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 Chapter V

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Cecilia Gallerani
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PostSubject: Chapter V   Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:14 am

1494



Now we are in the power of a wolf, the most rapacious perhaps that this world has ever seen. And if we do not flee, he will inevitably devour us all.

Giovanni di Lorenzo de Medici



Last edited by Cecilia Gallerani on Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:30 am; edited 1 time in total
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Bartolomeo Rossi

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PostSubject: Oranges   Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:30 am

Bartolomeo watched part of the duel between Don Cesare and Don Juan Borgia from the window. He did not need to see Juan’s state to know who was going to win. Juan Borgia was famous for his lack of sobriety hours and the Cardinal Borgia, intelligent and lethal would have no problems defeating his younger brother. But the valet’s attention did not last long in the fight. His eyes swept the small crowd that was assisting the duel his eyes not stopping like all the other men on Donna Lucrezia Borgia, but on her cousin Cecilia.

He studied her expression, the way her mouth trembled as her dark eyes followed the duel. Her beautiful brown hair was waving with the wind, one hand on the slight roundness of her belly, the other on little Jofré’s Borgia shoulder. For some moments the valet indulged himself with the Duchess image. However it did not last long. Abruptly he turned his back from the window and he returned to his duties.

After a while he was called to the Duchess’ presence. She was sat by the window the sun, illuminating her hair turning it lighter. He did not like that at all. He liked her dark hair so much.

“Ah Rossi. Here you are.”

“My lady.” He bowed to her. “How may I serve you today?”

“I am having this terrible craving for oranges.” She started.

“Oranges?” He wondered how far pregnancy’s desires would go. Isabella had never been pregnant so he did not know from his own experience how to deal with a woman who was expecting a child.

“Yes, oranges. Round objects, with such succulent and sweet juice…”her eyes closed for a moment with pleasure.”I want them now. The problem is the Cook does not have them.”

“Of course not, my lady. This is not the oranges’ season.”

“I know, he told me.” She looked bored about that fact. “But I want oranges anyway. Go fetch me some.”

“And what would be my reward for such effort, my lady?”

“Don’t I pay you enough for your efforts, Valet?”

“Actually you do not. “ He admitted.

“Insolent!”

He ignored the Duchess’ insult and moved on:

“But if I get a good reward it would will do me enough as an incentive for me to go fetch your oranges.”

She looked him in the eyes, thinking for a moment. Bartolomeo did not read the hint of lust there, nor the amusement. He had never had the talent to read women like Cecilia. They would always be a mystery to him.

“All right. I will give you a reward Valet. What is it that you want?”

The answer came fast and by her surprised face he knew she was not expecting it. “A kiss, my lady.”

“A kiss?” She laughed. He nodded. “Then go fetch my oranges and I might give you that reward.”

“’Just ‘might’? That does not serve me as guarantee, I want more.”

“Remember your place, valet. You were born in a gutter; you don’t have the right to want anything. Now my oranges…I am waiting!”

He bowed once again, and turned his back to her. As he was approaching the door he turned again to the Duchess. She had been with her eyes on his back the whole time. “I shall get your oranges my lady and I hope I can get my reward later.” He promised and then blew her a kiss. “And this I will give you for free.” He then left the room very fast, without waiting for her reaction.
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Clarice de' Medici

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PostSubject: Reveries over a Requiem   Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:37 am

Clarice, dressed in her darkest gown of deep, bluish-black velvet, sat in the pews of the Basilica di Santa Maria for the funeral mass of the Duke of Ferrara, Ambrogio Lorenzo di Ferrari. The mourning gown had been made to order – the trousseau she had brought to Rome had not included a selection of funereal garments – but her new seamstresses had made up this plain but well-fitting gown to her order. A fine black net had replaced the usual white linen kerchief, tucked modestly into the neck of her bodice. She wore dark beads, and held in her hand an onyx rosary, which she thoughtfully fingered as the Cardinal addressed the mourners.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,” began the mass, while Clarice pulled her veil lower and gazed at the rows of heads. She sat amongst the other Medicis, her eldest brother, Piero, at the head of the row. Her sisters, with their bowed, solemn heads, next; she sat between her younger brother Giuliano, and her elder brother, Raffaele. Raffaele, the middle child of Lorenzo de’ Medici and Clarice Orsini, had lately returned from his turn as condottieri. There was always a war to be fought somewhere, he had sometimes explained to her, though Clarice found it hard to believe that her gentle-mannered brother could kill a man. He was fair, like her, while the rest of their family were dark – like her, he had inherited the clear, pale, fine features of the gens Orsini.

He smiled at her gently – they had not spoken since he had returned from campaign, much less congratulated her on her wedding. Instead, they were seated here, waiting for the obsequies for the Duke of Ferrara to end.

She wondered if he was contemplating marriage, now that he had returned from waging war.

Her own husband had not chosen to attend the funeral mass. It did not surprise her, as she sang the Kyrie low, and under her breath, that he was already preoccupied that morning. His uncle, the Cardinal Costa, had apparently summoned him. She hardly needed to scan the biretta’d heads in the crowd to see that Cardinal Jorge da Costa was presently in the Basilica di Santa Maria – not elsewhere on whatever business her husband had invented.

She knew that, even as she chanted Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, he was lying amidst the sinful sheets of his mistress, lazy and half-asleep after a long night of lovemaking. His lustfulness disgusted her; she should have seen it, in his voluptuous lower lip, on the betrothal portrait she had been given. She should have seen it then, and refused to marry.

Absolve Domine.

She had not known; could not have known.

Animas omnium fidelium defunctorum.

She was too innocent – that was undeniable.

Ab omni vinculo delictorum.

Perhaps he wanted her to be more...worldly. Perhaps for a sinful man, a modest wife was not enough.

