« AnteriorContinuar »
This change of masters produced little or no effect upon the citizens; they saw their lord once more driven from his possessions without expressing a regret.
Misery had weighed them down for so long, that peace was their chief desire, and whatever seemed likely to bring them most speedy repose was welcomed by them.
Carrara did not discover the treachery that was being practised upon him till too late to prevent the consequences.
In vain he appealed to Galeazzo for the fulfilment of his promise, and heard that promise renewed; it was worthless.
The Mantuan general had no power of himself, and his influence with the republic would be small in such a case as this. Padua should be restored to him, Galeazzo declared. If he could not accept the conditions the seigniory might propose, he was still at liberty to retire within the fortifications of the citadel. He spoke loudly in praise of the republic and of its far-famed generosity; he also added that, if Carrara and his son Terzo would repair to Venice in person, all might soon be satisfactorily arranged.
The refusal of the seigniory to listen to his ambassadors might have warned Carrara that a personal application to their generosity might meet with no better success.
Francesco Terzo was much averse to the proposal; he considered the step as one of imminent peril. "Better would it be to shut ourselves up in our fortress," he exclaimed, "and to set fire to the building with our own hands. If we go to Venice, it is to certain death that we consign ourselves. Let us rather die here than allow ourselves tamely to be butchered by our enemies in Venice. Nevertheless, you gave me life, my father, and I will obey your commands."
Carrara was unwilling to mistrust the honour of Galeazzo; besides which, he was driven to the greatest extremity. A journey to Venice might be productive of good, but, on the other hand, if he were to throw himself, with the few who remained faithful to him, into the citadel of Padua, certain death would be the consequence; he could not doubt that. Disregarding his son's forebodings, and resolutely shutting his eyes to the danger of placing his person in the power of so bitter an enemy of his house as Venice had always proved herself to be, Carrara consented to comply with Galeazzo's proposition, and set sail for Venice under the escort of Galeazzo and Francesco de Molino, together with a numerous guard, which looked more as if the lord of Padua and his son were regarded in the light of prisoners than as free noblemen about to plead for their rights.
On landing at the island of San Giorgio, they were greeted by the populace with vehement cries of "Death to Carrara!" It was too late to take warning then, and they could but hope such cries proceeded only from an unruly mob, and were far from being entertained by those in power. The Carrarese passed the night in a monastery on the San Giorgio, and the following day, November the 30th, Galeazzo left them, that he might intercede with the seigniory. We are led to believe that he did so with sincerity, and on finding that his voice was not listened to, but that the seigniory were set against Carrara, he would not subject himself to the reproaches of those whom he had conducted into the very
jaws of the lion, trusting to a generosity which did not exist, and never returned to San Giorgio, leaving others to be the bearers of such bad tidings. Gataro relates that Galeazzo spoke very freely before the seigniory, and upbraided them for thus casting a stain upon his honour. They in their turn resented such language, and Galeazzo died a few weeks later, most probably the victim of secret revenge.
Upon the 1st of December the two unfortunate princes were conducted to the hall of the great council, amid the yells and hooting of a large mob collected to see them pass. They threw themselves upon their knees in front of the doge, Michael Steno, exclaiming, in the words of Scripture: "We have sinned, have mercy upon us.”
The doge made a sign to them to rise and to seat themselves, one on his right hand, the other on his left; he then turned to Francesco da Carrara, and said, "You have been guilty of frequent ingratitude to the republic, and have nourished the bitterest enmity in your breast. Your crimes surpass those of your ancestors, and you have brought up your son to equal you in these. What can you hope for? New benefits? They would not change you. Do you seek for permission to justify yourself? Neither excuse nor pardon remain to you. You have perjured yourself to the republic; you have incited her enemies to rise against her. Through perjury Treviso was lost to us, for did not your father buy that territory from the Duke of Austria? And what money did he employ for this purpose? The very same which we had given him for the corn our necessity was forced to purchase from him. After this offenceafter the war with Genoa, from the disastrous consequences of which a miracle alone saved us-your father sought our favour, and we pardoned him. What need have we to remind you of these things-you, who now come to implore our clemency? The Duke of Milan wrested Padua from you; we aided you to regain what you had lost. Indulgence, succour, honour, benefits, have all been showered upon you by us, but you have forgotten all these, nothing was able to subdue the natural perversity of your nature, and we may now thank Heaven that it is in our power to put an end to your perfidy."
