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196 JOURNEY OF THE BRIDE
on the 6th of January, the wedding party set out for Ferrara, escorted by a cavalcade of Roman horsemen. The bride was attended by a suite of 180 persons, and Angela Borgia, that damigella elegantissima who had fascinated 77 Prete at first sight, was her chief ladyin-waiting. By the Pope's command the bride was received with royal honours at Terni, Spoleto, Foligno, and each place where a halt was made. At Gubbio Duchess Elisabetta herself came to meet her, and Duke Guidobaldo, who had strong reason to distrust Csesar Borgia, no doubt felt it prudent to give his sister a splendid reception at Urbino. Elisabetta herself accompanied the bride over the mountain passes to Pesaro, where Lucrezia was lodged in the very palace which she had occupied for some years as the wife of Giovanni Sforza. At Imola, the party rested for a whole day in order that the bride might set her jewels and clothes in order for her entry into Ferrara, and wash her head. This, Ferrante d'Este explained in a letter to his father, she had been unable to do for ten days, owing to which she suffered severely from headaches. Some days were spent at Bologna, where a banquet was given by the Bentivoglios in her honour, after which the party embarked on bucentaurs, and travelled by water first along a canal, and then up the river Po as far as Castell Bentivoglio, a town about twenty miles from Ferrara. Here the bride was surprised to see Don Alfonso, who had ridden out in disguise to meet her, and spent two hours in her company to her great delight. She wrote that night to tell her father of the prince's courtesy, which gratified the old Pope highly. The next day he sent for the Ferrarese envoy to express his satisfaction, and spoke with genuine affection of TO FERRARA 197
Lucrezia, saying repeatedly: "I have done great things for her, and I mean to do more." As the Venetian ambassador, Paolo Capello, remarked: "The advancement of his children is the only thing that he seems to care about."1
1 M. Sanuto, Diarii, iii. 847.
Isabella presides at Lucrezia Borgia's marriage festivities—Reception of the bride at Ferrara—Isabella's letters to her husband —Comedies, balls, and fetes—The ambassadors' gifts—Isabella entertains the French ambassador—Her interview with the Venetian envoys—Return to Mantua—Lucrezia Borgia's life at Ferrara—Her relations with Isabella and the Marquis.
While Elisabetta Gonzaga was escorting Lucrezia Borgia on her journey through Central Italy, Isabella d'Este came to Ferrara at her father's request, to receive her brother's bride. Her own letters to Francesco give full descriptions of the wedding festivities, which were on a splendid scale and are said to have cost Duke Ercole 25,000 ducats. On the 29th of January, two days after her arrival, Isabella wrote:—
"My dearest Lord,—My father came to my room after dinner to-day and arranged the order of the bride's entry, which is to be as follows. On Tuesday, I shall accompany Don Alfonso with only a few ladies in a barge as far as Malalbergo to meet her, after which she will sleep at my lord Alberto d'Este's house at Casale, and I shall return home with the Duchess of Urbino, who however must go back on Wednesday to keep the bride company. Madonna Lucrezia Bentivoglio with half of these ladies will go to meet her and follow her in the procession, while I remain here with the other half to receive her at the steps of the Palace. It is true that I mean to go and
ISABELLA AT FERRARA 199
see the entry from the Custom-house, but as soon as the procession has passed by, I shall return to the Palace. After making these arrangements, my father took me to see the hall where the comedies are to be acted, which is 146 feet long by 46 wide. Steps have been made from the Piazza with a partition to divide the men from the women, who will be in the centre, with the men on either side; the ceiling and steps are hung with green, red, and white draperies. On the opposite side of the hall is a wooden stage about the height of a man, with battlements, and the scenery for the comedies, which are to be six in number. About 5000 persons are expected, but the seats will be reserved for strangers, and any that remain will be given to Ferrarese gentlemen. Five shields with coats of arms hang from the roof—those of the Church, of France, Este, and Borgia, and the black and white eagle which was our old coat of arms. I saw nothing else worthy of note. The wooden beams of the roof are left bare, but perhaps these are to be draped later. I will tell you what more is to be seen on the day itself. All these gentlemen are busy preparing sumptuous dresses and gold chains, but the attire of the women will be splendid beyond words! I have not left the house these two days, owing to the number of visitors which I have had. To-night we go to the house of M. Ercole Strozzi. I am sending 500 oysters by the sailors who take back the barge, and I hope Your Excellency will enjoy them for love of me. Kiss my darling boy a thousand times over!—Your wife, Isabella."1 Ferrara, Jan. 29, 1502.
1 This and the following letters from Ferrara were published by D'Arco in Arch. St. It., App. ii See also F. Gregorovius, "Lucrezia Borgia."
200 RECEPTION OF THE BRIDE
On the 1st of February, the Marchesa described her first meeting with the bride: "Soon after eight o'clock I entered Don Alfonso's barge together with Don Giulio (her half-brother) and my own gentlemen and ladies. At Torre della Fossa I changed boats and went on to Malalbergo, where we met the bride in a ship with Don Ferrante and Don Sigismondo and a few others, and here I found the Duchess of Urbino with them. The boat came alongside, and one bark having curtsied to the other with joyous haste, I entered the bride's with Madonna Laura (Giovanni Gonzaga's wife), and after exchanging salutes we went on our way and she did not enter the small bucentaur for fear of losing time. About four o'clock we reached Torre della Fossa, where my father was standing on the shore awaiting us. The archers in their red and white liveries, seventy-five in number, were drawn up in a row, and the whole court gathered round the Duke, who took Madonna Lucrezia by the hand and kissed her, after she had insisted on first kissing his hand. Then we entered the large bucentaur, where all the ambassadors shook hands with us, and we sat down in the following order: the bride between the French and Venetian, myself between the Venetian and Florentine, and the Duchess of Urbino between the Florentine and Sienese, the Lucchese envoy being close by. My father and Don Alfonso sat on deck above, talking and joking together, and were much amused by the Spanish clowns, who paid the bride all manner of compliments, and so, amid great cheering and shouting and the sound of trumpets and guns, we reached Casale about five. After accompanying the bride to her rooms we all left, and I took the Duchess of