Et gratia tua illis succurente.

All the same, she would not go so far as to make a whore out of her virtue for him.

Mereantur evadere iudicium ultionis.

Even if it meant she should die a maid, she would not.

Et lucis æternae beatitudine perfrui.

Even if he came to her bed tonight with the express purpose of seducing her, she would resist.

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis.

The mass was over. She rose sombrely, her arm tucked in her brother Raffaele’s elbow, and they filed out of the Basilica into the Piazza di Santa Maria, to meet with her extended family, the Ferrari.
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Renata Ferrari

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PostSubject: The burial of a great man   Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:35 am


Sometime later after the entire household including the servants of his grace, Ambrogio Lorenzo de Ferrari, Duke de Ferrara left the Palazzo de Ferrari for the Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli in Rome. Everyone either went by carriages, wagons to horses rode towards the Basilica. An hour or so later, we finally arrived at the Basilica and were met by the Cardinal of the Basilica and were shown where to sit.

The crowds gathered outside of the Basilica and family and friends of the de Ferrari family gathered inside.



The Cardinal started by a prayer and then began to speak about the great things that my father had done while he was living on earth. Hearing such things, I broke down weeping….like most of the family. With my beloved brother Cardinal Francesco sitting next to me placed his brotherly arm around my shoulder and comforted me during this most difficult time.


It felt like hours as the Cardinal spoke and we sang songs in honor of my late father. I knew prior the funeral mass that my brother Cardinal Francesco has asked me to sing a song for our father… something appropriate as we will burying my father nearby. Once the Cardinal finish with funeral mass with prayer, everyone left the Basilica and waited outside except for the de Ferrari family. My family and I were the last to come out of the Basilica after paying respect our beloved father. I took my Cardinal brother’s arm and slowly walked down the aisle and outside and walked down towards the de Ferrari mausoleum; where we waited for the arrival of the my late father’s litter.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Meanwhile six monks dressed in white robes carried the litter of my late father dressed in his most formal wear as the late Duke de Ferrara, out of the Basilica and slowly down the stone path towards the marble de Ferrari Mausoleum nearby of the Basilica. Right behind the four monks carrying the litter of late father, was the Cardinal de Laurentis, a very old friend of my late father. Seeing the Cardinal de Laurentis following the litter of my late father and slowly walked down the stone path towards the de Ferrari Mausoleum.



++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



As for the de Ferrari family, friends and extended family of the de Ferrari family all stood on either side of the stone path that led into the de Ferrari Mausoleum; which houses several generations of the de Ferrari since their arrival to Rome. My family stood on the right side of the two huge oak doors leading inside of the de Ferrari Mausoleum and other friends and family stood on the left side. With veil over my head, I was still weeping over the loss of my dear beloved father. I heard my brother cardinal brother Francesco gently touched my arm to let me know that the litter carrying my late father is walking towards us.

With my head fully covered with blackish-purple veil, I began to sing with the most beautiful and angelic voice with such words of love as well sorrow, giving voice to the Holy Father and his Holy Angels to remember my beloved father in paradise.


** “In paradisum deducant te Angeli:

in tuo adventu suscipiant te Martyres,

et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem.

Chorus Angelorum te suscipiat,

et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.” as I was singing, I watched the litter of my late father slowly walking passed me. I tried hard as I could of not showing my deepest sorrow in my singing voice. Some of my family followed me in singing.

Once the littler was inside the mausoleum, my family walked inside and gave our father his last respects.




I walked to the litter with the dead body of my late father and seeing him lying there in a peace repose. It nearly killed me….

“Oh my beloved father. Why did you leave me?” I cried heavy as I fell upon the marble floor with my head in my hands.

“Come my dearest sweet sister.” I heard my Cardinal brother Francesco softly said to me as I turned to see him knelt beside me with his hands upon my arms and helped me to my feet. I was weeping heavily…seeing my father lying there sleeping… I felt that I lost something most dearly. As though the wind knocked the life out of me. This was way too much for me bear. With my Cardinal brother Francesco helping me by walking out of the mausoleum, we headed back to our home Palazzo de Ferrari.

My Cardinal brother Francesco invited everyone to our home at the Palazzo de Ferrari in the remembrance of a great man….



Tbc…..






++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


** English translation: In paradisum

“[i]May Angels lead you into paradise;

may the Martyrs receive you at your coming

and lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem.

May a choir of Angels receive you,

and with Lazarus, who once was poor, may you have eternal rest. “[/]




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Jofré Borgia

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PostSubject: Preparations for a Duel   Sat Mar 26, 2011 3:14 am

Jofré Borgia walked along the corridors, his little hand holding an invisible sword. He attacked an imaginary enemy, whom, for some reason looked a lot like his brother Juan. “Prepare to die!” he yelled, stabbing his enemy in his belly.

The little boy, who was not so little in his twelve springs, had enjoyed watching the duel between his siblings, Cesare and Juan. The way their swords shone in the sun, the way they moved so fast and how they looked so powerful…Yes, Jofré wanted to be in a duel as well.

“You are going to taste the cold steel of my sword,” he announced, pretending he was surrounded by enemies everywhere. A fast movement of retreat, followed by a powerful sword attack and somehow a jar that was nearby was on the ground, made into small pieces of porcelain.

“What are you doing?” Don Cesare Borgia asked, coming out of nowhere. He had this ability of showing up at the right time, and no one knew how he could sense trouble. Jofré thought that maybe God had given these powers to Cesare since he was a cardinal. The boy looked down, feeling guilty, hoping not to have his older brother mad at him.

“Playing duels.” Jofré looked up. “Have you ever killed a man Cesare? How it feels like?”

