Eleanora degli Albizzi
Poor, sinful, sinned-against Eleanora, the pathetic example of a young and beautiful life wasted and corrupted by the ill-conditioned lusts of a profligate lover and his libertine son! With her freedom of action absolutely curtailed, and her complete isolation from her family, the gay and attractive mistress of Castello and of the Medici Palace at Pisa, with countless admirers and many lovers, was indeed an object of sympathetic commiseration. To be sure, the Cavaliere made ample provision for his wife's maintenance, appointed a small suite of attendants, and permitted her to carry with her many cherished bits of furniture and bric-a-brac. He likewise committed to her charge both her children, and offered no objection to occasional visits to his mother of Don Giovanni de' Medici, now a growing boy of eleven.
The Grand Duke Francesco cordially approved this arrangement. With respect to certain jewels and personal effects which Eleanora retained, the Grand Duke made an order that, as they belonged toGuardaroba of the Sovereign, they should be deposited, during the period of her residence in the convent, in the State Treasury.
Then a thick veil was drawn over the life of Eleanora di Cavaliere Carlo de' Panciatichi, and the gates of the convent were closed upon her, never to be opened for her egress! Her beauty and her talents, and the gaiety of her manner were matured, cultivated and restrained in harmony with her melancholy surroundings. Youth gave way to middle age, and middle age to the crepuscule of life, and the seasons came, and the seasons went, and one life in that sanctuary seemed fated to go on for ever. Forgotten and unvisited, Eleanora, the druda of Cosimo I., cast off and spurned; the innamorata of Piero de' Medici, wronged and despised; the wife of Carlo de' Panciatichi, divorced and cloistered, lived on and on, far beyond the scriptural limit of threescore years and ten - the pathetic victim of a callous world.
In the Libri di Ricordanze of the convent is a notice for the year 1634, which startles the sympathetic reader of the tragedy of Eleanora degli Albizzi: "Upon 19th March of this year there passed to a better life the most illustrious Lady, Donna Eleanora degli Albizzi de' Panciatichi, who had resided in this monastery for fifty-six years, and had reached the ninetieth year of her age. She lived in the odour of sanctity with the devotion of a religious, and endowed the monastery with a goodly bequest." The Cosa di Cosimo - per il piacere di Cosimo! as time-serving, unfatherlike Messer Luigi degli Albizzi called the immolation of his fair young daughter, had become the Bride of Christ!
And what of unsympathetic, violent Carlo de' Panciatichi? Well, he, too, got his deserts. The very year after he had put away his wife, he again made himself liable to execution for murder. One morning a servant of his, Sebastiano del Valdarno, who had not been paid wages due to him, ventured to remind his master of the circumstance. Cavaliere Carlo, who could never tolerate demands for money with equanimity, was enraged by the man's presumption, and, seizing hold of a heavy pouch full of bronze denari, he flung it at the unlucky fellow, saying - "Go to hell and take your money with you!"
The impact fractured the man's skull and he died in hospital! Again Panciatichi was condemned to a heavy fine, with the capital sentence in contumacia, by the Otto di Guardia e Balia. He was conveyed to prison, the old Stinche, until he paid the fine. Eleanora, in her convent, heard of his punishment, and actually rendered him good for evil, as a tender-hearted and suffering woman would quite naturally do. She pleaded with the Grand Duke Francesco for his deliverance, and joined her son, Don Giovanni de' Medici, in her appeal.
Cavaliere Carlo de' Panciatichi was not set free till November 1581, when he had fully paid all the claims preferred against him by the family of the man he had slain, which included a provision for a certaincontadina. She was a superior domestic servant in the employment of the Panciatichi family, and a personal attendant upon Eleanora. Madonna Ginevra, she was called, and she had two little girls. Whether these children were the Cavaliere's, no one has related, but upon the death of their mother they, too, found asylum at the convent of Sant Onofrio, and were tenderly treated by sad and lonesome Madonna Eleanora - a sweet and pathetic action indeed!
The Cavaliere raised his head once more under the guilty rule of Grand Duke Francesco's murderer, the unscrupulous Cardinal Ferdinando, and by him was appointed a Gentleman of Honour and a member of the new Grand Ducal Council of Two-Hundred. He died long before his doubly-wronged, unhappy wife, Eleanora, on the 27th February 1620.
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