But hope at last burned low, and the physicians had to confess that the case was beyond their skill. How rudimentary as regards medical science that skill was may be judged from the fact that the staple remedy prescribed by the great Milanese doctor, Lazaro da Ficino, who had been called in to consult with Lorenzo’s own medical man, Pier Leoni of Spoleto, was a potion compounded of crushed pearls and jewels. As might have been expected, such a treatment accelerated rather than retarded the disease.
The last hours of Lorenzo, and particularly his historic interview with Savonarola, have often been described and are to this day the subject of debate. There are two sides to every story, and this one of the last visit of the haughty prior of San Marco’s to the dying Magnifico is no exception. Poliziano relates the incident in one form, the followers of Savonarola in another; but neither report is absolutely authentic. Suffice it for us that Benedetto, writing a week after the Magnifico’s death, says of the matter: “Our dear friend and master died so nobly, with all the patience, the reverence, the recognition of God which the best of holy men and a soul divine could show, with words upon his lips so kind, that he seemed a new St. Jerome.”
Perhaps the most reasonable attitude to assume toward the problem is that Lorenzo died as he lived, feeling that strange, restless curiosity as to what was summed up in the idea of a “future life” which he had manifested all his days: “If I believe aught implicitly,” he is reported to have said in earlier years to Alberti, “I believe in Plato’s doctrine of immortality in the Phaedo, for religion is too much a matter of temperament for us to lay down hard-and-fast rules about it.” Lorenzo outwardly conformed in his dying hours to the rites of the Catholic Church. He received the viaticum kneeling, he repeated the responses in an earnest and fervent tone, and then, when he felt that the grains in the hour-glass of life were running out, he pressed a crucifix to his lips and so passed within the veil. As a humanist he had been reared, as a humanist he had lived and labored, as a humanist he died, maintaining to the very last his interest in those studies which it had been his life’s passion to pursue.
The sun of the Florentine renaissance had set forever!
[Footnote 1: By permission of Selmar Hess.]
DEATH OF CHARLES THE BOLD
LOUIS XI UNITES BURGUNDY WITH THE CROWN OF FRANCE
PHILIPPE DE COMINES
During the greater part of his rule as duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold was at war with Louis XI of France, notwithstanding the treaty of Peronne, 1468, which the French monarch accepted under duress. Meanwhile it was the constant aim of Charles to enlarge his dukedom, and when, in 1475, he had made another peace with Louis, the Duke turned anew to his scheme of conquest.