“You shouldn’t worry about those matters, Jofré,” Cesare replied evasively.

“But I need to know! I want to fight in a duel, like you and Juan,” Jofré insisted.

“Little boys like you shouldn’t play duels. Go outside and play with your toys.”

“But I…”

“Go, Jofré.” There was nothing he could do. When Cesare used that tone of voice Jofré knew he would better obey his older brother. Still he was not happy with the replies he had received and soon he was in another wing of the palace, his hand on the door’s knob of Juan Borgia’s chambers.

He entered the room following the sound of moans and giggles. There was a lady in his brother’s chambers; her dress was half removed from her body, making Jofré’s eyes open wide at the sight of her breasts. The little boy stood there hypnotized and only moments later Juan and the lady noticed his presence.

“Jofré! How many times did I tell you to knock on the door before you enter? Little brat.”

“He is cute,” The lady said, doing nothing to cover her exposed flesh. “Looks like a cherub from the paintings.”

Juan ,who was not enjoying at all his lover’s attention towards his younger brother, grabbed Jofré by the arm and started to drag him out of the room.

“We can talk later, little brother. I am busy now.”

“But I want to know if I can join a duel or not. I need to know now, Juan. I have to practice.” Jofré looked one last time to the lady before Juan pushed him to the other side of the door.

“You can join me on the next duel if you like. No go and practice your sword movements,” his brother told him, saying the exact words he wanted to hear. For Juan it was just the best way to get rid of Jofré so he could go back to his lover’s arms. But to Jofré, his brother’s words opened a new window for him. Now he could disobey Cesare’s orders because Juan gave him new ones.

On his way to find a real sword Jofre passed through his Cousin Cecilia’s chambers. For some reason she adored Jofré and he liked the affection she had towards him. She actually listened to him, paid attention to what he had to say. In his family they always liked to put him in last, since he was the last one to be born, but with Cecilia was different.

“What are you doing?” Jofré asked approaching his cousin. She smiled, telling him she was waiting for some oranges. Jofré giggled and sat next to her, telling her about his plans for a duel and how he would be very good at handling his sword. He showed Cecilia some movements with his imaginary weapon which she applause with enthusiasm and in the end he asked her if she would be at his side.

“Of course, Jofré.” She ruffled his brown hair and he kissed her cheek, smiling with triumph.
Everything was getting settled. He was going to be in a duel with Juan and Cecilia would be supporting him.

“I better ask Lucrezia if she wants to support me too,” Jofré said leaving the room, promising Cecilia he would come back later to tell her more details about this duel. The little boy was so happy that not once he remembered that there was not yet an enemy for him to fight against.
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Renata Ferrari

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PostSubject: Celebrating the life of a great man, the late Duke de Ferrara   Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:14 am




With my father placed in the de Ferrari Mausoleum and the doors sealed shut, the entire family of de Ferrari headed back towards Palazzo de Ferrari to prepare for the friends and extended family to share in the remembrance of late Duke de Ferrara. The Palazzo de Ferrari has been decorated lavishly throughout the Palazzo as well as the courtyard with garlands of fir and beautiful white roses draped everywhere.

The kitchen was still preparing the food as well as the variety of wine for the guests that would be coming over to help de Ferrari family celebrate the life of a great man, namely my late father, Duke de Ferrara; whose title now passed on to his eldest son, Marco Giovanni de Ferrari, my elder brother and his wife, is now the new Duchess de Ferrara. My immediately family and I were standing outside underneath the covered courtyard as the guests were arriving and we greeted them as they passed us.

As the guests were arriving, the servants were already dishing out the variety of food ranging from roast quail, turtledoves and partridge, goose, venison, roasted boar (sanglier), gilded and slivered calves' heads, fish, roasted peacock, mutton, cheeses, walnuts, fresh fruits, oysters steamed in almond milk, ale-flavored bread, stewed cabbage, tarts and custards, fresh fruit preserves and wine and placed them along two long mahogany tables that were already decorated. There were tables and chairs scattered about underneath the covered courtyard. Along with the food and drink, there were music playing in the background….making the day more of a somber mood than a sorrowful mood.

Seeing Cardinal de Laurentis walking towards my Cardinal brother and I and began to talk with us.

“Your Eminence, Cardinal Francesco. Madonna de Ferrari, you have my most deepest sympathies.” Cardinal de Laurentis said to both my brother and I.

“Grazie, your Eminence.” I heard my Cardinal brother Francesco speak up to his Eminence, Cardinal de Laurentis. I only smiled at his Eminence as my brother spoke to him. Seeing new arrivals stepping out underneath he covered courtyard.

“Will you both please excuse me.” I said to both my Cardinal brother Francesco and his Eminence Cardinal De Laurentis. Both men nodded in reply.

I walked over towards the new arrivals, two men and young woman. All three appeared to be…at least to me…siblings. The men were a little older than the young woman.

Perhaps siblings.’ I thought as I walked up to them and then greeted them both warmly, “Welcome to Palazzo de Ferrari.”




Tbc…..

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Clarice de' Medici

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PostSubject: At the Palazzo de Ferrari   Sat Mar 26, 2011 10:59 am

Clarice found herself distracted as she followed her brothers into the Palazzo de Ferrari. Her mourning costume was a decided novelty – she rather liked wearing a veil; it gave her measured steps a certain bearing and presence, and veiled the garish colours of day from her eyes, muting everything with a touch of midnight sorrow. She liked the way that the shadows of the translucent silk warped and wove across her vision like water. It was a strange and exotic thing, this feeling of being so removed from the world, isolated in grief, by this fine swathe of fabric. She tried, as dispassionately as she could, to wonder how many years it would be before she was a widow, but a sense of apprehension appeared at the corner of her conscience at the thought of her husband, dead. She tried to imagine his lively face still, and cold, and pale, but she could not do it. He was as far from death as she was, if not more. She stilled her querulous thoughts: it was an inopportune moment to be so vain.

