Maria, Giovanni, and Gatzia

A Father's Vengeance

"I will have no Cain in my family!" roared out Cosimo de' Medici - " Il Giovane," Duke of Florence, in the forest of Rosignano.

"A Medico of the Medici," prompt in action and suave in repose, his hand flew to his sword hilt, and the cruel, cold steel of a father's wrath flashed in the face of Heaven! Duchess Eleanora made one swift step forward, intent upon shielding her child, but she stood there transfixed with horror - her arms and hands outstretched to the wide horizon in silent supplication, her tongue paralysed!

The kneeling boy grasped his father's knees, weeping piteously, and crying aloud in vain for mercy. Thrusting him from him, and spurning him with his heavy hunting-boot, he plunged furiously his gleaming blade into his son's breast, until the point came out between his shoulderblades!

With one expiring yell of agony and terror, Garzia de' Medici yielded up his fair young life, the victim of inexorable fate. It was high moon, and the watchful stars, of course, could not behold the gruesome deed, but over the autumn sun was drawn a grey purple mist, and gloom settled upon the Maremma. And as the elements paled and were silent, a hush overspread wild nature, not a beast in the thicket, not a bird on the bough, stirred. Sighs siffled through the bracken and the heather, and the roar of the distant sea died away in moaning at the bar.

With a suffocating sob, as though stabbed to death herself, the Duchess swooned upon the ground, and, whilst the courtiers in the company hastened to her assistance, the huntsmen reverently covered the still quivering body of the young prince with their embroidered livery cloaks.

Not much more than a mile away another corpse was being gently borne by tender loving hands - it was Giovanni's, Garzia's elder brother, the young Cardinal.

Giovanni de' Medici was dead - Garzia was dead; and two virgin souls were winging their flight to join their murdered sister Maria in the Paradise of Peace.

       * * * * *

Cosimo, Duke of Florence, was the son of Giovanni de' Medici - called "delle Bande Nere" and Maria de' Salviati. Born in 1498, at Forli, Giovanni - also known as "Giovannino" to distinguish him from his father Giovanni, "Il Popolano" - was destined from his cradle to a military career. With such a mother as Caterina, the natural daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, he was bound to acquire with her milk the instincts of a pushful personality.

Pope Leo X., who was a Florentine of the Florentines, extended his zealous patronage to the rearing and the training of his youthful relative. If not a caster of horoscopes, he was a reader of character, and, son as he was of Lorenzo "Il Magnifico," he foresaw a future for " Giovannino" fraught with immense importance to his family and his native city.

After receiving his early training as a soldier in Rome, attached to the staff of one or other of the Condottieri, young Giovanni was appointed to a military command with the Papal army in Lombardy, when he was little more than out of his teens. His splendid physique and his prowess in friendly encounter, revealed the lion that was in him. The leader in all boyish pranks and rivalries, he displayed intrepid courage and unfailing resourcefulness when called upon to prove his metal. To strike quickly and to strike hard, he knew very well meant the battle half won - hence there was added to his sobriquet two significant appellations - "L'Invincible" and "Il Gran Diabolo!"

The troops under his command were, as was the rule in the Papal armies, composed of motley companies of alien mercenaries and forced levies, but, in addition, very many soldiers of fortune, attracted by his fame, rallied to his banner. Very soon the "Bande Nere," as Giovanni's force was called, gave evidence that they had no equals in equipment and efficiency. Their leader took as his models the infantry of Spain and the cavalry of Germany. Each man wore a black silk ribbon badge, and each lance bore its black pennon - hence the "Bande Nere."

It has been said of Mars, the God of War, that he was susceptible to the wiles of Venus, even when intent on deeds of daring, so, too, was it true of Condottiere Giovanni de' Medici. Although born outside the "City of the Lily," and the child of a non-Florentine mother, he and his were always on terms of good relationship with the gentle Duke Lorenzo. His associations with Florence were of the closest nature, and "Giovannino" was quite content to look for his bride among the marriageable maidens there.

With an ever open eye to a goodly marriage portion, Messer Giovanni "Il Popolano" viewed the daughters of the Salviati with approval. That house was famous for its financial prominence - rivalling that of his own, and Messer Giacopo's three girls were noted for good looks and clever brains. Whether love, or money, was the magnet, or whether the two ran together in double harness, young "Giovannino " took tight hold upon the reins, and he and Maria Salviati were betrothed in the autumn of 1517.

To be sure there was a difficulty about the new marital habitation, for a soldier upon active service has no settled home. Love, however, knows obstacles only to overcome them, and so, somehow or another, the young Madonna brought into the world, one wintry day in February - it was the nineteenth - 1519, her first-born, a son. Cosimo they christened him, perhaps after his great ancestor Cosimo "Padre della Patria " - "Cosimonino." When mother and child could be moved Giovanni sent them, for safety, into Florence, where they were lovingly welcomed by her parents, Messer Giacopo de' Salviati and his wife Lucrezia, daughter of Lorenzo il Magnifico.

Pope Leo X., who had in his heart ambitious desires for the predominance of his House, not alone in Tuscany but throughout Italy, regarded the young soldier as one of his most trusty lieutenants. Designing, as he did, to create Giuliano, - later Duke of Nemours, - King of Naples and Southern Italy, and Lorenzo, - Duke of Urbino, - King of Lombardy and Northern Italy, he made Giovanni "delle Bande Nere" Commandant of the Papal armies.

Leo spent much time in Florence, having the Condottiere by his side, and using him as an envoy, - first to the King of France, and, then to the Emperor, in matrimonial negotiations which concerned Giuliano and Lorenzo. The imbroglio about the Duchy of Milan found him at the head of the Papal contingent of the Imperial army, but his success as commander was checked by a disastrous peace concluded by the Pope. The early years of young Cosimo's life were critical in the affairs of Tuscany; a fierce struggle for the suzerainty of all Italy was being fought out between Francis I. and Charles V. The Pope, Clement VII. - Cardinal Giulio de' Medici - who had succeeded Adrian VI. in 1523, sided with either party as suited his ambitions best. When favourable to the French, he handed over one division of the Papal army to the king, who confirmed Condottiere Giovanni de' Medici in his command.

At Borgoforte he was shot in the knee, and again at Pavia, where Francis was routed and taken prisoner. The campaign continued and Giovanni was always in the front rank of battle until, outside Mantua, he was mortally wounded and died within the fortress, on 30th November, 1526, at the early age of twenty-nine.

An interesting little story concerns the first anniversary of Cosimo's birth. His father dreamed, on the eve of that day, that he saw his son asleep in his cradle, and over his head he beheld a royal crown! In the morning he did not tell Madonna Maria what he had seen in the night-watches, but something prompted him to test the will of Providence. Accordingly he told his wife to take the precious little babe up to the balcony on the second floor of the Palazzo Salviati, in the Via del Corso.

"Throw down the child," he cried from the street below. The Madonna refused, and rated her husband for his madness, but he insisted, and threatened so vehemently, that at last, in abject terror, she let go her hold of her babe. The boy leaped from her arms into the air, and, whilst the distracted mother uttered a wail of anguish, Giovanni deftly caught his little son in his arms. The child chortled merrily, as if enjoying his weird experience, and, inasmuch as he never so much as uttered the slightest cry of fear, the intrepid Condottiere felt perfectly reassured as to the auspicious presage of his dream.

