Thus, too, Muzio: "Federigo maintained a suite so numerous and distinguished as to rival any royal household. For not only did the most distinguished chivalry resort to him as the first of Italian soldiers, but thither were sent youths of the highest rank, to be reared under his discipline, as to the most select of schools. And among the many personages who thus frequented his court were Giovanni della Rovere, Giulio and Francesco Orsini, Girolamo and Pier Antonio Colonna, Ranuccio and Angelo Farnese, Andrea Doria, and Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, with others of equal eminence. Attended by these, and by a concourse of gentlemen and servants, as well as by a crowd of citizens, he generally on festivals went to mass in procession, making a round of-153- the great churches in their turn. And, on his return home, he would keep the burghers about him for a little in gracious conversation, or calling for his dispatches, communicated portions before kindly dismissing them."




After the picture by Piero della Francesco, in the Sacristy of the Duomo, Urbino.
Supposed portraits of Duke Federigo and Caterino Zeno

One of the manuscripts just cited, which is entitled "Regulations and Offices for the Court of the most serene Lord Duke of Urbino," after insisting on a rigid observance of rules to be enforced by the master of the household, imposes upon that functionary an obligation to inform his lord privately of the arrival and quality of all strangers, that he might regulate the degree of hospitality to be extended to them. This was of three grades. Personages of the highest rank were received and lodged in the palace; those of less distinction in a separate building, attended on by the Prince's household; for a third class an inn was provided, where they were lodged at his cost, and at a fixed rate per head.[117] The liberal hospitalities of the court are thus mentioned by its chronicler Sanzi:—

"Nor ought we to omit the greetings kind
And gracious, which with princely courtesy
He gave to coming strangers, ne'er before
Welcomed with gentler words, or phrase more cordial,
His aspect cheerful and his carriage plain.
Glorious was he in all things, but unmatched
In hospitality; for never guest
Arrived, such noble treatment hoping for,
Or went his way without a lingering look
Of friendly admiration."

His wide-spreading military renown, and the honourable reception thus accorded them, attracted visitors from all quarters, until Urbino attained that reputation as the resort of numerous celebrities which in the next generation rendered its little court a model to Europe, and which it never entirely lost while its independence lasted. But this concourse of guests, and the additional importance con-154-ferred upon the principality by considerable territorial aggrandisements, rendered a new palace necessary. Baldi mentions it as commenced about this time: Sanzi tells us it was undertaken to divert Federigo's grief for the death of his Countess in 1472; whilst Lazzari and the anonymous author of the Memoir regarding the devolution of the duchy to the Church in 1631 note 1454 as the date of its foundation. In truth, it was, like many great edifices in Italy, slowly progressive, spreading over several generations, and finally left unfinished. The same may be said of several other buildings promoted by the Count during his intervals of leisure, such as the palaces of Gubbio and Fossombrone, and the cathedral of Urbino; and it may be convenient in this place to notice those creations which are prominently set forth among the glories of his reign.

Of the three roads by which Urbino is approached, that on the south-west, leading from Tuscany, gives the most favourable view of the city, which is faithfully rendered on our frontispiece. The central mass of building, beautifully relieved by a stately spire-capped tower on either side of the grand entrance, and stretching backwards to the domed cathedral, is the palace which we are now to describe. The numerous accounts of it, repeated from one copyist to another in somewhat over-strained panegyric, have spread its fame throughout Italy, and the folio volume printed in 1724, at the expense of Cardinal Annibale Albani, was got up with an elaboration unusual in that age, but with the tasteless dulness which then pervaded literary and artistic efforts in Italy. The Abbate Pungileone has added little of importance by his tediously told investigations, and other local antiquaries have scarcely been more successful.[118]


In absence of further evidence, we may accept the doubtful testimony already quoted, that the palace was begun in 1454,[*119] but we must briefly refute the misstatement of Vasari, that its architect was Francesco di Giorgio. In our twenty-seventh chapter, we shall have occasion to notice much new matter regarding that artist, which recent inquiries have detected, and to show the nature and extent of his engineering labours in the service of the Montefeltrian princes. It appears that the palace at Urbino, usually ascribed to his design, was commenced by an architect whose name, almost overlooked by Italian writers, is preserved by Giovanni Sanzi. The motive imputed by the poet to his master in this great work is as follows:—

"Knowing how admirable and how grand
By every people, every age, are deemed
Time-honoured fabrics, and that active life
No higher aim can follow."

And he goes on to inform us that

"The architect, set over all the rest,
Was Lutian Lauranna, whose bright name
Survives in excellence the knell of death.
His apt and lofty genius ruled the work,
With the Count's sanction, for no prince possessed
A sounder judgment or a will more prompt."

The name of this artist was Luziano, son of Martini of Lovranna and Jadia in Dalmatia, and we owe to Pungi-156-leone an interesting patent in his favour, granted by Count Federigo at Pavia, on the 10th of June, 1468, in these terms:—

"Whereas, we, deeming those men to be worthy of distinction and preference who are gifted with such genius and talent as have been in all ages esteemed, especially for architecture founded upon arithmetic and geometry, which, as foremost among the seven liberal arts, and as depending upon exact science, require profound knowledge and great ability, and are therefore highly appreciated by us; and whereas, we, having sought everywhere, but particularly in Tuscany, the fountain of architects, without finding any one really versant and skilful in that profession, and having lately heard by report, and since ascertained by full experience, the learning and attainments of the distinguished Messer Lutiano, bearer hereof; and, further, we, having resolved to erect in our city of Urbino a fair residence, in all respects befitting the rank and reputation of our predecessors and ourselves,—have, for these causes, selected the said Messer Lutiano as engineer and chief of all those employed upon that fabric, in building, hewing, woodwork," &c. &c. The deed goes on to enjoin upon all the workmen implicit obedience to his orders, and to authorise his entire control over them, and over the funds destined for the palace.[120]

Although the date of this patent may appear inconsistent with that already adopted for the foundation of the Corte, as this residence was usually called, it is clear, from other documents printed along with it, that operations were already considerably advanced under the superintendence of Luziano. In the preceding year we find him designed the Count's engineer, acting as a sort of clerk of the works, and litigating with a builder from Como regarding measurements of masonry; indeed, he seems to-157- have continued these duties until his death at Pesaro, soon after that of his patron, whose liberality enabled him to leave considerable property to his children.

The edifice thus commenced was carried on by Baccio Pontelli, a Florentine artist, who, though designing himself a carpenter, was much employed by Sixtus IV. to erect important fabrics in Rome. It is impossible now to decide whether he was at first assistant to Lauranna, or what portion of the Corte we owe to him, the entire credit of which seems claimed in a presumptuous epitaph, apparently of his own composition, which is given by Gaye.[121] He was employed upon it in 1481, when applied to by Lorenzo de' Medici to furnish a design or plan of the already famous work, a request handsomely responded to by Federigo, in that almost oriental exaggeration of compliment still usual in Lower Italy, with the assurance that such a wish was a command, and that he only regretted being unable to send him the building itself, of which he might fully dispose. Baccio's letter mentions it as then at the fifth story, and that his drawing had been done from actual measurements, thus proving he had no access to the original plan,—circumstances strongly presumptive that the design was not his, but that of Luziano, who lived till the following year. The praise bestowed by him on the carved ornaments and decorations render it probable that they had been under his peculiar charge. There is no evidence as to the length of Baccio's stay at Urbino, but he is said to have obtained the privileges of citizenship, and to have built the church of S. Bernardino and the castle of Sinigaglia.

Such are the architects whom recent investigations enable us to claim as authors of the palace at Urbino, which Vasari and many others have celebrated for the beauty and comfort of its internal arrangements, the mag-158-nificence of its saloons, the convenience of its imposing stairs; for its smiling chambers, its vast corridors, its airy porticoes and pleasant baths, its gilded doors and windows, its rich furniture, carpets, and brocades. The assertion of that writer, so often inaccurate as to Umbrian matters, ascribing its merit to Francesco di Giorgio, may now be considered as disposed of, notwithstanding the zeal with which his countrymen of Siena have reasserted his claims; but the lights lately thrown upon his performances by Promis of Turin, enable us to restore to him the credit of certain bellicose decorations, often imputed to Roberto Valturio, and which have attracted attention rather from their adaptation to the genius of Count Federigo than from their artistic value. They consist of a frieze of military machines, which Vasari mentions as painted in fresco, but which were carved in relief along the exterior basement of the palace: designs for most of these remain among the MSS. of Francesco, and they have been engraved and tediously explained in Bianchini's ponderous work. Their original object was no doubt to illustrate the pompous inscription which surrounds the great court in immense capitals.[122] After being injured and scattered, they were again collected about a century ago, and arranged by Cardinal Stoppani along the corridor of the principal story. They are each about three feet by two, rudely representing seventy-two engines long since disused in war, and interesting only to the antiquary. Among the sculptors employed upon them, and similar architectural ornaments in the Corte, was Ambrogio Baroccio of Milan, great-grandfather of a painter as to whom we shall have much to say in our fifty-third chapter.


We need not weary our readers by minute descriptions of the palace, which, upon near approach, hardly realises the imposing effect of its site. The rugged and broken ground on which it stands has, in a great degree, marred that unity of plan which is essential to architectural grandeur and harmony, augmenting at the same time the difficulties of construction. Notwithstanding this drawback, and the rambling character which a portion of the building has consequently taken, there is much beauty in the façade of the great court, and in the unfinished elevation towards the cathedral, although the brickwork is but partially cased with stone. Barbaro, in his commentary upon Vitruvius, cites the grand stair as a model of beauty and convenience, and the corridors of the principal story (enriched, since 1756, with the museum of antique sculpture and inscriptions collected by Raffaele Fabretti) are truly magnificent. From these open many splendid rooms, among which is the great hall, about one hundred and twenty feet in length, of noble proportions, and severe in a simplicity contrasting with the chromatic decorations usual in Italy. In its elevated niches were formerly placed the insignia of its lords and of their allies, but of these none remain save the winged lion of St. Mark, which still looks proudly down upon the deserted audience-chamber, where its envoys used to be deferentially received by those long-departed dukes who often bore its banner to victory. The next story, which from its ornaments and devices appears to have been finished by Duke Guidobaldo II., is the summer residence of the cardinal-legate of Urbino and Pesaro, and, consequently, is seldom shown.

Each of the towers seen in the engraving, and considered by Passavant as antecedent to Duke Federigo, contains a spiral staircase of curious construction, leading to balconies whence may be enjoyed a most characteristic prospect of the surrounding country, wherein

"Hills are not seen, but for the vales betwixt
The deep indentings."


Fatigued by its uptossed and almost barren undulations, the eye turns for repose to the magnificent sierra, which bounds the horizon. On the extreme left is Monte Catria, crowned by the convent of S. Albertino, 5600 feet above the sea. Then comes Monte del Cavallo, described by Cimarelli as the most beautiful of all the Apennine chain, and named from the horses of famous race bred by the later princes of Urbino, on the luxuriant pastures of its gentle slopes and verdant meadows. Monte Nerone, so called from an

"Unwritten story fondly traced
From sire to son,"

which tells that the blood-stained tyrant of Rome once dwelt there, is supposed to be a slumbering volcano. Its rich iron ore was once highly productive, and the herbs and simples grown on it were esteemed above all others in Italy. Far on the sky-line are discerned the Sassi di Simeone, twin rocks of singularly abrupt form, separated by the Tuscan frontier. Northward from these stands the massive Monte Carpegna, cradle of the Montefeltrian race, domineering over their original fief, and giving its local name to the wind which sweeps from its heights upon the Adriatic. The mountain view terminates with the triple peaks of San Marino, isolated, it would seem, by nature, as well as by the forms of its constitution and the accidents of its history.

The merit specially dwelt upon in the old descriptions of this palace is the carved work in wood and stone, executed by sculptors brought from various places, and facilitated by the excellent quality of a close-grained grey limestone, imported from the Dalmatian coast. The most striking of its decorations are accordingly the elaborate tracery encircling the architraves, doorways, lintels, and chimneys, and running along the cornices. This consists of fine arabesque designs, mingled with dancing-161- loves, and interlaced with military trophies and heraldic fancies, among which frequently occur the Garter of England, the Ermine of Naples, the Eagle of Montefeltro, with several monograms and devices usually worn by Count Federigo, the origin whereof is described in No. V. of the Appendices. A kindred art, here lavishly expended, is that of tarsia, or wood inlaying, which, unlike the more modern marquetrie, was enriched by pure arabesque designs, and even by historical or religious compositions. In this style, though now sadly defaced, were many of the doors, and especially the tiny chapel, with its adjoining sacristy, the latter elaborately panelled in varied scrolls, and bearing the titles of Federigo, with the date 1476. On the stone-work of this chapel occur the devices and initials of Duke Guidobaldo II., marking probably the alterations made by him.[123]

The following passage, often quoted from the commencement of Castiglione's Cortegiano, has given rise to considerable misapprehension:—"Among other laudable actions, Federigo erected, on the rugged heights of Urbino, a residence, by many regarded as the most beautiful in all Italy, and so amply provided with every convenience, that it appeared rather a palatial city than a palace. He furnished it not only with the usual plenishings of rich brocades in silk and gold, silver plate, and such like, but ornamented it with a vast quantity of ancient marble and bronze sculptures, of rare pictures, and musical instruments in every variety, excluding all but the choicest objects." Now, it so happens that, with every desire to verify what ought to be a valuable authority for a fact in itself most interesting, and especially probable of that prince, we have not been able to trace a single piece of sculpture, and hardly an easel picture, to his possession (a-162- few portraits, of course, excepted), nor does one contemporary distinctly mention anything of the sort at Urbino. But whilst truth compels us to an admission calculated to impair his traditional reputation as an amateur of the fine arts, there was one branch of them which found in him a most zealous patron; and among the adornments of his palace was a treasure rivalling in beauty and excelling in importance all coeval museums of art.

To the right and left of the carriage entrance into the great court-yard are two handsome saloons, each about forty-five feet by twenty-two, and twenty-three in height. That on the left contained the famous library of manuscripts collected by Count Federigo; the corresponding one received the printed books, which, gradually purchased by successive dukes, became, under the last sovereign, a copious collection. Baldi, in his description of the palace, printed in Bianchini's work, dwells on the judicious adaptation of the former, its windows set high against the northern sky, admitting a subdued and steady light which invited to study; its air cool in summer, temperate in winter; its walls conveniently shelved; the character and objects of the place fittingly set forth in a series of rude hexameters inscribed on the cornices.[124] Adjoining was a closet fitted up with inlaid and gilded panelling, beneath which Timoteo della Vite, a painter whose excellence we shall attest in our thirtieth chapter, depicted Minerva with-163- her ægis, Apollo with his lyre, and the nine muses with their appropriate symbols. A similar small study was fitted up immediately over this one, set round with armchairs encircling a table, all mosaicked with tarsia, and carved by Maestro Giacomo of Florence, while on each compartment of the panelling was the portrait of some famous author, and an appropriate distich. One other article of furniture deserves special notice—a magnificent eagle of gilt bronze, serving as a lectern in the centre of the manuscript room. It was carried to Rome at the devolution of the duchy to the Holy See, but was rescued by Pope Clement XI. from the Vatican library, and restored to his native town, where it has long been used in the choir of the cathedral.




Roscoe has well observed that "by no circumstance in the character of an individual is the love of literature so strongly evinced, as by the propensity for collecting together the writings of illustrious scholars, and compressing 'the soul of ages past' within the narrow limits of a library." But it is not easy now to appreciate the obstacles attending such a pursuit in the age of Federigo. The science of bibliography can scarcely be said to have existed before the invention of printing, in consequence of the extreme difficulty of becoming acquainted with works of which there were but few copies, and these widely scattered, perhaps scarcely known. Great outlay was required, either to search out or transcribe manuscripts, and even the laborious habits which then accompanied learning shrank from a task so beset by obstructions. Yet there was a bright exception in Thomas of Sarzana, whose learning supplied the knowledge, and whose elevation to the triple tiara as Nicholas V. procured him the opportunities, necessary for amassing a library. Not only did he found that of the Vatican, but he prepared for Cosimo Pater patriæ a list of authors for the infant collection of S. Marco, at Florence, which, being recognised as a stan-164-dard catalogue, was adopted by Count Federigo. The longer life allowed to the latter enabled him to outstrip these bibliomaniacs, and all contemporary accumulators, until the fame of his library stood unrivalled. Accordingly Ruscelli, in his Imprese Illustri, avers it to be "notorious that the earliest and most famous collection formed out of the ruins of antiquity was that of Urbino, from whence many excellent authors were edited, and copies supplied." Marsilio Ficino and Leandro Alberti, with others of equal weight, have borne similar testimony, the former from common report, the latter from ocular demonstration; but we shall content ourselves with quoting from two contemporaries, familiar with what they describe. To begin with old Sanzi:—

"No fitting outlay on the work he spared
The eye to please; but more intent to feed
The mind, he ardently began to build
A library, so vast, and so select,
As to supply each intellect and taste.
With noble aim such books he there amassed,
That every genius might its flight direct
To kindred objects. Foremost in the band
The works of holy churchmen, all adorned
And bound with wond'rous beauty;
Next what survives of ancient wisdom's thoughts
In classic tongue contained; historians all;
The sacred choir of charming poesy;
In law and medicine many famous names,
Symmetrically ranged; there, too, I note
A wealth of books in divers languages,—
Arab and Greek, with Hebrew reverend;
And sundry others whose rich ornaments
Deserve detailed description, for I've seen
Men of the finest taste in wonder lost
Before them."

No poet's licence need be suspected in this description, for it is thus fully borne out by Vespasiano, who was originally an agent in amassing these treasures, and subse-165-quently their custodier.[125] "We have now to mention the high estimation in which he held all Greek and Latin authors, sacred or profane; and to him alone was given the enterprise to carry out what no one, for above a thousand years past, had done, by establishing a library superior to any formed during all that period. In no respect did he look to expense; and whenever he learned the existence of any desirable book in Italy, or abroad, he sent for it without heeding the cost. It is now above fourteen years since he began to make this collection, and he has ever since maintained at Urbino, Florence, and elsewhere, thirty-four transcribers, and has resorted to every means requisite for amassing a famous and excellent library,—which it now is. He has, in the first place, all the Latin poets, with their best commentaries; also the entire works of Cicero, with all the orators and grammarians in that language. In history, he commissioned every known work of that or the Greek tongue, as well as the orators of the latter. In moral and natural philosophy, no author of these languages is wanting. In the faculty of theology he has been most profuse, having, besides the four doctors of the Church, St. Bernard, Tertullian, Hilary, Remigius, Hugh of St. Victor, Isidore, Anselm, Rabanus, Dionysius the Areopagite, St. Basil, Cyril, Gregory Nazarene, John of Damascus, Eusebius, Origen, St. Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus, Alexander de Alexandro, Duns Scotus, Bonaventura, Richard Mediavilla, Archbishop Antonio, with all the modern doctors. There are further all the best civilians, with the lectures of Bartolomeo Capretti. He had the Bible, that best of books, written in two volumes, with the richest and most beautiful illustrations, bound in brocade of gold, and lavishly ornamented with silver; and he made it be thus gorgeously adorned as the-166- chief of all literature, and it has no equal in our time.[126] There are also all the Commentaries on the Bible in Greek and Latin, including Nicolò de Lira. He further has all the treatises on astrology, geometry, arithmetic, architecture, and military tactics, and a very curious volume with every ancient and modern military engine: also all books on painting, sculpture, and music; the standard writers on civil law; the Speculum Innocentiæ; in medicine, the works of Hippocrates, Galen, and Avicenna; the writings of Averröe on logic, ethics, and physics; a volume of early councils; the writings of Boethius on logic, philosophy, and music; and those of modern authors, with Pius II. at their head. There are all the works of Petrarch, Dante,[*127] Boccaccio, Colluccio, Leonardo d'Arezzo, Fra Ambrogio, Gianozzo Manetti, Guarino, Panhormita, Francesco Filelfo, Perotto, Campano, Mafeo Vegeo, Nicolò Secondino, Pontano, Bartolomeo Fazii, Gasparino, Paolo Vergaio, Giovanni Argiropolo, Francesco Barbaro, Leonardo Giustiniani, Donato Acciaiuolo, Alamanno Remicini, Christofero da Prato the elder, Poggio, Giovanni Tartellio, Francesco d'Arezzo, and Lorenzo Valla. It was his object to obtain every book in all branches of learning, ancient and modern, original or translated. He had also of Greek classics, with their commentaries, Aristotle, Plato, Homer, Sophocles, Pindar, Menander, Plutarch, Ptolemy, Herodotus, Pausanias, Thucydides, Polybius, Demosthenes, Æschines, Plotinus, Theophrastus, Hippocrates, Galen, and Xenophon; the New Testament, St. Basil and other fathers in Greek, with the Book of Paradise, lives of the Egyptian saints, lives of Balaam and Jehosaphat; and all works on-167- geometry, arithmetic, and astrology, as well as every other attainable writer in that language. It was the same as to Hebrew books, beginning with the Bible, and including philosophy, medicine, and other faculties, with every known commentary; and there was a remarkable polyglot Psalter in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

"On all this the Duke spent upwards of 30,000 ducats; and he made a rule that every book should be bound in crimson, ornamented with silver, from the Bible already described down to the modern authors. It is thus a truly rich display to see all these books so adorned, all being manuscripts on vellum, with illuminations, and each a complete copy,—perfections not found in any other library. Indeed, shortly before he went to the siege of Ferrara, I compared the catalogue with lists of other libraries which he had procured, such as those of the Vatican, Florence, St. Mark, Pavia, down to that of the University of Oxford in England, and found that all but his own had deficiencies and duplicates."

The book of regulations for the court and household of Guidobaldo I. contains these rules for the administration of the library[128]:—"The librarian should be learned, of good presence, temper, and manners; correct and ready of speech. He must get from the gardrobe an inventory of the books, and keep them arranged and easily accessible, whether Latin, Greek, Hebrew, or others, maintaining also the rooms in good condition. He must preserve the books from damp and vermin, as well as from the hands of trifling, ignorant, dirty, and tasteless persons. To those of authority and learning, he ought himself to exhibit them with all facility, courteously explaining their beauty and remarkable characteristics, the handwriting and miniatures, but observant that such abstract no leaves. When ignorant or merely curious persons wish to see them, a glance is sufficient, if it be not some one of considerable-168- influence. When any lock or other requisite is needed, he must take care that it be promptly provided. He must let no book be taken away but by the Duke's orders, and if lent must get a written receipt, and see to its being returned. When a number of visitors come in, he must be specially watchful that none be stolen. All which is duly seen to by the present courteous and attentive librarian, Messer Agabito."

Without attempting any enumeration of those who filled the office thus regulated, we may refer to Vespasiano, already mentioned in that capacity, and to Lorenzo Abstemio of Macerata, an eminent professor of literature about 1500. But the most useful of them was probably Veterano, who was spared to serve three Dukes of the two Urbino dynasties, and the fruits of whose laborious caligraphy may still be recognised in many a fair MS. at the Vatican. Among these is a Commentary on the Triumphs of Petrarch, a note on the colophon of which informs us that it was one of about sixty volumes copied by him on parchment for this collection. A gluttonous patriotism has led some encomiasts of the duchy into the glaring absurdity of imputing the authorship of these manifold works to their transcriber, whose original compositions, to be noticed in our twenty-fifth chapter, suggest few regrets that his long life should have been chiefly devoted to more mechanical occupations. We are fortunately able to test the reputation enjoyed by Count Federigo's library; for, although some of its treasures were lost in the revolutions of 1503 and 1517, and although the MSS. transported to the Vatican in 1658 included many additions subsequent to his death, still the volumes most important to literature, and most embellished by art, may, with few exceptions, be attributed to his liberality. The estimate of 30,000 ducats, already stated from Vespasiano as the cost of the collection in his time, is carried to 40,000 by Gallo Galli, who lived under Duke Guidobaldo-169- II., thus affording a probable inference as to the augmentation it had received between 1482 and 1566. This increase, which went on until the devolution of the duchy in 1631, was chiefly by a mass of unpublished writings of local interest or authorship, without any pretence to artistic beauty. The numbers now catalogued are thus no evidence of its original extent; but we may mention that an inventory by Stefano Gradio, though by no means complete, includes 1361 entries; that Platner, in the Beschreibung der Stadt Rom, estimates the ducal MSS. at 1711; but that the catalogue compiled by Mauro Costa, in 1797, and now actually in use, exceeds four thousand articles. As some of the illuminated MSS. executed for Count Federigo are of the highest interest, we shall notice a few of them in VI. of the Appendices, and in our forty-eighth chapter shall mention the fate of this library, after the extinction of the ducal line.

"Within this curious palace dwelt a soul
Gave lustre to each part, and to the whole:
This drest his face in courteous smiles, and so
From comely gestures sweeter manners flow.
This courage joyned to strength; so the hand, bent,
Was valour's; opened, bounty's instrument;
Which did the scale and sword of justice hold,
Knew how to brandish steel and scatter gold."
Thomas Carew.

Before concluding our account of the Corte, we may mention some appurtenances intended for the more material requirements of its inmates. Of the garden we can say nothing, horticulture being then a latent science; neither need we linger upon the court-yard provided for tennis or ball. But the stable-range, built by Francesco di Giorgio in 1475, is thus curiously described by himself: "From the stable, constructed by me, for my most illustrious Duke of Urbino, may be seen how much a complete and perfect set ought to include. It is capable of con-170-taining three hundred horses, half on either side, being twenty-eight feet wide, thirty-six high, and three hundred and sixty long,[129] and over it there is a beautiful loft for hay and straw, with square holes for throwing down the forage, and above all a roof. There are several contiguous rooms, the first being a yard or shed, wherein to mount and dismount, or to shoe the horses; in it is a fountain with two troughs, and a pipe passing thence under the mangers, with various stop-cocks for the supply of water, by means whereof the stable can be cleansed, and to facilitate this operation the floor falls towards the centre, enabling such horses as wish it to stand higher before. Next the fountain is a corn-store, with the head-groom's rooms above it, overlooking the stable, and beyond these a servant's room, and one for medicines, saddlery, repairs, &c. Lastly, there is a great tower, with a winding-stair, accessible only to the owner, whence he can see the entire establishment; and this, being known to the overseer and servants, is a check upon their good conduct."

In a letter by Gallo Galli to Duke Guidobaldo II. in 1566, he mentions having seen memoranda stating the cost of the Urbino palace at 200,000 ducats, the silver plate at 40,000, a set of tapestries representing the siege of Troy at 10,000, and the MSS. library at 40,000. Before leaving the subject we shall transcribe from the Cortegiano an anecdote, not on account of its value, but as a specimen of the dull wit which Castiglione thought worth commemorating as the gossip of his model court. "Recollect also the silly trait, just related by our Lord Duke, of an abbé who, standing by while Duke Federigo was discussing what to do with the vast quantity of earth excavated from the foundations of this palace, exclaimed, 'My Lord, I have thought of a capital con-171-trivance. Desire an immense ditch to be made, into which it may be put without more ado.' The Duke answered with a smile, 'And where shall we place the earth of the ditch itself?' To which the abbé replied, 'Make it big enough for both.' And though the Duke repeated that the larger it was the more earth would there be to remove, he never could see it, but went on saying, make it so much the greater!"

Sanzi informs us that Federigo had intended to erect, in connection with this residence, a fane unequalled in regularity, beauty, and ornament, in order at once to manifest his piety and to provide a last home for his remains. The cathedral adjoining it, though founded by his father in 1439, was scarcely well begun until 1471, and when completed, in no way realised his project.[130] The church of S. Bernardino, also left unfinished at his death, was in some degree a substitute, being not only a special memorial of his piety, but supplying a mausoleum for himself and the few after members of his dynasty.

Of the other residences that shared the cares of Count Federigo, Gubbio was the most important. Sanzi describes it as facing the south-east, and flanked by mountains on the north, overlooking fertile valleys and smiling champaigns, and excelling the attractions of Urbino in charming prospects and pleasant pathways. Notwithstanding the general truth of this eulogy, nothing could be more consistent with beauty or convenience than its site, planted on a slope, with the cathedral right in front, crowded round with poor buildings, and accessible only by precipitous alleys. Its architecture is disputed between Francesco di Giorgio and Baccio Pontelli,[*131] nor would it add much credit to-172- either, its sole merit being minute decorations in hewn work and inlaid panelling, both after the style we have described at Urbino. Although the initials of the two Montefeltrian dukes appear in these, it is believed to have been chiefly built by Guidobaldo, and the oak-tree cognisance of the Della Rovere indicates in some parts a still later date. The constant recurrence of the Garter among its ornamental devices is gratifying to the very rare English visitors of this Apennine town, but no traveller of taste and intelligence can be otherwise than shocked to find this once chosen sanctuary of Italian refinement and high breeding, the residence in which Castiglione recounted his reception at the Tudor court, and where Fregoso and Bembo were successively bishops, degraded to vile uses and menaced by speedy ruin. It is now in the hands of a person who there manufactures wax candles and silk, but on my second visit in 1843 was closed up entirely and inaccessible. I owe to the obliging attention of Signor Luigi Bonfatti, a local antiquary of taste and intelligence, who is preparing a work on the early painters of Gubbio, this notice of the building and its remaining decorations: "Differing much from the architecture at Urbino, its court-yard is very fine, of the mixed or composite style usual in that age. The windows, doors, and chimneys have stone lintels, exquisitely chiselled in low relief with masterly arabesque designs, those in the interior being touched with gold. The ceilings, now partially decayed, are all of wood, in half-relief compartments, with heavy cornices, and roses coloured and gilded. The palace was completed by Duke Guidobaldo, who commissioned the cabinet or closet of superb intarsia, thirteen by six and a half feet. This tiny room is nineteen feet high, but the inlaid work goes only half-way up. It is of the finest patterns and workmanship, including several emblematic representations of music, literature, physical science, geography, and war. On the cornice is-173- an inscription now in part illegible.... It was, in my opinion, the work of Antonio Mastei of Gubbio, a famous artist in wood, who executed the beautiful choir of S. Fortunato at Todi, and who is known to have been much in favour with Dukes Guidobaldo and Francesco Maria I., the latter of whom gave him an exemption from imposts."[132]


Muzio and Baldi impute to Federigo's munificence many other palaces in his state, such as Fossombrone, Cagli, Casteldurante, La Carda, Mercatello, &c.; but most of these were probably forts, of which Francesco di Giorgio speaks as having one hundred and thirty-six under his charge at once, for this prince. At the two first-named places, there still remain residences dating from this reign, and the parks or game-preserves which formerly surrounded them, embracing circuits of seven and five miles respectively, were walled in by the Count, and stocked with fallow-deer.[133] These have long ago run to waste, and the palaces, with their ample halls,

"Shadowy with remembrances
Of the majestic past,"

are now desolate and rapidly falling to ruin.[*134]

It has been aptly observed that "of works which appeal to the eye, any description must be tedious and inconclusive," but less could not have been said of creations which constituted the chief praise of Count Federigo among his contemporaries, and his most enduring glory with posterity. Nor can it but excite our interest to inquire whence means were obtained for so lavish an outlay, and for his munificent patronage of letters and arts. When the eye wanders over the map of Urbino, as possessed by its dukes of the Della Rovere dynasty, it is difficult to restrict our conceptions to its true limits at this-175- date. It would probably now be impossible to define these with perfect accuracy, much of its frontier being then debatable land.[135] Into this category had fallen part of the original fief of Montefeltro, lying north of the Foglia. The proper territory of Urbino occupied the central portion of the far-receding stripe situated between that river and the Metauro, its upper section being the Brancaleone country, its sea-board divided between Pesaro and Fano. Out-lying were the holdings of Gubbio and Cagli, the latter perhaps reaching to the recently acquired townships of Fossombrone. The state composed of these straggling parts may have included about one-fourth of the subsequent duchy; but cut off from the coast, and from the fertile districts which skirt the Adriatic, its rugged uplands and rude climate derived from nature few elements of wealth. The various wars which had swept it, and especially the forays and reprisals it had long endured from the tyrant of Rimini, might well have exhausted its resources, and utterly impoverished both sovereign and people. The fact was, however, quite otherwise, war being a source of wealth to both. Military service was their only trade, and so well did they ply it, that during thirty-four years, short intervals excepted, the Count drew continuous pay from some foreign power or adventurer. The value of these engagements may be estimated from some examples. In 1453 his war pay from Alfonso of Naples exceeded 8000 ducats a month, and for many years he had from him and his son an annual peace-pension of 6000 in name of past services. At the close of his life, when captain-general of the Italian league, he drew in war 165,000 ducats of annual stipend, 45,000 being his own share; in peace 65,000 in all. Of these vast sums a considerable portion went among his hardy mountaineers,-176- besides their contingent of plunder and perquisites picked up in the field. Thus was war rendered so acceptable to their interests, as well as to their tastes and habits, that Sanzi compares them, when their arms are cast aside, to "unpinioned eagles." Nor did the ravages of invasion prove so destructive as might be supposed. The entire population were located in villages or townlets, each a fastness capable of resistance, which, even when unsuccessful, gave time to conceal their valuables: thus when the sack began, they had only to save their persons, and these generally were allowed to go unharmed.[136]



Count Federigo’s varied engagements—Battle of La Molinella—Death and character of his enemy Malatesta—Affairs of Rimini.

IT was to the Pontiff's anxiety for his favourite project against the Infidel, that the Malatesta owed the shadow of sovereignty still left them. He inherited from Nicholas V. the design of a holy war; but though the ten years passed since the peace of Lodi had united the Italian powers for that purpose, the cross had not yet been raised against the aggressive and triumphant crescent. He now sought to redeem delays by redoubled zeal, and his temporal diplomacy seconded his spiritual exhortations in collecting troops and treasure from Western Europe, to be mustered at Ancona and led by his Holiness in person. But, as was shrewdly remarked by Cosimo de' Medici, it was an old man undertaking an enterprise which needed a young one. He travelled to Ancona when scarcely recovered from a severe fit of gout, and on arriving, had the mortification to discover that his ardour had been ill seconded by most of the Christian powers; that the soldiery, already disgusted with a service whose rewards were indulgences for the next world instead of present pay and pillage, were retiring in great numbers; and that the volunteers who crowded the port, far beyond the means provided for feeding or transporting them, were a mere mob of unarmed and undisciplined idlers. Chagrin, anxiety, and fatigue occasioned a relapse, which carried him off on the 14th of August.[137] The consistory counter-178-manded the ill-advised expedition, and the conclave hurriedly chose as his successor the Venetian Barbo, whose character and habits, in all respects a contrast to those of Pius, would have been best expressed by Barbaro, but whose absurd personal vanity is said to have prompted him to propose assuming as his title Formoso I.

The papal throne has seldom been better filled than by Pius II. Gifted with much practical capacity and intelligence, he brought to it the experience of a life devoted to diplomacy, statesmanship, and literature, and he found time to record in historical commentaries, for the benefit of posterity, his impressions of the many important incidents wherein he had been an actor or a witness. It is very remarkable that the last measure of his pontificate, from which he anticipated its chief lustre, should have been not only opposed to the spirit of his age, but undertaken without consideration, pursued without judgment, and terminated in utter failure. To these inherent errors ought to be ascribed the frustration of hopes in themselves vain, rather than to the death of his Holiness, as thus set forth by Sanzi:—

"Ah cruel destiny! unjust and harsh
To Italy's high name, even as her gates
Were opened wide for glory. Doubtful, sure,
And manifold the chances that impede
Such plans as man conceives: the Pontiff died;
And so these gladsome hopes were blotted out,
Whilst all their pomp, and pains, and stores profuse
Were turned to sullen, sluggish discontent."

Pio II



After the fresco by Pinturicchio in the Cathedral Library, Siena

The late Pope, intending to leave Federigo as lieutenant-general, charged with the defence of the papal state during his absence in the east, had summoned him to Ancona, and there consulted him both on that subject and on the projected expedition. Thence the Count proceeded to Gubbio for the marriage of his relation Guidantonio Ubaldini, and on the 28th of September repaired-179- to Rome, with a noble suite, to offer congratulations to the new Pontiff, by whom he was confirmed in his command, with the title of Gonfaloniere of the Church. After visiting the King of Naples, he returned home in the end of October, and in the following autumn had from his Majesty a renewed condotta as captain-general.[138]

The crusade and all its preparations had passed away as completely and almost as rapidly as a stage-scene, and the quiet of Italy remaining undisturbed, the new Pontiff availed himself of it to chastise the Aversi of Anguillera, a band of robber barons whose predatory incursions extended to the gates of his capital. Although in more peaceful times this would have been a matter of police rather than a military movement, it fell to Federigo as gonfaloniere to repress their audacity. This he did in a few days during July, their strongholds about Ronciglione all surrendering without a blow. Paul, encouraged by this success, followed it up by similar proceedings against the Savelli, another great Campagna family, whose Angevine policy had led them into open rebellion five years before, and whose influence never recovered the loss of territory now wrested from them. The Count, having gone to visit his Holiness, received from him verbal instructions and a written commission to take effectual measures for securing the devolution to the Holy See of the Malatesta fiefs, as soon as these brothers should die, and there being some suspicion of intrigues on their part-180- to defeat that arrangement under which Cesena and Rimini had been left them only for their respective lives, a solemn obligation to secrecy under pain of excommunication shrouded these deliberations. Thus were pursued those repressive steps adopted by Pius II., and which were matured into a fixed policy of successive pontiffs during the next seventy years, until, of all the sovereign vassals who divided and distracted the ecclesiastical territory, from Terraccini to the Po, there remained but those of Ferrara, Urbino, and Piombino. Malatesta Novello of Cesena, whose wife Violante had been sister of Federigo, died in November, when Cesena was at once seized by his nephew Roberto, eldest son of Sigismondo. The Count of Urbino, in obedience to the papal injunctions, marched into Romagna and blockaded that town, until matters were compromised by a concession of Meldola to Roberto, on his surrendering the rest of his uncle's fief, and entering the papal service, as a guarantee for his future obedience.

Francesco Sforza died suddenly at Milan on the 8th of March. He was the most sagacious as well as the most fortunate of Italian adventurers, and as a sovereign conciliated general confidence and regard by his judicial administration, whilst a liberal and discriminating encouragement of learning gave to his court and capital attractions and brilliancy too quickly lost under his dissolute successor. The first to apply to his country the axiom that union is strength, it was his cherished aim to cultivate the hitherto neglected principle of nationality as the mainspring of her policy. The league of Italy, carried through by him, was the primary step towards that good end, which was effectually frustrated before the close of this century by the intemperate and selfish ambition of of his son Ludovico, and which continues to puzzle the theorists, to mislead the patriots, and to baffle the politicians of that fair land. His eldest son Galeazzo Maria-181- being absent in France at his death, the Duchess sent to request the Count of Urbino's attendance as a tried friend and comrade of her lord, and as husband of his niece. Federigo, anticipating the messenger, had already set out on the first news of so important an event, and by his prudent counsel and conciliating manners greatly forwarded the harmonious recognition of the new Duke. During three months he devoted his entire attention to this object, and before taking his departure, his past efforts were acknowledged, and his future services retained, by a renewal of his engagement as captain-general on the following terms:—

"With the approval and benediction of the supreme Pontiff, his Most Serene Majesty Ferdinand, the noble republic of Florence, and Ourselves have reunited ourselves in a public confederation, and have renewed our former league for common protection of our states and repelling of external aggression, selecting as our chief in command that illustrious captain and magnanimous lord, the Count of Urbino, than whom none can be desired more skilful and prompt in the conduct of war or peace, seeing with what gallantry, authority, and success he has managed both, and has exhibited such proofs of unequalled faith, constancy, and integrity, that throughout Italy these are not less in repute than are his famous feats of generalship."[139] On the 6th of June, the courts and nobles assembled in the cathedral to witness his installation, with all the pomp and circumstance of a military religious ceremonial. After the baton and banner had been placed in his hand, the goodly cortège conducted him to his lodgings, where a gallant charger, a beautiful head-piece, and a stately mantle awaited his acceptance. Two days thereafter he set out on his homeward journey, which was a continued progress of honour, the sovereigns and people of each state through which he passed emulating-182- the compliments they should render to so distinguished a guest.

The treaty of Lodi, to which Sforza had been mainly instrumental, remained in force at his death; indeed, historians dwell with peculiar pleasure on the twenty-eight years of tranquillity which succeeded that settlement. Compared with the turmoil of preceding wars, or with the clang of battles, which, from 1492 till 1529 rang continually through the Peninsula, these were, indeed, years of repose and prosperity, and may be considered the halcyon age of modern Italy. It is true that those republican institutions had been widely infringed under which her communities rose to eminence, and that arbitrary sovereigns had with more or less success established over most of them a personal or hereditary sway. True also, that her newly awakened spirit of philosophy had then assumed, under the influence of the ancient classics, a somewhat unprofitable direction; that "the all-immortal three" of the preceding century already had raised her literature to perhaps its culminating point; and that it was not until the following age that her arts attained their highest perfection. But whilst individual freedom had been curtailed, individual security had been generally enlarged; even the despotism of one was welcomed, when it brought relief from the storms of faction and the tyranny of mobs. The reviving energies of mind felt the invigoration which succeeds to long repose, but still glowed with a healthy character, free from that infusion of meaner motives and more degrading tendencies which too quickly and permanently poisoned the fairest creations of the pen, the pencil, and the chisel. Above all, Italy in the fifteenth century was as yet independent. Her bright plains had not become battle-fields for European ambition; her treasures had not been plundered, her civilisation trampled upon, her nationality defaced by foreign and barbarous invaders.

Yet the pæans of peace inspired by the interval of com-183-parative quiet upon which we are now entering must be read with poetical allowance, for we shall have to trace during that period not unfrequent intrigues, and to mention many, ebullitions of

"The mind of Italy to strife inflamed."

Wherever war was intended, the Count of Urbino's services were naturally in request, for his name stood foremost on the roll of condottieri since the death of Giacopo Piccinino in July, 1465. It is unnecessary to contrast the qualities of these rival generals: the latter is known to history but as a military adventurer, whilst the reputation of Federigo rests not less on his conduct as a wise and generous prince. The Neapolitan war had at length given to Giacopo the great object of his life. He was sovereign of Sulmona, and his marriage with the Duke of Milan's natural daughter had strengthened him in his new rank, and finally closed the long strifes of the Braccian and Sforzan factions. But fortune, after this signal exaltation, destined for him a fearful reverse. The false-hearted Ferdinand forgot not that he had been the right arm of the Angevine party. Receiving him with hollow courtesy, he amused him at Naples until Ippolita Maria Sforza, the affianced bride of his eldest son Alfonso Duke of Calabria, left her father's duchy of Milan. When she had reached Siena, on her way to be married, Piccinino was treacherously seized and mysteriously done to death. The impression was long current that his father-in-law had countenanced this disgraceful murder, but Rosmini, in his recent history of Milan, has fully vindicated the memory of Francesco Sforza from a calumny utterly repugnant to his noble character.[140]

The death of Francesco Sforza had been preceded in 1464-184- by that of Cosimo de' Medici, whose virtual authority at Florence, earned by his personal qualities, was exercised tacitly, and cemented by no title, until FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY was inscribed by the grateful citizens upon his tomb. These two great men had been allied by common objects of policy as well as by the sympathy of lofty minds, neither of which descended to their sons. Pietro de' Medici quickly found that his father's influence passed not with his name and wealth, whilst his own pretensions only roused the factious spirit for which Florence enjoyed an unenviable reputation. It would lead us too far from the immediate object of these pages were we to analyse the state of parties there during this crisis, and examine the conduct of leaders, who, under the mask of patriotism, sought by treachery and assassination to gratify private ambition, envy, jealousy, and revenge. Even those reformers who, with purer motives and an unwavering faith in democratic utopianism, sought to establish public liberty apart from individual ends, had no better panacea to offer than that of submitting official appointments to ballot; a singular consequence of the intelligence and, if we accept the opinions of Sismondi, of the freedom for which Florence was already preeminent. Two years of caballing concluded with results common in the republics of classic Greece and mediæval Italy; the ostracised minority saved themselves by flight, and, in order to avenge personal wrongs, brought upon their native land the disasters of foreign invasion, as well as the calamity of native broils.[141] The Medicean faction remained in the ascendant, and were intimately allied with Naples and Milan; but the exiles rallied under the winged lion of St. Mark, and endeavoured by prayers and promises to interest the Venetians in their behalf, reminding them of the support perseveringly afforded to their enemy-185- Francesco Sforza by the Medici. These representations were cordially received by the most jealous of republics; yet with habitually crooked policy, the Signory, instead of frankly seconding the Tuscan refugees, nominally discharged Bartolomeo Colleoni from its service, but secretly aided them to engage him in an expedition against their country.[142] Colleoni, the last of the old race of stipendiary commanders, had risen to wealth and reputation, and had grown grey in years, without ever gaining an important battle. Mustering once more his veteran followers, and reinforced by several captains of adventure from Romagna and Upper Italy, he marched at the head of 8000 horse and 6000 foot through the Ferrarese, intending to enter Tuscany by the Lamone valley.