“Welcome to Palazzo de Ferrari,” spoke a soft voice, pulling her from her reverie.

Clarice looked up, and saw standing before her an elegant young woman, around her own age. She was certainly a great beauty, even in the thickest, darkest weeds of mourning.

Her brother, Piero, greeted the lady first. “You must be Madonna Renata de Ferrari? We are so sorry at your loss.”

“Grazie, Signore...” she trailed off, uncertain of the identity of the guests.

“Piero de’ Medici. This is my sister, Clarice de’ Medici – we celebrated her wedding just a short time before your father’s departure. And my younger brother, Raffaele de’ Medici, who has just returned to us from campaigns abroad.”

“You are a condottieri, my lord?” asked Donna Renata.

“Yes, my lady,” was his reply. He made a tidy little bow – ever observant with his manners, was Raffaele, observed his sister.

Clarice felt it was her place to make some comment. “I remember our father used to speak warmly of your father, Madonna Renata. He used to say he was as kind and fair a ruler of your duchy as there could be. Ferrara has lost a great duke.”

“We hope,” said Raffaele, “that your brother, the new Duke, will make as excellent a ruler as your late father.”

Clarice noticed there was an unusual glint in Piero’s eye as he watched Raffaele conversing with the young Ferrarese lady. He had a queer, dawning half-smile on his face, that was not dissimilar to a look she had sometimes seen on their father’s face – the sign that he was plotting something that would advance the honour of the Medici name. She resolved to ask him about it later.

“Clarice,” said Piero suddenly. “I think it is time you returned home, Sister. Your husband must be expecting you for supper.”

“Oh I highly doubt...” she trailed off at the insinuating spark in her brother’s eyes. “Ah, of course. He is expecting me.”

“I’ll escort you home. Raffaele, do stay and enjoy the party a little longer. I am terribly sorry we cannot stay, Madonna Renata.”

His sister nodded helpfully, and smiled. “We are very pleased to have met you. Take care of our brother. I hope we may have a longer meeting in future.”

“Of course,” said the young woman, politely. “We shall expect you.”

“A most kind and generous offer,” said Piero, before leading Clarice away.
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Afonso das Neves
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PostSubject: A Happy Marriage   Sat Mar 26, 2011 3:31 pm

Afonso did not like the tone which was written the missive from his uncle that summoned him to his residence. It was very demanding, and not at all kind. He knew he was in trouble and had no choice but to see what the cardinal wanted.

“Here am I, uncle,” he called, entering the well-decorated office, trying to keep a cheerful tone despite his uncle’s furious face. He had his arms crossed, his eyes angry, and the red robes did not made the picture look better at all.

“Where have you been the whole day? I did not see you at the Duke’s funeral.”

“You know how I do not like funerals uncle.” It was hard remembering when he lost his father. Afonso could still recall the scent of the wax, his mother’s sobbing and the priest’s mutterings. “Such dull ceremonies… Besides he was not even from my family.”

“He was. You are married with a de’ Medici now, and one way or another that makes you one of them. You cannot imagine my surprise when I saw your wife standing in her mourning clothes, paying her respects to the duke of Ferrari alone! And then the whispers of course: ‘Where is the Cardinal’s nephew?’ Yes, Afonso they were talking about me! Because I organized this marriage, I assured them you were an honourable man. But what do they say now? You go at night to gambling houses, you owe money to a great number of people and you have a whore that…”

“Luisa is not a whore!” he argued, trying to defend her. The nights he spent with her had been the best thing that happened to him since he had been to Rome. She understood him, she never criticized his need to play, nor would mind about his rude manners or his earring.

“She is has much as a whore as Brígida Vaz’s girls. Don’t get me wrong Afonso, this Luisa might be a nice creature, even born in a great family, but you are married now, you have duties. Bed your wife first, and then maybe we can discuss about mistresses.”

“You know about…?”

“Of course I do.” Obviously, Afonso thought. His uncle probably had spies among the servants of his own house. His uncle then lowered his voice in a tone of conspiracy: “What is the matter with her?”

“It’s not about her!” he called out, frustrated. Clarice was actually a very beautiful woman, and so far he had no reasons to complain about her. And that was maybe part of the problem. She was too perfect, like a fallen angel, so virginal and pure, that he just couldn’t come to her bed and ruin her.

The Cardinal studied his nephew and placed his hand on Afonso’s shoulder with tenderness. “You want me to contact a physician to help you, my boy?”

“It’s not about me either!” Afonso said, embarrassed shoving his uncle’s hand away from him. The Cardinal looked at his nephew and then told him in a harsh voice that if there was no problem with him or his wife, then he should act.

***

Afonso left his uncle’s residence upset after more than an hour of a lecture about duties and obligations. He entered his own house ready to find his wife, lay her on her bed and claim her as his, finally consummating their wedding. Costa’s words only made a cold rage arise from him and he thought on coming to his uncles’ house for dinner showing him the sheets of his conjugal bed just to make the Cardinal to swallow his pride. He didn’t need a physician.

But Clarice de’ Medici was not home, probably still paying her respects to the Duke of Ferrari. Afonso’s rage vanished even faster than it came and he started to walk around his residence wondering what he could to do to change everything concerning to his marriage.

His wife was not happy, she said so herself to her friend Isabetta di Orsini. It was not Afonso’s intention to eavesdrop but he had heard someone crying, and, worried about his wife, he had run towards the room, hoping his presence would be enough to comfort her. He heard her complaining to Isabetta about the curtains and how much she hated them.