Such unjust imputations and insults as these might well have been resented by the captive lord and his brave son, but they listened in silence, and only answered by entreaty.
The doge ordered them to be conducted back to San Giorgio, and guarded, whilst the council deliberated upon what was best to be done. Imprisonment in the island of Cyprus, or Candia, in the dungeons of the capital, were each proposed in their turn, but without any conclusion being arrived at. At length, it was determined that the illustrious prisoners should be confined in a cage for the present; but, in spite of the contemplated severity, a certain deference was shown to them by the appointment of a servant to attend upon them, and six gentlemen to be constantly in their service.
Whilst the necessary preparations were going on, the unfortunate lord of Padua and his son were conducted to the prisons adjoining the ducal palace, where Giacomo had already passed five months of dreary confinement. The father and brothers were allowed to meet, and the first interview was most touching. Left in total ignorance of what had occurred, Giacomo's surprise was painful and yet tender. He was once more re
united to his father and brother, but in what a place, and with how little hope of freedom!
They were allowed to remain together some days, but were afterwards imprisoned in separate cells.
The seigniory delayed giving any decisive opinion as to their ultimate intention with regard to the Carrarese. Perhaps they were ashamed of their real design, and wated for some pretext to put it in execution.
The council nominated five commissioners on the 24th of December, to carry on the pretended trial.
Just at this time, when the seigniory were longing for some impetus to bring them to the point, Giacopo dal Verme, who had been in the service of the Visconti, arrived in Venice, and exercised his great power and popularity to incite the Council of Ten against the Carraras.
"They have already been once deprived of their estates," he cried; "they have been prisoners in the hands of their conquerors, but they have risen into power again, and have threatened their neighbours with war. Their activity, their talents, and, above all, their implacable hatred, won for them allies, arms, and soldiers. In 1390 their subjects flew to arms that they might re-establish them upon their throne. It is easy to perceive that the love of the Paduans for their princes still exists, when we consider with what endurance they held out during the late The hatred of the Carrarese to Venice is far anterior to the war of Chiozza. Thirty years of mutual distrust and injury have made that hatred a necessity, which must endure from generation to generation. There is but one safe prison for such men as these, and that is the tomb."
The Council of Ten listened eagerly to reasonings which agreed so well with their own wishes, and a sentence of death was passed upon Carrara.
On the 17th of January, 1406, Frate Benedetto, the confessor of Francesco da Carrara, went to announce his coming doom, and to prepare him for another world.
Francesco could not restrain a burst of indignation upon learning the unwarrantable sentence thus shamelessly passed upon him; but recovering himself, he fell at the feet of the monk, and confessed devoutly all his sins, upon which he received the Eucharist, and the priest withdrew. Scarcely had Benedetto departed, when two members of the Council of Ten, two of the Forty, and twenty murderers, at the head of whom was a villain named Bernardo de' Priuli, entered the cell of the lord of Padua.
Carrara proudly disclaimed the authority which had thus condemned him unjustly to death, and seizing a stool, almost the only furniture of the place, he resolved not to die without a struggle.
Bravely he fought in this last combat for life, but his assailants were too numerous, and after a while he was stricken down, pinioned, and strangled by Priuli with a bowstring.
On the day following, the sentence of death was communicated in the same manner, and by the same confessor, to the two young princes. They received the communion together, after partaking of which they embraced tenderly for the last time on earth, and Terzo was led to the cell his father had occupied, where he was strangled by the same merciless
When the murderers returned for their last victim, Giacomo asked, in a hollow voice, if it were over.
His youthful, manly bearing (he was but twenty-five) might have softened the hardest heart, but he too was to suffer.
Asking earnestly for permission to write to his wife Belfiore, then at Camerino, materials were brought to him, and he sat down to pen a few lines with unsteady hand, and eye suffused with tears. He told her that he was to perish within that very hour, and implored her earnestly to pray without ceasing for his soul.
Having completed the letter, he gave it to some one, asking, at the same time, that they would see it sent safely to the lady. He then threw himself upon his knees, and, having repeated the words "In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum," he likewise was strangled.
