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cluding sentences. But he brings together a good deal of corroborative evidence. We will first, however, take from his volumes a repetition of the principal epochs of her life. She seems to have been born in 1478, one of the five children, by the same mother, who were acknowledged by the Pope as his offspring. She was well educated both in letters and religion-probably in a convent. While still very young she had been affianced to a gentleman of Spain; but when her father was raised to the Papal chair the engagement, whether it had originated in affection or convenience, was set aside, and he sought to strengthen his alliances by giving her in marriage to Giovanni Sforza, Lord of Pesaro. She was then not more than sixteen. The union was of short duration. She was divorced from the Lord of Pesaro; and the policy of her father having changed, she was now married to Alfonso, Duke of Bisceglie, a natural son of Alfonso II., King of Naples. This was in 1498. The following year she had a son; and soon afterwards her husband was attacked by assassins, from whom he escaped severely wounded. During his sufferings she attended him with devoted affection. When he had nearly recovered, he was again attacked and murdered, suspicion falling upon Cæsar Borgia; but this his sister does not seem ever to have known. She felt deep sorrow at her husband's death, and retired for a time to Nepi. The Pope, who was then forming new political combinations, thought it desirable to ally himself with the House of Ferrara; and in 1502 Lucrezia was married to Alfonso, the eldest son of the reigning duke.
We can scarcely conceive how eight years of a woman's early life could be more satisfactorily accounted for. It must certainly have been difficult to have been entirely pure in such a household as that of Alexander VI. and in "quel secolo dissolutissimo;" but of the atrocities imputed to her at this time, some are unsupported by any reliable evidence, some are contradicted by contemporary records, and some involve inconsistencies which cannot be reconciled. We may account for her divorce from the Lord of Pesaro -a worthless and heartless tyrant-without imputing it to any impure motive; and his having left, by a subsequent marriage, a feeble and sickly son, who did not live to succeed him in the government, is no proof that the reasons for the divorce which were said to have been urged by the Pope were not well-founded. In the case of the Duke of Bisceglie, she was certainly guiltless. Next comes before us the supper described by Burchard, of whose diary there is a very good copy in the inexhaustible library of Sir Thomas Phillipps at Thirlestaine House. In a fair transcript like this, we, of course, cannot judge whether as alleged--the passage has been interpolated, or not. It must be admitted that it does not
*V. Dennistoun's Dukes of Urbino.
harmonise with what precedes and follows it.* If we could believe that it was written by Burchard at the time, and written truly, her presence at such a scene of infamous depravity would make us ready to believe almost anything that could be said against her. But Burchard was an enemy; and Mr. Gilbert, we think, calls up a witness who makes the accusation too improbable to be credited. It will be remembered that the event is said to have taken place on the eve of her marriage by proxy to Alfonso of Ferrara. Now, amongst the persons who formed the embassy on that occasion-which included three of Alfonso's brothers-was a gentleman specially deputed by their sister the Marchioness of Mantua, to report to her confidentially on everything that took place; and "he appears," says Mr. Gilbert, " to have performed his duty in a most conscientious and indefatigable manner." His letters, signed S. el Prete, are still in existence. They go into the most minute details; they do not allude in the most distant manner to anything disorderly; "or in fact to any meeting or ceremony not conducted with the strictest propriety and decorum." Another witness says, "In her house all live not only in a Christian manner, but religiously as well;" and the Venetian ambassador, when writing to the senate, most unfavourably of Rome and of the Pope, "speaks of Lucrezia as being wise, discreet, and generous." All this may be fairly placed against a doubtful passage in Burchard.
There certainly seems, in the first instance, to have been a disinclination on the part of the court of Ferrara to receive the Pope's proposals for her marriage with the son of the reigning duke. It is possible that Alfonso may himself have had some unpleasant recollections of the fate of his namesake-the last of her husbands. His father's objections more probably arose from hesitating to connect himself too closely with the political complications of the court of Rome. His were reasons of state. When the successor, therefore, of Charles VIII. of France used his influence to promote the marriage, the astute Duke Ercole saw
*Its place in the diary is between a notice of the vigil of All Saints and of the subsequent festival. We must allow, however, that there are other entries equally incongruous. One of them begins with a notice of maskings and festivities, and ends with an account of the death of the Abbot of St. Sebastian extra muros, and the ceremonies that followed. But we disbelieve Burchard's account of the orgies he describes, both as outrageous in itself, and as describing what was not likely to have occurred at a time when, if decency had not been a habit, it would in all probability have been assumed. We have not ourselves any proof that it was an interpolation. We rather regard it as a malicious libel. And, in confirmation of this opinion, we may mention that since the above was written, Sir Thomas Phillipps has obligingly brought to our notice another MS. volume in his invaluable collection (Della Vita di Papa Alessandro VI.), in which the Festino is described, but without any of its more revolting incidents; and, amongst those who were present, Lucrezia is not named.
at once that it was desirable to have the favour of a monarch who was about to pour his armies into Italy, and against whom he had no chance of forming alliances that could successfully oppose him.
His son was still reluctant, but his objections were finally over
On her arrival at Ferrara, Lucrezia at once gained the affection of her husband, and the admiration and respect of his father; and from this time till her death, the only whisper against her more than blameless conduct arose out of her friendship for Pietro Bembo, not yet a cardinal. This, we think, Mr. Gilbert has satisfactorily put to rest by an examination of their letters, and by the whole of the circumstances connected with their intimacy. Indeed, it is in itself an evidence of innocence when we have to seek for proofs of guilt in a friendship that appears to have arisen out of similarity of tastes and of mutual esteem, entirely without concealment or disguise.
