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Caterina Sforza, continued...

Hi everyone,

The castle in the VMS map page looks like an excellent match for Imola's fortress: there's a drawing of how it would have looked circa 1499 in "Castelli, roche, e torri di Romagna", by F. Mancini and W Vichi (Bologna, 1959), reproduced in Ernst Breisach's "Catherine Sforza: a Renaissance virago" (Chicago & London, 1967).

Though Catherine Sforza was originally from Forli, once she gained control of Imola, she moved her personal retinue there, and used that as her main centre of operations.

The main features of the castle that match are: swallow-tailed merlons on the main fortress, an enclosed tower (square, though I can't make it out on the CopyFlo), a round tower on each corner (though only the rear two are clearly visible on the CopyFlo), and simple (non-swallowtail) battlements on the enclosure walls extending linearly out from the main fortress walls, surrounded by a moat (or river?)

In addition, there was a structure featured on the "Castelli..." diagram which I didn't remember from the VMS - an additional front half-tower on the far side of the moat, connected to the front corner of the fortress by a small bridge. But when I checked it on the VMS... there it is. It's not very clear on the VMS (I'd thought it was a smudged star), but it's *definitely* there if you look.

This doesn't mean, of course, that I have any idea what the rest of the map page represents, but this identification I'm pretty sure is a step in the right direction. :-)

I've also cleared up the relationship between Caterina Sforza and Ludovico Albertini, her speziale.

Caterina's stepmother, Bona of Savoy, like many women of means at the time, had her own speziale, Cristoforo da Brugora, who kept his own botanical garden. Breisach speculates that it might have been on a visit to there that Caterina first got the urge to keep her own.

In fact, there is a book entirely devoted to this particular speziale, but unfortunately the British Library has no copy. I'll carry on trying to dig it up, but if anyone can assist in finding one, I'd be very grateful! Its details are:-

	A Laghi. "Cristoforo de Brugora, speziale della
	duchess Bona e della corte sforzesca". (Pavia, 1959).

Ludovico Albertini, who was a speziale in Forli, was Caterina's "special confidant" in all matters pharmaceutical and botanical: "he bought both the ingredients and the pre-mixed drugs for her", says Breisach. Conte Pasolini (1894) includes a letter from Albertini (signed "Ludovicho Albertino Spetiale da Forli"), where he asks after her health, while noting that she still owes him 587 florins. But there's little doubt that he had done quite well out of her over the years. :-) IIRC, Albertini died in 1526, so outlived his patron by some 27 years.

Also: Caterina's "experiments" were largely empiric substitutions to find out if cheaper (more locally available) herbs and substances would function as well as more expensive and exotic ingredients. These trials largely wound down by about 1504, as she became more involved with bringing up her son Giovanni (who was then about 7). However, even as late as that she was still tinkering with a recipe for making 18 carat gold from base matter.

She suffered from "quartan fever" for most of her life (whatever that is - sorry, I don't know), usually carrying a rabbit's heart in a white cloth near her heart to protect her against recurrence of it.

As to her death: officially, it was from "male de costa" - which roughly translates as "rib sickness" - though it was actually liver disease, compounded by peritonitis and pleurisy. There's a book entirely devoted to analysing this:-

	D Morsiani-Quadalti "Del luogo dov'e morta la contessa
	Caterina Sforza signora d'Imola e di Forli" (Bologna, 1880).

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....