Suddenly Afonso realized what was wrong with his marriage. He knew how much women gave importance to their homes and the way they looked like. Since the house was a gift from the Cardinal himself, Clarice had no word in the decoration. So she was living in a house whose curtains she did not appreciate and not happy she had complained to her friend about it. Afonso went to the living room and touched the damned velvet curtains. His wife was right, that colour, a dark green, was absolutely horrid and they seemed too heavy to go with the rest of the room.

He grabbed the velvet fabric with both hands and pulled it down, ripping the curtains from its support.

“My lord?” A servant called entering the room. He was probably passing by and became curious with what his master was doing.

“Glad you’re here, Giovanni. I want all the curtains from this room taken away. More than this room, the entire house! Also I want you to call someone here with samples of new curtains. My wife will see these samples and she will pick the one she likes. Put it all on my account. If it’s empty and they insist too much on not accepting my debt, say it’s for Cardinal Costa.”

The servant bowed and disappeared, only to return a few moments later with other servants who started to walk around the house and remove all the curtains.

When Clarice de Medici arrived she found her husband sat in a living room without curtains, reading a book. Afonso raised his head and smiled at her.

“My lord.” She made him a courtesy and walked into room looking at the bare windows.

“Greeting little wife.” He stood up and kissed the top of her hand. “As you can see there is no more sign of those dreadful velvet curtains you seemed to hate so much. I had removed them all away from this house.” He smiled at her. “We can have a happy marriage now.”
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Renata Ferrari

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PostSubject: Dance and conversation   Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:28 am






It was several hours later after de Ferrari family buried their late father in the family mausoleum. Everyone from family to friends all gathered at the Palazzo de Ferrari for a celebration…it was more of remembrance of life of great man, well loved by his people of his Duchy, the late Ambrogio Lorenzo de Ferrari, Duke de Ferrara.

Underneath the covered courtyard of the Palazzo de Ferrari with guests standing around conversing or sitting down at the tables laden with delicious food as part of the Remembrance Party celebrating the life of the late Duke de Ferrara. It seems everyone from friends to immediate family to the extended family seemed to have a story to tell about my late father.

My Cardinal brother, Francesco and I were talking with his Eminence, Cardinal de Laurentis about our late father. During the time that I was listening to Cardinal de Laurentis telling a story about my father, I saw several new arrivals entering the covered courtyard.

“Will you both please excuse me.” I said to both my Cardinal brother Francesco and his Eminence Cardinal De Laurentis. Both men nodded in reply.

I walked over towards the new arrivals, two men and young woman. All three appeared to be…at least to me…siblings. The men were a little older than the young woman.

'Perhaps siblings.’ I thought as I walked up to them and then greeted them both warmly, “Welcome to Palazzo de Ferrari.”

“You must be Madonna Renata de Ferrari? We are so sorry at your loss.” the older man spoke up.

“Grazie, Signore…” I trailed off not know as to who these three guests are.

“Piero de’Medici..” the older man said as he begins to introduce himself and his siblings. “This is my sister, Clarice de’ Medici – we celebrated her wedding just a short time before your father’s departure. And my younger brother, Raffaele de’ Medici, who has just returned to us from campaigns abroad.”

Hearing this last introduction, a condottieri, a very handsome man little older than his sister, Clarice, I was surprised to see a condottieri standing here in my father’s home as well as in my presence.

“You are a condottieri, my lord?” I asked the younger brother named Raffaele.

“Si, my lady.” was his reply as I saw him bow towards me.

Then I heard the young woman named Clarice spoke up, “I remember our father used to speak warmly of your father, Madonna Renata. He used to say he was as kind and fair a ruler of your duchy as there could be. Ferrara has lost a great duke.”

“We hope,” said Raffaele, “that your brother, the new Duke, will make as excellent a ruler as your late father.”

“I’m sure that Marco will do the same as if my father were still alive.” I softly replied back to Raffaele. I did noticed that Raffaele wanted say something but his elder brother Piero spoke up suddenly.

“Clarice...” said Piero suddenly. “I think it is time you returned home, Sister. Your husband must be expecting you for supper.“

“Oh I highly doubt…” she trailed off at the insinuating spark in her brother’s eyes. “Ah, of course. He is expecting me.”

“I’ll escort you home. Raffaele, do stay and enjoy the party a little longer. I am terribly sorry we cannot stay, Madonna Renata.” Piero said to his sister and then to his younger brother Raffaele.

Hearing this, I was little sadden that Piero and his sister Clarice was leaving early but happy that the younger brother Raffael decided to say.

Seeing Piero’s and Raffaele’s younger sister said to me with a kind smile, “We are very pleased to have met you. Take care of our brother. I hope we may have a longer meeting in future.”

“Of course.” I replied back politely. “We shall expect you.”

"A most kind and generous offer,” said Piero, before leading Clarice away as he bowed before me and his sister Clarice curtseyed and then walked away leaving me standing with Raffaele amongst the guests.

“Come my lord, I want you meet my brother, Cardinal Francesco.” I said as I started to walk towards my Cardinal brother who was still talking with Cardinal de Laurentis; with Raffaele de Medici next to me.

“Greetings your Eminence, Cardinal de Laurentis. Francesco…” I started to say both men. I then went on to say, “I want you both to meet, Raffaele de’Medici recently arrived home from his travels.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Signore de’Medici” I heard Cardinal de Laurentis said to him with a smile.

“Pleasure, your Eminence.” Raffaele replied back as he bowed and kissed the Cardinal de Laurentis’ ring. Raffaele repeated the same thing that he did with Cardinal de Laurentis’ to my Cardinal brother Francesco as a sign of respect towards both men who wore the holy cloth.

