Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini by Benvenuto Cellini

Part 4 out of 9

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

must be allowed to go back for them. I answered that he need not take
thought for a pair of little straps, since I could make him as many big
ones as he liked. [3] He told me I was always joking, but that he must
really go back for his straps. Then he began ordering the bargee to
stop, while I kept ordering him to go on. Meanwhile I informed my friend
what kind of trick I had played our host, and showed him specimens of
the bed-covers and other things, which threw him into such a quaking
fright that he roared out to the bargee: “On with you, on with you, as
quick as you can!” and never thought himself quite safe until we reached
the gates of Florence.

When we arrived there, Tribolo said: “Let us bind our swords up, for the
love of God; and play me no more of your games, I beg; for all this
while I’ve felt as though my guts were in the saucepan.” I made answer:
“Gossip Tribolo, you need not tie your sword up, for you have never
loosed it;” and this I said at random, because I never once had seen him
act the man upon that journey. When he heard the remark, he looked at
his sword and cried out: “In God’s name, you speak true! Here it is
tied, just as I arranged it before I left my house.” My gossip deemed
that I had been a bad travelling companion to him, because I resented
affronts and defended myself against folk who would have done us injury.
But I deemed that he had acted a far worse part with regard to me by
never coming to my assistance at such pinches. Let him judge between us
who stands by and has no personal interest in our adventures.

Note 1. 'E che noi andassimo al bordello.'

Note 2. 'Sarge. Sargia' is interpreted 'sopraccoperta del letto.'

Note 3. The Italian for straps, 'coregge,' has a double meaning, upon
which Cellini plays.


NO sooner had I dismounted that I went to visit Duke Alessandro, and
thanked him greatly for his present of the fifty crowns, telling his
Excellency that I was always ready to serve him according to my
abilities. He gave me orders at once to strike dies for his coinage; and
the first I made was a piece of forty soldi, with the Duke’s head on one
side and San Cosimo and San Damiano on the other. [1] This was in
silver, and it gave so much satisfaction that the Duke did not hesitate
to say they were the best pieces of money in Christendom. The same said
all Florence and every one who saw them. Consequently I asked his
Excellency to make me appointments, [2] and to grant me the lodgings of
the Mint. He bade me remain in his service, and promised he would give
me more than I demanded. Meanwhile he said he had commissioned the
Master of the Mint, a certain Carlo Acciaiuoli, and that I might go to
him for all the money that I wanted. This I found to be true; but I drew
my monies so discreetly, that I had always something to my credit,
according to my account.

I then made dies for a giulio; [3] it had San Giovanni in profile,
seated with a book in his hand, finer in my judgment than anything which
I had done; and on the other side were the armorial bearings of Duke
Alessandro. Next I made dies for half-giulios on which I struck the full
face of San Giovanni in small. This was the first coin with a head in
full face on so thin a piece of silver that had yet been seen. The
difficulty of executing it is apparent only to the eyes of such as are
past-masters in these crafts. Afterwards I made dies for the golden
crowns; this crown had a cross upon one side with some little cherubim,
and on the other side his Excellency’s arms.

When I had struck these four sorts, I begged the Duke to make out my
appointments and to assign me the lodgings I have mentioned, if he was
contented with my service. He told me very graciously that he was quite
satisfied, and that he would grant me my request. While we were thus
talking, his Excellency was in his wardrobe, looking at a remarkable
little gun that had been sent him out of Germany. [4] When he noticed
that I too paid particular attention to this pretty instrument, he put
it in my hands, saying that he knew how much pleasure I took in such
things, and adding that I might choose for earnest of his promises an
arquebuse to my own liking from the armoury, excepting only this one
piece; he was well aware that I should find things of greater beauty,
and not less excellent, there. Upon this invitation, I accepted with
thanks; and when he saw me looking round, he ordered his Master of the
Wardrobe, a certain Pretino of Lucca, to let me take whatever I liked.
[5] Then he went away with the most pleasant words at parting, while I
remained, and chose the finest and best arquebuse I ever saw, or ever
had, and took it back with me to home.

Two days afterward I brought some drawings which his Excellency had
commissioned for gold-work he wanted to give his wife, who was at that
time still in Naples. [6] I again asked him to settle my affairs. Then
his Excellency told me that he should like me first to execute the die
of his portrait in fine style, as I had done for Pope Clement. I began
it in wax; and the Duke gave orders, while I was at work upon it, that
whenever I went to take his portrait, I should be admitted. Perceiving
that I had a lengthy piece of business on my hands, I sent for a certain
Pietro Pagolo from Monte Ritondo, in the Roman district, who had been
with me from his boyhood in Rome. [7] I found him with one
Bernardonaccio, [8] a goldsmith, who did not treat him well; so I
brought him away from there, and taught him minutely how to strike coins
from those dies. Meanwhile, I went on making the Duke’s portrait; and
oftentimes I found him napping after dinner with that Lorenzino of his,
who afterwards murdered him, and no other company; and much I marvelled
that a Duke of that sort showed such confidence about his safety. 9

Note 1. These were the special patrons of the Medicean family, being

Note 2. 'Che mi fermassi una provvisione.'

Note 3. The 'giulio' was a coin of 56 Italian centimes or 8 Tuscan
'crazie,' which in Florence was also called 'barile' or 'gabellotto,'
because the sum had to be paid as duty on a barrel of wine.

Note 4. See above, p. 120, for the right meaning of wardrobe.

Note 5. Messer Francesco of Lucca, surnamed Il Pretino.

Note 6. Margaret of Austria, natural daughter of Charles V., was
eventually married in 1536 to Alessandro de’ Medici.

Note 7. Pietro Pagolo Galleotti, much praised by Vasari for his artistic

Note 8. Perhaps Bernardo Sabatini.

Note 9. This is the famous Tuscan Brutus who murdered Alessandro. He was
descended from Lorenzo de’ Medici, the brother of Cosimo, 'Pater
Patriæ,' and the uncle of Lorenzo the Magnificent.


IT happened at this time Ottaviano de’ Medici, [1] who to all
appearances had got the government of everything in his own hands,
favoured the old Master of the Mint against the Duke’s will. This man
was called Bastiano Cennini, an artist of the antiquated school, and of
little skill in his craft. [2] Ottaviano mixed his stupid dies with mine
in the coinage of crown-pieces. I complained of this to the Duke, who,
when he saw how the matter stood, took it very ill, and said to me: “Go,
tell this to Ottaviano de’ Medici, and show him how it is.” [3] I lost
no time; and when I had pointed out the injury that had been done to my
fine coins, he answered, like the donkey that he was: “We choose to have
it so.” I replied that it ought not to be so, and that I did not choose
to have it so. He said: “And if the Duke likes to have it so?” I
answered: “It would not suit me, for the thing is neither just nor
reasonable.” He told me to take myself off, and that I should have no
swallow it in this way, even if I burst. Then I returned to the Duke,
and related the whole unpleasant conversation between Ottaviano de’
Medici and me, entreating his Excellency not to allow the fine coins
which I had made for him to be spoiled, and begging for permission to
leave Florence. He replied: “Ottaviano is too presuming: you shall have
what you want; for this is an injury offered to myself.”

That very day, which was a Thursday, I received from Rome a full
safe-conduct from the Pope, with advice to go there at once and get the
pardon of Our Lady’s feast in mid-August, in order that I might clear
myself from the penalties attaching to my homicide. I went to the Duke,
whom I found in bed, for they told me he was suffering the consequence
of a debauch. In little more than two hours I finished what was wanted
for his waxen medal; and when I showed it to him, it pleased him
extremely. Then I exhibited the safe-conduct sent me at the order of the
Pope, and told him how his Holiness had recalled me to execute certain
pieces of work; on this account I should like to regain my footing in
the fair city of Rome, which would not prevent my attending to his
medal. The Duke made answer half in anger: “Benvenuto, do as I desire:
stay here; I will provide for your appointments, and will give you the
lodgings in the Mint, with much more than you could ask for, because
your requests are only just and reasonable. And who do you think will be
able to strike the beautiful dies which you have made for me?” Then I
said: “My lord, I have thought of everything, for I have here a pupil of
mine, a young Roman whom I have taught the art; he will serve your
Excellency very well till I return with your medal finished, to remain
for ever in your service. I have in Rome a shop open, with journeymen
and a pretty business; as soon as I have got my pardon, I will leave all
the devotion of Rome [4] to a pupil of mine there, and will come back,
with your Excellency’s good permission, to you.” During this
conversation, the Lorenzino de’ Medici whom I have above mentioned was
present, and no one else. The Duke frequently signed to him that he
should join in pressing me to stay; but Lorenzino never said anything
except: “Benvenuto, you would do better to remain where you are.” I
answered that I wanted by all means to regain my hold on Rome. He made
no reply, but continued eyeing the Duke with very evil glances. When I
had finished the medal to my liking, and shut it in its little box, I
said to the Duke: “My lord, pray let me have your good-will, for I will
make you a much finer medal than the one I made for Pope Clement. It is
only reasonable that I should since that was the first I ever made.
Messer Lorenzo here will give me some exquisite reverse, as he is a
person learned and of the greatest genius.” To these words Lorenzo
suddenly made answer: “I have been thinking of nothing else but how to
give you a reverse worthy of his Excellency.” The Duke laughed a little,
and looking at Lorenzo, said: “Lorenzo, you shall give him the reverse,
and he shall do it here and shall not go away.” Lorenzo took him up at
once, saying: “I will do it as quickly as I can, and I hope to do
something that shall make the whole world wonder.” The Duke, who held
him sometimes for a fool and sometimes for a coward, turned about in
bed, and laughed at his bragging, words. I took my leave without further
ceremony, and left them alone together. The Duke, who did not believe
that I was really going, said nothing further. Afterwards, when he knew
that I was gone, he sent one of his servants, who caught me up at Siena,
and gave me fifty golden ducats with a message from the Duke that I
should take and use them for his sake, and should return as soon as
possible; “and from Messer Lorenzo I have to tell you that he is
preparing an admirable reverse for that medal which you want to make.” I
had left full directions to Petro Pagolo, the Roman above mentioned, how
he had to use the dies; but as it was a very delicate affair, he never
quite succeeded in employing them. I remained creditor to the Mint in a
matter of more than seventy crowns on account of dies supplied by me.

Note 1. This Ottaviano was not descended from either Cosimo or Lorenzo
de’ Medici, but from an elder, though less illustrious, branch of the
great family. He married Francesca Salviati, the aunt of Duke Cosimo.
Though a great patron of the arts and an intimate friend of M. A.
Buonarroti, he was not popular, owing to his pride of place.

Note 2. Cellini praises this man, however, in the preface to the

Note 3. 'Mostragnene.' This is perhaps equivalent to 'mostraglielo.'

Note 4. 'Tutta la divozione di Roma.' It is not very clear what this
exactly means. Perhaps “all the affection and reverence I have for the
city of Rome,” or merely “all my ties in Rome.”


ON the journey to Rome I carried with me that handsome arquebuse which
the Duke gave me; and very much to my own pleasure, I used it several
times by the way, performing incredible feats by means of it. The little
house I had in Strada Giulia was not ready; so I dismounted at the house
of Messer Giovanni Gaddi, clerk of the Camera, to whose keeping I had
committed, on leaving Rome, many of my arms and other things I cared
for. So I did not choose to alight at my shop, but sent for Felice, my
partner, and got him to put my little dwelling forthwith into excellent
order. The day following, I went to sleep there, after well providing
myself with clothes and all things requisite, since I intended to go and
thank the Pope next morning.

I had two young serving-lads, and beneath my lodgings lived a laundress
who cooked extremely nicely for me. That evening I entertained several
friends at supper, and having passed the time with great enjoyment,
betook myself to bed. The night had hardly ended, indeed it was more
than an hour before daybreak, when I heard a furious knocking at the
house-door, stroke succeeding stroke without a moment’s pause.
Accordingly I called my elder servant, Cencio [1] (he was the man I took
into the necromantic circle), and bade him to go and see who the madman
was that knocked so brutally at that hour of the night. While Cencio was
on this errand, I lighted another lamp, for I always keep one by me at
night; then I made haste to pass an excellent coat of mail over my
shirt, and above that some clothes which I caught up at random. Cencio
returned, exclaiming: “Heavens, master! it is the Bargello and all his
guard; and he says that if you do not open at once, he will knock the
door down. They have torches, and a thousand things besides with them!”
I answered: “Tell them that I am huddling my clothes on, and will come
out to them in my shirt.” Supposing it was a trap laid to murder me, as
had before been done by Signor Pier Luigi, I seized an excellent dagger
with my right hand, and with the left I took the safe-conduct; then I
ran to the back-window, which looked out on gardens, and there I saw
more than thirty constables; wherefore I knew that I could not escape
upon that side. I made the two lads go in front, and told them to open
the door exactly when I gave the word to do so. Then taking up an
attitude of defence, with the dagger in my right hand and the
safe-conduct in my left, I cried to the lads: “Have no fear, but open!”
The Bargello, Vittorio, and the officers sprang inside at once, thinking
they could easily lay hands upon me; but when they saw me prepared in
that way to receive them, they fell back, exclaiming: “We have a serious
job on hand here!” Then I threw the safe-conduct to them, and said:
“Read that! and since you cannot seize me, I do not mean that you shall
touch me.” The Bargello upon this ordered some of his men to arrest me,
saying he would look to the safe-conduct later. Thereat I presented my
arms boldly, calling aloud: “Let God defend the right! Either I shall
escape your hands alive, or be taken a dead corpse!” The room was
crammed with men; they made as though they would resort to violence; I
stood upon my guard against them; so that the Bargello saw he would not
be able to have me except in the way I said. Accordingly he called his
clerk, and while the safe-conduct as being read, he showed by signs two
or three times that he meant to have me secured by his officers; but
this had no effect of shaking my determination. At last they gave up the
attempt, threw my safe-conduct on the ground, and went away without
their prize.