These preparations were viewed at Florence with extreme anxiety. Pietro, wavering in character and broken in health, seemed unequal to the crisis; his son Lorenzo, though full of promise, was but eighteen; the exiles had friends ready to second them at home. The foreign influence of his house was still however great, and the Dukes of Milan and Calabria led in person their contingents into the field. The confederate army was commanded by the Count of Urbino, to whose merits the following flattering attestation by Ferdinand of Naples is preserved in the pages of Muzio:—"Amid these warlike movements, and perils for Italy, it is most satisfactory that we have found a captain-general whose military skill can rival that of the ancient times. For, with all deference, who in this age has more fairly taken arms? who has led armies under happier auspices? whose conduct in pitched battles or in sieges has been more exemplary? Such questions are answered by the many honourable trophies he has wrested from the enemy; by all the cities he has-186- taken, the fortresses he has stormed, the armies he has routed; by the victories and the booty he has carried off. Besides, it is notorious that he is not less eminent at home than abroad, not less excellent in council than in arms. And, what is still more remarkable, all this superiority is the fruit of his genius, not less than his prowess, and especially of his good faith, which, although the basis of every virtue, is the rarest of them all, and which, almost banished from earth, has taken refuge in heaven."

The sincerity thus lauded had been recently tested. Vespasiano informs us that the emissaries of Venice having offered Federigo an engagement, with 80,000 ducats in war and 60,000 in peace, he simply reported it to the allies; whereupon they lost no time in arranging with him a formal condotta, which probably embodied the compliment we have cited, and which obliged him to serve against all enemies of the league, the Pontiff not excepted.[143] The Venetian agents had succeeded better with Astorre Manfredi, Lord of Faenza, in consequence of whose defection the Count of Urbino early in April marched his own company into Romagna, in order to persuade or overawe the minor feudatories of that warlike country into adherence to the confederates. During three months the two armies were in presence, the tactics of both being, as was then usual, rather a display of strategy than a struggle for victory, and the blockade of Faenza by Federigo proving the only incident worth notice. But this inactivity, though pleasant and profitable to the stipendiaries, occasioned much grumbling from those who had to find the sinews of war, especially from the exiles, whose means were quickly expended. It is alleged, in justification of the Count's temporising, that the rashness of Galeazzo Sforza had several times almost compromised the confederates; that, in order to rid them of his counsels, he was induced to-187- visit the Medici, on pretexts which are variously stated; and that the opportunity of his absence was seized by Federigo to fight a pitched battle on his own terms. Baldi, however, informs us that Colleoni, having virtually abandoned his designs against Florence, contemplated an attack upon the Milanese, and that the confederates came into collision with him whilst intercepting his movement in that direction, of which they were fully aware.

Although we have descriptions of many of these mediæval combats from spectators or actors, their details seldom convey an intelligible idea of the actual conflicts. Thus, whilst Muzio and Baldi prolixly recount the inconclusive movements which preceded the engagement, and introduce tedious harangues as spoken by Federigo to his army, they throw but little light upon the field manœuvres. The battle was commenced early in the afternoon of the 25th of July, by the light cavalry of Urbino charging the enemy when about to halt for the night; and although the Count had intended to delay the attack until they were in the bustle of encamping, he gallantly supported his skirmishers in two divisions, one led by himself, the other by Roberto di Sanseverino, general-in-chief of the Milanese forces, whilst a reserve of cavalry under Donato del Conte was instructed to hover about, and render aid where required. In the heat of the engagement, Federigo, with more knight-errantry than prudence, called upon his brilliant staff, composed of his kinsman the Cavaliere Pietro Ubaldini, his future son-in-law Giovanni della Rovere, and other youths of promise, to follow him to the rescue, and, lance in rest, bore headlong into the mêlée. But this ill-timed gallantry had nearly cost him his life, for a foot soldier, getting under his horse, inflicted a mortal wound on the animal, and he was not saved without immense efforts of his own and those around him. The day was intensely hot, the armies had both marched some miles before they met, and after fighting for six or eight-188- hours (some say sixteen) without apparent advantage to either side, Colleoni sent a trumpet to Federigo, suggesting that, as it was now high time to seek repose, they had better be done for the day. The staff warmly seconded this proposal, being three miles from their intended quarters; so by common consent the troops were recalled, and whilst the soldiery lit torches and fires, as substitutes for the now deepened twilight, the leaders mutually advanced to shake hands and congratulate each other on their escapes. This singular conclusion of what is generally represented as a well-fought field was quite in accordance with the received rules of military procedure; but it tempted Machiavelli, the enemy of stipendiary armies, to sneer at this affair of La Molinella as a pitched battle, lasting half a day, wherein neither side wavered, and no one fell, a few prisoners and wounded horses being the only result of the fray. This is certainly an exaggeration, but though all characterise the conflict as sanguinary, our authorities differ widely as to the loss, which probably did not exceed a few hundred men killed, including, however, several captains of note.[144]


The peculiar feature of the day was the employment of flying artillery, gunnery having, till now, been limited to clumsy battering-pieces, adapted only for sieges and fortifications. The new weapons called spingards and invented by Colleoni were long swivels, measuring three cubits,[145] mounted upon carriages, and discharging balls somewhat larger than a walnut or plum. Although the advantage has been claimed for the confederates, the battle was a drawn one; indeed, Colleoni remained upon the field, whilst Federigo led his exhausted troops to the encampment he had previously resolved on. Yet the results became equivalent to a victory as regarded the Medici, for their outlawed opponents, no longer possessing money or credit, were overlooked in the arrangements for peace which followed early next year. Galeazzo Sforza having withdrawn most of his troops for protection of his frontier on the side of Savoy, the autumn was passed by the armies beating over their former ground about Faenza and Imola, Federigo vainly anxious, as we are assured, to bring on another engagement. Finally, sickness and winter terminated a campaign quite unworthy of the space that has been allowed it by most annalists.

In one respect, however, it was not unimportant to the-190- Count of Urbino, for it gave him opportunities of improving an acquaintance with the youthful Duke of Milan, and of cementing his tried friendship for the house of Sforza. So long as Colleoni kept the field, he was watched by the Count, who rightly guessed that, under pretext of the descent upon Florence, he was ready enough to carry the banner of St. Mark into the Milanese, should a favourable opportunity offer. Even after peace was concluded, Federigo remained in Lombardy, and was employed by Galeazzo Maria on the honourable mission of receiving at Genoa his bride, Bona of Savoy, on her arrival from the French court, over which her sister presided. Having conducted her to Milan, the marriage was celebrated in July, 1468, after which he at length contrived to repair home. From thence, however, he was speedily summoned to return, and, as the Duke's captain-general, to take the field against the Savoyards, and afterwards to reduce Brisella on the Po, whose inhabitants had attempted to stir up new strife among the rival powers of Italy. The autumn was well advanced ere these matters were arranged. Galeazzo presented him with a palace at Milan, and relying upon his judgment and experience, detained him there during the winter to assist in organising his state. The arrival of Frederick III. at Venice early in the year appeared to impose on the Duke, as his principal feudatory, the duty of a special mission, and Federigo was selected for that distinction. His object was, however, misrepresented to the Emperor, who consequently altered his route and proceeded to Rome for his coronation. On the 1st of March, 1469, the Count returned to Urbino. Ricotti mentions, as a startling proof of the low estate to which the imperial authority had now been reduced in Italy, that the King of the Romans on this occasion asked of Colleoni a safe conduct for himself and suite, on their way to the nominal capital of his empire!


During his absence, the detested Lord of Rimini closed his wayward career. No Italian prince of this century fills so picturesque a niche in mediæval history; none has more fully realised its worse vices, or so narrowly escaped its noblest qualities. Bred as a soldier of fortune, and numbering among his subjects the most martial population of the Peninsula, his bravery when tested became mere bravado, his duplicity rendered him a dangerous adherent to any cause. Unbounded ambition was in him so marked by selfishness, ready talent so clogged by overweening conceit, that all his efforts and aspirations resulted in failure, and with the means and opportunities of establishing an important sovereignty, he left behind him but a shadow of departed power. His domestic morals were scandalous in an age of notorious laxity. Not only were his three wives sacrificed to jealousy or vengeance, but their murders are boastfully alluded to on his monument in the miserable jest, that although the horns he wore were visible enough, he had found means to curtail them.[146]

His progeny were all illegitimate, and several of them came to violent ends. The sole redeeming trait of human kindness that seems to have softened his harsh and treacherous nature was his affection for Isotta, whom he raised from obscurity to participate in his affections, or as some say his rank. However that may have been, she shares such celebrity as has been conferred on him by the creations of art and literature which he sedulously patronised, and in which chiefly his name survives, although their humanising influences left no impress on his haughty and cruel nature. Mariotti remarks, that "an Italian prince in-192- those days durst not be a barbarian. A murderer, perhaps, stained with the most flagitious crimes, he might be; but he must seek his absolution in works of munificence, he must atone for his outrages against public morality by his devotion to the cause of learning and homage to the public taste." So was it with Sigismondo.[*147] Valturio tells us-193- that he read a great deal, and often took part in discussions and disputations upon philosophy, letters, and arts, with a patience of contradiction which honourably contrasted with his usual outbreaks of temper. At his court were entertained Porcellio, Basinio, Trebanio, and other Latinist poetasters, who repaid such hospitality by a meed of fulsome and long-forgotten doggerel, and celebrated the beauty and accomplishments of his mistress. Italy could boast of no architect superior to Leon Alberti, no military engineer more skilful than Valturio: he employed the former on the church of S. Francesco at Rimini, which marks an era in the revival of art; the latter, under his auspices, wrote on the science of war, and exemplified its practice in constructing the castle of that town: both of these buildings enshrine the name and munificence of Sigismondo Pandolfo. But the most pleasing memorials of a prince by name and by nature chief of the wrong-heads (if we may be pardoned a pun upon Malatesta) are the medallions in bronze struck for him by Pisani, Di Pastis, and other celebrated medalists, one of which we here introduce. Zanetti's publication on the mint of Rimini gives twelve of these without exhausting their number; they preserve his manly bust and Isotta's matronly features, whilst the sculptures of S. Francesco familiarise us with the elephant and negro-heads borne as their respective cognisances.

It is remarkable how entirely his virtues and vices, his talents and tastes, were formed upon the standards of paganism, and one circumstance alone was wanting to place him on a level with the heroes of classic times,—that he had been born a heathen. Thus, his selfish daring, his reckless waste of human life and welfare, needed but the name of Mars to sanctify them; his unscrupulous and-194- insatiable lust had been welcome incense at the shrine of Venus; the murder of his wives and the deification of his paramour found orthodox precedents in many demigods. So too was it with his encouragement of letters and art. The verses of his laureates were modelled after the most approved classical adulation. His architects were employed in the art of war, his sculptors upon heroic medals and devices commemorative of himself and his favourite mistress; the church which he built as a monument of his magnificence is covered with ornaments, emblems, and tombs so profane in character, that but for its dedication to St. Francis, it might scarcely have been taken for a Christian shrine.

The latter scenes of his life have a touch of romantic interest altogether wanting to its more prosperous days. When deprived of substantial sovereignty, he left the scene of his humiliation, and turning against the Crescent those arms which had often been arrayed against the Keys, as a captain of adventure he led the Venetian troops to encounter the Infidel in the Morea. There he distinguished himself in 1464-5, and then returned to Italy, bringing, it is said, the dry bones of Themistios, a Byzantine philosopher, to a court no longer open for living celebrities of literature. His haughty spirit spurned all overtures from the Pontiff, who sought to anticipate the devolution of Rimini to the Holy See by bribing him into a quiet surrender of it during his life; but abject in misfortune as he had been arrogant in prosperity, and disgusted at the contrast of his fallen fortunes, he pined and died before completing his fifty-second year.[148]



From the relief by Pisanello in the Dreyfus Collection


The death of Sigismondo without legitimate male issue inferred the lapse of his fief to the Church, and this devolution was expressly stipulated by his convention with Pius II. in 1463. But Isotta, finding herself in possession of Rimini, and personally popular with the citizens, asserted an alleged bequest of its late lord in favour of his son Sallustio, and stood on the defensive. Nor was this unequal resistance hopeless. The neighbouring feudatories were necessarily opposed to ecclesiastical rights that greatly infringed the value of their own tenure. Venice regarded with jealousy any extension of papal influence in Romagna, and was ever ready, for her own ends, to support the petty princes there. Relying, therefore, on external support, Isotta closed the gates when summoned in name of the Pontiff, and the people, proud of their independence and abhorring provincial insignificance, seconded her resistance. Roberto, the eldest of Sigismondo's bastards, was in the papal service on the confines of Naples, and on him Paul fixed as the instrument for attaining his object without a contest. Summoning him to his presence, he assumed an air of patronising interest, and by large promises induced him to repair to Rimini, and so contrive that the ecclesiastical troops should be quietly admitted. Heir of his father's duplicity though not of his rights, Malatesta lent himself to this intrigue with a secret view to his personal ends, and after binding himself by hand and seal to the Pope's stipulations, he early in January entered the city in disguise. No guest could have been less welcome to Isotta, but at a juncture so delicate she was content to dissemble, and accept his amicable professions.

Federigo's condotta in the papal service had just expired, leaving him free to consult the dictates of policy, his views as to which were stated in an appeal to Pietro de' Medici on behalf of Rimini, in words which may almost be deemed prophetic. "I am constrained to believe that the Pontiff and the Venetian Signory intend to occupy-196- Rimini and all Romagna, and eventually Bologna too. Rimini once lost, the rest will readily follow, and your lordship and the league may easily suppose where Bologna and Imola would then be. Those who will not resist such projects at first may have afterwards to pay a hundredfold, and God grant that it be then to good purpose." He proceeded in person to Milan in order to urge these considerations upon Galeazzo Maria, to whom they came with greater cogency as he had purchased Imola from the Manfredi. Whilst there he favourably received overtures from Roberto, and arranged a new confederation of Milan, Florence, and Naples for the independence of Rimini, of which he was general-in-chief, with a command for Malatesta. The latter, now throwing off all disguise, wrote to the Pope his best excuses for resiling from his engagement, and, after persuading Isotta to retire out of harm's way, proclaimed himself seigneur of Rimini.[*149]

The contest which ensued was one of the many paltry "squabbles for towns and castles" which ever recur in restless Italy, to distract the historian without affording him materials for a stirring episode. The league were bound to bring up a considerable force of cavalry in their respective proportions, but their hearts were not in a cause where they had to support the weaker side, and ere they took the field, Alessandro Sforza, at the head of the ecclesiastical troops, had carried the suburbs of Rimini and reduced the city to great straits.[150] Federigo, after-197- repeated efforts, persuaded the Neapolitan contingent to risk a march through the enemy's country, whereupon Sforza fell back from the leaguer to provide for his own defence. This movement was, however, but of partial benefit to Malatesta, for, as the allies were bound only to defensive operations, they withheld their assistance beyond maintaining him in the limited state of which his father died possessed. Such trifling, and the do-little tactics by which it was supported, scarcely consisted with the exigence, for though the cause was at first unimportant, the disgust and indignation felt by Paul at being outwitted by an almost beardless boy led him to entertain vast schemes of vengeance, extending to the partition of Romagna with his countrymen of Venice, and to a new war for the Neapolitan succession.

The movement of Sforza to Vergiliano, a few miles west of Rimini, had virtually raised the siege, and the confederates lay round Cerasolo, about the same distance to the south. Matters were now at a dead-lock, for the actual territory in dispute being thus cleared of papal troops, the allies had no pretext for aggressive operations, although Roberto was obviously exposed to destruction should they withdraw, which they showed every disposition to do. In order to bring matters to a point, Federigo informed Malatesta that it was for him to attack; and as his tiny garrison could effect nothing beyond a predatory incursion on the papal territory, it was concerted that he should assail Mulazzano, whilst the Count sent some troops to protect Rimini. The scheme succeeded to their hearts' content, for Sforza, moved by complaints from the menaced villages, quitted his position in order to check the marauders and occupy new ground within reach of Mulazzano. Federigo, informed of this intention, foresaw that he would-198- encamp, at all events pass, near his cantonments, and prepared to give him battle. It was not without opposition that he obtained the approval of his languid supporters, but having done so, he thus harangued his troops:[151] "Soldiers! I have good news for you. The enemy have a fancy to water their horses in that stream where we water ours, and for this purpose have resolved to encamp right opposite us. If you would know why I take this for so good news, I shall tell you. I know that you all ply the trade of arms in order to gain you honour and advantage; and if the enemy come, as I have said, I shall lead you where each of you will have equal opportunity of displaying his gallantry. Take no thought that they outnumber you, for victory is gained by valour and not by multitudes, and the more they are, the greater your glory and plunder. I already know well your bravery, and you should have no doubts when I promise you so sure a victory, since that I see how it is to be won. This much I can say, that I even now feel as ample satisfaction in the triumph which I anticipate from your valour as if it were already gained; yet for your satisfaction I have something to add. They are coming to make a lodgment without an idea of opposition, and therefore fool-hardily and incautiously; we shall thus probably find them in disorder, whilst we are fully prepared for action. At all events we shall come upon them encumbered by baggage and disheartened, which affects both mind and body; and being ourselves in light order and prepared for battle, the advantage must be all with us. Should they fancy returning whence they came, we shall let them see what it is to show their backs to an enemy. One way or other the victory will be ours, and besides having my word you may assure yourselves of it, for it is in your own hands."


The battle took place on the 29th or 30th of August, on ground selected by Federigo. During three hours the enemy vainly sought to make an impression on his position, at the end of which time Roberto came up with some fresh battalions, and the papal forces began to retire. Whereupon the Count, rushing forward, exclaimed to his men, "I promised you that, should the enemy give signs of retreat, you would make them feel what it is to show heels, and I must keep my word. At them now! and having maintained your ground against their attack, does not this encourage you to set upon them when flying? Come merrily on with me, who promise you a glorious and dashing victory!" Their flight soon became a rout; the confederates, pursuing in good order, carried the ecclesiastical camp by a coup-de-main, and were rewarded by immense booty. The enemy, who considerably outnumbered them, were scattered to the winds, the leaders seeking shelter in various towns of Romagna. Though the dead did not exceed a few hundreds, a vast number of horses, standards, artillery, and prisoners were taken, including many captains of note. Muzio thinks it necessary to defend Federigo for this victory, as scarcely within the stipulated object of the league, that of resisting aggressions upon Roberto's proper territory of Rimini; and it was perhaps from a consciousness of this objection that he adopted the very unusual course of dismissing all prisoners without ransom, after an oration on the chances of war, and his personal regret at being called upon to draw the sword against his ecclesiastical over-lord. Such a course was, however, consistent with his general feelings and practice; and there now occurred an opportunity for the special manifestation of his generosity. Count Gian Francesco of Pian di Meleto, who, though a subject of Montefeltro, had been ever a partisan of Sigismondo Pandolfo, and a personal foe of Federigo, was on this occasion in the pay of Alessandro Sforza, and, being-200- captured on the fall of his horse, was with difficulty rescued by Federigo himself from the summary punishment intended by his exasperated adherents. When the battle was over, he and his son were summoned by the victorious general, and while awaiting the sentence befitting their treason, were thus addressed by their over-lord: "Count, this will be evil news for your wife, and it would be right to console her by tidings of your welfare and her son's. It is therefore my pleasure that you both be the bearers of them to her." He then dismissed them home with an escort.

Federigo's commission being now effectually fulfilled, and having no warrant for pursuing the war into the papal territory, he retired to Urbino, leaving Roberto in the field to follow up the recent victory. Although blamed for wavering during the early part of the battle, in order to fall back upon Rimini had its fortune been adverse, the latter was not slow to profit by its results, and ere November he had re-established the Malatestan sovereignty over the whole fiefs of Rimini and Fano, as well as part of the vicariat of Sinigaglia.

The first fruit of Federigo's triumph was a very flattering commission from the Duke of Milan as lieutenant-general of his state, accompanied with 10,000 golden ducats in payment of his claims upon Francesco Sforza. But ere long there broke out those jealousies which chronically afflicted all Italian confederacies. The contingents of Milan and Florence, arriving too late for the battle, shared neither its glory nor its spoils, which thus fell in a great measure to the Neapolitans, whose sovereign was already regarded with no friendly eye by the haughty Lombard Prince. The liberality of the latter to the Count of Urbino was but a covert bribe to alienate him from the league, and secure his undivided services, but it was unavailing against the prior and long-established claims of the house of Aragon. Thus thwarted, Galeazzo Maria-201- withheld from Federigo his quota of the pay promised by the allies, namely 70,000 scudi in war, and half as much in peace, and refused to contribute with them to the expense of maintaining Roberto in Rimini. This ebullition of temper, dictated by no animosity against Federigo, occasioned a diet of the powers at Florence, which, however, failed to arrange their differences. Pietro de' Medici being dead, his influence had descended to his more talented son, who, finding that the wily Venetians were courting a separate treaty with Ferdinand, hastened to urge upon his allies the importance of sinking minor differences, and maintaining the league as the best guarantee for the repose of Italy. These representations had due weight. The confederacy was renewed, and a peace concluded in December with the Pope, provided to Roberto all the territory of which his father died possessed. The following letters of Federigo to the Signory of Siena testify his interest in these arrangements, the bearings of which on the policy of Italy and Europe have been ably stated by Sismondi in his eighty-first chapter.

"I believe your lordships have learned the rupture of the most serene and illustrious league, and how this came about, whereat I feel the utmost dissatisfaction and regret. Not that I have on my own part to lament any want of such exertion and action for its continuance and union as my duty demanded, but that fortune so willed it. Yet I entertain a hope and assurance that the peace of Italy will not thereby be compromised; indeed matters may, as often happens, turn out eventually better than they were at first." [May 8, 1470.]

"Mighty and potent Lords, dearest Fathers,

"Your lordships' letters by this courier have afforded me much pleasure, as they must ever in all circumstances do, but especially when it is in my power to perform-202- something acceptable to your lordships, or to comply with any request of yours. I am well assured, as your lordships observe, that you are fully informed up to this time of the transactions among the Italian powers, and of the difficulties that have arisen; of these, therefore, I need say nothing. I do not understand that as yet matters have assumed a definite shape, or been finally decided upon; although it is quite possible that something has been concluded at Naples, where the ambassadors of all these states are assembled, but there has not yet been time for me to hear of it. Thus much I may, however, say to your lordships, that I hope things will at all events issue in a satisfactory peace, towards which these views of the Turk ought to incline every one, for all tempers, however rough or obdurate, ought at this juncture to yield and bend for the general advantage of the Christian religion. I am also able to assure your lordships that your republic and its honour and character must derive quite as much satisfaction, utility, and benefit from peace and tranquillity as any other community, seeing the affection generally entertained for it, especially by the serene King. I commend myself to your lordships. From Urbino, the 7th of July, 1470.

"Federigo Count of Montefeltro, Urbino, and Durante."[152]

The duplicity of Italian diplomacy has passed into a proverb, and by none was it more constantly practised than by the successors of St. Peter. The investiture of Roberto, although a specific stipulation of the new league, was constantly evaded by Paul, until, after months of procrastination, death released his Holiness from the engagement. His successor, Sixtus IV., was a friend of Federigo and of the Neapolitan Monarch, and through-203- their mediation Malatesta obtained prompt performance of the obligation. Thus established in a seigneury, long the heritage of bastards, Roberto allied himself more intimately with the Count of Urbino, by espousing, on the 28th of March, 1472, his daughter Elisabetta (or Isabella, for the names were synonymous), then about nine years old; and thus were happily closed the long feuds of these rival races.[153]

Sixtus IV


From a miniature prefixed to the dedication copy of Platina's Lives of the Popes in the Vatican Library

In writing to the Signory of Siena regarding the election of Sixtus, Federigo says "there could not have been a choice more worthy, better, or more consonant with the requirements of the Christian religion." We shall ere long have ample means of testing the accuracy of this opinion. Under its influence he attended the coronation, the splendour whereof is described by a spectator in these somewhat inflated terms: "The only news I have to tell you is about the triumphant and unexampled honours paid by all Italy to the new Pontiff, a detailed account of which would be more proper for history than suited to a letter. Your renowned Federigo surpassed all others in magnificence and pomp, the number of his mettlesome chargers, with their rich trappings and housings, astonishing every one. So perfect was the order, so effective the marshalling of the nobles, knights, pages, and select attendants who surrounded him, that on him were centred the eyes of all. In front of the procession the crash of clanging trumpets rang through the sky, nearer the centre the ear was soothed by the sweeter melody of flutes, whilst in the rear bells tinkled an accompaniment to the dulcet-204- harmony of voluptuous lyres. Every one was dressed in gold, silver, silk, or some such precious stuff. On the necks and head-gear of many sparkled oriental gems, and the number of collars, necklaces, and bracelets exceeded what all Italy might have been expected to produce. But supereminent and conspicuous above the others was the Crown Prince of Naples, a very Absalom, borne on a proud and prancing charger, and wearing a scarf radiant with gold and pearls. When the cortège reached the Piazza di San Celso, and crowned the bridge, the heavens seemed to bellow and shake from explosions of artillery in the castle of St. Angelo, startling the fretted steeds, whose bounding movements were truly beautiful. The streets, squares, porticos, and windows were insufficient to contain the spectators."[154]

It was about this time that the hospitalities of Urbino were called into exercise by the arrival of unusual guests. The sceptre of Persia had been usurped by an adventurer, whom Italian writers have generally named Usum-cassan,[155] and whom the far-seeing policy of Venice had some fifteen years before induced to attack the Asiatic Turks. So useful an ally was conciliated by Calixtus V., as well as by the Maritime Republic; and in 1471 the oriental despot sent an embassy to confirm his relations with these powers, and obtained from them some artillery to be employed against the common enemy. His envoys, after being laden at Venice with those rare and magnificent gifts which their ramified commerce enabled its merchant princes to command, visited several petty courts in their way to Rome and Naples. Their arrival at Urbino was commemorated by the singular compliment of introducing their portraits,-205- along with that of the Count, into an altar-picture executed by Justus of Ghent for the fraternity of Corpus Christi. Of this work we shall have to speak in our thirtieth chapter: it still hangs in the church of Sta. Agata,[*156] and represents the celebration of the Last Supper in the manner of the Romish communion, the Count and the Persian envoys figuring as spectators. In departing, they carried with them a complimentary letter in Latin from Federigo to their master, which mentions that it was written at their request.

The princely manner of welcome already established at this mountain court, which in after generations became proverbial for magnificent hospitalities, may be learned from the visit of Borso, Marquis of Ferrara, who, in March, 1471, while passing to Rome, spent four days at Urbino and Gubbio, with an escort of 500 horsemen, 100 on foot, and 150 mules. He was immediately thereafter made Duke by Paul, who signalised his elevation by a hunting-field on the most exaggerated scale. Berni tells us that it brought together about 25,000 people, and that among the returns of slaughter were 100 oxen, and as many calves. Ere a few months had passed, the Pontiff and the Duke were numbered with the dead; the former died unregretted, but the mild sway of the latter passed into a proverb, "the time of Duke Borso" being long quoted in contrast with that of less popular sovereigns. During next year another remarkable guest arrived. Pietro Riario, the new Pontiff's favourite nephew, having been raised by him to the purple, and appointed legate of all Italy, made a pompous progress throughout the provinces thus placed under his nominal jurisdiction.[*157] He was met on the frontier by the Count,-206- accompanied by the Lords of Faenza, Rimini, and Pesaro, with a noble following, and conducted to the palace of Gubbio, Federigo and his nephew Ottaviano della Carda leading the palfrey of this proud parvenu. The name of Pietro will recur in our thirty-first chapter; meanwhile we may cite the sketch of him preserved to us by Giovanni Sanzi in reference to this visit.

"He was a man, if well his mind I wot,
Magnanimous but lavish; to his friends
Most generous and liberal; to the learned
A patron kind, though indiscriminate.
The locust well might typify his life:
In youth a friar, but no longer bent
On things of such high import, now he deemed
Himself all but supreme. Yet of his deeds
No record lives in prose or lofty song,
No fame but of a splendour all apart
From churchman's calling, more offensive still
To laymen. Thus elate and arrogant
(For pride of place the youthful heart corrupts),
His whim it was through Italy to speed
In gorgeous array, till sudden death
Snatched him from these delights.
* * * * * * *
Just as a locust by the sun struck down,
So perished in their prime his fancies vain,
Despite the projects hatched beneath the shade
Of his red hat."



Birth of Prince Guidobaldo—Count Federigo captures Volterra—Is again widowed—Receives the Garter and the Ermine—Is made Duke of Urbino—His patronage of learned men.

ELEVEN years had now gone by since the marriage of Federigo, and had given him eight daughters. Although the laws of succession were neither well defined nor rigorously adhered to among Italian feudatories, a general desire to see the sovereignty secured in the line of one so justly beloved was felt throughout his state. For an object beyond human aid recourse was had to the Disposer of all good, and to Him were the prayers both of sovereigns and subjects continuously addressed for the blessing of a boy. We are told by Odasio, that the anxious Battista hesitated not to offer her own life in return for the boon of a son worthy of his father; and he gravely attests this supernatural answer to her own and her people's intercession. She saw in a dream a lovely phœnix perched upon a lofty tree, which, after sitting there for thirty-six days, winged its flight heavenward until it touched the sun, and then disappeared in flames. Coincident with this vision was the fulfilment of her desire, and in due time she presented her delighted husband and subjects with a beautiful boy.[158] As her dream occurred while-208- resident at Gubbio, and in supposed response to appeals addressed through S. Ubaldo, the patron of that city, she was careful that her confinement should likewise take place under his auspices. The child was born there on the 17th or 24th of January, 1472,[*159] and whilst the grateful piety of his parents ordered solemn public devotional acknowledgments for the boon, the universal joy was testified by popular festivities and illuminations, which were prolonged until Lent set in. A few days after his birth he was baptised in the cathedral with becoming solemnity by the Bishop, Antonio de' Severi. The names selected were Guido Paulo Ubaldo, of which the second seems never to have been used: the first was, as we have seen, of historical illustration in the family of Montefeltro; the last acknowledged the presumed mediation of the Gubbian saint.[160]

The next partial interruption to the peace which reigned through the Peninsula arose on the side of Tuscany, and called forth the energies of Federigo. There are varying accounts how the squabbles of a few miners brought on a sanguinary contest; but its origin may thus be explained. Volterra, though nominally independent, was tributary to Florence, and under her protection. That community possessed a wide extent of rocky and barren pastures, leased annually by auction for the public good. The poverty of their surface was amply compensated by minerals buried under an arid volcanic soil, which contained abundance of alum, vitriol, salt, and sulphur, be-209-sides a sprinkling of precious metals. Some enterprising speculators having obtained a five years' lease of a portion of these grazing lands, formed a mining company along with several Florentine capitalists. The success attending their adventure roused the jealousy of certain Volterran citizens, who grudging such gains at the public expense raised a riot, in which the company's works were injured. The merchants of Florence appealed to their own government, and the intervention thus commenced led to further outrages, until, at the instance of Lorenzo de' Medici, an expedition to humble this contumacy was resolved on. After explaining to the confederate powers the causes of quarrel, the Florentine executive thus announced to their troops Count Federigo's appointment as their leader:—

"On looking round for a captain worthy of your valour, there has been no difficulty in finding one, who from his earliest years has been signalised, under the eyes of you all, by so many and great feats of arms, that there cannot be a question whom you ought to ask for, and we to give. In former times it has frequently happened that a safe commander has been discovered after great exertions and amid grievous perils. But, in this menacing war, the skill, gallantry, influence, and good fortune of the Lord of Urbino save us all trouble in searching out a leader for our army." Federigo was accordingly placed at the head of a hastily mustered force, estimated by Machiavelli at above ten thousand men, though stated much more moderately by Ammirato. Loathing the horrors of an almost civil contest, the Count anxiously desired an amicable arrangement, or, failing that, a prompt issue of this petty quarrel. In a few days he overran the territory

"Of lordly Volaterra,
Where scowls the far-famed hold
Piled by the hands of giants,
For god-like kings of old;"

and from his quarters at Mazzola, within four miles of-210- their gates, dissuaded the authorities from an unavailing defence, urging, according to Baldi, among other motives for wishing to spare their city, that it was the birthplace of Persius the poet, and offering his mediation to procure for them favourable terms. The magistracy, turning a deaf ear alike to friendly remonstrances and classic associations, began to fortify the place, although without a single ally, and unable to engage more than a thousand stipendiaries. To the infinite disgust of the Florentine commissaries, who desired to humble and punish a rebellious vassal, Federigo allowed the defences to be completed, on pretext of awaiting reinforcements of his own, and the pontifical troops, but in the secret hope that emissaries whom he had sent among the citizens might have better success in conciliatory representations. His forbearance was, however, unavailing against obstinate infatuation, and on the arrival of these auxiliaries, a bombardment was begun from the eastern side of the town. Its site was naturally strong, and the tactics of a siege were then always dilatory, so three weeks passed ere a breach was effected in the wall, and even then several days were spent in bringing up to it covered approaches for the assaulting party. The stipendiaries, regarding the cause as hopeless, now deserted, and the citizens deemed it full time to sue for terms. After negotiations, which were remitted to Florence, it was agreed to surrender the place, on a pledge that life and property would be spared, and that the past would be buried in oblivion. But the authorities, apprehending from their own populace and garrison an outbreak of indignation against these conditions, stipulated that troops should be secretly introduced for preservation of order, preparatory to admitting the besiegers. By some mismanagement, this attempt led to renewed hostilities from the town, but the citadel falling into the hands of the companies who had been so admitted, consternation and confusion spread on all sides.-211- At this juncture a cry was raised from within that the sack was begun, and that all who wished for a share of plunder should look to it.

Other accounts tell us that the walls were carried by assault on the 18th of June, and that a capitulation was then agreed on, by which only certain municipal privileges were surrendered by the city; but that, as the troops entered, an alarm arose of some treacherous movement on the part of the populace, whereupon the Milanese contingent rushed headlong upon them, and commenced a general pillage. Federigo, who had remained outside with the artillery, was made aware of the bloody scenes passing within by cries from the outraged citizens. He instantly proclaimed by trumpet a cessation of hostilities and plunder, commanding all to their quarters, and enjoining the arrest of stragglers. Hurrying to the scene of horrors, he rode among the excited multitude, exerting himself to save the aged and infants, and to protect the women and convents. He compelled the soldiery to lay down their ill-gotten burdens, especially all sacred utensils, and hanged on the spot a Venetian and a Sienese commissary, the alleged authors of this insubordination. But diabolical passions thus roused brooked no control. Hours elapsed, indeed, according to some authorities nightfall arrived, ere the savages could be called off their quarry.

Such appears the substance of numerous contradictory accounts of this unfortunate and mysterious affair.[161] There can be little doubt that it originated in the licentious habits and lax discipline then usual in Italian armies, who looked on plunder as the chief end of war, and regarded-212- pillage as a right rather than a military offence. Almost every writer acquits the Count of blame, and the only imputation against him arose from the terms of a general order, proclaiming death to every soldier found within the walls at sundown, which have been misconstrued into an implied permission for outrage till that hour. It was reserved for flatterers of an after age to soil his fair fame by an invention which they meant as incense to his memory. In proof at once of his moderation and lettered taste, he is stated by these to have contented himself with a great Hebrew Bible as his share of the booty. No contemporary gives the slightest foundation for such a tale, nor have I at all traced to Volterra that curious MS. which will be described in VI. of the Appendices. If found there and abstracted at the siege, it was not improbably presented to Federigo by the grateful authorities of Florence, from whom he refused any pay, serving them for love, whilst, in the words of old Sanzi,

"He nothing brought away but honour bright,
Which every other treasure far outshines."[162]

His return from this rapid campaign to the beautiful Queen of Arnoa was a triumphal pageant. Its enthusiastic population met him beyond the gates, and escorted him with acclamations through streets draped with tapestries and rich brocades. In the piazza he was welcomed by the magistrates with a complimentary oration, and at a public banquet received as appropriate gifts the colours of the republic, a handsome charger richly caparisoned, together with a silver helmet, studded with jewels, and chased in gold by the marvellous chisel of Pollaiuolo.[163]-213- Besides a substantial guerdon of lands, houses, brocade stuffs, and vases brimming with bullion, conferred on Federigo, valuable commercial exemptions were decreed in favour of the subjects of Urbino, and three days of uninterrupted festivity scarcely abated the popular rejoicings. Not less valuable in his eyes was the compliment which his good service earned from a private citizen. Poggio Bracciolino being on the outlook for a patron for his History of the Florentines, deemed it could be most appropriately inscribed to one who had just crowned their arms with signal success.

The star of Federigo's fortunes now reached its zenith. The scattered mountain fiefs held by his ancestors had been concentrated by his first marriage, and extended by his policy or prowess.[164] His second nuptials, long crowned by singular domestic felicity, had at length given him an heir. He had founded palaces and churches worthy the admiration of coming generations. He had wielded the batons, and he enjoyed the affectionate respect, of the five great Peninsular powers. He saw the wars, which had yielded him laurels and enriched-214- his state, subside into a peace still more beneficial to his subjects and conducive to his tastes. But, as old Sanzi moralises,

"The spider's most attenuated thread
Is cord, is cable to man's tender tie
Of earthly bliss: it breaks with every breeze."

Scarcely had he quitted the scene of his triumphs, in order to bear tidings of them to one whose sympathy would have enhanced their sweets, when an express met him with alarming news of her health. Riding day and night, he reached Gubbio on the 6th of July, just in time to close the eyes of his Countess. We are fortunately enabled to give in his own words all the particulars which have reached us of this melancholy event.[165]

Battista Sforza



From the bust by Francesco Laurana in the Bargello, Florence

"Mighty and potent Lords, dearest Fathers,

"With such bitter and heartfelt grief as your magnificent lordships may suppose, I inform you that, my wife Battista having sickened on Tuesday the last ultimo with fever and headache, our Lord God has taken to himself her soul at four o'clock to-night of this 6th instant [i.e. 11 p.m.], after she had received all the sacraments with the utmost devotion, leaving me as afflicted, disconsolate, and unhappy as any one can be in this world. Medical men were in attendance, both those of the Lord Messer Alessandro [Sforza of Pesaro] and others from Perugia, and my own, but neither physicians nor physic had power to aid her. I arrived but this morning, and found her in a happy frame of mind. The funeral service will be celebrated at Urbino on the 17th of August. I-215- commend myself to your lordships; from Gubbio this 6th of [July], 1472.

"Federigo Count of Montefeltro, Urbino, and Durante,
Captain-general of the Most Serene League."

"By the letters recently received from your Serene Highness, I readily conceived how much regret the death of my wife Battista has occasioned you, and although your remarkable courtesy had already assured me of this, yet to ascertain it from your own missives afforded me the best of all consolation: for who is there, though struck by deep grief (as indeed I am by the deepest of all), who would not feel it alleviated, when so illustrious a personage thus willingly lends his sympathy. I have indeed lost a wife, the ornament of my house and the devoted sharer of my fortunes, and hence have too much cause for affliction; but so opportune were your most judicious letters, filled with such sensible suggestions, that my grief is now greatly mitigated. I therefore give your Highness much thanks, to whose kindness I am thus greatly beholden; and it has been my best solace that so illustrious a Prince will never be wanting to me in prosperity or in misfortune. Under such obligations my service, should occasion ever offer of rendering it available, will be the more freely proffered, faithfully dedicated as it is to your Highness, to whom I most humbly commend myself."

Another letter still more touchingly expresses his feelings on this bereavement. It may have been addressed to the secretary of the Duke of Milan, who had sent an ambassador to attend the obsequies of Battista. "No book lore, no personal experience, could state better than your very elegant letter the vanity of human hopes. Most consolatory has it proved to me, describing so appropriately and feelingly my varied fortune;—the-216- affair of Volterra, the honours with which the distinguished government of Florence has complimented me, and my secret delight while returning homewards to rejoin my circle, my sweet children, my wife, precious above aught else—these all at once transmuted by a death blow, to me the most calamitous. Most impressively have you set forth my affliction, and the loss I have publicly and privately sustained: by such things may indeed be seen the uncertain issues of earthly events."

Again, in thanking the Pope for his condolence, the bereaved Count adds, "For many reasons her death was a grievous vexation, for she was the beloved consort of my fortunes and domestic cares, the delight equally of my public and private hours, so that no greater misfortune could have befallen me."

