Castiglione, Balthazar

, an eminent Italian nobleman, was descended from an illustrious and ancient family, and born in his own villa at Casatico, in the durhy of Mantua, Dec. 6, 1478. Oncoming to a proper age, he had masters appointed him, under whom he acquired a, | knowledge of the Greek and Latin tongues; in the latter of which he was instructed by Demetrius Chalcondylas, of Constantinople, who then resided at Milan; and in the former, by George Merula. He likewise applied himself to the study of painting, sculpture, and architecture, as appears from the book he wrote in favour of those arts; and he made so great a progress in them, that Raphael Urbino and Michael Angela, though incomparable artists, never thought their works perfect, unless they had the approbation of Castiglione.

When Castiglione was eighteen years of age, he went into military service, under Lewis Sforza, duke of Milan; but his father dying soon after, and some disastrous circumstances overtaking that state, he was obliged to quit the camp, and return to Mantua. He engaged a second time in the service of the duke, and distinguished himself much by his bravery and conduct; but returning soon after, and being desirous to see other courts, particularly that of Rome, he went thither at the very time that Julius II. obtained the popedom. His fame was not unknown to this pontiff; and the high opinion he had of his abilities and merit, made him write to Guido Ubaldo, duke of Urbino, his cousin, that if he would send him to the court of Rome, in his own name, with the character of a public minister, he should take it as a singular obligation. Castiglione was twenty-six years of age; and Guido Ubaldo sent him ambassador to pope Julius, to transact affairs of the highest importance. He was sent upon a second embassy to Lewis XII. of France, and upon a third to Henry VII. of England; whither he went to be invested with the order of the garter, as proxy for the duke his master. On his arrival in England he was received with every mark of honour and esteem, being met at the port where he landed by the earl of Huntingdon, who was then lord of the bedchamber, accompanied by many other lords, and a king at arms. After he had dispatched his business here, and was returned home, to gratify the importunities of Alfonso Ariosto, his particular friend, he began his celebrated work, “The Courtier,” which in a small space of time he completed at Rome, in March 1516. From this work we may perceive how intimate he was with the Greek and Latin authors, having here gleaned together the first flowers of their wit, and treasured up, as it were, in a single cabinet, the richest jewels of antiquity. The book has been | universally well received, both in Italy, and abroad; often reprinted, and translated into several languages. It is lull of moral and political instructions; and, it‘ we wish to study the Italian tongue, it is said that it can no where be found in more purity.

Castiglione was highly esteemed and favoured by the duke Francisco Maria, who constituted him his first minister of state, as well in civil as military affairs; and for his services, particularly at the siege of Mirandola, at which pope Julius was present, made him a free gift of the castle of Nuvolara, in the county of Pesaro, with the most ample privileges to himself, and to his heirs and successors for ever. This was in 1513. Not long after, Leo X. confirmed it to him by two briefs; the one written to him by Peter Bembo, and dated March 14, 1514; the other by Jacomus Sadolet, in May following. Having now reached his thirty-sixth year, he married a noble lady, who was the daughter of the famous Bentivoglio, and very remarkable for her wit and beauty. She brought him a son and two daughters, and then died; having lived no more than four years with him.

A little before this misfortune, the marquis of Mantua sent him to Leo X. as his ambassador; and after the death of Leo he continued at Rome in that capacity, under Hadrian VI. and Clement VII. Clement sent him to the emperor Charles the Fifth’s court in quality of legate; where affairs were to be transacted of the highest importance, not only to the pontifical see, but to all Italy. He went into Spain, Oct. 1524; and in his negotiations and transactions not only answered the pope’s expectations, but also acquired the good-will of the emperor, by whom he was soon received as a favourite counsellor and friend, as well as an ambassador. Among other marks of affection which the emperor shewed Castiglione, one was rather singular, that being then at war with Francis I. of FVance, he always desired him to be present at the military councils of that war and, when it was supposed that the war would be ended by a single combat between Charles V. and Francis I. with only three knights attending them, the emperor chose Castiglione to be one of the number. He also made him ’a free denizen of Spain; and soon alter nominated him to the bishopric of Avila. And because this happeped at the juncture of the sacking of Rome, some took occasion to reflect upon Castiglicwie, as if he had neglected the affairs of the court of Rome, for the sake of | gratifying the inclinations of the emperor; at least such was indeed the current opinion at Rome; but Castiglione defended himself from the imputation in his letter to Clement VII. It is probable that there were no real grounds for it, since Clement himself does not appear to have given the least credit to it. Paul Jovius says, that if Castiglione had lived, the pope intended to have made him a cardinal; and after his death, in two of his holiness" briefs, both of condolence to his mother, there are the strongest expressions of his unblemished fidelity and devotion to the see of Rome. The imputation, however, affected Castiglione so sensibly, that it was supposed in some measure to have contributed to his death. His constitution was already impaired with the continual fatigues, civil as well as military, in which he had always been engaged; and falling at length sick at Toledo, he died Feb. 2, 1529. The emperor, who was then at Toledo, was extremely grieved, and commanded all the prelates and lords of his court to attend his corpse to the principal church there; and the funeral offices were celebrated by the archbishop with such solemnity and pomp as was never permitted to any one before, the princes of the blood excepted. Sixteen months after, his body was removed by his mother from Toledo to Mantua, and interred in a church of her own building; where a sumptuous monument was raised, and a Latin epitaph inscribed, which was written by cardinal Bern bo.

Besides his incomparable book the “Courtier,” he composed many Latin and Tuscan poems; which, with some of his letters, are placed at the end of the English version of the “Courtier,” published at London in 1727; a, book of very frequent occurrence, and which sells for a trifle, although it forms a very handsome 4to, printed by Bowyer. The translation was made by A. P. Castiglione, a gentle^ man of the same family, who lived here in England, under the patronage of Edmund Gibson, bishop of London. The Italian is printed with it; and before the whole is prefixed the life of the author, to which the reader is indebted for the account here given.

The first edition of this “Libro del Cortegiano” was published at Venice, in 1528, and has been since translated into most of the European languages. The Italians call it “II libro d’oro,” and it has been characterised as always new, always interesting and instructive. It now, however, | is chiefly interesting to persons of curiosity, as the speakers introduced in it are the same eminent characters who actually belonged to the court in his time. Castiglione’s Letters were published at Padua, by Sarassi, 1769, 2 vols. 8vo, with a lite. 1


Life ubi supra.—Roscoe’s Leo.—Gresiwell’s Politian.—Saxii Onomast.Moreri.—an article by Giosley.