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Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan, 1475-1497   By: (1851-1924)

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[Illustration: Bianca Sforza by Ambrogio de Predis. (Ambrosiana)]

BEATRICE D'ESTE

DUCHESS OF MILAN

1475 1497

A STUDY OF THE RENAISSANCE

BY

JULIA CARTWRIGHT

(MRS HENRY ADY)

Author of " Madame ," " Sacharissa ," " J. F. Millet "

[Illustration]

1910 LONDON: J. M. DENT & SONS, LTD. NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON & CO.

First Edition, November, 1899 Second Edition, June, 1903 Third Edition, November, 1903 Fourth Edition February, 1905 Fifth Edition, July, 1908 Sixth Edition, May, 1910

All rights reserved

PREFACE

During the last twenty years the patient researches of successive students in the archives of North Italian cities have been richly rewarded. The State papers of Milan and Venice, of Ferrara and Modena, have yielded up their treasures; the correspondence of Isabella d'Este, in the Gonzaga archives at Mantua, has proved a source of inexhaustible wealth and knowledge. A flood of light has been thrown on the history of Italy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; public events and personages have been placed in a new aspect; the judgments of posterity have been modified and, in some instances, reversed.

We see now, more clearly than ever before, what manner of men and women these Estes and Gonzagas, these Sforzas and Viscontis, were. We gain fresh insight into their characters and aims, their secret motives and private wishes. We see them in their daily occupations and amusements, at their work and at their play. We follow them from the battle field and council chamber, from the chase and tournament, to the privacy of domestic life and the intimate scenes of the family circle. And we realize how, in spite of the tragic stories or bloodshed and strife that darkened their lives, in spite, too, of the low standard of morals and of the crimes and vices that we are accustomed to associate with Renaissance princes, there was a rare measure of beauty and goodness, of culture and refinement, of love of justice and zeal for truth, among them. As the latest historian of the Papacy, Dr. Pastor, has wisely remarked, we must take care not to paint the state of morals during the Italian Renaissance blacker than it really was. Virtue goes quietly on her way, while vice is noisy and uproarious; the criminal forces himself upon the public attention, while the honest man does his duty in silence, and no one hears of him. This is especially the case with the women of the Renaissance. They had their faults and their weaknesses, but the great majority among them led pure and irreproachable lives, and trained their children in the paths of truth and duty. Even Lucrezia Borgia, although she may not have been altogether immaculate, was not the foul creature that we once believed. And the more closely we study these newly discovered documents, the more we become convinced that this age produced some of the most admirable types of womanhood that the world has ever seen. When Castiglione painted his ideal woman in the pages of the "Cortigiano," he had no need to draw on his imagination. Elizabeth Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino, and Isabella d'Este, Marchioness of Mantua, were both of them women of great intellect and stainless virtue, whose genuine love of art and letters attracted the choicest spirits to their court, and exerted the most beneficial influence on the thought of the day. Isabella, whose vast correspondence with the foremost painters and scholars of the age has been preserved almost intact, was probably the most remarkable lady of the Renaissance. The story of her long and eventful life a theme of absorbing interest yet remains to be written. The present work is devoted to the history of her younger sister, Beatrice, Duchess of Milan, who, as the wife of Lodovico Sforza, reigned during six years over the most splendid court of Italy. The charm of her personality, the important part which she played in political life at a critical moment of Italian history, her love of music and poetry, and the fine taste which she inherited, in common with every princess of the house of Este, all help to make Beatrice singularly attractive, while the interest which she inspires is deepened by the pathos of her sudden and early death... Continue reading book >>




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