Federigo's family



Detail from the picture by Giusto di Gand, in the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino.
(From the Ducal Collection)

At a court already attractive to men of literary pretensions, many were ready to take up a theme recommended by sympathy and gratitude. The funeral oration by Antonio Campano, Bishop of Teramo, was printed at Cagli in 1476, and would now be a prize to collectors. The Vatican Library contains several others in manuscript, overflowing with adulation, which for once was well bestowed.[166] Battista was a remarkable instance of the transmission of talent by female descent. Her great-grandmother, Battista di Montefeltro, already celebrated in these pages,[167] though married to a man of miserable character, had a daughter Elisabetta Malatesta, who inherited her misfortunes as well as her genius. Elisabetta's daughter was Costanza Varana, the associate of scholars and philosophers, whose gifts she is said to have rivalled, notwithstanding an early death that deprived her infant Battista of a mother's care. The babe began her letters when three years old, and at four was removed to the court of her uncle, Francesco Sforza, where-217- she was put forward to deliver publicly a Latin oration, during the festivities following upon his installation as Duke of Milan. This display of infantine self-possession and memory, indicating at all events a tractable disposition, has, with fulsome adulation, been magnified as evidence of extraordinary precocious talent, and has been retailed without inquiry, as if her discourse had been an extempore effusion.[168] On the strength of this reputation, when returned home she was made to welcome her father's more distinguished guests in public harangues, a discipline which, however injudicious, does not seem to have prevented her rapid acquisition of solid knowledge, nor to have interfered with her progress in those useful accomplishments of the needle which then formed the resource of high-born dames. The peculiarity of her character was a sedate temperament, that enabled her to take her place with singular judgment in the household of her widowed father, and gained for her several proposals of marriage even earlier than was usual in Italy. The circumstances of her union with Federigo have been noticed in 1459, and although our narrative has rarely named her, we are assured that during his frequent and prolonged absences, her judgment and tact were equally manifested in public affairs and in the management of her domestic concerns. It is startling to find her at fourteen a mother, and virtually regent of his state whilst he was employed in the war of the Neapolitan succession during 1461 and 1462. She spent the spring of both these years with him in winter quarters, the former at Magliano on the northern limit of the Campagna; the latter in the Eternal City, where she interchanged complimentary harangues in Latin with the diplomatic body, and where Pius II., himself no mean critic, praised her-218- eloquence as equalled only by her discretion, and pronounced that fame had understated her merits. On this occasion, among other distinctions, his Holiness received her in full consistory, and conferred the spurs of knighthood on twelve of her suite. Yet these flattering demonstrations in no respect marred the freshness of her character, and devotional observances were the chief object of her visit to Rome. Though gifted with beauty of a high caste, simple dress and manners were her delight, and it was only on state occasions that, indulging her husband's taste rather than her own fancy, she displayed such magnificent attire as is represented in the characteristic portrait here introduced. It is very happily rendered from the original in the Uffizi Gallery at Florence, where profile likenesses of herself and her husband are enclosed in one frame. They were painted by Piero della Francesca, court limner of Urbino, whom we shall mention in our twenty-seventh chapter, and afford highly interesting specimens of early portraiture and mediæval costume. The Countess wears a robe of boldly flowered brocade, from beneath which emerges the richly bullioned sleeve of her vest. Her jewels are massive but elegant; her elaborate head-dress tastefully disposes a superabundance of luxurious hair—the distinctive beauty of Italian women. Yet a fashion of shaving above the forehead has somewhat marred the harmony of her features, by unduly exposing her "modest and majestic eye." This happily descriptive epithet we owe to Giovanni Sanzi, who knew her well, and scanned her features with an artist's glance; but his tribute merits an extract.

"Then closed that modest and majestic eye.
Her pious soul, from mundane risks released,
To God its rapid flight devoutly winged,
Leaving a tearful household, and the state
Grief-stricken, whilst Italia's noblest names
Partook their sorrow."


Muzio says, that by "her death was dissolved the most honoured, fitting, and congruous union of that or any other age."

The obsequies, as announced by Federigo to the Priors of Siena, were celebrated with singular magnificence on the 17th of August, in the Church of S. Bernardino, at Urbino. They were attended by thirty-eight envoys from the princes, cities, and great feudatories of Italy, excluding those of Venice and Siena, retarded by bad weather. These deputations formed a retinue of three hundred and sixteen nobles, besides two hundred and ninety belonging to the court of Urbino, and three hundred and eight ecclesiastics. The procession was swelled by crowds of citizens from every town in the state, so that nearly 2000 appeared in mourning garb.[169] The Countess left six daughters and an infant son, the care of whom was a serious burden to her lord. But Sanzi tells us that,

"Feeling at length how sad and profitless
It were on this dark world his hopes to rest,
His grief within his inmost heart he hid,
And mastered it in grave and modest guise."[170]

The next two years were chiefly passed at home, in bringing his mind to this pious resignation, in urging forward his palaces, and in administering his authority for the welfare of an attached people. Of an existence so tranquil and pleasing no glimpses are transmitted to us by his biographers, for it was barren of those martial feats which they considered the almost exclusive field of their labours. But from its not inglorious repose he was called to new honours.


On the 20th of August, 1474, he entered Rome with an escort of two thousand horse. Next morning he was summoned to receive the dignity of Duke from Sixtus, who met him in the great doorway of St. Peter's. There was, however, the preliminary compliment of creating him Knight of St. Peter, in this form. The Pontiff being seated on his throne, the Count was placed on his left, just below the cardinals. High mass having proceeded as far as the gloria, he was led by the Pope's favourite nephews, Girolamo Riario and Giovanni della Rovere, in front of the throne, and knelt on its steps, while Sixtus, taking from one of them the sword of St. Peter, elaborately blessed it, and placed it in his hands, with an injunction to wield it for the Church, and against the enemies of Christ's cross. He was then girt with it by Cardinal Orsini, the nephews meanwhile buckling on his golden spurs, and at a signal from the master of ceremonies, he drew and twice brandished it, returning it to its scabbard. These accoutrements being removed, mass was continued, and, whilst the litanies were chanted, he took the usual oath of fidelity, returning thereafter to his place. Before reading of the Gospel he was conducted to the sacristy by Cardinals Gonzaga and Zeno, where his knightly mantle of gold brocade having been replaced by a ducal robe of similar material, he was again led to his place. The Gospel being concluded, he was taken by them during the offertory once more before his Holiness, who, as Federigo stooped to kiss the pax, suspended from his neck a golden chain, at which hung an exquisite leash (dilascio), and placed on his head a ducal cap,[171] giving into his hand the sceptre, accompanied with appropriate benedictions and exhortations. Having next been led apart, he read aloud the customary-221- oath of fidelity to Pontiff and Church, after which followed the salutations in this form. Prostrated before the Pope, he kissed his feet and hands, whilst prayers were proffered by his Holiness, who then tenderly embraced him. Proceeding to the cardinals, he touched their hands and kissed each, paying the like compliment to the empty seats of those absent, after which he took his place by them. This ceremony ended, he again knelt before the Pontiff, who consigned to him two standards, one with the arms of the Church, the other with his own, and created him Gonfaloniere, declaring him general of the new league.

The Duke of Urbino, thus laden with dignities, was conducted to the foot of the great stairs of St. Peter's; and, as he mounted a charger, the gift of his Holiness, the air reverberated with the clang of trumpets, the drone of bagpipes, and the crash of artillery from St. Angelo. Twenty cardinals and a crowd of nobles, prelates, and spectators escorted him to his lodging at the SS. Apostoli, but as the procession crossed the bridge they were dismayed by an evil omen. A sudden gust of wind striking the newly inaugurated standards, their staffs broke over, and they were dashed to the ground.[172]


Porcellio asserts that, besides these tokens of high favour bestowed by himself, Sixtus had employed his influence in forwarding Federigo's pretensions to the foreign decorations at this time conferred on him. Such an accumulation of good offices from a pope whom he had not as yet been able to serve, had been ascribed to the nepotism so conspicuous in his Holiness's arrangements. If this be true, the clue to it is afforded by a marriage solemnised next day, whereby their respective families were allied. The Duke's daughter Giovanna was then wedded to Giovanni della Rovere, nephew of Sixtus, who soon after obtained for him from the reluctant consistory an investiture of Sinigaglia and Mondavio, that hard-won territory which Federigo had conquered for the Church from its contumacious vassal Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, and which came eventually to be united with Urbino under the second dynasty of its dukes. On the same day were celebrated the nuptials of another of his daughters, Agnesina, to Fabrizio Colonna. The hereditary talents of her mother, which we have recently traced through several descents,[173] were revived in a daughter of this marriage, Vittoria Colonna, the ill-mated wife of the Marquis of Pescara, whose piety, genius, and beauty divide the applause of her contemporaries, and whom we shall mention in our forty-ninth chapter.

Early in September Federigo repaired to Naples, and the King, having about this time resolved to institute an Order of knighthood, selected for its badge the Ermine,-223- an animal emblematical of purity, whose fur has long been a royal ornament, and named his eldest son and the Duke of Urbino among its original members.[174] Their installation took place at Naples on the 11th of that month, in the chapel royal, where high mass was celebrated, the court attending in gala. After reading of the Epistle, the two acolytes were led by a deputation of nobles into the sacristy, and put on tunics of white damask in the Turkish fashion, after which they were reconducted to the chapel, and having kissed hands, were placed beside the monarch. When the Gospel had been chanted, they were arrayed by the Sovereign with the mantle of the order, which was of scarlet satin lined with ermine fur, open at the right side, and flowing to the feet. A sermon, appropriate to the occasion, having been delivered, they were led to the high altar, where, kneeling, they received their collars, being rich chains of gold, from which hung the insignia, an ermine studded with diamonds and other jewels. The King then calling the young Antonio, who had accompanied his father from Urbino, knighted him, girding a sword to his side, and placing a golden chain on his neck, with an admonition that he should walk in his parent's steps. The ceremonial was concluded by a splendid breakfast in the palace; and four days thereafter the Count set out for Rome, escorted some way by Ferdinand, from whom he parted with mingled embraces and tears.

The English Order of the Garter, instituted by Edward III in 1344, has always enjoyed a European reputation, from its ranks being recruited by foreign sovereigns and heroes. At the chapter of 26th February, 1474, four votes were given to Federigo, and on the 18th of the following August, he was unanimously elected, by the seven-224- knights present, to the stall vacated by Lord Montjoy. He soon after paid, by the Chancellor's hands, 109 pence as fees, and had been installed before the following April. Thus far we have Anstis for our guide; but the unfortunate loss of all the early records of the Order renders us dependent for further particulars on Italian writers. Among these we have met with no contemporary authorities except the epics of Sanzi and Porcellio, whose details, however curious, are scarcely of historical value. These deficiencies are, however, in some measure supplied from a letter-book of Federigo preserved in the Vatican, upon which we have drawn largely for this incident in his career. But in order that the context of our narrative may not be interrupted by somewhat lengthened extracts, they are thrown together into VII. of the Appendices, and will, it is hoped, prove an interesting contribution to the scanty muniments of the Garter. His investiture took place at Grottoferrata during the autumn of 1474, and he commissioned his relative Pietro degli Ubaldini to proceed to England as proxy for his installation.[175]

The great captains under or from whom Federigo had gathered his laurels were now all dead, and his military reputation far transcended that of any remaining condottiere. It was, therefore, not without jealousy that the powers of Upper Italy saw him establish relations of such close amity with the Pope and Ferdinand. Other matters tended to aggravate the feelings of alarm thus generated. Not satisfied with indulging his nepotism at the expense of the Holy See, Sixtus showed tendencies to an aggressive policy against his neighbours. A portion of the treasure supposed to have been accumulated by his avaricious predecessor, but of which he gave no account, was suspected to have been employed in purchasing for his-225- favourite nephew, Girolamo, the seigneury of Imola from the Manfredi. A local squabble at Todi, dignified with the almost forgotten watchwords of Guelph and Ghibelline, afforded him a pretext for sending thither another nephew, the Cardinal della Rovere, at the head of an army, which, though marching under the papal banner, sided with the self-styled imperialist faction. The Pontiff, who had long seen with regret the feeble hold which his predecessors maintained over their vassals, and even over the nominal subjects of the Church, commissioned his legate to carry out the good work thus begun. Accordingly, after chastising Todi and Spoleto, Giuliano advanced into the upper valley of the Tiber, in order to reduce Città di Castello, where the Vitelli had for some time exercised absolute sovereignty with the title of Vicar. To this expedition the Duke of Urbino gave his aid, and on its successful issue carried several of that family to Rome, in order to intercede for their pardon.

These events accelerated arrangements in the north for a combination calculated to balance the threatening attitude of the southern powers, and in November a defensive treaty was signed by Milan, Venice, and Florence, under reservation, however, to the Pope and King of Naples to accede to the new league. Of this they declined availing themselves, content with general professions of moderation and peace, which, fortunately acted upon, prolonged the general tranquillity of Italy, and enabled her energies to be directed with tolerable unanimity against the Turks. The three years of renewed repose which followed were spent by Federigo at home, in the indulgence of those humane tastes which signalised his court, and laid a foundation for that cultivation of mind by which Urbino became distinguished. This may accordingly be the best place to review his patronage of letters.

The constant repetition of his name in that capacity by writers on literary history leads to an impression that his-226- zeal was remarkable, and that its fruits are attested by ample remains. The former of these conclusions is more correct than the latter. Italian authors have been too prone to re-echo vague compliments; their encomiums are lavish rather than discriminating; rhetorical panegyrics, not portraits to the life; accordingly, most of the plaudits thus bestowed on him are mere phrases of rote, reiterated without varying form of added force. Fortunately there remains to us substantial evidence that they were well founded. Muzio, who wrote about half a century after his death, with full access to original documents, tells us that it was his daily habit to be read to during meals, and to discuss with his courtiers such questions in theology, history, or philosophy as thus arose. When at Urbino, he used to repair weekly to the convent of S. Francesco, for the purpose of maintaining similar disputations with the resident friars, and by these expedients

"Held converse with Zabarell,
Aquinas, Scotus, and the musty saw
Of antick Donate."

Of Grecian literature, which after the fall of the Eastern Empire came into sudden repute in the Peninsula, he was one of the earliest promoters. Lazzari cites records, proving that in 1467 he brought to his capital Angelo, one of the fugitive Greeks, and, two years later, his countryman, Demetrio, for the purpose of teaching their language. It was under him that the Feltrian court first became what Ruscelli has designated it in the motto prefixed to this work, "a fountain which, in the sober truth of history, rather than in poetic vein, may be called a real Hippocrene." No complete list has come to us of the poets and philosophers who found shelter there, nor would it much avail us to recover names few of which merit a better fate than the obscurity that has long overshadowed them. The fifteenth century was more remarkable for the diffusion of learning than for commanding genius.-227- There were earnestness and laborious diligence in abundance, but they were content to follow or imitate foregone conclusions rather than to strike out new and striking turns of thought. Such was the character of many of those works which, composed for or dedicated to this Duke, remain in MS.,[*176] slumbering undisturbed, and deservedly forgotten, on the shelves of the Vatican. Several of them, being devoted to commemorate his actions or his contemporaries, held out to me a rich promise of racy material. But servile in style as in substance, and disfigured by the borrowed diction and engrafted mythology of classic models, they often proved in all respects unsatisfactory references, ill repaying the time bestowed on their examination. It will be necessary to allude more particularly, in our twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth chapters, to such of their authors as belonged to the court of Urbino; meanwhile we may mention a few works dedicated to Federigo by learned men in other parts of Italy, from which it would seem that the rival systems of Plato and Aristotle shared his attention and patronage.

Ptolemy's geography was translated into Latin verse by Berlinghieri, who inscribed to Federigo the result of his ill-bestowed toil, in a splendid MS., richly illuminated, which remains in the Brera library. The published work was also issued in 1480, under sanction of his name, as was the translation of another work of Ptolemy by Pontano. To these Baldi adds Marsilio Ficino's Epistles on the Platonic Theology and translation of Plato's Dialogue de Regno, Alemanno Rinuccini's translations of Aristotle-228- and Philostratus, Paolo Marso's Commentary upon the Fasti of Ovid, Nicolò Perotto's Cornucopia, Poggio's Historia Populi Florentini, as specimens of a catalogue which might be greatly lengthened.[177] In the volume of his own MS. letters already often quoted, we find him thanking Naldo of Florence for his poem on the Volterran expedition, and acknowledging the Disputationes Camaldulenses of Cristoforo Landino. Writing to Donato Acciaiuolo, he avows the pleasure and advantage derived from perusing his Commentaries on a book of ethics, and expresses satisfaction that he had succeeded in persuading him to undertake a similar work on politics, for which he thanks him in a subsequent letter, apologising for having detained his messenger until he had read a great portion of it with the utmost pleasure, and enjoining reliance on his friendship and services.[178]

Before leaving the subject of dedications, we may quote the following singular illustration of literary history.

"To the Lord and most excellent Captain-at-arms, the Lord Federigo of Montefeltro, Count of Urbino, Lord of Gubbio, and most illustrious Captain-general of the League, our especial Lord, &c.; the Priors of Arezzo.

"Gambino, the poet, is ranked by us among our most regarded and well-beloved citizens, on account both of his distinguished talents and of his peaceful and unoffending life. As a curious inquirer into history and antiquities, he cannot be unaware of the great goodwill and affection which for many ages has subsisted between your illustrious progenitors and this our city. Indeed, these facts have been hitherto so trite and public that they are notorious to the rude and unlettered, as well as to the learned and-229- accomplished. Gambino, therefore, like a good man, thinking to promote the benefit of his country by devoting his genius to the cultivation of that old-established and constant good understanding, has dedicated and inscribed to your Lordship a work lately composed by him in praise of the Virgin Mary. He, indeed, merits all commendation in seeking first the kingdom of heaven, according to the precept of our Saviour, but it would be well that he descend sometimes to worldly topics. And as in heaven no creature is more glorious than the blessed Virgin, so, if the praises of the heroes of our age be the subject, who on earth can be called, believed, or accounted more distinguished for bravery, more considered for military discipline or martial fame, than your Lordship? Should any one differ from this sentiment, we object not to his lending us a feigned assent, but he who appears to contest it must by all persons of sense be considered ridiculous and prejudiced. We, therefore, pray your Lordship to accept Gambino and his little offering with courtesy and favour, as it is your wont to receive others of eminent talents and learning; for we doubt not but that your favour will supply his genius with a new stimulus and inducement to enter upon and accomplish those pursuits which we desire to see him undertake. And should your Lordship's elevated and enlarged mind even light-lay the praises of men, so be it. And we further beseech your Lordship to adopt the sentiment of our Community, which justly desires that its citizens and scholars may attain, by their writings and poetry, as great celebrity as the glorious deeds which they celebrate will permit."[179]

Francesco di Giorgio, in his Treatise on Architecture, mentions Duke Federigo as holding out inducements for the learned men at his court to illustrate the works of-230- classic authors on architecture and sculpture. But no testimony to his literary habits can be more satisfactory than that of his librarian Vespasiano, to the following purpose.[180] The Duke was a ready Latin scholar, and extremely fond of ancient history. As a logician he had attained considerable aptitude, having studied Aristotle's Ethics along with Maestro Lazzaro, a famous theologian, who became Bishop of Urbino, discussing with him the most intricate passages. By the like process he mastered the Stagirite's politics, physics, and other treatises; and having acquired more philosophy than any contemporary prince, his thirst for new sources of knowledge induced him to devote himself to theology with equal zeal. The principal works of St. Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus were habitually read to him; he preferred the former as more clear, but admitted that the latter displayed greater subtlety in argument. He was well acquainted with the Bible, as well as the commentaries of Saints Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory; also with the writings of the Greek fathers, such as Saints Basil, Chrysostom, Gregory Naziazen, Nicetas, Athanasius, and Cyril. Among the classic authors whom he was in the habit of reading or listening to were Livy, Sallust, Quintus Curtius, Justin, Cæsar, Plutarch, Ælius Spartianus, Æmylius Protus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Eusebius. All men of letters visiting Urbino were hospitably entertained, and several were always attached to his court. His largesses to such were at all times liberal. He spent above 1500 ducats in this way when at Florence, and remitted similar bounties to Rome and Naples. He gave 1000 ducats to the learned Campano, professor of belles-lettres at Perugia in 1455,[*181] who aided him in collecting ancient MSS., and became Bishop of Teramo. Nor were elegant accomplishments-231- neglected. His acquaintance with the principles and practice of architecture excelled that of most contemporaries in any station, enabling him to superintend personally the plans and execution of his palaces and other buildings. He was equally at home in military engineering, and applied to his numerous fortified places such modifications as the introduction of artillery required, especially in reducing their altitude. The kindred sciences of geometry and arithmetic were his favourite studies, and not long before his death, he had a course of these read to him by Maestro Paolo, a learned German astrologer, retained at his court. In music, his taste and knowledge were excellent; there were in his chapel and palace bands of choristers and skilful performers, the organ being his favourite instrument. He was familiar with sculpture, and adopted it in the ornaments of his palace. He brought from Flanders a celebrated painter in oil, and employed him to execute many portraits; also from thence workers in gold and silver tapestry, the beauty of whose performances resulted in a great degree from his own connoisseurship and tastes, which pervaded all he had executed in the fine arts.[182]

This testimony of Vespasiano is confirmed by Sanzi, also a contemporary in attendance on his court, whose account, although inferring some repetition, may be given in his own words:—

"Since excellence in sooth gives no repose
To men of merit, least to those of names
Already known to glory, so the Count,
Though laden with the laurels of the field,
To mental discipline himself addressed.
And anxious to employ his ardent thoughts
On elevating themes, he Ethics chose
Whereon to bend his mind, and took as guide
One Messer Lazzaro, a preaching friar-232-
Of singular repute; a good divine,
In whom each gentle, each endearing trait
With honour and devotion blended well.
On Aristotle's writings all intent,
His learning to their wisdom glory gave;
And gladly entered he upon the task
Of clearly setting forth their lustrous thoughts
In daily readings, oft at matin hours.
With zealous mind and intellect matured,
The Count a great and rapid progress made;
And as no generous spirit willingly
Leaves favours unrequited, by his means
His able master filled Urbino's see,—
A guerdon gratefully received. Thus fond
Of study, he his time could seldom spend
To disadvantage. Even as he took
His modest frugal meals at home, or when
He sojourned elsewhere, it was his delight
To listen whilst from ancient histories,
Or recent chronicles, were read details
Of martial deeds, discerning readily
How sped the fortune of the fight ere yet
Its changing turns were told. Of maxims shrewd
And singular he master was beyond
Most others; nor from table would he rise
Whilst any staid to crave an audience.
To Arithmetic daily he applied,
And Algebra's high science, with success,
By Paul Alamanno taught; to whom seemed plain
Truths hid from many; who the heavens had scanned
For years successive, and the stars had tracked,
Until celestial influences grew
To him familiar; an exponent famed
Of physical philosophy, and hence
Much favoured by the Count."

The digression as to Federigo's literary habits and circle into which we have been led, would detain us too long from the more immediate object of our narrative, were we now to inquire into his patronage of art and artists. This will be discussed in our fourth book; meanwhile we resume the story of his life.



The Duke of Milan assassinated—Count Girolamo Riario—The Pazzi conspiracy—Duke Federigo’s campaigns in Tuscany—Progress of the Turks.

THE mediæval history of Italy is too frequently traced in characters of blood, and the period which we have now reached, although generally regarded as one of comparative tranquillity, was signalised by conspiracies systematically matured, and by murders perpetrated in high places with revolting barbarity. It matters little that they were instigated by political abuses or provoked by domestic tyranny; so repugnant is assassination to the better feelings of mankind, that public sympathy is ever with the sufferer, and the crime is perpetuated by history as a national stigma. The brutalising influence of such deeds descends like an hereditary taint to after generations, and to it may in a great measure be ascribed the recklessness of human life, and the consequent reputation for cruelty, which are still imputed to the Italian nature, and which recent events but too sadly confirm.

The earnestness of character, the energy of mind and action, which had gained for Francesco Sforza the sovereignty of Milan, passed not to his son. Galeazzo Maria was magnificent in his tastes. His court was the most splendid of a brilliant age. In his duchy justice was prompt and impartial. But his foreign policy and personal courage were unstable, in his home administration cruelty and oppression were aggravated by caprice. Yet these faults and foibles might have been endured, had-234- not the patience of his subjects been worn out by outrages against their domestic peace. Machiavelli informs us that hatred to their ruler, and the comparative benefits of a republic, were lessons habitually instilled into such of the young nobles as frequented the school of Cola Montano, then the most eminent teacher in Milan. But it was not until several of these youths found their wives or sisters sacrificed by the Duke's ruthless debauchery, that the seditious seeds thus implanted sprang to sudden and full growth. Seldom have the secrets of conspiracy and murder been so fully detected and exposed.[183] There is, however, a melodramatic effect of the narrative of old Sanzi which entitles it to notice as contemporary and unpublished, although apparently biassed in favour of Galeazzo. The three conspirators, mingling fanaticism with vengeance, sought by religious observances to sanctify the deed of horror. Their invocation to their city's patron saint for blessings on the attempt, with a solemnity ill becoming its sacrilege, has been preserved; but Sanzi adds that they bribed an apostate priest to consecrate at the altar a sacramental wafer, which he administered not until each had shed upon it a drop of his blood,—a blasphemous rite intended to seal their mutual vows of fidelity and secrecy; also that they used to rehearse their fury, and practise their swordsmanship, against a wooden puppet, decked out in gold brocade, and kept for the purpose in one of their houses. Among the solemn functions of Christmas week was that of St. Stephen, performed in the picturesque old fane dedicated to the protomartyr, where it was usual for the court to attend; the Duke on this occasion accidentally left behind a cuirass, that defence of despots, which he was wont to wear, and thus unconsciously facilitated the execution of a concerted project. It was-235- customary, in allusion to the expiring year, to fire a light mass of carded flax suspended in the church, whilst a warning voice

"Exclaimed, 'Thus human glory vanishes;
Unhappy he who hazards there his hopes!'"

As the sovereign raised his eyes to this touching emblem of transient and fragile existence, he was done to instant death by the poignards of the three conspirators.[*184] The moral offences imputed to the wretched man thus miserably summoned to his account have been collected by Sismondi, the consistent impugner of princes.[185] Sanzi, who generally leans to them, has thus painted them in colours less loathsome:—

"A man he was remarkable for worth,
Though charged with faults not few, which in his state
Were freely challenged. Happy years of youth,
Though pregnant with the germs of age mature,
And preluding too oft its perils grave!
Here must my tongue this prince exalt, as one
Who even-handed justice dealt to all,
Subject or stranger, noble or obscure;
Nor willed that any, founding on his wealth
Or station, should the meanest pauper vex.
Yet is he censured as one pitiless,
And prone to undue passion: trite reproach
Of prosperous despots!"


The steady support long given by the Duke of Urbino to the Sforzan dynasty suggested him as his most valuable stay in this crisis of peril, and in obedience to a summons of the widowed Duchess he made ready to march northward. The policy of the Holy See and of Naples, whose batons he jointly held, clearly tended towards Lombardy; but, unlike most successful conspiracies, the murder of Galeazzo Maria led to no revolution, and Federigo returned to vindicate the papal authority against the turbulent Carlo Braccio, who, ambitious of his father's fame and fortunes, and instigated by Lorenzo de' Medici, threatened Perugia from his stronghold of Montone. The ruin of so petty an opponent added no laurel to the victor's already loaded chaplet.

The Duke of Milan left a daughter, Caterina, the fruit of a boyish intrigue, who was born in 1462, and became one of the most remarkable women of her time. On the election of Sixtus, her father, willing to conciliate by family ties a pontiff whose energy of character promised no ordinary career, offered her in marriage to Girolamo Riario, one of his favourite nephews, whom he had in 1480 created Count of Forlì, the dispossessed fief of the Ordelaffi. In order that the bride's dowry might tempt the ambitious Vicar of Christ, her father, in 1473, made over to her such rights to the sovereignty of Imola as he had obtained by purchase from its lords the Manfredi; and after the parties had been betrothed, that seigneury was confirmed to Girolamo by his Holiness as its ecclesiastical over-lord.[186] Caterina being, however, but in her eleventh year, the-237- nuptials were postponed, and she meanwhile remained at Milan, cultivating the abstruse and ornamental branches which were then included in female education. Endowed with a lively genius, a ready apprehension, and a singularly retentive memory, she quickly mastered these studies, and acquired a rare facility of expressing herself with elegance and propriety. Her marriage was solemnised soon after her father's murder, and having being carried by her husband to Rome, she was welcomed with magnificent festivities by the Pope, who found in her a brilliancy of beauty and a courtesy of manner excelling all that rumour had anticipated. Out of the growing favour of Sixtus for Count Girolamo, seconded by his own ambitious intrigues, which aimed at an extended sovereignty, sprang the seeds of a new conspiracy not less atrocious than that of which the Duke of Milan was victim, and far more widely influencing the politics of Italy.

Among the envoys who had repaired from all the parts of Italy to hail the advent of Sixtus to the tiara was Lorenzo de' Medici; and he has described the honourable reception and gifts accorded him by a pontiff whose favour was ere long turned to deadly hatred. Aware of the rising influence of this youthful guest, the Pope sought to attach him by substantial benefits, including his nomination as banker to the Camera Apostolica, with power to manage that important charge through his uncle Tornabuoni, then resident from Florence at the papal court. Fabroni, in his Life of Lorenzo, tells us that his Holiness, wishing to realise the costly jewels accumulated by Paul II., sold them to the Medici at a price yielding a large profit to the purchasers, who gained still more from a lease, now conferred upon them, of the alum mines at Cento Celle. Results more generally important of this visit were the valuable relics in literature and art, which the Florentine ambassador was enabled, by the liberality-238- of the Pope, and many dignitaries, to accumulate; and the strong representations which he made, not vainly, against a reckless destruction of ancient buildings in the city. But this amicable intercourse quickly cooled, and the mutual jealousies of the parties, arising from complicated causes, became aggravated by various concurrent grudges. Sixtus, ambitious and warlike, desired to make himself arbiter, if not autocrat, of Italy. Lorenzo was a man of peace, content to preserve the status quo with his neighbours, that he might leisurely establish at home, on a firm basis, such power as should enable him to promote the commercial prosperity and intellectual pre-eminence of his native city. From similar views, rather than as a means of territorial aggrandisement, he sought to extend his family influence, by securing for his brother Giuliano a seat in the sacred college. With unaccountable blindness, the Pope refused a favour which policy should have induced him to volunteer; and from that moment the Medici were entirely alienated. Their able diplomacy and ample means were especially directed to thwart the views of his Holiness upon the feudatories of Romagna. By their aid, Città di Castello had, in 1474, resisted the arms of his legate Giuliano della Rovere; at their suggestion, two years later, Carlo Braccio made an attempt upon Perugia; further, their credit was interposed to extricate Taddeo Manfredi from those pecuniary difficulties which induced him to surrender his fief of Imola to the Duke of Milan. The last of these intrigues, although unavailing, provoked the special indignation of Count Girolamo Riario, who, finding himself thwarted in his matrimonial scheme, hampered in the acquisition of a new state, and baffled in his aims at further sovereignty, by the ever-watchful policy of Lorenzo, employed his boundless influence to stimulate the Pontiff's growing dislike for the Medici. This was at first vented in petty slights. Lorenzo lost his agency for the Holy See; and-239- his personal enemy, Salviati, received the richly endowed mitre of Pisa. The quarrel, thus exasperated by mutual affronts, boiled up until it exploded in bloody vengeance.




After the fresco by Ghirlandaio in S. Trinità, Florence

It is worthy of remark, that in Florence, which by democratic writers is upheld as the model of Italian republics, almost every convulsion originated from some personal pique or family feud, rather than in any general outbreak against intolerable oppression. Without pausing to examine how far the same remark is applicable to many popular revolutions, we shall glance hurriedly at the events of the Pazzi conspiracy, one of the numerous and melancholy proofs of corruption and bad faith in high places, during these the palmy days of Italian prosperity.

Those jealousies, with which the rising star of the Medici had to contend in their native city, were the natural fruit of their rapidly extending wealth and influence, rather than of direct aggressions upon its freedom. They were sown by rival families,

"Whose aim was but themselves to magnify,"

and who were greedy of an ascendancy which, in other hands, would probably have been used with less moderation; but in most cases they were rendered abortive by the universal popularity of those against whom they were directed. Among these rivals were the Pazzi, an injury to one of whom, from the operation of a new law limiting female succession, fanned into flame the smouldering sparks of an old hatred. Francesco, another of this family, who resided at Rome, and who supplanted Lorenzo as papal banker, seems to have been the first to suggest violence, urged it is said by Count Girolamo, with whom he was intimate, and who is alleged to have interested his uncle, the Pope, in the foul scheme. At all events, there can be little doubt that the plot was matured at Rome, and that its execution was chiefly entrusted to-240- Cardinal Raffaele Riario, the Count's nephew, aided by Francesco Salviati, Archbishop of Pisa, and by others who owed some private grudge to the Medici. The purpose of this conspiracy, apparently stimulated by a prelate, directed by a cardinal, and sanctioned by the Pontiff, was the murder of Lorenzo and his brother Giuliano. After repeated postponements, the blow was struck on the 26th of April, 1478, in the cathedral of Florence, during celebration of high mass, the elevation of the Host being the concerted signal for an assassination by priestly hands. The sacrilegious attempt was but partially successful. Giuliano, struck down by the dagger of Francesco de' Pazzi, fell pierced by many mortal wounds; but Lorenzo, after receiving a slight flesh-cut, was hurried by his attached friends into the sacristy, and its doors secured. Salviati and other conspirators meanwhile made a vain attempt to possess themselves of the Palazzo Pubblico, and raise a revolutionary cry; but they being resisted from within, and seconded by no response of the citizens, with whom the existing government was highly popular, the émeute was promptly put down, the Archbishop and its other leaders being instantly hanged from the windows, and their bodies tossed into the piazza.




The melancholy catalogue of crime contains no blacker atrocity, none more fatal by example and social results, than such concerted murders as those of Galeazzo Maria Sforza and Giuliano de' Medici. Yet when history arraigns their assassins at the bar of human judgment, due consideration should be given to certain extenuating pleas. The age was one of violence, when life was little valued, and religion exercised no vital influence on morals; when their public and private excesses too often rendered those in high places a common nuisance; when justice and vengeance were convertible terms, the dagger or the poisoned draught their ready instruments. As we write-241- these sentences similar outrages are revived. One looked upon as the most enlightened and most practical of Italian liberals is suddenly called to administer the temporal affairs of Rome at a crisis of singular difficulty. His private life is unchallenged, his public policy untried. As he enters the anticipated scene of his future labours,—the first constitutional assembly ever attempted in a city which had long ruled the world,—he falls pierced to the heart by the poignard of a dastardly miscreant. A crime for centuries disused becomes again national, consecrated by pæans of the Roman populace, who tramp the streets chanting—

"Blessings on the hand
That laid the tyrant low."[187]

When the dismal tidings reached Leghorn, the mob hurry to the piazza, prompt, like the old democracy of Florence, to overturn existing powers on the chance of new masters. The governor of the city, and guardian of its peace, accepts and celebrates the cowardly murder, by announcing to them from his balcony that "Pellegrino Rossi, a man hated by all Italy for his principles, has fallen by a son of the ancient Roman republic. May God save his soul, and the liberty of Italy!"

But to return from the melodramatic horrors of modern Italian politics. Confessions by subordinate agents traced the origin of this disgraceful plot of the Pazzi to the Roman court, and Sixtus, so far from repelling the charge, adopted the attitude of a partisan, by excommunicating-242- Lorenzo and all Florence. The manifesto by which he sought to justify this measure affords no sufficient defence, nor any satisfactory contradiction of his privacy to the designs of the Pazzi; indeed, when hard names are substituted for facts, and mixed up with transparent evasions or detected falsehoods, the cause which they defend naturally becomes suspected.

The official documents by which the Pontiff must be judged are accessible to English readers in the Appendix to Roscoe's Life of Lorenzo.[188] Giovanni Sanzi, whose ample details were unknown to that accomplished biographer, confirms generally his account of the conspiracy, but mentions a report that when imparted to his Holiness he refused his consent, and dissuaded its leaders from their design. This, if proved, would still leave him under scandal as an accessory after the fact. We learn from the same chronicle that Duke Federigo, when asked to share the plot, scouted it as utterly revolting to his honour, and calculated to overwhelm its authors with eternal infamy, adding that, during his own long struggle with Sigismondo Malatesta, similar expedients had been repeatedly suggested to him, but that by God's grace he had been enabled to resist them all: at the same time he expressed his readiness to take the field against the Medici, and try the fortune of war in open campaign. Lorenzo having subsequently sent to demand why he concealed the conspiracy thus brought to his knowledge, he denied the necessity of offending a good friend by imparting to an enemy an attempt which he disapproved and abhorred, adding, that he would soon be in Tuscany to settle all differences in honourable warfare.




Supposed portrait of Simonetta Cattaneo—mistress of Giuliano de’ Medici.

Detail from the picture by Sandro Botticelli in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Sanzi has thus rendered Lorenzo's spirited address to-243- his fellow citizens, when struck by excommunication and menaced with war:—

"Hear me! fair Florence' worthy denizens,
Thus called to choose betwixt my house and peace.
If 'tis your will our race to sacrifice,
Behold me ready, manacled and bound;
The fatal doom to suffer lead me forth!
Oh! that my blood the Pontiff might appease,
And sate the vengeance of yon bloody Count.
Oh! that, as metal by the fire refined,
You'd in the furnace cast me, from yourselves
To parry discipline not less severe.
But well I warn you that such woe to us
For you were still more fatal, and our foes,
My doom once sealed, your freedom straight would curb."

The appeal was not vainly made. The Lateran thunders fell harmless on a people who, rallying round their favourite leader, appealed to a general council, and meanwhile compelled their clergy to disregard the censures hurled at them. Spiritual weapons being thus foiled, the Pontiff had recourse to temporal arms.

The war which ensued, though limited in its field, included many parties. Sixtus was supported by the Dukes of Calabria and Urbino, the latter acting as generalissimo. The Medici, strengthened at home and abroad by the failure of a conspiracy equally atrocious and unprovoked, had for allies France and Venice, the Dukes of Milan and Ferrara, with the Marquis of Mantua. Sismondi justly observes that the Pope was prepared to take advantage of an explosion which he had premeditated, whilst the Florentines were surprised at a moment of confidence and repose. The ecclesiastical troops were accordingly first in the field, and having united with those of Naples, entered Tuscany by the Val di Chiana early in July. But on the do-little system which then constituted warfare, the Dukes of Calabria and Urbino, though met by no effectual opposition, lingered away the summer, counter-244-marching in plains where malaria was ever rife, and signalising themselves by forays upon townships incapable of defence. Leaving on the left Siena, their faithful and effective ally, they reduced Radda on the 24th of August; but instead of then pushing forward to the Arno, they consumed the autumn, attacking in detail many surrounding places, of which Monte Sansovino alone offered a serious resistance.

The exact sciences, which were encouraged at the court of Urbino, took there, as elsewhere, the tendency most easy in an age of prevailing superstition. Maestro Paolo, a noted German adept, was accordingly retained by the Duke, and taught him astrology along with the kindred branches of geometry and arithmetic. Yet Cortesio tells us that, although he always had about him a number of soothsayers, and, in deference to the notions current among his soldiery and subjects, pretended to rely upon their prognostics, he utterly despised all kinds of divination. The only notice of the subject I have discovered among his letters is contained in one addressed to Ant—— Nar——, which may have been written during the siege of Monte Sansovino, or possibly from the leaguer of Colle, eleven months later. The reader will judge how far it ought to be received with the gloss suggested by Cortesio.

"I observe in your former longer letters that you wish to draw auguries of futurity, which you announce to be pregnant with events of the highest moment, saying that now is the time to gird ourselves for great things; indeed, such words seem to point at some loftier issue. It would, therefore, be agreeable to us that you should again acquaint us by letter, whether that augury really infers any imminent result. For, if perchance you allude only to this siege, we acknowledge to have undertaken a difficult business, and that the town is by nature or art amply provided; yet do we hope, through the grace of the eternal God, to effect that which we have taken in hand. But if-245- you refer to something else, it will be not less gratifying to have from you some explanation, and to know if it rest on your own or another's opinion. Farewell."[189]

The leaguer was protracted by an incident mentioned by Sanzi, who dwells at considerable length on a portion of his hero's life scarcely touched by other biographers. The army suffering from scarcity and sickness, natural results of its prolonged stay in a narrow and unhealthy country, the dispirited troops sighed for winter quarters. It happened that, during a skirmish, two of the Orsini, relations, but banded under opposite banners, met and interchanged mutual wishes for a truce. These aspirations, reported to the Duke of Urbino, were promptly and publicly refused. The garrison, misled by this apparent anxiety to continue hostilities, proposed a suspension of arms, the very measure most fatal to their safety. This was accepted for ten days, during which the besiegers obtained rest and forage, and, when thus recruited from their languor, quickly reduced the place: it surrendered on the 8th of December, whereupon the army fell back on Bonconvento to pass the winter.

In a letter to Matthew Corvinus, King of Hungary, Federigo thus briefly narrates this campaign:—"During last summer the illustrious Lord Duke of Calabria was in the field, leading a large body of fine troops of my Lords, the Pope and his Serene Majesty, against the League, and had numerous advantages, especially in the Florentine territory. Many of the enemy's castles and towns were taken, dismantled, and burned, notwithstanding a very powerful army arrayed against us, so that they were outmanœuvred, as well in the estimation as by the efficiency of our troops, and their strongholds were attacked and carried by us. In consequence of these successes, besides taking many towns, we made forays, plundering and wasting the country even to the gates-246- of Florence. Just then fortune turned quite against us, and one after another our munitions and supplies failed. There first occurred an immense explosion of artillery stores, which prevented our undertaking further operations, and, subsequently, on opening the siege of Monte Sansovino, a place of great importance to us, we found ourselves in absolute want of everything, from the terrible plague which raged throughout the friendly territory of Siena. This, with continual heavy rains, weakened our army exceedingly; and when the enemy discovered that we were thus harassed by contagion, dearth, and weather, they advanced their army within four miles, with the view of at once encouraging the besieged and awing us. But they were foiled in both objects, for we, having granted them a truce of eight days, obtained during that interval supplies, which enabled us to renew the assault; and at its termination the town was carried, under their eyes, to their great detriment and disgrace, and to the credit of the Pope, his Majesty, and my illustrious general the Duke, who, on the surrender of the place, went into quarters, winter being at hand, where we are now making all preparations for next year's campaign."[190]

Federigo suffered greatly this summer from an accident which he had met with at San Marino some months before.[*191] While discoursing to those around him on past incidents of his adventurous life, and in particular of his prolonged struggle with Sigismondo Malatesta, to which the-247- surrounding country had been often witness, the wooden balcony whence he surveyed these familiar scenes suddenly broke under his weight, and he was precipitated with its ruins to the ground, fracturing his left ankle and lacerating the leg. His first exclamation was one of gratitude for escaping with his life. Gangrene supervened, in consequence of tight bandaging, and a month elapsed ere he could be carried home; but the wound continued so troublesome, that for a considerable time his surgeons apprehended the limb could only be saved by amputation, and when the Tuscan war opened, he was still entirely dependent upon a litter, being unable to walk or ride. To this circumstance may perhaps be, in part, ascribed the sluggish tactics of that campaign; when it closed, he repaired to the mineral springs of Petriolo, near Radicofani, attended by Maestro Ludovico, a physician, and remained in that bleak sojourn for five months, quitting it to rejoin the army at the end of May. In acknowledgment of his services during the previous year, the King of Naples conferred on him a right to make and export annually five hundred loads of salt from the works of Manfredonia.

Roberto Malatesta was serving under the Duke of Calabria at the surrender of Monte Sansovino, and, having quarrelled with him for sanctioning a sack of that place, he, with a condottiere's easy conscience, transferred his company to the Florentine camp. There, too, were assembled the Duke of Ferrara, the Marquis of Mantua, Costanzo Sforza of Pesaro, Nicolò Vitelli of Città di Castello, Carlo Braccio of Montone. The promise afforded by these names proved, however, illusory; and although a diversion was made by them in June towards Perugia, the spring and summer again passed without notable efforts on either side. This number of independent leaders, serving under no recognised head, embarrassed the allies; and although they obtained some inconsiderable successes near Thrasymene, the other division of their forces sus-248-tained a decided check at Poggio Imperiale, in Val d'Elsa, on the 7th of September. The ecclesiastical forces, following up their advantage, laid siege to Certaldo and Poggibonsi, both of which speedily fell. They next attacked Colle, which held out till the 12th of November; its surrender, and the approach of winter, led to a three months' truce, and the troops repaired to quarters. Comines, then resident at Florence as envoy from the French Court, criticises these operations as inert, and considers the Italians as inferior to his countrymen in the attack or defence of fortified places, but admits their superiority in the quartermaster's department, and in commissariat arrangements.

