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Old January 11th, 2011, 06:17 AM   #11

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When I have the time I might have a bash at, Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, John of Brienne, John of Ibelin Lord of Beriut and might dare a Frederick II Hohenstaufen.
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Old January 11th, 2011, 09:12 AM   #12

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When I have the time I might have a bash at, Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, John of Brienne, John of Ibelin Lord of Beriut and might dare a Frederick II Hohenstaufen.
I am looking forward to look at that.
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Old January 11th, 2011, 09:25 AM   #13

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I am looking forward to look at that.
Same; especially Baldwin IV of Jerusalem.

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For the size of biographies, in the Ancient biography thread, most biographies are about 1000-1200 words so that should be good.
Okay, I just didn't want to go posting anything too short, or anything too long. Thanks.
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Old January 11th, 2011, 10:26 PM   #14

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When I have the time I might have a bash at, Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, John of Brienne, John of Ibelin Lord of Beriut and might dare a Frederick II Hohenstaufen.
Ah those troublesome Hohenstaufens. Consider yourself excommunicated for dealing with them!
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Old January 11th, 2011, 11:05 PM   #15

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Could we pin both this and the ancient biography threads for easier access??

So I guess it's ladies first?
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Old January 11th, 2011, 11:14 PM   #16

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Antonio di Nicolo Foscarini
(27.08.1570 - 20.4.1622)

As dawn broke over the Piazzetta San Marco in Venice, the body of a man hung from the gallows between the columns. There were no witnesses to this execution - it was a quiet affair carried out under the veil of night. The citizens of the Serenissima were understandably worried. This man was not common criminal - he was a man from a distinguished noble family.

What events had led to a man of such stature becoming victim of such a fate.

Antonio the Ambassador:
Antonio Foscarini was the third son of Nicolo di Alvise de ramo di S.Polo and Maria Barbarigo di Antonio.

Antonio began his diplomatic career as one of the representatives of the Republic of Venice to the Court of King Henri IV of France (1601) and was there, at Paris, in this capacity to celebrate Henri’s wedding to Marie de Medici. Despite being elected as Ambassador to France - “Ambasciatore ordinario in Francia” - (26th May 1607), he did not actually take up his position until February of the following year.

When he was elected Ambassador to England - “Ambasciatore ordinario in Inghilterra” - (July 1610), he again did not take up his position until the following year (4th May 1611). Unfortunately Foscarini’s position came under question in Venice. One of Foscarini’s secretaries denounced his to the Council of Ten, accusing him of selling state secrets to Venice’s mortal enemy at the time - Spain.

Foscarini was summoned to return to Venice immediately. Upon his arrival he was imprisoned - which was where he remained for three years whilst in inquiry into the allegations took place. Foscarini was duly released upon being found “not guilty” (30th July 1618) - there was no blemish on his service record. And two years later he was elected Senator (1620).

The Council of Ten:
The Council of Ten was formed in 1310 “to preserve the liberty and peace of the subjects of the republic and to protect them form the abuses of personal power”. In effect, the Council of Ten was actually made up of 17:
• the Doge - who presided over all and was elected ruler for a specific term.
• the Prime Minster - elected chairman of the government
• the Signoria - comprised of three Capi (three chiefs of the Great Council); six Savii Grandi (modern-day Cabinet); three Savii da Terra Firma and three Savii agli Ordini or da Mar (Ministers of War, Finance and Marine).

These men, for there were no women, were elected for a specific term, depending upon their position. In effect, this ensured that any attempt on the part of one person or a family or a group to gain sole power was neutralized. Even the Church was excluded from taking any part in the government of the Republic.

The Countess of Arundel:
At the age of 35yo, this formidable woman arrived in Venice in 1621.

Alatheia Talbot was the granddaughter of the infamous Bess of Hardwick (goddaughter of Queen Elizabeth I of England) and the wife of Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel, and a leading figure at the court of King James I of England. Both Alatheia and Thomas were passionate art lovers, and used their boundless wealth to amass the first great private art collection in England. And this was the reason for Alatheia’s journey to Venice - that and the education of their sons. Alatheia left her children at the villa in Dolo whilst she continued onto Venice and settled in Palazzo Mocegnigo on Grand Canal.

The Senator & the Countess:
It was whilst situated in the Palazzo Mocegnigo, that the Senator possibly renewed his acquaintance with the Countess. In his position as Ambassador to England, Foscarini would have come into contact with both the Countess and her husband, who was, we must remember, a prominent official of the royal Court. As to the true nature of this acquaintance, it has been suggested that the two were not particularly close.

Whatever the suggestion, on the evening of 8th April 1622 as Foscarini was departing the Senate, he was arrested on the orders of the Consiglio dei Dieci and charged with:
“ ….. having secretly and frequently been in the company of ministers of foreign powers, by day and by night, in their houses and elsewhere, in this city and outside it, in disguise and in normal dress, and having divulged to them, both orally and in writing, the most intimate secrets of the Republic, and having received money from them in return …”
Less than a fortnight later, Foscarini was strangled in prison and the following morning found hung between the two columns in Piazzetta San Marco.