Note 1. 'I. e.,' Vincenzio Romoli.


WHEN I returned to bed, I felt so agitated that I could not get to sleep
again. My mind was made up to let blood as soon as day broke. However, I
asked advice of Messer Gaddi, and he referred to a wretched
doctor-fellow he employed, [1] who asked me if I had been frightened.
Now, just consider what a judicious doctor this was, after I had
narrated an occurrence of that gravity, to ask me such a question! He
was an empty fribbler, who kept perpetually laughing about nothing at
all. Simpering and sniggering, then, he bade me drink a good cup of
Greek wine, keep my spirits up, and not be frightened. Messer Giovanni,
however, said: “Master, a man of bronze or marble might be frightened in
such circumstances. How much more one of flesh and blood!” The quack
responded: “Monsignor, we are not all made after the same pattern; this
fellow is no man of bronze or marble, but of pure iron.” Then he gave
one of his meaningless laughs, and putting his fingers on my wrist,
said: “Feel here; this is not a man’s pulse, but a lion’s or a
dragon’s.” At this, I, whose blood was thumping in my veins, probably
far beyond anything which that fool of a doctor had learned from his
Hippocrates or Galen, knew at once how serious was my situation; yet
wishing not to add to my uneasiness and to the harm I had already taken,
I made show of being in good spirits. While this was happening, Messer
Giovanni had ordered dinner, and we all of us sat down to eat in
company. I remembered that Messer Lodovico da Fano, Messer Antonio
Allegretti, Messer Giovanni Greco, all of them men of the finest
scholarship, and Messer Annibal Caro, who was then quite young, were
present. At table the conversation turned entirely upon my act of
daring. They insisted on hearing the whole story over and over again
from my apprentice Cencio, who was a youth of superlative talent,
bravery, and extreme personal beauty. Each time that he described my
truculent behaviour, throwing himself into the attitudes I had assumed,
and repeating the words which I had used, he called up some fresh detail
to my memory. They kept asking him if he had been afraid; to which he
answered that they ought to ask me if I had been afraid, because he felt
precisely the same as I had.

All this chattering grew irksome to me; and since I still felt strongly
agitated, I rose at last from table, saying that I wanted to go and get
new clothes of blue silk and stuff for him and me; adding that I meant
to walk in procession after four days at the feast of Our Lady, and
meant Cencio to carry a white lighted torch on the occasion. Accordingly
I took my leave, and had the blue cloth cut, together with a handsome
jacket of blue sarcenet and a little doublet of the same; and I had a
similar jacket and waistcoat made for Cencio.

When these things had been cut out, I went to see the Pope, who told me
to speak with Messer Ambruogio; for he had given orders that I should
execute a large piece of golden plate. So I went to find Messer
Ambruogio, who had heard the whole of the affair of the Bargello, and
had been in concert with my enemies to bring me back to Rome, and had
scolded the Bargello for not laying hands on me. The man excused himself
by saying that he could not do so in the face of the safe-conduct which
I held. Messer Ambruogio now began to talk about the Pope’s commission,
and bade me make drawings for it, saying that the business should be put
at once in train. Meanwhile the feast of Our Lady came round. Now it is
the custom for those who get a pardon upon this occasion to give
themselves up to prison; in order to avoid doing which I returned to the
Pope, and told his Holiness that I was very unwilling to go to prison,
and that I begged him to grant me the favour of a dispensation. The Pope
answered that such was the custom, and that I must follow it. Thereupon
I fell again upon my knees, and thanked him for the safe-conduct he had
given me, saying at the same time that I should go back with it to serve
my Duke in Florence, who was waiting for me so impatiently. On hearing
this, the Pope turned to one of his confidential servants and said: “Let
Benvenuto get his grace without the prison, and see that his 'moto
proprio' is made out in due form.” As soon as the document had been
drawn up, his Holiness signed it; it was then registered at the Capitol;
afterwards, upon the day appointed, I walked in procession very
honourably between two gentlemen, and so got clear at last.

Note 1. Possibly Bernardino Lilii of Todi.


FOUR days had passed when I was attacked with violent fever attended by
extreme cold; and taking to my bed, I made my mind up that I was sure to
die. I had the first doctors of Rome called in, among whom was Francesco
da Norcia, a physician of great age, and of the best repute in Rome. [1]
I told them what I believed to be the cause of my illness, and said that
I had wished to let blood, but that I had been advised against it; and
if it was not too late, I begged them to bleed me now. Maestro Francesco
answered that it would not be well for me to let blood then, but that if
I had done so before, I should have escaped without mischief; at present
they would have to treat the case with other remedies. So they began to
doctor me as energetically as they were able, while I grew daily worse
and worse so rapidly, that after eight days the physicians despaired of
my life, and said that I might be indulged in any whim I had to make me
comfortable. Maestro Francesco added: “As long as there is breath in
him, call me at all hours; for no one can divine what Nature is able to
work in a young man of this kind; moreover, if he should lose
consciousness, administer these five remedies one after the other, and
send for me, for I will come at any hour of the night; I would rather
save him than any of the cardinals in Rome.”

Every day Messer Giovanni Gaddi came to see me two or three times, and
each time he took up one or other of my handsome fowling-pieces, coats
of mail, or swords, using words like these: “That is a handsome thing,
that other is still handsomer;” and likewise with my models and other
trifles, so that at last he drove me wild with annoyance. In his company
came a certain Matio Franzesi [2] and this man also appeared to be
waiting impatiently for my death, not indeed because he would inherit
anything from me, but because he wished for what his master seemed to
have so much at heart.

Felice, my partner, was always at my side, rendering the greatest
services which it is possible for one man to give another. Nature in me
was utterly debilitated and undone; I had not strength enough to fetch
my breath back if it left me; and yet my brain remained as clear and
strong as it had been before my illness. Nevertheless, although I kept
my consciousness, a terrible old man used to come to my bedside, and
make as though he would drag me by force into a huge boat he had with
him. This made me call out to my Felice to draw near and chase that
malignant old man away. Felice, who loved me most affectionately, ran
weeping and crying: “Away with you, old traitor; you are robbing me of
all the good I have in this world.” Messer Giovanni Gaddi, who was
present, then began to say: “The poor fellow is delirious, and has only
a few hours to live.” His fellow, Mattio Franzesi, remarked: “He has
read Dante, and in the prostration of his sickness this apparition has
appeared to him” [3] then he added laughingly: “Away with you, old
rascal, and don’t bother our friend Benvenuto.” When I saw that they
were making fun of me, I turned to Messer Gaddi and said: “My dear
master, know that I am not raving, and that it is true that this old man
is really giving me annoyance; but the best that you can do for me would
be to drive that miserable Mattio from my side, who is laughing at my
affliction, afterwards if your lordship deigns to visit me again, let me
beg you to come with Messer Antonio Allegretti, or with Messer Annibal
Caro, or with some other of your accomplished friends, who are persons
of quite different intelligence and discretion from that beast.”
Thereupon Messer Giovanni told Mattio in jest to take himself out of his
sight for ever; but because Mattio went on laughing, the joke turned to
earnest, for Messer Giovanni would not look upon him again, but sent for
Messer Antonio Allegretti, Messer Ludovico, and Messer Annibal Caro. On
the arrival of these worthy men, I was greatly comforted, and talked
reasonably with them awhile, not however without frequently urging
Felice to drive the old man away. Messer Ludovico asked me what it was I
seemed to see, and how the man was shaped. While I portrayed him
accurately in words, the old man took me by the arm and dragged me
violently towards him. This made me cry out for aid, because he was
going to fling me under hatches in his hideous boat. On saying that last
word, I fell into a terrible swoon, and seemed to be sinking down into
the boat. They say that during that fainting-fit I flung myself about
and cast bad words at Messer Giovanni Gaddi, to wit, that he came to rob
me, and not from any motive of charity, and other insults of the kind,
which caused him to be much ashamed. Later on, they say I lay still like
one dead; and after waiting by me more than an hour, thinking I was
growing cold, they left me for dead. When they returned home, Mattio
Franzesi was informed, who wrote to Florence to Messer Benedetto Varchi,
my very dear friend, that they had seen me die at such and such an hour
of the night. When he heard the news, that most accomplished man and my
dear friend composed an admirable sonnet upon my supposed but not real
death, which shall be reported in its proper place.

More than three long hours passed, and yet I did not regain
consciousness. Felice having used all the remedies prescribed by Maestro
Francesco, and seeing that I did not come to, ran post-haste to the
physician’s door, and knocked so loudly that he woke him up, and made
him rise, and begged him with tears to come to the house, for he thought
that I was dead. Whereto Maestro Francesco, who was a very choleric man,
replied: “My son, of what use do you think I should be if I came? If he
is dead, I am more sorry than you are. Do you imagine that if I were to
come with my medicine I could blow breath up through his guts [4] and
bring him back to life for you?” But when he saw that the poor young
fellow was going away weeping, he called him back and gave him an oil
with which to anoint my pulses, and my heart, telling him to pinch my
little fingers and toes very tightly, and to send at once to call him if
I should revive. Felice took his way, and did as Maestro Francesco had
ordered. It was almost bright day when, thinking they would have to
abandon hope, they gave orders to have my shroud made and to wash me.
Suddenly I regained consciousness, and called out to Felice to drive
away the old man on the moment, who kept tormenting me. He wanted to
send for Maestro Francesco, but I told him not to do so, but to come
close up to me, because that old man was afraid of him and went away at
once. So Felice drew near to the bed; I touched him, and it seemed to me
that the infuriated old man withdrew; so I prayed him not to leave me
for a second.

When Maestro Francesco appeared, he said it was his dearest wish to save
my life, and that he had never in all his days seen greater force in a
young man than I had. Then he sat down to write, and prescribed for me
perfumes, lotions, unctions, plasters, and a heap of other precious
things. Meanwhile I came to life again by the means of more than twenty
leeches applied to my buttocks, but with my body bore through, bound,
and ground to powder. Many of my friends crowded in to behold the
miracle of the resuscitated dead man, and among them people of the first

In their presence I declared that the small amount of gold and money I
possessed, perhaps some eight hundred crowns, what with gold, silver,
jewels, and cash, should be given by my will to my poor sister in
Florence, called Mona Liperata; all the remainder of my property, armour
and everything besides, I left to my dearest Felice, together with fifty
golden ducats, in order that he might buy mourning. At those words
Felice flung his arms around my neck, protesting that he wanted nothing
but to have me as he wished alive with him. Then I said: “If you want me
alive, touch me as you did before, and threaten the old man, for he is
afraid of you.” At these words some of the folk were terrified, knowing
that I was not raving, but talking to the purpose and with all my wits.
Thus my wretched malady went dragging on, and I got but little better.
Maestro Francesco, that most excellent man, came four or five times a
day; Messer Giovanni Gaddi, who felt ashamed, did not visit me again. My
brother-in-law, the husband of my sister, arrived; he came from Florence
for the inheritance; but as he was a very worthy man, he rejoiced
exceedingly to have found me alive. The sight of him did me a world of
good, and he began to caress me at once, saying he had only come to take
care of me in person; and this he did for several days. Afterwards I
sent him away, having almost certain hope of my recovery. On this
occasion he left the sonnet of Messer Benedetto Varchi, which runs as
follows: 5

“Who shall, Mattio, yield our pain relief?
Who shall forbid the sad expense of tears?
Alas! ‘tis true that in his youthful years
Our friend hath flown, and left us here to grief.

“He hath gone up to heaven, who was the chief
Of men renowned in art’s immortal spheres;
Among the mighty dead he had no peers,
Nor shall earth see his like, in my belief.

O gentle sprite! if love still sway the blest,
Look down on him thou here didst love, and view
These tears that mourn my loss, not thy great good.

“There dost thou gaze on His beatitude
Who made our universe, and findest true
The form of Him thy skill for men expressed.”