"That's all right," he exclaimed, "my vision was no fantastic picture - my bonnie boy will live to be a prince - Prince of Florence!"

Madonna Maria, left so young a widow - she was only twenty-five - consecrated her life to the care of her young son - just eight years old - and, under her parental roof in the Via del Corso, she engaged some of the best teachers of the day to undertake his education. Cosimonino's aptitude for military affairs and his taste for chemical studies soon made themselves apparent.

But the doting mother had a secret enemy, her child's enemy indeed, an enemy so powerful, and by all accounts so relentless, that her life became a burden in her efforts to shield her boy from peril. That enemy was no less a person than the Pope!

Clement, of course, knew very well of the existence of Giovanni delle Bande Nere's son and heir, and whilst he hailed the death of the father as a gain for his personal ambition, he feared the life of his child would peril his hopes for Alessandro, his own illegitimate son. Cosimo, Giovanni's boy, must be kept out of the way at all hazards, and Maria the widow was very soon well aware of the Pope's aims.

By every means in his power, Clement strove to obtain possession of little Cosimo, but his mother was as watchful as she was prudent, and, till her boy reached his twelfth year, she never let him go out of her sight and keeping. She took him away to remote parts of Italy with trusty attendants, that the Pope might not discover their whereabouts. Then she chose a faithful friend of her family, Maestro Pierfrancesco Riccio da Prato, to superintend his further education. If not the wisest of teachers, he was admirable for the exact discharge of his duties and inculcated the best traditions of the Medici.

Together tutor and pupil visited many parts of Central Italy and spent some time at Venice, the chief subject of their studies being the heroic doings of the ancient Greeks and Romans. This was the usual curriculum for growing boys, and doubtless its observance induced that admiration of tyrannicide which marked the character of so many young Florentines.

In 1523, when Clement so artfully persuaded the Florentine ambassadors to request the despatch of the two bastards, Ippolito and Alessandro, to Florence, the only man who maintained his opposition was Messer Giacopo de' Salviati, and he again protested in person both to Clement in Rome and before the Signoria in Florence, against the creation of Alessandro as Head of the Republic. Once more this "loyal citizen" withstood the bastard Duke, when he put his hand to the building of the fortress of San Giovanni. Naturally, Messer Giacopo's opposition excited the animosity of Alessandro, who, if he did not actually inspire his assassination, was, at all events, privy to it.

But in spite of all, Cosimo grew and flourished, displaying his father's courage and his mother's prudence. At fifteen, his character appeared to be already formed. He was grave of aspect and severe in manner, very backward in forming friendships, and intolerant of familiarities.

In 1536, the Emperor Charles and his court were in residence at Bologna, and, hearing that young Cosimo de' Medici was also in the city, the monarch sent for him and received him with marked cordiality. Observing the young man's bearing and evident force of character, Charles took him by the arm and, placing his hand upon the lad's shoulder, said to him: "You are fortunate, young man, to have had for your father a soldier who made both France and Spain tremble!"

Between fifteen and eighteen we have few records of Cosimo's life and no hint as to where he was during the terrible years of tyranny and debauchery in Florence. Anyhow, Duke Alessandro owed him no kindness, nor did he enter into any relations with him. What dealings he had with Lorenzino and Giuliano, his cousins, are unknown. They were nearer the succession to the ducal throne than himself - indeed, the former was regarded as next heir to Alessandro. In all probability the young man lived with his mother at the villa at Castello which had belonged to his father, and kept himself very much out of sight.

       * * * * *

The news of Duke Alessandro's assassination very soon got about, and groups of citizens gathered in the Via Larga and also in the Piazza del Signoria. Although considerable excitement pervaded those assemblages, the people remained quiet and self-controlled. "Everybody," as Benedetto Varchi has recorded, "spoke out quite fully, as though no one doubted but that the Greater Council of the city would at once be summoned. They debated as to who would be chosen Gonfaloniere, and whether for life or not. Meanwhile the Council of Forty-eight had assembled at the Medici Palace at the call of the Cardinal (Cibo), and were in conference in the long gallery upstairs."

Cardinal Cibo was the son of Maddalena de' Medici, Lorenzo il Magnifico's eldest daughter. He with Francesco de' Guicciardini and Francesco de' Vettori had constituted themselves, in a sort of way, mentors and advisers to the murdered Duke, who was only too glad to free himself of some of the distasteful duties of State, and confide them to anyone who would relieve him of them.

As for a successor to Alessandro, the Cardinal at first suggested Giulio, the Duke's bastard son, a child of eight years of age. The Council scouted the idea of another regency, and intimated plainly their intention to seek an adult Head of the Government. Full powers were given to the triumvirate to carry on State business during the interregnum - a decision which greatly displeased the populace. On dispersing from the conference the councillors were greeted with derisive cries - "If you cannot make up your minds, we must do it for you!"

During the adjournment the Cardinal and his two successors took counsel with the Strozzi and other influential men in and beyond Florence, and called to their aid the four Florentine Cardinals, Salviati, Gaddi, Pucci, and Ridolfi. Paul III. - naturally anxious to have a finger in the pie - despatched Roberto negli Strozzi with fifteen hundred mounted men to hold Montepulciano, and at the same time directed the Cardinals to join him there. The Papal nominee was Giuliano, younger brother of Lorenzino, the Duke's murderer - an entirely impossible choice.

Madonna Maria de' Medici was at her father's villa at Trebbio, but at once she despatched couriers to hasten her son's return from Bologna, whither he had gone for study and for pleasure. She invited Cibo and Guicciardini to meet him, and to take counsel with her concerning his claims on Florence. Instructed by his astute mother, the young man paid great court to the two visitors, and charmed them exceedingly. The Cardinal was at once converted to the Madonna's views. Both he and Messer Guicciardini were struck by Cosimo's appearance - tall, well-made, and good-looking, he had a manly carriage, and his assured yet courteous manner left nothing to be desired.

On the three councillors' return to Florence, they were met by Senor Ferrante de Silva, Conte de Cifuentes, the Spanish ambassador, who was commanded by his master to support the candidature of Cosimo de' Medici.

The Emperor, Charles V., moreover, sent Bernardino da Rieti as special envoy, to enforce his views upon the "Forty-eight," and with him went a force of two thousand Spanish troops from Lerici - where they were in garrison, partly with a view to overawe the Council, and partly for the protection of the widowed Duchess Margaret. It was concurrently reported that the Emperor had another project in view, namely to marry his daughter to young Cosimo. At any rate, Margaret was directed to remain in Florence and at the Medici Palace.

Conferences were held daily, both in the Medici Palace and in the Palazzo Vecchio. To Francesco de' Guicciardini was committed the duty of formally proposing Cosimo - commonly called "Cosimonino" - as Head of the State. At once Palla de' Rucellai rose in opposition, but his party in the Council was in the minority. The deliberations were disturbed by the entrance of the French ambassador, who came to press upon their lordships' attention the claims of little Duchess Caterina, Duke Lorenzo's only legitimate child. The proposition met with unanimous disapprobation, and fell to the ground.

