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MURDER OF MEDICEAN PRINCESSES.

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their hunting expedition. Each instance serves however, to show in what an atmosphere of guilt the Medicean princes were enveloped. No one believed that they could die except by fraternal or paternal hands. And the authentic crimes of the family certainly justified this popular belief. I have already alluded to the murders of Ippolito, Alessandro, and Lorenzino. I have told how the Court of Florence sanctioned the assassination of Bianca's daughter by her husband at Bologna. I must now proceed to relate the tragic tales of the princesses of the house.

Pietro de' Medici, a fifth of Cosimo's sons, had rendered himself notorious in Spain and Italy by forming a secret society for the most revolting debaucheries.3 Yet he married the noble lady Eleonora di Toledo, related by blood to Cosimo's first wife. · Neglected and outraged by her husband, she proved unfaithful, and Pietro hewed her in pieces with his own hands at Caffaggiolo. Isabella de' Medici, daughter of Cosimo, was married to the Duke of Bracciano. Educated in the empoisoned atmosphere of Florence, she, like Eleonora di Toledo, yielded herself to fashionable profligacy, and was strangled by her husband at Cerretto. Both of these

See Galluzzi, op. cit. vol. iii. p. 25, and Botta, op. cit. Book xii. · See above, p. 381.

: Litta may be consulted for details; also Galluzzi, op. cit. vol. v. p. 174.

• It may be worth mentioning that Virginio Orsini, Bracciano's son and heir, married Donna Flavia, grand niece of Sixtus V., and

murders took place in 1576. Isabella's death, as I have elsewhere related, opened the way for the Duke of Bracciano's marriage with Vittoria Accoramboni, which had been prepared by the assassination of her first husband, and which led to her own murder at Padua. Another of Cosimo's daughters, Lucrezia de' Medici, became Duchess of Ferrara, fell under a suspicion of infidelity, and was possibly removed by poison in 1561.2 The last of his sons whom I have to mention, Don Giovanni, married a dissolute woman of low birth called Livia, and disgraced the name of Medici by the unprincely follies of his life. Eleonora de' Medici, third of his daughters, introduces a comic element into these funereal records. She was affianced to Vincenzo Gonzaga, heir of the Duchy of Mantua. But suspicions, arising out of the circumstances of his divorce from a former wife, obliged him to prove his marital capacity before the completion of the contract. This he did at Venice, before a witness, upon

the

person of a virgin selected for the experiment. Maria de' Medici, the only child of Duke Francesco, became Queen of France. The history

consequently related to the man his father murdered in order to possess Vittoria Accoramboni. See Mutinelli, Storia Arcana, rol. 'ji. p. 72.

See above, pp. 361-369. : Galluzzi, vol. iii. p. 5, says that she died of a putrid fever. Litta again inclines to the probability of poison. But this must be counted among the doubtful cases.

3 See Galluzzi, op. cit. vol. iv. pp. 195–197, for the account of a transaction which throws curious light upon the customs of the age. It was only stipulated that the trial should not take place upon a Friday. Otherwise, the highest ecclesiastics gave it their full ap. proval.

LIST OF VEDICEAN TRAGEDIES.

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of her amours with Concini forms an episode in French annals.

If now we eliminate the deaths of Don Garcia, Cardinal Giovanni, Duke Francesco, Bianca Capello, and Lucrezia de' Medici, as doubtful, there will still remain the murders of Cardinal Ippolito, Duke Alessandro, Lorenzino de' Medici, Pietro Bonaventuri (Bianca's husband), Pellegrina Bentivoglio (Bianca's daughter), Eleonora di Toledo, Francesco Casi (Eleonora's lover), the Duchess of. Bracciano, Troilo Orsini (lover of this Duchess), Felice Peretti (husband of Vittoria Accoramboni), and Vittoria Accoramboni-eleven murders, all occurring between 1535 and 1585, an exact half century, in a single princely family and its immediate connections. The majority of these crimes, that is to say seven, had their origin in lawless passion.'

I have told the stories in this chapter as dryly as I could. Yet it would be interesting to analyze the fascination they exercised over our Elizabethan playwrights, some of whose Italian tragedies handle the material with penetrative imagination. For the English mode of interpreting southern passions see my Italian Byways, pp 142 1 seg., and a brilliant essay in Vernon Lee's Euphorion.

CHAPTER VI.

SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC MORALS : PART II.

Tales illustrative of Bravi and Banditti–Cecco Bibboni-Ambrogio

Tremazzi-Lodovico dall' Armi-Brigandage-Piracy-Plagues -The Plagues of Milan, Venice, Piedmont-Persecution of the Untori-Moral State of the Proletariate-Witchcraft-Its Italian Features—History of Giacomo Centini.

The stories related in the foregoing chapter abundantly demonstrate the close connection between the aristocracy and their accomplices-bravos and bandits. But it still remains to consider this connection from the professional murderer's own point of view. And for this purpose, I will now make use of two documents vividly illustrative of the habits, sentiments, and social status of men who undertook to speculate in bloodshed for reward. They are both autobiographical; and both relate tragedies which occupied the attention of all Italy.

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Cecco Bibboni.

The first of these documents is the report made by Cecco Bibboni concerning his method adopted for the murder of Lorenzino de' Medici at Venice in 1546. Lorenzino, by the help of a bravo called Scoroncolo, had assassinated his cousin Alessandro, Duke of Florence, in 1537. After accomplishing

LORENZINO DE' MEDICI.

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this deed, which gained for him the name of Brutus, he escaped from the city; and a distant relative of the murdered and the murderer, Cosimo de' Medici, was chosen Duke in Alessandro's stead. One of the first acts of his reign was to publish a ban of outlawry against Lorenzino. His portrait was painted according to old Tuscan usage head downwards, and suspended by one foot, upon the wall of Alessandro's fortress. His house was cut in twain from roof to pavement, and a narrow passage was driven through it, which received the name of Traitor's Alley, Chiasso del Traditore. The price put upon his head was enormous-four thousand golden florins, with a pension of one hundred florins to the murderer and his heirs in perpetuity. The man who should kill Lorenzino was, further, to enjoy amnesty from all offenses and to exercise full civic rights; he was promised exemption from taxes, the privilege of carrying arms with two attendants in the whole domain of Florence, and the prerogative of restoring ten outlaws at his choice. If he captured Lorenzino and brought him alive to Florence, the reward would be double in each item. There was enough here to raise cupidity and stir the speculative spirit. Cecco Bibboni shall tell us how the business was brought to a successful termination."

• When I returned from Germany,' begins Bibboni,

1 For the Italian text see Lorinsino de' Medici, Daelli, Milano, 1862. The above is borrowed from my Italian Byways.

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