The lover Spanish / Fragment

Isabel de Médicis dreams of finding true love, perhaps in the arms of Antonio de Córdoba, and is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it. But after the death of his cousin in strange circumstances and the first warning that your life is in danger, Isabel maybe I should think better. A powerful secret society controls the lives of everyone in the splendid Florence, and no one is safe from their reach.

Florence, July 19, 1576

It is seven o'clock. I have a unique view from my studio on the third floor of a downtown palace of Florence between the church dei Santo Spirito and the Pitti Palace, the residence of the grand dukes. Domino's rooftops almost every house in the north of the city; right, I see the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, and beyond, the majestic dome of the Duomo. I know by heart the scene and never get tired of admiring.
I do not see the Arno River, which runs a few steps from here, but I know it's there.
It breaks my heart to think that tomorrow I will have to leave everything to go away into exile. Although it will be a definite no exile, could last for years.
The reason? My behavior lately, I did not like the Grand Duke.
I have been suspected accomplice in certain situations that occurred in recent weeks, in fact, not too pleasant, in which I can not deny my involvement, completely involuntary. I decided to tell the facts as they happened, if his curse hit me before I got myself safe.
Florence is still troubled by the events of the last ten days, and I think this will be a summer that no one will forget.
Francisco I, our Grand Duke never will forgive me being involved in the tragic events that has been involved his sister, Princess Isabella de Medici, muse of artists and poets, dubbed the Star of the Medici for their cultural aspirations, virtues cultured and refined Princess and unparalleled intelligence. The worthy representative of his relative Lorenzo the Magnificent.
The sun is still high. Light up the room with a soothing clarity that predisposes me to writing.
To my right I have prepared a lot of blank pages, and have filled the silver inkstand that Elizabeth gave me. In one of his many acts of spontaneous generosity, was presented with a smile and a hidden behind his back, hiding something hand.
And, while I strove to open the parcel that had set me suddenly devoured by curiosity because I've always liked the surprise gifts no particular reason, she watched me with his bright smile, listening to my reaction. The more confused I was slightly flushed by my shyness, the happier she was surprised to have achieved again.
I've instructed our silversmiths this inkstand for you,dear Ricciardi. I hope you like it had said, at my confusion to discover this little lovely with my family emblem engraved in front, and behind, "Al faithful friend Ascanio Ricciardi, Isabel».
Every time I watch it, I hear her voice. Who would have imagined then just use your gift to wet ink my goose and narrate their tragedy?
So many things have happened in recent weeks that I decided to write this diary, to free my mind and to face the future with more serenity.
I remember a phrase that Isabel said from time to time:
-My dear Ricciardi. I have a dream both empty head. So I was very happy. Crossed one of the most exciting times of your life.
But maybe I should start by introducing ...
My name is Ascanio Ricciardi. Soy Knight of San Esteban, the highest decoration of the Crown, a gentleman of the court of Francis I de 'Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and overbearing brother of Isabel.
Ascanio is not a typical name of Florence. In fact, comes from the Lombardy regions further north. My father put me in memory and honor of Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, brother of the Duke of Milan Gian Galeazzo Sforza and Ludovico il Moro.
In ancient times, the cardinal had favored the business of my paternal grandfather Giovanni, who thanks to this cardinal protection became the chief architect of our family fortune. When he died, my grandfather bequeathed an enormous heritage, my father grew significantly with weighted business to do today to me one of the richest men in Tuscany.
Possessing one of the largest fortunes in the country has not always been plain sailing. Then I understood my father, who had to suffer in the flesh jealousy, envy and anger of the previous Grand Duke Cosimo I, father of Elizabeth and her brother Francisco.
The vast assets accumulated in just two generations raised many rivalries. Not only by the envious Florentine merchants, but also of the Grand Ducal family itself, not frowned upon the growing economic power of another family. Little matter that it was friend or foe. Anyone who represent a potential threat to its supremacy should be placed immediately under rigorous control.
And my father fell into a grave error of the rest of his days repented.
Despite being a really good man, committed the imprudence of one day boast of success intoxicated him if only a little. Very proud of the new palace he had built on Lugarno river in central Pisa, could not resist the temptation to organize a sumptuous reception in honor of Grand Duke Cosimo I on his stay in the city. Naively thought that in this way, all the notables of the region invited to the celebration would have been able to ascertain for themselves the extent of their fabulous wealth, and respect for it.
It was a serious mistake.
When Cosimo I visited the palace, lavishly decorated with particular taste and profusion of wealth is silent before accumulated so many wonders: the beautiful paintings, furniture, plenty of silverware, the beautiful Flemish tapestries. Instead of congratulating my father, and rejoice in their new home, it was uncomfortable.
How that little bourgeois allegedly enriched dared usury, which reminded him of a common practice at the time of their ancestors, to swagger before him, the Grand Duke, displaying a luxury never seen nor in the Ducal palace?
He decided to punish the presumptuous withdrawing his favor.
Since that day, my father stopped being received at court, and was considered an outcast who suited avoided by those who boasted yesterday, proud to be his friends. He saw were closing for no apparent reason the doors of the best houses of Florence, one after another. The poor man died of chagrin, abandoned by all, in the beautiful palace he loved and had been the cause of his misfortune.