Outside, in the Piazza, was a shouting, struggling crowd of citizens, something unusual was going on, and the cries of the people penetrated the windows of the Council Chamber - "Evviva il figlio di Giovanni delle Bande Nere!" "Evviva il Cosimonino!" " Evviva Cosimo il Duca di Firenze!"

The Council rose at once, without coming to a decision, but each member of it understood the import of that cry, and each was quite ready to accept the popular verdict. As they regained the street they saw a youthful cavalier, with a small mounted retinue, surrounded by an enthusiastic crowd of citizens. They had ridden fast from the Mugello and were covered with dust.

"Signor Cosimo," wrote Benedetto Varchi, "arrived in Florence with but a few followers. As the son of Signor Giovanni, of fair aspect and having always displayed a kindly disposition and a good understanding, he was liked greatly by the populace, and they hailed him as heir to Duke Alessandro, with marked affection. Affecting neither grief nor joy, he rode on with an air of serene importance, showing rather his merit for the throne than his wish for it. Dismounting at the palace, he visited Cardinal Cibo, and expressing his regret at the Duke's sanguinary death, went on to say that like a good son of Florence he had come to place not only his fortunes but his life at the service of his country."

Cosimo was named Head of the State, not Duke, on four conditions: -

1. To render justice indifferently to rich and poor.

2. Never to disagree with the policy of the Emperor.

3. To avenge the death of Duke Alessandro.

4. To treat his three illegitimate children with kindness.

Those who come to the front through their own genius or their destiny, upon the first step of the throne accept the conditions of their appointment, but, upon the last step, they commonly impose their own upon their makers. Consequently, although but a youth of nineteen years of age at the time of his opportune arrival in Florence, Cosimo at once showed his intention of assuming personally and untrammelled the government of the State. Cardinal Cibo and Francesco de' Guicciardini, who had been the first to recognise not only his claim but his fitness to rule, were very tactfully set aside, and others, who might be expected to assert powers of direction and supervision, were quietly assigned to positions where they could not interfere with his freedom of action.

Within six months of his acclamation by the people as "Head of the State," Cosimo obtained from the Emperor Charles V. the full recognition of his title of Duke of Florence.

There were great doings at the Palazzo Medici in the May of 1539, when Cosimo welcomed his bride, Donna Eleanora, second daughter of Don Pedro de Toledo, Duca d'Alba, the King of Spain's Viceroy at Naples. She was certainly no beauty, but a woman of estimable qualities, and profoundly imbued with the spirit of devotion. Hardly, perhaps, the wife Cosimo would have chosen, had not reasons of State as usual guided him. Eleanora, nevertheless, proved herself a worthy spouse and an exemplary mother.

Within the palace Eleanora was shocked to find a little child, " La Bia" - short for "Bambina," "Baby" - she was called, some two years old. No one seemed to know quite who was her mother. Some said she was a village girl of Trebbio, and others, a young gentlewoman of Florence. Only Cosimo's mother, Madonna Maria, knew, and she refused to reveal the girl's identity, but she admitted that "La Bia" was Cosimo's child. Eleanora would not tolerate her presence in the palace, so Cosimo sent her off with several attendants to the Villa del Castello, where, perhaps fortunately, she died on the last day of February the following year.

The first years of Cosimo's government were years of unrest and peril throughout Tuscany. The adherents of the dead bastard Duke were neither few nor uninfluential. Encouraged by the Clementine coterie in Rome, the members of which had from the first opposed Cosimo's succession to the Headship of the Republic, they made the Florentine Court a hot-bed of intrigue and strife.

The party, not inconsiderable, which supported the claims of Giuliano, younger son of Pierfrancesco the Younger, and brother of Lorenzino, Alessandro's murderer, gave much trouble. Giuliano, who had been an associate of the Duke and an abettor of Lorenzino's "devilries," fled precipitately from Florence, and sought the protection of the Duke of Milan. Lorenzino's confession was written partly with a view of removing suspicion from his brother, and to leave unprejudiced the claims of his father's family. There were many other cliques and parties, great and small, each bent upon the other's destruction in particular and upon the undoing of the Republic in general.

By far the most formidable opposition to Cosimo's rule came from Venice, whence the Florentine exiles, under the command of Filippo negli Strozzi's two sons, Piero and Roberto, who had married Lorenzino's sisters, Laudomia and Maddalena, raised, with the assistance of the King of France, a strong force, and invaded Tuscany.

It needed not the persuasion of Madonna Maria to urge Cosimo to action, although her active representations to the Emperor - which obtained the Imperial sanction and promise of co-operation - were important factors in his resolution. Cosimo gathered together what men he could rely upon in Florence, and when once his battle-banner was unfurled with the black pennon of his redoubtable father, numbers of old campaigners hastened to his support.

On 31st July, 1537, the opposing forces met in the valley of Montemurlo. Cosimo displayed much of the daring and ability of his father, and victory was never in doubt. The Strozzi and Baccio Valori were taken prisoners to Florence, bound upon broken-down farm-horses, and their forces were dispersed. It was reported that in the heat of the battle Otto da Montanto, an Imperial officer, riding past Cosimo, lowered the point of his sword as he shouted, "Forward, Signore, to-day the fortunes of the Emperor and of Cosimo de' Medici will prevail!"

Cosimo wore no velvet gloves in dealing with his enemies, secret and pronounced. Arrest, confiscation, torture, banishment, and execution thinned once more the ranks of the noblest families of Tuscany. Filippo negli Strozzi, who was regarded as the leader of the anti-Cosimo party, was taken prisoner and cast into the fortress of San Giovanni. Apparently his aim was not a restoration of a Papal nominee to the Headship of the State, but his own advancement to that position. He was put on the rack, and eventually done to death by Cosimo's orders.

The years 1538, 1539 and 1540, are deeply dyed with the blood of victims. Florentine vengeance again proved itself satisfied only with wholesale annihilation. It has been computed that in the latter year alone, nearly five hundred men and women, chiefly of good family and high distinction, came by violent deaths. Of these, one hundred and forty-six were decapitated by Cosimo's express orders!

Perhaps "The Terror" was inevitable, but it revealed in a lurid light the revengeful and implacable temper of the young ruler. If he had inherited, through many generations, the craft and pushfulness of the Medicis, he had also become possessed of some of the brutality of the Sforzas, through his grandmother Caterina, natural daughter, by the lovely but dissolute Lucrezia Landriani, of Galeazzo Maria, Duke of Milan. This prince possessed all the worst points of a Renaissance tyrant, and was "a monster of vices and virtues": perhaps he was insane, at all events, Caterina was accustomed to speak of him as " Uno Fantastico!"

There was at least one ray of sunshine in that year of swift, dark deeds, for, in less than a month after poor little "La Bia" had flown back to Heaven, as lovely and as precious a gift as ever came to gladden the hearts of young parents was vouchsafed to Cosimo and Eleanora, in the birth of their first-born, a girl.

In the Registri dei Battezzati dell' Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore is the following record: "On April 13th, 1540, was baptised a female child of the Duke of Cosimo, born on the third day of the same month, and she was registered in the name of Maria Lucrezia." Alas, the joy of that natal day was marred by the solicitude which the delicacy of the frail infant caused her father and mother. No one thought she could live, but Duchess Eleanora was a tender nurse, and her weaning caused the cradle to rock with hope as well as love.

