Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

Durazzo's treachery was not prosperous in its issue. Under pretence of his being concerned in the death of Andrew, he was assassinated by order of the Hungarian king; and thus, by the removal of a formidable rival to Joanna, her restoration was facilitated, and the imputation of Andrew's murder unequivocally transferred to a person with whom it was impossible that she could have acted in concert. Her sister, the unfortunate widow of Durazzo, sought, with her children, a refuge with the monks of Santa Croce; and by their means, her friends conducted her to Provence, to seek protection and succour from the unhappy queen, whom she found as desolate as berself,-a prisoner at Aix, whither she had been conducted, while she was on the road to Avignon, by the prince of Orange, and others of the Provençal nobility. This unexpected reception of the queen arose from the calumnies of Louis of Hungary, who insinuated that she was proceeding to Avignon to barter away her French dominions with the duke of Normandy, in order to prosecute her war in Naples with more effect. Her husband had in the mean time proceeded to Tuscany, in order to obtain the good offices of the bishop of Florence, in behalf of the queen, with the papal court. She was soon released by Clement VI. Her barons, convinced of their error, flocked around her with assurances of duty; and it was on this occasion, that she publicly justified herself before that respectable pontiff. Our Author describes the pomp and circumstance of the solemnity with much minuteness. Such was her eloquence, or such the charm of her beauty, that she was pronounced not only innocent, but above the suspicion of guilt. Of the impartiality of this tribunal, the Abbé de Sade, her strenuous but not always judicious advocate, observes, that the beauty and eloquence of the queen of Naples would ' have seduced the Areopagus itself. The count and countess of Provence (for that title had been conferred upon Louis) returned to their government amidst the joyful acclamations of the Provençals,

who revered her in life and in death, and never spoke of her but as the 'good queen Jane. Happy,' remarks her modern Biographer, “had it been for her, had she left the • turbulent and fickle Neapolitans to a harsher rule, and passed • her peaceful days in the haunts of the muses, on the lovely • borders of the Durance and the Rhone.'

In the same year, 1348, the plague broke out at Avignon. This suggests to the Author, Boccaccio's unequalled description of the pestilence which raged at Florence about the same time. Of this celebrated passage he has given an animated and correct translation. Louis of Hungary disgusted the Neapolitans with his tyrannical conduct. Having retired to his Hun

6

garian territories, his new subjects became anxious to shake off his yoke. Joanna, having pledged all her jewels, and sold Avignon to the pope for 80,000 gold florins, equipped ten galleys, embarked from Marseilles in June, and landed at Naples with her husband, who had received the title of king from the pope, to the great joy of the inhabitants. On the day of the coronation of Louis of Taranto and Joanna, the glad. ness and festivity of the occasion were saddened by the loss of their only child. The king died in 1362. It was generally feared, that it would not long be possible for the queen alone to keep in check the hot heads of the Neapolitan princes ; the council, therefore, earnestly advised her to marry at the end of her widowhood. Their choice fell upon James, Infant of Majorca ; and the marriage was celebrated with great pomp.: Upon this occasion, Joanna received from an Italian nobleman the present of two knights, to be disposed of according to her own will and pleasure. Brantome relates the incident from the work of Paris of Puteo on the laws of duel, a book referred to by St. Palaye in his memoirs of chivalry.

• Paris of Puteo,' says the Historian, 'a venerable doctor of laws, relates that this beautiful queen held an open and solemn ball in her city of Gaeta, amidst the flower of her nobility, on the occasion of some marriage feasts or other honourable rejoicings. Amongst the nobles present was Galeazzo of Mantua, one of the most accomplished princes of Italy in those days, whom the queen made choice of to dance with her.