Note 1. Francesco Fusconi, physician to Popes Adrian VI., Clement VII.,
and Paul III.

Note 2. Franzesi was a clever Italian poet. His burlesque Capitoli are
printed with those of Berni and others.

Note 3. 'Inferno,' iii., the verses about Charon.

Note 4. 'Io ali possa soffiare in culo.'

Note 5. This sonnet is so insipid, so untrue to Cellini’s real place in
art, so false to the far from saintly character of the man, that I would
rather have declined translating it, had I not observed it to be a good
example of that technical and conventional insincerity which was
invading Italy at this epoch. Varchi was really sorry to hear the news
of Cellini’s death; but for his genuine emotion he found spurious
vehicles of utterance. Cellini, meanwhile, had a right to prize it,
since it revealed to him what friendship was prepared to utter after his


MY sickness had been of such a very serious nature that it seemed
impossible for me to fling it off. That worthy man Maestro Francesco da
Norcia redoubled his efforts, and brought me every day fresh remedies,
trying to restore strength to my miserable unstrung frame. Yet all these
endeavours were apparently insufficient to overcome the obstinacy of my
malady, so that the physicians were in despair and at their wits’ ends
what to do. I was tormented by thirst, but had abstained from drinking
for many days according to the doctors’ orders. Felice, who thought he
had done wonders in restoring me, never left my side. That old man
ceased to give so much annoyance, yet sometimes he appeared to me in

One day Felice had gone out of doors, leaving me under the care of a
young apprentice and a servant-maid called Beatrice. I asked the
apprentice what had become of my lad Cencio, and what was the reason why
I had never seen him in attendance on me. The boy replied that Cencio
had been far more ill than I was, and that he was even at death’s door.
Felice had given them orders not to speak to me of this. On hearing the
news, I was exceedingly distressed; then I called the maid Beatrice, a
Pistojan girl, and asked her to bring me a great crystal water-cooler
which stood near, full of clear and fresh water. She ran at once, and
brought it to me full; I told her to put it to my lips, adding that if
she let me take a draught according to my heart’s content, I would give
her a new gown. This maid had stolen from me certain little things of
some importance, and in her fear of being detected, she would have been
very glad if I had died. Accordingly she allowed me twice to take as
much as I could of the water, so that in good earnest I swallowed more
than a flask full. [1] I then covered myself, and began to sweat, and
fell into a deep sleep. After I had slept about an hour, Felice came
home and asked the boy how I was getting on. He answered: “I do not
know. Beatrice brought him that cooler full of water, and he has drunk
almost the whole of it. I don’t know now whether he is alive or dead.”
They say that my poor friend was on the point of falling to the ground,
so grieved was he to hear this. Afterwards he took an ugly stick and
began to beat the serving-girl with all his might, shouting out: “Ah!
traitress, you have killed him for me then?” While Felice was cudgelling
and she screaming, I was in a dream; I thought the old man held ropes in
his hand, and while he was preparing to bind me, Felice had arrived and
struck him with an axe, so that the old man fled exclaiming: “Let me go,
and I promise not to return for a long while.” Beatrice in the meantime
had run into my bedroom shrieking loudly. This woke me up, and I called
out: “Leave her alone; perhaps, when she meant to do me harm, she did me
more good than you were able to do with all your efforts. She may indeed
have saved my life; so lend me a helping hand, for I have sweated; and
be quick about it.” Felice recovered his spirits, dried and made me
comfortable; and I, being conscious of a great improvement in my state,
began to reckon on recovery.

When Maestro Francesco appeared and saw my great improvement, and the
servant-girl in tears, and the prentice running to and fro, and Felice
laughing, all this disturbance made him think that something
extraordinary must have happened, which had been the cause of my
amendment. Just then the other doctor, Bernardino, put in his
appearance, who at the beginning of my illness had refused to bleed me.
Maestro Francesco, that most able man, exclaimed: “Oh, power of Nature!
She knows what she requires, and the physicians know nothing.” That
simpleton, Maestro Bernardino, made answer, saying: “If he had drunk
another bottle he would have been cured upon the spot.” Maestro
Francesco da Norcia, a man of age and great authority, said: “That would
have been a terrible misfortune, and would to God that it may fall on
you!” Afterwards he turned to me and asked if I could have drunk more
water. I answered: “No, because I had entirely quenched my thirst.” Then
he turned to Maestro Bernardino, and said: “Look you how Nature has
taken precisely what she wanted, neither more nor less. In like manner
she was asking for what she wanted when the poor young man begged you to
bleed him. If you knew that his recovery depended upon his drinking two
flasks of water, why did you not say so before? You might then have
boasted of his cure.” At these words the wretched quack sulkily
departed, and never showed his face again.

Maestro Francesco then gave orders that I should be removed from my room
and carried to one of the hills there are in Rome. Cardinal Cornaro,
when he heard of my improvement, had me transported to a place of his on
Monte Cavallo. The very evening I was taken with great precautions in a
chair, well wrapped up and protected from the cold. No sooner had I
reached the place than I began to vomit, during which there came from my
stomach a hairy worm about a quarter of a cubit in length: the hairs
were long, and the worm was very ugly, speckled of divers colours,
green, black, and red. They kept and showed it to the doctor, who said
he had never seen anything of the sort before, and afterwards remarked
to Felice: “Now take care of your Benvenuto, for he is cured. Do not
permit him any irregularities; for though he has escaped this time,
another disorder now would be the death of him. You see his malady has
been so grave, that if we had brought him the extreme unction, we might
not have been in time. Now I know that with a little patience and time
he will live to execute more of his fine works.” Then he turned to me
and said: “My Benvenuto, be prudent, commit no excesses, and when you
are quite recovered, I beg you to make me a Madonna with your own hand,
and I will always pay my devotions to it for your sake.” This I promised
to do, and then asked him whether it would be safe for me to travel so
far as to Florence. He advised me to wait till I was stronger, and till
we could observe how Nature worked in me.

Note 1. 'Un fiasco,' holding more than a quart.


WHEN eight days had come and gone, my amendment was so slight that life
itself became almost a burden to me; indeed I had been more than fifty
days in that great suffering. So I made my mind up, and prepared to
travel. My dear Felice and I went toward Florence in a pair of baskets;
[1] and as I had not written, when I reached my sister’s house, she wept
and laughed over me all in one breath. That day many friends came to see
me; among others Pier Landi, who was the best and dearest friend I ever
had. Next day there came a certain Niccolò da Monte Aguto, who was also
a very great friend of mine. Now he had heard the Duke say: “Benvenuto
would have done much better to die, because he is come to put his head
into a noose, and I will never pardon him.” Accordingly when Niccolò
arrived, he said to me in desperation: “Alas! my dear Benvenuto, what
have you come to do here? Did you not know what you have done to
displease the Duke? I have heard him swear that you were thrusting your
head into a halter.” Then I replied: “Niccolò, remind his Excellency
that Pope Clement wanted to do as much to me before, and quite as
unjustly; tell him to keep his eye on me, and give me time to recover;
then I will show his Excellency that I have been the most faithful
servant he will ever have in all his life; and forasmuch as some enemy
must have served me this bad turn through envy, let him wait till I get
well; for I shall then be able to give such an account of myself as will
make him marvel.”

This bad turn had been done me by Giorgetto Vassellario of Arezzo, [2]
the painter; perchance in recompense for many benefits conferred on him.
I had harboured him in Rome and provided for his costs, while he had
turned my whole house upside down; for the man was subject to a species
of dry scab, which he was always in the habit of scratching with his
hands. It happened, then, that sleeping in the same bed as an excellent
workman, named Manno, who was in my service, when he meant to scratch
himself, he tore the skin from one of Manno’s legs with his filthy
claws, the nails of which he never used to cut. The said Manno left my
service, and was resolutely bent on killing him. I made the quarrel up,
and afterwards got Giorgio into Cardinal de’ Medici’s household, and
continually helped him. For these deserts, then, he told Duke Alessandro
that I had abused his Excellency, and had bragged I meant to be the
first to leap upon the walls of Florence with his foes the exiles. These
words, as I afterwards learned, had been put into Vasari’s lips by that
excellent fellow, [3] Ottaviano de’ Medici, who wanted to revenge
himself for the Duke’s irritation against him, on account of the coinage
and my departure from Florence. I, being innocent of the crime falsely
ascribed to me, felt no fear whatever. Meanwhile that able physician
Francesco da Monte Varchi attended to my cure with great skill. He had
been brought by my very dear friend Luca Martini, who passed the larger
portion of the day with me. 4

Note 1. 'Un paio di ceste,' a kind of litter, here described in the
plural, because two of them were perhaps put together. I have thought it
best to translate the phrase literally. From a letter of Varchi to
Bembo, we learn that Cellini reached Florence, November 9, 1535.

Note 2. This is the famous Giorgio Vasari, a bad painter and worse
architect, but dear to all lovers of the arts for his anecdotic work
upon Italian artists.

Note 3. 'Galantuomo,' used ironically,

Note 4. Luca Martini was a member of the best literary society in his
days, and the author of some famous burlesque pieces.


DURING this while I had sent my devoted comrade Felice back to Rome, to
look after our business there. When I could raise my head a little from
the bolster, which was at the end of fifteen days, although I was unable
to walk upon my feet, I had myself carried to the palace of the Medici,
and placed upon the little upper terrace. There they seated me to wait
until the Duke went by. Many of my friends at court came up to greet me,
and expressed surprise that I had undergone the inconvenience of being
carried in that way, while so shattered by illness; they said that I
ought to have waited till I was well, and then to have visited the Duke.
A crowd of them collected, all looking at me as a sort of miracle; not
merely because they had heard that I was dead, but far more because I
had the look of a dead man. Then publicly, before them all, I said how
some wicked scoundrel had told my lord the Duke that I had bragged I
meant to be the first to scale his Excellency’s walls, and also that I
had abused him personally; wherefore I had not the heart to live or die
till I had purged myself of that infamy, and found out who the audacious
rascal was who had uttered such calumnies against me. At these words a
large number of those gentlemen came round, expressing great compassion
for me; one said one thing, one another, and I told them I would never
go thence before I knew who had accused me. At these words Maestro
Agostino, the Duke’s tailor, made his way through all those gentlemen,
and said: “If that is all you want to know, you shall know, it at this
very moment.”

Giorgio the painter, whom I have mentioned, happened just then to pass,
and Maestro Agostino exclaimed: “There is the man who accused you; now
you know yourself if it be true or not.” As fiercely as I could, not
being able to leave my seat, I asked Giorgio if it was true that he had
accused me. He denied that it was so, and that he had ever said anything
of the sort. Maestro Agostino retorted: “You gallows-bird! don’t you
know that I know it for most certain?” Giorgio made off as quickly as he
could, repeating that he had not accused me. Then, after a short while,
the Duke came by; whereupon I had myself raised up before his
Excellency, and he halted. I told him that I had come therein that way
solely in order to clear my character. The Duke gazed at me, and
marvelled I was still alive; afterwards he bade me take heed to be an
honest man and regain my health.

When I reached home, Niccolò da Monte Aguto came to visit me, and told
me that I had escaped one of the most dreadful perils in the world,
quite contrary to all his expectations, for he had seen my ruin written
with indelible ink; now I must make haste to get well, and afterwards
take French leave, because my jeopardy came from a quarter and a man who
was able to destroy me. He then said, “Beware,” and added: “What
displeasure have you given to that rascal Ottaviano de’ Medici?” I
answered that I had done nothing to displease him, but that he had
injured me; and told him all the affair about the Mint. He repeated:
“Get hence as quickly as you can, and be of good courage, for you will
see your vengeance executed sooner than you expect.” I the best
attention to my health, gave Pietro Pagolo advice about stamping the
coins, and then went off upon my way to Rome without saying a word to
the Duke or anybody else.


WHEN I reached Rome, and had enjoyed the company of my friends awhile, I
began the Duke’s medal. In a few days I finished the head in steel, and
it was the finest work of the kind which I had ever produced. At least
once every day there came to visit me a sort of blockhead named Messer
Francesco Soderini. [1] When he saw what I was doing, he used frequently
to exclaim: “Barbarous wretch! you want them to immortalise that
ferocious tyrant! You have never made anything so exquisite, which
proves you our inveterate foe and their devoted friend; and yet the Pope
and he have had it twice in mind to hang you without any fault of yours.
That was the Father and the Son; now beware of the Holy Ghost.” It was
firmly believed that Duke Alessandro was the son of Pope Clement. Messer
Francesco used also to say and swear by all his saints that, if he
could, he would have robbed me of the dies for that medal. I responded
that he had done well to tell me so, and that I would take such care of
them that he should never see them more.