Just twelve months later a baby brother came to keep little Maria company, a strong and vigorous boy, dark-haired and sallow like his Spanish mother. He was christened Francesco, after the patron saint of his day of birth. Cosimo was not in Florence at the time, he had gone to pay his respects to the Emperor Charles V. at Genoa.

The object of his visit to the Imperial Court was to thank Charles for the German bodyguard of Landesnechte which he had sent to Florence to defend the Medici Palace and its inmates during the three years of disorder and repression, and to ask for an extension of their services.

Florence was full of Spaniards who had occupied Tuscany in force under the Commendattore Raimondo da Cardona, and who had helped in the terrible sack of Prato. They were a menace to peace and order in the city, and brawls between them and the citizens were of daily occurrence.

Duchess Eleanora perhaps naturally held with her fellow-countrymen, certainly she made a poor attempt to conceal her dislike for Florence and its people. At Santa Maria Novella she endowed a chapel for Mass, which served as a rallying-point for the foreigners, and acquired thereby its name, Cappella degli Spagnuoli.

The Duchess had, however, other than quasi-patriotic duties to perform, for, in 1542, she again became the mother of a little daughter - Isabella Romola they called her, in compliment to beloved Spain. She was, like Francesco, a healthy child, and she was fair, as "playful as a kitten," and thoroughly Medici in temperament.

Cosimo busied himself in peaceful pursuits. He greatly encouraged the arts and crafts, and set on foot sagacious reformation of the conditions and activities of the great Trade Guilds. The College of Science was due to his patronage; and, in 1540, he extended his special protection to the Florentine Academy - whence sprang the still more famous Accademia della Crusca.

Still due regard was paid to the exigencies of political peace and the maintenance of safeguards, Throughout Tuscany Cosimo raised forts and works of defence. All the more important towns were fortified, and entrenched camps and bastions were erected at San Martino in Mugello, and at Terra del Sole. He kept his hand upon the pulse of Florence: no slackening of restraint was possible. The men who had acclaimed him in 1537 were quite capable of crying out for his supersession at any time. Fickle indeed were the Florentines ever, but in Cosimo they had a master who would not let them go.

The Duke's family was growing fast, and each year as it passed gave him a precious hostage to love and to fortune. The Duchess, in 1543, brought forth her fourth child, another boy, called Giovanni, after his grandfather, and in honour of good St John the Baptist, the patron saint of Florence. Lucrezia followed in 1544, and then there came and went in 1545 and 1546 Antonio and Piero. Garzia was born in 1547. A year sped by, and in 1549, Ernando or Ferdinando, made his appearance and then came a barren season, and when, perhaps, it had been concluded that the Duchess had ceased child-bearing, came a great surprise, one more little son, in 1554, Piero was his name.

Meanwhile, Maria had been growing fast along with her many brothers and sisters. At the age of eight or nine she was an attractive little damsel. "Tall for her age, with a face not only pretty, but intelligent, and as merry and as full of life as was possible. Her broad forehead was indicative of more than ordinary mental power." Her thirst for knowledge and her power of acquisition delighted her doting father and mother.

Maria was reared with all the care that love and hope could inspire, and at her mother's knee she learned her first lessons. The unhappy result of poor young Caterina's education proved to Duke Cosimo that the convent was no place for her, and, although he placed Alessandro's illegitimate little daughters, Giulia and Porczia, with the good nuns, he resolved that no such experience should be that of his own dear children. The common saying, "The cow that is kept in the stall gives the best milk" had for him a special significance!

Florentine children were noted for precocity and cruelty. Perhaps the tragedy of Giacopo de' Pazzi, and the mauling of his mutilated body by the street urchins, had left their marks on succeeding generations of boys and girls. The most popular pastime was mimic warfare, wherein the actualities of wounds and even deaths were common constituents. Every dangerous sport was encouraged and, if by chance, or by intent, a boy killed his rival, nobody cared and few lamented. The spirit of revenge was openly cultivated, and cruelties of all kinds were not reprimanded. 
 Whether Cosimo's children shared in the general juvenile depravity, it is impossible to say: they were, as they left the nursery, kept hard at work with their lessons - Maria certainly, and probably Isabella, shared the studies of their brothers. At first, Maestro Francesco Riccio, who had been their father's tutor also, grounded them all in Greek, Latin, grammar, music, and drawing; and then Maestro Antonio Angeli da Barga, a scholar and writer of considerable merit, took them through the higher subjects of composition, poetry, rhetoric, and geometry.

Foreign languages - at least French and Spanish - were not forgotten, for, before Donna Maria was eight years old, she spoke the latter tongue with fluency. The very learned Maestro Pietro Vettori, when he joined the household of the Duke as teacher of Greek and philosophy to Don Francesco, was greatly struck by the young girl's attainments, and so charmed was he by her sprightly manner, that he obtained permission for her to join her brother's lessons.

Donna Maria, before she was twelve, could read and quote Homer with ease. She composed elegantly in Greek and Latin, and, possessed of a remarkably sweet and sympathetic voice, she was able to recite from memory, and even to expound her own juvenile opinions, both in Latin and in Tuscan.

Cosimo and Eleanora inhabited the Medici Palace, in the Via Larga, just five years, and then he transferred his official residence to the Palazzo Vecchio. This he did to show that he was absolute ruler of Tuscany as well as head of the Medici family. With the skilled assistance of Tasso, the architect, and Vasari, the painter, he set about structural and decorative alterations and adornments, which rendered the old building more suitable as a residence for the Sovereign.

In 1549 Duchess Eleanora purchased the Pitti Palace from Buonaccorso Pitti, for 9000 gold florins, and laid out the adjacent gardens. There the Duke and Duchess took up their residence with their family and their suite.

       * * * * *

Among young aspirants to fame and fortune, who enrolled themselves in the "Bande Nere," were several scions of the proud and warlike Rimini family of Malatesti. One branch of the family held the Marquisate of Roncofreddo, and their stronghold was the castle of Montecodruzzo. Marquis Leonida de' Malatesti was the happy father of many sons and daughters. After the premature death of the Condottiere Giovanni de' Medici, his sons maintained their allegiance and devotion to the cause of his son Cosimonino.

Giacopo and Lamberto, elder sons, became esquires of the young Medico, and were of the party which entered Florence on that memorable day in 1537. A younger boy, Malatesta, followed his brothers' example, for, in 1548, in the list of officers and men of the Ducal household in Florence, appears his name as a page, but of the tender age of ten.

The lad was possessed of the vigour and spirit of his race, and it required all the patience and tact of Frate Cammillo Selmi, the Master of the Pages, to keep him in order. His pugnacious disposition attracted the attention of the Duke, and his pretty looks and fair hair charmed the Duchess. One other recommendation the young boy had - his father's fidelity and worthy services, and he was looked upon as a pet of the palace, and became rather a playmate than an attendant of the Duke's family. Besides, his mother was a Florentine - she was Madonna Cassandra, the daughter of Messer Nattio de' Cini, a devoted adherent of the Medici.