«« The dance being ended, and Galeazzo having acquitted himself well, he came before her royal seat, and after making a low obeisance, bent his knee to the ground, and thanked her very humbly for the honour she had rendered him with so much courtesy and graciousness; and declaring he knew not how to recompence it by any service worthy of it, made there at her feet a vow to wander through the world in search of deeds of arms at every hazard, risk, and peril, until he should have vanquished and captured two valiant knights to bestow as a gift on her, to dispose of as she thought best. See how, in past times, such as he were able to recompence their superiors !

i« By this the queen saw, at least, that though not approaching in any degree to her incomparable nobleness, she had not honoured a knight who was not of some worth, nor less endowed with wit and tleness ; she replied only, that` in good time, and by the grace of God, he should accomplish his vow, since such was his pleasure and the custom of knighthood.

«« The knight then departed, and went to Franec, Burgundy, Spain, Germany, Hungary, and other regions, provinces, and kingdoms, where was then to be met the flower of chivalry. He hazarded himself, challenged, fought, and at last conquered and captured the two promised knights, partly by his valour, partly by the favour of fortune, and brought them to the kingdom of Naples.

gen.

«« At the end of the year Galeas sought the queen, and bending one knee to the ground, presented the captive knights, accomplishing his

vow with great solemnity. *“ The queen in return, with becoming grace and great majesty (in which she was never found wanting) received the vow and the deed as gallantly accomplished, and offering all possible courtesies to prince Galeas, pronounced him a most worthy Knight, and accepted the two captives, to whom she said these words

" Sirs, you are, as you see, my prisoners. By the laws of chivalry I may cause such as ure in your captive condition to serve me in any ignoble office I may best please ; but I think you will judge by my countenance that cruelty does not dwell in my heart to dispose of the unfortunate in such like manner. Of my clemency, then, and bumanity, I give you from this hour entire liberty and franchise to act as you please, whether to return free to your own country, or before you depart, to solace yourselves in my kingdom and view the curiosities of it, which are sufficiently admirable; after having visited them, return to me, and when you choose to depart, I shall be well pleased to commend you to God.

6.66 Who so happy as these two knights! They did not fail to execute their gentle sentence, and to solace themselves for a good space amidst the delights of this pleasant kingdom, which then abounded in pleasures, and was governed by so noble a queen.

“When they had seen the whole at their case, they came to take leave of their sovereign lady and mistress (since they were cap. tives and slaves). She furnished them liberally with gifts, as she had done before, and having given them money for their journey, and thick and heavy gold chains, they departed seeking adventures here and there, and publishing on their passage the virtues, humanity, and courtesy of the queen, as they had just reason to do, none of her time possessing these qualities in the same degree."

• What follows this recital is perhaps still more curious to the inquirer after ancient manners. Brantome thus proceeds—“ This doctor that I have quoted, the venerable doctor Paris of Puteo, a very worthy man, and who has well written the account of this duel, greatly extols this queen, and says, that in this instance, she merits much more praise than the canons of St. Peter's church at Rome, at whose holy altar a victor knight having given one he had vanquished and thus gained in single combat, with arms, borse, and trappings, in the lands of the patrimony of St. Peter's, for them to dispose of as they pleased, according to the laws of single combat; these canons were so inhuman, that in lieu of acting with mercy like this compassionate and good queen, they kept this poor devil of a knight in a sort of bondage in the church, without any other exercise than pacing to and fro, and sometimes looking out at the passengers through the open doors; and during his life he never passed beyond the thres hold: as I saw formerly in Spain done by those who had taken refuge in the church for some crime they had committed. Thus this doctor Paris blames these holy brothers and commends this queen Jane, who

a

certainly cannot have as much praise as she merits for her inpumerable wirtues.

Vol. II. pp. 49-53. James of Majorca, whose father had been treacherously murdered by Peter of Arragon, died in Spain during an enterprise he had undertaken in that country to avenge his death. Joanna was beset with rebellion and treason, foreign and intestine ; but the wisdom of her measures and the vigour of her administration restored and preserved the public tranquillity. She promoted the interests of commerce, and liberally patronized the arts and literature. Boccaccio was honoured by her most distinguishing patronage during his residence at Naples ; and her Biographer enters into various details of his life, as entitled to a place in the history of Joanna and the age in which she flourished. As these, however, are not new topics, we shall abstain from them.