I now sent to Florence to request Lorenzino that he would send me the
reverse of the medal. Niccolò da Monte Aguto, to whom I had written,
wrote back, saying that he had spoken to that mad melancholy philosopher
Lorenzino for it; he had replied that he was thinking night and day of
nothing else, and that he would finish it as soon as he was able.
Nevertheless, I was not to set my hopes upon his reverse, but I had
better invent one out of my own head, and when I had finished it, I
might bring it without hesitation to the Duke, for this would be to my

I composed the design of a reverse which seemed to me appropriate, and
pressed the work forward to my best ability. Not being, however, yet
recovered from that terrible illness, I gave myself frequent relaxation
by going out on fowling expeditions with my friend Felice. This man had
no skill in my art; but since we were perpetually day and night
together, everybody thought he was a first-rate craftsman. This being
so, as he was a fellow of much humour, we used often to laugh together
about the great credit he had gained. His name was Felice Guadagni
(Gain), which made him say in jest: “I should be called Felice
Gain-little if you had not enabled me to acquire such credit that I can
call myself Gain-much.” I replied that there are two ways of gaining:
the first is that by which one gains for one’s self, the second that by
which one gains for others; so I praised him much more for the second
than the first, since he had gained for me my life.

We often held such conversations; but I remember one in particular on
the day of Epiphany, when we were together near La Magliana. It was
close upon nightfall, and during the day I had shot a good number of
ducks and geese; then, as I had almost made my mind up to shoot no more
that time, we were returning briskly toward Rome. Calling to my dog by
his name, Barucco, and not seeing him in front of me, I turned round and
noticed that the well-trained animal was pointing at some geese which
had settled in a ditch. I therefore dismounted at once, got my
fowling-piece ready, and at a very long range brought two of them down
with a single ball. I never used to shoot with more than one ball, and
was usually able to hit my mark at two hundred cubits, which cannot be
done by other ways of loading. Of the two geese, one was almost dead,
and the other, though badly wounded, was flying lamely. My dog retrieved
the one and brought it to me; but noticing that the other was diving
down into the ditch, I sprang forward to catch it. Trusting to my boots,
which came high up the leg, I put one foot forward; it sank in the oozy
ground; and so, although I got the goose, the boot of my right leg was
full of water. I lifted my foot and let the water run out; then, when I
had mounted, we made haste for Rome. The cold, however, was very great,
and I felt my leg freeze, so that I said to Felice: “We must do
something to help this leg, for I don’t know how to bear it longer.” The
good Felice, without a word, leapt from his horse, and gathering some
thistles and bits of stick, began to build a fire. I meanwhile was
waiting, and put my hands among the breast-feathers of the geese, and
felt them very warm. So I told him not to make the fire, but filled my
boot with the feathers of the goose, and was immediately so much
comforted that I regained vitality.

Note 1. He had been banished in 1530 as a foe to the Medicean house.


WE mounted, and rode rapidly toward Rome; and when we had reached a
certain gently rising ground-night had already fallen-looking in the
direction of Florence, both with one breath exclaimed in the utmost
astonishment: “O God of heaven! what is that great thing one sees there
over Florence?” It resembled a huge beam of fire, which sparkled and
gave out extraordinary lustre.

I said to Felice: “Assuredly we shall hear to-morrow that something of
vast importance has happened in Florence.” As we rode into Rome, the
darkness was extreme; and when we came near the Banchi and our own
house, my little horse was going in an amble at a furious speed. Now
that day they had thrown a heap of plaster and broken tiles in the
middle of the road, which neither my horse nor myself perceived. In his
fiery pace the beast ran up it; but on coming down upon the other side
he turned a complete somersault. He had his head between his legs, and
it was only through the power of God himself that I escaped unhurt. The
noise we made brought the neighbours out with lights; but I had already
jumped to my feet; and so, without remounting, I ran home, laughing to
have come unhurt out of an accident enough to break my neck.

On entering the house, I found some friends of mine there, to whom,
while we were supping together, I related the adventures of the day’s
chase and the diabolical apparition of the fiery beam which we had seen.
They exclaimed: “What shall we hear to-morrow which this portent has
announced?” I answered: “Some revolution must certainly have occurred in
Florence.” So we supped agreeably; and late the next day there came the
news to Rome of Duke Alessandro’s death. [1] Upon this many of my
acquaintances came to me and said: “You were right in conjecturing that
something of great importance had happened at Florence.” Just then
Francesco Soderini appeared jogging along upon a wretched mule he had,
and laughing all the way like a madman. He said to me: “This is the
reverse of that vile tyrant’s medal which your Lorenzino de’ Medici
promised you.” Then he added: “You wanted to immortalise the dukes for
us; but we mean to have no more dukes;” and thereupon he jeered me, as
though I had been the captain of the factions which make dukes.
Meanwhile a certain Baccio Bettini, [2] who had an ugly big head like a
bushel, came up and began to banter me in the same way about dukes,
calling out: “We have dis-duked them, and won’t have any more of them;
and you were for making them immortal for us!” with many other tiresome
quips of the same kind. I lost my patience at this nonsense, and said to
them: “You blockheads! I am a poor goldsmith, who serve whoever pays me;
and you are jeering me as though I were a party-leader. However, this
shall not make me cast in your teeth the insatiable greediness, idiotcy,
and good-for-nothingness of your predecessors. But this one answer I
will make to all your silly railleries; that before two or three days at
the longest have passed by, you will have another duke, much worse
perhaps than he who now has left you.” [3]

The following day Bettini came to my shop and said: “There is no need to
spend money in couriers, for you know things before they happen. What
spirit tells them to you?” Then he informed me that Cosimo de’ Medici,
the son of Signor Giovanni, was made Duke; but that certain conditions
had been imposed at his election, which would hold him back from kicking
up his heels at his own pleasure. I now had my opportunity for laughing
at them, and saying: “Those men of Florence have set a young man upon a
mettlesome horse; next they have buckled spurs upon his heels, and put
the bridle freely in his hands, and turned him out upon a magnificent
field, full of flowers and fruits and all delightful things; next they
have bidden him not to cross certain indicated limits: now tell me, you,
who there is that can hold him back, whenever he has but the mind to
cross them? Laws cannot be imposed on him who is the master of the law.”
So they left me alone, and gave me no further annoyance. [4]

Note 1. Alessandro was murdered by his cousin Lorenzino at Florence on
the 5th of January 1537.

Note 2. Bettini was an intimate friend of Buonarroti and a considerable
patron of the arts.

Note 3. This exchange of ironical compliments testifies to Cellini’s
strong Medicean leanings, and also to the sagacity with which he judged
the political situation.

Note 4. Cellini only spoke the truth on this occasion; for Cosimo soon
kicked down the ladder which had lifted him to sovereignty, and showed
himself the absolute master of Florence. Cosimo was elected Duke upon
the 9th of January 1537.


I NOW began to attend to my shop, and did some business, not however of
much moment, because I had still to think about my health, which was not
yet established after that grave illness I had undergone. About this
time the Emperor returned victorious from his expedition against Tunis,
and the Pope sent for me to take my advice concerning the present of
honour it was fit to give him. [1] I answered that it seemed to me most
appropriate to present his Imperial Majesty with a golden crucifix, for
which I had almost finished an ornament quite to the purpose, and which
would confer the highest honour upon his Holiness and me. I had already
made three little figures of gold in the round, about a palm high; they
were those which I had begun for the chalice of Pope Clement,
representing Faith, Hope, and Charity. To these I added in wax what was
wanting for the basement of the cross. I carried the whole to the Pope,
with the Christ in wax, and many other exquisite decorations which gave
him complete satisfaction. Before I took leave of his Holiness, we had
agreed on every detail, and calculated the price of the work.

This was one evening four hours after nightfall, and the Pope had
ordered Messer Latino Juvenale to see that I had money paid to me next
morning. This Messer Latino, who had a pretty big dash of the fool in
his composition, bethought him of furnishing the Pope with a new idea,
which was, however, wholly of his own invention. So he altered
everything which had been arranged; and next morning, when I went for
the money, he said with his usual brutal arrogance: “It is our part to
invent, and yours to execute; before I left the Pope last night we
thought of something far superior.” To these first words I answered,
without allowing him to proceed farther: “Neither you nor the Pope can
think of anything better than a piece of which Christ plays a part; so
you may go on with your courtier’s nonsense till you have no more to

Without uttering one word, he left me in a rage, and tried to get the
work given to another goldsmith. The Pope, however, refused, and sent
for me at once, and told me I had spoken well, but that they wanted to
make use of a Book of Hours of Our Lady, which was marvellously
illuminated, and had cost the Cardinal de’ Medici more than two thousand
crowns. They thought that this would be an appropriate present to the
Empress, and that for the Emperor they would afterwards make what I had
suggested, which was indeed a present worthy of him; but now there was
no time to lose, since the Emperor was expected in Rome in about a month
and a half. He wanted the book to be enclosed in a case of massive gold,
richly worked, and adorned with jewels valued at about six thousand
crowns. Accordingly, when the jewels and the gold were given me, I began
the work, and driving it briskly forward, in a few days brought it to
such beauty that the Pope was astonished, and showed me the most
distinguished signs of favour, conceding at the same time that that
beast Juvenale should have nothing more to do with me.

I had nearly brought my work to its completion when the Emperor arrived,
and numerous triumphal arches of great magnificence were erected in his
honour. He entered Rome with extraordinary pomp, the description of
which I leave to others, since I mean to treat of those things only
which concern myself. [2] Immediately after his arrival, he gave the
Pope a diamond which he had bought for twelve thousand crowns. This
diamond the Pope committed to my care, ordering me to make a ring to the
measure of his holiness’ finger; but first he wished me to bring the
book in the state to which I had advanced it. I took it accordingly, and
he was highly pleased with it; then he asked my advice concerning the
apology which could be reasonably made to the Emperor for the unfinished
condition of my work. I said that my indisposition would furnish a sound
excuse, since his Majesty, seeing how thin and pale I was, would very
readily believe and accept it. To this the Pope replied that he approved
of the suggestion, but that I should add on the part of his Holiness,
when I presented the book to the Emperor, that I made him the present of
myself. Then he told me in detail how I had to behave, and the words I
had to say. These words I repeated to the Pope, asking him if he wished
me to deliver them in that way. He replied: “You would acquit yourself
to admiration if you had the courage to address the Emperor as you are
addressing me.” Then I said that I had the courage to speak with far
greater ease and freedom to the Emperor, seeing that the Emperor was
clothed as I was, and that I should seem to be speaking to a man formed
like myself; this was not the case when I addressed his Holiness, in
whom I beheld a far superior deity, both by reason of his ecclesiastical
adornments, which shed a certain aureole about him, and at the same time
because of his holiness’ dignity of venerable age; all these things
inspired in me more awe than the Imperial Majesty. To these words the
Pope responded: “Go, my Benvenuto; you are a man of ability; do us
honour, and it will be well for you.”

Note 1. Cellini returns to the year 1535, when Charles V. arrived in
November from Tunis.

Note 2. The entry into Rome took place April 6, 1536.


THE POPE ordered out two Turkish horses, which had belonged to Pope
Clement, and were the most beautiful that ever came to Christendom.
Messer Durante, [1] his chamberlain, was bidden to bring them through
the lower galleries of the palace, and there to give them to the
Emperor, repeating certain words which his Holiness dictated to him. We
both went down together, and when we reached the presence of the
Emperor, the horses made their entrance through those halls with so much
spirit and such a noble carriage that the Emperor and every one were
struck with wonder. Thereupon, Messer Durante advanced in so graceless a
manner, and delivered his speech with so much of Brescian lingo,
mumbling his words over in his mouth, that one never saw or heard
anything worse; indeed the Emperor could not refrain from smiling at
him. I meanwhile had already uncovered my piece; and observing that the
Emperor had turned his eyes towards me with a very gracious look, I
advanced at once and said: “Sacred Majesty, our most holy Father, Pope
Paolo, sends this book of the Virgin as a present to your Majesty, the
which is written in a fair clerk’s hand, and illuminated by the greatest
master who ever professed that art; and this rich cover of gold and
jewels is unfinished, as you here behold it, by reason of my illness:
wherefore his Holiness, together with the book, presents me also, and
attaches me to your Majesty in order that I may complete the work; nor
this alone, but everything which you may have it in your mind to execute
so long as life is left me, will I perform at your service.” Thereto the
Emperor responded: “The book is acceptable to me, and so are you; but I
desire you to complete it for me in Rome; when it is finished, and you
are restored to health, bring it me and come to see me.” Afterwards, in
course of conversation, he called me by my name, which made me wonder,
because no words had been dropped in which my name occurred; and he said
that he had seen that fastening of Pope Clement’s cope, on which I had
wrought so many wonderful figures. We continued talking in this way a
whole half hour, touching on divers topics artistic and agreeable; then,
since it seemed to me that I had acquitted myself with more honour than
I had expected, I took the occasion of a slight lull in the conversation
to make my bow and to retire. The Emperor was heard to say: “Let five
hundred golden crowns be given at once to Benvenuto.” The person who
brought them up asked who the Pope’s man was who had spoken to the
Emperor. Messer Durante came forward and robbed me of my five hundred
crowns. I complained to the Pope, who told me not to be uneasy, for he
knew how everything had happened, and how well I had conducted myself in
addressing the Emperor, and of the money I should certainly obtain my

Note 1. Messer Durante Duranti, Prefect of the Camera under Paul III,
who gave him the hat in 1544, and the Bishopric of Brescia afterwards.