The diary of an eye-witness, Allegretti of Siena, and the Duke of Urbino's despatches to the magistrates of that city, still remaining in its archives, enable us to state some curious facts relating to the then infant art of gunnery.[*192] In the ecclesiastical army, which had, on the whole, some advantage in this campaign, there were five field-pieces, called bombards, distinguished by such startling names as, the Cruel, the Desperate, the Victory, Ruin, None of your Jaw, &c. One of the largest of them is described by Allegretti as consisting of two portions; the tube, which was fully nine feet long, weighing 14,000 pounds, and the tail, half that length, weighing 11,000. It discharged balls of stone, varying from 370 to 380 pounds, and was made by one Pietro of Siena, surnamed Il Campano, from being a bell-founder. In the town of Colle there were three bombards, and during the siege, which lasted six weeks, 1024 shots were fired from both sides.[193] Three of these-249- enormous guns used in the siege belonged to Siena, where the art of casting them was especially followed; and it required above a hundred pairs of buffaloes to drag them up to that city. The Pope and King of Naples had each but one with the army; there were, however, other pieces of artillery, called spingards, cerbottane, and passavolanti; one of the last class is mentioned by Allegretti as about thirteen feet long. The extreme inconvenience of such monstrous engines, in a hilly country, ill supplied with roads, requires no comment.

The following extracts are from Duke Federigo's despatches. On the 14th of July, 1478, he writes to Siena from the camp: "Since the powder for the bombard which you sent me is not fit to be fired, and will not answer the purpose, I pray you to let me have as soon as possible some that will do the business, in order that time may not be lost; and also to send me fine powder, fit for spingards, by mixing which, what we have may be rendered serviceable. And I further pray you to see that the other bombard be forwarded with all speed; for it is impossible to say of what importance these things are, or what honour and advantage will result if this be done with diligence, and how much it will be otherwise if they are delayed."

On the 8th of August he writes from the camp at Castellina: "There being hereabouts great scarcity of stones for the bombard, and the few available ones only to be had with much difficulty, I send your lordships the measure of its height, from which you can have them prepared, since you have its diameter; and I pray you to cause search be made in your stores, or outside the town, if any suitable ones can be had for the said bombard. And I pray your lordships to let me know immediately, that I may send for them without loss of time; and even-250- should they be somewhat large, I shall not object, as I can have them reduced with much less trouble than it would take to have them quarried and prepared, seeing how few here are adapted for that bombard. Lastly, I beseech your lordships to let me have as many hewers as possible."

On the 12th of August, he sends a messenger for two barrels of salt of nitre for refining the powder supplied to him, which "to say the truth, worked badly." Again, on the 18th of November, 1479, when in camp before Colle, he writes: "I inform your lordships that we cannot move from this, because the Marzochesca bombard has not been removed; and I have not had it broken up, because Messer Borghese tells me your lordships wish for it; and the muzzle of the last bombard which burst is still here, for its carriage broke down on the march, as also its serandina, and was left by the way; and thus we are unable to decamp, as I have said. I therefore earnestly beg your lordships, immediately on receipt hereof, to send hither all the Pope's and his Majesty's buffaloes you have, and as many of your own as possible, with such oxen as you can; also all the waggons you have, dismounting the bombards from those which are already laden with them, in order that we may be amply provided. Let other carts be made ready to replace those that may break down, with lots of buffaloes and oxen; and let them be brought hither safely and speedily, for your need and ours: and in God's name, if ever you used diligence do so now, that these carts, buffaloes, and oxen arrive quickly, seeing the Lord Duke [of Calabria] and Messer Lorenzo have already written for theirs in similar terms."

These remonstrances had their effect. On the 20th the camp was raised, the troops dispersing into winter quarters, and so ended this dilatory and unimportant war, marked by devastation rather than by victory, barren of laurels, crowned by no enduring conquest. The two allied leaders repaired to Siena, where they were honourably welcomed,-251- Federigo being lodged in the episcopal palace. In accordance with the custom of that age, a large donation was given to each of them, consisting of calves, wedders, capons, corn, bread, wine, almond-cakes, almonds, ray-fish, pheasants, chickens, pigeons, etc. Many influences favourable to peace were now brought to bear upon the Pontiff; and although his own wishes were for a further humiliation of the Medici, his ally of Naples being tired of a struggle in which no personal interest was at stake, and no trophies had been earned, he could not prevent the offer of a truce. It was eagerly accepted by the Florentines, whose position was one of imminent peril. Long unused to arms, and totally alien to the military spirit of the Peninsula, it was their habitual policy to trust for defence to hired troops. Their merchant families sent forth no martial geniuses, and Lorenzo avoided appearing in the field, for which he felt himself in no way qualified. But on this occasion they were singularly unfortunate in their defenders. Nominally backed by all Upper Italy, they had no effectual aid from Venice, occupied in protecting her mainland from the Turks. The Duke of Ferrara, though titular leader of their motley army, possessed neither talent nor influence to occupy such a position. The other free captains sought their separate interests, and the hereditary feuds of the Braccian and Sforzan companies broke out for the last time, as the remnants of these once famous bands found themselves encamped together. Even after this element of mutiny had been extinguished, by detaching Carlo Braccio and his following on the Perugian expedition, new quarrels arose between the Lords of Ferrara and Mantua, which so disorganised the army that Machiavelli declares it took to flight at Poggio Imperiale on seeing the dust raised by the enemy's approach, abandoning to them camp, baggage, and artillery. But this writer, prejudiced against the whole military system, may be read with some quali-252-fication, when he declares its poltroonery to have been such that the turn of a horse's head, or the whisking of his tail, was enough to put it in a panic. Yet, with every allowance, it seems clear that, had the confederates of Lower Italy then marched upon the capital, instead of loitering on the Val d'Elsa, the fondest wishes of Sixtus might have been gratified; and Baldi confers no honour on the Duke of Urbino in claiming for him the credit of successfully thwarting such a proposal, upon no better grounds than that the army was too ill-disciplined to withstand the temptations of success in so attractive an enterprise.

Lorenzo was alive to the delicacy of his position; the finances of his country and his private resources wasted upon useless stipendiaries; the patience of even his partisans exhausted by a mismanaged and unfortunate war. His resolution was magnanimously formed and boldly executed. Early in December he suddenly embarked for Naples to plead for peace, if not for his family at least for his fellow citizens. The fate of Giacopo Piccinino, in 1465, rendered such an appeal to Ferdinand one of chivalrous daring, but it fully succeeded. The gratifying compliments bestowed on Lorenzo were only equalled by his own munificence; and although negotiations were protracted by Ferdinand's cold and unrelenting disposition, and by the intrigues of Sixtus, he was finally successful in removing all difficulties, and in concluding a defensive treaty with Naples, which was proclaimed on the 25th of March. The Pope, unable to maintain the war single-handed, had no option but to accede; it was not, however, until the end of the year that he would grant a formal remission, and the removal of ecclesiastical censures. To obtain this grace, there arrived in Rome in November an embassy of eleven eminent citizens of Florence, who, prostrated in the dust on Advent Sunday in the metropolitan church, confessed their derelictions-253- of duty, and implored pardon. They, however, did not receive absolution until the irate Pontiff had read them a severe rebuke, and had gently applied to the shoulders of each a scourge of penance, whilst they recited the fifty-first penitentiary psalm.[194]

Whilst the Duke of Calabria remained at Siena, nominally to overawe the Florentines, and maintain his recent advantages, but in reality ripening those schemes by which, ever since 1446, the house of Aragon had aimed at establishing their influence in that republic, Federigo, after being entertained at a ball in the Palazzo Pubblico, on the 18th of December, 1479, went to the baths of Viterbo, which had been recommended for his still suffering limb. We owe to Sanzi some notice of his residence in that town, where his numerous suite, and his own graceful and polished address, made a general sensation. It was his delight to receive as guests such personages of distinction as passed that way to Rome. Among these was the Duke of Saxony, who was repairing to the Holy City on a pious pilgrimage with a goodly cortège. To him and his attendants Federigo's courtly demeanour and splendid hospitality were an agreeable surprise: though "barbarians" by birth, they were fully qualified to appreciate such civilities, nor were they allowed to depart without a promise to renew their visit to him at Urbino on their return homewards. His son, Guidobaldo, and his nephew, Ottaviano della Carda, joined in doing the honours to their guest, who was distantly related to them through the Gonzaga family, and they parted with mutual compliments and good wishes. Soon after Christmas, Federigo received from the Pope, by the hands of Pier Felice, his resident at Rome, the Sword and Hat, honours among the highest at his Holiness's disposal, and reserved for sovereigns of tried fidelity and devotion to the papacy, but which seemed on this occasion to acquire new illustra-254-tion in the person of the recipient. In May he addressed this letter to his allies of Siena:—

"Mighty and potent Lords, dearest Brothers,

"It has pleased our lord his Holiness, and his Majesty the most serene King, that I may return home; where, and wherever I may be, your magnificences may dispose of me and mine as of your own, for this much my long and true friendship requires and exacts. And I ever shall remember the great love and kindness I met with in many parts of your land. Moreover I recommend to you my son Antonio, for whom I have taken the precaution to let him be conducted home by the goodness of Ottaviano, who accompanies him to Naples, not being at present otherways required. From Viterbo, the 19th May, 1480.

"Federigo Duca d'Urbino, manu propria."

Bidding adieu to Viterbo amid the regrets of its inhabitants, the Duke went to meet his daughter the Princess of Salerno; and having greatly suffered from fatigue and pain during the last two years, returned home almost a wreck. He was triumphantly welcomed by his people, and soon after received a visit from Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, then on his way to France as papal legate. About this time the Ordelaffi of Forlì, making a final effort to maintain themselves against Count Girolamo, appealed to Federigo. But being unable to espouse their part while himself in the papal service, he counselled the last survivor of that race to compromise with Riario by a sale of his rights, and to hope for better days. This having been at length effected, Girolamo and his Countess visited their new principalities, where, notwithstanding the popular dissatisfaction with changes which had extinguished the former dynasties, they speedily so gained all hearts, that Sanzi gravely questions whether Jove himself, if descending upon earth, would have had-255- an equally honourable reception. This may be in some degree attributed to the fickleness of popular opinion, especially in a nation of lively and impressionable character; but there was much to recommend the new-comers. Possessed of ample means, and prodigal in their use, the ambition and political influence of Girolamo promised a long career of advancement and of coming glories for his subjects. Of Caterina, then in her twentieth year, we have this florid description from her biographer Fabio Oliva: "As she issued from her litter, it seemed as if the sun had emerged, so gorgeously beautiful did she appear, laden with silver, and gold, and jewels, but still more striking from her natural charms. Her hair, wreathed in the manner of a coronet, was brighter than the gold with which it was twined. Her forehead of burnished ivory almost reflected the beholders. Her eyes sparkled behind the mantling crimson of her fair cheeks, as morning stars amid those many-tinted lilies which returning dawn scatters along the horizon." In somewhat less inflated language, Ratti, the Sforzan biographer, says: "It would be difficult to find in history any female who so far surpassed her sex, who was so much the amazement of her contemporaries and the marvel of posterity. Endowed with a lofty and masculine spirit, she was born to command; great in peace, valiant in war, beloved by her subjects, dreaded by her foes, admired by foreigners." The features of this siren of her times are supposed to have been commemorated by more than one of those church pictures into which it was then customary to introduce likenesses of the donors and their families, especially the altar-piece of the Torelli Chapel by Marco Palmeggiani, still in the church of S. Girolamo at Forlì, which represents Caterina, her husband, and her two eldest sons kneeling before the enthroned Madonna. Another likeness is given in the preceding page from a rare medallion of the lady of Imola in her more-256- matronly years, whose descendants still subsist in various princely houses, and in the noble family of Riario Sforza at Naples. This much of a heroine who will reappear at intervals in our pages.

The adhesion of Sixtus to the treaty which closed the Tuscan war was partly extorted by his terror of the Turks, whose progress in Europe, as yet, had met with no decided reverse. The energy and skill of Loredano had, indeed, kept them in check during the campaigns of 1474-5, but Venice found herself exhausted by efforts which, although of vital moment to Christianity, she was left to make single-handed. The following year was one of comparative repose, till in 1477, the Infidels, bursting those ramparts along the Isonzo by which the Republic considered her territories secured, scoured the rich plains of Friuli, and burned the mainland palaces of her citizens within sight of the capital. During 1478 Troia fell, and Scutari suffered a long and hopeless siege, whilst Sixtus was wasting in the Tuscan war those energies which, as head of the Church, he might have easily united against the victorious Crescent. After vainly protesting, and threatening the Pontiff with a general council, the Signory, in January, 1479, concluded with Mahomet II. a disastrous peace, at the sacrifice of all their recent conquests in the East.

The Venetians were now justly incensed at the Pope and Ferdinand, who had not only refused them aid in defending Western Europe from Turkish inroads, but had effectually prevented Florence from contributing its contingent for that purpose. With the King there was a further cause of quarrel, as he had concluded a treaty with the Sultan in the spring of 1478, recognising conquests wrested by him from their Republic. Renouncing the tardy and uncertain remedy of a general council, they sought more summary vengeance by inviting Mahomet to invade Lower Italy, and when, after a siege of thirteen-257- days, the Crescent waved over the walls of Otranto, they so successfully diverted suspicions of this anti-Italian policy from themselves to his Holiness, that Ferdinand threatened to throw open to the Infidel a passage to Rome. The panic which now spread throughout Italy, and this imminent peril of the Holy See, at length forced the Pontiff to merge selfish considerations, and to make an effort in the common cause. Bulls exhorting all Christian princes to unity, were followed by diplomatic arrangements with the powers of Italy; and Sismondi is probably correct in ascribing to the terror of this crisis the Pope's tardy absolution of the Medici and their adherents, which we have already mentioned, and which was accompanied with a condition that Florence should send a fleet to the rescue of Otranto.

The dangers impending over his own kingdom occasioned Ferdinand to recall his son from Siena, and to invoke Federigo's services against the Turk. The latter, foreseeing danger from the ambitious energy of Mahomet, had already protested against the King's imprudence in leaving his coasts unprotected, while pursuing schemes of idle ambition in Tuscany; he hastened notwithstanding to obey the summons, but was stopped by an order from Sixtus to guard the ecclesiastical sea-board, menaced by an incursion from Scutari. To his counsels, however, was ascribed the ultimate recovery of Otranto, in order to effect which the Pontiff and Lorenzo de' Medici had hastily united with Ferdinand. Exactly a year after its capture that city was restored by its Moslem garrison, discouraged by the Sultan's death three weeks previously. Yet these events which, by ridding Italy of invasion, and closing the career of her most formidable foe, ought to have been hailed with unalloyed satisfaction, were soon found to infer new dangers, by promoting those internal distractions habitually fermented in the Peninsula during each interval of repose.



The war of Ferrara, and death of Duke Federigo—His character and portraits.

THE sparks of discord, though smothered, were still smouldering in many quarters. Sixtus, whose restless ambition was stirred by schemes of nepotism for his unscrupulous nephew of Forlì, forgot not that Ferdinand had baulked him of full vengeance upon the Medici, and brooded over that monarch's threat of letting the Infidel march upon his capital. He also calculated that, in the scramble of a general war, some pickings might fall to the lot of Count Girolamo. Venice, moreover, had had good cause for apprehending retribution for Naples, for the scurvy trick she had played in bringing the Turks upon Lower Italy; and thus was the way prepared for new party combinations. It was against the Duke of Ferrara that these were chiefly directed; for besides the offence of being son-in-law to Ferdinand, his territory was a desirable acquisition both to the Republic and to Count Girolamo. To Venice the latter accordingly proceeded in September, on a mission from his uncle, and arranged for the partition of that duchy, of which Lugo and Bagnacavallo were to be his share, with full liberty to expel the Manfredi from Faenza and to appropriate their possessions. Among other preliminaries, he stipulated that Federigo should command the allied army, a proceeding not only unauthorised by the Duke, but in direct opposition to the moderate counsels and peaceful policy earnestly pressed by him upon the youthful envoy, during a recent visit at Urbino. The appoint-259-ment was accordingly declined, nor was his determination shaken by an offer from the Signory of 80,000 ducats as retaining pay, on condition of his taking no part in the war: one of his family demurring to his rejection of so advantageous a proposal, he replied, that "good faith and its observance are still better, and worth more than all the gold in the world." In a long and earnest letter he warned the Pontiff of the impolicy and mischief of such projects, and the miserable results of fresh contests in Italy; urged upon his Holiness that the moment was favourable for turning the united arms of Christendom against the Turks, while distracted by disputes between the sons of Mahomet; and offered his shattered limbs for any post in that glorious cause. Views so repugnant to the schemes of Sixtus had no weight in the Camera, and gave great offence to Girolamo Riario.




From the picture by Scaletti in the Pinacoteca of Faenza

As it was in his father-in-law Ferdinand's quarrels that the Duke of Ferrara was likely to be victimised, the former was not slow to interpose for his protection. Personal feeling, as well as a sense of justice and a keen perception of the true interests of Italy, brought Lorenzo de' Medici to the same side, while the adherence of Milan, Mantua, and Bologna was secured by an apprehension of the ambitious advances of the Holy See and Venice upon Romagna and Lombardy. By these six powers a league was accordingly formed to defend Ferrara; and, on the 17th April, Federigo was engaged as its captain-general for three years. During war he was to provide 600 men-at-arms and 562 infantry, with 165,000 golden ducats of pay; in peace he was to have 65,000 ducats, finding 300 men-at-arms and 375 foot soldiers. In the event of death, his son and troops were to complete the stipulated period of service, with 15,000 ducats of personal pay.[195] Opposed to-260- him was Roberto di Sanseverino, as leader of the Venetian army; and the papal contingent was nominally under Count Girolamo, who did not take the field, although the quarrel was in a great measure for his profit. The command of the ecclesiastical forces, thus vacated by the Duke of Urbino, had devolved upon his son-in-law Roberto Malatesta, who remained in Central Italy to occupy the Neapolitan troops at home, and protect Rome from the rebellious Colonna and Savelli. The Genoese and the Marquis of Montferrat adhered to the Venetian alliance.

The offer of an engagement by the League had been carried to Federigo, by six envoys commissioned from its leading powers, and was readily accepted. His preparations being completed, he set forth from his capital on St. George's day, while tearful eyes and ominous sighs attested his subjects' anxiety at the departure of their paternal sovereign, bent by failing health and advancing years. Besides his wonted suite, there followed him for many miles a train of men distinguished in letters and arts, philosophers, theologians, jurists, astronomers, and architects. By his side rode his nephew and confidential friend Ottaviano della Carda, to whom, as if anticipating his approaching end, he warmly and affectionately recommended his son Guidobaldo and all his friends. At the foot of the Apennines this sorrowing convoy quitted him to return home, whilst he crossed the mountains to Borgo San Sepolchro, where he was received by Lorenzo de' Medici. In the Val d'Arno he met his old and sage friend Antonio Bellanti, with a troop of white-plumed lances, exiled from his native Siena by adverse factions, and offered him a safe retreat in his state until times should change; an invitation which he declined, and so-261- incurred a bloody death. At Florence the people gladly welcomed the conqueror of Volterra, and the magistracy received him at the door of the Palazzo Vecchio.

The war now impending was alike iniquitous in its motives, and disastrous in its attendant circumstances. Its seat was in the lower plains of Lombardy, where they merge into a wide delta, formed by the arterial channels of the rivers Po and Adige, and veined by the minor drainage of the Polesine and Ferrarese territories. Most of

"That level region, where no echo dwells,"

was, and still continues, so embanked that its waters may easily be let loose upon the hapless cultivators, submerging their dwellings and swamping their crops. Numerous streams, navigable by boats, laid it open to privateering incursions, highly attractive to amphibious Venetian adventurers. Finally, the malaria, always generated by summer heats, was naturally more inveterate when invaders had opened the sluices and broken the banks, thereby flooding an unusual extent of marsh-land. Thus ravaged by fire and sword, and decimated by disease, the unhappy natives had good cause to curse the ambition of which they were victims. In no part of Italy had the people been so exempt from the calamities of war. The family of Este, ever addicted to habits of almost effeminate indulgence, had been long represented by Duke Borso, whose reign, as described in the Ferrarese Diary, was one continued revel at home and pageant abroad. Those who would understand the extent to which prodigal magnificence and immoderate festivity were carried in the Peninsula, will there find details of refined luxury and lavish expenditure, scarcely credible in an age but emerging from what we are accustomed to regard as barbarism, or in a state enjoying no extraordinary resources.

The plan of the campaign was to reduce Ferrara by a combined attack, in which a flotilla of five hundred vessels-262- of light draught, fitted out at Ancona and Venice, was to ascend the Po, and co-operate with the troops of Sanseverino. War was proclaimed on the 3rd of May, but the Venetian general had already opened his operations by invading the Polesine, a fenny dependency of the d'Este family extending between the Adige and the Po. Marching his army southward from Legnano, he crossed the Veronese marshes upon a hastily constructed roadway of beams, supported by flat boats and faggots, and attacked Mellara on the north bank of the Po. Having taken it in three days, he advanced eastward to Castelnuovo, which capitulated after a ten days' siege. Following the river's course, he reached Ficheruolo on the 11th of May, and immediately invested it. This place being scarcely more than twelve miles from Ferrara, already menaced by the armament on the lower reaches of the river, the Duke of Urbino advanced to meet the enemy, and posted himself at La Stellata, which lay opposite Ficheruolo and commanded the passes of the Po. His opinion of the state of matters may best be gathered from a despatch addressed by him about this time to Lorenzo de' Medici, and printed by Fabronio from the Florentine archives.

"Magnificent and dearest Brother,

"Your mightiness will see by the copy, herewith sent to the eight lords of the Balia, of a letter I have written to the most illustrious Duke of Ferrara, that I am advised of the loss of the fort of Mellara, and of the enemy's intention to unite the flotilla with their land forces, and to advance with the stream upon Ferrara: nor can there be a question that this design may to a certain extent succeed, unless prevented by speedy and effective measures on the part of the most serene League, that illustrious lord not being able to maintain himself single-handed, as your magnificence has already heard from himself.

"The remedy that occurs to me in this urgent danger is-263- that your excellent Signory should send him as many infantry as possible, preferring those of Romagna, and the Val di Lamone, both as nearest and as the best drilled, and thus more suitable than any others that can be thought of. And so soon as the most illustrious Lord Duke of Milan shall forward the infantry and cavalry, for whom I have applied to him, I shall move upon the duchy to make the enemy pull up. And when the most serene League shall provide what is requisite for honour and utility, enabling me to face him, I am prepared to prove to him that it is one thing to form a project, but quite another to carry it into effect. I care not to detain your magnificence, feeling assured that once aware of the importance of this, your prudence will not delay the needful provisions.

"I urgently remind your magnificence to forward with all speed the infantry, as agreed on, into my state and that of the Lord Costanzo [of Pesaro]; for I have ordered my men-at-arms not to follow me till these come up, seeing it would be a risk to expose our territories without a force equal to defend them at all hazards.... From Rovere [opposite Mellara], the 4th May, 1482."[196]

The affairs of the League were far from promising. Ferdinand, caring little to send his troops through a hostile state in search of distant and unprofitable laurels, preferred carrying on a little war of his own against the Pope in the Pontine marshes to marching upon Lombardy. The Tuscans, ever averse to battle-fields, employed their stipendiaries, under Costanzo Sforza, in guarding the Umbrian principalities. The brunt of the war thus fell-264- upon the Lords of Milan and Mantua; and the Duke of Urbino, ill satisfied with their exertions, took boat soon after the date of this despatch, and proceeded in person to urge further exertions upon them both. Sanzi, somewhat inconsistently, selects this visit of urgency to pause upon his raptures with the works of art he saw at Mantua, introducing an episodical criticism, and a catalogue of the best painters and sculptors of Italy, which will be afterwards noticed.[197] On the 20th of May he returned, bringing with him their contingents to La Stellata, where the League lay almost inactive during the siege of Ficheruolo on the opposite bank of the Po, their offensive operations being confined to a pretty constant and galling discharge of long swivels across the river into the Venetian camp, which they also submerged by cutting the banks of the Mincio. This irksome aggression was answered by a message from Sanseverino that he would presently return fire for their water, and by sending to Federigo a fox in a cage, as a hint that, with all his cunning, he too might be entrapped; a paltry taunt, which provoked only a smile from the veteran. No warfare could be more irksome and inglorious; but Federigo, regarding Ferrara as Italy's best bulwark against the ambitious maritime Republic, resolved to defend it at any sacrifice. Ficheruolo held out until the end of June, by which time the marsh fever had become more fatal than human weapons, and mowed down both armies. The Venetian proveditore or commissioner was among its earliest victims; but, as the summer heats increased, the epidemic spread with augmented virulence, until 20,000 men are said to have perished in this miserable contest. Passing over the sad details, we may borrow from Sanuto an absurd incident which varied these horrors. In order to divert the people from their misfortunes, and to inspire them with courage, their sovereign had devolved extensive-265- powers upon a commission or council of sixteen "sages," and the Duchess sent for a wandering friar, whose eloquence and sanctity were in high repute, to preach in the cathedral. One of his orations was wound up by an offer to provide an armada of twelve galleons, which should disperse the Venetian force before Ficheruolo. On the appointed day he produced a dozen of pennons, each surmounted by a cross, along with figures of Christ, the Madonna, and forty saints; and with these he formed a procession, marching at its head, and followed by a concourse of fanatics to the river's brink, opposite the leaguer. There he commenced shouting a sermon across the stream to Sanseverino; but the Duke of Urbino, attracted by the hubbub, sent him away, covered with ridicule, saying, "Why, Father, the Venetians are not possessed! Tell the Duchess it is money, artillery, and troops that we want to expel them." Although Federigo's obstinate policy averted from the doomed capital the visitation of a siege, its miseries were scarcely the less from such exemption. Many dead bodies, thrown by both armies into the river, aggravated the pestilence, which, spreading to the city, so deterred the peasantry, that its supplies were interrupted, until famine augmented the mortality. In this crisis, Sanzi represents the commander of the League as addressing to the Pontiff the following remonstrance:—

"Most holy Father! turn thy face away
From this so needless and destructive war,
Which direst ills on Italy entails:
Thy pastor's hand put forth that rose to pluck,
Ere others reap its glory: be invoked
With sov'reign and paternal care to free,
From discipline so ruinous and harsh,
Rome, and the dwellers in Ausonia's lands,
Whose bootless passions, pitiably wrecked,
In suicidal outrage spend themselves,
With benefit to none. While time remains,
Oh, Sire! this fatal error shun, nor choose
A course which all your merit tarnishes!"


The game in which Sixtus had engaged was one of selfish ambition and nepotism, and he played it boldly, unmoved by this appeal, or by the straits to which he was reduced by his lawless barons. In the words of the same old chronicler,—

"Hapless was then the holy Father's case,
Each house in Rome a garrison, each street
Alive with armed escorts; e'en by day
Rapine was rife as in the lonely wood,
And unredressed, while cardinals
Were seized in full consistory; for now
Colonna's and Savelli's bands were up;
The Pontiff's power at discount."

Under a robust frame Federigo concealed the taint of a vitiated constitution, and though but entering upon the autumn of life, long exposure and fatigue, aggravated by repeated severe accidents, had anticipated the effects of age. Yet he rallied from the first attack of malaria, at all times dangerous to one of his years, and, had he yielded to the persuasions of friends and confederates by retiring to Bologna during the unhealthy season, his valuable life might have been spared. He owned the justice of their apprehensions, but, deeming his personal danger in remaining to be fully counterbalanced by the probable loss of Ferrara, which, at that juncture, he considered the key-stone of Italian policy, should he quit the army, he rejected the reiterated representations of his family and adherents, refusing on any consideration to relinquish the post of honour and duty. But, whilst he spared not himself, he ever and anon renewed to the allied powers his remonstrances against their folly in thus pitting a brave army against a noxious climate. As his saddest trial was to see fresh levies of his attached subjects prostrated by sickness on arriving from the healthful breezes of their native uplands, he sent away his son Antonio, with all whom he could spare, reserving in the-267- camp at La Stellata but 400 of his immediate followers, whom the foggy atmosphere and putrid water soon thinned away to forty.




After the picture by Justus van Ghent, once in the Ducal Collection at Urbino, now in the Palazzo Barberini in Rome

A relapse of fever having supervened about the beginning of September, he felt that his end was approaching, and calling around him the commissioners of the League, showed them how all his repeated warnings had come true, protesting that his life was sacrificed to unflinching duty in an evil cause. After exposing to them his plan of escape from the jaws of destruction, by removing the seat of operations into a healthy part of Lombardy, he recommended to them the surrounding country and fortresses, and then formally resigned his command, thus briefly reviewing his military career:—

"To Heaven's almighty Lord my thanks are due
For eight-and-forty years of manhood, spent
In war's most worthy calling, though of these
Three-fourths the cares of high command on me
Imposed, beneath time-honoured banners, all
Unstained by foreign insult, and upheld
Proudly victorious. Mine the task has been
To conquer further frontiers for their states,
With gainful triumphs and distinctions high,
Or vindicate a good and lasting peace."[198]

The commissioners at length, by affectionate persuasions, induced the invalid to leave his army in charge of the Lord Giulio Orsini, and withdraw to Ferrara, where a villa of the Duke was prepared for his reception.[199] But it was too late. The disease rapidly gaining ground, he set himself to prepare for death like a Christian hero, and, by the grace of God, was permitted to do so in full exercise of his mental powers. "Having arranged all matters pertaining to the succession of his son, he began-268- to attend to his soul's salvation, and after confessing himself repeatedly, as a faithful and good Christian, he set in order all that seemed to him tending to his future welfare, and took, in their prescribed order, the sacraments of the Church. It was graciously vouchsafed him from on high to perform all this with a mind amply prepared by full examination, so that nothing was omitted that behoved a faithful Christian; and this favour was granted him by God for his perseverance through life in the habitual exercise of virtue, for on every occasion his clemency entitled him to the appellation of father of the miserable, and protector of the afflicted."[200]

Among the friends who tended his last hours was his secretary, Comandino Comandini, to whom he gave instructions for his funeral; but his son, Count Antonio, having come from the army to visit him, was, according to Sanzi, received with this reproof:—

"How! wouldst thou thus my gallant comrades quit,
In time of need, to gaze upon a corpse?
Far other course the urgent hour demands!
The sacred church's all-consoling rites,
Like staid and thoughtful Christian, then he sought:
Nor did they fail his latest pangs to cheer.
Few were the watchers round his lonely couch,
To whom, in sadly soothing words, he spoke
Of gentle kindness, and to God his soul
In peace committed, spurning mundane moils.
* * * * * * *
Just as a locust by the sun struck down,
With holy zeal his last behests were told
In charity and love; and, having touched
The hand of each in turn, with tears bedewed,
That lofty and unvanquished spirit sped;
Whilst on his lips, with pious fervour, late
Lingered the names of God and of our Lady,
Giving good hope, if man such signs may read,
That to a glorious home its flight was winged."


Veterani, another laureate of Urbino, composed a touching sonnet on his patron's death, which begins thus:—

"With ever-welling tears I weep for him,
On him I call, of him I nightly dream,
And to my lips his cherished image strain,
Till by my stains of grief its smile grows dim.
To it my verse I vow, it living deem
For solace of my stricken soul, in vain!"

The Duke died on the 10th of September, within a few days of the premature decease of Roberto Malatesta of Rimini, his son-in-law, and successor in command of the papal troops.[*201] Aided by the factious barons of the Campagna, the Duke of Calabria had gradually penetrated to the gates of Rome, when Roberto, on the 21st of August, dispersed his army in a pitched battle, and returned in triumph as saviour of the Eternal City. His death supervened in a few days, in consequence of a draught of cold water, or, as some thought, of poison administered by the jealous Count of Forlì; and Sixtus, to testify gratitude or remove suspicion, forthwith erected a monument to his general in St. Peter's, with an epitaph testifying that his life had been attended by valour, his death by victory.[202]


Although character is usually best estimated by the evidence of contemporaries speaking from personal knowledge, some allowance must be made for the language of adulation applied to princes by their subjects or favourites. Yet in reference to one whose elevated qualities are so well established as those of Federigo, less caution than usual is requisite in adopting the words of his courtiers, and seldom has the meed of praise been more amply confirmed by the award of posterity. We shall, therefore, willingly give a place to the testimony left by one of the most eminent of his acquaintances. Poggio Bracciolino, who had studied the world in many courts and countries, thus writes of him:—"Besides his rare eloquence and acquirements, and the many excellent personal and mental endowments accorded him by nature, his military skill was especially conspicuous, wherein he was surpassed by no contemporary captain. For who does not know the prudence of his undertakings, the promptitude of his actions, the soundness of his decisions, rendering him as it were the model to our age of those great men of antiquity gifted with all the arts of command?" Francesco di Giorgio, the associate of his studies, and the comrade of his campaigns towards the close of his glorious career, ranks his generalship higher than any known to history from the days of old Rome, and acknowledges himself his debtor for many important suggestions as to fortification. The principle of his tactic was, according to this most competent authority, great caution at the commencement of an engagement, holding himself in readiness to support any point exposed by mistake or failure of a subordinate; and, when such opportunity occurred, an impetuous daring which, "with eyes to see and wings to fly," remedied the mischief and secured the victory. "Considerate of his soldiery, compassionate to the enemy, it was his pleasure to mitigate the horrors and miseries of war. He was liberal and merciful, but uncom-271-promisingly just. An eloquent orator, a most subtle philosopher, an eminent moralist, an expert and ingenious mathematician, his intellectual habits were confirmed by long and constant practice. So intense was his admiration of worth, that he sought to attract to his court and reward every man conspicuous by virtue and attainments. A Mars in the field, a Minerva in his administration, he was equally feared and loved." Such is an abstract of the character which Francesco terms but an atom of the encomium due to his patron.

Let us now hear Pirro Pirotti, who seasons his tribute with something more quaint and racy than most of the eulogists who followed in his wake. In dedicating to Federigo the Cornucopia of his uncle Nicolò (who had united the medley honours of apostolic secretary, governor of Umbria, archbishop of Siponto, and poet-laureate of Frederick III.), Pirro apostrophises its happiness, "in having you as the foremost to welcome and assign it a place in this your palace, so truly worthy of a victorious prince. At the first glance which it will enjoy on entering your magnificent library, all glittering in marble, silver, and gold, though without speech or life, it will seem to exult and rejoice. It will also be read by you, in whom flourish all the virtues desirable in a prince: it will experience your bounty, clemency, courtesy, and wisdom. With you will it visit the porticoes, palaces, fanes there raised, so costly and magnificent. It will admire your experience in the arts of peace and of war; it will hear of your deeds foreign and domestic, your successes far exceeding expectation, your stratagems and triumphs, your fame, bounded but by the sun's far circuit. It will survey with admiration your almost superhuman frame, your robust limbs, your dignified bearing, your mature years, a rare majesty, coupled with not less affability; qualities, in short, befitting a prince selected as generalissimo of the Roman states. It will further be-272- the companion and sharer of your studies and your discussions; it will witness all the honours you pay to professors of belles-lettres, and the reception bestowed by you on men of learning, in consequence whereof the fine arts, long exiled wanderers, are through you alone restored to life and country."

Were we to quote every contemporary compliment to the Duke's character, we should fatigue our readers with fulsome epithets. None is more condensed or complete than the notice of his death by Pietro Cyrneo, a resident in Venice, against which Federigo was then fighting. "He was gifted with all virtues beyond all other mortals; for he was a man of consummate prudence, truthful in his discourse, righteous in his judgments, provident in his counsels, conspicuous for his worth, distinguished for the uniform purity of his morals, liberal of his charities; most eloquent, of unprecedented equity, consummate justice, singular sincerity, superhuman wisdom; equally learned in every branch of study, patient under reverses, most moderate in prosperity; the bravest of generals."

One more such tribute, and we have done. It was paid by Vespasiano, who concludes his biographical sketch with the attestation that, having long resided at the court of Urbino, he witnessed most of what he relates, and that whatever did not come under his own observation, he had from persons of credit attached to the Duke's service.[203] "In Messer Federigo were united many virtues, and his age produced no one superior in every laudable quality. In military science, which was his peculiar profession, he was excelled by no commander of his time; uniting energy with consummate judgment, he conquered by prudence as much as by force. The like wariness was observed in all his affairs; and in none of his many battles was he ever worsted. More numerous were the victories he gained and the places he captured, and all re-273-dounding to his honour.... His modesty equalled his merit. Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza having one day observed, 'Whenever I have fighting on hand, I should wish to keep by me your Lordship, who, in my opinion, cannot be worsted'; he replied, 'I learned all that from his excellency the Duke your father.'... Nor may I omit, among his remarkable excellences, the strict observance of good faith, wherein he never failed. All to whom he once gave his word, might testify to his inviolate performance of it, but especially the two sovereigns of Naples, whom he served above thirty-two years."

Of Federigo's personal habits and conduct, we borrow some interesting sketches from the same pen:—"He was singularly religious, and most observant of the Divine commands. No morning ever passed without his hearing mass on his knees. He fasted on all the vigils enjoined by the Church, and during every Lent. The year preceding his death, the Lord Ottaviano, being most affectionately attached to him, procured from the papal court a dispensation for his eating flesh, which was presented to him one morning at table; whereupon, turning to Ottaviano and smiling, he thanked him, but added, 'Since I am able enough to fast, why will you not let me do so? What an example should I give to my people in omitting it!' and so continued his meagre fare as before. Every morning he attended mass and sermon with his household, and such others as chose. During his forenoon meal he had a homily of St. Leo, or some other religious book, read to him, and when any striking passage occurred, he made the reader pause that he might understand it thoroughly. His clemency and compassion were remarkable, and he was prone to pardon all offences, excepting blasphemy and fraudulent murder. He daily distributed at his palace a considerable amount of bread and wine, besides administering to the necessities of many unfortunate persons of learning or of birth. He was, in short, a refuge for-274- all men of worth. Large were his donations to charitable institutions, and his secret alms to modest paupers; indeed, none ever vainly appealed to his compassion. When an ecclesiastic came into his presence, he took his hand with much respect, and would not let him speak until seated by him; indeed, he honoured all holy men beyond any other personage of my day. He liberally endowed various monastic orders, and extended his special protection to the nunnery of Sta. Chiara, which he had built in Urbino, repairing weekly to the grating to inquire after the welfare of her inmates from the superior, an aged and honourable lady. Even his own establishment was conducted with the regularity of a religious fraternity, rather than like a military household. Gambling and swearing were unknown, and singular decorum of language was observed, whilst numerous noble youths, sent there to learn good manners and military discipline, were brought up under the most exemplary tuition.

"His subjects he regarded as his children, and was at all times accessible to hear them personally state their petitions, being careful to give answers without unnecessary delay. He walked freely about the streets, entering their shops and work-rooms, and inquiring into their circumstances with paternal interest. On market-days he went among the peasants, conversing and jesting with them about their bargains. When riding through the country, he always accosted those whom he met; and by these various means, so gained the attachment of his subjects, that, as he passed by, they used to bend the knee and shower blessings upon him. The large sums he spent at home, on buildings and other improvements, enriched his people, among whom a pauper was nowhere seen.

"In summer he was in the saddle at dawn, and rode three or four miles in the country with half-a-dozen of his court, attended by one servant and two footmen unarmed, reaching home again when others were just up. After-275- mass, he went into an open garden and gave audience to all comers until breakfast-time. When at table, he listened to the Latin historians, chiefly Livy, except in Lent, when some religious book was read, any one being free to enter the hall and speak with him then. His fare was plain and substantial, denying himself sweet dishes and wines, except drinks of pomegranates, cherries, apples, or other fruits. After dinner and supper, an able judge of appeal stated in Latin the causes brought before him, on which the Duke gave judgment in that language; and I have been assured that these decisions were worthy of Bartolo and Baldi.[204] When his mid-day meal was finished, if no one appeared to demand audience, he retired to his closet and transacted private business, or listened to reading until evening approached, when he generally walked out, giving patient ear to all who accosted him in the streets. He then occasionally visited the convent of Sta. Chiara, or at other times repaired to a meadow of the Franciscans, where thirty or forty of the youths brought up in his court stripped their doublets, and played at throwing the bar, or at wrestling, or ball. This was a fine sight, which the Duke much enjoyed, encouraging the lads, and listening freely to all until supper-time. When that and the audiences were over, he repaired to a private apartment with his principal courtiers, whom, after some familiar discourse, he would dismiss to bed, taunting them on their sluggish indulgences of a morning.

"Federigo inculcated courtesy as a most valuable quality in a sovereign, and he practised it to a remarkable degree in his intercourse with all ranks. He entertained a very modest estimate of his own merits, but was most particular in recollecting and acknowledging services of any sort,-276- and in giving credit for assistance where it was due: he never indulged in detraction nor permitted it in his presence. Though of a naturally choleric temper, he by long attention brought it entirely under control, and was on all occasions the peace-maker among his people. In short, no state of Italy for a long period had been ruled by a sovereign in all respects so worthy of admiration."

It would have been easy to condense the substance of these extracts in smoother language and more balanced periods, but we prefer laying them before the reader in their original form, and with the genuine impress of the grateful feelings which dictated them. Although already occupying so large a space, we venture to add a passage from Muzio, who, writing seventy-two years after Federigo's death, had gleaned from the traditions of Urbino several traits characteristic at once of his hero, and of what is not less germane to our purpose, the primitive manners of an age when European civilisation was starting into vigour.

"In person, Federigo was of the common height, well made and proportioned, active and stout, enduring of cold and heat, apparently affected neither by hunger nor thirst, by sleeplessness nor fatigue. His expression was cheerful and frank; he never was carried away by passion, nor showed anger unless designedly. His language was equally remarkable for modesty and politeness; and such his sobriety that, having once had the gout, he immediately left off wine, and never again returned to it. His inclinations were naturally amorous and addicted to sensual indulgence, but so entirely were they under control, that even in earliest youth nothing was ever alleged against him inconsistent with decorum and the due influence of his rank. He was uniformly courteous and benignant to those of private station, as well as to his equals and to men of birth. With his soldiers he was ever familiar, calling them all friends and brethren, and often addressing-277- them as gentlemen or honoured brothers, whilst he personally assisted the sick and wounded and supplied them with money. None such were excluded from his table; indeed he caressed and invited them by turns, so that all loved, honoured, served, and extolled him, and those who had once been under his command were unwilling to follow any other leader.

"But if his kindness was notable in the camp, it was much more so among his people. While at Urbino, he daily repaired to the market-place, whither the citizens resorted for gossip and games, as well as for business, mixing freely with them, and joining in discourse, or looking on at their sports, like one of themselves, sitting among them, or leaning on some one by the hand or arm. If, in passing through the town, he noticed any one building a house, he would stop to inquire how the work went on, encouraging him to beautify it, and offering him aid if required, which he gave as well as promised. Should any answer him, that although desirous of making a handsome dwelling, he was frustrated by the refusal of some neighbour to part with an adjoining hovel at a fair price, Federigo sent for its obstructive owner, and urged him to promote the improvement of the city, kindly assisting to arrange a home for him elsewhere. On hearing that a merchant had suffered loss in his business, he would enter his shop to inquire familiarly into his affairs, and, after learning the extent of his difficulties, would advance him the means of restoring his credit and trade. Once, meeting a citizen who had daughters to marry, he said to him, 'How is your family?—have you got any of your girls disposed of?' And being answered that he was ill able to endow them, he helped him with money or an appointment, or set him in some way of bettering himself. Indeed, such instances were numberless of his charitable and sympathising acts, among which were the numerous poor children of talent or studious-278- tastes whom he educated out of love for letters. On the death of those in his service, he took special interest in their families, providing for their maintenance or education, or appointing them to offices, and continually inquiring in person as to their welfare. When the people came forth to meet him as he went through his state, receiving him with festive demonstrations, he had for each a word. To one, 'How are you?' to another,'How is your old father?' or 'Where is your brother?' to a third, 'How does your trade thrive?' or 'Have you got a wife yet?' One he took by the hand; he put his hand on the shoulder of another; but spoke to all uncovered, so that Ottaviano Ubaldini used to say, when any person was much occupied, 'Why, you have more to do than Federigo's bonnet!' Indeed, he often told the Duke that his cap was overworked, hinting that he ought to maintain more dignity with his subjects. Talking of his courtesy: when returning one day from Fossombrone to Urbino, he met a bride being escorted to her husband by four citizens, as was then customary; he at once dismounted, and joined them in accompanying her, and sharing in their festivities.