I've learned my lesson.
After his death, considering that I was his only son and heir, it occurred to me relist the so controversial and disturbing and pisano palace. In a way, I thought Ducal mitigate some resentment, which then did not happen, because Cosme kept a deep resentment that chased me until his death. Anecdotally, I will point out that the palace bought me a wealthy Jewish merchant from Livorno.
I had to work hard to regain the favor of the court, without which it is impossible to take a decent social life in Florence.
I tried to be discreet making me naive not to arouse the jealousy of the new Grand Duke Francesco I, and, to earn his favor, I even accepted revenderle for a bargain price some of my business activities.
The sacrifice was worth it because Francisco, grateful for the gesture, has shown me recompensándome satisfaction with the appointment as a Knight of St. Stephen and ending well, the unofficial exile of my family. I was reopened the palace gates.
So much for me. Now I will talk about Isabel.
Who was he really?
For me, the most beautiful princess of the Italian Renaissance. At least, from all I've ever known.
Blonde, blue-eyed, with a unique grace and bearing of a queen, but not too high. Brilliant conversationalist, cultured; played several instruments, wrote poetry, and was loving and protective of artists, especially musicians and poets.
Isabel was born on August 31, 1542, daughter of Cosimo I and his beautiful consort Spanish Leonor Álvarez de Toledo, a direct descendant of the viceroy of Naples. He quickly became the favorite daughter.
The day of his birth, Cosimo I, overjoyed, threw gold coins to the square from the windows of the old palace in jubilation.
At the age of five years, Isabel was entrusted to renowned professors to teach him Latin, Greek, German and music;
Leonor had eleven children Cosme. After Isabel in September 1543, was born the future Cardinal Juan. In August 1546, Pedro was born, called Pedrito, who lived only ten months. And in September 1547, Garcia was born. On July 30, 1549, was born another man, Fernando, Cardinal future; and on August 3, 1544, the last son called again Pedro.
I would venture to ensure that the marriage of Cosme and Leonor was right and just happy.
Despite the many years lived in Tuscany, Leonor will never speak Italian well; always remain surrounded by a court of Spain, and even her ladies are Spanish, made it quite uncomfortable Florentine aristocratic families. Moreover, his obsession with magnificent jewels and fabulous sums of money lost in the game are filing, gradually, the initial sympathy that had inspired his arrival in Florence.
I must say, in his defense, the Florentines have always been great gossips. They like to criticize. Whether out of spite or sheer envy, always ready to devote some acidic expletive target of his sarcasm.
It was she who bought nine thousand gold crowns paid out of pocket, the palace of a ruined family, Pitti, to enlarge and modify it at their expense until it became one of the most luxurious residences throughout Italy. Unlike the others, located in the center of the city, the Pitti Palace had a huge park that extended over the whole hill of Boboli, which made it particularly attractive.
It is curious that he had never changed the name and always retained as the Pitti Palace. Today it remains the principal residence of the Grand Ducal family.
The future of Princess Elizabeth was marked from early childhood.
In July 1553, Cosimo I signed the marriage contract of his daughter Elizabeth, who has not attained the age of nine, with Paolo Giordano Orsini, Duke of Bracciano and future member of a powerful family in Rome, and above related to the Medici
Thanks to this marriage, Paolo Giordano considerably improved its tragic economic situation, as the Grand Duke of Tuscany disbursed 50,000 gold crowns dowry of Isabel, plus another 5,000 escudos in jewelry.
For Isabel, however, this marriage was an absolute disgrace, and I never managed to understand what advantages I had seen Cosme to sacrifice the "apple of his eye," as he called it, for the sake of this poor bastard.
Surly character, devoid of feelings, impulsive, violent, big spender, the entire duration of the marriage led a double existence. He lived mainly in Rome, his city, his mistress, a certain Vittoria Accoramboni; Isabel preferred to reside while in Tuscany.
This as far as it is concerned.
Now the facts.
Serious events that now lead me into exile broke out a few weeks ago with the party organized in late June in honor of the visit to Florence the new viceroy of Naples, Don Inigo Lopez de Hurtado de Mendoza, Marquis of Mondejar.
The viceroy was accompanied by a large retinue, in which musicians were.
Administrators Ducal Palace, who had corresponded commissioned to accommodate the numerous retinue, asked me to will house some of the guests at my palace; and I gladly accepted, since it was common practice, when Florence was filled with visitors, that individuals receive the government's request to open its palaces guests of the Grand Duke.
Besides a couple of Neapolitans with their respective servants nobles, all very noisy people but also fun, who encouraged during your stay in my house rather quiet and monotonous life that usually wear when I'm alone, I also played one of the musicians.
Actually, it was not a real musician, but a distinguished gentleman in Cordoba who reveled playing vihuela.
Good presence, quite handsome I would say because he was taller than average and was well proportioned, had a decent black hair envy, because my hair is rather blond and thin, and intense gaze conquistador to which very Few resisted. His name was Antonio, and quickly became friends.
Antonio had a remarkable talent for playing the guitar, why the Viceroy, whom Antonio had been presented in the letters from a common acquaintance, had proposed to integrate it into his entourage. He had accepted the offer immediately, as he had gone to Italy to see the country. What better occasion to travel with the entourage of the viceroy from court to court?