Aftermath:
The news of Foscarini’s execution spread like wildfire throughout the length and breadth of Europe. Many rulers, upon hearing the news, were shocked.

Countess Alatheia was noticeably perturbed for her name had been linked with that of Foscarini. It was in her house, that Foscarini had been accused of passing state secrets to Venice’s enemies - notably Spain (via the Secretary of Emperor Ferdinand) and the Church (via the Papal Nuncio).

Sir Henry Wotton, England’s Ambassador to Venice, notified Alatheia by letter that the Council of Ten would be passing a sentence of banishment upon her, and that it would be in hest interests to leave immediately. But Sir Henry had greatly underestimated this woman - for she was aggressive adversary (they had crossed swords many times). Instead, Alatheia went immediately in person to Sir Henry, vigorously denying the charges and informing him of her intentions to seem an audience with the Doge, Antonio Priuli. Alatheia laid the blame for Foscarini’s death firmly at his doorstep, and let him know in no uncertain circumstances that she intended to bring about his dismissal.

Alatheia was granted her audience with the Doge - she was warmly received and assured that there was never any question of neither her banishment not implication in the recent tragic events. She generously accepted his assurances, but requested a public exoneration in writing in both Venice and London - this duly occurred. She was given lavish gifts by the Doge and with her wagons heavily laden with, left Venice six months later.


Exoneration:

Murray Brown begins his The Myth of Antonio Foscarini’s Exoneration as thus:
In January of 1623, a unique event occurred in Venice: Antonio Foscarini was posthumously exonerated by the Council of Ten. Ten months previously, it had unanimously found him guilty of treason and had him executed. King James I’s ambassador to the Serenissima, Sir Henry Wotton, characterized the event: “...surely in 312 years that the Council of Ten hath stood, there was never cast a greater blemish upon it.

And so, after much investigation, Antonio Foscarini was officially exonerated of all charges (16th January 1623).

Throughout the summer, proof of Foscarini’s innocence gathered momentum, and was such that none could ignore it. Those who had accused Foscarini of the act of treason were brought before both the Inquisitors of the State and the Council of Ten themselves to answer certain questions. It was determined, during the course of events, that both accused had perjured themselves by making false accusations against Foscarini. Why they did so is not known, but Murray Brown presents a number of credible scenarios in his “The Myth of Antonio Foscarini’s Exoneration”.

The Council of Ten publicly confessed its error - copies were given to Foscarini’s family and were also distributed throughout Europe. Foscarini’s body was exhumed and he was given a state funeral. A statue of Foscarini is in Foscarini Chapel of the Church of S.Stae.


I wrote this article for "Executed Today - Antonio Foscarini"
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Old January 12th, 2011, 04:22 AM   #17

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Could we pin both this and the ancient biography threads for easier access??

So I guess it's ladies first?
I guess we could ask for it. Great biography by the way! I especially like the fact that you explained the council of ten, very helpful
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Old January 12th, 2011, 08:56 AM   #18

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Empress Mathilda of England (or Maude of England)
1102-1167

She was the daughter of King Henry I of England and was his only surviving legitimate child (she did have a brother who died). She was married (while quite young) to the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Henry V, hence the title empress. He died in 1125. She returned to England (she had no children). Her second husband was Geoffrey of Anjou, whom she married in 1128. Her grandfather was William, the Conqueror. She had three sons from her marriage with Geoffrey. They were Henry (later Henry II of England), Geoffrey (Geoffrey VI of Anjou), and William (Count of Poitou).

Upon the death of her father, she set out for England to claim the throne. She was, technically, England’s first female ruler (but only for a few months in 1141). Her father’s barons had been forced to pledge that they would support her ascendency to the throne of England as queen upon her father’s death, but many decided to abrogate their oaths including one Stephen of Blois. He took the opportunity to seize the throne and became King of England. He was her cousin. The idea of a woman upon the throne did not sit well with most of the English barons.

There ensued a period of civil war; at one point, Stephen of Blois was captured by Mathilda. It all came to naught. Mathilda realized she would never become queen of England but saw to it that her eldest son, Henry would become Stephen’s heir. The Treaty of Winchester or Wallingford signed in 1153 accomplished this and allowed Stephen to remain on the throne of England. Henry became King Henry II upon Stephen’s death (his oldest son Eustace, having died earlier).

She was never popular in England; she was arrogant, and disagreeable. “She was so proud and violent, that her husband would not come over to England to help her, but stayed to govern Normandy.” And “it is even said that she gave a box on the ear to her uncle, the King of Scotland, who had come to help her, for reproving her for her harsh answers” (http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/queen-matilda.htm) Charming woman. And this lack of charm cost her the throne of England.

