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24 BARBARA VON BRANDENBURG
to a better mind, and with his sanction Cecilia entered the convent of Corpus Domini, a community of Poor Clares founded by her mother, who came to end her own days there, after Gianfrancesco's death in 1444. When Pisanello visited Mantua three years afterwards, he designed the beautiful medal inscribed with the words Cecilia Virgo, showing on one side a profile portrait of her delicate and refined features, and on the other her seated figure, with the crescent moon and unicorn as emblems of her maidenhood. Four years after this she died, before she was quite twenty-five.1
Vittorino's good offices were exerted on behalf of another of his pupils, Lodovico Gonzaga, who in a fit of anger at seeing his younger brother Carlo preferred to him, fled to the camp of Filippo Visconti, Duke of Milan, and took up arms against his father. Gianfrancesco vowed that he would disinherit this undutiful son, and it was only at the end of three years, in deference to Paola and Vittorino's entreaties, that he consented to a reconciliation and publicly recognised Lodovico as his heir. Meanwhile the young prince's little German bride, Barbara von Brandenburg, was growing up in his mother's charge, and profiting by Vittorino's instructions. The marriage had been arranged by the Emperor Sigismund when he visited Mantua in 1433, and that autumn an escort of 200 Mantuan courtiers was sent to Augsburg to bring back the ten-year-old princess, with a golden chariot drawn by four horses, and a robe of gold brocade so stiff* and splendid that the German ladies exclaimed "it stood up of itself!" Soon after Lodovico's return, in 1440, the marriage was solemLITERARY TASTES OF LODOVICO 25
1 Paglia, op. cit.; Pastor, "History of the Popes," i. 46.
nised, and Barbara proved the best of wives and mothers and the most admirable helpmeet to her husband during the thirty-four years of his long reign.1
Amidst the cares of state and perils of war, Lodovico did not forget the lessons which he had learnt in the Casa Zoiosa, and while, as captain of the Florentine and Milanese armies, he proved his valour on many a hard-fought field, he ruled his people wisely and well, and showed a zeal for learning and an enlightened love of art worthy of Vittorino's scholar. Mindful of the happy days when he and his comrades played together in the fields of Pietola, he collected all the manuscripts of Virgil that he could obtain, and Platina, whom he employed to revise the text, wrote a poem called "The Dream of the Marquis," in which Virgil returns from the Elysian fields and begs Lodovico to complete his great work and purge his text from the errors of the copyists. Petrarch and Dante were as dear to him as the classical poets. He employed artists to illuminate the iEneid and Divina Cornmedia, and a richly illustrated MS. of the Fihcoh of Boccaccio from his collection, bearing the black eagles and lions of the Gonzagas, is now preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. One autumn, when he was taking the baths at Petriolo, he begged his wife to send him his St. Augustine, Quintus Curtius and Lucan, which had been left behind at Mantua. Another time he borrowed Borso d'Este's precious Codex of Pliny, while his wife begged the Duke to lend her S. Caterina of Siena's prayers. Lodovico 26 ART AT HIS COURT
1 B. Hoffmann, Barbara von Hohenzolleni Markgrcifin von Mantua; P. Kristeller in Holienzollern Jahrbuch, 1899, P- 66, &c.
was also much interested in natural history, and made a valuable collection of books with illustrations of birds and animals. Under his patronage a printingpress was set up in Mantua, and Boccaccio's Decamerone was the first book published there in 1473.
The decoration of his capital was another object to which this admirable prince devoted his best attention. At his invitation Alberti paid repeated visits to Mantua, and designed the chapel of the Incoronata in the Duomo, and the churches of S. Sebastian and S. Andrea. This last church, which was founded in 1472, to receive the sacred blood said to have been brought to Mantua by the centurion Longinus, was justly admired as one of the earliest and most successful examples of ecclesiastical architecture in the classical style. Alberti's designs were mostly carried out by Luca Fancelli, another Tuscan architect, who entered Lodovico's service in 1450, and built or improved the beautiful ducal villas at Go'ito, Cavriana, Gonzaga, and Revere, which are so often mentioned in Isabella d'Este's letters. The best sculptors and painters were employed by Lodovico to decorate these sumptuous country houses. Pisanello adorned a hall in the Castello with frescoes, and remained at Mantua until he received an imperious summons from Leonello d'Este, threatening him with the forfeiture of all his property in Ferrara if he did not return immediately. Donatello spent nearly two years at Mantua, where he executed the noble bronze bust of Lodovico, now at Berlin, and began the Arca of St. Anselm in the Duomo. The Marquis often employed the great Florentine sculptor to send him antiques, but complained bitterly how difficult it was to induce him to ANDREA MANTEGNA 27
finish anything. He was more fortunate with Mantegna, who, after repeated and urgent invitations, at length came to Mantua in the summer of 1459, and remained there until his death, half-a-century later.
That love of antiquity with which Vittorino had inspired him in early youth, and which he admired in Alberti's architectural designs, first led him to appreciate the genius of this great Paduan master, who was animated with the true classical spirit. He treated Andrea with unalterable kindness, gave him a liberal salary of fifteen ducats a month, with supplies of corn, wood, wine, and lodgings for his family, and bore patiently with the irritable master's frequent complaints against the tailor who had spoilt his new coat, or the neighbour who had robbed his orchard of five hundred quinces. And when in the last years of his reign the treasury was exhausted by a long war, and the plague was raging in Mantua, the good Marquis replied to Andrea's bitter reproaches in the following noble and kindly letter:
"Andrea," he wrote from Go'ito, "we have received a letter from you which it really seems to us that you need not have written, since we perfectly remember the promises we made when you entered our service, neither, as it seems to us, have we failed to keep these promises or to do our utmost for you. But you cannot take from us what we have not got, and you yourself have seen that, when we have had the means, we have never failed to do all in our power for you and our other servants, and that gladly and with good will. It is true that, since we have not received our usual revenues during the last few months, we have been obliged to defer 28 VIRTUES OF BARBARA
certain payments, such as this which is due to you, but we are seeking by every means in our power to raise money to meet our obligations, even if we are forced to mortgage our own property, since all our jewels are already pawned, and you need not fear but that before long, your debt will be paid gladly and readily."1
In the government of his people and in the administration of his affairs Lodovico was ably assisted by his excellent wife Barbara, the Hohenzollern princess who, leaving her own land at so early an age, brought the solid and domestic virtues of the Teutonic race to blend with the refined tastes of the Gonzagas. A prudent housewife and devoted mother, she watched over the education of her children with unwearied care. When Platina, who became her son Federico's tutor, after the death of Vittorino in 1446, was sent on a journey to Greece, she looked out at once for another master, saying it was a pity the boy should waste his time; and when his successor, Filelfo, complained that Federico was lazy and indifferent, and had no real love of books, she counselled patience, and remarked that he would probably develop later. Under her vigilant eye no foolish luxury or wasteful expenditure was allowed. A refined simplicity marked the daily life of the court, and display was reserved for state occasions. At the same time Barbara took a lively interest in the welfare of her husband's subjects. She encouraged the cloth manufacture by her example and influence, and large quantities of this fabric were yearly exported to Germany. When her sister, Queen Doro
1 Archivio Gonzaga, lib. 86, quoted by A. Baschet, Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1866.