It would be unfair to accuse Antonio all my ills, but it is also true that played a key role, though unintentional.
When Elizabeth met him, crossing one of the most critical moments of his life.
For the past few months, and thirty-four years old, he realized that time was passing inexorably. It had become a woman, with all the splendor of his mature beauty, but it also meant that he had lost the freshness of its youth. It was a blow to her.
Their marriage was a disaster. I hated that fat and overbearing husband who had touched him.
She always so thoughtful and modest, reached the dramatic conclusion, at this stage of his life, he had never been truly happy.
He felt that he had spent his life in a series of obligations, duties and sacrifices for the protocol, when in the background, in the strictly personal level, his life had been a catastrophe. He had not known love, that love which her ladies spoke blushing and laughing nervously winter evenings around the fireplace while embroidering and confidences about his mood became.
As a child, she had always felt alone, locked in a golden cage. He would have liked to have a friend with whom to share his early concerns, their sorrows and hopes, but had not been possible.
He knew his condition princess did not allow him to catch up with currents and prove fatal considered somewhat vulgar feelings, such as love; however, both hearing about them, would have liked to experience it at least once.
He had only to look around. His parents had been very happy in all the years of their marriage. She had not been so lucky.
No longer content to be the Star of the Medici. I wanted to be a woman, meet stronger emotions; something to make her feel alive.
Antonio was the instrument.
Although our relationship was based on a rather ceremonial friendship (she was still a princess of the reigning house, and I, a simple knight), but once I had to intervene upon request to settle a debt with loans unavoidable then I regularly reimbursed, as it was a compulsive wasteful, everything changed dramatically with the emergence of the Andalusian handsome. Became more intimate.
As Antonio was staying at my house, our bonds narrowed. As their relationship progressed by leaps and bounds every day lost some of that inhibition which had hitherto been his aura of cold and distant woman.
Suddenly he appeared at my house with the most unlikely pretexts.
Although initially never uttered the name of Antonio, both knew perfectly who sought, and the truth is that I was so close I unwittingly became unwitting accomplice, plus confidant. He was trapped in a role that could cost me dearly, if the matter came to the public domain.
I have never known exactly when he fell in love with Antonio, because neither he nor I asked what she has told me; but because I could rebuild, everything had to have happened that night at the party hosted by the Grand Duke in honor of the viceroy of Naples.
It was a beautiful party. One of the most beautiful.
The Medici have always been big fans of the holidays, and they know better than anyone, how to organize them. Exorbitant sums of money are spent to achieve one goal: your holiday will be remembered as a truly exceptional event.
Organized in honor of the viceroy was one of those.
The court had several musicians and composers, among others, Cristofano Malvezzi and Giulio Caccini. The latter, besides being a musician, had a beautiful tenor voice. It used to be accompanied by the viola as he sang in shows. That afternoon, sang several intermediates by Malvezzi, accompanied by a choir of twenty voices.
Malvezzi, however, occupied various positions in Florence, as Kapellmeister and San Juan Bautista, considered the most prestigious post in the Florentine music scene.
For some years, it was fashionable riding sung shows inspired by ancient Greece, translated into Italian and accompanied with music. It was the result of the influence of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who had favored the gradual abandonment of sacred subjects to orient them towards pagan themes, as the spirit of the "sacred representations" then conflicted with the spirit of the new humanism that he promulgated.
One of the most memorable performances was to Cupid and PsycheMusically composed Corteccia for intermediate Giovanni Battista Cini: a comedy presented on the occasion of the marriage of Francis I with Juana of Austria.
That afternoon, a novelty was introduced. Many more usual instruments were used. Since the Pitti Palace lounge was of enormous dimensions, and roof, high, it was considered necessary that the music was very loud for all to hear well. Hence the abundance of lutes, fifes, flutes, trombones, horns and harpsichords.
An amazing show.
The music had begun to acquire some importance in the shows.
The reason for these meetings was that participants argued that music had become corrupted, and that they should return to the forms used in ancient Greece to improve the musical quality and, incidentally, society. The Camerata proposed abandoning the polyphony to create a new musical style. Vincenzo Galilei, father of the famous Galileo Galilei, conducted a first experiment, the composition of "Lament of Ugolino" in the Hell Dante; but would have to spend some time until Jacopo Peri compose with poet Ottavio Rinuccini a new musical style called "monody" through the creation of EurydiceA composition sung and performed with a wide dramatic expression.
Returning to the famous evening, do not remember exactly how Isabel was dressed that evening.

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