Giacomo da Carrara is described as being a tall, handsome cavalier, fair like his mother, with a mild, winning temperament and extreme grace of manner. He was thoughtful and religious, yet high-spirited and brave.
Terzo is not spoken of with so much warmth by Gataro; he was clever and brave, but inclined to wrath, and sometimes was revengeful and cruel.
The bodies of both the young princes were placed in a boat and taken to the church of San Marco Baccallare, where they were carelessly interred. Their father's corpse received funeral honours, which, considering the circumstances of his death, were but an insulting mockery. His corpse was dressed, as his father's had been, in a costly suit of velvet; his sword was girt round his waist; and he wore golden spurs upon his heels. In this attire he was conveyed to San Stefano.
The stone which marks the grave of this unfortunate lord of Padua may still be seen in the cloister of that church. There is no name or inscription to attract the eye, but it is marked with this somewhat strange device.
Many conjectures have been made as to what this could mean, but no one has satisfactorily explained it.
WE have now followed Carrara through his eventful career to its direful close. We have traced in outline his capture by Giovanni Galeazzo, his escape, and the startling adventures it entailed. We have seen how his perseverance and energy were rewarded by the regaining of his territory, and how, after many struggles against the intrigues of various enemies, he at length fell a victim to the animosity of the Venetian republic.
That Carrara was a noble specimen of the times in which he lived, no one will doubt; but we are tempted to question whether his character would have stood out as brilliantly under any other circumstances.
Brave and generous by nature, he has deservedly acquired many admirers amongst the readers of Italian history, especially amongst those
who have perused the chronicles of Gataro, where a partial and yet highly interesting portraiture has been drawn of Carrara.
We wish to speak of one trait in his character before closing this narrative, because it displays a weakness apparently foreign to his naturenamely, his readiness to trust in others. We find him relying on the discretion of his father's agent in Milan, and unreservedly communicating most important designs to him respecting the contemplated murder of Giovanni Galeazzo; we find him sanguinely placing his trust in Florence, in spite of many and various discouraging circumstances; then again, in the last independent act of his life, we find him throwing himself upon the mercy of Venice, and trusting to Galeazzo's pledge of honour that his safety was secure. It is possible that this seeming weakness proceeded from a benevolent motive of thinking men better than they really were; but still it is hard to understand how any confidence could exist at a time when oaths and treaties were of so little weight, and seemed made to be broken on the first convenient opportunity.
Carrara's last journey to, and his conduct in, Venice may be regarded altogether as indicative of weakness. The circumstances, which history brings before us, naturally lead to the supposition that his hitherto indomitable spirit had at length given way under misfortune, and that he no longer possessed energy enough to resent the taunts cast upon him.
We would much rather have had to record that Carrara boldly shut himself up in his citadel, and there fell, bravely fighting for his rights; but this is not history, and there are many excuses to be found for the line of conduct which he did pursue.
There was policy, for instance, in his submission to the doge whilst hearing unjust accusations cast upon his father and upon himself. Carrara was in the power of his enemies, and had he given vent to his resentment it would have been the signal for his immediate death. There was the possibility that entreaty might soften the asperity of his unjust judges, whilst retort could only have kindled their wrath into a flame.
The lord of Padua's conduct throughout life was such as to remove the aspersion of want of courage; and even if his high spirit had quailed before the frowning aspect of the council, his dying struggle shows that it was still there, and did not forsake him in the moment of death.
In some things Carrara was, to outward appearance, a religious man. He never neglected returning spontaneous thanks to Heaven after victory, or after any special favour. This was, however, a fashion of the times, which it would have been unbecoming to neglect, and being a fashion, we are unable to ascertain whether the true feeling of devotion attended the action or not. Let us give Carrara the benefit of the doubt.
In conclusion, I will briefly repeat that, though Carrara's history is romantic, he was not prepossessing in his appearance, but corpulent, like many Italian gentlemen, and somewhat large-featured. If, however, we set the facts of history aside, and desire to invest him with the attractions of a hero, let us turn to the well-known picture by Sir Charles Eastlake, in the Vernon Gallery, of the "Flight of the Carrara Family." There we shall see before us a most pleasing and finely-rendered portrait of the unfortunate lord of Padua, whose life has formed so interesting an episode in Italian history.