WHEN I returned to my shop, I set my hand with diligence to finishing
the diamond ring, concerning which the four first jewellers of Rome were
sent to consult with me. This was because the Pope had been informed
that the diamond had been set by the first jeweller of the world in
Venice; he was called Maestro Miliano Targhetta; and the diamond being
somewhat thin, the job of setting it was too difficult to be attempted
without great deliberation. I was well pleased to receive these four
jewellers, among whom was a man of Milan called Gaio. He was the most
presumptuous donkey in the world, the one who knew least and who thought
he knew most; the others were very modest and able craftsmen. In the
presence of us all this Gaio began to talk, and said: “Miliano’s foil
should be preserved, and to do that, Benvenuto, you shall doff your cap;
[1] for just as giving diamonds a tint is the most delicate and
difficult thing in the jeweller’s art, so is Miliano the greatest
jeweller that ever lived, and this is the most difficult diamond to
tint.” I replied that it was all the greater glory for me to compete
with so able a master in such an excellent profession. Afterwards I
turned to the other jewellers and said: “Look here! I am keeping
Miliano’s foil, and I will see whether I can improve on it with some of
my own manufacture; if not, we will tint it with the same you see here.”
That ass Gaio exclaimed that if I made a foil like that he would gladly
doff his cap to it. To which I replied: “Supposing then I make it
better, it will deserve two bows.” “Certainly so,” said he; and I began
to compose my foils.

I took the very greatest pains in mixing the tints, the method of doing
which I will explain in the proper place. [2] It is certain that the
diamond in question offered more difficulties than any others which
before or afterwards have come into my hands, and Miliano’s foil was
made with true artistic skill. However, that did not dismay me; but
having sharpened my wits up, I succeeded not only in making something
quite as good, but in exceeding it by far. Then, when I saw that I had
surpassed him, I went about to surpass myself, and produced a foil by
new processes which was a long way better than what I had previously
made. Thereupon I sent for the jewellers; and first I tinted the diamond
with Miliano’s foil: then I cleaned it well and tinted it afresh with my
own. When I showed it to the jewellers, one of the best among them, who
was called Raffael del Moro, took the diamond in his hand and said to
Gaio: “Benvenuto has outdone the foil of Miliano.” Gaio, unwilling to
believe it, took the diamond and said: “Benvenuto, this diamond is worth
two thousand ducats more than with the foil of Miliano.” I rejoined:
“Now that I have surpassed Miliano, let us see if I can surpass myself.”
Then I begged them to wait for me a while, went up into a little
cabinet, and having tinted the diamond anew unseen by them, returned and
showed it to the jewellers. Gaio broke out at once: “This is the most
marvellous thing that I have ever seen in the course of my whole
lifetime. The stone is worth upwards of eighteen thousand crowns,
whereas we valued it at barely twelve thousand.” The others jewellers
turned to him and said: “Benvenuto is the glory of our art, and it is
only due that we should doff our caps to him and to his foils.” Then
Gaio said: “I shall go and tell the Pope, and I mean to procure for him
one thousand golden crowns for the setting of this diamond.” Accordingly
he hurried to the Pope and told him the whole story; whereupon his
Holiness sent three times on that day to see if the ring was finished.

At twenty-three o’clock I took the ring to the palace; and since the
doors were always open to me, I lifted the curtain gently, and saw the
Pope in private audience with the Marchese del Guasto. [3] The Marquis
must have been pressing something on the Pope which he was unwilling to
perform; for I heard him say: “I tell you, no; it is my business to
remain neutral, and nothing else.” I was retiring as quickly as I could,
when the Pope himself called me back; so I entered the room, and
presented the diamond ring, upon which he drew me aside, and the Marquis
retired to a distance. While looking at the diamond, the Pope whispered
to me: “Benvenuto, begin some conversation with me on a subject which
shall seem important, and do not stop talking so long as the Marquis
remains in this room.” Then he took to walking up and down, and the
occasion making for my advantage, I was very glad to discourse with him
upon the methods I had used to tint the stone. The Marquis remained
standing apart, leaning against a piece of tapestry; and now he balanced
himself about on one foot, now on the other. The subject I had chosen to
discourse upon was of such importance, if fully treated, that I could
have talked about it at least three hours. The Pope was entertained to
such a degree that he forgot the annoyance of the Marquis standing
there. I seasoned what I had to say with that part of natural philosophy
which belongs to our profession; and so having spoken for near upon an
hour, the Marquis grew tired of waiting, and went off fuming. Then the
Pope bestowed on me the most familiar caresses which can be imagined,
and exclaimed: “Have patience, my dear Benvenuto, for I will give you a
better reward for your virtues than the thousand crowns which Gaio tells
me your work is worth.”

On this I took my leave; and the Pope praised me in the presence of his
household, among whom was the fellow Latino Juvenale, whom I have
previously mentioned. This man, having become my enemy, assiduously
strove to do me hurt; and noticing that the Pope talked of me with so
much affection and warmth, he put in his word: “There is no doubt at all
that Benvenuto is a person of very remarkable genius; but while every
one is naturally bound to feel more goodwill for his own countrymen than
for others, still one ought to consider maturely what language it is
right and proper to use when speaking of a Pope. He has had the audacity
to say that Pope Clement indeed was the handsomest sovereign that ever
reigned, and no less gifted; only that luck was always against him: and
he says that your Holiness is quite the opposite; that the tiara seems
to weep for rage upon your head; that you look like a truss of straw
with clothes on, and that there is nothing in you except good luck.”
These words, reported by a man who knew most excellently how to say
them, had such force that they gained credit with the Pope. Far from
having uttered them, such things had never come into my head. If the
Pope could have done so without losing credit, he would certainly have
taken fierce revenge upon me; but being a man of great tact and talent,
he made a show of turning it off with a laugh. Nevertheless he harboured
in his heart a deep vindictive feeling against me, of which I was not
slow to be aware, since I had no longer the same easy access to his
apartments as formerly, but found the greatest difficulty in procuring
audience. As I had now for many years been familiar with the manners of
the Roman court, I conceived that some one had done me a bad turn; and
on making dexterous inquiries, I was told the whole, but not the name of
my calumniator. I could not imagine who the man was; had I but found him
out, my vengeance would not have been measured by troy weight. 4

Note 1. In the 'Oreficeria' Cellini gives an account of how these foils
were made and applied. They were composed of paste, and coloured so as
to enhance the effect of precious stones, particularly diamonds.

Note 2. 'Oreficeria,' cap. i.

Note 3. Alfonson d’Avalos, successor and heir to the famous Ferdinando
d’Avalos, Marquis of Pescara. He acted for many years as Spanish Viceroy
of Milan.

Note 4. 'Io ne arei fatte vendette a misura di carbone.'


I WENT on working at my book, and when I had finished it I took it to
the Pope, who was in good truth unable to refrain from commending it
greatly. I begged him to send me with it to the Emperor, as he had
promised. He replied that he would do what he thought fit, and that I
had performed my part of the business. So he gave orders that I should
be well paid. These two pieces of work, on which I had spent upwards of
two months, brought me in five hundred crowns: for the diamond I was
paid one hundred and fifty crowns and no more; the rest was given me for
the cover of the book, which, however, was worth more than a thousand,
being enriched with multitudes of figures, arabesques, enamellings, and
jewels. I took what I could get and made my mind up to leave Rome
without permission. The Pope meanwhile sent my book to the Emperor by
the hand of his grandson Signor Sforza. [1] Upon accepting it, the
Emperor expressed great satisfaction, and immediately asked for me.
Young Signor Sforza, who had received his instructions, said that I had
been prevented by illness from coming. All this was reported to me.

My preparations for the journey into France were made; and I wished to
go alone, but was unable on account of a lad in my service called
Ascanio. He was of very tender age, and the most admirable servant in
the world. When I took him he had left a former master, named Francesco,
a Spaniard and a goldsmith. I did not much like to take him, lest I
should get into a quarrel with the Spaniard, and said to Ascanio: “I do
not want to have you, for fear of offending your master.” He contrived
that his master should write me a note informing me that I was free to
take him. So he had been with me some months; and since he came to us
both thin and pale of face, we called him “the little old man;” indeed I
almost thought he was one, partly because he was so good a servant, and
partly because he was so clever that it seemed unlikely he should have
such talent at thirteen years, which he affirmed his age to be. Now to
go back to the point from which I started, he improved in person during
those few months, and gaining in flesh, became the handsomest youth in
Rome. Being the excellent servant which I have described, and showing
marvellous aptitude for our art, I felt a warm and fatherly affection
for him, and kept him clothed as if he had been my own son. When the boy
perceived the improvement he had made, he esteemed it a good piece of
luck that he had come into my hands; and he used frequently to go and
thank his former master, who had been the cause of his prosperity. Now
this man had a handsome young woman to wife, who said to him: “Surgetto”
(that was what they called him when he lived with them), “what have you
been doing to become so handsome?” Ascanio answered: “Madonna Francesca,
it is my master who has made me so handsome, and far more good to boot.”
In her petty spiteful way she took it very ill that Ascanio should speak
so; and having no reputation for chastity, she contrived to caress the
lad more perhaps than was quite seemly, which made me notice that he
began to visit her more frequently than his wont had been.

One day Ascanio took to beating one of our little shopboys, who, when I
came home from out of doors, complained to me with tears that Ascanio
had knocked him about without any cause. Hearing this, I said to
Ascanio: “With cause or without cause, see you never strike any one of
my family, or else I’ll make you feel how I can strike myself.” He
bandied words with me, which made me jump on him and give him the
severest drubbing with both fists and feet that he had ever felt. As
soon as he escaped my clutches, he ran away without cape or cap, and for
two days I did not know where he was, and took no care to find him.
After that time a Spanish gentleman, called Don Diego, came to speak to
me. He was the most generous man in the world. I had made, and was
making, some things for him, which had brought us well acquainted. He
told me that Ascanio had gone back to his old master, and asked me, if I
thought it proper, to send him the cape and cap which I had given him.
Thereupon I said that Francesco had behaved badly, and like a low-bred
fellow; for if he had told me, when Ascanio first came back to him, that
he was in his house, I should very willingly have given him leave; but
now that he had kept him two days without informing me, I was resolved
he should not have him; and let him take care that I do not set eyes
upon the lad in his house. This message was reported by Don Diego, but
it only made Francesco laugh. The next morning I saw Ascanio working at
some trifles in wire at his master’s side. As I was passing he bowed to
me, and his master almost laughed me in the face. He sent again to ask
through Don Diego whether I would not give Ascanio back the clothes he
had received from me; but if not, he did not mind, and Ascanio should
not want for clothes. When I heard this, I turned to Don Diego and said:
“Don Diego, sir, in all your dealings you are the most liberal and
worthy man I ever knew, but that Francesco is quite the opposite of you;
he is nothing better than a worthless and dishonoured renegade. Tell him
from me that if he does not bring Ascanio here himself to my shop before
the bell for vespers, I will assuredly kill him; and tell Ascanio that
if he does not quit that house at the hour appointed for his master, I
will treat him much in the same way.” Don Diego made no answer, but went
and inspired such terror in Francesco that he knew not what to do with
himself. Ascanio meanwhile had gone to find his father, who had come to
Rome from Tagliacozzo, his birthplace; and this man also, when he heard
about the row, advised Francesco to bring Ascanio back to me. Francesco
said to Ascanio: “Go on your own account, and your father shall go with
you.” Don Diego put in: “Francesco, I foresee that something very
serious will happen; you know better than I do what a man Benvenuto is;
take the lad back courageously, and I will come with you.” I had
prepared myself, and was pacing up and down the shop waiting for the
bell to vespers; my mind was made up to do one of the bloodiest deeds
which I had ever attempted in my life. Just then arrived Don Diego,
Francesco, Ascanio, and his father, whom I did not know. When Ascanio
entered, I gazed at the whole company with eyes of rage, and Francesco,
pale as death, began as follows: “See here, I have brought back Ascanio,
whom I kept with me, not thinking that I should offend you.” Ascanio
added humbly: “Master, pardon me; I am at your disposal here, to do
whatever you shall order.” Then I said: “Have you come to work out the
time you promised me?” He answered yes, and that he meant never to leave
me. Then I turned and told the shopboy he had beaten to hand him the
bundle of clothes, and said to him: “Here are all the clothes I gave
you; take with them your discharge, and go where you like.” Don Diego
stood astonished at this, which was quite the contrary of what he had
expected; while Ascanio with his father besought me to pardon and take
him back. On my asking who it was who spoke for him, he said it was his
father; to whom, after many entreaties, I replied: “Because you are his
father, for your sake I will take him back.”

