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time already. The numbness or paralysis which affected his right hand was but the premonitory symptom of worse troubles. The noble old man thought it well to make his last arrangements. The fine maxim he had himself composed : “ As a well-spent day ensures happy slumbers, so does a well-spent life ensure a happy death,” l might have been appropriately applied to his own case. A week before the final catastrophe he sent for Maitre Boreau, an Amboise notary, whose descendants carried on his business till 1885, and dictated his will to him.
The original will is lost; but M. Scribe, a professor at the college of Romorantin, has recently had the good fortune of finding an old copy of the Italian text, dating from the seventeenth century, and bearing every sign of scrupulous exactitude.2
This copy enables us, in the first place, to solve a serious chronological problem. The will is dated April 23, 1518, and it was a question whether the year was to be reckoned on the Italian system (at Rome, for instance, it began on December 25, and sometimes on January 1), or on the French one—that is to say, from Easter. Only a few years ago, Signor Uzielli contended that 1518 was the correct date.3
The learned Turinese professor overlooked the fact that in the will the date was preceded by the words “before Easter.” In the notice prefixed by Anatole de Montaiglon to M. Scribe's publication, this valuable entry is not allowed to escape reference. In 1518, Easter Day fell on April 4. In 1519, it was on April 24. The correctness of this latter date is therefore definitely established.
Here is the translation of the will, as it appears in the Italian copy discovered by M. Scribe :—“Let it be known to all men, present and to come, that at the Court of our lord the King at Amboise, duly assembled in our presence, Messire Leonardo da Vinci, the King's painter, now dwelling at the place known as Cloux, near Amboise, considering the certainty of death, and the uncertainty of the hour of its approach, has acknowledged and confessed before us, in the said
Richter, vol. ii., p. 293. 2 Réunion des Sociétés des Beaux Arts des Départements (1893, P. 780, etc.). 3 Ricerche, ist edition, vol. i., p. 99.
4 I borrow these dates from M. Giry's Manuel de Diplomatique, p. 102.- Réunion des Sociétés des Beaux Arts, loc. cit,
Court-to which he has submitted, and does submit himself, as to what he does and orders for the using of these presents—his will and the order of his last desires in the following manner.
First he commits his soul to our Lord God and Saviour, to the glorious Virgin Mary, to S. Michael, and to all the blessed Angels and Saints in Paradise.
Item, the said testator desires to be buried in the church of S. Florentin at Amboise, and that his body may be borne thither by the
LEONARDVS DAVINCI chaplains of that church.
Item, that his body may be attended from the said place to the said church of S. Florentin by the clergy of the said church-that is by the rector and the prior, or by the curates and chaplains of the church of S. Denis at Amboise, and with them the brothers of the minor orders in the said place; and before his body is carried into the said church the testator wills that three high Masses,
(The Uffizi, Florence.) with deacon and subdeacon, shall be celebrated in the said church of S. Florentin ; and on the day when the three high Masses are said, thirty low masses of S. Gregory shall be said likewise.
Item, that in the said church of S. Denis the same service shall be celebrated (as above).
Item, that in the church of the said friars and minor orders the same service shall be celebrated.
Item, the undermentioned testator gives and grants to Messire
Francesco del Melzo, gentleman ,of Milan, as a reward for the gracious service he has rendered him in the past, all and each of the books now owned by the said testator, and the other instruments and portraits connected with his art and painter's craft.
Item, the said testator gives and grants in perpetuity and for ever, to Battista di Villanis, his servant, one half of a garden outside the walls of Milan, and the other half of the said garden to Salay, his servant; within this garden the said Salai has built a house, which shall be and remain for ever the property of the said Salay, his heirs and successors. And this is to reward the faithful (and kindly) service rendered him by his said servants, Villanis and Salay.
Item, the said testator gives and grants to Mathurine, his woman servant, a gown of good black cloth, lined with fur, a cloth cloak, and two ducats, to be paid to her once only, and this in gratitude for the good service rendered him by the said Mathurine.
Item, he desires that at his funeral there may be sixty tapers borne by sixty poor persons, who shall be given money for carrying them, which money the said Melzo shall distribute to them according to his will. These tapers shall be divided between the four churches named.
Item, the said testator gives and grants to each of the abovementioned churches ten pounds weight of thick wax tapers, which shall be placed in the said churches, to be used on the days of the celebration of the above-mentioned services.
