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remain in Rome, and after surrendering the chief fortresses of Romagna to the Pope, he went to Naples. Here Gonsalvo de Cordova arrested him by order of King Ferdinand of Aragon, in spite of a safe conduct which had been given him. He was sent to Spain in August 1504, and after languishing for two years in prison, succeeded in making his escape from the Tower of Medina del Campo, and fell in March 1507, at Viana, fighting for his brother-in-law, the King of Navarre, against Castile. So this hero of great powers and greater audacity, whose extraordinary career had filled Italy with amazement, and whose name struck terror into every heart, died at the early age of thirty-one, and the meteor which had flashed upon the world with sudden brilliancy, vanished into night. Six months after his father's death he was already forgotten in Rome. "Of Valentino," wrote the Mantuan envoy, Giovanni Lucido, "one hears no more." To the last he remained on friendly terms with the Gonzagas, and when he reached Pampeluna, he wrote a long account of his escape to the Marquis, signing himself, "Your Compare et minore fratello" and telling him that now, after all his labour and efforts, he was at length a free man. And Lucrezia, in her letters to Francesco, thanks him repeatedly for ?' the singular and truly fraternal love that you have ever shown to my brother the Duke."

While these strange events were thrilling the heart of Italy, and one Pope was succeeding the other at the Vatican, Isabella remained at Mantua, directing the government in her husband's absence, and much occupied with her little son. On the 12th of November, she took the three-year-old child 262 MESSER VIGILIO

to see an Italian comedy, the "Formicone," adapted from Apuleius, acted by some pupils of Francesco Vigilio, who held a public school in Mantua, and whom she had already determined in her own mind to choose for Federico's tutor. The performance was admirable, and Isabella, in writing to her lord, tells him that " a son of our steward distinguished himself in the part of a servant, and will be of great use in our comedies, while Federico was surrounded by a fine troop of children." But the Marquis disapproved alike of Messer Francesco and of his comedies, and wrote back rudely that Isabella need not take Federico to those plays and encourage Vigilio's hopes of having the child for a pupil, since he meant the boy to have little book-learning, and acquire that little from other teachers, and hoped soon to take him out to fight at his side and make a man of him.1

The day on which Isabella attended the representation of Messer Vigilio's comedy was marked by another event, as we learn from her brother-in-law the Protonotary's letter to the Marquis.

"Yesterday I went with this illustrious Madonna and Signor Federico to the school of Messer Franceso, whose scholars recited a fine comedy exceedingly well. It was a very pretty sight, and pleased us all highly. Afterwards we drove as usual to take the air in the town, and returned to the Castello about five o'clock; and Madonna sat down to cards to spend the evening after her usual custom, and played till after eight. Then she rose from the table and told me that she would not come to supper as she felt pains, and went to her room, and we sat down

D'Ancona, Origini, ii. 389, and Luzio, Federico Ostaggio, p. 62.


to table, and 1 supped in the Castello. And before we had finished, the said Madonna gave birth to a little girl, and although we greatly desired a boy, yet we must be content with what is given us."1

This fourth daughter who was born to Isabella received the name of Ippolita, and became a nun in the Dominican convent of S. Vincenzo.

Meanwhile Francesco Gonzaga was conducting the campaign in the kingdom of Naples under great difficulties. The French troops under his command were turbulent and undisciplined, his movements were impeded by heavy floods, and his plans were foiled by the superior generalship of the Great Captain, although he succeeded in crossing the river Garigliano and relieving Gaeta. At length, heartily sick of the task, and being unable, in the words of the Venetian diarist, "any longer to endure the pride, quarrels, and disobedience of the French," he resigned his command on the plea of illness, and returned to Mantua.2 A few weeks after his departure, on the 28th of December, the French were completely defeated in a battle on the banks of the Garigliano, and Piero dei Medici, who fought on the French side, was drowned in the river. The fortress of Gaeta, which Gonsalvo had long blockaded in vain, now surrendered, and Naples was lost to France. On the 11th of February a treaty was signed at Lyons by which Louis XII. gave up all claim to the kingdom, and Ferdinand of Aragon remained in undisputed possession of Southern Italy.

Francesco's return and the restoration of Duke Guidobaldo to his duchy were celebrated with bril264 PLAYS AT FERRARA

1 Luzio e Renier in Giorn. St. d. Lett. It., vol. zxxiv. p. 27. 1 M. Sanuto, vol. xxiv.

liant fetes both at Mantua and Urbino. Among the dramatic performances given at the Duke's court, was the so-called Comedy of Pope Alexander VI. and Valentino, a representation which included Lucrezia's wedding, Caesar Borgia's conquest of Urbino, the death of the Pope, and the triumphant return of Guidobaldo and Elisabetta.1

Duke Ercole came to Mantua at Isabella's urgent entreaty, and highly commended the series of comedies that were given in his honour. After he had returned home, a dramatic version of the history of Joseph, by a Ferrara poet, was given in the ducal theatre, and Isabella's old friend, the chamberlain Bernardo dei Prosperi, sent her full accounts of the performance. "Yesterday," he writes, "this Signor had the first part of the story of Joseph represented, up to his imprisonment in Egypt. It was very touching, and admirably acted in perfect silence, because we have adopted the good customs learnt at Mantua, and no longer allow every rogue to come in and interrupt the performance. There was no music but that of the organ and some flutes, which were very soft and pleasant to hear."2 The Duke's health had lately given much cause for anxiety, and he was no longer able to ride; but in July he travelled in a litter to Florence to pay his vows at the shrine of the Annunziata. After his return he fell seriously ill, and Isabella hurried to Ferrara to nurse him. But he rallied again, and retained his keen interest in literary subjects. On the 27th of October Isabella sent him one of the satirical productions known as prediche d'amore, which had been DEATH OF ERCOLE D'ESTE 265

1 D'Ancona, Origini, ii. 21; Ugolini, Storia di Urbino, ii. 128. 2 D'Ancona, op. cit.

lately composed at Milan by a witty friar named Fra Stoppino.1 He lingered on through the winter months, and died on the 25th of January 1505.2

Alfonso, who had been absent on a long journey to France, England, and Spain, hurried home on hearing of his father's illness, and the day after his death, rode through Ferrara clad in white, during a heavy fall of snow. A bold soldier and mighty hunter, the new Duke was a man of extraordinary physical strength, and would spend whole nights in the marshes of Comacchio, tracking wild boars, in the roughest weather, to the despair of his courtiers and attendants. He inherited the artistic traditions of the house of Este, built the sumptuous marble villa of Belvedere on an island in the Po, and employed Giovanni Bellini and Titian to decorate the Castello. But his fierce and vindictive temper was the cause of great family dissensions, and the first year of his reign was marked by a terrible domestic tragedy which cost Isabella many tears. First of all, in November 1505, a quarrel arose between Cardinal Ippolito d'Este and his half-brother Giulio, an illegitimate son of the late Duke, who were both in love with their sister-in-law Lucrezia's fair maid-of-honour, Angela Borgia. One day Angela laughingly told the Cardinal that his brother Giulio's eyes were worth more than his whole person, upon which Ippolito, in a fit of jealous rage, hired a band of assassins to attack Don Giulio on his return from a hunting expedition at Belriguardo. The ruffians tried to put out his eyes and partially blinded him. Don Alfonso reprimanded the Cardinal severely, and when Don Giulio

1 Luaio e Renier, Mantova e Urbino, p. 169. 8 Frizzij Storia di Ferrara, iv. 250.

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