Note 1. Sforza Sforza, son of Bosio, Count of Santa Fiore, and of
Costanza Farnese, the Pope’s natural daughter. He was a youth of sixteen
at this epoch.


I HAD formed the resolution, as I said a short while back, to go toward
France; partly because I saw that the Pope did not hold me in the same
esteem as formerly, my faithful service having been besmirched by lying
tongues; and also because I feared lest those who had the power might
play me some worse trick. So I was determined to seek better fortune in
a foreign land, and wished to leave Rome without company or license. On
the eve of my projected departure, I told my faithful friend Felice to
make free use of all my effects during my absence; and in the case of my
not returning; left him everything I possessed. Now there was a Perugian
workman in my employ, who had helped me on those commissions from the
Pope; and after paying his wages, I told him he must leave my service.
He begged me in reply to let him go with me, and said he would come at
his own charges; if I stopped to work for the King of France, it would
certainly be better for me to have Italians by me, and in particular
such persons as I knew to be capable of giving me assistance. His
entreaties and arguments persuaded me to take him on the journey in the
manner he proposed. Ascanio, who was present at this debate, said, half
in tears: “When you took me back, I said I wished to remain with you my
lifetime, and so I have it in my mind to do.” I told him that nothing in
the world would make me consent; but when I saw that the poor lad was
preparing to follow on foot, I engaged a horse for him too, put a small
valise upon the crupper, and loaded myself with far more useless baggage
than I should otherwise have taken. 1

From home I travelled to Florence, from Florence to Bologna, from
Bologna to Venice, and from Venice to Padua. There my dear friend
Albertaccio del Bene made me leave the inn for his house; and next day I
went to kiss the hand of Messer Pietro Bembo, who was not yet a
Cardinal. [2] He received me with marks of the warmest affection which
could be bestowed on any man; then turning to Albertaccio, he said: “I
want Benvenuto to stay here, with all his followers, even though they be
a hundred men; make then your mind up, if you want Benvenuto also, to
stay here with me, for I do not mean elsewise to let you have him.”
Accordingly I spent a very pleasant visit at the house of that most
accomplished gentleman. He had a room prepared for me which would have
been too grand for a cardinal, and always insisted on my taking my meals
beside him. Later on, he began to hint in very modest terms that he
should greatly like me to take his portrait. I, who desired nothing in
the world more, prepared some snow-white plaster in a little box, and
set to work at once. The first day I spent two hours on end at my
modelling, and blocked out the fine head of that eminent man with so
much grace of manner that his lordship was fairly astounded. Now, though
he was a man of profound erudition and without a rival in poetry, he
understood nothing at all about my art; this made him think that I had
finished when I had hardly begun, so that I could not make him
comprehend what a long time it took to execute a thing of that sort
thoroughly. At last I resolved to do it as well as I was able, and to
spend the requisite time upon it; but since he wore his beard short
after the Venetian fashion, I had great trouble in modelling a head to
my own satisfaction. However, I finished it, and judged it about the
finest specimen I had produced in all the points pertaining to my art.
Great was the astonishment of Messer Pietro, who conceived that I should
have completed the waxen model in two hours and the steel in ten, when
he found that I employed two hundred on the wax, and then was begging
for leave to pursue my journey toward France. This threw him into much
concern, and he implored me at least to design the reverse for his
medal, which was to be a Pegasus encircled with a wreath of myrtle. I
performed my task in the space of some three hours, and gave it a fine
air of elegance. He was exceedingly delighted, and said: “This horse
seems to me ten times more difficult to do than the little portrait on
which you have bestowed so much pains. I cannot understand what made it
such a labour.” All the same, he kept entreating me to execute the piece
in steel, exclaiming: “For Heaven’s sake, do it; I know that, if you
choose, you will get it quickly finished.” I told him that I was not
willing to make it there, but promised without fail to take it in hand
wherever I might stop to work.

While this debate was being carried on I went to bargain for three
horses which I wanted on my travels; and he took care that a secret
watch should be kept over my proceedings, for he had vast authority in
Padua; wherefore, when I proposed to pay for the horses, which were to
cost five hundred ducats, their owner answered: “Illustrious artist, I
make you a present of the three horses.” I replied: “It is not you who
give them me; and from the generous donor I cannot accept them, seeing I
have been unable to present him with any specimen of my craft.” The good
fellow said that, if I did not take them, I should get no other horses
in Padua, and should have to make my journey on foot. Upon that I
returned to the magnificent Messer Pietro, who affected to be ignorant
of the affair, and only begged me with marks of kindness to remain in
Padua. This was contrary to my intention, for I had quite resolved to
set out; therefore I had to accept the three horses, and with them we
began our journey.

Note 1. He left Rome, April 1, 1537.

Note 2. I need hardly say that this is the Bembo who ruled over Italian
literature like a dictator from the reign of Leo X. onwards. He was of a
noble Venetian house; Paul III. made him Cardinal in 1539. He died, aged
seventy-seven, in 1547.


I CHOSE the route through the Grisons, all other passes being unsafe on
account of war. We crossed the mountains of the Alba and Berlina; it was
the 8th of May, and the snow upon them lay in masses. [1] At the utmost
hazard of our lives we succeeded in surmounting those two Alpine ridges;
and when they had been traversed, we stopped at a place which, if I
remember rightly, is called Valdista. There we took up quarters, and at
nightfall there arrived a Florentine courier named Busbacca. I had heard
him mentioned as a man of character and able in his profession, but I
did not know that he had forfeited that reputation by his rogueries.
When he saw me in the hostelry, he addressed me by my name, said he was
going on business of importance to Lyons, and entreated met to lend him
money for the journey. I said I had no money to lend, but that if he
liked to join me, I would pay his expenses as far as Lyons. The rascal
wept, and wheedled me with a long story, saying: “If a poor courier
employed on affairs of national consequence has fallen short of money,
it is the duty of a man like you to assist him.” Then he added that he
was carrying things of the utmost importance from Messer Filippo
Strozzi; [2] and showing me a leather case for a cup he had with him,
whispered in my ear that it held a goblet of silver which contained
jewels to the value of many thousands of ducats, together with letters
of vast consequence, sent by Messer Filippo Strozzi. I told him that he
ought to let me conceal the jewels about his own person, which would be
much less dangerous than carrying them in the goblet; he might give that
up to me, and, its value being probably about ten crowns, I would supply
him with twenty-five on the security. To these words the courier replied
that he would go with me, since he could not do otherwise, for to give
up the goblet would not be to his honour.

Accordingly we struck the bargain so; and taking horse next morning,
came to a lake between Valdistate and Vessa; it is fifteen miles long
when one reaches Vessa. On beholding the boats upon that lake I took
fright; because they are of pine, of no great size and no great
thickness, loosely put together, and not even pitched. If I had not seen
four German gentlemen, with their four horses, embarking in one of the
same sort as ours, I should never have set my foot in it; indeed I
should far more likely have turned tail; but when I saw their
hare-brained recklessness, I took it into my head that those German
waters would not drown folk, as ours do in Italy. However, my two young
men kept saying to me: “Benvenuto, it is surely dangerous to embark in
this craft with four horses.” I replied: “You cowards, do you not
observe how those four gentlemen have taken boat before us, and are
going on their way with laughter? If this were wine, as indeed ‘tis
water, I should say that they were going gladly to drown themselves in
it; but as it is but water, I know well that they have no more pleasure
than we have in drowning there.” The lake was fifteen miles long and
about three broad; on one side rose a mountain very tall and cavernous,
on the other some flat land and grassy. When we had gone about four
miles, it began to storm upon the lake, and our oarsmen asked us to help
in rowing; this we did awhile. I made gestures and directed them to land
us on the farther shore; they said it was not possible, because there
was not depth of water for the boat, and there were shoals there, which
would make it go to pieces and drown us all; and still they kept on
urging us to help them. The boatmen shouted one to the other, calling
for assistance. When I saw them thus dismayed, my horse being an
intelligent animal, I arranged the bridle on his neck and took the end
of the halter with my left hand. The horse, like most of his kind, being
not devoid of reason, seemed to have an instinct of my intention; for
having turned his face towards the fresh grass, I meant that he should
swim and draw me after him. Just at that moment a great wave broke over
the boat. Ascanio shrieked out: “Mercy, my father; save me,” and wanted
to throw himself upon my neck. Accordingly, I laid hand to my little
dagger, and told them to do as I had shown them, seeing that the horses
would save their lives as well as I too hoped to escape with mine by the
same means; but that if he tried to jump on me, I should kill him. So we
went forward several miles in this great peril of our lives.

Note 1. I have retained Cellini’s spelling of names upon this journey.
He passed the Bernina and Albula mountains, descended the valley of the
Rhine to Wallenstadt, travelled by Weesen and probably Glarus to Lachen
and Zurich, thence to Solothurn, Lausanne, Geneva, Lyons.

Note 2. Filippo Strozzi was leader of the anti-Medicean party, now in
exile. He fell into the hands of Duke Cosimo on the 1st of August in
this year, 1537.


WHEN we had reached the middle of the lake, we found a little bit of
level ground where we could land, and I saw that those four German
gentlemen had already come to shore there; but on our wishing to
disembark, the boatmen would hear nothing of it. Then I said to my young
men: “Now is the time to show what stuff we are made of; so draw your
swords, and force these fellows to put us on shore.” This we did, not
however without difficulty, for they offered a stubborn resistance. When
at last we got to land, we had to climb that mountain for two miles, and
it was more troublesome than getting up a ladder. I was completely
clothed in mail, with big boots, and a gun in my hand; and it was
raining as though the fountains of the heavens were opened. Those
devils, the German gentlemen, leading their little horses by the bridle,
accomplished miracles of agility; but our animals were not up to the
business, and we burst with the fatigue of making them ascend that hill
of difficulty. We had climbed a little way, when Ascanio’s horse, an
excellent beast of Hungarian race, made a false step. He was going a few
paces before the courier Busbacca to whom Ascanio had given his lance to
carry for him. Well, the path was so bad that the horse stumbled, and
went on scrambling backwards, without being able to regain his footing,
till he stuck upon the point of the lance, which that rogue of a courier
had not the wit to keep out of his way. The weapon passed right through
his throat; and when my other workman went to help him, his horse also,
a black-coloured animal, slipped towards the lake, and held on by some
shrub which offered but a slight support. This horse was carrying a pair
of saddle-bags, which contained all my money and other valuables. I
cried out to the young man to save his own life, and let the horse go to
the devil. The fall was more than a mile of precipitous descent above
the waters of the lake. Just below the place our boatmen had taken up
their station; so that if the horse fell, he would have come precisely
on them. I was ahead of the whole company, and we waited to see the
horse plunge headlong; it seemed certain that he must go to perdition.
During this I said to my young men: “Be under no concern; let us save
our lives, and give thanks to God for all that happens. I am only
distressed for that poor fellow Busbacca, who tied his goblet and his
jewels to the value of several thousands of ducats on the horse’s
saddle-bow, thinking that the safest place. My things are but a few
hundred crowns, and I am in no fear whatever, if only I get God’s
protection.” Then Busbacca cried out: “I am not sorry for my own loss,
but for yours.” “Why,” said I to him, “are you sorry for my trifles, and
not for all that property of yours?” He answered: “I will tell you in
God’s name; in these circumstances and at the point of peril we have
reached, truth must be spoken. I know that yours are crowns, and are so
in good sooth; but that case in which I said I had so many jewels and
other lies, is all full of caviare.” On hearing this I could not hold
from laughing; my young men laughed too; and he began to cry. The horse
extricated itself by a great effort when we had given it up for lost. So
then, still laughing, we summoned our forces, and bent ourselves to
making the ascent. The four German gentlemen, having gained the top
before us, sent down some folk who gave us aid. Thus at length we
reached our lodging in the wilderness. Here, being wet to the skin,
tired out, and famished, we were most agreeably entertained; we dried
ourselves, took rest, and satisfied our hunger, while certain wild herbs
were applied to the wounded horse. They pointed out to us the plant in
question, of which the hedges were full; and we were told that if the
wound was kept continually plugged with its leaves, the beast would not
only recover, but would serve us just as if it had sustained no injury.
We proceeded to do as they advised. Then having thanked those gentlemen,
and feeling ourselves entirely refreshed, we quitted the place, and
travelled onwards, thanking God for saving us from such great perils.