While she was successful in regaining control of Normandy, when she eventually turned over to her eldest son, Henry, she was never successful in regaining her right as Queen of England and was never crowned. She died in Rouen, France.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 07:55 AM   #19

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Caterina Sforza

Caterina Sforza (born 1463 - died 28 May 1509) was the illegitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, duke of Milan (reigned 1466 - 1476) and his mistress Lucrezia Landriani. Caterina was brought to live in the Sforza Castle shortly after he married Bona of Savoy, and was raised as a near-equal member of the ducal family. In 1473 she was betrothed to Girolamo Riario, "nephew" of Pope Sixtus IV (Francesco della Rovere). At the time the Riario and della Rovere were among the most powerful families in Rome, their union was part of an alliance that created a tie between Rome and Milan which was to last two decades. Pope Sixtus IV gave the hereditary fiefs of Imola and Forlì to Girolamo and Caterina upon their marriage in 1477. They lived at the Vatican for a time - until the death of Sixtus - where Caterina enjoyed the role of an accomplished and beloved princess.

After the death of the pope, Rome was in an uproar (as usual immediately after the death of a pope), and it fell to her to command the fortress against robbers and mercenaries who sought to pillage the palace. Seven months pregnant, sword at her belt, on horseback, she rode to and fro rousing men to action in defense of the castle. She held the fortress until terms of separation and payment of money owed was settled in Riario's favor before the conclave could elect a new pope. The new pope, Innocent VIII allowed the Riarios to go to Forlì and left them alone to rule their fiefs.

Lady of Imola and Countess of Forlì

Caterina ruled with her husband as typical Renaissance despots. After the assassination of her husband in 1488 by his own subjects, she and her children were taken hostage, but maneuvered back into power using skillful diplomatic strategies and calculated risks to match any medieval general. Overall, at least at first, she ruled as regent for her son Ottaviano, with a firm hand and was loved by her soldiers and supported by her people. She improved the cities of Imola and Forlì, patronized local artists, and maintained a small, loyal army. She enjoyed all of the typical princely activates such as hunting, falconry, and entertaining. She was an intelligent lady but did not profess a love for the classics or other scholarly works. She surrounded herself with luxury and magnificence: in true ladylike fashion, took great care of her complexion and figure, and loved her fashionable jewels and gowns.

After the assassination of her husband, she married her lover, courtier Giacomo Feo, in secret about 1490. Over the years, his influence over Caterina was seen as negative and in his overbearing arrogance he made powerful enemies of members of her son's faction. Feo was murdered 27 August, 1495 by supporters of her sixteen year-old son Ottaviano's faction who resented Feo's influence over the Caterina's regency government. She took vengeance upon his murderers and threw the conspirators (and their wives and children, according to biographer Pasolini) into a spiked well to their death. In one chronicle (Leone Cobelli), the list of those she had killed amounted to over 20 individuals.

As Regent for her son Ottaviano, she maintained control of her cities Imola and Forlì despite attempts to overthrow the Riario by feuding noble families such as the Orsi and Ordelaffi. She was an opponent of the Borgias during Cesare's conquest of the papal cities in the Romagna. She tried to poison the pope by sending letters (supposedly written by the populace) laced with germs from victims of the plague.

An alliance was made between Florence and Caterina in order to buffer Florence from Venice, who was trying to purchase Faenza from the Manfredi. Through his council and close administration of their affairs, her and Florentine diplomat Giovanni de Medici became lovers. She married Giovanni de Medici "il Popolano" in secret in September 1497.

In 1500 Cesare captured Imola and Forlì. Due to the resistance of Forlì commanded by Caterina, he reduced the city utterly. Almost all of her men perished in defense of their noble lady. She was taken prisoner and was held captive. She appeared at banquets in Rome 'in an foul temper and with fierce spirit.' Out of Cesare's many conquests in the Romagna, she gave him his first resistance, albeit futile, against his modern French artillery. She was captured and held prisoner for over a year in the dungeons of the Castel Sant'Angelo. After signing away her rights to her fiefs, she was released and went to live in state at the Medici villa di Castello near Florence. She spent the rest of her life writing home remedy, poison, and cosmetic recipes and concoctions later complied and published as “Gli Experimenti” in the late 17th century. She died fairly young, at age 46 in 1509.

Caterina Sforza was widely celebrated for her diplomatic astuteness, strength and bravery, and the valiant yet futile defense of her cities against the Borgias in 1500. She also was the mother of Italy's last - and some say greatest condottiere - Giovanni dalle Bande Nere (de Medici).

Sources/For Further Reading

Catherine Sforza by Pier Desidero Pasolini (1898)
Caterina Sforza: Renaissance Virago, by Ernst Breisach (1967)
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Old January 25th, 2011, 08:00 AM   #20

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Thanks for adding the sources for further reading. Great post, btw.
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