“I see Signore de’Medici that you are a condottieri. Protecting the people under Pope’s rule.”

“Si, your Eminence.” I heard Raffaele replied back to Cardinal de Laurentis. Listening to these men talking about war, I looked at Raffaele with curiosity as to how this handsome man fought in wars against the Holy Order.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Meanwhile, Cardinal Francesco was watching his beautiful sister, Renata talking with Raffaele and Cardinal de Laurentis.

So, this is the young man for whom Renata will one day marry.’ Cardinal Francesco thought to himself as he watches both his beautiful sweet sister, Renata and the Raffaele de’Medici. Cardinal Francesco continued in his thoughts about Renata and Raffaele, ‘They make a perfect match and I feel that these two will marry for love despite the marriage alliance set upon by both fathers, late Lorenzo de’Medici and recently laid to rest, Ambrogio Lorenzo de Ferrari, Duke de Ferrara.

‘Father will be very pleased of what he has accomplished in his daughter’s future. Aligning the de Ferrari family with the de’Medici.
‘ Cardinal Francesco once again thought to himself as he watches his sister talking with Raffaele as they both walked towards another de Ferrari family and he was introduced.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


As the day of Remembrance wore on towards nightfall, everyone gathered inside grand banquet hall. Family and friends sat together still talking about my late father, Duke de Ferrara and sharing their stories with each other.

As for myself, I happened to be sitting next to my two cousins, slightly younger in age than I, my cousins Diamante and Giada, sisters, and daughters of my elder brother Marco and his wife, Gaetana, the newly inherited Duke and Duchess de Ferrara. As I sat next to my young cousins, Diamante and Giada, both as I noticed were whispering and giggling talking about someone.

“Diamante, what are you and Giada talking about?” I asked as I lowered my voice towards Diamante, who sat on my left.

“Giada and I were talking about that handsome gentleman who came with his elder brother and his sister.” Diamante replied quietly to me. I glanced across the room to see Raffaele de’Medici sitting with some new friends and talking with them and then I noticed he looked over towards my direction. I saw him smiled at me.

“That de’Medici fellow. Boy is he handsome, Ren.” Giada said as she leaned over towards me.

“You should marry him, Ren.” I heard Diamante spoke up.

“Look how he looks at you.” Giada said to me quietly. She then continued on to say, “How heavenly.” as she sighed.

Here I sat between the most giggling girls, my dearest cousins, but sometimes they drive me crazy with such talk of marriage….especially about me marrying Raffaele. We continued talking as the servants arrived with food trays of all variety and began to dish them out. The variety of food ranges from roast quail, turtledoves and partridge, goose, venison, roasted boar (sanglier), gilded and slivered calves' heads, fish, roasted peacock, mutton, cheeses, walnuts, fresh fruits, oysters steamed in almond milk, ale-flavored bread, stewed cabbage, tarts and custards, fresh fruit preserves and spicy mulled wine the head table and the other tables there after.

During the course of the evening, music began to play and the family members began to dance. It was here as I was talking with my cousins from my other brother, Stefano and his wife, Dorotea that I happen to see Raffaele de'Medici walking towards our table.

“Madonna Renata, would you do me the honor of dancing with me?” Raffaele de’Medici asked me.

“Of course, my lord.” I softly replied back as I felt blushed. I stood up from my table and took his hand in my mine. Raffaele walked me out towards the center of the room where the couples were standing.

Once the music began to play, the couples along with Raffaele and I started dancing the gagliarda. During the dance, Raffaele and I started talking about this and that…but mostly it was about my late father.

“You must have known my late father, Signore de’Medici.” I asked him curiously.

“Yes, my lady. Your father was a great man. Well-loved by his people. There will be no one like him. But I feel that your elder brother Marco will be like his father.” Raffaele replied back to me as we both continued dancing.

At some point in our second dance, we began to ask questions about our families, our likes and dislikes. We asked so many questions and answered a lot of the questions it was as though we were alike. Same similarities, the same dislikes….

But little did I know that the person that I was dancing with will become my future husband.


Tbc….

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Clarice de' Medici

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PostSubject: Domestic Disagreement   Sun Mar 27, 2011 2:12 pm

“You did what to the curtains?”

Her husband stood before her, his face a picture of bemusement, like a puppy, which, in its half-witted frolicking, had rammed itself against a wall. Eyes, childishly wide; as she felt herself stiffen before his gaze, she fancied that they would open up into great, dark voids, and devour her.

“I removed them.” His expression was confused, almost pained. “I thought that was what you wanted.”

She stared, unapprehensively. It was the first time in their marriage that she had truly looked at him, had truly captured his gaze – she felt that she could see the pale glare of her own anger reflected upon the liquid surfaces of his eyes.

The thin thread of her patience severed, and she turned on her heel, and walked through the door. The servant-filled corridor, sombre in the early-evening, would save her from his remonstrance. Or so she had thought.

But her husband was not so easily-deterred; and no matter the briskness of her pace, she was weighed down by her stiff, woollen gown, and he overtook her with two long strides. His hands caught her around the waist.

“I changed the curtains because you didn’t like them!”

She turned on him, angrily. “The curtains were innocent – as much a victim of your ignorance as I am!”

He looked ready to protest, but Clarice heard the quiet footsteps of servant feet padding up the hallway towards them, and silenced him.

“We cannot carry on like this in front of the household staff,” she hissed.

“This is my house and I’ll carry on just as I please!”

Clarice was not listening. She brushed past him, continuing stormily down the corridor.

“Clarice!”

“You,” she retorted, as she continued pacing, “are a fool. It was never about the curtains!”

“Then what was it about?” He seemed distraught. “Please – I am just trying to understand you!”

“You will never understand me!”

