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did not choose to do it! Why? Was it through indifference to glory, through an over lofty ambition, through carelessness, through contempt, through modesty, or simply because he had no time? Whichever it was, fatality or deliberate intention, we cannot tell, and have only to bow resignedly before his tomb. For us the secret of Leonardo is in his works, and there we must seek it. The grave and majestic figure of the master greets us on the threshold of the enchanted world he has created, a world in which grace, more potent than beauty, reigns supreme. In Leonardo's soul the genius of art and the genius of science are fused into an ideal which shares the nature of both.” A profound savant and an incomparable creator, he is the only man in the histořy of our race who has at once penetrated into the most secret hiding-places of truth and evoked visions of the most radiant beauty, who has united the science of Aristotle with the art of Phidias.


(Library of the Institut de France

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(Bonnat Collection.)

HO does not know the story of Il Moro's

miserable end-punishment richly de

served indeed, but merciless in its severity ?

On August 31, 1499, on the approach of Louis XII., Lodovico sent his two sons into Germany, together with their tutors, and the Cardinals Ascanio Sforza and Federigo San Severino ; at the same

time despatching his treasure,-amounting at that moment, without reckoning 150,000 ducats left in the Castle at Milan, to some 240,000 ducats and a huge quantity of pearls—to the realm of his nephew, the Emperor Maximilian. He himself left Milan on September 21, to pursue the same road. In the extremity of his despair, and the depth of his degradation, he was inspired, for the second time, with one of those ideas which have earned his name the loathing of every Italian heart. On a former occasion he had called Charles VIII. to his aid against the threatened onslaught of the King of Naples. This time, he attempted to incite the Sultan, the bitterest enemy of Christendom, against Louis XII. and the Venetians. His friend and contemporary, the chronicler Corio, bears witness to the fact.2

Recalled, within a few months, to Milanese territory, owing to

1 Corio, Historia di Milano, p. 978-984.

? Ibid., p. 977-981.




the dissatisfaction caused there by alien rule, Lodovico re-entered his capital in triumph, on February 4, 1500. But before long a fresh invasion by the French imperilled his evanescent power. Betrayed near Novara by the Swiss, the Duke was by them handed over to a pitiless conqueror (April 10).3

Up to the present day, every historian has refused, once the curtain has dropped on the closing act of this drama, to cast even a hasty glance upon the former ruler of the Milanese, the patron of Leonardo and Bramante. In their sight he was dead, in the civil

The men of his own time, and those who have come later, have been equally inexorable. True it is, that when Lodovico opened a road into his fatherland for a foreign foe, he committed a crime of which no just person can possibly acquit him. But, speaking for myself, I have not found it in my heart to turn thus from a man who rendered such brilliant service to the cause of the beautiful, and called so many masterpieces into existence; I have felt impelled to learn how this understanding, marked by so profound a worship for art, and peopled by such brilliant fancies, was finally laid low.

Information concerning Lodovico's private life during those

1 The part played at this juncture by Leonardo's friend, Jacopo Andrea (see vol. i., p. 101) is clearly evident. These are the words of the chronicler, Jean d'Auton (Dec. 1499): " And as it is a hard matter to satisfy the combined appetites of a multitude, the King had no sooner accepted the general will than many considered themselves hardly used ; and among others one Messire Jacome Andrée, varlet de chambre of the Duke Lodovico (whose property the King had confiscated, giving it to his own physician, Maistre Théodore), and another, named Nicholas, barber-surgeon of Milan. These sought out Lodovico in Germany, and made him many fair promises; and Jacome Andrée affirmed that before fifteen days had passed his hand should be dipped in the blood of his lordship, Jehan Jaques, and he would have compassed his death ; and Nicholas, the surgeon, boasted that he would raise the commune of Milan against the French who were lodged there, and go from house to house, persuading and inducing every Milanese to slay his guest, and to kill all they might find at their mercy, giving quarter to none.-(May, 1500.) All the conspirators and authors of this rebellion who could be taken and handed over to justice, suffered the capital sentence, and were publicly executed in the square before the Castle at Milan, among them Jacome Andrée, Nicholas the surgeon, Messire Louys de Pors, and the Captain de Trectz. Their indictment was made by Messire Michel Riz, doctor, and by the captain of the city, and their sentence was carried out by the King's lieutenant, the Sire de la Trimoille.” (De Maulde's edition, vol. i., pp. 139, 277, 278).

very curious letter in which he describes this ceremony to his sister-in-law, Isabella d'Este, is reproduced by Luzio and Renier (p. 155-158).

3 It was an Italian resident at the French Court, one Fausto Andrelini, who celebrated the capture of his fellow-countryman in Latin hexameters, De Captivitate Ludovici Sphorcia. (1st edition undated, 2nd edition, Paris, 1505.) See also Carranti's Ludovici Sfortie Captivitatis, Bologna, 1507.

