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The Viper and the Eagle: The Rise and Fall of Astrology under Ludovico Sforza

The Viper and the Eagle: The Rise and Fall of Astrology under Ludovico Sforza

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t h e du k e a nd t h e s ta r s

do not have, in other words, any work by him that contains occasional

accounts of his clientele and the kind of services that were requested of him

of the kind of Bonatti’s.1 We do have, however, a series of important documents that are very revealing of the kind of astrological advice he provided to

Ludovico. An attentive reading of these letters allows us to probe their professional and personal relationship and recover, to a small extent, the voice of

our Milanese astrologer.

Ludovico’s reliance on astrology was well known. It attracted the scorn

of more than one contemporary, as well as the ferocious critique of one of

the most famous Milanese astrologers of the sixteenth-�century, Girolamo

Â�Cardano, who at the time of Ludovico’s fall from power was not even born.

Undoubtedly, however, Cardano had heard of the dramatic events that led to

the French occupation from his father, Fazio, and other contemporaries who

had lived through the difficult moments of Ludovico’s demise from power.

In his critique of astrological interrogations, an astrological practice concerned with the “particular” and not the “general,” Cardano chose to single

out Ludovico Maria Sforza and his astrologer, whom he left unnamed, as

prime examples of the ruin that could occur if one were to listen to such

advice. “Consider, gentle reader,” he warned:

[â•–.â•–.â•–.â•–] how much ridicule has been caused by those who, by selling their

client an astrological interrogation on some single point, brought him to

disastrous end, while many, in the same situation, enjoy great success

without taking the advice of an astrologer. Let me choose one of many

examples, with a clear and remarkable result, and that of a man known to

me. Ludovico Sforza was the ruler of the province of Milan. He supported a

greedy astrologer who was completely ignorant of astrology (for he was one

of those whom Ptolemy rightly criticizes), enriching him with a great fortune of a hundred and more big golden talents. In return for this compensation, this gentleman assigned him the time at which he should begin every

enterprise, and in such a ridiculous way that the prince, in other respects a

man of great wisdom, had to mount horses in the midst of storms, and lead

the whole courtly host of his supporters through rainstorms, through the

muck and mud, as if he were in hot pursuit or headlong flight of enemies.2

The unscrupulous trickster mentioned by Cardano was certainly Ambrogio

Varesi da Rosate, the Milanese astrologer who became famous for his privileged relationship with the duke after saving his life during a terrible illness

in 1487.3 We can be certain of this fact thanks to an official document signed

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by Gian Galeazzo Sforza as early as 1480, which bestows upon the trusted

physician-�astrologer an annual stipend of a hundred golden ducats (the same

amount stated by Cardano) for his services and his loyalty to his uncle

Ludovico.4 From 1491 onwards, Varesi became a member of Milan’s influential Privy Council.5 As we shall see, over the following two decades the relationship between Ludovico and Varesi intensified dramatically, becoming

increasingly vital to Ludovico’s daily actions in the years preceding and following the French descent.

Of course one could wonder if Cardano’s judgment was not too harsh and

his portrait of Ludovico’s credulity exaggerated. Even a cursory examination

of Ludovico’s correspondence with Varesi, however, reveals the duke’s almost

compulsive—Â�certainly excessive—Â�reliance on interrogations and elections,

two astrological techniques that are generally harder to document and whose

validity was increasingly cast into doubt among sixteenth-Â�century astrologers.6 Equally, one could reasonably question Cardano’s opinion about Varesi’s


astrological competence. Cardano, after all, is notorious for having expressed

harsh judgments on many other prominent astrologers of the time, and his

targeting of Varesi is not exceptional.7 Varesi’s knowledge of astrology does

not seem very different from that of many of his contemporaries—Â�he possessed the necessary skills to draw a celestial figure correctly and offer an