Of the male descendants of Charles of Anjou, none now remained except Louis of Hungary and Charles of Durazzo, of whose education Joanna had taken charge during his minority, and who accepted, against her wishes, the invitation of the Hungarian king to follow him in his wars against Venice.

• No guilty projects had as yet sullied the mind of Durazzo, his gratitude for past benefits was still warm, and that lively anticipation of future favours which has too justly been said to be the sum and substance of a courtier's gratitude, had some of the generosity of youth and the joyous confidence of hope ; and whatever might have been his secret feelings, he was peculiarly formed to win affection and quiet suspicion ; his mellow voice, mild speech, deliberate enunciation, measured step, and composed demeanor, appeared to denote gentleness and tranquillity of soul, and effectually concealed the latent cruelty and ambition of his nature. Low in stature, but symmetrically formed, his air was noble, and his countenance singularly pleasing, his features regular, and complexion florid. His manners were gracious to all ranks, and his generosity such as became a princeespecially to men of letters, whose society he courted in emulation of his patroness. History and poetry were his peculiar studies and favourite relaxation amidst the fatigues of a camp, and he understood better than most of his time those favourite points of discussion which were usually debated by the erudite at the conclusion of the social repast. As a soldier, he united both courage and conduct, and so great was his personal prowess, that when he first went to Hungary, he slew in single combat a knight of gigantic stature whom none other was bold enough to attack; and in memory of this signal achievement, ever after bore, as his crest, the head of an elephant, which had been that of the modern Goliath.

"The irreproachable conduct of Durazzo unhappily deceived Joanna as to his real character, and finding nothing to counterbalance his various merits, bat those vague forebodings of the future, which seemed rather to arise from the ambitious spirit of the age than to be justified by any scrutiny of his actions however minute, in an evil hour for him, for herself, and her people, she bestowed on him the hand of her adopted daughter, and proclaimed her intention of bequeathing her crown to them and their issue. Soon after the celebration of the nuptials Charles, returned to the service of the king of Hungary; cold and ambitious, he, perhaps, already calculated on his support in case of any change in the queen's intentions."

Vol. II. pp. 143—145. At the period of the Sicilian treaty, Joanna was at the summit of prosperity. She was now recognised queen of both Sicilies; but, from this time, her kingdom was distracted by internal dissentions. Charles of Durazzo refused to return for the defence of the kingdoms he was one day to inherit; and the power of the Church, which, during the pontificates of Clement VI., Innocent VI., and Urban V., had afforded her prompt and efficient aid, in the hands of Gregory XI. was fallen into contempt. Her own natural issue was extinct, and the last of the faithful friends of Robert and of her own able counsellors, had paid the debt of nature. In this state of cheerless, desolate splendour, she gave her hand (as the last expedient of saving her house) to Otho of Brunswick, on the feast of Pentecost 1374. He was a prince of virtuous character and amiable manners. Happy had it been for this ill-fated queen,

had she made such a choice, instead of James of Arragon;-a marriage which drove her into the injudicious measure of adopting Charles of Durazzo for her successor. Those readers who are interested in the details of papal history, we refer to the eighth chapter of the second volume of this entertaining miscellany, for the singular and almost romantic circumstances of the elevation of Urban VI.;-an event which entailed upon Naples an age of misery, and destroyed a dynasty which, for more than a century, had rendered these dominions the most flourishing and the most happy in Europe. This execrable pontiff was a Neapolitan; he had long been honoured and esteemed by Joanna, and, at the period of his election, was archbishop of Bari. At the very period when he was loaded with the gifts of Joanna, and supported by her troops, he was concerting with the rebel duke of Andria, her deposition and the investiture of Charles of Durazzo in her dominions. In the celebrated schism of the Church which followed the election of a rival pope, by the name of Clement VI., the atrocious conduct of Urban drove Joanna to oppose him, and to support the pretensions of Clement. The infuriated pope published a sentence of deposition against the queen, as a schismatic and a rebel, transferring her forfeited crown to Charles of Durazzo.

a

« AnteriorContinuar »