Item, that alms be given to the poor at the Hôtel-Dieu and at S. Lazare d’Amboise, and that for this purpose the number and sum of seventy pence of Tours be paid to the treasurers of these confraternities.
Item, the above-mentioned testator gives and grants to the said Messire Francesco del Melzo, here present and consenting the remainder of his pension, and of the sums of money owing to him up till the day of his death, by the receiver or treasurer-general, M. Jehan Sapin, and also of all and every one of the sums received by him from the said Sapin, in payment of his pension, in case the testator should die before the said Melzi, which last are at present in the keeping of the said testator, in the said house of Cloux, as he
Likewise he gives to the said del Melzo all his wearing apparel which he has here in the said place (at Cloux), as much to reward his good service up to the present as in return for the weariness and trouble this present will may cause him, all of which, be it clearly understood, shall be at the testator's cost.
He orders and desires that the sum of four hundred crowns, deposited by him in the care of the treasurer of Santa Maria Novella, in the town of Florence, be given to his natural brothers, residing at Florence, (together with) the interest on the four hundred crowns which may be due by the said treasurer to the said testator since the day on which the said testator gave and made them over to the said treasurer of Santa Maria Novella.
Item, the said testator desires and commands that the said Francesco del Melzo shall be and remain the sole executor of his will ; and that the will may take its full and complete effect, the said Messire Leonardo, legal testator, has bound and does bind his heirs and successors, with all his goods, furniture and real estate, present and to come, to follow, hold, obey, and observe all that is therein set forth and set down, and has by this present deed renounced all other and contrary disposal of his property.
Given here at Cloux, in the presence of Master Esprit Fleri, curate of the church of S. Denis at Amboise, Master Guillaume Croyant, priest, and the knight Master Cyprien Fulchin, Brothers Francesco of Cortona, and Francesco of Milan, of the Minorite Friars at Amboise, called and summoned as witnesses thereof, by order of the said Court, in the presence of the said Messire Francesco del Melzo, agreeing and consenting, who has promised on his honour, and sworn an oath which he has delivered in his own person unto us, that he will never do, go, speak or act against it, and sealed, at his prayer, and as a sign
and as a sign of truth, with the seal-royal set upon the legal acts of the town of Amboise. Given this xxiii. day of April mdxviii. before Easter.
And on the xxiii. of the said month of April, 1518, in presence of Maître Guillaume Boreau, notary royal at the Court of the Bailiwick of Amboise, Messire Leonardo da Vinci has given and made over, by his last will and testament, above recited, the rights over the watercourse of the Canal of S. Christopher in the Duchy of Milan,
formerly bestowed by the late King Louis XII. of happy memory upon the said Leonardo da Vinci, to the above-mentioned Master Battista di Villanis, to use in the manner and fashion permitted by the said King's gift. Before Francesco del Melzo, gentleman, of Milan, and myself.
And on the above mentioned day of the said month of April, in the said year 1518, the said Messire Leonardo da Vinci did, by his last will and testament, give to the above-mentioned Battista di Villanis (he being present and agreeing) each and every piece of furniture and utensil in his said house at Cloux, and this always in case the said di Villanis survives the above-mentioned Messire Leonardo da Vinci.
In the presence of the above-mentioned Messire Francesco del Melzo and of myself, notary, etc., BOREAU.
This document shows us that Leonardo's fortune consisted, at the time of his death, of the vineyard at Milan, the 400 florins deposited at Santa Maria Novella, his rights in the Canal of S. Christopher at Milan, and his yearly pension.
A codicil to the document is supposed to have existed, and Melzi's letter does certainly affirm that Leonardo bequeathed his little property at Fiesole to his brothers, a legacy which does not appear in the will itself. Melzi adds that he does not know whether or not there was another will (evidently of previous date).
The last surviving member of the Boreau family assured Arsène Houssaye that the will had been drawn up in French. This assertion is anything but improbable. Leonardo probably dictated it in Italian, for we have no reason to believe he acquired the French language during the few years he spent at Amboise. His two fellow-countrymen, who, with Melzi, were present at the drawing up of the instrument, Brother Francesco of Cortona, and Brother Francesco of Milan, doubtless translated his directions, as he gave them.
The will confirms Vasari's story in one essential point. “At last,” writes the biographer, “ Leonardo, growing old, fell sick for many months, and seeing death draw near, he desired to be carefully instructed concerning the things of our good and holy Christian and Catholic religion, and having made his confession and repented with many tears, he insisted, though he could not stand upright,