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   PDF: The Last Moments of Giovanni de’ Medici
   The Death of the Age of Chivalry
The burial harness of Giovanni de' Medici
Price: $0.99
Item Number: FAP000004
Author(s): Tom Leoni
Pages: Downloadable PDF - 7 pages
Published: October 2010

The Last Moments of Giovanni de’ Medici: the Death of the Age of Chivalry


Famed condottiere Giovanni de’ Medici, also known as Giovanni Dalle Bande Nere (1498-1526), was also a formidable swordsman who fought in the Bolognese style. Bolognese Master Angelo Viggiani, in his posthumous 1575 treatise Lo Schermo, names Giovanni as a renowned fencer in the style, and states that he had a preference for the guard better known as Porta di Ferro Stretta.


As one of the most skilled generals of his time, Giovanni had many powerful friends. Among them were Pope Leo X, Nicolo’ Machiavelli, and the legendary satiric poet Pietro Aretino. Aretino (1492-1556) was a talented and energetic writer who could, and did, destroy the reputation of the powerful with a few strokes of his pen, earning the nickname “The Scourge of Princes.”  


This touching letter by Aretino chronicles the last moments of Giovanni Dalle Bande Nere. Hit by a stray artillery ball in the course of a skirmish against the Imperials of Charles V, Giovanni is carried to Mantua where gruesome surgery is attempted to save his life. There, in the company of his friend, he bravely fights against pain and death, succumbing only when an unstoppable septicemia gets the better of him. The human side of this incredible historical figure comes through in Aretino’s narrative in a way that won’t fail to touch the modern reader.


Aretino ends his letter with a dire prophecy. The new pope (Clement VII, who was hostile to Giovanni) and Rome will see what it means to live in a world without Giovanni. History proved him right: a few months after the condottiere’s death, the Imperials brutally sacked Rome, sending the pope into hiding.


It was the end of an era, and, to some scholars, the end of the Italian Renaissance and of the age of Chivalry.


Illustrated PDF document, translated by Tom Leoni.
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