By the time her husband stuttered out a frustrated oath, she had already opened her bedchamber door and shut herself inside; and her husband, out.

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Cecilia Gallerani
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PostSubject: Il Valetto Meticoloso   Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:42 am

It was a drizzling November afternoon, and the servants were conspiring against Cecilia Gallerani. No help was to be found in this wing of the Palazzo di Santa Maria, and her maid had been missing for hours since she had sent her on an errand to the kitchen. Cecilia suspected that the poor, plain girl had finally found herself a cicisbeo among the scullion boys.

“Bona!” She called, as she looked through her chests for a clean chemise. “To hell with your new lover, you clumsy little slut!”

She screeched as she saw a dark, feline shape clawing through her linens chest. “Get! Out!”

Having made an indignant dash across the room upon being disturbed, the cat chose to settle upon the more imperial situation of Milady’s bed. There, he stretched out, and watched her with a vain, heavily-lidded expression, as though he knew how striking his sable coat looked against her crimson coverlet. Something about this face reminded her of the Pope, his inscrutable half-smile, the smile of a politician.

“Get off, you mangy, flea-ridden rat-catcher!”

As all cats, he feigned imperviousness at the flagrant insult, and calmly proceeded to lick one ebony paw.

Until he found a silken bolster aimed at him.

“Psst! Back to the kitchens!”

The black cat was temporarily ousted from his throne, but, by way of the bed-hangings, promptly gained a more advantageous position on top of her canopy.

The bed’s rightful owner had lost the will to protest, and lay back across the coverlet, aching ankles dangling off the edge. She rested her hand against the growing roundness of her belly, and felt momentarily reassured.

“My Lady...”

She looked up to see the valet, holding a silver-gilt tray, upon which were perched three, quite spherical, quite perfect, oranges. Hours ago, their golden flesh would have made her quiver with desire, but her earlier appetite had fled her, and she felt, even, the distant, niggling complaint of nausea.

“Yes?” She pretended to have no recollection of the valet’s task.

“The oranges,” he replied monotonously.

“Yes. I see you have some.”

“I found them. I had to go everywhere, but I found them.”

She laughed dryly. “You took a long time. Now, I find that I do not want them.”

Annoyance flashed in his eyes, and he placed the tray on the side table. “And my reward?”

Her eyes were drawn in his direction for the first time, and it was his eyes, the crisp blueness of them – somewhere between a warm, summer sky, and the edge of a cold steel blade – that she was struck by first.

“What reward?”

“The one you promised if I succeeded? I found you the oranges, did I not?”

She watched dispassionately as he placed the tray on the elegant marble pedestal in the centre of the room. His hand caught one unruly orange, setting it back amongst its companions. She decided, in a moment’s clarity, that his fingernails were probably the cleanest she’d ever seen, besides which his valet’s livery (still the Sforza’s blue velvet, after all this time) had a crisp decorum that was hardly matched by any Bishop’s best cassock. No peasantish stubble on this valet’s cheek – he was as clean shaven as the Pope himself; his skin shone like the tempera countenance of a saint. Was this, she wondered, what man might have looked like if he had never left Eden?

“Tell me how else I can please you, my lady. I have done everything in my power to be a good servant to you...”

“But not a convincing one,” she interrupted.

Their gazes interlocked, as each weighed the silence of their own deception. What would it be to let it shatter now, to pull off their masks and gaze at one another, bare-faced? She wondered what was that lay behind the clearness of those eyes – more, perhaps, than the numerous recipes for a hundred ways to kill a man.

Her master poisoner bowed crisply, and made to leave the room.

“Wait,” she said, standing up. “I owe you something.”

As he turned his gaze back, and she approached him, she felt as though she was falling into his eyes, as though those blue waves would drown her.

She leaned her body against his, feeling the pleasant friction of velvet against velvet. She lightly touched his soft curls, and traced the edge of his face. She touched his lips with one finger. “My gift is one of wisdom, Valet. Know your place.” Smiling, she pulled herself away, and swayed towards her bed. “You may leave.”
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Afonso das Neves
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PostSubject: Pleasure   Sun Apr 03, 2011 1:17 am

She had locked herself in her chambers, refusing to let Afonso in. He knocked on the door demanding to know why she was not satisfied with his actions, when obviously he had been thoughtful enough to replace the curtains she hated so much, just to make her happy.

Clarice did not reply from the other side of the door although he could hear her heavy breathing. He placed the palm of his hand on the oak wood of the worked door and he said once again he had done his best to please her and if she knew other ways for him to do so to tell her.

“I do believe you know more about those matters than I, my lord.” she replied with a high voice. Understanding immediately what she meant, and furious again with his uncle’s sharp words about conjugal duties, Afonso’s pulse raised and he said in a loud voice:

“Tonight I shall visit your chamber, my lady. I do suggest you be prepared to be pleased like you required. “

And he left to his study in order to calm himself down. The place was very empty because his precious belongings such as his maps and nautical instruments had not arrived yet from Portugal. He looked around to the empty shelves and desk, projecting where his belongings would rest but that game soon bored him and did not proved to be enough to distract him from Clarice’s attitude towards the curtains.

A bottle of red wine captured his attention. It was set in a tray next to a crystal glass, probably put there by some dedicated servant. Afonso poured the ruby liquid to the fine glass and soon his tongue was feeling the sweet taste of the wine. It reminded him of home for a moment, the pleasant sunny afternoons spent outside drinking and playing cards, discussing the rumors of the new world with his friends at the sound of a cheerful guitar.

