By Mary Hollingsworth
Son of Lucretia Borgia and brother of the Duke of Ferrara, Ippolito d'Este grew to become Archbishop of Milan on the age of nine yet needed to wait one other 20 years earlier than he received his coveted cardinal's hat. This honour was once the path to strength and wealth in sixteenth-century Europe - it had little to do with piety. Ippolito used to be no religious cleric: he loved playing, searching, tennis and ladies. this is often the tale of the 5 years it took to accomplish his ambition, a narrative concerning kin squabbles and personal feuds, and the political agendas of the Pope, the Emperor and the King of France. Ippolito spent a lot of this era on the French courtroom, sampling the sophistication of Paris, the luxuries of Fontainebleau, the pleasures of looking within the Loire valley, the buzz of conflict in Picardy, the glamour of a world peace convention at great, and the intense discomforts of mountain go back and forth. The Cardinal's Hat relies totally at the account books and letters preserved within the records at Modena, wherein Ippolito emerges around the centuries with impressive readability. The records additionally offer glimpses into the lives of normal humans, not only his chefs and sturdy boys, yet shopkeepers, developers, bargemen, peasants or even beggars. certainly, they supply a different perception into existence in sixteenth-century Europe.
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Extra resources for The Cardinal's Hat: Money, Ambition and Housekeeping in a Renaissance Court
Pomposa additionally provided farm animals – chook, farm animals, pigs and lambs – and the estate’s large woods produced huge amounts of logs for Ippolito’s ovens and fires in addition to trees for development. The wooden was once extensively utilized as gas for a ecocnomic kiln at Codigoro which produced bricks and tiles. Even the twigs have been priceless, certain into brushes and brooms which have been despatched to Ferrara to scrub the Palazzo San Francesco. all of the farming used to be performed through Ippolito’s employees – they're known as employees (laboratori) within the ledgers, now not peasants. They planted and harvested his vegetation, ploughed the land, tended his sheep and livestock, reduce the hay, felled the bushes, chopped the logs and made the brushes and brooms. in spite of the fact that they weren't agricultural labourers within the sleek feel of the time period, nor did they've got the independence of tenant farmers. Ippolito didn't pay them wages yet he did offer them with seeds and with lodging in homes at the estates, which he used to be obliged to maintain in strong fix. He took a percentage of every little thing they produced. The time period utilized in the ledgers is a tithe (decima), actually a 10th, derived from the ten in keeping with cent that the Church initially deducted from all plants grown on its land. through the 16th century, in spite of the fact that, the decima was once a euphemism – in perform it was once usually 50 consistent with cent, the quantity Ippolito claimed at the sale of wool and lambs from Pomposa, even supposing the proportion different for different plants. the employees additionally needed to pay Ippolito seasonal dues – for the employees at Migliaro this intended a hundred eggs at Easter and a pig at Christmas. The process used to be now not relatively as iniquitous because it sounds. It used to be definitely unfair through sleek criteria, yet degrees of poverty have been a ways worse at the urban streets of Ferrara. there's specified facts on what the staff at Pomposa harvested in 1540, how a lot used to be taken by way of Ippolito and what sort of every one employee retained. Marti Bolgarello, one of many 8 males engaged on the farm at Migliaro, used to be left with grain and legumes worthy 23 scudi, whereas one in every of his neighbours, Antonio Maria Trova, had plants worthy sixty seven scudi. For either males, this used to be sufficient to feed themselves and their households, and Antonio Maria might have had a surplus to promote. but the files are silent approximately what occurred whilst a employee grew to become too previous, or too in poor health, to paintings. the recent yr in Ferrara begun on 1 January – in contrast to Florence and a number of other towns in sixteenth-century Italy, the place it didn't start until eventually 25 March, the banquet of the Annunciation – and wintry weather was once the season for feasting in any respect degrees of society. whereas Ippolito banqueted and jousted in Paris, his employees on the Palazzo San Francesco and the staff on his estates within the geographical region additionally celebrated. January and February have been fairly quiet months at the paintings entrance either within the urban and at the farm. because the agrarian calendar carved on one of many portals of Ferrara Cathedral confirmed, January was once the month while the peasant rested from his labours and ate and drank his manner via New 12 months, 12th evening and Carnival, whereas February used to be the month to stick interior in entrance of a blazing hearth.