16 NOVEMBER 1907, Page 12


A History of Milan under the Sforza. By Cecilia M. Ady. Edited by Edward Armstrong. With 20 Illustrations and a Map. (Methuen and Co. 10s. 6d. net.)—This appears to be the first volume published of a projected series of histories of the States of Italy. As the publishers' note points out, the present political unity of Italy does not alter the fact that each "city or province is still to the Italian historian a State " : and thus the history of Italy is really a combination of the separate histories of her cities, -which are written even now from a local point of view, and full of the passionate local interest, the patriotism often stronger for its narrow bounds, which give the historian of wider outlook such a splendid field for gleaning. We can hardly imagine a more attractive subject, in its way, than the story of Milan under those wonderful condottieri, the Sforza Dukes. One of its features, very favourable to a modern writer, is the fact that it is by no means worked out. Milan has not been nearly so much written about as Rome, Florence, or Venice; yet her history, in its most brilliant periods, yields to none in romantic interest. But even the character and adventures of the six Dukes who followed the Visconti as rulers of Milan, and whose authority lasted nearly a hundred years in the height of the Renaissance, are misty enough to the mind of the modern general reader,—with one exception, perhaps. Lodovico II Moro, the husband of Beatrice d'Este, the captive of Louis XII. at Loches, where he died in 1508, is a familiar figure to all who know anything of French or Italian history. He was, as Miss Ady points out, a typical man of the Renaissance. Ambitious yet cowardly, a cruel, unscrupulous usurper, he was one of the wisest rulers and cleverest men of his time. He was indeed before his time, and there are no more interesting pages in the book than those describing the scientific spirit in which he treated all questions of the material development of the Milanese State. His model farm was a wonderful experiment. His system of canals and waterways, his views on the sanitation of cities, if inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, were carried out by a master worthy of the servant. Lodovico cannot help taking the central place in a history of Milan under the Sforza. We must not be understood to say that Miss Ady sins against proportion. On the contrary, she gives a most careful account—more difficult because the authentic materials must have been less—of Lode vice's father Francesco, the great condottiere, and first Duke of his family ; of his brother, Duke Galeazzo Maria, the cruel, tyrannical monster who was murdered in San Stefano in 1476; of his nephew the weak and unfortunate Gian Galeazzo ; of his sons Massimiliano and Francesco, the former one of the weakest, the latter, the last Duke of the name, one of the best beloved of his family. We have said enough to suggest the varied interest that belongs to the history which Miss Ady has written. She is to be congratu- lated on giving agreeable proof of hereditary talent by her accomplishment of a sufficiently difficult piece of work.