After the third glass, when he decided not to bother not to use it more and drink from the bottle, his mind went to Clarice again. She had been ungrateful and like all women all she wanted was a tumble on the mattress. She had asked him to please her. Well tonight she would regret her decision. The little virgin would collapse with the pleasure he would provide her, and all Rome would hear her cries of satisfaction. His uncle would hear them too, and would no longer he would dare to offend his nephew by asking if he needed the services of a physician.

Afonso smiled to himself, already drunk. not only because of the wine but his own fantasies too. Soon night came and he stood himself up from the chair he was sat upon. With lazy, slow steps he directed himself to his wife chambers.

“I am here, my lady. I hope you are ready to be pleased.” He opened the door only to found out he entered into the wrong division. He swore in a mutter and only after his third attempt he had managed to get in the destination he pretended.
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Clarice de' Medici

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PostSubject: Quoniam Infirmus Sum   Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:32 am

Tonight, he would visit her chamber. She had been beside herself for hours, ordering her maids to draw the bath, and empty it again; to find her a suitable perfume, and put it back again; to pick the most luxuriant nightgown from her new trousseau – ah, but no, to pack it away again. Sitting at her vanity table, she was at two minds on whether to braid her hair or leave it loose. In an ill-tempered huff, she dismissed the servants, and stared angrily at her sullen reflection.

There was one large, silvered Venetian glass mirror in her chamber, an ostentatious wedding gift from one of her Orsini uncles. She stood up, making her way towards it. There she was, in her frumpy, high necked nightgown, the lace ribbons at her throat bouncing with her pulse. A frown ticked her face, as, with tentative fingers, she undid the ribbons at her neck, and then those lower down, until she slipped the gown off her shoulders.

She stared at herself with the critical eye of a sculptor observing marble, for the faintest hairline fracture that could shatter a work of art. Her little neck was planted on narrow shoulders. She felt her small waist and bony hips – certainly no voluptuous, Botticellian Venus; not even a lively Raphaelite Gratia. Not a creature built for men’s desires, she concluded, and, mortified with embarrassment, hastily dressed herself.

Tonight, he visited her chamber. She was crouched at her prie dieu, pretending to be absorbed in the Book of Hours open before her. She fingered the illuminated pages, tracing the gilt-edged faces of saints, but her mind was focused on the footsteps that advanced hastily into the room, the creak of boards beneath his height and weight.

“Little wife.”

The door closed behind him; she felt a momentous trepidation.

“I am at my prayers,” she announced in a thin voice.

He sighed impatiently. “I’ll be waiting in bed, my devoted dove.”

She heard him removing his doublet, kicking off his boots, and sliding under the covers. Her hands were clasped; she fumbled through the words of the Pater Noster, but she had begun a psalm scarcely before she had ended it.

Domine, ne in furore tuo arguas me,
neque in ira tua corripias me.


She knew that she was merely delaying the inevitable; that her husband, aided by the effects of liquor, if the whiff of strong wine that accompanied him into her chamber bore any witness, would show no mercy to her this time. As much as she desired the outcome – the consummation of her marriage – the path was a humbling one. She had heard such conflicting accounts on the nature of the act itself that she scarcely knew what to expect – Maddalena had described it as bliss, while Contessina had, unhelpfully, mentioned that she hadn’t been able to ride a horse for weeks afterwards.

Miserere mei, Domine, she whispered, ears straining to catch the slightest noise coming from the bed. Quoniam infirmus sum.

Briefly, she heard him stir, and stopped. The room was silent. But then she caught it, the sound that she had been inwardly praying for: her husband’s steady, quiet snoring.

She rose, and carefully nudged into the bed beside him, cautious not to disturb him. He had strayed a little too far onto her side of the bed, and she had to brave laying close to him, or risk falling off the edge of the bed and waking him.

Forced by this situation to nestle closer to her husband than she would have liked, she tried to compose herself for sleep, but felt his slow breath stir her hair, as though he was determined to vex her, even in slumber. She opened her eyes and looked at him; but instead of ire, she felt a tinge of remorse as she gazed at his sleeping face, for having unwittingly deceived him in this first battle between them. For the first time, she noticed that he had very long and dark lashes, and that they fluttered lightly as they rested against his skin. She felt her stomach flutter, along with a distinct urge to kiss his eyelids, the bridge of his nose, the apples of his cheeks, his slightly trembling lip.

When his arm involuntarily flopped over her, she flinched with shock, but made no attempt to pull away. Perhaps the wine on his breath was enough for them both; she was lulled quickly to sleep.
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Bartolomeo Rossi

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PostSubject: His Place   Fri Apr 08, 2011 2:02 am

If there was something Bartolomeo Rossi knew that was, without a doubt, his place. For years he had worked as a dedicated valet, never failing to accomplish the tasks that were given to him. More than that he had accomplished them in perfection.

The Duchess wanted oranges and he got them for her. Yes, he had not been rapid enough to fulfill his lady’s desires but he had managed to achieve the impossible and got her the so infamous oranges.

He was expecting to receive praises, perhaps a content smile. It was always such a vision for Rossi to see Cecilia Gallerani enjoying herself with food, but today that did not happen. Gluttony was her mortal sin and he knew if he had to poison her he would make sure it would be trought food.

But unfortunately it seemed she was not in the mood to eat because she stared at the oranges without interest and shoved them, and Rossi, away.

But not without a final word. Of course. He have known and serve her for years, he knew she would not let him leave just like that. And Rossi did not mind when she cornered him by the door, when they were so close to each other that he could smell her expensive perfume and hear her sweet breath. Soon he found himself waiting for a kiss that did not come.

Only words of wisdom, a small advice that would certainly have the long term effect of irritating him even more. But she had given him his reward like she had promised. After all advices could be good gifts. But not this one.

Rossi left the Duchess’ chambers and he found himself smiling. Next time he would make sure her finger would not be the only thing touching his lips.
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