Many were the escapades in which Francesco, Giovanni, Garzia, and Ernando, the Duke's sons, were joined by young Malatesta de' Malatesti and other pages of the household. One such boyish prank, when the Court was at Pisa, in the winter of 1550, had a tragic ending. In the pages' common room the lads were playing with shot-guns, which were supposed to be unloaded. Picking up one of these, by mere chance, Malatesta aimed it jokingly at his companions, when to his and their alarm the weapon exploded, and, sad to behold, poor young Francesco Brivio, a son of Signore Dionisio Brivio of Milan, a fellow page, fell to the ground mortally wounded.

Consternation reigned in the palace, the Duke's private physician, Maestro Andrea Pasquali, was sent for in all haste from Florence, and everything was done for the unfortunate lad, but, on the fourth day - it was just before Christmas - the promising young life passed away.

Malatesta, with his heart breaking, was confined in the guard-room, and there he remained pending the Duke's decision. Every one was grieved beyond measure at the tragic occurrence, but all took Malatesta's part. The young Medici were eager and united in their version of the affair, moreover Donne Maria and Isabella were filled with pity for the unhappy young prisoner. Indeed, the former regarded him with a sister's love: she was just ten and the lad thirteen, and she pleaded with the Duchess, her mother, to have the boy released.

The Duke sent for Signore Tommaso de' Medici, the Chamberlain of the Court, and gave him instructions to set the boy at liberty, after administering the useful punishment of twenty strokes with a birch rod, and giving him a severe reprimand and caution!

Signor Brivio and his wife, of course, were dreadfully cast down by their sad bereavement, and both wrote piteously to the Duke, and so did Marchese Leonida de' Malatesti. Cosimo sent very sympathetic letters in return: that to the Marchese was as follows: "... Consideration has been given ... it has not been found that there was any malice between the boys.... Do not trouble yourself any further about the matter, for your boy remains in our service, in which we hope he will behave as he ought, and we hold you in the same esteem as we have ever done. May God preserve you."

Young Malatesta grew to be a fine, high-spirited soldier of the Duke's bodyguard. Loyal to the core to his master, and ambitious for the honour of his family, no enterprise was beyond his scope, no obstacle insurmountable. Intercourse between the princes and princesses and himself became naturally less familiar, but the affections of early boy and girlhood are not easily dissipated; and so Malatesta de' Malatesti and Maria de' Medici found, but, alas, for their woe and not for their weal!

Whilst boys and young men in Florence were free to come and go as they liked, and to mix with all sorts and conditions of men and women, the case was precisely the opposite for girls. Very especially severe were the restrictions imposed upon the growing daughters of the Duchess Eleanora. Brought up amid all the austerity and fanaticism of the Spanish Court, Eleanora de Toledo viewed woman's early life from the conventual point of view.

Jealous of her children's honour, she fenced her three daughters around with precautions which rendered their lives irksome to themselves and troublesome to all who were about them. Maria and her younger sisters were literally shut up within the narrow limits of the apartments they occupied in the palace - happily for them it was not the Palazzo Vecchio but the more roomy Pitti, with its lovely Boboli Gardens.

With carefully chosen attendants and teachers, their lives were entirely absorbed by religious exercises, studies, and needlework. Rarely were they seen at Court functions, and rarer still in the city. If they were allowed a day's liberty in the country, they were jealously guarded, and every attempt at recognition and salutation, of such as they chanced to meet, was rigorously checked.

Beyond association with their brothers, and anxiously watched intercourse with the members of the Ducal suite, their knowledge of the sterner sex was absolutely wanting. It was in vain that Cosimo expostulated with his consort; she was inexorable, and, indeed, she stretched her system so far as to exclude the ladies of the Court. Perhaps she was right in this, for the Duke himself was the daily object of her watchfulness!

Cosimo was wont to meet her restrictions by some such remark as "Well, you see, Eleanora, Maria and Isabella are of the same complexion as myself; we have need of freedom at times to enjoy the pleasures of the world."

Love, we all know, cares neither for locks nor bars, and lovely young Maria de' Medici was surely made to love and to caress. She had many adorers, whose ardour was all the more fierce by reason of their inability to press her hand and kiss her lips. She was in 1556 betrothed to Prince Alfonso d'Este, eldest son of the Duke of Ferrara. He was certainly not in the category of lovers, even at sight, for he had never seen his bride to be. That was an entirely unimportant incident in matrimonial arrangements. The union was projected entirely for political reasons, and chiefly for the putting an end to the protracted contest for precedence between the two families, which every now and again threatened to plunge all Italy into war.

Alfonso d'Este was the heir of his father, Ercole II. - of his titles and wealth, but not of his good looks and polished manners: besides, his reputation for chastity and sobriety was not of the best. Directly Maria was told of the arrangement she expressed her disgust and her determination not to submit to parental dictation. Her reception of the Prince was cold in the extreme, she declined to see him apart from her sisters and attendants, and he returned to Ferrara in no amiable frame of mind.

Meanwhile love, true love, had peeped through the jalousies of Princess Maria's window, and his arrows had fled their dangerous course unseen by any but herself, and him whose heart was hers. No one suspected that a life so guarded could, by any means, be filched from its restraints; but so it was, and the first gossip sprang out of the mouth of a venerable Spanish retainer of the Duchess, the faithful custode, Mandriano, who guarded his mistress's door almost night and day.

Traversing one day an unfrequented part of the gardens of the Palace on the Hill, the old fellow thought he heard voices, and, approaching a grove of laurels, he descried the young Princess in the arms of Malatesta de' Malatesti!

The Duchess was furious when Mandriano told her, and immediately conveyed the portentous news to her husband. Cosimo reflected long and acted warily, for he made no move for many days. Stealthily he tracked the unsuspecting lovers to their trysting-place. Mandriano's story was quite correct.

He summoned the two young people to his private closet, he acquainted them with the fact that the liaison could not continue, and ordered Malatesta to prepare for immediate imprisonment - with the loss of all his honours and the confidence of his Sovereign. The boy pleaded in vain, and testified to the innocence of the love-making without effect, except to raise the Duke's anger to a dangerous pitch. Maria threw herself at her father's feet and appealed for mercy for her lover, asking that the parental vengeance should fall on her and not on Malatesta.

"That you shall have, base child of mine," Cosimo cried in a fierce tone; "see, you shall have the justice of a Roman father!" Then, plucking out his poignard from its hidden sheath, he stabbed his child to the heart! Drawing forth the gory weapon, he flung it at the head of the despairing youth, and, throwing his cloak around his shoulders, rushed out of the chamber slamming-to the door!

Malatesta must have fallen in a deadly swoon across the lovely form of his innamorata, incapable of speech and action, for, there they were found, both apparently dead, by brethren of the Misericordia, who had been summoned by the Duke. Malatesta was thrown into prison, and there he languished for seven long years, without anyone knowing of his existence. His parents had asked Cosimo repeatedly about the boy, but no answer was ever given - the Duke having forbidden the subject to be named.

To the Duchess he prevaricated and hinted that the sudden death of the child was due to the malignant spotted fever, and that he had given personal instructions for the immediate removal and interment of her body. The brethren of the Misericordia might have enlightened the grief-stricken mother, only they were sworn to secrecy; they knew how the beauteous young girl had died. They laid her fair body to rest in a grave unknown even to her father, and not among her people in San Lorenzo.