"Many similar anecdotes are preserved of him at Urbino and other places; and it is told that, during a year of great scarcity, several citizens secretly stored up grain, in order to make a large profit, which being known to the Duke, he summoned them to his presence, and thus addressed them:—'My people, you see how severe is the dearth; and that, unless some measures be adopted, it will increase daily. It is thus my duty to provide for the support of the population. If, therefore, any of you possess grain, say so, and let a note of it be made, in order that it may be gradually brought to market for supply of the needy; and I shall make up what is required, by importing from Apulia all that is necessary for my state.' Some there were who stated that they had a surplus-279- beyond their own wants; others said they had not even enough. Of the latter he demanded how much more they required, and had a list taken of what each asked. He then regulated the sale of what had been surrendered; and sent meanwhile to Apulia for a large store of corn. When it arrived, he prohibited all further sales of grain, and called upon those who had stated themselves as short of supplies to purchase from him the quota they had applied for, accepting of no excuse, on the allegation that, having bought in a quantity for them, he could not let it be useless. Thus were those punished who, refusing to sell what they had over at a fair price, lost the advantage of their stock, and were forced to pay for more. In the distribution of this imported grain, he desired that the poor who could not pay in cash, should be supplied on such security as they could offer. The distribution took place in the court of the palace, under charge of Comandino, his secretary; and when any poor man came, representing that, with a starving family and nothing left to sell, he could find no cautioner, Federigo, after listening from a window to the argument, would call out, 'Give it him, Comandino, I shall become bound for him.' And subsequently when his ministers wished to enforce payment from the securities, he in many instances prevented them, saying, 'I am not a merchant: it is gain enough to have saved my people from hunger.'

"There arose a notable matter which he had to settle, in reference to Urbino. The citizens, having come to a resolution that no one from the country ought to have houses in the town, petitioned Federigo to pass such a law, on the ground that, the city being theirs, no one else ought to intrude pretensions to it. He replied that there was much reason in this, and that he wished to gratify them in every such just proposal; but, before doing so, he wished their opinion what he ought to say, should the country-folks in turn ask a favour, alleging that, as the city-280- was for the townsfolk, and the rural districts for themselves, the citizens should be prohibited from holding extra-mural property. Not knowing what to answer, they remained silent, and no longer asked for any law of the sort. He was most particular in the performance of justice, in acts as well as words. His master of the household having obtained large supplies for the palace from a certain tradesman, who had also many courtly creditors, and could not get paid, the latter was obliged to have recourse to the Duke, who said, 'Summon me at law.' The man was retiring with a shrug of his shoulders, when his lord told him not to be daunted, but to do what he had desired, and it would turn out for his advantage and that of the town. On his replying that no tipstaff could be found to hazard it, Federigo sent an order to one to do whatever this merchant might require for the ends of justice. Accordingly, as the Sovereign issued from the palace with his retinue, the tipstaff stood forward, and cited him to appear next day before the podestà, on the complaint of such-a-one. Whereupon he, looking round, called for the master of his household, and said, in presence of the court, 'Hear you what this man says? Now give such instructions as shall save me from having to appear from day to day before this or that tribunal.' And thus, not only was the man paid, but his will was made clear to all,—that those who owed should pay, without wronging their creditors.



After the portrait by Piero della Francesca in the National Gallery

"It having been represented to him that the fashion of going armed gave daily occasion for brawls and tumults, he made the podestà put forth a proclamation that no one should carry any weapon, and took care to be passing with his court when the crier was publishing it. Stopping to listen, he turned:—'Our podestà must have some good reason for this order, and that being so, it is right he should be obeyed.' He then, unbuckling his sword, gave it to one of his suite to be taken home; whereupon all-281- the others did the same. Thus by his example he maintained more prompt and perfect justice than others could effect by sentences, bail-bonds, imprisonments, tortures, or the halter; ... and it was just when he made least show of power that he was most a sovereign. One Nicolò da Cagli, an old and distinguished soldier in his service, having lost a suit, went to Fossombrone to lodge an appeal with Federigo, and, finding that he was hunting in the park, followed him, without ever considering that the time and place were ill adapted for such a purpose. At the moment when he put his petition into his sovereign's hand, a hart went by with the hounds in full cry. The Count spurred after them, and in the hurry of the moment dropped the petition, which Nicolò taking as a personal slight, he retired in great dudgeon, and went about abusing him roundly, as unjust, ungrateful, and haughty. Federigo hearing of this, ordered the commissary of Cagli to send the veteran to Urbino, who hesitated to obey the summons, dreading punishment of his rashness. In reliance, however, on his master's leniency, and his own merits, he set out, and found the Count at breakfast in the great audience chamber. It was customary while at his meals, for those who had the entrée to fall back on each side, leaving the entrance clear, so that he saw Nicolò come in: and when he had done eating, he called and thus addressed him:—'I hear that you go about speaking much ill of me, and as I am not aware of having ever offended you, I desire to know what you have been saying, and of what you complain.' At first he turned it off with some excuse, but on being pressed for an explanation, he recounted what had occurred in the park; and that, considering his long and zealous service, his sacrifices and wounds, it appeared to him a slight, and virtually a cut direct, to run after a wild beast when he came in search of justice; that having in consequence let slip the opportunity of appealing, and so, irretrievably lost a cause-282- of much importance, he had in irritation given too great licence to his tongue. Whereupon, Federigo, turning to the bystanders, said, 'Now see what obligations I am under to my subjects, who not only peril their lives in my service, but also teach me how to govern my state!' and continued thus to the litigant, 'Friend Nicolò! you are quite right; and since you have suffered from my fault, I shall make it up to you.' He then ordered the commissary of Cagli to pay him down the value of the house, and all his travelling expenses, although the fault was clearly his for not bringing his appeal at a fitter time. Again, during one severe winter, the monks at S. Bernardino,[*205] being snowed up, and without any stores, rang their bells for assistance; the alarm reaching Urbino, Federigo called out the people, and went at their head to cut a way and carry provisions to the good friars."

These extracts, illustrating the true spirit of a paternal government, amply account for the esteem in which the Duke of Urbino was held by contemporaries, and for his fame which still survives in Italy, although partially obscured north of the Alps by Sismondi's indifference to whatever merit emerged among the petty sovereigns of that fair land. Immensely superior to most of them in intellectual refinement and in personal worth, he may be regarded as, in military tactics, the type of his age, and was sought for and rewarded accordingly. He served as captain-general under three pontiffs, two kings of Naples, and two dukes of Milan. He repeatedly bore the baton of Florence, and refused that of Venice. He was engaged by several of the recurring Italian leagues as their leader in the field. From the popes he earned his dukedom, and the royal guerdons of the Rose, the Hat, and the Sword. Henry VII of England[*206] sent him the Garter; Ferdinand-283- of Naples conferred on him the Ermine. In fine, Marcilio Ficino, a philosopher as well as a courtier, cited him as the ideal of a perfect man and a wise prince.

Federigo's dying requests were, that his nephew and confidential friend Ottaviano Ubaldini should charge himself with the care of his youthful heir, and that his body should be interred by that of his father in the parish church of S. Donato, a short distance eastward from Urbino. The funeral, though celebrated with

"Those rites which custom doth impose,"

was more remarkable for the heartfelt grief which attested the calamity fallen upon his people. His funeral oration, pronounced by Odasio, whom we shall afterwards find performing the like sad office to his son, is preserved in the Vatican, and has furnished us with some traits of his character. His body, duly embalmed, was enclosed in a marble sarcophagus in the new church of the Zoccolantines, which he left unfinished, close to that of S. Donato.[*207] Thirty years after his death, it was laid open by his grandson, Duke Francesco Maria, who reverently plucked a few hairs from his manly breast.[208] The tomb, thus strangely violated, remained open, and Baldi, who wrote in 1603, describes the corpse as still perfect, except a slight injury to the nose, and resembling a wooden figure, fleshless, and covered with white skin. It was attired after the fashion of Italy, in a gala dress of crimson satin and scarlet, with a sword by its side. Muzio tells us that he too had seen-284- the body half a century before, when it was visited by Duke Guidobaldo II. and many of his people.

We may here notice six likenesses still preserving to us the form and fashion of that body, with which his people's posterity thus strangely held converse, beginning with, I. the portraits of Federigo and his consort, painted in tempera by Piero della Francesca, now in the Uffizi gallery at Florence, which we reproduce. The individuality belonging alike to the features and the costumes could scarcely be doubted, even had we not historical authority for the Count's broken nose, and that of Giovanni Sanzi for Battista's "grave and modest eye," already more particularly mentioned at page 218.[*209] The clear tone and enamel finish are admirable, notwithstanding a thick varnish, with which old tempera pictures are invariably dabbled, under the recent management of the Florence gallery. The panels are painted on both sides, the subjects on the reverse being triumphs of the two sovereigns in a style of mythological allegory then in fashion. On a car drawn by two milk-white steeds with docked tails, driven by Cupid, Federigo sits on a curule chair, in full armour, pointing forward with his truncheon, and holding a helmet on his knee, whilst a winged Victory, standing behind, crowns him with a garland. On the front of the car ride four female figures, one of whom, representing Force, has in her arms a broken Corinthian column; another, emblematic of Prudence, is placed in the centre of the group, holding a mirror in her hand; her face, bright with youthful hope, looks in advance to the future, and the profile or mask of a bearded and wrinkled old man, affixed to the back of her Janus head, contemplates the past with matured experience; a metaphor closely followed by Raffaele for his Jurisprudence in the Stanza della Segnatura. Justice is introduced with her-285- scales and two-edged sword; and the fourth figure is scarcely seen. The distant country, in this as in the others of these pictures, shows that their author was unable to apply to landscape the excellence in linear perspective displayed by his architectural designs. Countess Battista's triumph is similarly treated; but her car is drawn by bay unicorns, types of purity, and she sits on a chair of state, splendidly attired, with an open book on her knee. Behind her a bright maiden, meant probably for Truth, contrasts with an elderly female in semi-monastic dress who may be intended for

"A pensive nun, devout and pure,
Sober, steadfast, and demure,
All in a robe of darkest grain,
Flowing with majestic train,
And ashy stole of Cyprus lawn
Over her decent shoulders drawn."

On the front of the car, Faith, with cross and chalice, sits by Religion, on whose knee the pelican feeds her young, emblematic of the Saviour's love for mankind. Under each of these allegorical paintings is a strophe of Sapphic measure, which may be thus rendered:—

"In gorgeous triumph is borne the hero, whom enduring fame worthily celebrates as a sovereign, equalling in his virtues the greatest generals.

"Thus conducted amid her prosperity, and illustrated by the laurels of her mighty husband's deeds, her name circles in the mouths of mankind."[210]

II. Our next portrait of this Duke was probably obtained by the Barberini family at the devolution of Urbino-286- to the Holy See, about 1630, and remains in their palace at Rome. It is on a three-quarters panel, life size, in full armour, wearing the ducal mantle of crimson flowered with gold, and an ermine cape. From his neck hangs the order of the Ermine, and below his left knee is the Garter. The ducal cap of yellow silk, thickly studded with pearls, hangs on a tall lectern in front of his armchair. He holds a crimson book, and reads from it to his son, standing by his knee, in a yellow frock richly jewelled, a sceptre in the boy's right hand. This head and figure have been copied by Clovio, in an illuminated volume which we shall describe in VI. of the Appendix; and although ascribed to Mantegna, they may rather be a work of Piero della Francesca (if I may form an opinion after the single visit and distant inspection allowed me in 1845 by its jealous owner), but always with the proviso that that able artist's blindness[*211] had not supervened in 1478, when, from the prince's age, this picture must have been done. We have no notice of Mantegna having been at Urbino, although this is probable, from Sanzi's admiration of him.[212]

III. In 1843, there was in the possession of the widow Comerio, at Milan, a very small head of Federigo on copper, which she wished to sell as a Raffaele for 200l. I have learned, by the kindness of an intelligent friend, that it is a good old copy of the seventeenth century, the composition slightly varied from the Barberini picture and Clovio miniature. It may have been the original of a poor engraving prefixed to Muzio's life of this Duke, and would scarcely have been noticed here had not the Abbé-287- Pungileone, with his usual lack of discrimination, ventured a conjecture that it was done by Raffaele from a work of his father; a random guess, discountenanced by the Italian editor of Quartremere de Quincy, notwithstanding his readiness to adopt all speculative Raffaeles in the hands of his Milanese townsmen. It is a duty to expose such blunders, especially when greedily adopted as a foundation for imposture.

IV. The picture of which we have now to speak possesses strong claims upon our interest. Among the artists of Urbino who will figure in our twenty-seventh chapter was Fra Carnevale, a Dominican monk, who, at the Duke's desire, painted, for his new church of the Zoccolantines, an altar-piece, transferred by French rapine to the Brera gallery at Milan, where the imperfect restitution of 1815 has left it. Tradition, fortified by a questionable MS., points out the Madonna and child as portraits of Countess Battista and her son, while Federigo's figure kneeling before her throne, cannot be mistaken. But, as we shall afterwards have occasion to show, the genius of Christian art was at that time opposed to embodying in sacred personages the lineaments of real life, and, although the apocryphal legend has been received without challenge by two recent commentators on Fra Carnevale, a monkish limner seems unlikely to have infringed the rule.[213] Marchese, correctly describing the picture from Rosini's print, tells us that before the enthroned Madonna and four attendant saints "is the Duke of Urbino in armour, prostrate on his knees, and imploring her favour for himself and his children, who appear grouped behind the throne." After praising the life-like heads of these portraits, this critic from the cloisters questions the propriety of so-288- stowing away the ducal progeny. But an artist friend, who at my request examined the original work since I have been able to do so, informs me that the latter are winged angels in long white robes and pearl necklaces, although with faces apparently taken from the life. Federigo's figure is unquestionably introduced, by a usual and very beautiful licence, as donor of this altar-piece, thus bearing witness to the devotional spirit which dictated his gift; and could we have it replaced in the church that was reared at his bidding, over against the sarcophagus which contains his remains, and believe that on its panel, painted in pious commemoration of the birth of an heir, are preserved the features of six of his family, no more interesting memorial of Urbino's golden days could be conceived.

V. This Duke's portrait is delineated in another altar-piece at Urbino, in which, being from the hand of a Fleming, such mixture of sacred and historical art is less inconsistent. Having already alluded at page 205 to the occasion on which it was commissioned, and having to describe it in our thirtieth chapter, we need not further notice it now.

VI. I saw at Florence in 1845, in the hands of Signor di Tivoli, master of languages, an interesting but ruined picture painted on panel, apparently by a Venetian master of the sixteenth century. In a chair of state, on the elevated platform of a vast hall, is seated Duke Federigo, with Guidobaldo at his knee, the Garter embroidered on his left sleeve, and its star on his ducal mantle. Three courtiers stand behind him, and another group on the floor below, listening to the prelections of a figure in black robes. On a cornice of the saloon is inscribed "Federigo Duke of Urbino and Count of Montefeltro." We conjecture this subject to be a sitting of the Academy degli Assorditi, though it may represent Odasio or some other lettered guest reading his composi-289-tions: in either case the painting is an interesting, though scarcely contemporary, memorial of this lettered court.[214]

By his first marriage Federigo had no family, but his wife Battista Sforza brought him eight children in twelve years. Their son was the youngest, but the daughters' seniority is disputed.

Federigo's natural children were:—




The early promise of Duke Guidobaldo I.—Count Girolamo Riario assassinated—The Duke’s marriage—Comparative quiet of Italy.

IN the life of Duke Federigo we have seen personal merit accompanied by a remarkable continuance of good fortune. The mystery of his birth was no bar to his enjoying unquestioned a sovereignty to which he could not have established any clear right. The popular outbreak which had cut off his predecessor shook not the stability of his dynasty. To the fief he thus peaceably acquired he added important territories by marriage and purchase. He transmitted to a hopeful son an important and flourishing state, and with it the highest title compatible with his station, obtained by his personal merits. Among competitors and opponents of great military renown he was ever conspicuous, and almost uniformly victorious. In an age when letters and arts began their rivalry with arms he retained, as the Maecenas of a cultivated court, the fame he had gained as a successful general. The biographers of Guidobaldo[*215] have justly ascribed to him no inferior merit, while they have strongly contrasted the persecutions of fortune which he endured; and they have established the probability that, with equal years and equal advantages, his memory-296- might have not been less glorious than that of his father. Those portents attending the Prince's birth, to which a miraculous character was assigned by the gratitude or superstition of the people, have been mentioned in a preceding chapter. It took place at Gubbio on the 17th or 24th of January, 1472, and on the 2nd of February he was baptized Guido Ubaldo Girolamo Vincenzo;[*216] the first pair of these names, given in memory of the old counts of Urbino, and of the patron saint of that city, was commonly used by him in its contracted form Guidobaldo. The court of his father, ever attractive to eminent men, was soon after visited by the venerable Cardinal Bessarion, who, after being twice within a vote or two of the triple tiara, was returning from his last diplomatic mission to England a few months before his death. Federigo availed himself of this opportunity to obtain for the infant the rite of confirmation, though but three months' old. In two months more, the condition with which Battista had accompanied her prayers for a male heir was fatally fulfilled,[217] and Guidobaldo was deprived of a mother's care long ere he could be sensible of the sad bereavement.


Gio. Sanzi, pinx. L. Ceroni, sculp.


From a picture in the Colonna Gallery in Rome

Almost from his cradle the Prince was remarkable for a sweet and docile temper, as well as for uncommon promise. We are gravely assured by his preceptor that, while other infants had scarcely learned to satisfy their instinctive need of sustenance, he could express his wants; while they were trying to speak he was mastering his rudiments; and these, with similar proofs of precocity, which we shall presently cite, are asserted with the most solemn asseverations of their literal truth. Fully aware of the importance of early directing so prompt a genius, his father engaged, as the guide of his youthful studies, Ludovico Odasio of-297- Padua, an accomplished gentleman, as well as a distinguished scholar, whom he ever treated with the attention due to his own merits, as well as to the importance of his charge. The after life of his pupil, and the language used by Odasio in his funeral eulogy,[*218] bear ample testimony to the careful and satisfactory tuition which the Prince imbibed, and the benefit he reaped from his instructions. Nor were these ungratefully received by the latter, who, on attaining majority, bestowed upon his preceptor the countship of Isola Forsara, near Gubbio, which his descendants continued to enjoy during many generations.

The Paduan sage describes his charge as a fit model of those infantine Cupids whom painters delight to introduce in their pictures of the Queen of Love. Nor were his dispositions less engaging; gentle and just to all, generous but prudent beyond his years. Neglecting the childish toys suitable to his age, his whole mind was concentrated on his studies and on manly sports, occasioning in many those anxious fears that so generally attend the premature development of early talent. Such was the genius committed to the care of Odasio, who seems to have rendered it ample justice. Besides his native tongue, Guidobaldo rapidly acquired the Latin language, and although Greek was then a comparatively rare accomplishment, he so thoroughly mastered its difficulties as to write it with freedom and Attic grace. Possessing great powers of application, his reading included all the best classical authors. The poets were his delight in boyhood, but by degrees he attached himself more to the severer studies of philosophy and ethics. Nor was his attention limited to abstract literature. Geography engaged in turn his versatile talents, accompanied with practical-298- information as to the inhabitants by whom various countries were peopled, their manners, their political relations, and the character of their respective governments. But what his preceptor considered as the great aim of a princely education was the development of his powers of eloquence, and an extensive acquaintance with history; to these, therefore, he drew Guidobaldo's attention with entire success. In detailing to us these interesting particulars, Odasio takes little credit for the progress of his pupil, whose quick apprehension rendered his duty that of a companion and observer rather than of a teacher. His powers of memory were especially remarkable, and by judicious and habitual exercise were extended with advancing manhood. He is said to have possessed that rarest gift, of never forgetting anything he wished to recollect, and to have repeated with perfect accuracy successive pages which he had read only once, some ten or fifteen years before.

His insatiable thirst for knowledge did not prevent his perfecting himself in every healthful and manly exercise. Precocious in his amusements as in his talents, he devoted to these the play-time which other children pass with noisy toys, and whilst they listened to nursery tales, he hung upon the recital of heroic deeds, or the stirring narratives of glorious war. To the boyish sports of ball and dancing quickly succeeded gymnastic and military games, which were followed with an enthusiasm, and accompanied by exposure to fatigue and cold, that appear to have fatally affected his constitution. Thus he grew up, adorned by the accomplishments, endowed with the courage, and skilled in the martial exercises which formed a perfect knight when the standard of chivalry was high. Nor were the graces of person wanting to this phœnix of his age. Count Castiglione describes him as represented in our engraving, of fair complexion and hair; of singularly handsome features, in which a severe style-299- was chastened by gentle expression; of a person and limbs the model of manly beauty.

The death of Duke Federigo in the disastrous campaign of Ferrara, on the 10th of September, 1482, left Guidobaldo an orphan ere he had completed his eleventh year. In times where so much of the success, and even security, of a petty sovereign depended on his personal qualifications, a minority was ever perilous; but, in the present instance, there were circumstances of peculiar danger to augment the delicacy of his position. The state of Urbino was surrounded by those of the Church, of Florence, of Rimini, and of Pesaro, whilst the more distant powers, whose influence habitually bore upon the lesser principalities of Italy, were Venice, Milan, and Naples. Of the former category, the Pope, though connected by marriage, could scarcely be deemed friendly, for Federigo had died in arms against the papal troops; Lorenzo de' Medici was indebted to him for important aid, but had never shown any peculiar attachment to his alliance; Rimini had once more passed into the hands of an illegitimate heir, in whose eyes the intermarriage of his father with the aunt of Guidobaldo[*219] might not counterbalance the inveterate feuds between his grandfather Sigismondo Pandolfo and Federigo. With Costanzo Sforza, Lord of Pesaro, the young Duke could, indeed, calculate upon amicable relations, but these, with so feeble a neighbour, were of negative rather than available advantage. The open hostility of Venice, then almost at the climax of her power, might well counterbalance the Neapolitan alliance, and Ludovico Sforza was too busy with his own ambitious projects upon the Milanese to interfere in support of a-300- distant ally. But how vain the calculations of human policy in the sight of Him in whose hands are the issues of life! The perils which hung over the youthful Guidobaldo passed away like the morning mists that precede a brilliant sunrise.

Having performed the last duties to his illustrious father, the new Duke, on the 17th of September, was solemnly invested with the ducal mantle, and rode through Urbino receiving homage amid the rejoicings of all ranks. Thence he proceeded to Gubbio and his other principal towns, meeting everywhere a unanimous welcome, and leaving, by his fine presence and engaging manners, a highly favourable impression on his subjects. In the arrangements necessary for the administration of his state, he was aided by his cousin-german Ottaviano Ubaldini, of whom we have already spoken.[220]

The messengers sent from Urbino to the combined powers of Naples, Florence, and Milan, in whose service Duke Federigo had met his death, returned with news which dissipated all present anxiety as to the position of his heir, whom it at once placed on an eminence that might have turned an older and more experienced head. The allies, in faithful implement of his father's condotta, continued to him the same command, entrusting to a child a charge which had baffled the best generals of Italy. It is difficult satisfactorily to explain this apparent absurdity. No doubt the services of condottieri were in certain cases retained, rather for the following which they could bring into active service than out of regard to their personal qualifications, and it must have been most important for the League to secure the brave and hardy militia of Montefeltro. Yet this affords no valid reason for ostensibly setting a mere schoolboy over many veteran officers. The appointment was probably but nominal, and at a moment when no onward movement seemed requisite—when, in-301- fact, the war had been turned into a blockade—it was sanctioned as a mere temporary expedient until time should be gained to deliberate on ulterior steps, whether for a renewal of offensive demonstrations, or for a general pacification. In this view the measure was politic, as a flattering compliment to one whom it was well to conciliate, without tying up the parties from whom it emanated. But, whatever be the just explanation, the fact is positive that, in the language of Odasio, the Duke was treated as a man ere he had well completed his childhood; was ranked as a veteran ere he had served as a cadet; was made general before he had served as a soldier. The career thus happily opened was not, however, that which was destined most to illustrate his name. When compared with his father's achievements, or with the military science of his successor, the martial feats of Guidobaldo sink into insignificance. The promise of an active and athletic childhood, and the premature honours of boyish command, were blighted by the early development of constitutional infirmities, which in a few years disabled him from service in the field. Fortunately for himself and his reputation, nature had endowed him with other resources, the cultivation of which not only consoled his own privations, but greatly contributed to humanise the age.

Nor did the result of their policy disappoint the confederates, or expose Guidobaldo's military fame to premature risks. The wayward and fickle character of Sixtus IV. solved all difficulties, by suddenly changing his side. Upon pretended compunction for the miseries produced by the war, but in reality from finding the Venetians likely to reap the exclusive advantage of successes to which he had in no way contributed, he reconciled himself with Ferdinand of Naples, and in a treaty to this effect, signed on the 6th of January, 1483, he left to the Signory an option of adherence to its terms. The publication of this new alliance was inaugurated at-302- Siena by a triumphal procession, during which the Pontiff's sudden amity with the two Tuscan republics was celebrated in a chorus to this effect:—

"Whate'er on earth by thee is bound shall be
Bound in the heavens, freed what thou settest free:
So spake the Lord, when in St. Peter's hands
He left the sovereignty of Christian lands;
And such the League, now destined to unite
Our state with God's own Vicar in the fight.
Pray that the Virgin and her Son uphold
The Oak, the Lily, and the Lion bold."[221]

The abandonment by Sixtus of his design upon Ferrara, although no doubt promoted by the confederates' threat of a general council, was probably induced by a calculation that the condotta with 10,000 ducats of pay, and the vague promise of other fiefs in Romagna, which were offered by Naples and Spain to Girolamo Riario, would prove to him a more substantial boon than his stipulated share of the Ferrarese territories, exposed to the chances of an obstinate and expensive struggle, and coupled with the condition of handing over the larger portion of that dukedom to the already dangerously powerful republic of Venice. Thus was dissolved the League against the d'Este, and with it expired Guidobaldo's commission, his position being at the same time strengthened by a reconciliation with the Church.

But though the parties had changed, the game of war was continued. The Venetians had good grounds for umbrage at the unceremonious desertion, by his Holiness, of the common cause, without due notice, and still better reason for discontent on finding themselves called upon to abandon their designs upon Ferrara, after a long, expensive, and, on the whole, successful campaign. They therefore, rejected the offer of joining the new alliance, and-303- persisted in offensive operations against Duke Ercole, notwithstanding the displeasure of Sixtus, who, with his usual violence, thundered an interdict against his recent allies for pursuing the very policy to which he had persuaded them. Intent on forcing peace upon the parties between whom he had recently stirred up unprovoked hostilities, he directed the whole power of the new combination against the Republic. To meet the exigencies of the opening campaign, the combatants prepared their several forces, and Guidobaldo was taken into the pay of King Ferdinand, with a salary of 15,000 ducats for three years, more, of course, on account of his contingent of 180 men-at-arms and 30 lances than with any intention of putting his own military talents to the test. The Venetians, nothing daunted by the formidable combination they were called upon to oppose, engaged the services of Costanzo Sforza, of Pesaro, with 300 men-at-arms. Thus, by a coincidence not uncommon in the career of military adventurers, Guidobaldo was pitted against an uncle with whom, and with whose states, the most affectionate and cordial relations had always subsisted. But their impending rupture was averted by the hand of fate. A malignant fever cut off Costanzo on the 19th of July, and his subjects were left to mourn a prince who had conciliated their affection by wise policy, by attention to their welfare, and by zeal in the improvement of his capital.

Death had, however, selected a partner in the game more important than the Lord of Pesaro. The dread hour of reckoning was arrived to the arch-spirit of turbulence, who from the chair of St. Peter had, during thirteen years, been the scourge of Italy. Nor was his end out of character with his career. By counter-plots, which we need not stay to develop, the crafty Venetians contrived to seduce Ludovico il Moro from the hostile band by whom they were beset, and turning the tables upon the Pope, effected a pacification without including or even consult-304-ing him. The treaty of Bagnolo aggrandised the maritime republic with no reference to the interests of Riario. It reached Sixtus on the 12th of August, 1484, and brought on a sudden attack of his constitutional malady, gout, which struck him speechless. In a few hours he expired of vexation, at finding himself outmanœuvred in his favourite game of intrigue, and at seeing those broils which he had done so much to foment, thus brought to an unexpected close. The Venetians, on learning that their rancorous foe had ceased to live, redoubled the joy with which they heard of the general pacification; and the satirical wits of the day commemorated his death in this biting epigram:—

"No truce could Sixtus bind, though ratified:
A peace at length proclaimed,—he heard and died."[222]

The successor of Sixtus was Cardinal Cibò, who took the title of Innocent VIII. Between him and Duke Federigo had existed an old friendship, which was cordially extended to Guidobaldo, and also to Ottaviano Ubaldini: to these, therefore, it was a pleasure as well as a duty to lay their congratulations at his feet, in return for which a new investiture, already prepared by order of the late Pontiff, was promptly forwarded to the young Duke. The aggressions of the Turk, that standing grievance of Christian Europe, had of late menaced Italy itself, and each pope, on ascending the chair of St. Peter, sought to signalise his zeal by uniting the Peninsular powers against the common foe. Yet, like his predecessors, Innocent was quickly diverted from a project vast, glorious, and attractive, but impracticable, to meaner objects; from the cause of Christianity to ebullitions of personal pique. The rigour with which he exacted from the King of Naples some-305- arrears of cense, or ecclesiastical tribute, due to the Camera under old investitures, but which had been modified by Sixtus IV., occasioned an exchange of harsh words. There occurred at Aquila, about the same time, a most serious insurrection, headed by some Neapolitan nobles belonging to the Angevine party, who, exasperated by a long course of oppressive and injudicious government, appealed to Innocent for assistance. The occasion seemed tempting for gratifying his indignation against Ferdinand I., and for adding to the papal states that important fief. The grand crusade against the Crescent was once more forgotten, and the Pope, entering upon the career of Sixtus, became the perturbator in place of the pacificator of unhappy Italy. Among other small princes whom he retained for this struggle was Guidobaldo, nor did he omit to secure the Venetians. Ferdinand was not idle on his side, having made an alliance with the Florentines. Whilst the ecclesiastical troops, under Roberto da Sanseverino and the Prefect della Rovere, seconding the rebellious barons of Naples, carried an aggressive war into the Abruzzi, the King made a diversion in La Marca, by means of some military adventurers, who, at his instigation, stirred up the people of Città di Castello, Fano, and Osimo, to throw off the papal sway. To quell these movements, the troops of Urbino, led by commanders sent by Innocent, and still more the influence of the Duke, proved highly instrumental. The war, begun without just cause, and leading to no important result, ended, as usual, in a league which left the parties much as before. It included the Pope, the King, Giovanni Galeazzo Sforza, and the Venetian Republic, and was hailed with a joy that seemed wilfully oblivious of the hollowness of former pacifications. It was concluded on the 11th of August, 1485, and, unlike these, it secured the quiet of Italy during the remainder of that pontificate.

The first actual service which it was the lot of Guido-306-baldo to witness was in a cause at once vile and unimportant; but it placed him under a rising soldier, who became one of the most distinguished commanders of the age. Among the adventurers to whom we just now referred as troubling the Marca, was Boccolino Guzzoni or Uguccione, who, having made himself master of Osimo, continued to hold out with obstinacy, embittered by a furious temper, and by the impolitic severity which Innocent had manifested towards him. To reduce this firebrand, Gian Jacopi di Trivulzio was sent from Milan in May, 1487;[*223] and, although the mediation of Lorenzo de' Medici saved Uguccione from impending destruction, an incident which made him acquainted with so remarkable a general must be considered important to the youthful Duke, who had only completed his fifteenth year. His advance towards manhood was marked by communications from the Court of Rome being henceforward addressed to himself, instead of to Ottaviano; but he dutifully continued to avail himself of his guardian's counsels in all matters of moment.

Caterina Sforza



After the picture by Marco Palmezzani in the Pinacoteca of Forlì

We have seen the peculiar circumstances in which, with the aid of Duke Federigo, the sovereignty of Count Girolamo Riario and his wife Caterina Sforza was established in Imola and Forlì.[224] They had reigned there during eight years, cited by their flatterers as models of paternal government; abused by those whom they had disappointed and especially by the Florentine writers, as monsters of tyranny. Truth may probably lie between. Girolamo has been accused of no flagrant crime, except a participation in the Pazzi conspiracy, which was instigated by his uncle Sixtus IV., while Caterina is favourably distinguished even above those brilliant spirits who abounded among the contemporary princesses of Italy. The Count is alleged to have, by an overbearing manner, offended several of his courtiers, but particularly Francesco Deddi de' Orsi. An-307-other account accuses Lorenzo de' Medici of intriguing to avenge the old injury which he justly attributed to Riario, a charge which his eulogists have indignantly repelled, and which, resting on no proof, is certainly inconsistent with a character so noble. Francesco, at the head of a band of conspirators, broke in upon Count Girolamo, and murdered him in his palace at Forlì. They then threw his body into the piazza, and the populace, ever ready for change, rose simultaneously, some crying "Liberty," others "Church," and finished their work by plundering his residence.[*225] Meanwhile the leaders of the insurrection possessed themselves of the Countess, her mother, sister, and six children; and finding that Giacomo Fea, captain of the citadel, held it against them, they dragged her to the walls, and insisted upon her summoning him to surrender. Upon his refusing, they acceded to a proposal that she should be admitted, in order to induce him to yield. Once within the castle, Caterina thanked its defender, and stimulated the garrison to fresh resistance, directing that all the artillery should be brought to bear upon the town, ready to bombard it should the rebels attempt to execute their cowardly threat of offering violence to her children.[226]


This bold bearing saved the cause of the young Riarii, without really endangering their persons. Giovanni Bentivoglio, Lord of Bologna, a faithful adherent of the Sforza, on the first news of this insurrection, put himself at the head of a thousand horse and eight hundred foot, and arrived in hot haste at the gates of Forlì. The conspirators, divided in their counsels, and distracted by the decisive course which the Countess had adopted, fled from the town without waiting to resist, and thus the revolution was at an end. Within two short weeks Caterina had been a happy wife, a bereaved widow, an outraged prisoner, a triumphant sovereign. She remembered her sorrows signally to avenge them; she threw aside her weeds to assume a robe of triumph; and issuing from the castle, proclaimed her son Ottaviano, Count of Forlì.

But a deep stain attaches to the punishment which she must have sanctioned, if she did not direct it, and which was inflicted upon Count Orsi, father of the assassin, with an accumulation of horrors rarely exampled among even savage tribes. The old man, then in his eighty-sixth year, after being exposed on the great square to insults of the soldiery in presence of the whole populace, was bound to a board, and drawn twice round the piazza, his snow-white head projecting, and broken against the sharp stones; his quivering limbs were then hacked in pieces by armed ruffians, whose atrocious barbarities, as described by an eye-witness, are too revolting for detail. All this the sufferer endured with a heroism and resignation which produced on the spectators the usual effect of such brutal perversion of justice, and converted their abhorrence of the crime into sympathy with the criminal.

The murder of Count Girolamo took place on the 14th of April, 1488, and the news of it excited great consternation at the court of Urbino, which had always maintained a friendly footing with that of Riario, he being cousin to the Prefect of Sinigaglia, husband of Guido-309-baldo's sister. In the excited state of public feeling, men's minds caught greedily at any trivial circumstance on which to found a surmise as to the authors of the outrage, seeking for remote influences to account for what seems to have been merely an outbreak of private passion. The cries of "Church," which had mingled in the shouts of the excited populace, were interpreted as an indication of the Pope's privacy to a conspiracy, and doubts were entertained as to the part which he might take in the revolution. But such ideas were quickly dissipated. Whatever may have been the feelings of Innocent towards the dynasty established by his predecessor at Forlì, the occupation of that city by the Bolognese troops awakened his jealousy of the Bentivoglii. He therefore despatched couriers, instructing the Duke of Urbino to maintain at all hazards the legitimate government of Forlì, as indispensable to the peace of Italy, and for this purpose to hold himself in readiness for a march into Romagna, as soon as commissioners should arrive from Rome with a subsidy. Guidobaldo hastily assembled his troops, but ere the Pope's paymaster made his appearance, the prompt aid of Bentivoglio, and an army sent from Milan, had anticipated the service which he was commissioned to effect.

Although the youthful Duke of Urbino was but little concerned in these events of Italian history, they involved persons, and prepared the way for political combinations, which turned the scale of his after life, loading it with an undue portion of cares and sorrows. In absence of domestic incidents during his minority, we may vary the narrative by abstracting a few particulars from a volume of regulations for his court. Though trifling, they throw light on his personal habits, and supply an index to the civilisation of his age.[227] To all persons composing the ducal household, unexceptionable manners were indispen-310-sable. In those of higher rank there was further required competent talents and learning, a grave deportment and fluency of speech. The servants must be of steady habits and respectable character; regular in all private transactions; of good address, modest, and graceful; willing and neat-handed in their service. There is likewise inculcated the most scrupulous personal cleanliness, especially of hands, with particular injunctions as to frequent ablutions, and extraordinary precautions against the unpleasant effects of hot weather on their persons and clothing: in case of need medical treatment is enjoined to correct the breath. Those who wore livery had two suits a year, generally of fustian, though to some silk doublets were given for summer use. They had a mid-day meal and a supper: the former usually consisted of fruit, soup, and boiled meat; the latter of salads and boiled meat. This was varied on Fridays and vigil fasts by dinners of fish, eggs, and cheese; suppers of bread, wine, and salads. Saturdays were semi-fasts, when they dined on soup and eggs, and supped on soup and cheese. The upper table offered but few luxuries in addition to this plain fare, such as occasionally roasts, fowls, and pastry, with a more liberal allowance of eggs and cheese on meagre days.

Of the diet at the ducal table we find sparing and unsatisfactory notices; but its chief difference from that of the attendants seems to have consisted in the more liberal use of sweet herbs and fruits. The latter were presented in singular order: cherries and figs before dinner; after it, pears, apples, peaches, nuts, almonds; before supper, melons and grapes. The splendour of the table service seems to have been more looked to than its supplies; and many rules are given as to the covered silver platters in which meats were brought up, the silver goblets and glass caraffes for wine, the fine napery and the ornamental flowers. The regulations for the Duke's chamber service indicate scrupulous cleanliness, both as to ablutions in-311- perfumed water, and frequent change of clothing, in strict conformance to the directions of physicians and astrologers. Among the conveniences enumerated for his bedroom are a bell, a night-light, and in cold weather a fire. An attendant slept by him without undressing, also a clerk in the guard-room within call. The music provided to accompany the Duke on his rides seems to have been somewhat miscellaneous—a company of bagpipers, a sackbut, four trumpets, three drums, with a herald or pursuivant. The qualities insisted on for ladies of the Duchess's household are exemplary gravity and unsullied honour; they must further be handy, addicted neither to gossip nor wrangling, and never talking unnecessarily in her presence.

We here reach an eventful epoch in the life of Guidobaldo. Baldi informs us that, when Duke Federigo went to Naples in 1474 to receive from Ferdinand the order of the Ermine he formally betrothed his son, then but two years and a half old, to Princess Lucrezia of Aragon. He adds that she corresponded with the Duke within a few months of his death, but gives no account of the circumstances under which this engagement was broken off. When Duke Guidobaldo had completed his sixteenth year, another alliance was contracted for him, to the great joy of his people, with Elisabetta (sometimes called Isabella) Gonzaga, youngest sister of Francesco Marquis of Mantua. She was daughter of the Marquis Federigo, by Margaretta daughter of Albert III. Duke of Bavaria: her virtues, her manners, and her almost unearthly beauty are extolled by Castiglione, in language which the evidence of all writers has stamped with truth.[*228] Her age exceeded the bridegroom's by one year, and her sister Madalena was at the same time betrothed to Giovanni Sforza, Lord of Pesaro,-312- the celebration of both the nuptials being deferred until the end of October, 1489.




After the drawing by Beltraffio in the Biblioteca Ambrogiana, Milan

The rivalry inherent in the relations between neighbouring towns of the Peninsula had on this occasion pleasing opportunity for display, for nowhere more than in Italy do the people delight in pompous festivities. The citizens of Urbino and of Pesaro strove which should exhibit most taste and splendour in celebrating the happy event, and in welcoming the bridal parties to their several homes. I have seen no account of these shows, which is little loss, as there was much sameness in all such exhibitions, and great dullness in their monotonous descriptions. But we are assured that, in both capitals, the display of triumphal processions, under arches studded with statues and elaborate devices, followed by fireworks and dramatic spectacles, were worthy of the auspicious occasion, and the emulous spirit of their citizens.[229] The remainder of the year was devoted by the Duke to similar amusements, or to sports of the chase, of which his bride was passionately fond, and which she enjoyed at her ease in the parks of Fossombrone and Castel Durante, where Federigo had established an ample stock of fallow deer. The following spring brought to his court new causes for joy, in the Marquis of Mantua's marriage to a Princess of Ferrara, and the birth of an heir to the Lord Prefect, in the person of Francesco Maria della Rovere, on whom the dukedom of Urbino eventually devolved.

But alas, too soon was "bitter mixed with sweet." The hopes of maintaining the ducal line, which the marriage of Guidobaldo had nourished, were doomed to disappointment from infirmities of his constitution which, though long kept secret from their people, were quickly known to the young couple. These defects, having baffled medical-313- skill, were eventually attributed to the malign influence of poison, or sorcery; an impression which the physicians probably countenanced, to excuse the failure of their prescriptions, and which seems to have been fully credited by the Duke and the public, when the fact was allowed to transpire.[*230] The secrecy and resignation of the Duchess under this dispensation, and her strict observance of her nuptial vows, in circumstances which the loose morality of the age might have regarded as a palliation for less faithful adherence to them, are celebrated by her eulogists as proofs of almost superhuman virtue, especially by Bembo, whose prurient language on this repulsive topic offers curious proof of the low standard of decency then prevailing among dignified churchmen, and persons of high pretensions to refinement. Giovanni Sforza's marriage was still more fated, for within ten months he was an afflicted widower.

The Duke had now attained to manhood, and in the enjoyment of a tranquil reign he began to practise those lessons which he had imbibed under Odasio. Amid the attractions of the lists or the chase, which his own tastes and the joyous temperament of his Duchess strongly recommended to him, he was not forgetful of more solid accomplishments. It is unfortunate that few memorials are preserved of the formation of that select circle which he appears thus early to have drawn around him. It was-314- not until fourteen years later, that Count Castiglione entered that court which he was destined to immortalise; nor had the group of fine spirits who are brought upon the stage in the Cortegiano as yet assembled at Urbino. But many of Duke Federigo's old and honoured servants remained about the person of his son, and maintained that tone of lettered refinement which the veteran commander had cherished.