interpretation. Cardano’s opinion, therefore, may refer more to the kind of

astrology that Varesi practiced—Â�not the kind of classical astrology favored by

Cardano, where interrogations and elections had little place—Â�than to Varesi’s

astrological skills in general.8

In the face of Cardano’s accusations, moreover, we can only speculate

about Varesi’s intellectual integrity or lack thereof. It is certain that Ludovico’s exclusive patronage brought him wealth and privilege, but there is no

evidence of foul play or bad intentions on his part. The evidence seems to

show, instead, that he did all he could to serve his duke faithfully and that he

reaped the benefits arising from such a privileged position as any other

courtier would. Ambition and greed may have played a part in his ascent, but

his success was closely linked to that of his lord, and therefore he had every

motivation to help Ludovico succeed and maintain power. It is also clear,

however, that Varesi was increasingly forced to produce prognostications on

the most disparate (and sometime bizarre) topics and that he himself often

doubted the reliability and usefulness of some of his predictions. In the

present chapter I shall illustrate the ways in which Ludovico used astrology


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for his personal and political ends and how his reliance on astrology was both

a sign and a symptom of a heightened sense of uncertainty about the future

that characterized his reign and grew exponentially in the period that led to

the French descent of 1494 and the final occupation of Milan in 1499.

Where the Personal Meets the Political:

Sforza Marriages and Astrology

Chapter 4 recounted how the inability of the young Gian Galeazzo Sforza to

consummate his marriage with his newly wedded spouse, Isabella of Aragon,

in 1489 was not simply a personal matter, but an issue of great political concern. The fact that a political ruler could not perform his marital duties was

certainly problematic, but hardly a novelty in the panorama of Renaissance

ruling classes, where every marriage was arranged and the bride and groom

were either married at a very young age or were separated by a considerable

age difference.9 What made the issue particularly sensitive, however, was the

fact that Ludovico had turned down Ferrante’s offer to marry Isabella and

become duke himself. This choice was justified by the fact that Ludovico had

every confidence that his nephew would never produce an heir, thus palpably

weakening Gian Galeazzo’s role as head of the Sforza dynasty and allowing

for Ludovico’s own takeover. Ludovico’s belief was probably justified by Gian

Galezzo’s poor health and inexperience, but we should remember also that

the person in charge of the arrangements for the consummation of the marriage was none other than Ambrogio Varesi da Rosate. Therefore, Ludovico’s

confidence may have also come from the conviction that, without the help of

astrology and magic, his nephew’s chances of fathering an heir were largely

diminished, if not totally nonexistent.10

The case of Isabella and Gian Galeazzo is possibly the earliest documented

instance of Ludovico’s use of astrology in the context of a planned dynastic marriage, but it was not the last. He apparently resorted to Varesi’s advice regarding

the best time to celebrate and consummate a marriage on three other important occasions: in planning his own marriage with Beatrice d’Este, the youngÂ�

Â�est daughter of Ercole d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, and Eleonora of Aragon; in

planning the related marriage of his niece, Anna Sforza, to Alfonso d’Este;

and finally, and most importantly, in organizing that of his other niece, Bianca

Maria Sforza—Â�she, too, a daughter of the late Galeazzo Maria—Â�to the Holy

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Roman Emperor, Maximilian I, himself a staunch believer in astrology.11 All

three occasions were politically and personally momentous for Ludovico: with

the first two marriages he acquired an important ally in Italy at the time when

his relationship with other traditional powers, such as Florence and Naples,

was deteriorating; with the third he gained a crucial family relationship with

the Holy Roman Emperor and the much sought-�after imperial investiture.