As a bride, she had brought with her an ample dowry. Her father had also added considerably to the territory to which her husband was to succeed; and important changes in his favour were made in the conditions under which Ferrara was held as a fief of the Holy See. Great, therefore, were the rejoicings on the celebration of the marriage. At Rome, too, they were magnificent, though blood-stained by the cruel punishment of some of the disaffected; of whom a few had dared to come forward, out of the thousands who were indignant at such lavish expense at a time of scarcity and of suffering. Even at Ferrara, the expenditure was scarcely justified by the state of the duke's treasury, which had been exhausted by the war with Venice, and was, long after that great calamity, inadequately supplied. He determined, however, that what was now regarded as so auspicious an event should be celebrated with becoming splendour.
She set out from Rome with a retinue so numerous that it has been described as having had the appearance more of an army than a marriage procession. The number of mules and horses given to her by the Pope for her journey could not have been less than a thousand; and, many nobles and ladies having offered to accompany her on her way, there were two hundred carriages. In the midst, the bride "rode on a beautiful mule, which was covered with a housing embroidered in silver and edged with gold fringe. She wore a tight vest of crimson silk, with a sbernia (or loose
* Filicaja, in one of the sonnets translated by the Earl of Derby.
robe) of gold tissue, with large hanging sleeves, and lined with ermine. On her head she wore a hat of crimson silk, with a feather, and beneath the hat on the left side hung a pendant of pearls which reached to her ear. Altogether she made a magnificent appearance."
Discoursing upon our present theme, we may have fair readers to whom such descriptions as this will not be uninteresting. In the work itself they will find many.
Owing to the defective state of the roads, and to bad weather, her journey was slowly made; she rested a day at Urbino, and then moved onwards to the frontier of Ferrara. The duke made every preparation to do her honour. Ambassadors from all the Italian states were invited; and other guests so numerous, that, "with their officials, suites, and servants," it has been estimated that, altogether, there were "not fewer than two thousand." They were far beyond his means of accommodating them, but his nobility came willingly and hospitably to his assistance. The ambassadors were lodged in their palaces, and were waited upon by their sons. Duke Ercole himself had done all that he could. He insisted "that those of the nobles who received his guests, and whose means were not of the amplest, should be at no cost for their maintenance. To prevent any expenditure on their part, he greatly enlarged the kitchens in the Estense palace and the castle, and engaged almost an army of cooks, by whom the food of the guests in the last-mentioned houses was prepared." The "commissariat," which he had also taken into his own hands, was another source of difficulty. He had determined that there should be such abundance as should "keep up the well-earned reputation of Ferrara and its dukes for lavish hospitality;" and, in his anxiety to obtain it, he seems to have collected, begged, and borrowed "so much in excess of what was necessary, that a considerable portion of it was spoiled, and had to be thrown into the river."
At a castle, belonging to the Bentivogli, about twenty miles from Ferrara, Lucrezia had her first interview with the Lord Don Alfonso, her husband. He had gone there privately, anxious to see the destined companion of his life, and he parted from her with feelings of affection that continued unabated during the nineteen years that she survived her marriage. She seems, indeed, to have had a peculiar power over all whom she wished to love her; and not only Alfonso and his father, but even the suspicious Marchioness of Mantua, whose emissary was sent to watch her at Rome, became sincerely attached to her.
* When no other authority is quoted, we abridge from Mr. Gilbert's work. Amongst the supplies were fifteen thousand head of poultry, the same quantity of game, and three hundred oxen and calves.
Accompanied by this illustrious lady, the friend of her after life, she proceeded in the state barge to Ferrara, where she was received by the duke. He addressed her with great kindness, and, after having kissed her, introduced her to the ambassadors who followed him. She was then conducted to the palace assigned to herself and her husband.
Her dress on this occasion is described as ૮૮ a camora, or short camisole, cut somewhat in the fashion of a loose-fitting vest without waist, of crimson satin bordered with gold lace, a loose robe or sbernia of dark-coloured satin, lined with beantiful ermine, and having very long and wide open sleeves. On her head she wore a cap or hat of gold tissue artistically embroidered with pearls, from which hung a pendant of jewels of the purest water, and of immense value."
The next day (Wednesday, February the 2nd) she made her solemn entry into Ferrara with a magnificence that had never been approached, much as such exhibitions had always been the study and amusement of the duke. There was much cumbrous display, and one or two mishaps. The bride herself rode a splendid charger that became unmanageable; but she dexterously freed herself from the saddle, and was very unwillingly prevented from remounting her restive steed-riding in its stead a beautiful white mule, of which there were eighty-six (some of them splendidly decorated) in her train. At first, more serious consequences were apprehended.*
For the ceremonies, both sacred and profane, Christian and mythological, which took place on the occasion, we must refer to Mr. Gilbert's work, and shall merely copy his description of the bride herself.
"She appears" (says the writer whom he quotes as his authority) "between twenty-three and twenty-four years of age, has a beautiful face, lively sparkling eyes, is very graceful, and has a good figure. She is courteous, wise, and cheerful, and made a most pleasing effect on all who saw her." Her reception was enthusiastic.
From the date we have mentioned, till the 10th of February, which was the first day of Lent, the marriage festivities continued. There were banquets, balls, and fêtes after one of which "the bride is said to have danced many Romanesque and Spanish dances to the sound of the tambourine;" and there were many
* A more provoking accident happened to a page sent from the duke with a message to the French ambassador when approaching each other in procession. The page's horse, scared by the trumpets and music, leaped with him into the thick mud of the river, giving to those who assisted him, as well as to himself, an appearance destructive of the dignified solemnity which his highness considered essential to such occasions.