The pontificate of Innocent did not realise the warlike foretaste which his early quarrel with King Ferdinand had given, and his mature policy resolved itself into a maintenance of the status quo. Yet from time to time there broke out, among the cities which acknowledged his sway, those feuds and party squabbles, which ever and anon deluged in blood most of the Italian communities, and of which Baldi well says, "that it was matter equally of astonishment and compassion to see persons born and bred within the same walls, brought up under one law and one rule, change their very nature, and forget every principle of humanity; mangling, destroying, and despoiling each other without remorse, like wild beasts." On more than one such occasion, the Pope called upon Guidobaldo to interpose his influence, or to advance his troops in order to restore quiet; but these incidents do not merit detailed notice. In services so barren of glory, the Duke showed sometimes but little zeal, and in consequence received more than one admonition from his ecclesiastical over-lord. The pacific views of Innocent had been efficiently supported by Lorenzo the Magnificent, with an influence belonging more to his personal character than his absolute rank; but the premature death of both these sovereigns, occurring almost simultaneously, deprived the Peninsula of its best guarantees of tranquillity. Lorenzo having expired on the 7th of April, 1492, the Pontiff breathed his last on the 25th of July; and on the 11th of August was succeeded by Alexander VI.



State of the papacy at the accession of Alexander VI.—His election, character, and children—The aspect of Italy at the close of her golden age—The disputed succession of Naples reopened—Character and views of Charles VIII.—Proposed league to oppose him frustrated—State of the Roman Campagna—The old and new military systems in Italy.

THE spiritual sway of the papacy at this time enjoyed great advantages over its temporal dominion. Although the former had necessarily been more permanent and influential under a Gregory or a Boniface, than when wielded by imbecility or divided by schism, it continued as yet undisputed. The power of the Keys was acknowledged to the utmost limits of Christendom, whatever might be thought of their possessor or policy. Monarchs and armaments, who defied or defeated the pontifical banner, quailed under an interdict, and humbled themselves to the dust for absolution. Another important vantage-ground of the Roman ecclesiastical polity, well set forth by Robertson, was its unity. Faithful to long traditionary maxims, as the magnetic needle to its pole, few cases could occur unprovided for by precedent; and so numerous were the checks and balance-wheels of the complicated machine, which was kept in motion and regulated by a large and well drilled staff, rather than by its apparent director, that his personal conduct or private aims seldom perceptibly affected its working. Although the same dignitaries who, by education and habit, were enabled to maintain and transmit this unvarying system, formed also the administrative government of the Papal State, they were, in the latter-316- capacity, merely ministers of a temporal prince, bound by interest to flatter his foibles as well as to obey his behests. And the sovereignty of Rome being elective, under circumstances often inferring a very transient tenure of power, it was usually wielded with much waywardness, selfishness, and caprice, even to the detriment of that order by whom, through whom, and for whom the ecclesiastical authority was exercised. Apart from the general question of the fitness of priests for temporal sway, their circumstances were peculiarly unfavourable at a time when no special requisites of character were indispensable for holy orders, these being often regarded as a mere qualification for preferments closed against the laity. When legates were sent to lead armies, and cardinals took the field as condottieri; when papal diplomacy and intrigue were rarely veiled by a semblance of truth or honour; when poisoning by prelates passed into a proverb, and "son of a clergyman" ceased to be an imputation, it is not surprising that priest-ruled and priest-ridden Italy should have become thoroughly demoralised. It was of this age that Masse has pointedly remarked that "never were holy things mocked with greater impunity, or spiritual power more unblushingly profaned; never were the humane virtues held in such disrepute, nor blood so treacherously spilt; never did poison more perfidiously contaminate the veins of those whose presence was burdensome, or who clogged an ambitious career, or whose death could serve any end whatever." Under the new pontificate these evils were fully developed, and the fatal influence exercised by it on Duke Guidobaldo and his state will demand from us from time to time detailed notices of Alexander and his race.

Alfonso Borgia, on whom the triple tiara had been conferred in 1455, with the title of Calixtus III., was descended from the ancient Spanish family of Borja, at-317- Xativa, in the kingdom of Murcia. His sister Giovanna, or Isabella, married Giuffredo or Alfonso Lenzuoli, and to them was born, in 1427, Roderigo, whose youth was spent in arms, but on obtaining a page's appointment at the court of Alfonso V., he laid aside the sword, and finally, in compliance with the wishes of his family, entered the Church. Being there destined for high preferment by the influence of his uncle, who had adopted him, he exchanged his paternal name for that of Borgia. By this step, and by his personal qualities, he so completely gained the favour of Calixtus that, during his short pontificate, he rose to the highest honours, and accumulated the best benefices at his disposal. To the dignities of cardinal, vice-chancellor of the Church, and archbishop of Valencia, were added the temporalities of three other archiepiscopal and two episcopal sees, besides a shower of minor but rich endowments, and various important legations. For the conspicuous part he was thus called to fill nature had fully qualified him. His unbounded ambition was supported by vigorous and varied talents; and, although his acquirements by study were limited, his address and pliant sagacity, seconded by great facility of speech, enabled him to bend people and events to his purposes.[*231]

The influence which Cardinal Borgia enjoyed from his abilities and preferments was but little impaired by his notorious personal vices; for the corruption of manners which disgraced the golden age of Italian refinement had deeply tinctured the court of Rome. His open immoralities brought upon him public censure from the worthy Pius II., but the laxer discipline of succeeding pontiffs left such scandals unchecked. In order more easily to carry on a disgraceful intercourse with his mistress-318- Caterina Vanozza, he married her to a Roman, named Domenico Arignano, and subsequently had by her three sons and a daughter, whom he fully acknowledged as his children, allowing them his adopted name. His general conduct and language were in all respects consistent with such licentious courses. Guicciardini describes him as of most debauched habits, insatiable avarice, immoderate ambition, savage cruelty, and unscrupulous nepotism; without sincerity, truth, good faith, shame, or religion. It would be easy to adduce similar testimony from other contemporary authorities, which, although widely varying in their details of scandal, agree in the general estimate of his public and private character, even before his elevation to the tiara.

On the death of Innocent VIII., Borgia was much the oldest cardinal. His talents were unquestioned; his dissolute conduct could scarcely be pleaded as disqualifying him from a dignity which Cibò and della Rovere had just held. His rivals were Ascanio, son of the great Francesco Sforza, and Giuliano della Rovere. The latter, at the head of a feeble minority of five, who refused to sell their votes, earned his uncompromising hatred. The former, finding success unattainable, preferred making profit of his adherence to the winning candidate. To him, to Orsini, Colonna, Savelli, and other influential members of the conclave, those high dignities and benefices which their choice of Borgia would render vacant, were lavishly promised, and, as an earnest of future favours, treasures long purposely hoarded by the wily Spaniard, were distributed amongst them in mule-loads. On the 11th of August, Roderigo Borgia ascended the chair of St. Peter, amid festive pageants more suited to a heathen triumph than a Christian coronation, hailed by such epigrams as this:—

"Great under Cæsar, greatest under thee,
Rome hailed him hero, here a God we see!"[232]


The sacred office to which Alexander VI. was thus elevated had no salutary effect upon his unholy passions.[*233] The power he had attained he administered by intrigue. Simony and poisoning were the instruments of his administration; nepotism was its end. His temporal policy was equally selfish, unstable, and dishonest. He was resolute in nothing but his breaches of good faith. In the broils which he fomented he sold his adherence to the best bidder, but ever kept himself open for a higher offer. His contemporary, Machiavelli, thus stamps his character, which he had carefully studied:—"His entire occupation, his only thought, was deception, and he always found victims. Never was there a man with more effrontery in assertion, more ready to add oaths to his promises, or to break them; yet did his deceit ever succeed to his heart's content."[*234] Sismondi terms him "the most odious, the most publicly scandalous, and the most wicked of all miscreants who ever misused sacred authority to outrage and degrade mankind." No ecclesiastical writer has undertaken to defend his reputation; most of them-320- have treated him as a disgrace to the papacy. Tommasi has termed him a "perfidious, sanguinary, and most insatiable wolf, capable of insinuating himself like a fawning and attached spaniel."

Out of the conflicting statements which have reached us of the Borgian pedigree and of Alexander's spurious offspring, we have prepared the accompanying table as on the whole probable.[235] Francesco (called by others Giovanni or Pietro), his eldest son by La Vanosia, was, at the Pope's request, created Duke of Gandia by Ferdinand the Catholic, and, as we shall see, came to a fearful end. The title descended to his progeny, and was borne by his great-grandson, the famous general of the Jesuits, who died in 1572, and was canonised as San Francesco Borgia.[236] Cesare was his father's favourite, and we shall have frequent occasion to trace him through the various phases of cardinal, count, condottiere, usurper, sovereign, and prisoner. Giuffredo, with the hand of a natural daughter of Alfonso II. of Naples, acquired high honours in that kingdom. Lucrezia, after being branded with triple incest and frequent poisonings, and after changing her husbands as often as suited her father's schemes, dedicated her maturer years to the patronage of letters and the cultivation of piety. Upon the details and crimes of such a character there is fortunately little occasion here to enter. Those who wish to learn them have only to turn to any historian of her age; such as would see nearly all that has been charged against her confronted with whatever redeeming traits exist, and ingeniously redargued by negative proofs and assumed improbabilities, may consult the dissertation appended to Roscoe's Leo the Tenth.[*237]

Alexander VI



Detail from a fresco by Pinturicchio in the Borgia apartments of the Vatican, Rome


We have now reached a period when our narrative must be extended, and must include those great events which, besides revolutionising almost every state in Italy, ultimately affected the political relations of Western Europe. The fiery natures and turbulent spirits of the Italian republicans and condottieri had for many years expended their energies in petty broils and intestine struggles for mastery. Henceforward the bloody drama was to be varied by the introduction of a new class of actors; the battles of European ambition were to be fought on the sunny plains of the Peninsula; her flourishing cities were to be the spoil of victor and vanquished: the protracted struggle was destined to leave her strength prostrated, her wealth wasted, her nationality extinguished, her treasures of art defaced, the character of her people degraded, their political independence destroyed. Although, from 1466 to 1494, Italy had never remained very long free from intestine commotions, the seat of serious warfare was during that interval removed to Hungary, Turkey, and the Levant, and she enjoyed a comparative repose, under the balmy influence of which, letters and the liberal arts rose to high perfection. The invention of printing, the study of the classics, the revival of ancient literature and philosophy, the cultivation of vernacular poetry, and the adoption of these tastes at many of the minor courts, all tended to this happy result.

Under this prosperous state of things the condition of the Peninsula is thus eloquently described by her Thucydides:—"Reduced to profound peace and tranquillity,-322- cultivated on her sterile and rugged sites as in her more fertile districts, swayed by none but native masters, not only did her population, commerce, and wealth abound, but she was rendered gloriously eminent by the magnificence of her many princes, by the splendour of her numerous noble and fair cities, and by the seat and sovereignty of religion; whilst her celebrity was maintained among all nations by the men whom she produced of high capacity for public affairs, of elevated genius and acquirements in each branch of learning, and every liberal or useful art, as well as of military fame not unworthy of their age."[238] This was indeed her golden era, but the pure metal was henceforward to be tarnished. The middle ages, during which the civilisation of Europe had centred within her shores, were now passed away: modern history was about to open, and with it her subjugation. She had to learn, on a greater and more impressive scale, the lesson which her annals have too often afforded, and as her old republics had fallen one by one from want of union, so, at this juncture, her states, failing in mutual good faith, became an unresisting prey to the spoiler. She was in truth on the eve of that fearful struggle which, after trampling for half a century on her energies, left her to all intents at the mercy of those northern powers whom she deemed barbarians. Their armies had heretofore descended into her plains to fight under her banners and to receive her pay; henceforward they warred on their own account, though not less at her expense: formerly her mercenaries, they were in future her foes.

The immediate cause of these evils was the disputed succession to the crown of Naples, which we have formerly seen convulsing Italy, and which it will require a brief digression and the annexed table to explain. The Norman knights who in the eleventh century visited Lower Italy-323- in a crusade against the Saracens, soon contrived to make that country their own. One of them, Robert Guiscard, by his valour and talents acquired a supremacy in which he was succeeded by his nephew Roger, who had by similar means made himself master of Sicily. In 1130, the latter procured from Innocent II. the investiture of a kingdom nearly equal in extent to that of the Two Sicilies in our day, which, during next century, passed by marriage into the line of the Hohenstaufen emperors of Germany. But the same incurable jealousies, which gave rise to the Guelphic and Ghibelline parties, made the popes look with little favour on their new neighbours, who however maintained their ground for three generations, notwithstanding repeated offers of a competing investiture, by successive pontiffs, to various English and French princes. The crown, thus sent a-begging, was at length accepted by Charles Count of Anjou and Provence, seventh son of Louis VIII. of France, who, in 1266, defeated and slew Manfred, the last monarch of the Hohenstaufen line, and assuming the title of Charles I., founded the first Angevine dynasty. But in consequence of the brutal behaviour of his soldiery, he lost Sicily in a revolt, during which there occurred, in 1282, the massacre of the French, known as the Sicilian vespers. On this opening, Alfonso III. of Aragon put in a claim through his mother, a daughter of Manfred, and having established himself as King of Sicily, that title continued in his successors, and was ultimately reunited to the crown of Naples. The first house of Anjou, however, maintained themselves upon the throne of Naples for about one hundred and seventy years, notwithstanding the testamentary disposition of the maligned and unfortunate Queen Joanna I., who, in 1382, bequeathed that kingdom and the county of Provence to Louis I., second son of John II. of Anjou.

This will had been dictated by dislike of her second cousin and adopted heir Charles Count of Durazzo, but-324- it did not prevent him, his son Ladislaus, and his daughter the beautiful and dissolute Joanna II., from establishing a de facto right to their heritage. Meanwhile Louis I., Louis II., and Louis III., their rivals of the second Angevine line, as it was called, persisted in styling themselves kings of Naples as well as of Jerusalem, and having patched up their defective title, by obtaining a recognition of their claims and investitures from several popes, they each invaded their titular kingdom. The first Angevine dynasty being about to close by the childless death of Joanna II., she was persuaded to terminate the struggle by settling her crown upon the second Angevine race, which at her death in 1435, was represented by Rénier, usually called René le Bon. The fatality of a disputed succession, with its attendant miseries, was however still in store for unhappy Naples. Joanna II. had already in 1421 adopted as her heir Alfonso V., King of Aragon and Sicily, who was likewise representative of whatever claims might have been transmitted from the old Norman dynasty, being in fact similar to those upon which his family had acquired Sicily before 1300. Eugene IV., at the same time, still further complicated this confusion, by interposing his right as over-lord, alleging that the investiture had, by failure of the reigning dynasty, lapsed to the Holy See.

After ineffectually attempting by an invasion to vindicate his title against his rival of Aragon, René retired to his little state of Provence, to dedicate his life to literature and the arts, but especially to those chivalrous lyrics which, casting the halo of poetic romance around the troubadours and their times, have wreathed his brows with laurels far more enduring than the crown of Naples could have conferred. Yet he and his nephew Charles continued titular kings, until the latter, dying without surviving male issue in 1481, left all his property, and therewith his claims upon Lower Italy, to Louis XI. of France, his third cousin-325- and nearest male heir, upon whose death in 1483, these passed to Charles VIII. Alfonso V., having repulsed the good René, had no further serious disturbance in his possession of Naples and Sicily, now once more united; but he being succeeded in these by a natural son Ferdinand I., his Spanish crown going to his brother John II., the already defective title of the house of Aragon to their Italian dominions on terra firma was thereby further weakened, at a moment when they exchanged the competition of a petty and unwarlike prince for that of the powerful and ambitious monarch of France.

Such was the political position of Naples; that of Milan must now claim our attention. Giovanni Galeazzo had succeeded to the dukedom, upon the assassination of his debauched father Galeazzo Maria, in 1476. Being then but seven years old, his mother, a princess of Savoy, managed the government during four years, until the intrigues of his uncle Ludovico supplanted her, and possessed himself virtually of the sovereignty, though exercising it in the name of his nephew. He married him at the age of twenty to Isabella, daughter of Alfonso heir-apparent of Naples, but availing himself of his feeble character maintained his own position, even after the Duke had attained to manhood. He was generally known by the surname of Il Moro, from using as his device the mulberry, which, being the last tree to hazard its buds, and the first to mature its fruit, was the received emblem of discretion and cautious policy. Ludovico il Moro may thus be rendered Louis the Discreet, an epithet little in keeping with his character, at once rash and restless, wavering and weak. Accordingly, in pursuing his designs of unprincipled ambition, this unscrupulous usurper most signally overreached himself, and, as we shall in due time see, brought utter ruin upon his own person and house.

Venice, now at the summit of her pride and power, is thus finely apostrophised by Politian;—


"Sole Queen of Italy! of regal Rome
The beauteous rival, ruling earth and sea,
Sovereigns would fain thy citizens become.
Ausonia's honoured light! 'tis but in thee,
Unquenched by barbarous hosts, our freedom glows;
'Tis to thy beams our sun a brighter radiance owes."[239]

As yet she was the mart of the known world, for a commerce with the enterprise of Columbus and the daring of De Gama were on the eve of directing into new channels and rival ports. Her navy scarcely knew a competitor on the seas. Her eastern possessions not only gave security to her trade, but placed her foremost in defence of Christendom against the Infidel, a post of natural glory and influence which it is now difficult fully to appreciate. But these honourable and substantial advantages sufficed her not. It was her ever cherished but fatal ambition to swell her mainland possessions by every means of arms or diplomacy. Although her citizens had no turn for military exploits, although the gloomy genius of her government found no sympathy among her terra firma subjects, she pursued the ruinous policy of intermingling in every combination, co-operating in every war, which could add to her territories. At the moment of Charles's invasion, she had gained her object of becoming one of the five great Italian powers. How she lost it at the hands of his successor, and how, in defending a pre-eminence she never should have desired, she impaired the true sources of her superiority, will, in course of events, come under our view.

In Florence Lorenzo de' Medici, to whose bright name history has done justice, at the expense perhaps of some coeval stars in the Italian hemisphere, had died a few months before Innocent VIII. He was happy in living during a breathing time of comparative tranquillity, which he had been not uninstrumental in preserving, and which it was perhaps his good fortune not to survive. He had-327- lived long enough to gain an imperishable fame, and passed from life just before the golden age, of which he was the signal ornament, began to be dimmed by influences which he and his family were instrumental in promoting. Our admiration of the assiduous and enlightened encouragement bestowed by him, and by his son Leo X., upon letters and art, ought not to blind us to the melancholy truths that the theoretical paganism of Lorenzo, the practical worldliness of Leo, and the disastrous blundering of Clement VII., have left upon the religion, the nationality, and the public spirit of Italy, effects which counterbalance that vast impulse to genius which the two first had the power to create, without the judgment and virtue to direct. Lorenzo the Magnificent was succeeded in his authority by his eldest son Pietro; but as that was founded exclusively upon personal claims, and unsupported either by official or hereditary dignities, it quickly passed from his feeble hands. It was the folly of this Pietro that supplied a train to the smouldering elements which we have endeavoured in this digression to analyse, and which, had his father been spared, might have been welded into a compact aggregate calculated to withstand barbarian aggression, instead of, as we shall now see, bursting into a simultaneous and destructive conflagration.[240]

Charles VIII. of France had attained his twenty-third year. It has been well remarked of him that few monarchs have played so active a part with fewer personal qualifications for success or distinction. The hideous deformity of his body seems to have been equalled by the defects of his character. Impetuous and fickle, ignorant and wilful, he was alike devoid of judgment and of perseverance.-328- The wars of the Neapolitan succession, that had during much of the preceding century harassed Lower Italy, were not forgotten, and the latent claims of the Angevine dynasty became serious grounds for fresh anxiety, when vested in the youthful monarch of a powerful ultra-montane nation. Ludovico Sforza, situated nearest to the quarter whence the storm threatened, was the first to take alarm, and for once his selfish policy tended to a great and beneficial object. He proposed a general defensive alliance of the Italian states against all foreign invasion. But his counsels flowed from a tainted source. The King of Naples had already interposed to emancipate his grand-daughter's husband from the unduly prolonged regency of Ludovico, who soon perceived that his usurped authority must be relinquished ere his overtures would be listened to in that quarter. Yet the stake was worth an effort, and the new Pope's elevation suggested a fit opportunity for the attempt, since it attracted to Rome many embassies of congratulation which, when thus congregated, might conveniently arrange the terms of a league. As a preliminary, the Regent of Milan proposed that the various ambassadors should give moral weight to their union, by entering the capital of Christendom on the same day, in one imposing procession. This idea was approved by most of the parties, but Pietro de' Medici, conceiving that his personal vanity would be more effectively gratified by exhibiting the superior magnificence of his retinue in a separate display, resolved to thwart by indirect means a proposition to which he could offer no reasonable objection. He, therefore, induced Ferdinand to interpose some obstacles of etiquette, which marred by miserable jealousies the intended unanimity of the demonstration. Ludovico, having ascertained the origin of this intrigue, saw in it a separation from the common cause by the two powers whose interests were the most at variance with his own. The Medici-329- were formidable neighbours, as wielding the preponderating power of Florence, while with the King of Naples the seeds of a domestic quarrel were already rife.

Upon the coldness thus generated, other influences were brought coincidently to bear. The Colonna and the Orsini had long been most prominent and influential among the great barons of Rome. The authority which they exercised over their fiefs in the Campagna was to all intents sovereign. They alternately wasted that fair land with their mutual broils, or bearded their ecclesiastical over-lord in his capital. Those who have journeyed from Monterosi to Albano along the lonely plain which, curtained by the Sabine mountains and the Alban hills, stretches far around the Eternal City, or have cantered for miles and miles across its vast expanse of undulating sward in solitude and stillness; who have marked its rich vegetation running wild in the most genial of European climes, its melancholy lines of interrupted aqueducts witnessing to a long-degraded civilisation, its distant and dilapidated watch-towers telling only of former forays, its few isolated dwellings sheltering beneath crumbled walls and broken battlements the units of a scanty and squalid population; and who, to account for the spell of such a singular desolation, conclude that this dreary waste has been depopulated by the course of nature; such may wonder to hear that the mischief and misery are chiefly the act of man. The calm serenity of these forlorn downs becomes deeply touching from remembering that the soil was for centuries sodden with blood, and covered with smouldering ruins; that European civilisation there was nurtured, there waned, and there struggled into a second life, amid the din of battles, the devastation of armies, the rapine of banditti; that its long grass springs from the grave of ancient refinement, of classic memorials, of mediæval strife.

In the middle ages much of the Campagna was fertile,-330- and peopled by an industrious peasantry. Its undulating slopes waved with abundant crops, varied and sheltered by venerable woods, which the Goths and Vandals of former centuries had spared. But incessant civil feuds proved more fatal than barbarian hordes. The Ghibelline Colonna, from their fortresses of Marino and Palestrina, watched the fitting moment to pour their armed retainers on the plain, and, crossing the Tiber, carried fire and sword, through the estates of their rivals, to the very gates of Bracciano. The Guelphic Orsini waited for revenge only till the ripened harvest had prepared for them a golden spoil in their foemen's fields. Year after year did this miserable partizan-warfare ravage those devoted lands till the peasantry by degrees were exterminated, or driven to seek a livelihood in some more tranquil spot; till of their smiling homes no stone remained upon another, except where, at long intervals, the farm buildings were turned by these men of blood into fortresses, or the tombs of the dead were desecrated into defences for the living. A soil teeming with fertility under a burning sun, and abandoned by man, ran to rank vegetation, which, gradually choking the water-courses, generated miasma. The evil, thus commenced, was augmented by cutting down the trees which shadowed the burning earth, and, not unfrequently, covered a hostile ambush. But the crowning mischief was the rash destruction of a vast forest which, extending between the Campagna and the sea, excluded the malaria that brooded over the Mediterranean coast from Leghorn to Mola di Gaeta. Once admitted, that fearful scourge took possession of the depopulated territory, which has ever since remained a puzzle to the physiologist, a mystery to the moralist, a terror to all. At no period had the feuds of the Colonna and Orsini been more virulent than during the feeble reign of Innocent, when their armed bands had more than once scoured the streets of Rome, and overawed the papal government.-331- The Savelli, the Frangipani, and the Gaetani, those great families who, a century or two before, had been their rivals, were no longer able to cope with them, and the lesser barons of the Comarca sought protection and employment by ranging themselves as their respective partizans. To humble these rampant houses was thus the natural policy of the successors of St. Peter, and especially of Alexander VI., who soon devoted his ambition and his authority to provide temporal sovereignties for his illegitimate progeny. His ruthless proceedings, and the changes which ensued over the whole country, at length effectually quelled the lawless turbulence of these chiefs; but it was too late to remedy the ruinous havoc which their insatiate strife had occasioned.

Diva Julia


From a bronze medal by L’Antico in the British Museum

Cesare Borgia


From a medal ca. 1500 in the British Museum

Julius II


From a medal in the British Museum

The late Pope, following the practice of the times, had endowed his natural son Francesco Cibò (ancestor of the princes of Massa) with Anguillara, Cervetri, and other holdings to the north-west of Rome, and had married him to Madalena, sister of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Desirous of exchanging this precarious sovereignty for some more peaceful home, Francesco, by the influence of his brother-in-law, Pietro de' Medici, induced the King of Naples to advance 40,000 ducats to Gentile Virginio Orsini, for the purchase of these castles, which adjoined his fief of Bracciano. This slight circumstance served to kindle that train which the long series of events now alluded to had gradually prepared for combustion, and to ripen those jealousies already sown among the Peninsular powers. The Pope saw in it an accession of territory to one of those great barons of the Campagna whom he had resolved to humble; Ludovico il Moro, with the coward suspicions of guilt, watched every motion of Ferdinand, whose just indignation at his treatment of the Duke of Milan he had too good reason to dread. As soon, therefore, as he had ascertained that Pietro de' Medici, abandoning the cautious neutrality which his father had ever maintained between-332- the Milanese and Neapolitan interests, had united with Ferdinand in the affair of Orsini, as well as in the less serious intrigue which had prevented the cementing of a general confederation he plotted to provide for the King full occupation at home.

Suddenly, however, the tangled policy of the Peninsular states assumed an aspect more favourable to Ludovico. The ambitious overtures of Alexander to obtain for his natural son Giuffredo the hand of Sancia of Aragon having been spurned by her father Alfonso, the impetuous Pontiff, in April, 1493, hastily concluded a defensive treaty with Milan and Venice, for the avowed purpose of expelling Orsini, the ally of Naples, from his recent acquisitions. These having been obtained by that feudatory, with the aid of his tried friend Ferdinand, and his relation Pietro de' Medici, he naturally looked to these two powers for support; and thus was Italy on the point of relapsing into her normal condition of feud. But the King of Naples, considering such a price extravagant for the mere gratification of family pride, had within a few weeks adjusted his differences with the Pope, by betrothing his granddaughter to Giuffredo Borgia. As if by repulsion of the magnetic poles, the accession of Ferdinand caused Il Moro to secede from the alliance he had just before joined, but from which he could no longer look for support in his lawless authority, and, judging his only security to consist in the depression of that monarch, he resolved to effect it at any price.

Upon these most inadequate grounds of personal pique, or personal apprehension, did Ludovico madly run upon the very danger against which he had been the first to prepare

"All the swords
In Italy, and her confederate arms."

In his eagerness to disable Ferdinand's anticipated vengeance upon his own crimes, he renewed the calamities of-333- a succession-war in the south, and thereby laid open the Peninsula to a scourge whose chastisement fell most heavily upon himself. Instead of heading a league against foreign aggression, as he had just before proposed, he made overtures to Charles VIII., tempting him with the diadem of Naples as the reward of an invasion of Italy, and offering him free passage through the Milanese. His private quarrel with the usurper did not blind Ferdinand to the insanity of this step, and, forgetting his feelings as a parent, he united with the other powers in representing the peril of his policy. Gladly would Ludovico have withdrawn the false step he had hastily made; but it was too late. The demon of ambition was roused in the French king; the hour for retraction was passed; that of bitter repentance was at hand. Behind her Alpine barrier there was gathered an army, ready to burst upon fated Italy, and to pour upon her plains calamities unknown since the fall of the Western Empire.

With Federigo of Montefeltro and Roberto Malatesta, the old generation of Italian condottieri may be said to have passed away. Political changes and progressive civilisation, developed during forty years of comparative tranquillity, already tended to limit both the supply of veteran adventurers and the demand for their services. Under such genial influences, the great companies of adventure had melted down to petty followings, more proportioned to the exigencies of the age, and to the resources and experience of their new leaders. Peaceful times offered no rich prizes to call forth sustained daring, and to reward vast enterprises. Captains of minor reputation, heading small bands raised for some passing broil or petty foray, succeeded to the Hawkwoods, Montoni, and Malatesta, without rivalling their deeds, or maintaining their fame. The limited brigandage of the broken lances differed from the sweeping desolation of their marshalled thousands only-334- in the narrower field on which it found scope; but the mercenary system became more manageable when deprived of its cumbrous machinery, and its leaders were henceforth the tools of their employers instead of their virtual masters.

In bidding adieu to that system, we may quote the sweeping condemnation bestowed upon it by Machiavelli; yet it is right to remember that, as the advocate of infantry and national militia, he had no toleration for the military art which they superseded, and that he witnessed its practice only after its spirit was gone. "Whoever relies for power upon mercenaries will never be stable or secure; for they are disunited, ambitious, undisciplined, faithless: braggarts among friends, dastards before the foe; destitute of fear of God, or faith with man. To delay their assault is to postpone your own ruin; in peace, you are plundered by them, in war by the enemy. The reason of all this is, that they have no object, no inducement to keep the field beyond their pittance of pay, which is never such as to induce them to spend life and limb for you. They readily enough take service, so long as you don't go to war, but when that comes, they desert or fly. It were easy to establish all this, for the destruction of Italy has arisen from no other cause but that, for many years, she depended upon mercenary troops; who, indeed, occasionally did something, and wore a semblance of valour when pitted against each other, but, on the appearance of the stranger, showed in their true colours. Thus was Charles of France allowed to take possession of the Peninsula as easily as he would have chalked off his cantonments, and the result of all their prowess left the country overrun by him, ravaged by Louis, trampled on by Ferdinand, and insulted by the Swiss; in fine, by their means she was enslaved and disgraced."

These changes led to considerable modifications in the art of war, to which other circumstances greatly contributed. The invasion of Italy by successive ultra-montane-335- hosts brought into her battle-fields other races, armed, drilled, and disciplined upon new principles; and the descent of Charles VIII., which we are now about to describe, forms an era in military tactics. The heavy accoutrements, the staid evolutions, the blockade sieges, the bloodless encounters of the old system were admirably suited for troops whose grand object was to perform their term of service without unnecessary personal risk, and to spare themselves all exertion which did not promise a meed of booty. The invention of gunpowder at first tended to exaggerate the very inconveniences which it was destined eventually to supplant: for a time, defensive armour became more and more massive, and horse-trappings less manageable. In order to resist the additional weight, chargers of the most powerful shapes were sought for; but they were in proportion sluggish and unhandy, apt to fall on the slightest stumble, difficult to maintain in condition, and incapable of sustained exertion. These evils having become apparent, the men-at-arms ceased to be regarded as the sole sinews of war, and many of them were converted into lances.

Unlike the cavalry which now bear that name, these lances were heavy troops, and, like the men-at-arms, they each consisted of three mounted soldiers—a head-lance on his charger, a soldier on his steed, and a lacquey on his pad. The pay of these troops, which in 1492 were already used in Romagna,[*241] was twelve florins for every lance, being four times that of a foot-soldier; and they were reckoned twice as effective as balestrieri or light-horse, both new varieties of mounted force. The former were brought into repute by Camillo Vitelli,

"In heart a lion, though a calf in name,"[242]


and were armed with cross-bows, their tactics being to gall the enemy without coming to close quarters. Of the latter there were several varieties, the most efficient of which were the Stradiotes. Accustomed from childhood to constant skirmishes with their Turkish foes, in the mountains of Albania, where manœuvres of regular cavalry were impracticable, they partook of the agility and address for which Cossacks and Circassians have lately become celebrated. Their arms were a spear ten feet long, a broad-sword and a mace, and they were defended by an iron skull-cap, a small shield, and a short quilted jerkin. They were introduced by the Venetians into Lombardy, where their dashing qualities, as well as their ferocity, soon established the reputation of these irregular horse as most formidable mercenaries.

Infantry occupied, under the new system, a place until then denied them. They had hitherto been of small account in the mustering of armies, and were rarely relied on except in situations which excluded cavalry evolutions. They carried small shields, and halberts or lances, but were scarcely at all drilled, and never attempted to stand against a charge of horse. More effective were their cross-bows, and the rude muskets which they began to use. As fire-arms were made more handy, the value of infantry rapidly increased, and its discipline became an important branch of the military art. But in this section of the service, Italians had to learn costly lessons from their alpine neighbours.

In a land where nature had lavished her most sublime efforts, she reared a race as hardy in heart and sinew as their climate was severe, their scenery wild, their hardships extreme. Life was there a perpetual struggle with privations, an unceasing exercise of toil. To provide the necessaries of existence required limbs enduring of fatigue, an eye of unerring accuracy, perseverance inexhaustible, courage indomitable. And such were the qualities-337- of the Swiss mountaineers, which they developed in the chase, exercised in rude sports, and perfected in their struggles with the house of Hapsburg, until their shouts of victory echoed through the valleys around Morgarten,—until Europe stood aghast at the issue of Granson, and of

"Morat the proud, the patriot field."

In their country of crags and ravines it was impossible either to rear powerful horses, or to manœuvre with heavy cavalry; the accoutrements of gens d'armerie were also too costly for a population of scanty and much divided means. They therefore adopted, what proved more effective even in the plain, an infantry so armed and drilled as to withstand the shock of men-at-arms. In lines four deep, or in cross-shaped columns, they received the charge upon their bristling pikes, and with two-handed swords dealt fell blows on the broken squadrons. Their defensive armour was of the least cumbrous description, consisting generally but of breastplates; and with the axe-headed halberts, which some of them carried, they unseated their enemies, or cut their reins in the mêlée. By these means they were enabled so well to apply the activity and endurance bestowed upon them by nature, as to meet on equal terms with armies apparently much their superiors. Louis XI. was the first sovereign to avail himself of a new element, whose qualities he had learned by bloody experience at the passage of the Birsa, in 1444.[243] But after the Swiss mercenaries had tasted the gratification of regular pay, and the plunder of lands more golden than their own, an appetite for adventure superseded the pristine simplicity of their habits. The cantons, finding it difficult to keep their youth at home, became parties to contracts which hired out their services to the best bidder; and we shall henceforth find them in the champagne lands of Lombardy,-338- following with equal goodwill the lilies of France, the lion of St. Mark, or the Papal gonfalone. Thus in a few years, the military aspect of Southern Europe became changed, not only by the employment of Swiss infantry in all important enterprises, but from an adoption of their system by the troops of Italy, France, and Germany.

The Emperor Maximilian was the first to organise in Germany a militia of foot, under the name of lanznechts, against whom the Swiss, recollecting their ancient struggles for liberty, nourished a rancour, which only their common stipendiary interests could for the moment suspend. Lightly armed with lance and dagger, but encumbered by a preposterous camp-following; reckless of danger, yet indifferent to glory; they were fractious, disobedient, debauched, impatient of suffering, greedy of pay, devoted to plunder. But our notice of the ultra-montane infantry would be incomplete without the Spaniards. They were brought into Italy to maintain Ferdinand's pretensions upon Naples, and to support the aspirations of his successor to extended dominion in the Peninsula. Levied by tuck of drum, with scanty promise of pay, but unlimited licence to pillage, they campaigned in the spirit of pirates; and though the energy of Gonsalvo di Cordova ultimately brought the Hispano-Neapolitan army into a very efficient state, this stain was never effaced. The character for ferocity which attached to their birth is stamped upon their military exploits, and has left its traces to this day upon the inhabitants of Lower Italy. The cavalry of Germany and Spain was decidedly inferior to the Italian light horse and men-at-arms, and played but an unimportant part in the wars which we are now to consider.

Our review of the military art in the Peninsula must needs include the recent introduction of fire-arms. The researches of Gaye have discovered that projectiles were used in Italy considerably earlier than the date usually-339- assigned to their invention, a due provision of "cannons and metal balls," both for field-service and fortification, being ordered by the Florentine government in February, 1326.[244] Whatever may have been its origin, the invention was slowly followed up; for, after nearly a century and three quarters, the Italian artillery was still so cumbrous and defective as to be of little practical utility, and it was rarely employed except in sieges. Indeed, according to Guicciardini, the very name of cannons had passed out of use, and the light and rapidly-served field-pieces of the French army were regarded with as much surprise as apprehension.

The development of the new power was extremely gradual; and although we have seen it in operation at the battle of Molinella, in 1467, no other instance occurred during that century of its being used with effect in the field.[245] Nor is this surprising, when we consider the unmanageable nature of the service, and the gradual steps whereby science superseded rude contrivance. Heavy cannon were then from ten to twelve feet long, requiring at times fifty yoke of oxen. They carried balls of stone or metal of ten or twelve hundred pounds; and after each discharge, some hours were needed to clean out, reload, and point the piece. Even the flying artillery (passa volanti) were in length sixty diameters, and the basilisks, reckoned as light guns, were two-hundred pounders. We cannot now pursue the subject, but-340- any one who visits a complete armoury of 1480-1500, or examines the works upon military engineering of that age, will probably conclude that few modern discoveries in the destructive art had not even then been approximated. For attack and defence of fortified places these machines were certainly better adapted; yet, with all the talent and princely encouragement then expended upon fortification, it must be considered as in its infancy. But when the chivalry of the north poured upon fated Italy, under Charles VIII., no part of their array appeared so formidable as their field-train, powerful yet compact, heavy but easily moved; and the unimportant service required from it in that brief campaign, was performed in a manner which showed how much even the Italians had to learn in this department. At the Taro, the nature of the ground prevented it from contributing much to the success of that bloody day, and it was reserved for the sanguinary conflict of Ravenna to develop the capabilities of a service which gradually became the right arm of European warfare.



Italy ill prepared for the French Invasion—Duke Guidobaldo sent against the Orsini—Lucrezia Borgia’s second marriage—Descent of Charles VIII.—He reaches Naples and retreats—Battle of the Taro—The Duke engaged in the Pisan war—Is taken prisoner by the Orsini and ransomed.

THE preceding rapid sketch may show the materials of which the invading hosts were composed, and the nature of the approaching danger. Its imminence appalled even those powers who, like Sforza, thought more of their own ends than of the general weal; and Alfonso II., who had succeeded to the crown of Naples on the death of his father Ferdinand, in January, 1494, was indefatigable in uniting them on the defensive. With Pietro de' Medici, we have already seen that the latter was in close relations. Among the princes of Romagna, Gallic influence had obtained no footing. The Venetians, occupied in the defence of their eastern dependencies from the Turks, and trusting, perhaps, to see Charles redeem his promise of a crusade against the Crescent, were inclined to neutrality. Genoa was in the hands of a faction entirely under the influence of Ludovico il Moro,[*246] who, though bound by treaty to Charles, was already alienated at heart from the connection, and ready on the first opportunity to discard it. The Pontiffs position, like his usual policy, was somewhat complicated. We have formerly found his predecessors generally hostile to the dynasty of Aragon, as well as to that of Hohenstaufen, and tolerably consistent-342- in support of the Angevine races, whose original title the Neapolitan crown was a papal grant. Further, claims of the popes as lords paramount of that kingdom, and the annual payments which in that capacity they demanded, were fertile grounds for rancour, which but a few years before had broken out into hostilities. We have also seen Ferdinand assisting Virginio Orsini in purchasing those estates from which Alexander was bent upon expelling him. But a deeper cause for mortification and personal enmity arose out of the resistance by that King and his son to the matrimonial alliance of a princess of their house with one of the Pope's spurious sons.[*247] For a time, therefore, his Holiness balanced between the parties, and appears even to have allowed his name to be used by Ludovico Sforza in proposing to Charles the conquest of Naples.[*248] But his object was merely to annoy and alarm Ferdinand; and when he found this idea seriously adopted by the young monarch of France, he hastily backed out, and employed his spiritual and temporal influence to dissuade him from the enterprise.[249] Alfonso warmly supported his Holiness in this new policy, and, in order to clench him in it, betrothed his natural daughter, Sancia, with a dowry of lands worth 10,000 ducats of rent, and-343- jewels to the value of 200,000 ducats, to Giuffredo Borgia, the Pope's youngest child, whom he created Prince of Squillace. This son-in-law not being yet marriageable, the King had an excuse for taking him to be brought up near his bride, with the intention of securing a hostage for his unstable parent's good faith. As a further bait, the principality of Tricarico, with estates of 12,000 ducats a year, and one of the seven great offices under the crown of Naples, were given to the eldest Borgia, now Duke of Gandia; whilst on Cesare, already raised to the purple as Cardinal Valentino (or of Valencia), his best ecclesiastical benefices were showered by the hard-pressed Alfonso.

But the transaction of Virginio Orsini gave rise to a preliminary episode in the great drama, which, as bringing the Duke of Urbino upon the stage, requires some notice in this place. Besides the uneasiness with which Alexander viewed the further aggrandisement of that already too formidable subject, it is more than probable that, in claiming the Cibò estates, as lapsed to the Camera Apostolica, his ultimate intention was, to bestow them upon one of his own children; for his selfish policy seldom embraced any aim more noble than nepotism or revenge. Being doubtful of his own ability to drive the Orsini from their new purchase, he, in April, 1493, leagued himself with Ludovico Sforza and the Venetian republic. Through the former, he carried into effect a scheme which at once tended to facilitate that object, and promoted his favourite aim of providing his offspring with eligible marriages. His daughter Lucrezia,—she whose name has, perhaps, done more to render her infamous than her guilt, but whose beauty, accomplishments, and eventual penitence, had been forgotten in the heinous crimes which history laid to her charge unquestioned, until Roscoe's ingenious defence,—Lucrezia Borgia was then betrothed wife of a Spanish, or, rather, a Neapolitan, gentleman, named Procida. To nullify a union so value-344-less cost no qualm to the Pontiff, and, probably, as little to the lady. To match her with the widowed Lord of Pesaro scarcely required the persuasions of his relation Ludovico il Moro, and his brother-in-law, Duke Guidobaldo, whose good offices the Pope put in requisition to arrange preliminaries with the bridegroom, paying at the same time 3000 ducats as a solace to her first husband. The betrothal, in May, was celebrated by a ball in the palace of Pesaro, from which the assembled guests issued forth in couples, dancing through the streets a sort of polonaise, which was led by the papal ambassador! The nuptial ceremony was postponed until Lucrezia's arrival from Spain in the following spring, and it was not until June that the bridal party reached their capital.[*250]

St. Catherine



Supposed portrait of Lucrezia Borgia by Pinturicchio. Detail from a fresco in the Borgia apartments of the Vatican, Rome

Having arranged this marriage, Alexander sent Duke Guidobaldo, along with his son Cesare, against the Orsini. The former, though only in his twenty-second year, was already suffering from gout, his fatal malady, which had first shown itself during the rejoicings at Giovanni Sforza's betrothal. But he resisted it with great courage, addicting himself more than ever to the hardy exercises of the camp. The partizan warfare on which the Pope thus employed him as gonfaloniere of the Church, was, however, productive of little glory, and the Orsini, driven by superior force from their new lands, awaited an opportunity for retaliation. The nuptials of Lucrezia took place in 1494, after she had made a triumphal entry into Rome, scandalous even in that pontificate of scandal. The ceremonial was witnessed by a select party of ecclesiastical dignitaries, and a hundred and fifty of the handsomest women of Rome, selected without regard to their character, whose husbands were excluded. To each of these dames the Pope presented a silver cup of confections, which, amid much outrageous merriment, were emptied into their bosoms, "and all to the honour and-345- praise of Almighty God and the Romish Church," as the contemporary narrator caustically observes.[251] The same parties then paired off to supper, which was prolonged some hours beyond midnight, the company being entertained by dramatic representations of a most impure character. In all these revels Alexander and his then favourite, Giulia Bella took part, and they were fitly wound up by his conducting in person the bride to her husband's couch. For the introduction of such disgusting details an apology may be due, but without them, general declamation on the vices of the Borgian court would convey no just idea of the truth. That the loathsome picture is under-coloured, may be supposed from a concluding remark of the diarist, that he had suppressed many reports regarding this orgy, as they seemed either false or exceeding credibility. Bad as is this scene, it is pure compared with some described by Burchard, another journalist of the Vatican obscenities. In June, Lucrezia set out for her new home, and, resting a night at Urbino on the way, was received with the honours due to her rank. A furious tempest, in which she next day entered her capital, ruined the costly preparations intended to celebrate her welcome, and was remembered afterwards as ominous of the result of her marriage, and of the mischiefs occasioned there by the Borgia. But men's minds were quickly roused from idle festivities. The barbarians were already scaling the Alps; Italy and her spoils lay at their feet.