Beatrice d’ Este was a good marriage prospect and presented the advantage

of being quite dear to her grandfather, Ferrante of Aragon. As a young girl,

Beatrice had spent eight years at the Neapolitan court, getting to know well

both Ferrante and her future sister-�in-�law, Ippolita Sforza, not to mention

her cousin, Isabella, the future legitimate Duchess of Milan.12 Originally,

Ludovico had asked for the hand of Beatrice’s older sister Isabella, then

only six, but she had already been promised to Francesco II Gonzaga. With

Bona’s advice, Ercole d’Este, therefore, offered Ludovico his other daughter,

�Beatrice, who was five at the time. Ludovico, however, was already twenty-�

nine years old and had to wait quite a few years to formally marry his young

bride.13 Almost ten years had to pass, but on May 10, 1489, the Ferrarese

ambassador in Milan, Giacomo Trotti, was sent back to Ferrara to underwrite

the nuptial agreement for the marriage. This stipulated that the wedding was

to occur the following year, in March, in a private ceremony (alla domesticha).14

March passed, however, and nothing happened. Only in April did Ludovico

send his secretary, Francesco Casati, to Ferrara. At this time, however, he had

detailed instructions about the marriage: Ludovico was ready to welcome

Beatrice to Milan. He stressed one more time that the marriage had to be

celebrated privately, without ostentation, so as not to offend the sensibilities

of the newly married duke and duchess, Gian Galeazzo and Isabella, with

excessive celebrations.15 Concerning the time and place of the celebration, he

informed Casati (who had to relay the message to Ercole) that he had deemed

it desirable to consult his astrologers. Among them no doubt was Ambrogio

Varesi da Rosate, who had witnessed Ludovico’s marriage contract ten years

before.16 Ludovico’s astrologers, Casati would report, had advised him to

marry on July 18, “a fortunate and prosperous day for his union with her [i.e.,

Beatrice].”17 For reasons that remain unclear, however, the marriage had to

be postponed once again, this time to the winter of 1491.18 At this point, the

�Ferrarese ambassador received orders to pressure Ludovico not to delay the

marriage any further.19 Ludovico then reassured Trotti of his intention to


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maintain his commitment and discussed the practicalities of the marriage.

He pointed out, however, that Ercole and Beatrice would be hard pressed to

reach Milan by boat in January as the weather conditions at that time of the

year were treacherous and the river low. He suggested, therefore, that to

inconvenience Ercole the least, the marriage take place in Reggio Emilia;

then he and Beatrice could travel to Parma by horse, “without lying with her

in this place, however, to respect the time and place already determined

astrologically.”20 Despite the modest nature of the ceremony, Ludovico reassured Ercole d’Este that he would organize a joust (giostra) and other festivities to celebrate the event once he reached Milan.

Even with the concessions, Ludovico’s suggestion did not win Ercole’s

favor. The Duke of Ferrara must have insisted on sending the bride and her

entourage by water to Lombardy to have the marriage celebrated there. This

had the obvious disadvantage of costing Ludovico more money, as he would

have had to provide for the bride and her retinue while they were en route to

Pavia and to organize everything so that the Este had suitable lodgings and

provisions. Ludovico had explained his initial proposal to have the marriage

celebrated in a private manner in Reggio Emilia by his desire not to upset the

Duke and Duchess of Milan, Gian Galeazzo and Isabella (who had recently

married), by outdoing them with his wedding celebration. Trotti maliciously

gossiped, however, that Ludovico probably wanted to save money.21 Ludovico

grudgingly accepted Ercole’s requests and promised to look after the practical

arrangements in the best way possible. He posed as his only condition, however, that the marriage be celebrated on January 18; otherwise, more days or

months might have to pass before they could marry and consummate the

marriage.22 As Trotti indicated in a letter dated to the day before the marriage, the day was chosen to follow the astrologers’ orders as to the best

moment to marry and consummate the marriage: “tomorrow at the 16th

hour,” Trotti announced, “the Duchess of Bari will be blessed and married

with much pomp per puncto de astrologia, that is, on a Tuesday, and that night

Ludovico will lie down with her.”23 Ludovico did not want to leave anything

to chance: the marriage had been planned to its minute details to ensure it

was blessed by a favorable celestial configuration of the skies.

This was not, however, the only Sforza-�Este marriage to have been planned.

To secure the support of the Este against possible attacks to her power after

Galeazzo’s death, Bona of Savoy had previously secured the marriage of their

daughter, Anna, to Ercole’s young son, Alfonso, who was then only an

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infant.24 Ludovico’s marriage was intended to further secure the Sforza’s ties

with the Este and thus gain an important political ally on the peninsula.

