תמונות בעמוד


thea of Denmark, visited Mantua in 1475, a great fair was held in her honour, and as many as 5000 pieces of cloth were offered for sale.

Barbara's love for her adopted country did not weaken the ties which bound her to her old German home. She kept up an active correspondence with her kinsfolk beyond the Alps, and entertained her father the Elector John and her uncle the Margrave Albert of Brandenburg repeatedly at Mantua. Her third and favourite son, the tall and handsome Gianfrancesco, was sent to be educated under the Margrave's eye at Anspach, while Bodolfo, her fourth son, the gallant soldier who afterwards fell at Fornovo, completed his knightly training at the court of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. But the proudest day of Barbara's life was that of the opening of the General Council which Pope Pius II.. summoned to meet at Mantua in 1459. It was Albert of Brandenburg who, at Barbara's suggestion, had advised the Pope to choose Mantua for the meeting of this Council, which was to restore peace to Christendom and proclaim a crusade against the Turk. Only England, distracted by the Wars of the Roses, and Scotland, "buried in the far northern seas," sent no answer to the Pope's appeal. Princes and ambassadors arrived from all parts of Italy and Germany. Pius II. and his eight Cardinals, Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, Albert of Brandenburg, and Duke Sigismund of Austria were among the guests who were entertained in the Castello. The Pope, who spent four months at Mantua, was greatly impressed by the noble character of the Marchioness, whom he described in one of his letters as "distinguished among all other matrons of the age by her shining graces of 30 A BAVARIAN BRIDE

body and mind." Two years afterwards, he gratified Barbara's fondest wish by bestowing a Cardinal's hat on her second son Francesco, a boy of seventeen, who was still studying at the University of Pavia. Her maternal pride was equally pleased when, in 1462, the Emperor Frederick III. arranged a marriage for her eldest son Federico with Margaret, daughter of Duke Sigismund of Bavaria. But the bad manners and rude habits of the German envoys, who came to Mantua to draw up the marriage contract, shocked the Italians, who declared that they behaved like cooks and scullions; and Federico, who is said to have been in love with another maiden, fled to Naples rather than marry this foreign bride. For several months nothing was heard of him, but at last he was discovered by King Ferrante, living in a destitute condition under an assumed name in the poor quarters of the city, and some time passed before his mother could induce him to return home and crave his father's forgiveness. In March 1403, Gianfrancesco and Rodolfo Gonzaga were sent to bring home the bride, who entered Mantua in state on the 7th of June. The chronicler Schivenoglia, who was Federico's secretary, evidently shared his master's dislike for the Germans, and describes the bride as short of stature, blonde and plump, and unable to speak a word of Italian; while her attendants were clad in coarse red clothes of ugly shape and colour. "As to their customs and manners," he adds significantly, "I will say nothing."1 Margaret herself, however, soon learnt to appreciate the refinement of Italian manners, and when some years later she paid a visit to her old home took a troop of

1 A. Schivenoglia, Cronaca di Mantova, 1445-1484.


richly attired singers and minstrels with her to Bavaria. We hear little else of Federico's bride, who had neither the vigorous character of the Marchesa Barbara nor the beauty and charm which made Isabella d'Este famous. But she was a good wife and mother, and her placid, gentle face, framed in a quaintly peaked, pearl-trimmed cap, bearing the Greek motto Amomos—spotless—may still be seen carved in low relief on a block of Carrara marble which once adorned the portals of the Gonzaga villa at Revere, and is now in the Academy of Mantua.

A worse trouble befell Lodovico and Barbara in the terrible affliction of their two elder daughters, Susanna and Dorotea, both of whom inherited the deformity which afflicted Paola Malatesta in her latter years. When Susanna, who had been betrothed as a child to Galeazzo Maria, the eldest son of Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, grew up hunchbacked, her younger sister's name was substituted in the marriage contract. But soon it became rumoured abroad that Dorotea, although a fair and attractive maiden, had one shoulder higher than the other, and before the wedding took place, the Duke demanded a medical certificate of her state of health. Rather than comply with this insulting condition, Lodovico broke off the negotiations and resigned his own appointment as captain of the Milanese forces. Both Galeazzo, who seems to have been really attached to his affianced bride, and his mother, Duchess Bianca, who was a personal friend of Barbara, endeavoured to reopen communications. But the Marquis declined all further correspondence on the subject, and in May 1465, refused the Duke's invita


tion to attend the wedding of his daughter Ippolita with the King of Naples's son, Alfonso, Duke of Calabria. When, however, the newly wedded pair were on their way to Naples, the Marquis and his family met them at Reggio, and Dorotea saw her old lover again. The minute directions which Barbara gave her son Federico on this occasion prove that she had not yet abandoned all hopes of the marriage.

"We do not yet know," she wrote on the 14th of June, "whether Signor Galeazzo will be present, but if he should come to Reggio, I think it well to warn you how to behave. First of all, as soon as you see the Milanese party approach, you and your wife must dismount and advance to meet them with outstretched hands and courteous reverence. Be careful not to bend your knee before them, but salute the illustrious Duke and Duchess, and shake hands with Filippo and Lodovico, and also with Galeazzo, if he is present and offers to shake hands. Dorotea must also give him her hand and curtsey to him, but if he does not come forward let her not move a step. Then we will take the Duchess up in our chariot, and you must all three of you pay her reverence. Dorotea must either wear her camora of black and silver brocade, or her crimson or gold-embroidered one, whichever of the three she chooses. Your wife may shake hands with the princes or not, as she pleases, for in her condition whatever she docs will be excused. But I hope you will take a little trouble in the matter, and explain all this clearly to Dorotea, and see that she makes no mistake. If we could be present at the interview, I would not trouble you, but I fear our chariot may be delayed LODOVICO'S DAUGHTERS 33

and we may arrive too late to receive the Milanese princes."1

The meeting passed off happily, and Barbara wrote to her absent son, Cardinal Francesco, saying that Dorotea had played her part well, and that Galeazzo had treated her with marked attention. Early in the next year the Duke of Milan died, and Galeazzo's first act was to renew his suit. Already the preliminaries of the contract were drawn up, when Dorotea fell suddenly ill of fever, and died in a few days. Ill-natured persons said that the new Duke had poisoned his bride to be rid of the bargain, but Galeazzo himself expressed the deepest grief, and after his marriage to Bona of Savoy brought his wife to stay at Mantua.

Two of Lodovico's remaining daughters married German princes, one of whom, the Count von Gortz, treated his wife so badly that she came back to Mantua a year after her marriage, while the other, Barbara, became, in 1474, the spouse of Count Eberhard von Wiirtemberg, the founder of the University of Tubingen.

Fortunately all Lodovico's sons grew up tall and strong. Three of them were valiant soldiers, who distinguished themselves in the service of the Pope and the King of Naples, while the youngest, Lodovico, bom in 1458, became Bishop of Mantua, and his brother, Cardinal Francesco, rose to still higher distinction in the Church. This young ecclesiastic was a refined connoisseur, and early showed his passion for music and antiques. When, after his appoint

1 Stefano Davari, II Matrimonii) di Dorotea Gonzaga; Paul Kristeller, Barbara von Brandenburg, Holtenzollern Jahrbuch, vol. iii. p. 66, &c.


« הקודםהמשך »