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- The event in section 24, Canto 2d, was suggested by the description of the death or rather burial of the Duke of Gandia.
The most interesting and particular account of this mysterious event, is given by Burchard ; and is in substance as follows: “On the eighth day of June, the cardinal of Va. “ lenza, and the duke of Gandia, sons of the pope, supped 66 with their mother, Vanozza, near the church of S. Pietro “ad vincula ; several other persons being present at the *entertainment. A late hour approaching, and the cardinal “ having reminded his brother, that it was time to return to “ the apostolic palace, they mounted their horses or mules, 6 with only a few attendants, and proceeded together as far " as the palace of cardinal Ascanio Sforza, when the duke “ informed the cardinal, that before he returned home, he “ had to pay a visit of pleasure. Dismissing therefore all “ his attendants, excepting his staffiero, or footman, and a “ person in a mask, who had paid him a visit whilst at sup. “ per, and who, during the space of a month, or thereabouts, s previous to this time, had called upon him almost daily, " at the apostolic palace, he took this person behind him on " his mule, and proceeded to the street of the Jews, where “ he quitted his servant, directing him to remain there until - a certain hour; when, if he did not return, he might repair " to the palace. The duke then seated the person in the ““ mask behind him, and rode, I know not whither ; but in " that night he was assassinated, and thrown into the river. “ The servant, after having been dismissed, was also 46 assaulted and mortally wounded ; and although he was 36 attended with great care, yet such was his situation, that 66 he could give no intelligible account of what had befallen " his master. In the morning, the duke not having returned “ to the palace, his servants began to be alarmed ; and one 60
6 of them informed the pontiff of the evening excursion of “ his sons, and that the duke had not yet made his appear. 66 ance. This gave the pope no small anxiety ; but he 6 conjectured that the duke had been attracted by some 66 courtesan to pass the night with her, and not choosing to “ quit the house in open day, had waited till the following 66 evening to return home. When, however, the evening 66 arrived, and he found himself disappointed in his expecta« tions, he became deeply afflicted, and began to make 66 inquiries from different persons, whom he ordered to « attend him for that purpose. Amongst these was a man " named Giorgio Schiavoni, who, having discharged some 66 timber from a bark in the river, had remained on board " the vessel to watch it, and being interrogated whether he " had seen any one thrown into the river, on the night “ preceding, he replied, that he saw two men on foot, who 66 came down the street, and looked diligently about, to 6 observe whether any person was passing. That seeing no “ one, they returned, and a short time afterwards two others 6 came, and looked around in the same manner as the “ former; no person still appearing, they gave a sign to 66 their companions, when a man came, mounted on a white “ horse, having behind him a dead body, the head and arms " of which hung on one side, and the feet on the other side “ of the horse ; the two persons on foot supporting the 66 body, to prevent its falling. They thus proceeded towards 66 that part, where the filth of the city is usually discharged 66 into the river, and turning the horse, with his tail towards 6 the water, the two persons took the dead body by the 66 arms and feet, and with all their strength flung it into the “ river. The person on horseback then asked if they had 6 thrown it in, to which they replied, Signor, si. (yes, Sir.) “ He then looked towards the river, and seeing a mantle “ floating on the stream, he inquired what it was that 66 appeared black, to which they answered, it was a mantle ; 66 and one of them threw stones upon it, in consequence of 66 which it sunk. The attendants of the pontiff then in66 quired from Giorgio, why he had not revealed this to the “ governor of the city ; to which he replied, that he had 66 seen in his time a hundred dead bodies thrown into the “ river at the same place, without any inquiry being made “ respecting them, and that he had not, therefore, con66 sidered it as a matter of any importance. The fishermen " and seamen were then collected, and ordered to search the 66 river, where, on the following evening, they found the 66 body of the duke, with his habit entire, and thirty ducats 66 in his purse. He was pierced with nine wounds, one of 66 which was in his throat, the others in his head, body, and “ limbs. No sooner was the pontiff informed of the death 66 of his son, and that he had been thrown, like filth, into " the river, than giving way to his grief, he shut himself up 6 in a chamber, and wept bitterly. The cardinal of Segovia, 66 and other attendants on the pope, went to the door, and 66 after many hours spent in persuasions and exhortations, 66 prevailed upon him to admit them. From the evening of “ Wednesday, till the following Saturday, the pope took no “ food ; nor did he sleep from Thursday morning till the 6 same hour on the ensuing day. At length, however, “ giving way to the entreaties of his attendants, he began to “ restrain his sorrow, and to consider the injury which his " own health might sustain, by the further indulgence of his “ grief.”— Roscoe's Leo Tenth, Vol. I. page 265.