2 The

eight years of slow agony is, alas, but scanty. We only know that the former ruler of Milan was conducted first to Susa, and then to Lyons, escorted by 200 archers of the guard, and several gentlemen. At Lyons "grand nombre de gentilshommes de cheux le Roy luy furent au devant.

Le prévost de l’ostel le conduisit tout le long de la grant rue, jucques au chasteau de Pierre Encize, et là fut logé et mys en garde seure. Ce séjour fut illecques quinze jours, durant quel temps, par les seigneurs du grand conseil du roy de plusieurs choses fut interrogué, lequel supposé qu'il leur faict que foue toutesfoys moult sagement parloit.” [“A great number of the King's gentlemen came to meet him. The provost conducted him all along the main street to the castle of Pierre Encize, and there he was lodged and put in safe ward. His sojourn there lasted fifteen days, during which time he was questioned on many matters by the lords of the grand council, and though he may have acted right foolishly, he nevertheless spoke right wisely."] From Lyons he was transferred to the Château du Lys Sainct George, in Berry, and made over to the charge of a gentleman named Gilbert Bertrand. Four or five years later, Louis XII., with that cruelty characteristic of weak natures, immured his prisoner in the donjon of Loches without even allowing him (this fact was given to Paolo Giovio by an eye-witness) the use of pens and ink-“ erepto scribendi solatio."'i There the unhappy man died on May 27, 1508. He was only fifty-seven years of age.

Spurred by a feeling of compassion, very easily explained with regard to so great a benefactor of the arts, I undertook, some years ago, a journey-I had almost said a pilgrimage—to the keep wherein

1 Monsieur de Maulde la Clavière treats Louis XII.'s supposed severity to his captive as an idle tale. (Chroniques de Louis XII. par Jean d'Auton, vol. i., p. 279, etc.) The learned historian brings forward a series of testimonies tending to prove the conqueror's innocence. Saint-Gelais states that was regards his person, he was always as well treated as he could have been in his greatest freedom and power.” “Humanely treated,” says Seyssel. “In a strong castle, where he is still detained, in spacious and honourable captivity," says the Ystore Anthonine. The Milanese historians make no reference to any ill-treatment. (Castellus, Compendium, 6,172, fol. 41 vo.) Prato relates, on the other hand, that at Loches, where Ludovico enjoyed a certain amount of liberty, he corrupted his keeper and escaped in a cart laden with straw, but he lost his way in the woods and was hunted out and recaptured the next day (1508). Then it was that his captivity was made more severe. He died a natural death on May 27 in that same year.

A gentleman in waiting, who had obtained permission to remain with him, P. F. Pontremulo, then returned to Italy, and told his own story concerning the trials endured at Loches.

the greatest of Leonardo's patrons languished for so long. The position of the Castle is incomparably beautiful. But the horror of the subterranean dungeon, in which the unhappy Milanese prince was confined, beggars all conception. The walls are nothing but blocks of naked rock, the floor the bare caked earth. The martyr's only pastime, it is said (I do not vouch for the truth of the story), was to paint rough sketches on his prison walls, a last memory of that enlightened protection bestowed on art, on Leonardo, on Bramante, which, in the calm eye of history, must counterbalance Lodovico's crimes against his kinsfolk and his fatherland.

By a coincidence which seems worthy of remark, Leonardo himself died, a few years later, in France also, and in Touraine, some eighteen miles from Loches, while the Marshal di Trivulzio, the bitterest of Lodovico Sforza's foes, ended his days at Chartres.

Lodovico's fall was the greatest misfortune which could have overwhelmed Leonardo. It reduced him to the necessity, just as old age was closing in upon him, of seeking another patron—(who was slow to appear)-of beginning his career again, a career which had been more fruitful hitherto, in masterpieces, and the admiration they had won, than in tangible reward, and exposed him, in fine, to the danger which had hung over his whole life, that of the dispersal and frittering away of his admirable powers. Whatever indecision have appeared in the policy of Lodovico il Moro, whatever fluctuations and weaknesses he may have displayed, where artistic matters were concerned, at all events he succeeded in eliciting, on the part of the artists attached to his service, the most effectual co-operation, a consistent course of effort, and works destined to endure for centuries. Nothing can be more unjust, in this connection, than Leonardo's own bitter outbreak against his former patron.

Buildings by Bramante—(left unfinished). The Governor of the Castle made a prisoner. Visconti taken away captive, and his son slain. Gian della Rosa stripped of his money. Bergonzo began, then refused (?), and afterwards Fortune fled away.

The Duke lost his realm, his fortune, and his liberty, and not one of his undertakings was concluded by him.”l



Amoretti, pp. 79, 81. Did Leonardo return to Florence in 1495? Vasari asserts that the Grand Council Chamber, begun in 1493, was built by Il Cronaca, according to

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