Cosimo moved the Court immediately to Livorno, and thence to Pisa, and there they kept their Lenten fast in strict seclusion. There was universal grief in Florence where the unhappy Princess, though rarely seen in public, had become the favourite of the people, through her fresh young beauty and by what was known of the sweetness of her character and the brilliancy of her attainments.

Duchess Eleanora and her children mourned piteously for lovely Maria: there seemed to be no solace for their grief. As for the Duke, he was a changed man, the bitterness of remorse had turned his natural reserve into moroseness. He was like one beside himself, his wonted firmness and self-control, at times, failed to stay him, and he preferred to shut himself up alone in one of the towers of the castle at Livorno, venting his passionate despair in fits of weeping and in abject cries of self-reproach.

No one dared to go near to him, for to all who presumed to intrude upon his woes he was like a lion roused. That ever ready secret blade might be whipped out to another's undoing! Still, in calmer moments he reflected, as Muzio has suggestively written: "Maria was very beautiful, as beautiful as any child of earth, most courteous and gentle, her seriousness compelled everyone to respect her, her sprightliness, to love her. She was pleasing to Heaven, whither she had gone sinless to reinforce the angelic choir, and to wear the most fragrant coronal of roses among the companies of holy virgins."

As for the unfortunate young Malatesta, he pined in his dungeon within the keep of San Giovanni for a while, but "hope springeth ever in youthful hearts," and his one and consuming thought was of escape. His conduct seems to have been exemplary, and he gained the sympathy and friendship of his gaolers. At length he ventured to unbosom himself to a worthy sergeant of the guard, and this man assisted him, knowing well what great risk they both incurred.

One evening Malatesta unseen, save by his friend, scaled the prison wall, and made good his escape from Florence and Tuscany. He did not venture to seek sanctuary within his father's castle, but, flying to the coast, boarded a vessel bound for Candia, a fief of Venice, and outside Duke Cosimo's jurisdiction. Various tales are told of his future career - some affirm that assassins, in the pay of Duke Cosimo, tracked him to his doom, and others, that he fell, fighting against the Turks at Famagusta. Anyhow, the kindly sergeant was put to death by order of the Duke!

       * * * * *

Cosimo de' Medici was not the sort of man to brood very long over troubles, however prostrating and desperate. He was essentially a man of action, prompt, eager and able: probably no one ever had a more thorough confidence in his own ability. There were several questions of supreme importance, both public and private, which claimed his attention.

The everlasting disagreement between the aristocracy and the democracy was only partially healed by the alliance of the two against an autocracy. Cosimo was bent upon being absolute ruler of Tuscany, and the development of his will raised against him and his Government constant opposition. He meant to keep his hand tight hold of the bridle of his charger "Tyranny," and to spur him on where he willed.

The Mediceo-Este dispute still called for firmness and determination. Tuscany and Florence had certainly a better case than the Romagna and Ferrara, but intrigue and bribes could achieve what the sword and pen could not. Cosimo meant to keep on his steel gauntlets, although he covered them with the fragrant silk gloves of plausibility. With this idea ever present, he was bent upon retaining the advantage he had gained over Duke Ercole in the matter of poor young Donna Maria's betrothal, for he had other daughters to consider. Donna Isabella was provided for, for better or for worse - alas, that the latter was to be her sad fate - beautiful, fascinating Isabella de' Medici, but Donna Lucrezia, nearly fifteen years of age, was the forfeit her father paid in his gambit of Medicean aggrandisement.

In the July that followed Donna Maria's tragic death, with all the circumstances and pomp of state ceremonial, Lucrezia de' Medici was married to Alfonso II., Duke of Ferrara, the same prince who had been affianced to her sister Maria.

It was not without misgivings that this step was taken: Duchess Eleanora, in particular, expressed dissatisfaction with the match, and feared, perhaps superstitiously, the portent of a second unlucky alliance. Anyhow the preparations for the nuptial day, and the pageants which accompanied it, drew off the thoughts of all from the terrible event of Christmas.

Cosimo, however, had other and, from his own personal point of view, more attractive objects upon which to expend thought and action. As soon as the marriage festivities were over, he set out with a small suite of expert surveyors and agriculturists to the Maremma. It was a peculiarly unhealthy region, and had gone out of cultivation, and its former inhabitants had deserted it.

The Duke determined to drain the land by cutting a canal right through from the Arno to the sea. Next, he set to work to afforest the newly recovered ground, to carve it out in allotments suitable for agricultural pursuits, and to encourage the settlement of vigorous working peasant-tenants. A certain portion of the estates he set apart to his own use for the preservation of wild game. He rebuilt and enlarged the ruined castle of Rosignano, ten miles from Livorno, for the occupation of himself and his family and for his hunting associates.

At Pisa he had peculiar interests. The University, which Lorenzo "il Magnifico" had refounded, had been abandoned by his successors and was closed. Cosimo took the matter up: he re-established all that had been done by his illustrious predecessor, and endowed a number of professorial chairs - especially in chemistry, wherein he was himself an ardent student and sapient expert - and kindred sciences, and founded scholarships or apprenticeships for youths of every station.

The climate of Pisa suited Duchess Eleanora and young Don Giovanni - who was a delicate lad - better far than that of Florence; it was sedative and not so rigorous in winter as that of the higher Val d'Arno. Then, too, they were there within easy reach of their favourite seaside residence, Livorno, in whose harbour rode constantly galleons of war from Spain flying the Duchess' own dear country's ensign.

Cosimo and his family of course had many other distractions from the affairs of State. In addition to his attainments as a chemist, in which science he especially interested his eldest son, Francesco, he excelled in his knowledge of botany. With passionate devotion to an attractive subject he taught his children the nature and the use of all growing things. At the Pitti Palace he had his laboratories.

Printing and the printing-press found in Cosimo an ardent patron. Away in the grounds of the Casino di Cosimo - "Il Padre della Patria" - within the confines of the monastery of San Marco, he printed, bound, and published, literary works of all kinds. Torrentino, Paolo Giovio, Scipione Ammirato, Benedetto Vasari, Filippo de' Nerli, Vincenzio Borghini, and many other writers, printers, and critics, collectors, forgathered at the Ducal studios.

Architecture and the embellishment of the city had also Cosimo's active sympathy: piazzas, bridges, fountains, statues, still bear the marks of his supervision. Benvenuto Cellini, Michael Angelo Buonarroti, Baccio Bandinelli, Giovanni da Bologna, Bernardo Buonlatenti, Francesco Ferrucci, Tribolo, Giorgio Vasari, were among his proteges and personal friends.

In all these enterprises he shared his pleasures with his sons, and so the years passed on with rays of brilliant sunshine piercing the clouds of darkling deeds. Alexandre Dumas has well summed up the character of Cosimo de' Medici: "He had," he says, "all the vices which rendered his private life sombre, and all the virtues which made his life in public renowned for splendour; whilst his family experienced unexampled misfortune, his people rejoiced in prosperity and gladness."