WE reached a town beyond Vessa, where we passed the night, and heard a
watchman through all the hours singing very agreeably; for all the
houses of that city being built of pine wood, it was the watchman’s only
business to warn folk against fire. Busbacca’s nerves had been quite
shaken by the day’s adventures; accordingly; each hour when the watchman
sang, he called out in his sleep: “Ah God, I am drowning!” That was
because of the fright he had had; and besides, he had got drunk in the
evening, because he would sit boozing with all the Germans who were
there’ and sometimes he cried: “I am burning,” and sometimes: “I am
drowning;” and at other times he thought he was in hell, and tortured
with that caviare suspended round his throat.

This night was so amusing that it turned all our troubles into laughter.
In the morning we rose with very fine weather, and went to dine in a
smiling little place called Lacca. Here we obtained excellent
entertainment, and then engaged guides, who were returning to a town
called Surich. The guide who attended us went along the dyked bank of a
lake; there was no other road; and the dyke itself was covered with
water, so that the reckless fellow slipped, and fell together with his
horse beneath the water. I, who was but a few steps behind him, stopped
my horse, and waited to see the donkey get out of the water. Just as if
nothing had happened, he began to sing again, and made signs to me to
follow. I broke away upon the right hand, and got through some hedges,
making my young men and Busbacca take that way. The guide shouted in
German that if the folk of those parts saw me they would put me to
death. However, we passed forward, and escaped that other storm.

So we arrived at Surich, a marvellous city, bright and polished like a
little gem. There we rested a whole day, then left betimes one morning,
and reached another fair city called Solutorno. Thence we came to
Usanna, from Usanna to Ginevra, from Ginevra to Lione, always singing
and laughing. At Lione I rested four days, and had much pleasant
intercourse with some of my friends there; I was also repaid what I had
spent upon Busbacca; afterwards I set out upon the road to Paris. This
was a delightful journey, except that when we reached Palissa [1] a band
of venturers tried to murder us, [2] and it was only by great courage
and address that we got free from them. From that point onward we
travelled to Paris without the least trouble in the world. Always
singing and laughing, we arrived safely at our destination.

Note 1. La Palice.

Note 2. Cellini, in the narrative of his second French journey, explains
that these 'venturieri' were a notable crew of very daring brigands in
the Lyonese province.


AFTER taking some repose in Paris, I went to visit the painter Rosso,
who was in the King’s service. I thought to find in him one of the
sincerest friends I had in the world, seeing that in Rome I had done him
the greatest benefits which one man can confer upon another. As these
may be described briefly, I will not here omit their mention, in order
to expose the shamelessness of such ingratitude. While he was in Rome,
then, being a man given to back-biting, he spoke so ill of Raffaello da
Urbino’s works, that the pupils of the latter were quite resolved to
murder him. From this peril I saved him by keeping a close watch upon
him day and night. Again, the evil things said by Rosso against San
Gallo, [1] that excellent architect, caused the latter to get work taken
from him which he had previously procured for him from Messer Agnolo da
Cesi; and after this San Gallo used his influence so strenuously against
him that he must have been brought to the verge of starvation, had not I
pitied his condition and lent him some scores of crowns to live upon. So
then, not having been repaid, and knowing that he held employment under
the King, I went, as I have said, to look him up. I did not merely
expect him to discharge his debt, but also to show me favour and assist
in placing me in that great monarch’s service.

When Rosso set eyes on me, his countenance changed suddenly, and he
exclaimed: “Benvenuto, you have taken this long journey at great charges
to your loss; especially at this present time, when all men’s thoughts
are occupied with war, and not with the bagatelles of our profession.” I
replied that I had brought money enough to take me back to Rome as I had
come to Paris, and that this was not the proper return for the pains I
had endured for him, and that now I began to believe what Maestro
Antonio da San Gallo said of him. When he tried to turn the matter into
jest on this exposure of his baseness, I showed him a letter of exchange
for five hundred crowns upon Ricciardo del Bene. Then the rascal was
ashamed, and wanted to detain me almost by force; but I laughed at him,
and took my leave in the company of a painter whom I found there. This
man was called Sguazzella: [2] he too was a Florentine; and I went to
lodge in his house, with three horses and three servants, at so much per
week. He treated me very well, and was even better paid by me in return.

Afterwards I sought audience of the King, through the introduction of
his treasurer, Messer Giuliano Buonaccorti. [3] I met, however, with
considerable delays, owing, as I did not then know, to the strenuous
exertions Rosso made against my admission to his Majesty. When Messer
Giuliano became aware of this, he took me down at once to Fontana Bilio,
[4] and brought me into the presence of the King, who granted me a whole
hour of very gracious audience. Since he was then on the point of
setting out for Lyons, he told Messer Giuliano to take me with him,
adding that on the journey we could discuss some works of art his
Majesty had it in his head to execute. Accordingly, I followed the
court; and on the way I entered into close relations with the Cardinal
of Ferrara, who had not at that period obtained the hat. [5] Every
evening I used to hold long conversations with the Cardinal, in the
course of which his lordship advised me to remain at an abbey of his in
Lyons, and there to abide at ease until the King returned from this
campaign, adding that he was going on to Grenoble, and that I should
enjoy every convenience in the abbey.

When we reached Lyons I was already ill, and my lad Ascanio had taken a
quartan fever. The French and their court were both grown irksome to me,
and I counted the hours till I could find myself again in Rome. On
seeing my anxiety to return home, the Cardinal gave me money sufficient
for making him a silver bason and jug. So we took good horses, and set
our faces in the direction of Rome, passing the Simplon, and travelling
for some while in the company of certain Frenchmen; Ascanio troubled by
his quartan, and I by a slow fever which I found it quite impossible to
throw off. I had, moreover, got my stomach out of order to such an
extent, that for the space of four months, as I verily believe, I hardly
ate one whole loaf of bread in the week; and great was my longing to
reach Italy, being desirous to die there rather than in France.

Note 1. Antonio da San Gallo, one of the best architects of the later

Note 2. A pupil of Andrea del Sarto, who went with him to France and
settled there.

Note 3. A Florentine exile mentioned by Varchi.

Note 4. Fontainebleau. Cellini always writes it as above.

Note 5. Ippolito d’Este, son of Alfonso, Duke of Ferrara; Archbishop of
Milan at the age of fifteen; Cardinal in 1539; spent a large part of his
life in France.


WHEN we had crossed the mountains of the Simplon, we came to a river
near a place called Indevedro. [1] It was broad and very deep, spanned
by a long narrow bridge without ramparts. That morning a thick white
frost had fallen; and when I reached the bridge, riding before the rest,
I recognised how dangerous it was, and bade my servants and young men
dismount and lead their horses. So I got across without accident, and
rode on talking with one of the Frenchmen, whose condition was that of a
gentleman. The other, who was a scrivener, lagged a little way behind,
jeering the French gentleman and me because we had been so frightened by
nothing at all as to give ourselves the trouble of walking. I turned
round, and seeing him upon the middle of the bridge, begged him to come
gently, since the place was very dangerous. The fellow, true to his
French nature, cried out in French that I was a man of poor spirit, and
that there was no danger whatsoever. While he spoke these words and
urged his horse forward, the animal suddenly slipped over the bridge,
and fell with legs in air close to a huge rock there was there. Now God
is very often merciful to madmen; so the two beasts, human and equine,
plunged together into a deep wide pool, where both of them went down
below the water. On seeing what had happened, I set off running at full
speed, scrambled with much difficulty on to the rock, and dangling over
from it, seized the skirt of the scrivener’s gown and pulled him up, for
he was still submerged beneath the surface. He had drunk his bellyful of
water, and was within an ace of being drowned. I then, beholding him out
of danger, congratulated the man upon my having been the means of
rescuing his life. The fellow to this answered me in French, that I had
done nothing; the important things to save were his writings, worth many
scores of crowns; and these words he seemed to say in anger, dripping
wet and spluttering the while. Thereupon, I turned round to our guides,
and ordered them to help the brute, adding that I would see them paid.
One of them with great address and trouble set himself to the business,
and picked up all the fellow’s writings, so that he lost not one of
them: the other guide refused to trouble himself by rendering any

I ought here to say that we had made a purse up, and that I performed
the part of paymaster. So, when we reached the place I mentioned, and
had dined, I drew some coins from the common purse and gave them to the
guide who helped to draw him from the water. Thereupon the fellow called
out that I might pay them out of my own pocket; he had no intention of
giving the man more than what had been agreed on for his services as
guide. Upon this I retorted with insulting language. Then the other
guide, who had done nothing, came up and demanded to be rewarded also. I
told him that the one who had borne the cross deserved the recompense.
He cried out that he would presently show me a cross which should make
me repent. I replied that I would light a candle at that cross, which
should, I hoped, make him to be the first to weep his folly. The village
we were in lay on the frontier between Venice and the Germans. So the
guide ran off to bring the folk together, and came, followed by a crowd,
with a boar-spear in his hand. Mounted on my good steed, I lowered the
barrel of my arquebuse, and turning to my comrades, cried: “At the first
shot I shall bring that fellow down; do you likewise your duty, for
these are highway robbers, who have used this little incident to
contrive our murder.” The innkeeper at whose house we had dined called
one of the leaders, an imposing old man, and begged him to put a stop to
the disorder, saying: “This is a most courageous young man; you may cut
him to pieces, but he will certainly kill a lot of you, and perhaps will
escape your hands after doing all the mischief he is able.” So matters
calmed down: and the old man, their leader, said to me: “Go in peace;
you would not have much to boast of against us, even if you had a
hundred men to back you.” I recognised the truth of his words, and had
indeed made up my mind to die among them; therefore, when no further
insults were cast at me, I shook my head and exclaimed: “I should
certainly have done my utmost to prove I am no statue, but a man of
flesh and spirit.” Then we resumed our journey; and that evening, at the
first lodging we came to, settled our accounts together. There I parted
for ever from that beast of a Frenchman, remaining on very friendly
terms with the other, who was a gentleman. Afterwards I reached Ferrara,
with my three horses and no other company.

Having dismounted, I went to court in order to pay my reverence to the
Duke, and gain permission to depart next morning for Loreto. When I had
waited until two hours after nightfall, his Excellency appeared. I
kissed his hands; he received me with much courtesy, and ordered that
water should be brought for me to wash my hands before eating. To this
compliment I made a pleasant answer: “Most excellent lord, it is now
more than four months that I have eaten only just enough to keep life
together; knowing therefore that I could not enjoy the delicacies of
your royal table, I will stay and talk with you while your Excellency is
supping; in this way we shall both have more pleasure than if I were to
sup with you.” Accordingly, we entered into conversation, and prolonged
it for the next three hours. At that time I took my leave, and when I
got back to the inn, found a most excellent meal ready; for the Duke had
sent me the plates from his own banquet, together with some famous wine.
Having now fasted two full hours beyond my usual hour for supping, I
fell to with hearty appetite; and this was the first time since four
months that I felt the power or will to eat.

Note 1. Probably the Doveria in the Valdivedro.


LEAVING Ferrara in the morning, I went to Santa Maria at Loreto; and
thence, having performed my devotions, pursued the journey to Rome.
There I found my most faithful Felice, to whom I abandoned my old shop
with all its furniture and appurtenances, and opened another, much
larger and roomier, next to Sugherello, the perfumer. I thought for
certain that the great King Francis would not have remembered me.
Therefore I accepted commissions from several noblemen; and in the
meanwhile began the bason and jug ordered by the Cardinal Ferrara. I had
a crowd of workmen, and many large affairs on hand in gold and silver.

Now the arrangement I had made with that Perugian workman [1] was that
he should write down all the monies which had been disbursed on his
account, chiefly for clothes and divers other sundries; and these,
together with the costs of travelling, amounted to about seventy crowns.
We agreed that he should discharge the debt by monthly payments of three
crowns; and this he was well able to do, since he gained more than eight
through me. At the end of two months the rascal decamped from my shop,
leaving me in the lurch with a mass of business on my hands, and saying
that he did not mean to pay me a farthing more. I was resolved to seek
redress, but allowed myself to be persuaded to do so by the way of
justice. At first I thought of lopping off an arm of his; and assuredly
I should have done so, if my friends had not told me that it was a
mistake, seeing I should lose my money and perhaps Rome too a second
time, forasmuch as blows cannot be measured, and that with the agreement
I held of his I could at any moment have him taken up. I listened to
their advice, though I should have liked to conduct the affair more
freely. As a matter of fact, I sued him before the auditor of the
Camera, and gained by suit; in consequence of that decree, for which I
waited several months, I had him thrown into prison. At the same time I
was overwhelmed with large commissions; among others, I had to supply
all the ornaments of gold and jewels for the wife of Signor Gierolimo
Orsino, father of Signor Paolo, who is now the son-in-law of our Duke
Cosimo. [2] These things I had nearly finished; yet others of the
greatest consequence were always coming in. I employed eight
work-people, and worked day and night together with them, for the sake
alike of honour and of gain.

Note 1. In his 'Ricordi' Cellini calls the man Girolamo Pascucci.