In return for the favours bestowed upon his children, the Pope renewed to Alfonso his investiture of Naples, and sent thither his own nephew, the Cardinal of Monreale, to attend his coronation and the betrothal of his daughter to Giuffredo Borgia. But, with wonted cunning, Alexander kept open a retreat from this alliance, by in-346-structing the Cardinal to obtain as a personal favour, the return to Rome of his hostage child and bride. He celebrated their arrival in May following, with pompous festivities exceeding in splendour the reception accorded to royal personages, and, in defiance of public decency, appeared in consistory, and in the papal chair of St. Peter, at the solemn function of Pentecost, between the bastard bride of his bastard son, and his dissolute daughter Lucrezia.

Such was the position of Italy at the moment of the French invasion, the calamities of which are thus prefigured by Guicciardini. "From it originated not only the revolution of states, the subversion of dynasties, the desolation of provinces, the destruction of cities, the most savage massacres; but likewise altered habits, changed morals, a new and more sanguinary mode of warfare, and therewith diseases previously unknown; it also so entirely disorganised the guarantees for concord and internal tranquillity, that these could never be replaced, and thus was the country left to be trodden down and wasted by other foreign nations and barbarian armies. By a yet greater misfortune, in order that our shame might derive no alleviation from the prowess of our enemy, he whose invasion brought us so many mischiefs, although most amply endowed with the bounties of fortune, was destitute of almost every natural or mental endowment. For Charles was from his childhood of languid complexion, deformed person, and diminutive stature, besides having a countenance singularly repulsive but for his penetrating and dignified glance, with limbs so disproportioned as to resemble a monster rather than a man. Nor was he only destitute of liberal acquirements; he scarcely knew his letters. Although greedy of empire, there was nothing for which he was less qualified; for he was encircled by a few, with whom he maintained neither-347- dignity nor authority; he was averse to all occupation and business, and, when he did apply to his affairs, was alike wanting in prudence and judgment. Even such apparently laudable qualities as he seemed to possess proved, on examination, more akin to vices than to virtues. Thus his inclination for glory was from impulse rather than matured resolution; his liberality was ill directed and without discrimination or degree; wavering at times in his counsels, he was oftener guided by foolish obstinacy than by decision; and what many called good-nature would have been better named indifference or easiness of temper." The description given by a son of Andrea Mantegna is still less favourable to the King's appearance. "He is said to have a very ill-favoured face, with great goggle eyes, an aquiline nose offensively large, and a head disfigured by few and sparse hairs. When I think of such a little hunchy fellow my fancy is struck with wonder."[252] We shall add one other characteristic sketch of a monarch for whom fortune destined a part strangely at variance with his qualifications. It was given by Ludovico il Moro, in December of this year, to the Venetian resident at his court, and has been obligingly communicated to me by Mr. Rawdon Brown, than whom no one is more perfectly versed in the transactions of that republic. "The man is young, and his conduct meagre, nor has he any form or method of council. His assistants are divided into two factions, one headed by the Comte de Bresse, the other by St. Malo and Beaucaire with their adherents; they are violently opposed to each other on every topic, and provided the one thwart the other and carry his point, no regard soever is had for the King's interests. They attend to the accumulation of coin, and care for nothing else; nor would all of them put together make half a wise man.-348- I remember when at Asti seeing him in a room with the members of his assembled council, and, whilst discussing any matter, one kept playing, another was eating breakfast, a third was attending to this, a fourth to that; and the King was in motion the whole time whilst listening to any one. He would order letters to be couched in a certain form, and subsequently countermand them on hearing another person's ideas."[253]

It would lead us far beyond our limits to follow the blunders which on both sides signalised the campaign. Charles opened it by sending an army into Lombardy, under Sir Bernard Stuart of Aubigny, cousin-german of John first Earl of Lennox in Scotland, whose career in arms was rewarded with many dignities, and who, after uniting his troops with those of Ludovico il Moro, his now unwilling ally, advanced on Romagna. The King, leaving Vienne upon the 22nd of August, took the Cenis pass with the main body of his forces, and on the 9th of September was at Asti in Piedmont. From thence he visited Milan, before marching against Florence. To meet these formidable foes, Alfonso alone manifested any energy. He sent a fleet to the Ligurian coast to watch a naval armament which had been fitted out at Marseilles, and, if possible, to make a diversion upon Genoa. He at the same time dispatched his eldest son Ferdinand, Duke of Calabria, accompanied by two experienced generals, Nicolò Orsini Count of Petigliano and Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, to support the Bolognese against the onset of d'Aubigny. Being joined at Cesena by Guidobaldo of Urbino, who had been engaged by Alfonso with 200 men-at-arms, at an annual pay of 24,000 ducats, and by Giovanni Sforza, the Duke found himself at the head of 2500 men-at-arms-349- and 8000 foot, of whom the portion belonging to Florence was commanded by Annibale Bentivoglio. But none of these leaders possessed a master influence suited to the crisis. The spirit of cordiality and mutual confidence, which alone could promise success, was on this as on all similar occasions wanting to Italy; and whilst Trivulzio and the other commanders, confident in the superiority of their army, urged on a decisive engagement, Petigliano exposed himself to the charge of sluggishness or the suspicion of bad faith, by frustrating all their endeavours.

The forces of the league had orders to advance towards Parma, and meet the French and Milanese troops under d'Aubigny and Gian Francesco da Sanseverino, Count of Cajazzo, who had been retained by Ludovico il Moro. This, however, they were unable to effect, and, finding themselves much inferior in strength to the invaders, they retired upon Faenza. In that neighbourhood the two armies remained for some time, face to face, without further encounter than a few skirmishes, in which Guidobaldo distinguished his bravery. Whilst they lost time in disunited counsels, the progress of Charles in Central Italy occasioned the recall of the Florentine and papal contingents. The princes of Romagna, seeing the game virtually lost, found excuses for liberating themselves from a falling cause, and by withdrawing to their several states, sought safety in a neutral position. The Duke of Calabria thus abandoned, retired within the Neapolitan frontier to await fresh instructions from his father; and thus was the last chance of saving Italy shamefully lost. Meanwhile the French monarch took the road by Pontremoli and Sarzana, which fortress and Pietra Santa, Pietro de' Medici surrendered to him in a panic, as base as it was inexplicable. Disgusted with his cowardice, Florence and Pisa rose and expelled his whole race, but rashly crediting the assurances of Charles that he came as a deliverer and friend of liberty, received him with open arms.


The description of an eye-witness to the overthrow of the Medici conveys a vivid picture of the revolutions so common in republican Florence. It has been printed by Gaye,[254] from the original diary of Giusto. "On Sunday the 9th of November, the people of Florence rose in arms against the palle, that is, against Pietro de' Medici, who had so used his sway, and who repaired to the palace. The populace, observing this, rushed thither, crying, 'Live the people and liberty!' the children being first in the piazza: and by God's will all Florence armed and hurried to the palace, calling out, 'People and liberty!' so that Pietro, the Cardinal, and Giuliano his brother fled. And there was a reward of 2000 florins proclaimed by the Signory, for whoever would bring the Cardinal alive or dead to the palace; and thus matters continued. Next day all the banners and pennons were set up, and such was the people's fury at the palace, throughout the town, and at the gates, day and night, that although I have four times found Florence in arms since 1458, this has been the most unanimous and extraordinary affair, from the efforts made by the lilies to erase the balls [gigli and palle, the respective arms of the republic and of the Medici]: even children two or three years old, by a miracle, cried in the houses 'People and liberty!' and among them our little Catherine. Thus by God's grace did this community free itself from the hands of many tyrants, who, thanks to the blessed God! were expelled without bloodshed."

But with these revolutions, which ended in giving to Florence and Pisa independent popular governments,[*255] and with the war of rivalry which consequently ensued between them, we have at present no concern. The struggle was maintained during several years, with an obstinacy and bitterness which more than once compromised the-351- general tranquillity of the Peninsula; when it terminated Pisa had been ruined and Florence was bankrupt. It was at this crisis that there occurred an anecdote preserved in the Corteggiano, among the facetiæ of the court of Urbino. One of the Florentine council, in a committee of ways and means, proposed to augment the customs revenue by doubling the number of city gates at which dues were collected!

Alexander, ever too occupied with private objects to heed the general cause, had meanwhile, upon a petty quarrel with the Colonna, withdrawn his troops from Romagna, to waste them and much precious time in wretched partizan struggles with these fractious barons, and in this miserable trifling employed his son Cesare. Vainly confident while no immediate danger impended, he had flattered himself that the French invasion would come to nothing. But when he saw two powerful armies reach his frontier, without obstacle or check, terror succeeded to foolish security. Abandoning his ally of Naples, he humbly besought his personal enemy Cardinal Ascanio Sforza to mediate with the French monarch in his behalf. Yet to the latest moment did he waver, alternately insolent and abject, fawning and fickle. Through these fluctuations it is needless to follow him. On the last day of 1494 the invading army marched unopposed and triumphant into Rome, and, leaving the city on the 28th of January, advanced towards Naples. A panic had already seized upon Alfonso, his army, and his people. On the 23rd of January he abdicated the crown in favour of his son Ferdinand, and fled with his treasures to Sicily, where he died after ten months of abject austerities, as an offset to long years of aggravated debauchery. The new King, upon his bloodless rout at the Garigliano, found himself without money, and supported neither by his troops nor his subjects. The bold front which he assumed availed nothing in circumstances so desperate.-352- He retired to Ischia, and on the 22nd of February Charles took possession of Naples, amid the acclamations of a populace, whom the iron sway of the false and gloomy Ferdinand, and of his sanguinary son, had alienated from the Aragonese dynasty. But though we pass thus rapidly over the campaign of the French and Spaniards in Lower Italy, its results were of lasting importance. The foretaste of the Peninsula then obtained by these nations as its invaders or defenders stimulated a fatal relish for its attractions; and the appetite thus engendered was not stayed until that fair land had been trodden down by successive hosts, scarcely less damaging to her prosperity and destructive to her liberties as her selfish allies, than as her open foes.

Experience had by this time shown the folly of the Italian policy, and the various states were not unwilling to profit by its lesson. Forgetting for the moment their individual ends, they resolved to throw off an incubus which threatened to make the Peninsula a province of France. Ludovico Sforza had long sought to resile from his ill-judged engagements with Charles; the Venetians found that the Turkish crusade was but a false pretext; the Florentines saw their adhesion to the invader repaid by the loss of Pisa; the Pope, ever inclined to intrigue, was more especially ready to join in any plan which should open an escape from his blunders in bringing down such dangerous neighbours. Nor did the ultra-montane powers view with satisfaction so vast an accession to French influence. Ferdinand II. of Spain, whose envoy had formally broken with Charles ere he crossed the Neapolitan frontier, now put himself forward to wean the Venetians from their neutrality. Maximilian (who, not having been crowned, was only King of the Romans, but whom we shall generally call Emperor) burned for opportunity of avenging a double wrong which the French monarch had done him by jilting his daughter Margaret, and by espousing his betrothed-353- bride, Anne of Bretagne. Having himself married in 1493 Bianca Sforza, her uncle Ludovico il Moro bribed him by a large dowry to take advantage of certain alleged flaws in the Milanese investitures, and to recognise him as Duke, passing over his sickly nephew Giovanni Galeazzo. The new charter in favour of Il Moro reached him immediately after the death of the latter, whose feeble and wretched existence was terminated, perhaps by poison, in October 1494. He left a son, and in defiance of the title of this child, whose injuries his uncle, Alfonso of Naples, was no longer in circumstances to redress, Ludovico seized the trappings of that sovereignty, which he virtually had usurped long before the imperial diploma reached him. Thus were these parties prepared for a united exertion in the common cause; and the minor feudatories of the Peninsula willingly joined them in a five years' league, for the purpose of restoring and maintaining the independence of Italy. It was concluded at Venice, on the 31st of March 1495, and by it Germany, Spain, Venice, Milan, and the Pope were bound to furnish 34,000 horse, and 20,000 foot, or monied contributions proportioned to their respective contingents of that force.




After the picture by Ambrogio de’ Predis in the Biblioteca Ambrogiana, Milan

Charles and his army had abandoned themselves to the intoxication of their easy conquest, and to excess in those pleasures which in the Ausonian climate seem to enervate natives and strangers. From this careless security, news of the alliance roused him to the danger of being entrapped in his new kingdom. Leaving half his army there to maintain his authority, he on the 20th of May set out with the remainder on his return homeward. Hastily retracing the same route, he saw difficulties increasing around him, but avoided hostilities, until in descending the Apennines into Lombardy he found himself intercepted among the defiles of the Taro by the allied army, so superior in force as to render his destruction next to inevitable, even without taking-354- into account the immense advantages of the position which they had selected. But the singular good fortune which had enabled the French monarch to overrun the whole Peninsula, conquer a kingdom, and retire in the face of opposing Europe, without once calling into exercise whatever talent, judgment, or bravery he might have possessed, did not forsake him in this his first difficulty. The confederates, by unpardonable want of good understanding among their leaders, and of steadiness among their troops, let slip the precious opportunity of exterminating their invaders. On the 6th of July they suffered on the Taro an overthrow which they vainly claimed as a victory, and after a brief hour's conflict retired in disorder, leaving above three thousand men on the field. Of this battle Guicciardini remarks that it was the first for a long period that had been really sanguinary in its character, compared with those tactic engagements of the condottieri, in which bloodshed was little sought on either side. As the earliest struggle between Italy and her invaders, the only occasion when her disunited interests were rallied beneath one banner, it holds a place in history which in a military view it by no means merited.[256] It was lost by the delays, distracted counsels, and deficient discipline among the allies, and brought little glory to the retreating army, which, without further opposition, reached Asti, where a strong garrison had been left, and in October re-entered France. The Aragonese party was strong in Naples, and within six weeks after Charles had quitted that capital, Ferdinand II. was welcomed back to it by a versatile people, whom the never-failing insolence of the French had quickly disgusted with their change of masters. The kingdom was gradually recovered from its invaders and their supporters, the Angevine barons, by aid of Spanish succours under Gonsalvo di Cordova, whose gallantry and skill during a harassing-355- guerilla campaign established his reputation, and procured him the name of the Great Captain. Montpensier, when left as viceroy in command of the army of occupation, made feeble head against him for above a year, until most of his troops having dropped under the effects of climate and debauchery, he surrendered the remainder as prisoners of war. Lower Italy, again under Ferdinand's sway, was no more disturbed by Charles, who wasted the brief remainder of his life in dissolute indulgences, better becoming his despicable character than foreign conquests.

Thus terminated the first of those systematic and successful invasions from which Italy has suffered in later ages. Various circumstances combined to modify its serious results upon her prosperity, and though almost unopposed, the victors perhaps paid more dearly than the vanquished. But the seeds of mischief were sown, too surely to ripen into fatal evils. The nations of the north had learned important lessons; her temptations, her disunion, and her consequent powerlessness had been disclosed to them. This epoch may indeed be regarded as the turning point of European history. From it the liberties and prosperity of Italy declined, and the new combinations, alliances, and intermarriages then formed by ultra-montane governments gradually matured that political system which has since come to be regarded as the bulwark of national independence. We have introduced this rapid sketch of the French expedition, because, although it but slightly influenced Guidobaldo's position, subsequent events, to which it in some degree gave occasion, brought forward himself and his successor as prominent actors. He had been engaged by the Venetian republic to join the confederate army with four hundred and seventy horse, but had no share in the disgraceful conflict at the Taro; his squadrons, however, seem to have been there under his natural brother Antonio, who, while-356- commanding the reserve, might have turned the fortune of the day, but for an oversight in the transmission of orders to him.

The Pisan war was the immediate fruit of the French invasion, as regarded the internal relations of the Peninsula. Charles, remembering the old proverb, "sow divisions and rule," or perhaps from a mere love of mischief-making, had instigated that city to throw off the yoke of Florence, and re-establish its ancient republican independence. But the support which he had pledged to it was forgotten, when personal considerations rendered a retreat advisable; and the Pisans were left to maintain themselves as best they could against their old rivals and recent masters, with the aid of a French brigade under Monsieur d'Entragues. The Florentines lost no time in engaging the Duke of Urbino to command their troops for three years, who, by active and well-judged movements, quickly possessed himself of Ponte Sacco, Palaia, and other small towns about the Era. Their resistance was punished with the usual barbarity of the time, by cold-blooded cruelties which Guidobaldo does not appear to have shared or approved. It seems questionable how far the blunders in an assault on Vicopisano were owing to him or to the Florentine commissaries, who, as was usual in the service of the great republics, were sent to control their general; but the consequence was a repulse, after which he retired into winter quarters. His subsequent operations in their service are of no interest; their jealousies paralysing both his spirit and their own.

The last year's experience was but short-lived in the Italian states. Instead of profiting by the absence of their common foe to strengthen themselves against a recurrence of danger, they resumed their innate rivalries, and fomented fresh discord. The Florentines, far from joining the league to expel Charles, continued to favour his cause, attributing, with justice, to his advent their-357- liberation from the Medici and the re-establishment of a democratic government. What they, above all things, dreaded was the return of that banished race, so they kept aloof from any new combination that might lead to it. This contumacy was looked upon with little favour by those powers who were averse to popular institutions, or friendly to Pietro de' Medici; besides which they apprehended that such a state of matters, if allowed to continue, would facilitate a repetition of the late invasion. In accordance with the crooked policy of the age, they succoured Pisa, without any open declaration of the war which they were in fact carrying on against Florence. This circumstance, and the wonted bad faith of Ludovico il Moro, complicated a struggle which was conducted in the drawling spirit of half-fighting, half-negotiating, usual in such petty strifes. Ludovico finally tempted the Emperor to a fresh invasion of Italy, in order to force Florence into the general league, but he conducted the enterprise with equal feebleness and faithlessness, and after having occupied Pisa, retreated without leaving any material impression on the campaign, which declined into a series of unimportant skirmishes. Meanwhile the Pope, the Venetians, and Sforza united in exciting various neighbours of the Florentines, such as the Bentivoglii, the Riarii, and Siena, to molest their frontiers, whilst Virginio Orsini prepared to restore the Medici by arms. This plan, however, fell to the ground, and Guidobaldo was soon after summoned, as a vassal of the Church, to leave his incomplete term of unsatisfactory service under the lilies of Florence, and join the new combination formed by the Pontiff to replace Ferdinand upon the Neapolitan throne.

The fate of the French army at Naples, against the wreck of which this expedition was directed, has been already mentioned. The evolutions whereby Guidobaldo, as lieutenant-general of the ecclesiastical forces, in concert-358- with the great Gonsalvo di Cordova, reduced some Angevine feudatories in the Abruzzi, who, supported by the Orsini, for a time resisted the restoration of the house of Aragon, need not occupy our attention. The particulars are involved in contradiction, and the results were unimportant to his fame. No sooner had Ferdinand triumphed over his difficulties than he was called to another sphere. He died in October, 1496, and was succeeded by his paternal uncle Federigo. Of the French, not above five hundred escaped from sword and pestilence to reach home.

Peace was once more restored to Italy, but not to the breast of that turbulent Pontiff who was her curse. The moment was propitious for resuming his favourite scheme of oppressing the Orsini, in whose extensive estates he saw ample endowments for his own disreputable progeny. The leaders of that family, Virginio, Gian-Giordano, Paolo, and its adopted scion Bartolomeo d'Alviano of Orvieto, had fought against Ferdinand's restoration, and all of them remained prisoners in his hands.[257] The Pope at once perceived the chance thus offered, and hastened to avail himself of it. After conciliating the Duke of Urbino by a pompous reception on the 14th of October, and by assigning him apartments in the Vatican, he held a secret consistory, which attainted the Orsini on general charges of lese-majesty and rebellion, and sanctioned the military occupation of their fiefs in name of the Church. He entrusted the command to his son the Duke of Gandia, associating with him the Duke of Urbino and Fabrizio Colonna (the latter but too willing to promote the downfall of a rival house), and, to inaugurate the expedition, he blessed the banners at St. Peter's, with an imposing military and religious spectacle.


The troops marched in October, and, having reduced Isola, a castle within ten miles of Rome, which stood a twelve days' siege, many other small strongholds speedily surrendered, their absent lords being unable to aid in their defence. The fortress of Bracciano was, however, strong by nature, and was held by Bartolomea, sister of Virginio Orsini, with energy, talent, and unquailing resolution, which saved her family in their urgent straits, and kept the assailants at bay until her husband, Bartolomeo d'Alviano, escaping from Naples, hastily raised a few old adherents of his adopted house, and hurried to her rescue. The impetuous Alexander, disgusted by this dilatory progress of affairs, had a lighter hastily built, and sent under a strong escort to the lake of Bracciano, in order to aid the besiegers' efforts, and to intercept the manœuvres of the enemy, whose petty force, passing by the water from one castle to another as occasion required, was enabled to garrison the three separate strongholds of Bracciano, Anguillara, and Trevignano. A well-timed ambuscade, laid by d'Alviano, routed the escort, and the boat was burnt. In another sally Bartolomeo, falling upon Cesare Borgia while hunting, chased him almost to the gates of Rome, and, but for the fleetness of his horse, would have obtained in his person the means of dictating terms to his father. Of these incidents a partizan warfare was naturally more productive than a more serious campaign.

Tired of such inglorious marauding, and aware how much delays might tell against eventual success, Guidobaldo, although suffering from a gunshot wound, pushed on operations to the utmost, but was met by a most obstinate resistance, until affairs suddenly assumed an entirely new aspect. Virginio, head of the Bracciano Orsini, his eldest son Gian-Giordano, and cousin Paolo, were still captives at Naples; but his natural son Carlo had repaired to the court of Charles VIII. to crave-360- assistance. There he found Vitellozzo Vitelli, on a similar mission in behalf of his brother Paolo, who, having been suspected by the Florentines of perfidy while in their service against Pisa, had been arrested by them, and who was subsequently tortured and put to death upon this charge. They easily obtained from that King a subsidy to be employed for advantage of the French party in Italy, and, hastening back, devoted it to the relief of Bracciano. The two Vitelli were chiefs of a family whose pedigree is annexed, and who long held Città di Castello in seigneury, greatly distinguished among the military adventurers of the south. These brothers had paid especial attention to training their hardy mountaineers in the art of war, with all those improvements which the ultra-montane troops had recently introduced. Vitellozzo, hurrying to the upper valley of the Tiber, quickly recruited his old followers, whilst Carlo levied men about Perugia and Todi. Guidobaldo with difficulty persuaded his coadjutors to anticipate the attack thus preparing for them, by marching towards Viterbo in quest of the enemy. In the action which followed, on the 23rd of January, the ecclesiastical troops, though inferior in numbers, had at first some advantage, but the unskilful management of their artillery turned the day, and they were in the end totally routed, with loss of it and their baggage. Guidobaldo, having been surrounded, fought with the utmost bravery, until his horse fell under him, when he was taken prisoner by Battista Tosi, a Roman knight. In this reverse the Colonna and Savelli shared deeply, their ancient hatred of the Orsini having blinded them to the danger which they, in turn, equally incurred from the selfish designs of the Pope. The latter was filled with consternation, and would have brought the whole force of Naples into the field. But his impetuous energy, being neither based on principle nor maintained with perseverance, was quickly discouraged by the coldness of Federigo, who had no-361- inclination to consume his already dilapidated resources in ministering to the Pontiff's schemes of nepotism. The higher range to which these projects were perhaps already aspiring may have conduced to the arrangement by which his quarrel with the Orsini was patched up, gilded as it was by the to him irresistible bait of 70,000 ducats towards the expenses of the war.

The Duke of Urbino was committed to ward in Soriano, a castle of the Orsini, near which his defeat had occurred, and the whole influence of his family and numerous friends was exerted for his liberation under the truce which ensued. With this view Dr. Marino Giorgi, envoy from Venice to Naples, was instructed by the Signory to make a detour to Urbino, in order in their name to console the Duchess, and then to Soriano and Bracciano, for the purpose of negotiating her husband's release.[258] But their interposition was fruitless, as he was specially excluded from the free interchange of prisoners, and held to ransom for 40,000 ducats, without which timely aid the Orsini would have been unable to discharge the contribution imposed on them for the costs of the war. Alexander having, without scruple, left a faithful vassal and ally in his enemy's hands, had no delicacy in thus pocketing from his captors the sum which this cruel abandonment cost Guidobaldo. So large an amount was not, however, raised without difficulty from the sale of jewels, and other heavy sacrifices by the Duchess, and several of his subjects, which they did not hesitate to incur. It may perhaps have been modified to 30,000 ducats, that being the sum-362- mentioned by Sanuto as paid for his liberation.[259] At Gubbio he was warmly welcomed by his consort and people, and during more than a year he enjoyed at home the blessings and leisure of peace, "after having suffered much and most unfairly."



The crimes and ambition of the Borgia—Murder of the Duke of Gandia—Duke Guidobaldo’s expeditions against Perugia and Tuscany—He adopts Francesco Maria della Rovere as his heir—Louis XII. succeeds to Charles VIII., and to his views upon Italy—Cesare Borgia created Duke Valentino—Duke Guidobaldo at Venice.

TIME was meanwhile maturing the crimes of the Borgia, whose sinister influence upon the destiny of Guidobaldo was about to be signally manifested. So far from regarding his spurious progeny with shame, Alexander was indefatigable in his endeavours to elevate them to the most conspicuous places. He had obtained for the eldest the dukedom of Gandia in Spain, and one of the highest offices at Naples. For the youngest he had secured, by political intrigue, a similar dignity there, with the principality of Squillace, and the hand of an illegitimate daughter of Alfonso II. He had loaded Cesare with ecclesiastical benefices, and had remarried Lucrezia to the sovereign of Pesaro. But his ambition became insatiable in proportion as it was pampered. Upon a vague pretext he annulled his daughter's marriage, that he might give her hand to the Duke of Bisceglia, natural son of Alfonso. His schemes for endowing his sons with the Orsini holdings having entirely miscarried, he resolved to provide for the Duke of Gandia a sovereign principality from the states of the Church, consisting of Benevento and Terracino. Having gained a complete co-operation in the consistory, by frightening into exile or removing by poison the more impracticable cardinals, and by overawing or-364- corrupting the others, he, on the 7th of June, invested the Duke with these towns with due solemnity. Three days previously, Lucrezia had retired to the convent of S. Sisto, to prepare for the formal rupture of her marriage with Giovanni Sforza, whose murder would have anticipated the divorce, had not a hint from her enabled him to save his life by flight, insalutato hospite, as Machiavelli remarks.[260] On the 9th, Cardinal Valentino received his credentials as legate for the coronation of Frederick of Naples. On Thursday, the 15th, he set out on his mission, after spending the preceding afternoon at a casino of his mother, near S. Pietro in Vinculis, where all the family except the sister were assembled in apparent harmony. He quitted it in company with his eldest brother, who was never again seen in life, and having visited his father at a late hour to receive a benediction, he left Rome before dawn. When an alarm was raised on the Duke of Gandia's disappearance, a boatman deposed to having seen, about one o'clock on Thursday morning, a body thrown neck and heels into the Tiber, at the present port of the Ripetta, by four attendants of a mounted gentleman, who had brought it to the bank swung across his horse. The river was dragged, and the Duke's body was found pierced with wounds. He was said to have spent the preceding hours with a lady in whose favours the Cardinal was his avowed rival. Public opinion, though distracted by conflicting rumours, branded the latter with fratricide, and scandal gave to that charge-365- a still more loathsome dye, by naming the lady Lucrezia Borgia. History has received the former accusation as established, the latter as uncontradicted, adducing against its truth no better argument than its revolting improbability. It is, however, but just to pause ere we lend our faith to charges so hideous. Burchard, though greedy of gossip, and seldom scrupulous in exposing the Vatican immoralities, mentions no fact, breathes no hint, tending to inculpate Cesare. Neither do contemporary accounts from residents in the Holy City, preserved by Sanuto, attach any such foul slur to his name, but chiefly mention Cardinal Ascanio Sforza as then suspected of the murder.[261] They even prove that, four days after it took place, the latter thought it necessary to rebut the allegation by the mouth of the Spanish ambassador, in a full consistory, from which he alone was absent. But this negation does not appear to have quashed a surmise which gathered strength by scenting out motives for the outrage. By some, Ascanio was regarded as an unscrupulous instrument of the Orsini in their vengeance against the Pontiff's family; others traced his evil purpose to a recent feud between the Duke of Gandia and some guests at an entertainment given by him, where mutual insults had led to bloody reprisals, imputed to the implacable Borgia. Again, we are told by Burchard that the victim was last seen in company with a masked figure, who had been observed to follow him during several days, and whom he that night took up on the crupper of his horse, probably to keep an assignation; a statement easily reconcileable with the bargeman's evidence, and pointing probably to some dark intrigue, whereto it does not appear that his brother was necessarily privy.

Cesare Borgia



Detail from the fresco of the Disputa of S. Catherine in the Appartamento Borgia in the Vatican


Although the Duke of Gandia's morals will bear no examination, he was a general favourite in Rome. To a people fond of pageantry the taste of his family for splendour was naturally grateful, and he, alone, of the race, mingled neither tyranny nor cruelty with his magnificence. The bargeman of the Ripetta had manifested neither surprise nor curiosity regarding an incident which he stated to be of frequent occurrence at that spot; but when the victim was ascertained, the whole city was moved; the tradespeople closed their shops,[*262] and all retired panic-stricken to their homes. The few stragglers who crossed the bridge near to which the mutilated body had been found, started at the cry of many sorrowing voices which issued from St. Angelo, and one deep-toned note of woe, which rose above the wailing, was imputed to the Pontiff, "lamenting him who was his right eye, the hope and glory of his house." His grief and horror were indeed overwhelming: we are assured that he swallowed nothing from Wednesday till Saturday, and passed three successive nights without an hour of sleep. On the 19th he held a consistory, to receive the condolence of the cardinals and foreign ministers, whom he addressed to the following purpose[263]:—

"The Duke of Gandia is dead, and his death has been to us the greatest affliction: a more grievous trial we could not have met with, for we loved him mightily, and we no longer value our popedom nor anything; nay, had we seven popedoms, we should give them all to recover the Duke's life. It is rather a visitation from God, sent, perhaps, for some sin of ours, than that he should have merited a death so dreadful. It being unknown by-367- whom he was murdered and thrown into the Tiber, rumour has ascribed the assassination to the Lord of Pesaro, which we are certain is untrue; no more can it have been done by the Prince of Squillace, brother of the Duke; and we are even satisfied as to the Duke of Urbino: may God forgive who ever it was! We have, however, determined no longer to apply to anything, nor take any charge of the papacy, nor of life itself, nor any thought for the Church; but in order to regulate it and our mode of life, and for the due correction of our own person, we mean to commit these to six of you, most reverend cardinals our brethren, along with two judges of the Rota; and in order that all benefices may be bestowed by merit, apart from any other consideration, they shall be decided by a majority of you cardinals." After naming this executive council, and hearing a justification of Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, volunteered in his absence by the Spanish ambassador, the Pope continued:—"God forbid that we should entertain such a fancy, for never could we credit that his Lordship would do us the smallest injury, least of all an outrage such as this; for we have regarded him as a brother, and have on every occasion placed ourselves at the disposal of himself and of the Duke his brother: assuredly we harbour not the trace of such an idea, and when he comes to us he will be welcome."

It was, indeed, high time that the scandals brought upon the Church by the enormities of her head should terminate. Alexander had for some time been openly living with a sister of Cardinal Farnese, wife of Monoculo Orsini, who was known as Giulia Bella; and who, after appearing prominently by his side on all public and solemn occasions, had lately borne him a son.[264] But even-368- now he realised the scriptural proverb of "the dog turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." The remorse and repentance he had avowed, in full consistory, with sobs and tears, were quickly forgotten; the public reforms he had promised were repudiated; the administrative council he had formally nominated was never assembled nor installed. Nepotism and intrigue again became his policy, debauchery his pastime. Those who charge the Cardinal Valentino with his brother's murder, may point to the exclamation, "I know who did it," which was said to have escaped from their father in the first outbreak of his grief; and it has been by some connected with the alleged institution of Giovanni, their next brother, to the titles and inheritance of the Duke of Gandia, passing over the suspected fratricide. This, however, is an entirely erroneous assumption, as there not only appears no brother of the Duke of Gandia bearing his honours, but the invaluable diary of Sanuto expressly mentions an investiture of the Neapolitan fiefs obtained for his son within a few weeks of his death.[265] The Pontiff's displeasure with Cesare, from whatever cause originating, was transient as his personal reformation. His schemes of aggrandisement could not be pursued without the co-operation of him who, alone of his children, was as ambitious and as unscrupulous as himself, and the close of the year brought Valentino an addition to his already enormous plurality of benefices, upon the death of the Cardinal of Parma.

Valentino had endeavoured, by the imposing splendour of his legation to Naples, and by scattering immoderate largesses, to dazzle, and if possible blind, men to the Cain--369-brand that was upon him. But when he developed a new scheme of aggrandisement, by proffering to a daughter of Federigo a hand which his unscrupulous father was ready to liberate from priestly vows, the King and the Princess alike recoiled from an offer tainted by sacrilege and fratricide. We have seen that a similar refusal by Ferdinand I. was a principal cause for Charles VIII. being invited into Italy. Unwarned by that result of a wretched policy, the Pontiff prepared to repeat it in circumstances still more fatal to the Peninsula. Cesare Borgia returned from his legation on the 5th of September, and was received with every mark of honour and favour by his father, who appeared to have dismissed the Duke of Gandia's very existence from his mind. The pontifical court was once more a scene of alternate dissipation and crime, and the Cardinal of Valencia was the moving spirit of both. In December, Lucrezia's divorce was pronounced, and her dowry of 31,000 ducats returned; next August she became wife of Alfonso Duke of Bisceglia, with an augmented provision of 40,000 ducats, he being then seventeen years of age.

In the following summer, the Duke of Urbino was induced to unite with the Prefect della Rovere in an expedition against Perugia, for the purpose of restoring the Oddi, who, as heads of the Ghibellines, had been expelled from thence by their rivals, the Guelphic Baglioni.[*266] But from this enterprise the Pope speedily recalled him by a remonstrance, which with wonted devotion he hastened to obey, stipulating, however, for indemnity of the expenses he had incurred, amounting to 5000 scudi. About the same time he lost his relation and counsellor Ottaviano Ubaldini, Count of Mercatello, who died at an advanced age.

The services of Guidobaldo were speedily required in-370- another quarter; and by one of those sudden changes, not unusual to soldiers of fortune, he found himself comrade of his late opponents, the Orsini and Baglioni.[*267] The occasion was the recommencement of the Pisan war, when the fickle usurper of Milan joined the Florentines in their attempts to reduce that city to its former obedience; a combination which, arousing the jealousy of Venice, induced her to adopt the cause of Pisa. Pietro de' Medici and his brother Giuliano availed themselves of this opportunity to make another effort for their re-establishment in that capital. They offered to support an invasion of Tuscany, with all the aid which their own credit and the Orsini influence could bring into the field; and the maritime republic, accepting the proposal, took into their pay, besides the Baglioni of Perugia, the Duke of Urbino with two hundred men-at-arms, and a hundred light horse, for which they allowed him 20,000 scudi a year.[268] Having gained over one of the Malatesta, owner of a small fief in the passes above Sarsina, the confederates sent forward Bartolomeo d'Alviano, who, penetrating the mountain paths about Camaldoli, entered Tuscany and seized Bibbiena, in the upper Val d'Arno, ere the Florentines were aware of the incursion. Guidobaldo followed with a strong body of men, and, finding the season vigorous, went into winter quarters in that and the adjoining towns. The enemy was led by Paulo Vitelli, whose judicious arrangements and great activity, having closed all the defiles around them, kept them in a state of siege during the winter, cutting off their supplies, surprising their posts, and tempting their men to desertion, until they were reduced to great straits. The Duke's health, already broken by frequent gouty attacks, suffered sadly from the severe-371- climate of these mountain sites, and the privations of an ill-supplied commissariat. The critical position of his army aggravated his malady by preying upon his spirits, and his applications for a physician were coldly refused by his assailants. At length, in the middle of February, their general, Vitelli, on his own responsibility, granted him free passage home to Urbino, an act of charity afterwards severely visited upon his head by the authorities of Florence. Disgusted by the losses of a campaign fruitlessly protracted by disinclination of the respective commanders to risk their reputation in an engagement, the Venetians recalled the reinforcements which they had sent under Nicolò di Petigliano, and abandoned the cause of Pisan independence for that wider field of ambition which the schemes of Louis XII. were developing.

The Cardinal della Rovere, who, during nearly all the pontificate of Alexander, provided for his safety by absence from Rome, had shared the hardships of the Bibbiena campaign, and escaped from them with Guidobaldo. Whilst thus thrown together they seem to have planned an arrangement which opened a new era for Urbino. Feeling that in himself must terminate the male investiture of his states, and dreading that by his early decease they might lapse to a Pope who would joyfully endow with them one of his odious progeny, the Duke willingly listened to a suggestion of the Cardinal, that he should adopt their mutual nephew Francesco Maria della Rovere, son of the Prefect of Sinigaglia, then a promising boy of eight years old. At first they thought of concealing this design from Alexander, but Guidobaldo, aware that without his sanction it could not be matured, and trusting to the hold which his services and dutiful obedience ought to have given him in that quarter, soon proposed it for his approval. The successor of St. Peter, anticipating the modern discovery that words are given to-372- conceal thoughts, professed great satisfaction with the plan, and hinted at bestowing the hand of his niece Angela Borgia upon the presumptive heir of Urbino. A brief interval removed the flimsy veil, and proved that the Pontiff was ready to anticipate the lapse of that dukedom, without awaiting his vassal's death.

The great convulsions impending over Italy require another general glance at the new combinations which the politics of Southern Europe had assumed. Charles VIII. died of apoplexy on the 7th of April, 1498, and was succeeded by his second cousin, Louis XII., first of the Orleans branch of Valois. Though a prince of narrow views and somewhat feeble character, he became the instrument of unprecedented misfortunes to Italy. In him were centred the Angevine claims upon Naples which his predecessor had asserted; and likewise such pretensions upon the Milanese as vested in the heir of line of the Visconti, through his grandmother Valentina, sister of the last Duke. Upon these grounds he at once assumed the style of King of Naples and Jerusalem, and Duke of Milan, and avowed his intention of rendering the latter at least of these titles effectual. Federigo of Aragon and Ludovico Sforza trembled at the impending danger; but, with unaccountable blindness, the other powers strove who should be foremost to offer their alliance to the invader. The Venetians hailed the certain punishment of a tyrannical usurper, who had aided in thwarting them in their recent attempts to maintain the independence of Pisa. They and the princes of Romagna and La Marca remembered how little their several interests had suffered from the expedition of Charles. Florence conceived that the return of the French was the surest guarantee of their democratic independence against the re-establishment of the Medici. The Pope, as usual, had in view ulterior and private ends. His late indignation against his son, the Cardinal, had, with unaccountable revulsion, been suc-373-ceeded by an increased fondness. The latter reminded him that the years passed since his elevation to the tiara had brought no fulfilment of those schemes of aggrandisement which their mutual ambition had nourished. His recent domestic catastrophe perhaps warned the father how much might be dared by a disappointed son. Every consideration urged upon both the necessity of a great effort to obtain for Cesare a sovereign principality; and conscious that this scheme would have the best chance of success at a moment of general confusion, they resolved to effect it through the instrumentality of a new French invasion, if no readier means offered for their purpose.

Louis XII. had set his mind upon divorcing his queen, Jeanne, the daughter of Louis XI., in order to marry Anne of Bretagne, widow of his predecessor, for which purpose papal dispensations were required, and for these he was a suppliant. The Borgia seized the golden moment to pledge him to their views. Cesare had been created a Cardinal in 1494, by means of suborned oaths, that he was the lawful son of a Roman citizen, for illegitimacy was a bar to that dignity. On the pretext that ecclesiastical orders had been unwillingly conferred upon him, his father, on the 17th of September, annulled them in full consistory, and accepted a renunciation of his cardinal's hat. Next day he appeared in a rich military costume of the latest French fashion, and forthwith took shipping for Marseilles, on a special embassy to the French court, where he arrived about the 18th of October. The following letter of recommendation which he bore is preserved in the Bibliothèque du Roi, and being to all intents a private missive, written and addressed by the Pope's own hand, possesses a very different interest from ordinary papal brieves.


"To our well-beloved son in Christ, the most Christian King of the French;

"I.H.S. Maria.

"Pope Alexander VI., with his own hand.

"Health and the apostolic benediction to our most dear son in Christ. Anxious in all respects to accomplish your and our own desires, we destine to your Majesty our heart, that is, our favourite son, Duke Valentino, who is prized by us beyond aught else, as a signal and most estimable token of our affection towards your Highness, to whom no further commendation of him is required; and we only ask that you will so treat him, who is thus commissioned to your royal person, as that all may, for our satisfaction, perceive that in his mission he has been in every respect most acceptable to your Majesty. Given at St. Peter's, Rome, the 28th of September." [1498.][269]

This mission was ostensibly to present Louis with his divorce; but the Duke, in fact, carried also a dispensation for his union with Queen Anne, which had been secretly granted, and which he thus held, ready to deliver it as soon as he should gain the royal consent to certain conditions for his own aggrandisement, the prize then in distant perspective being nothing less than the sceptre of Naples.[270]

Relieved from a character and garb but ill-adapted to his temperament and habits, Cesare Borgia at once assumed the bearing and pomp of sovereignty to which his gradually extending ambition now aspired. All Rome had been busied in preparing his outfit, which is stated by Sanuto at 100,000 ducats; and the magnificence of his-375- following may be estimated from the assertion that his chargers were shod with silver, or, as some say, with gold. An account of his presentation at the French court will be found in the Appendix X., with details of splendour befitting lavish tastes. His reception was suited to such pretensions, and Louis, well appreciating his disposition, prefaced all negotiation by presenting him with a dukedom, a pension of 20,000 francs, and a similar sum in name of yearly pay for himself and a hundred lances. As he had been styled Cardinal Valentino, from Valencia in Spain, he now became Duke Valentino, from Valence in Dauphiny.