Perhaps in the delights of music and dancing and in the invigorating exercises of the chase, Cosimo found his best-loved relaxation. No Florentine valued more thoroughly, and shared more frequently than he, in the layman's privilege of assisting in the choir of the Duomo at the singing of the "Hours." Musical reunions in the gardens of the Pitti Palace were of constant recurrence, where he and his children danced and sang to their hearts' content, amid the plaudits of the company.

The Duke easily excelled all his courtiers and the many distinguished visitors who made Florence their rendezvous, in exploits in the hunting-field. No one rode faster than he, always in at the death, whether buck or boar, he was second to none as a falconer. He knew every piscatorial trick to take a basketful of fish, and in the game of water-polo, in the Arno, no swimmer gained more goals!

In the middle of October, 1562, the Duke and Duchess, with their four sons, Giovanni, Garzia, Ernando, and little Piero - only eight years old - accompanied by a limited suite, left the Palazzo Pitti for a progress through South Tuscany and the Maremma. At Fuicchio and Grosseto they made sojourns, that the Duke might inspect the new fortifications, which were nearing completion, and view the partly formed roads.

The cavalcade passed on to Castiglione della Pescaia, Massa Maritima, and thence to the Castello di Rosignano, where they went into residence for the hunting season. The members of the Ducal family were not in very robust health, and Maestro Stefano had "indicated" the healthy pastime of the chase as a cure for enfeebled constitutions. Don Giovanni, born 28th September, was just nineteen. He was of a gentle disposition, serious beyond his years, amenable to the dictates of conscience, and attracted by the offices of religion. In many ways he resembled his mother, and was physically more of a Spaniard than a Florentine. From his earliest years he evinced a remarkably docile submission to all who were placed over him as teachers or governors. He was gifted with great ability, for, sharing as he did, the studies and duties of his brothers, he very soon surpassed them all in polite accomplishments. Francesco Riccio, now the Duke's Major-domo, noted the young prince's cheerfulness, conscientiousness and diligence. The reports which Maestro Antonio da Barga made to his father of his son's progress were full of praise of his young pupil's aptitude and perseverance. Giovanni de' Medici was, in many respects, a brilliant exponent of Count Baltazzare Castiglione's Cortegiano or "Perfect Gentleman."

Cosimo expected great things of his amiable and accomplished son, and, noting especially his sobriety and integrity, destined him for the service of the Church. Pius IV. succeeded to the Papal throne in 1559, and his election was in a great measure due to the advocacy of the Duke of Florence. In January of the following year, he invited young Giovanni to visit Rome, and immediately conceived an immense fancy for his charming visitor. Giovanni was preconised Cardinal-Deacon, with the title of Santa Maria in Domenica, and the Pope presented him his own private residence, with its appointments and household. The young Cardinal spent some weeks in the Eternal City, and gathered around him, by his courtesy and liberality, most of the Florentine exiles in Rome and its environs. They were generally in a woeful condition, and the young prince undertook to bring their misfortunes and their fervent wishes before his father.

The Cardinal of Lorraine and the Cardinal Camerlengo Ascarno Sforza had previously visited the Tuscan Court, and had received Cosimo's consent to his son's acceptance of the biretta.

Giovanni Battista Adriani in his Istorie di Suoi Tempe, has placed on record that this youthful Prince of the Church was "of mature judgment and wise beyond his years, and of such a bearing that it would have been difficult to have found anyone more attractive, more seemly in his morals, and very sensible." In Rome Giovanni gave himself up especially to the study of antiquities, and he became a great favourite with the many pious, learned, and distinguished men who were gathered round the mild and religiously-minded Pontiff.

Cardinal de' Medici's secretary was the erudite and upright Abbot Felice Gualterio, who subsequently gathered together his letters and literary compositions, "wherein are noble and benevolent expressions of his affection for his father and mother and his brothers and sisters." Garzia, two years his junior, is often named with sincerest love and pleasure.

Pius, constant in his devotion to the young Cardinal, added to his honours and prerogatives by creating him, early in 1561, Archbishop of Pisa, but, inasmuch as he had not reached the age prescribed for holding ecclesiastical preferments, Canon Antonio da Catignano was appointed Administrator of the spiritualities of the See. However, in March, the young Archbishop made his ceremonial entry into Pisa, accompanied by the Duke and Duchess, with their family and court.

The Pope greatly desired that Cardinal Giovanni should enter Holy Order, and to this the young prince cordially and reverently acceded, but, for reasons of his own, Cosimo declined his consent, remarking that "a prince of his house was more distinguished than a consecrated prelate." As a set-off to this discourteous reply to Pius, the Duke, whilst at Pisa, founded the military order of San Stefano, as a thank-offering for the subjugation of Siena, much after the pattern of the Knights of Malta - constituting himself Grand Master and the Cardinal, Chancellor.

Giovanni actually undertook his duties as Archbishop by granting letters of appointment to benefices within his diocese. One is dated 24th October, 1562, and was addressed to the Bishop of Arezzo, about the presentation to a certain abbey which had become vacant upon the death of Cardinal della Cueva.

It was at this period that Pius wrote to Duke Cosimo, suggesting a matrimonial alliance between the Duke's eldest son, Don Francesco, - who was undertaking a princely tour of the chief European Courts for the double purpose of making himself known personally to the various Sovereigns, and of looking out for a suitable consort, - and the Princess Maria Garzia of Portugal. The proposition was backed up by an offer of the kingly title to the Duke. Both propositions fell to the ground, but Pius, in his eagerness to render the Duke of Florence homage, and to prove his gratitude, asked his acceptance, for his young son Garzia, of the command of a Papal ship of war.

Garzia, the third of Duke Cosimo's surviving sons, was born on 1st July, 1547. His baptism, for some unknown reason, was delayed three years, and not until 29th June, 1550, was he held at the ancient font in the Battisterio di San Giovanni, having for his sponsor Pope Julius III., who was represented by Jacopo Cortese da Prato, Bishop of Vaison, the writer of a curious letter descriptive of the ceremony.

The little fellow was a thorough Medico, full of spirit, frank, and daring. Blessed with the good looks of his father's family, he was the merriest among his brothers and sisters. Mischievous, and passionate too, at times, he endeared himself especially to his mother by his fascinating manners and his whole-hearted devotion.

Whilst regarding his brilliant son Giovanni, perhaps, with the keenest affection, Cosimo saw in his younger boy traits not unlike his own, and an instinctive love of arms. Garzia then was from the first years of boyhood destined for a military career, having placed before him the splendid example of his redoubtable grandfather, "Giovanni L'Invincible."

Upon his thirteenth birthday, the Duke appointed his gay young son Admiral of the Florentine fleet at Pisa, naming as his Vice Admiral, Baccio Martelli, the most valiant and best experienced naval commander in his forces, and the head of one of the most ancient Florentine families.

In spite of Cardinal Giovanni's expression of affection for his younger brother, there is no doubt that he was not a little jealous of his mother's partiality for Garzia. One would have thought that Duchess Eleanora would have regarded with special delight and love the son who most resembled herself in appearance and disposition; but perhaps the reason for her preference may be gathered by looking into the happy, radiant, laughing face of her bonnie little son, as painted by Angelo Bronzino at the Uffizi in Florence!