Note 2. He was Duke of Bracciano, father of Duke Paolo, who married
Isabella de’ Medici, and murdered her before his second marriage with
Vittoria Accoramboni. See my 'Renaissance in Italy,' vol. vi.


WHILE I was engaged in prosecuting my affairs with so much vigour, there
arrived a letter sent post-haste to me by the Cardinal of Ferrara, which
ran as follows:-

'“Benvenuto, our dear friend,-During these last days the most Christian
King here made mention of you, and said that he should like to have you
in his service. Whereto I answered that you had promised me, whenever I
sent for you to serve his Majesty, that you would come at once. His
Majesty then answered:’It is my will that provision for his journey,
according to his merits, should be sent him;’ and immediately ordered
his Admiral to make me out an order for one thousand golden crowns upon
the treasurer of the Exchequer. The Cardinal de’ Gaddi, who was present
at this conversation, advanced immediately, and told his Majesty that it
was not necessary to make these dispositions, seeing that he had sent
you money enough, and that you were already on the journey. If then, as
I think probable, the facts are quite contrary to those assertions of
Cardinal Gaddi, reply to me without delay upon the receipt of this
letter; for I will undertake to gather up the fallen thread, and have
the promised money given you by this magnanimous King.”'

Now let the world take notice, and all the folk that dwell on it, what
power malignant stars with adverse fortune exercise upon us human
beings! I had not spoken twice in my lifetime to that little simpleton
of a Cardinal de’ Gaddi; nor do I think that he meant by this
bumptiousness of his to do me any harm, but only, through
lightheadedness and senseless folly, to make it seem as though he also
held the affairs of artists, whom the King was wanting, under his own
personal supervision, just as the Cardinal of Ferrara did. But
afterwards he was so stupid as not to tell me anything at all about the
matter; elsewise, it is certain that my wish to shield a silly mannikin
from reproach, if only for our country’s sake, would have made me find
out some excuse to mend the bungling of his foolish self-conceit.

Immediately upon the receipt of Cardinal Ferrara’s letter, I answered
that about Cardinal de’ Gaddi I knew absolutely nothing, and that even
if he had made overtures of that kind to me, I should not have left
Italy without informing his most reverend lordship. I also said that I
had more to do in Rome than at any previous time; but that if his most
Christian Majesty made sign of wanting me, one word of his, communicated
by so great a prince as his most reverend lordship, would suffice to
make me set off upon the spot, leaving all other concerns to take their

After I had sent my letter, that traitor, the Perugian workman, devised
a piece of malice against me, which succeeded at once, owing to the
avarice of Pope Paolo da Farnese, but also far more to that of his
bastard, who was then called Duke of Castro. [1] The fellow in question
informed one of Signor Pier Luigi’s secretaries that, having been with
me as workman several years, he was acquainted with all my affairs, on
the strength of which he gave his word to Signor Pier Luigi that I was
worth more than eighty thousand ducats, and that the greater part of
this property consisted in jewels, which jewels belonged to the Church,
and that I had stolen them in Castel Sant’ Angelo during the sack of
Rome, and that all they had to do was to catch me on the spot with

It so happened that I had been at work one morning, more than three
hours before daybreak, upon the trousseau of the bride I mentioned;
then, while my shop was being opened and swept out, I put my cape on to
go abroad and take the air. Directing my steps along the Strada Giulia,
I turned into Chiavica, and at this corner Crespino, the Bargello, with
all his constables, made up to me, and said: “You are the Pope’s
prisoner.” I answered: “Crespino, you have mistaken your man.” “No,”
said Crespino, “you are the artist Benvenuto, and I know you well, and I
have to take you to the Castle of Sant’ Angelo, where lords go, and men
of accomplishments, your peers.” Upon that four of his under-officers
rushed on me, and would have seized by force a dagger which I wore, and
some rings I carried on my finger; but Crespino rebuked them: “Not a man
of you shall touch him: it is quite enough if you perform your duty, and
see that he does not escape me.” Then he came up, and begged me with
words of courtesy to surrender my arms. While I was engaged in doing
this, it crossed my mind that exactly on that very spot I had
assassinated Pompeo. They took me straightway to castle, and locked me
in an upper chamber in the keep. This was the first time that I ever
smelt a prison up to the age I then had of thirty-seven years.

Note 1. He had been invested with the Duchy of Castro in 1537.


SIGNOR PIER LUIGI, the Pope’s son, had well considered the large sum for
which I stood accused; so he begged the reversion of it from his most
holy father, and asked that he might have the money made out to himself.
The Pope granted this willingly, adding that he would assist in its
recovery. Consequently, after having kept me eight whole days in prison,
they sent me up for examination, in order to put an end if possible to
the affair. I was summoned into one of the great halls of the papal
castle, a place of much dignity. My examiners were, first, the Governor
of Rome, called Messer Benedetto Conversini of Pistoja, [1] who
afterwards became Bishop of Jesi; secondly, the Procurator-Fiscal, whose
name I have forgotten; [2] and, thirdly, the judge in criminal cases,
Messer Benedetto da Cagli. These three men began at first to question me
in gentle terms, which afterwards they changed to words of considerable
harshness and menace, apparently because I said to them: “My lords, it
is more than half-an-hour now since you have been pestering me with
questions about fables and such things, so that one may truly say you
are chattering or prattling; by chattering I mean talking without
reason, by prattling I mean talking nonsense: therefore I beg you to
tell me what it really is you want of me, and to let me hear from your
lips reasonable speech, and not jabberings or nonsense.” In reply to
these words of mine, the Governor, who was a Pistojan, could no longer
disguise his furious temper, and began: “You talk very confidently, or
rather far too arrogantly; but let me tell you that I will bring your
pride down lower than a spaniel by the words of reason you shall hear
from me; these will be neither jabberings nor nonsense, as you have it,
but shall form a chain of arguments to answer which you will be forced
to tax the utmost of your wits. Then he began to speak as follows: “We
know for certain that you were in Rome at the time when this unhappy
city was subject to the calamity of the sack; at that time you were in
this Castle of Sant’ Angelo, and were employed as bombardier. Now since
you are a jeweller and goldsmith by trade, Pope Clement, being
previously acquainted with you, and having by him no one else of your
profession, called you into his secret counsels, and made you unset all
the jewels of his tiaras, mitres, and rings; afterwards, having
confidence in you, he ordered you to sew them into his clothes. While
thus engaged, you sequestered, unknown to his Holiness, a portion of
them, to the value of eighty thousand crowns. This has been told us by
one of your workmen, to whom you disclosed the matter in your
braggadocio way. Now, we tell you frankly that you must find the jewels,
or their value in money; after that we will release you.”

Note 1. Bishop of Forlimpopoli in 1537, and of Jesi in 1540.

Note 2. Benedetto Valenti.


WHEN I heard these words, I could not hold from bursting into a great
roar of laughter; then, having laughed a while, I said: “Thanks be to
that God on this first occasion, when it has pleased His Divine Majesty
to imprison me, I should not be imprisoned for some folly, as the wont
is usually with young men. If what you say were the truth, I run no risk
of having to submit to corporal punishment, since the authority of the
law was suspended during that season. Indeed, I could excuse myself by
saying that, like a faithful servant, I had kept back treasure to that
amount for the sacred and Holy Apostolic Church, waiting till I could
restore it to a good Pope, or else to those who might require it of me;
as, for instance, you might, if this were verily the case.” When I had
spoken so far, the furious Governor would not let me conclude my
argument, but exclaimed in a burst of rage: “Interpret the affair as you
like best, Benvenuto; it is enough for us to have found the property
which we had lost; be quick about it, if you do not want us to use other
measures than words.” Then they began to rise and leave the chamber; but
I stopped them, crying out: “My lords, my examination is not over; bring
that to an end, and go then where you choose.” They resumed their seats
in a very angry temper, making as though they did not mean to listen to
a word I said, and at the same time half relieved, [1] as though they
had discovered all they wanted to know. I then began my speech, to this
effect: “You are to know, my lords, that it is now some twenty years
since I first came to Rome, and I have never been sent to prison here or
elsewhere.” On this that catchpole of a Governor called out: “And yet
you have killed men enough here!” I replied: “It is you that say it, and
not I; but if some one came to kill you, priest as you are, you would
defend yourself, and if you killed him, the sanctity of law would hold
you justified. Therefore let me continue my defence, if you wish to
report the case to the Pope, and to judge me fairly. Once more I tell
you that I have been a sojourner in this marvellous city Rome for nigh
on twenty years, and here I have exercised my art in matters of vast
importance. Knowing that this is the seat of Christ, I entertained the
reasonable belief that when some temporal prince sought to inflict on me
a mortal injury, I might have recourse to this holy chair and to this
Vicar of Christ, in confidence that he would surely uphold my cause. Ah
me! whither am I now to go? What prince is there who will protect me
from this infamous assassination? Was it not your business, before you
took me up, to find out what I had done with those eighty thousand
ducats? Was it not your duty to inspect the record of the jewels, which
have been carefully inscribed by this Apostolic Camera through the last
five hundred years? If you had discovered anything missing on that
record, then you ought to have seized all my books together with myself.
I tell you for a certainty that the registers, on which are written all
the jewels of the Pope and the regalia, must be perfectly in order; you
will not find there missing a single article of value which belonged to
Pope Clement that has not been minutely noted. The one thing of the kind
which occurs to me is this: When that poor man Pope Clement wanted to
make terms with those thieves of the Imperial army, who had robbed Rome
and insulted the Church, a certain Cesare Iscatinaro, if I rightly
remember his name, came to negotiate with him; [2] and having nearly
concluded the agreement, the Pope in his extremity, to show the man some
mark of favour, let fall a diamond from his finger, which was worth
about four thousand crowns, and when Iscatinaro stooped to pick it up,
the Pope told him to keep it for his sake. I was present at these
transactions: and if the diamond of which I speak be missing, I have
told you where it went; but I have the firmest conviction that you will
find even this noted upon the register. After this you may blush at your
leisure for having done such cruel injustice to a man like me, who has
performed so many honourable services for the apostolic chair. I would
have you know that, but for me, the morning when the Imperial troops
entered the Borgo, they would without let or hindrance have forced their
way into the castle. It was I who, unrewarded for this act, betook
myself with vigour to the guns which had been abandoned by the
cannoneers and soldiers of the ordnance. I put spirit into my comrade
Raffaello da Montelupo, the sculptor, who had also left his post and hid
himself all frightened in a corner, without stirring foot or finger; I
woke his courage up, and he and I alone together slew so many of the
enemies that the soldiers took another road. I it was who shot at
Iscatinaro when I saw him talking to Pope Clement without the slightest
mark of reverence, nay, with the most revolting insolence, like the
Lutheran and infidel he was. Pope Clement upon this had the castle
searched to find and hang the man who did it. I it was who wounded the
Prince of Orange in the head down there below the trenches of the
castle. Then, too, how many ornaments of silver, gold, and jewels, how
many models and coins, so beautiful and so esteemed, have I not made for
Holy Church! Is this then the presumptuous priestly recompense you give
a man who has served and loved you with such loyalty, with such mastery
of art? Oh, go and report the whole that I have spoken to the Pope; go
and tell him that his jewels are all in his possession; that I never
received from the Church anything but wounds and stonings at that epoch
of the sack; that I never reckoned upon any gain beyond some small
remuneration from Pope Paolo, which he had promised me. Now at last I
know what to think of his Holiness and you his Ministers.”

While I was delivering this speech, they sat and listened in
astonishment. Then exchanging glances one with the other, and making
signs of much surprise, they left me. All three went together to report
what I had spoken to the Pope. The Pope felt some shame, and gave orders
that all the records of the jewels should be diligently searched. When
they had ascertained that none were missing, they left me in the castle
without saying a word more about it. Signor Pier Luigi felt also that he
had acted ill; and to end the affair, they set about to contrive my

Note 1. 'Sollevati.' It may mean 'half-risen from their seats.'

Note 2. Gio. Bartolommeo di Gattinara. Raffaello da Montelupo, in his
Autobiography, calls him Cattinaro, and relates how “when he came one
day into the castle to negotiate a treaty, he was wounded in the arm by
one of our arquebusiers.” This confirms what follows above.


DURING the agitations of this time which I have just related, King
Francis received news of how the Pope was keeping me in prison, and with
what injustice. He had sent a certain gentleman of his, named Monsignor
di Morluc, as his ambassador to Rome; [1] to him therefore he now wrote,
claiming me from the Pope as the man of his Majesty. The Pope was a
person of extraordinary sense and ability, but in this affair of mine he
behaved weakly and unintelligently; for he made answer to the King’s
envoy that his Majesty need pay me no attention, since I was a fellow
who gave much trouble by fighting; therefore he advised his Majesty to
leave me alone, adding that he kept me in prison for homicides and other
deviltries which I had played. To this the King sent answer that justice

Book of the day: