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