It would seem that when the Court reached Rosignano the Duchess, Giovanni, and Garzia complained of fever, and they were for a few days confined to the house. The good air and the charm of country life were specific, and the invalids regained their vigour and their good spirits, and all were eager for the sport. Each day had its particular rendezvous, and what form the pastime should take was agreed overnight by the chief huntsmen and falconers.

The Duchess Eleanora did not always accompany her husband, and Ernando - who was not quite thirteen - generally remained with his tutors at the Castle until afternoon, when they both sallied forth, with little Piero, to meet the returning-hunting party. Upon the ever-memorable twenty-sixth of November the Duchess had been persuaded by Don Giovanni to go with them, for there was to be a deer-drive in the forest between the castle and Livorno, and he expected to have a chance of exhibiting his skill as a marksman at a notable full-grown roebuck.

Giovanni and Garzia were equally fearless riders, and very soon after the game had been rounded up, the special quarry they were after went off at a tremendous rate, out-distancing his pursuers until he was lost in the forest. The brothers separated and met again in an open glade, where both descried the buck, quietly browsing upon the fresh green grass. Garzia seems to have sighted the animal first, but whilst he was somewhat slow in bringing his weapon to his shoulder, the Cardinal aimed, fired, and dropped the game. He at once dismounted and ran to claim the prize. High words followed, and, when Giovanni made some insulting remark about his less mature station as a marksman, Garzia, over-heated by the chase, and aggravated by his brother's raillery, hastily drew his heavy hunting-knife and brandished it before Giovanni's face, threatening to do for him if he did not desist, and withdraw his claim to first shot.

Giovanni pushed the boy from him, perhaps somewhat roughly, and then Garzia, having entirely lost command of himself, struck a blow at his brother which wounded him severely in the groin. Giovanni fell to the ground, exclaiming, "And this from you, Garzia. May God in Heaven forgive you. Call help at once."

The blast of the horn soon gathered round the unhappy brothers courtiers and huntsmen. Giovanni was bleeding freely, his hose and buskins were saturated, and Garzia was weeping piteously, and crying out despondently, "Oh God, I have killed Giovanni! Oh God, I have killed Giovanni!" A huntsman snatched up the gory lethal weapon, lest the boy, in his despair, should turn it upon himself.

All that they could do to staunch Giovanni's wound they did, and having made a temporary stretcher with guns and hunting-cloaks, the little cavalcade was preparing to move on to seek further assistance. They had not proceeded very far when the Duke and his attendants rode upon the scene. Halting the bearers of his son he enquired who it was they carried. Before any one could make a reply, Don Garzia ran shrieking up to his father.

"It is me, your Garzia, I have killed Giovanni," he cried out in abject terror.

Cosimo motioned the sorrowful bearers to proceed, and they and their burden were no sooner out of sight than Duchess Eleanora came up in her sedan-chair, terribly agitated by the cries she had heard in the forest. She approached her husband and found him standing lost in thought, with that terrible expression upon his face which he exhibited once before when she had enquired for her first-born, Maria!

There, too, on the sward, was her favourite son, her Garzia, apparently in a swoon, and she advanced to aid him. Garzia heard his mother coming towards him and, rousing himself, he ran and threw himself into her arms, weeping bitterly.

Then once more he turned to his father pleadingly, and kneeling to him, grasped his legs, imploring pardon for his crime - for neither father nor son doubted but that Giovanni was dead. Baring his head, and holding his arms wide apart to Heaven, the Duke appealed to God to direct his actions. Then, turning to his son, grovelling at his feet. "Behold, thy brother's blood," he cried with bitterness, "asks vengeance of God and of me, thy miserable father; and now I shall deal with thee alone. Certainly it is a heinous crime for a father to kill his son, but it would be a still more grievous sin to spare the life of a parricide, lest he went on to exterminate his family, and lay their name in the dirt, to be execrated of all men. I have now resolved what to do, for I would far rather live in history as a pitiless father than as an unjust Sovereign."

The Duchess, judging that Cosimo actually intended to slay his son, and knowing how fruitless any efforts of hers would be to avert such a terrible calamity, fell upon her knees and prayed aloud to Heaven to save the poor, young boy, and spare her own broken heart. Shutting her eyes, and covering her ears, she awaited, more dead than alive, the fall of that hand, within which was convulsively grasped a flashing poignard!

Cosimo once more prayed most earnestly to God to approve the justice of his deed, to pardon him for so executing the Divine wrath, and for peace for the souls of his young sons. Then, bending towards the unconscious Garzia, he exclaimed, "I will have no Cain in my family," and, at the same moment, he plunged his weapon into the heart of his boy.

With a last despairing shriek Garzia fell away, crying, as he expired, the one word "Mother!"

The Duchess also lay upon the grass, still as death; indeed, her heart had stopped its beat when Cosimo raised her, and bid her sternly to act the woman. She was speechless and demented, and at the sight of her dear son's crimson blood colouring the fresh verdure where he had fallen, she lost her reason, and her cries and shrieks resounded through the forest.

From all sides courtiers and huntsmen appeared upon the scene. The Duke silently waved them away, and, beckoning four of the most trusty of his retainers, he bade them pick up the dead body of the young prince and bear it after him, whilst he commanded the lacqueys to carry back the Duchess in her sedan-chair to the Castle.

Asking which way the bearers of the murdered Giovanni had taken, he ordered his own cortege to follow on to Livorno. Arrived at the palace, the corpses of the two unfortunate young princes were arranged for burial. Upon baring Don Garzia's body, a fresh wound was discovered in his back, but whether by the hand of Don Giovanni no one ever knew. This fact, however, was reported to the Duke and furnished him with a satisfactory reason for the double tragedy - for he deemed it wiser just then that the truth should not be published!

Solemn obsequies were celebrated in the Duomo of Pisa. Don Giovanni was honoured with all the gorgeous ceremonies due to a Cardinal Archbishop, and some say his body was left there, whilst the burial of poor Don Garzia was completed by a simple service in San Lorenzo in Florence. The cause of the twofold lamentable occurrence was officially ascribed to malarial fever - the two young victims having contracted, as it was said, the fatal malady during the progress of the Court through Tuscany.

The Duchess Eleanora did not long survive her sons. She never left her bed in the Castle of Rosignano until she was carried for expert advice and treatment into Pisa. Prince Francesco returned in haste, from his tour of the Courts, and did much, by his loving sympathy, to revive his stricken mother. Still of no real avail were all the remedies, for she breathed her last one month after that terrible day in the forest, and her body was borne sorrowfully into Florence, and, within the octave of Christmas laid beside her dearly-loved Garzia.

As for Duke Cosimo, Don Francesco found him a changed man, aged by a good ten years, silent, morose, and indifferent to all that transpired around him.

News of the tragedy was current in the city of Trent, where the Aecumenical Council was in session, and it made a great impression upon the assembled prelates and assistants. Masses were offered for ten days for the repose of the souls of Giovanni and Garzia, and devotions were addressed to Heaven on behalf of the father who had - no one there for a moment doubted - been the avenger of one son's blood and the spiller of the other's.

Within two years Cosimo de' Medici - ever pursued by an accusing conscience and diverted only from suicide by indulging in every sensuality within his power, executed an instrument of abdication of his sovereignty, naming Don Francesco Regent of the Duchy, and retaining for himself no more than the title of Duke of Florence.