But the intrigues of the Borgia had not entirely abandoned the hope of an alliance for Cesare with a princess of Naples, notwithstanding the cold reception which such a proposal had met with on his recent legation at her father's court. Carlotta, daughter of Federigo, by his first wife, a princess of Savoy, was resident in France, and they hoped to sell the Pope's sanction to the French King's designs upon Milan, for the influence of Louis in favour of her marriage to the Duke Valentino, with the sovereignty of Tarento as her dowry. This project was, however, finally abandoned, on receiving from the lady a scornful refusal to soil her hand by uniting it with an apostate priest, the son of a priest, a blood-thirsty fratricide, as base in character as in birth. This result was not a little pleasing to Louis, who, with a view to his ulterior designs upon Naples, was much more content that the Duke should be the insulted suitor than the son-in-law of Federigo. Meanwhile the finesse of Cesare had nearly overreached itself. Keeping back the dispensation until he had effected his own objects, he endeavoured to attach conditions to its delivery; but Louis, informed by the Bishop of Cette, who was Nuncio at his court, that it had already issued on the 20th of October, and that its non-publication could not prevent its validity, prepared to-376- celebrate his marriage without delay. The Duke hastened to remedy his mistake with a good grace, by delivering the dispensation, and presenting a cardinal's hat to George d'Amboise, the French King's favourite minister; but with a vengeance that knew no pity, he had poison administered to the tell-tale Bishop.

Lying nearest the common danger, Ludovico il Moro was the most energetic, as well as the most interested, in preparing for defence. Again he proposed a general league for the exclusion of ultra-montane invasion, and attempted to gain the Pope's adherence to it by a secret engagement, that the great states should, at his dictation, make common cause against any or all of the princely feudatories of the Church, and by money or the sword should establish Cesare Borgia in some sovereignty. This offer being addressed to the Pontiff's leading passion, it was entertained with apparent favour, in order to keep his decision open to the last, as well as meanwhile to divert Sforza from maturing an effectual resistance to Louis, whose alliance, as the most powerful, seemed on the whole most eligible, and from whom it might be easy for his Holiness to obtain the very advantages which Ludovico's proposal offered.

Whilst the policy of Italy remained thus in suspense, Duke Valentino became more and more united to the interests of France. Profiting by the pique which his recent disappointment occasioned, Louis persuaded him in the beginning of May to marry Charlotte d'Albret, sister of Jean, King of Navarre, adding 80,000 francs to her dowry of 30,000; and at the same time decorated him with the order of St. Michael, then the most distinguished in Christendom. The Pope presented him with 200,000 scudi, and celebrated the event by extravagant festivities. Having thus seemingly secured Alexander, the French King bribed the Venetians to aid him in conquering the Milanese, by promising them a slice of-377- its territory, and in August sent his army across the Alps. It would lead us too far from our proper theme to trace the invasion of Italy which followed these complicated intrigues. The French incursion into Lombardy was crowned with entire success, and within three weeks Ludovico, driven from the capital which he had usurped, retired with his treasure to Inspruck.

After recruiting the hardships of Bibbiena, from which however his constitution never recovered, the Duke of Urbino paid a visit to Venice, which is thus graphically told by Marino Sanuto in his amusing diary.

"On the 2nd of June luncheon was prepared for the Duke of Urbino's coming; and when it was over, the Doge with the ambassadors and senators went in the Bucentaur to meet Duke Guido, as far as San Antonio, and there awaited him; and there were five gig-boats [paraschelmi] prepared as usual for us sages of the orders, ornamented with the armorial bearings of each. And presently the Duke arrived from Chioggia, with Giorgio Pisani, the Podestà, and some gentlemen who had been sent to meet him. He is twenty-eight years of age, a handsome man, dressed in black after the French fashion, as were all his attendants, on account of the death of his uncle [cousin] Ottavio de' Ubaldini, who long had governed both the state and the Duke. And being brought into the Bucentaur with great rejoicings, he came by the Cana l' Grande to the Marquis of Ferrara's house, which had been made ready for him, and the Doge accompanied him to his chamber. He remained [eleven] days in this city, with a numerous suite, and thirty-five ducats a day were assigned for his expenses." According to the estimate of this chronicler, a ducat was then worth four English shillings, so that, making allowance for the depreciated value of money, the sum set apart for the Duke's daily maintenance may have exceeded 70l. He received at the same time the compliment of citizenship, and his services-378- were retained for the Republic with two hundred men-at-arms, and 27,000 ducats of pay. It does not, however, appear that he was called into action during the rapid campaign by which Louis possessed himself of Milan, being probably then disabled by gout: indeed, he seems to have suffered from it even on his visit to Venice, as his not having danced at a ball given in his honour is specially noted by Sanuto, and it was provided in his engagement of service that his contingent should be led by an approved commander. During this year he testified his good will for the Signory, by sending them from his wide forests forty head of bucks, does, kids, wild-boar, and other game, borne by forty men.



The condition of Romagna—Cesare Borgia overruns and seizes upon it—The spirit of his government—Naples invaded by Louis, and handed over to Spain—Lucrezia Borgia’s fourth marriage.

THE French conquests in Lombardy having been achieved, Valentino now urged Louis to perform certain secret stipulations which had for their object his establishment in Romagna and La Marca as a sovereign prince. The scene of our narrative must, therefore, for a time be laid in that country; and it may be well, though thereby incurring some repetition, to lay before the reader a brief sketch of its then condition, as given by Sismondi.

"Whilst even in the Campagna of Rome the Pope's authority was barely acknowledged, and whilst in the very streets of his capital he was forced to arm alternately against the Colonna and the Orsini, the more distant provinces had still more completely shaken off his sway. In some towns, republican forms of government were continued: Ancona, Assisi, Spoleto, Terni, and Narni had either avoided or broken the yoke of domestic tyranny, but their internal factions and petty wars kept them in feeble obscurity. Other towns had become subject to pontifical vicars, who asserted a complete independence, burdened with but the promise of an annual tribute which they never paid. Nearly the whole Marca was divided between the families of Varana and Fogliano. Giulio di Varana was then the seigneur of Camerino; Giovanni di Fogliano, who soon after was cruelly murdered by his nephew Oliverotto, ruled in Fermo. Sinigaglia had been-380- given in fief by Sixtus IV. in 1471, to his nephew Giovanni della Rovere, the titular Prefect of Rome, who was likewise son-in-law and heir presumptive to the Duke of Urbino. That highland district which extended from La Marca to Tuscany, and included the duchy of Urbino, the county of Montefeltro, and the lordship of Gubbio, was under the sway of Guidobaldo, the last and distinguished representative of the Feltrian race: the warlike qualities of its people and the lettered elegance of its court were nowhere surpassed in Italy. On the western frontier of this duchy the vale of the Tiber was occupied by two petty principalities, those of Giovanni Paulo Baglioni of Perugia, and of Vitellozzo Vitelli of Città di Castello: both of these chiefs were soldiers by trade, and the latter had conferred importance on his state by great military talents shared with his four brothers, as well as by the high state of discipline to which he had brought his vassals.

"Towards Romagna lay Pesaro, wrested in 1445 from the Malatesta by Francesco Sforza, and erected by him into a little sovereignty for a younger branch of his family.[271] It was then held by Giovanni Sforza, who in 1497 had been divorced from Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of the Pope. The next domain was Rimini, sadly fallen from the ascendency to which Pandolfo III. and his brother Carlo Malatesta had raised it in the preceding century. It had been, since 1482, in the hands of Pandolfo IV., natural son of Roberto Malatesta and son-in-law of Giovanni Bentivoglio of Bologna, whose debaucheries and cruelty had gained for him a bad notoriety. He had accepted the protection of Venice, which, anxious to secure an influence along the Adriatic coast, offered her pay to all the chiefs of this province, heeding little whether they led in person the levies which they thus became bound to maintain at her disposal, or only made-381- these a pretext for receiving what was deemed an honourable pension.

"Westward of Rimini, Cesena formed part of the ecclesiastical state, having been seized from a branch of the Malatesta. Forlì, the ancient heritage of the Ordelaffi, had passed in 1480 to Girolamo Riario, nephew of Sixtus IV., who in 1473 had also been invested by his uncle with the lordship of Imola. These two seigneuries, separated by that of Faenza, had been held since 1488 by the youthful Ottaviano Riario, under tutelage of his mother, the undaunted Caterina Sforza, natural daughter of Duke Galeazzo of Milan. By her second [third] marriage with Giovanni, a cadet of the Medici, she had a son who became famous in the wars of Italy: and though her husband had died in 1498, she remained faithful to the interests of Florence, which took the young Ottaviano into her pay, as a guarantee of her protection.

"Between the two last-mentioned principalities, Faenza extended up the valley of the Lamone, as far as the Tuscan frontier. To this, as a point of attacking the Florentine republic, the Venetians attached great importance. Constituting themselves guardians of Astorre Manfredi its chief, then in his seventeenth year, they had appeased the struggle between him and his illegitimate brother Ottaviano, and had made themselves all but masters of Faenza and the passes of the Lamone. They had also seized Ravenna and Cervia from the families of Polenta and Malatesta. The rich and powerful city of Bologna had, since 1462, been absolutely ruled by Giovanni Bentivoglio. But of all the church feudatories, Duke Ercole d'Este was the most distant and the most independent; his family had for several centuries held Ferrara of the apostolic chamber, and the possession of the imperial fiefs of Modena and Reggio elevated his pretensions above the level of other pontifical vicars.

"The courts of so many petty sovereigns gave to Ro-382-magna a character of elegance and wealth. All their capitals had churches, tasteful palaces, and libraries; and each court strove to render itself not less distinguished for mental refinement. Among the pensioned attendants of each prince were numbered poets, philosophers, and men of letters; and the rivalry of these little states was most assuredly beneficial to the progress of literature, even whilst it generally tended to demean the character of the learned. But it is the nature of absolutism to promote costly vices: the flatterers who surround the most petty sovereign extol his munificence as a virtue, and he can seldom moderate his desires more than if he ruled a great empire. Hence it happened that the princes of Romagna found their revenues unequal to the sums they required for defence, for vanity, and for pleasures. They were ever seeking some pretext for extorting from their subjects a portion of their property, and they eked out the inadequate returns of taxation by fines and confiscations.

"There are certain descriptions of crime which seem peculiar to those families who, occupying a position of social isolation, have never learned the common feelings of humanity, and do not consider themselves subject to the ordinary code of morals. The princely races of Romagna had in fact given to their subjects frequent examples of parricide, poisoning, and treachery of every sort. The higher noblesse, too, deemed vengeful cruelty a proof of independence; and even in the villages hereditary hatred was cherished by the leaders of contending factions, and gratified by savage atrocities. Numerous bands of cut-throats were ever ready to be employed in aggression or defence; and enmities were seldom satisfied so long as one of any age or sex survived of the detested house. We are assured that when Arcimboldo, Archbishop of Milan and Cardinal of Santa Prassede, went as legate to Perugia and Umbria, he found there a gentleman who, after smashing against a wall the heads of the children of his-383- foe, and strangling their mother who was pregnant, nailed to the door a surviving infant in trophy of his revenge, just as a gamekeeper would hang up the birds and beasts of prey which he had killed; nor was this outrage regarded by the neighbours as anything remarkable!"

Those who accompany our narrative of the Dukes of Urbino will, we trust, admit that this sweeping denunciation had its exceptions. The well known and never concealed prejudices of its able and eloquent author exempt us from the necessity of cautioning the reader against implicit credence in the view which here and in other passages he endeavours to establish, that Cesare Borgia's usurpations were hailed by the people of Romagna as a welcome relief from the perpetual oppressions of their domestic tyrants. Of extortion and confiscations I have discovered but few instances under these princes. Their personal vices were common to the age, and prevailed from the representatives of St. Peter, through all ranks and under all governments. It is unnecessary now to discuss how far the security and welfare of the masses were most promoted under such despotisms, or amid the ever restless anarchy of democracies like Florence, "whose whole history was one intermittent fever of insurrection; where each man's own arm was his best, often his sole, law and protection; where the magistrate of to-day might be the exile or martyr of to-morrow";[272] and whose convulsions are compared by her own Dante to those of

"A sick wretch,
Who finds no rest upon her down, but oft
Shifting her side, short respite seeks from pain."—Purg. VI.

Duke Valentino now assumed the life of a condottiere, in order to raise troops for his enterprise. His winning manners,—for none could better mask the nature of a hyæna under the manners of a dove,—his gallant bearing-384-—for he was handsome, frank, and daring,—his prodigal pay and specious professions,—all contributed to gather around him many warrior chieftains with their respective followings, devoted to his person, and ready to promote whatever views his ambition might prompt. To such adherents Louis added a brigade, for which he had no longer immediate need, consisting of three hundred French lances, under Ives d'Allègre, and four thousand Swiss mercenaries, commanded by the Bailli of Dijon. At the head of this little army Borgia marched upon Imola, and there united it with the papal troops to the number, in all, of fifteen thousand men.

The same force of character by which we have already seen Caterina Riario Sforza prevail over the faction which murdered her first husband,[273] had enabled her to maintain her son Ottaviano's authority in Imola and Forlì during his long minority. She had given her hand to the brave and handsome Giacomo Fea, who at that crisis saved her cause by his defence of the citadel of Forlì, and in 1496 had been again widowed by a base cabal of disaffected nobles, who suffered at her hand a retribution resembling that endured by the Orsi in 1488. In 1497 she celebrated her third nuptials with Giovanni de' Medici, envoy from Florence at the court of her son. He was second cousin of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and died in the following year, leaving by her an only child, well known in Italian history as Giovanni delle bande nere, whose brief but glorious career of arms we shall see cut short at the fight of Borgoforte, in 1527, and whose son was the Grand Duke Cosimo I. Ottaviano Riario was now in his twenty-first year, and seconded his mother's stout resistance by placing garrisons and supplies in Imola, Forlì, and his minor strongholds. But she vainly attempted to impart her own spirit to her dastardly or dissatisfied subjects. On the last day of 1499 the gates of Imola were opened to-385- Duke Valentino, and the castle surrendered after a feeble defence. Sending her son and her treasure into Tuscany, Caterina once more entered the citadel of Forlì, which, after a bombardment of several days, was lost by treachery. The Countess was carried to Rome, but after a short imprisonment was permitted to retire to Florence, where she dedicated the eight remaining years of her chequered life to the education of her younger children, to charity and spiritual meditation, and to the austerities of an almost monastic discipline.

After this success, Cesare Borgia hastened to Rome to advise with his father as to their next step; but his progress was interrupted by the sudden recall of the French troops in his service. Ludovico Sforza so well employed the money he had carried into the Tyrol, and the support which he received from the Emperor Maximilian, that early in February he marched into Lombardy at the head of an army of Swiss, before whom the garrison of Milan retired, leaving him once more in possession of his capital and most of his original territory, where he was welcomed with general joy. But the reaction of his fortunes was momentary. Louis quickly repaired to Lombardy with reinforcements, and the combat which would have decided his fate was anticipated by the desertion of his Swiss mercenaries, who went over in a body to the French. Ludovico was carried to France, where he remained, during ten years, prisoner in a gloomy dungeon or cage at the Castle of Loches, and died on being released.[274] His talents and address aggravated his crimes; his treachery to his nephew and faithlessness to his allies lost him the goodwill of all; he was the earliest victim of those barbarian inroads which he first brought upon Italy, and which led to the annihilation of her independence.


The interval of the Milanese rising had been spent by Cesare in Rome, where the solemnities of the jubilee year were disturbed by extravagant demonstrations of public joy, provided by his father and himself in honour of his recent successes. Among these was a triumph, after those of the Roman emperors, where he inscribed upon his banners, aut Cæsar aut nullus, an insolent motto, which he frequently used, but which was thus pungently parodied on his death:—

"Cæsar in deeds as name would Borgia be,
A Cæsar or a cipher,—both was he!"[275]

On the 2nd of April he received from his father the royal distinction of the golden rose, along with the dignities of gonfaloniere and captain-general of the Church, each of which gave occasion for pompous ceremonials of surpassing magnificence, wherein the velvet and brocade liveries of his numberless followers dazzled even the Roman populace. Among his attendants Burchard mentions a thousand Gascon and Scotch infantry [Guascones et Scottenses?], whose unsteady straggling, "caring nought for our arrangements," sadly disconcerted this master of ceremonies.

To supply the vast sums which were unceasingly absorbed in these and similar displays of vanity and selfish profusion by the Borgia, as well as in their ceaseless wars, every device was called into requisition. Besides seizing upon a large portion of the pious gifts brought by pilgrims of the jubilee year to the metropolis of Christianity, the Pope had recourse, for the first time, on a great scale, to the sale of dispensations. Notices were circulated over-387- Europe, that payment of stated sums, by such as found personal performance of the pilgrimage inconvenient or disagreeable, would ensure to them all the benefits of a visit to the prescribed jubilee stations at Rome. Simony had become the rule, not the exception. Every office in church and state was bestowed on the highest bidder by the greedy Pontiff, who himself had purchased the tiara.[*276]

"The keys, the altar, and his God he sold;
'Twas well! their price he first had paid in gold."[277]

Having learned the value of this source of wealth, he hesitated not to turn it to new account by a series of crimes unequalled in the annals of iniquity. Finding that the course of nature did not afford vacancies as rapidly as his finances required new supplies, he refined upon the practice of an age "profuse in poisons," and had frequent recourse to the chalice. From time to time cardinals and other high dignitaries were thus disposed of, often from revenge, but oftener for lucre. Now, too, the tax of a tenth was imposed on the clergy, and a twentieth on the Jews, to continue for three years, on the delusive pretext of a Turkish war. How far these unrighteous profits were directly participated by Cesare Borgia may been seen from the diary of Sanuto:—"The twelve new cardinals, after their creation [Sept. 28], went to the Duke, offering their services, and dined there, and balanced their accounts, and swore fealty to him, so that for this creation he has touched about 120,000 ducats."[*278] The dinner was, however, but an empty form of hospitality, for we learn from-388- the same authority, that his cautious guests declined partaking of the splendid banquet laid out to tempt them, observing that omnia preciosa cara sunt, and excusing their scruples by a desire of avoiding popular gossip.

The readiness with which Valentino had suspended his own plans to repair the reverses of Louis in Lombardy, obtained him from the latter a more hearty support. The French troops were sent back to serve under his banner, and their monarch having declared his intention of treating the opponents of Borgia as his personal enemies, the latter hastened again to Romagna, and took possession of Pesaro. Its lord, Giovanni Sforza, had flattered himself that the storm would pass him by unharmed. He was under the avowed protection of Venice, and had been son-in-law of the Pope. But the Signory were not unwilling to close their eyes to an insult which it would have been impolitic to avenge, and Lucrezia's divorce had alienated her late husband from the sympathies as well as from the family circle of the Borgia. Warned by the fate of the Riarii, and perceiving that the friendly dispositions of his relation Guidobaldo were of no avail against such a combination of adverse circumstances, Giovanni had, in the beginning of the year, fled by sea to Venice, and offered his state to that republic, a proposal which was coldly declined by the prudent Signory, who regarded it as a fatal gift. He, however, found shelter in their sea-borne city, where he quickly consoled himself by marrying a daughter of Matteo Tiapolo.

On the 27th of October, Borgia entered Pesaro, with an imposing display of luxurious military equipments. His men-at-arms wore his sumptuous livery of red and yellow over richly wrought cuirasses, and their belts were studded with seven serpents' heads. He then proceeded to Rimini, where Pandolfo and Carlo, natural sons of Roberto Malatesta, fled to avoid at once the perils of-389- his invasion and the seditions of subjects wearied by their senseless tyranny. At Faenza, which he reached on the 20th of November, he met with a check, and winter forced him to postpone operations. Astorre Manfredi, its sovereign, though but a boy of eighteen, was endeared to his subjects, who rallied in his defence; and it was not until the 22nd of April that, overcome by numbers, he closed the hopeless struggle by an honourable capitulation. He was allowed to retain his private revenues, but being sent to Rome with his natural brother, they were both strangled by order of Alexander, and their bodies thrown into the Tiber. Romagna, thus wrested from its lawful feudatories, was erected into a dukedom for Cesare, consent of the consistory being gained by means of that new creation of cardinals to which we have just alluded; and it was at this time, Sanuto tells us, that ten ducats were given in the Roman betting circles to receive a hundred when the upstart should be king of that province.

Regarding the manner in which the Duke governed the state he had thus acquired, we find the following passage in Sismondi: "This man, distinguished for so many crimes, was not destitute of countervailing qualities. Brave, eloquent, dexterous; lavish of favours, but ever careful of his finances; zealous in maintaining justice throughout his states; he knew how, by good government, to promote their rapid prosperity, and to endear himself alike to his subjects and to his soldiery, whilst dreaded and detested by neighbouring princes and nations. His early conquests in Romagna, having had time to taste the advantages of his rule, remained faithful to him on the death of Alexander, while his more recent acquisitions returned to the obedience of their hereditary lords. Though cruel and perfidious in his policy, he was enlightened as to what best ensured the happiness of the-390- people: his dealings with them were marked by scrupulous impartiality, and the public security was inviolably preserved. Under his administration factious violence had been restrained, authorised robberies had ceased, talent had met with enlightened encouragement, military merit had been promoted, men of letters had been enriched by ecclesiastical preferment. In a word, his state had prospered, and no inhabitant could anticipate without fear a restoration of the old dynasties."

Such is the judgment of an historian who saw in these dynasties but the supplanters of democracies, in his eyes the only pure, virtuous, and popular forms of government. So blinded is he in this one-sided view that, imitating Machiavelli, he becomes an apologist of the Borgia, whose policy left no other results than the general breaking down of these princely families; a fact apparently atoning, in his estimation, as in that of his Florentine prototype, for crimes exceeding in a few years the accumulated enormities which during centuries had sprung from the unbridled passions of the petty sovereigns whom he decries. But, when removed from the influence of this prepossession, he admits, in the Biographie Universelle, that "Valentino systematised crime, carrying impudence and perfidy beyond all previous bounds. Many princes have shed more blood, have exacted more savage vengeance, have ordered punishments of greater atrocity, but no name is tainted by fouler infamy. Even his ferocity was an egotistic calculation, sacrificing everything for his own interests, recognising neither morals, religion, nor sentiment except as instruments for his purpose, to be crushed when they became inconvenient." Revolting as are the vices which these pages connect with Alexander and his family, only such are here introduced as belong to the thread of our narrative. Were it our object to bring the character of these monsters fully into view, the catalogue and its loathsome details must have been greatly extended: in-391-deed, of the many gross outrages upon female honour and domestic peace with which history charges Cesare, a considerable proportion are attributed to his stay in his own capital of Cesena. To bring home these charges would be far more easy than to discover coeval authority for Sismondi's commendations.[*279] We are, however, told by a contemporary poet, Marcello Filosseno, that Romagna bore witness to the justice and clemency of the god-like Borgia, whom all nations far and near invited to rule over them, and willingly hailed as their master. The inflated terms of this compliment are surely sufficient contradiction of its truth; and its now forgotten author, aspiring to be the Petrarch of the modern Lucrezia, was naturally the slavering adulator of her kindred.[280]

On such a point the prosaic diary of Sanuto affords better evidence. Whilst passing the spring at Imola, the Duke of Romagna frequently occupied his mornings with bull-baiting, and generally spent the nights in dancing, masques, and varied dissipation. "No redress is obtained; force supersedes justice; the troops quarter at their own pleasure; whilst all cry out for vengeance on the Duke; for they plunder everything, to say nothing of the matrons and their daughters, of whom possession has been long since taken." As to the administration of his government, the facts stated by Machiavelli, and admitted by Sismondi, are these. The numerous and violent revolu-392-tions which had recently convulsed his new state left behind them their necessary consequences. Law and justice, public order and personal security, were alike prostrated; the country was in the hands of banditti, or military adventurers. To put an end to such misrule was the interest of the new sovereign, and he set about it in a characteristic manner. Selecting Ramirez d'Orco, the most savage and blood-thirsty of his captains,[281] he left him to govern the country with unlimited authority, and to clear it summarily of every suspected individual. As the benefits of order restored by such sanguinary means might be questioned even by those who had gained them, Borgia promptly disconnected himself from the instrument when the reformation was complete. At the close of 1502, there was one morning displayed in their piazza, to the appalled inhabitants of Cesena, the racked and dismembered corpse of their tyrannical viceroy, with a knife on one side, and a reeking block on the other; and this doom the Pope justified to the Venetian envoy on pretext of his treasonable intrigues with the confederates of La Magione.[282]

Of all the evil passions of men, the lust of power most grows by indulgence. His craving for sovereignty at length gratified, the Duke Valentino panted for new conquests. His advance upon Bologna was suddenly arrested by a notice from Louis of that city being under French protection. The opportunity had not yet arrived for attacking the Duke of Urbino, the cherished general of the Venetians, the scrupulously obedient vassal of the Church. The four Tuscan republics, exhausted by long intestine-393- struggles and civil commotions, seemed an easy prey; and the exiled Medici, ever prompt to close with any offer against their native city, afforded the excuse for an inroad upon Florence by the Mugello, with the secret intention of appropriating it to himself. His schemes of selfish aggrandisement were, however, again reluctantly suspended, at the call of an ally with whose support he could not dispense. Louis was now marching upon Naples, and thither also Cesare directed his steps. But, ever prompt to plunder for his own gain, or the gratification of his troops, he on the route seized upon Piombino, the little fief of the Appiani, and, on the 3rd of September, sacked its capital. This he retained as a footing for further conquests, and consoled himself for foregoing his designs upon the Florentines, by accepting, in guerdon of his forbearance, a nominal rank in their service, with 36,000 zecchins of pay.

After establishing his sway in the Milanese, the French King proceeded to the conquest of Naples. The league remained in force by which all the Peninsular powers were brought to afford a voluntary or constrained approbation of this enterprise; and, since the ruin of Ludovico Sforza, Federigo had no ally. Of all the smaller feudatories, the Colonna alone adhered to his falling cause, and the Pope availed himself of this pretext to break down their strength and appropriate their great estates, as he had already done those of their rivals the Orsini. Duke Guidobaldo adopted the only prudent policy left in his option, and obtained the nominal protection of Louis by sending fifty lances to co-operate with his Neapolitan expedition. On its results we cannot linger. The French King halted in Rome for a few days, whilst Alexander, on the 28th of June, declared Federigo deprived of his crown. The latter had turned towards Ferdinand of Spain, hoping that policy would combine with family ties to procure from him support in this exigency; but he was doomed to experience the-394- hollowness of such hopes. A treaty, signed on the 11th of November, 1500, was produced, by which his kingdom had been secretly partitioned between Louis and Ferdinand; the northern portion, with the capital, was assigned to the former, and the southern, with the dukedom of Calabria, became an appanage of the Spanish monarchy, the maritime cities of Monopoli, Otranto, Brindisi, and Trani being reserved for the Venetians.[*283] At Capua alone were the French arms resisted, and after a short siege that city was delivered over to the worst horrors of a sack, Duke Valentino reserving for himself forty of the most beautiful maidens of the place. The King of the Two Sicilies, seeing his cause desperate, abdicated a short-lived sovereignty, which in happier circumstances he might have usefully and honourably wielded. He was permitted to retire to France, as titular Duke of Anjou, with a pension of 30,000 ducats, and died there in 1504. But he lived long enough to see his dominions pass from his conqueror, and the French driven from Lower Italy by the Spaniards. His last public act was to reconcile these powers, who, on plundering him of his dominions, had quarrelled over the spoil. After struggles protracted during two years, and brightened by the last blaze of expiring chivalry, Gonsalvo, the Great Captain, established over Naples the Spanish monarchy, which during the next two centuries swayed that fine country with an iron rod, the wounds whereof still rankle in its vitals. Thus was firmly planted in the Peninsula an influence which quickly overshadowed, and eventually crushed, her nationality, and which, even when finally withdrawn, left upon her intellectual powers and material prosperity a malignant blight that continues to spread its poison.

The calculation of the Borgia was, that, in the general scramble consequent upon the French invasion, their-395- selfish schemes might be readily promoted.[284] Besides investing Cesare with the best portion of Romagna, and erecting Nepi with many of the Colonna estates into a dukedom for Giovanni, another natural son born after his elevation to the tiara, Alexander had pursued his ambitious views for his too favourite daughter Lucrezia, and after marrying her to Don Alfonso, Duke of Bisceglia, in 1498, had endowed her with the sovereign duchy of Spoleto. But the French alliance subsequently superseded his original design of basing the grandeur of his house upon the Aragon dynasty of Naples; and, prompt to free himself from the trammels of a falling cause, he was suspected of sanctioning the assassination of his son-in-law the Duke, in July, 1500, by the paid cut-throats of Cesare, whose blows not proving fatal, the unhappy prince was strangled in bed a few weeks later. The Venetian report, lately quoted from Ranke,[285] tends, however, to acquit his Holiness of this enormity, which was consummated by the bow-string of his son's agent Michelotto; indeed it represents Lucrezia as affectionately tending the invalid, and, with his sister the Princess of Squillace, cooking his food as a security against the potions of her remorseless brother, whose remark that "what failed at dinner might be managed at supper," was a pregnant hint of his sinister designs. At all events, this outrage seems to have deeply disgusted Lucrezia, but, after a brief interval, she reappeared at the court of her father, who, on quitting his capital several times during 1501, left the executive in her hands, exhibiting the novel scandal of the papacy under petticoat government. In the following year she willingly lent herself to the fourth nuptials which he had arranged for her.[*286] Once more the states of the Church were-396- enjoined to celebrate her marriage with festivities worthy of royalty, the bridegroom being Alfonso, heir to the dukedom of Ferrara, who, by this discreditable connection, earned the towns of Cento and Pieve, with a dowry of 100,000 ducats, and the protection of the Borgia. The ceremony was performed by the Pontiff in person, who presented his daughter with jewels to the value of 100,000 scudi. Comedies, bull-fights, and illuminations were exhibited over all Rome in her honour, this lavish expenditure being defrayed out of sums raised by the indiscriminate sale of benefices, and indulgences for the pretended Turkish crusade. Of these revels, as described by Burchard, it is quite impossible to stain our pages with any account; their disgusting impurities would have disgraced the orgies of a brothel.[*287] The dukedom of Sermoneta was about the same time erected out of the Gaetani estates for her infant son Roderigo, born in November, 1499, during her marriage with the Duke of Bisceglia, but of doubted paternity: she having soon after lost the favour of her brother Cesare, which had brought upon her much scandal, this fief was seized by him, on the paltry excuse that being a woman she could not maintain possession of it.

In the following January, the bride set out for her new capital, and the Pope wrote desiring that the Duchess of Urbino should attend her to Ferrara. Considering how lately Lucrezia had been wife of her brother-in-law Giovanni Sforza, this was an honour she would gladly have dispensed with, but the habitual deference shown by Guidobaldo to the wishes of his Holiness prevented her declining what was expressed as a compliment, though subsequent events soon showed that it was but-397- a cloak to ulterior projects of a very difficult character. The Duchess of Ferrara arrived at Urbino on the 18th of January, 1502, with the extravagant accompaniment of two thousand attendants and a hundred and fifty horses, who were all entertained by the Duke in Gubbio, Cagli, and Urbino, at an expense of about 8000 ducats.[288] Escorted by her hosts, she next day proceeded to Pesaro, visiting as a passing guest the city which had lately owned her as its mistress. For the second time she entered it a bride, greeted by bell-chimes and bonfires, and met by a hundred children bearing olive-branches. But their wands of peace mingled strangely with the gorgeous liveries of her brother, who in right of the sword, held the state of him who had on the former occasion been her husband. Even when at the height of her dissolute career, she was characterised by a contemporary as liberal and savia (which may either mean learned or discreet); and to her taste and patronage, rather than to Duke Alfonso, is ascribed the literary tone which graced the court of Ferrara. As years wore on she is represented as having purified her thoughts, and, weaning them from earthly gauds and sensual joys, to have concentrated them on devotional contemplations. Her death took place in child-bed on the 24th of June, 1519, and the following letter of condolence from the Doge of Venice to her husband indicates the regard which she had gained in that capital:—

"We have this morning heard with great concern the death of your most illustrious consort, to whom, on account of the excellent qualities possessed by her Ladyship, we ever have extended our affection and entire goodwill, knowing them to be fully reciprocated by her. With the paternal love which we bear to you and her, we condole with your Excellency as if we had lost a daughter of our own. Yet our grief is somewhat mitigated, know-398-ing it to be a dispensation of nature which none can escape, and remembering the past religious life of her Excellency. And so we implore your Lordship that, in this so distressing event, you will have recourse to your usual and natural prudence for the alleviation of your grief, submitting to the will of our Lord God, in which we ought all to acquiesce."[289]

* Note.—The following account of the state of the Romagna before Cesare's conquest cannot be ignored, and must be accepted as accurate; cf. Machiavelli, Discorsi, III., 29: "La Romagna, innanzi che in quella fussero spenti da Papa Alessandro VI. quelli signori che la comandavano, era uno esempio d'ogni scelleratissima vita, perchè quivi si vedeva per ogni leggiera cagione seguire uccisioni e rapine grandissime. Il che nasceva dalla tristizia di quei principi, non dalla natura trista degli uomini, come loro dicevano. Perchè sendo quelli principi poveri, e volendo vivere da ricchi, erano sforzati volgersi a molte rapine, e quelle per varj modi usare; e intra l'altre disoneste vie che e' tenevano, facevano leggi e proibivano alcuna azione; dipoi erano i primi che davano cagione della inosservanza di esse, nè mai punivano gl'inosservanti, etc." Cesare ruled well, introducing many reforms, and, avoiding excessive taxes, established some sort of security both for life and for property.



Duke Guidobaldo’s retired life—Cesare Borgia surprises and seizes Urbino—The Duke’s flight—The diet of La Magione—Rising in the Duchy, and his return—He again retires.

OUR attention has been long distracted from our mountain duchy, whose lord sought, in the peaceful retreat of his elegant court and happy home, to isolate himself from intrigues alien to his tastes and perilous to his welfare. The notices we shall gather of his social circle towards the close of his life would doubtless apply, in part, to this period, so barren of incidents as to have baffled our research. All we know of him after his return from Venice is, that at Easter, in 1500, he visited Rome, with a suite of six horsemen and sixty attendants on foot, to observe with due honour the jubilee functions, and that, in the following February, one Camillo Caraccioli was hanged at Urbino, as an emissary of Valentino, suspected of a design to assassinate the Duke. In November, 1501, he met with a severe political as well as domestic loss in the death of his brother-in-law Giovanni della Rovere, Lord of Sinigaglia, and Prefect of Rome. In pursuance of the arrangement already referred to, of adopting his son Francesco Maria as heir of Urbino, the boy, then in his twelfth year, was removed to that court; and with a view to throw these parties more completely off their guard, Alexander continued to the youth his father's dignity of prefect, with which he was solemnly invested, on the 24th of April, in the cathedral of Urbino, a hint being-400- still held out of betrothing him to Angela Borgia, niece of his Holiness. The installation was not attended by the Duchess, who, when the ceremonies and fetes of Lucrezia Borgia's marriage were concluded at Ferrara, had proceeded to Venice, accompanying her sister-in-law the Marchioness of Mantua, and attended by her faithful Emilia Pia. They remained there during several weeks, preserving a nominal incognito, and attending public sights muffled in their hoods, but received from the Signory a compliment of confectionary and wax to the amount of twenty-five ducats. On Easter Thursday they went to Verona and so to Mantua, where the Duchess remained until joined by her lord on his flight from Urbino.

The ambition of the Borgia must again claim our attention. For the nominal purpose of avenging upon the Colonna and Savelli their adherence to the King of Naples, Alexander had anew instituted an active persecution against these powerful barons of the Campagna and their inviting fiefs. But a larger field was wanting for Cesare's ever-expanding designs. Tuscany and Bologna were now under the protection of Louis XII.; the heir of Ferrara had become his brother-in-law; so was he compelled to turn towards La Marca in pursuit of his plans of usurpation. The Pope, having on some idle ground declared the fief of Camerino forfeited by Giulio Cesare Varana, its hereditary seigneur, sent Valentino to expel him by arms. At the same time, Vitellozzo Vitelli, lieutenant-general in Cesare's service, laid siege to Arezzo, on pretext of avenging his brother Paolo's judicial murder by the Florentines, but having, no doubt, a secret understanding with his master. The events, now crowding upon each other, which reduced Guidobaldo within a few hours from his flourishing sovereignty to proscription and exile, are clearly narrated in a letter-401- written by himself a few days after his romantic escape, and addressed to Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, the uncle of his adopted heir, whom we shall, ere long, have to notice as Pope Julius II. It has been printed by Leone in his life of Duke Francesco Maria I.; but our translation was made from a contemporary copy in the Vatican library.[290] That the costly visit of Lucrezia to Urbino,[*291] the journey of Duchess Elisabetta to Ferrara, the withdrawal of troops and money to Arezzo, and the demand for artillery, were all parts of a deep-laid design to embarrass Guidobaldo, and facilitate the treacherous seizure of his capital by Cesare Borgia, is established beyond question by that letter. The attachment of his subjects, the respectability of his character, the support of France and of Venice secured to him by solemn pactions, the personal influence with Louis of his relation the Cardinal della Rovere, and the strength of his country, all presented most serious political and military obstacles to the employment against the Duke of the same means by which Valentino had gained a footing in Romagna. A surprise might anticipate remonstrance and paralyse resistance. Recourse was therefore had to treachery, and its success was equal to the cunning which prepared and the dexterity which effected it.

"Most reverend Lord,

"Your Lordship has doubtless ere now learned the excessive treachery used towards me by the Pope and-402- Duke Valentino, and must feel surprise at not having received from me any confirmation of the fact. I pray your pardon for this delay; but the great difficulties I encountered in saving myself have occupied all my thoughts, although that I have reached this, may be ascribed rather to a miraculous interposition of Providence than to anything else. But to put you in possession of the whole case, you must know that the affair of Arezzo against the Florentines being disclosed to me after the return of Nicoloso Doria, I could not credit such a piece of villainy, for I never did or conceived anything in regard to the Pope or Duke Valentino except for their pleasure and profit. I therefore remained in secure reliance, considering the expeditions against Tuscany and Camerino to be great and justifiable enterprises: and I did so the more that my agent in Rome daily received pressing assurances of affection and safety from the Pope, the Cardinal of Modena, Trotti, Signor Adriano, Signor Paolo Orsini, and Duke Valentino. The Cardinal, in particular, volunteered to me, through an Observantine friar of influence who was much in my interest, the most solemn assurances on his own responsibility that I had nothing to fear, and that, having seen every despatch sent to France, Germany, and Venice, he was certain my name was never alluded to but in friendly terms. Whilst I thus remained inactive, and ready to follow your Lordship's advice, which I had already most anxiously sought through the Lord Prefect, I heard of the Duke leaving Rome with his troops, and at the same moment was applied to for a thousand infantry by Vitellozzo, who having taken Arezzo was doubtful of carrying the citadel. To whom I replied, that I had every wish to oblige his Holiness, the Duke, and himself, but that, as the Florentines were under French protection, and, as I had no personal quarrel with them to plead, I wished he would get the Pope to send a written application to me as his vicar, which I would at once obey. This answer he took-403- much amiss, and refused me, saying that he would have the place without me.

"There arrived soon after at Perugia the Bishop of Elna, as commissary-general of the Pope for the enterprise against Camerino, who sent me two Spanish gentlemen, with a letter from his Holiness, couched in the most affectionate terms, and stating that having ever found me in all respects devoted to the Church and to himself, he prayed me to concur in all the Duke's projects, and to execute the directions which I should receive from the Bishop. My reply placed myself at his Holiness's disposal. The Spaniards then informed me that my artillery must advance by Gubbio, Cagli, La Serra, and Sassoferrato, for which purpose I should have the roads repaired, and draught oxen provided; they likewise required me to give free passage and provisions for [an escort of] fifteen hundred foot. I immediately sent back with them Messer Dolce, to inform the Bishop that these instructions should all be willingly fulfilled, and I gave the necessary orders to the commissioner of Cagli and the lieutenant of Gubbio. I subsequently wrote to Messer Dolce at Perugia, desiring him to proceed as far as Spoleto to meet the Duke, and to wait upon his Excellency with every offer of service. He was received with all possible demonstrations of gratitude by the Duke, who assured him, with many thanks, that on no one in Italy could he look with the same fraternal attachment as myself; and who further earnestly entreated that I should send the thousand men to Vitellozzo. Messer Dolce having reported these matters to me, I instantly sent him back to represent my readiness to comply, on receiving from the Pope and his Excellency such letters as should discharge me of every responsibility with the King of France, and to propose that, since the exigence did not afford time to obtain these, Vitellozzo might raise five hundred men in my state, for which purpose I should contribute 1000-404- ducats, a force which would probably suffice, as I had just heard of his having reduced the citadel of Arezzo. I also prepared a beautiful charger with a surcoat of brocade, and sent them with Messer Dolce next day as a present, to the Duke.

"But the latter, having suddenly taken horse at Spoleto hurried towards Costaccioro, sending forward two thousand men, whom he called the foot artillery; and these, having been admitted by my people, according to my instructions, advanced without further leave upon Cagli. The Duke, hurrying after them, was met between Cagli and Cantiano by Messer Dolce, who at the same moment received advices from Fossombrone, that of the two thousand infantry whom the former had in Romagna for the enterprise against Camerino, one half had moved upon Isola di Fano, Sorbolongo, and Reforzato, which places commanded the passes between my territory and that of the Lord Prefect, and that, besides these, a soldier was quartered in every house at Fano. It further appeared that the Counts of Montevecchio and S. Lorenzo, who were hovering on that frontier, had within the last few days been taken into the Duke's pay.

"These several pieces of intelligence, so very different from my anticipations, reached me within the interval of an hour, about eight o'clock at night, whilst I was enjoying myself at supper in the country, supposing myself in perfect security. I hurried back to Urbino, and there found a message from the authorities of S. Marino, to inform me that the remaining thousand infantry of Romagna had advanced upon Verucchio and S. Arcangelo, well officered, occasioning them great alarm. Presently there reached me a letter from the commissioner of Cagli, intimating that the Duke had avowed hostile intentions, and would reach Urbino next morning. That place being in all respects unprovided for resistance, and its defences of no strength, I thought it-405- well to make the best of my way on horseback, along with the Lord Prefect, three of my people, and a few archers, to S. Leo, my strongest fortress in Montefeltro, which is accessible by only two passes. I left instructions that matters should be so arranged that Urbino might suffer as little as possible, and at midnight I set out. By dawn I reached a castle [Monte Coppiolo] four miles distant from S. Leo, and there learned that the troops from Verucchio and S. Arcangelo, instead of marching upon S. Marino, had seized the passes of S. Leo, which was surrounded on all sides by the men of Rimini and Cesena, well organised. On hearing this, I despatched a person to ascertain how things were, and took the road to S. Agata, another of my Montefeltrian castles, on the confines of Tuscany and Romagna, which, though not of great strength, was a good quarter, and there I halted for a short rest to the horses, then nearly dead.

"Dismissing there the archers, I, with three mounted followers, thought it best to separate from the Lord Prefect, who, with two of his people, took the most secure route towards the Val di Bagno, whilst I, disguised as a peasant, followed the mountain paths towards the Tuscan frontier, and the strongholds in the bishopric of Sarsina, then held for the Duke. About fourteen miles from S. Ag