« הקודםהמשך »
ALFONSO D'ESTE'S WEDDING 57
and Alfonso, and followed by the Marquis and Marchioness of Mantua, Annibale Bentivoglio and his wife, Lucrezia d'Este, Ercole's learned sister Bianca d'Este, with her husband Galeotto della Mirandola, and the Ambassadors of Milan, Venice, and Naples. Four triumphal arches, adorned with mythological groups, had been erected along the route by the ducal architect Biagio Rosetti, the builder of the Campanile of the Duomo and of the famous Palazzo Diamante. The Sun-god was seen driving his chariot on the arch opposite the Schifanoia palace, Cupid rode in his car drawn by doves in front of the Franciscan church, the Great Twin Brethren with their prancing steeds were represented on the arch before the Duomo, while all the chief gods of Olympus welcomed the bridal pair at the gates of the Castello. Here Leonora received the bride, and the nuptial blessing was pronounced by the Archbishop in the ducal chapel, while the German Kapellmeister, Don Giovanni Martini, played exquisite organ melodies, and the choir boys sang their sweetest strains. This was followed by a banquet and a representation of the Meneechmi with scenery painted for the occasion by a Ferrara master, Niccolo del Cogo, and a ball in which the Marquis of Mantua danced with the bride and Alfonso with the Marchioness. Later in the evening Isabella and Anna Sforza danced country dances together amidst the applause of the assembled company, after which the bride was escorted to her chamber by her family and courtiers, with lighted torches and much noisy merriment.1
The concourse of guests assembled at Ferrara
1 Luzio e Renier in Arch. St. Lomb., vol. xvii. p. 96.
58 ISABELLA GOVERNS MANTUA
on this occasion was enormous. The Venetian Ambassadors, Zaccaria Barbaro and Francesco Capello, brought as many as 150 persons in their suite, and the Duke's steward records that upwards of 45,000 pounds of meat were consumed at court during the week.1
On the 17th of February, Isabella wrote a detailed account of these festivities to her sister Beatrice, whose absence from Ferrara at this eventful time was the only thing she regretted, and promised to keep her better supplied with letters now that the fetes were over and she was quietly at home again. Lodovico, in his anxiety to gratify his sister-in-law, agreed to send a weekly courier to Mantua, and seldom failed to write himself, while Beatrice's Ferrarese ladies-in-waiting, Teodora degli Angeli and Polissena d'Este, kept Isabella well informed of all that happened at the court of Milan. Both the Duke and Duchess of Bari were exceedingly anxious that Isabella should join their hunting parties at Pavia and Vigevano that summer, but the Marchesa was unable to leave home, since her husband visited Bologna in June for his brother Giovanni's wedding to Laura Bentivoglio and afterwards went on to see his sister at Urbino. Money was short at Mantua, and Isabella could ill afford the expense of another journey to her sister's brilliant court. So she reluctantly declined her pressing invitations, and like a good wife devoted herself to the management of her lord's public and private affairs.
The long letters which Isabella addressed to Francesco in his absence show how seriously she applied herself to public business and how anxiously GALEOTTO'S DYKE 59
1 Muratori, R. I. S., vol. xxiv.
she considered the good of his subjects. She often consulted her father and her brother-in-law Lodovico Sforza, on questions which concerned them as neighbouring Powers. That summer she was much troubled about a certain dyke which her uncle Galeotto della Mirandola had constructed in his dominions whereby the waters of the river Secchia were diverted from Mantuan territory, and many farmers and peasants were threatened with ruin. In August, the Marchesa addressed an urgent entreaty to Lodovico, complaining that Galeotto had not only refused to attend to her request, but that, when she proposed to refer the question to the Regent of Milan, he had actually boasted that the Moro was far more friendly to him than to the Gonzagas, " although," she added indignantly, "our two houses are not only connected by ties of blood and marriage, but united by the closest friendship, and all the world knows the great kindness and paternal affection which you have shown to my lord and in a still higher degree to myself, so that Messer Galeotto need not presume to think himself more highly favoured than we are."
Galeotto however remained obdurate, and Duke Ercole at his daughter's request sent a shrewd lawyer, Pellegrino Prisciani, to examine the case and give her the benefit of his advice. In a letter dated the 13th of September, written from her favourite villa of Porto, she gives her father an amusing account of Messer Pellegrino's visit, and describes how the advocate listened attentively while she laid the case before him and took down notes of all that she said, after which he went on to Mirandola to hear Galeotto's defence and report both sides of the question.
"Messer Pellegrino," she writes in her lively style, 60 A PEDANTIC LAWYER
"began by making me a long exordium which to my mind altogether surpassed the speech which he addressed to you. For in haranguing Your Excellency he only quoted Pliny, whereas in speaking to me he quoted Ptolemy, Vitruvius, Homer, Horace, as well as an innumerable quantity of other authors about whom I knew as little of the one as of the other! One thing however really pleases me. It is that after seeing and examining all these plans I have begun to learn something about architecture, so that in future when you tell me about your buildings I shall be able to understand your explanations better." And in a postscript she adds: "M. Pellegrino departed yesterday, so well primed with our arguments regarding the dyke of Secchia that I cannot imagine how Messer Galeotto will be able to answer him, unless, as is generally the case, he persists in denying the truth !"l Unfortunately we do not learn the result of the lawyer's mission, but as we hear no more on the subject can only conclude that the Prince of Mirandola was brought to reason and that the fair Marchesa won her case.
In November, Isabella spent some weeks at Ferrara, and while she was there heard to her surprise that her husband had suddenly gone to Milan.
"My dearest lord," she wrote to him on the 4th of December, "I hear that you are gone to Milan and am vexed not to have known of this before your departure, as I would have left all the pleasures which I am enjoying here in the company of my father and mother, and would have come to Mantua at once to see Your Highness. But, as I did not know this in time, I send these few lines by a courier 1 Luzio e Renier in Giorn. St. d. Lett. It., 1900.
ISABELLA GOES TO MILAN 61
on horseback to satisfy my anxiety as to your welfare, begging you to commend me to Signor Lodovico and the Duchess.—From her who longs to see Your Highness, Isabella D' Este, with her own hand."
Francesco explained in a letter from Milan that he had informed his wife of his intended journey in a note which never reached her. Now he told her of the kindly reception which he had received from Lodovico and Beatrice, and of the honours and attentions with which he was loaded, " all of which," wrote Isabella in reply, "gave me incredible consolation, and were no less delightful to me than if I had been there in person." *
It was only in the following summer that Isabella herself was able to accept the Moro's repeated invitations and pay her long-deferred visit to Milan. A series of fetes and dramatic representations were to be given at Pavia in honour of Duke Ercole, and Francesco Gonzaga wrote from Venice urging his wife to accompany her father. This, Isabella declared, was absolutely impossible. "I have received your letter," she wrote on the 25th of July, "and understand that you wish me to go to Milan. Certainly that is my own wish also, especially since I hear the idea gives you pleasure, which is my sole object in life, so that now I should go there with the greatest good-will. But it is quite impossible that I should accompany my father, or even start soon after him, as I have not the means. Half of my household are ill, and I must wait till they have recovered, and Your Highness can choose the gentlemen who are to accompany me. Meanwhile I will arrange my affairs so as to be ready to start as soon
1 Luzio e Renicr in Arch. St. Lomb., vol. xvii. p. 116.