While the two parties did not initially discuss the details of the planned marriage between Anna Sforza and Alfonso d’Este, as the arrangements proceeded it was decided to have Anna’s marriage coincide with the visit of the

Este retinue accompanying Beatrice. Thus, Ludovico’s marriage with Beatrice

became part of an elaborate double marriage ceremony with the Este family.

In November 1490, Ludovico decided to have the two marriages celebrated

around the same time: his own marriage in a private fashion in Pavia and

Anna’s with more pomp in Milan. In this way, his own wedding did not need

to be a modest affair, but could be made part of the wider celebrations for

Anna’s marriage to Alfonso. As Trotti dutifully reported, Ludovico had put

his astrologers to work once again to determine the best day for Anna’s marriage, but unfortunately the astrologers had suggested January 19, the day

after his own planned marriage in Pavia. Ludovico explained how it was

impossible for he and Beatrice to reach Milan before January 21 and that his

astrologers had consulted among themselves once more and advised that the

22nd might be equally favorable. They could not say this for sure, however, as,

while they possessed Anna’s geniture, they did not have Alfonso’s. Trotti,

therefore, requested that this be sent as soon as possible to Milan to be examined by Ludovico’s astrologers.25 As in the case of Galeazzo and Dorotea

Gonzaga, in this instance, too, the astrologers were asked to scrutinize the

nativities of the future bride and groom, this time, however, to determine the

best time for the marriage. We can safely assume, therefore, that the same

had happened with the nativities of Beatrice and Ludovico. (What remains to

be established, of course, is if such a practice was relatively common among

Renaissance elites or was something peculiar to the Sforza court.)

Ludovico’s wedding took place in Pavia on January 18, and three days later

the newlyweds and their party entered Milan to celebrate Anna’s wedding.26

This double union was to be accompanied by fitting celebrations. Rooms in

the Castle of Porta Giovia were lavishly decorated for the occasion: the walls

of the sala della balla (ballroom) were painted with the historia of Francesco’s

deeds, and a blue drape with stars painted on it was suspended from the ceiling.27 The events surrounding the double marriage are lavishly recounted in

Tristano Calco’s marriage oration.28 Ludovico may have wanted to outdo

the extravagant wedding festivities that had accompanied the marriage of

Â�Beatrice’s parents, Eleonora of Aragon and Ercole d’Este, but, as noted, what


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seems to have driven the preparations for the wedding was the principle that

the union of the two couples was to happen under the most auspicious sky.

Astrological elections determined the timing of each movement, witness

Â�Giacomo Trotti, who lamented with Ercole d’Este (who did not attend the

wedding) that they had to travel under extreme weather conditions, as

Ludovico would only travel “per puncto de astrologia.” For this reason, he

reported, the entire party had to wake up before dawn despite the bitter cold

to leave the nearby village of Binasco and reach the church of Saint Eustorgio

in Milan (near Porta Ticinese) as originally planned.29

While we may think of Trotti’s comments as the exasperated exaggerations

of a disgruntled courtier, Ludovico’s obsessive planning is reported separately,

and thus confirmed, in Calco’s own account of the wedding preparations:

three days after the Este party arrived in Piacenza, Ludovico returned to Milan

to complete the wedding preparations and “determined that the guests would

enter the city in the 5th hour of the day.” To make this possible, Calco added,

the party was stationed at Binasco, where they had spent the night.30 According

to Calco, Ludovico’s wedding was accompanied by a comet (stella crinita),

which appeared for seven days in the skies of Milan, Venice, Florence, France,

and the German lands. This Calco (and probably Ludovico) interpreted as a

good omen, a sort of public form of political and dynastic legitimation (albeit

directed not just to Ludovico but to the Sforza dynasty more broadly).31 Celestial events of this sort were dutifully recorded and interpreted by contemporaries, especially if their significance could be related in some meaningful way

to events they were experiencing at the time.

As these examples reveal, marriage à la Sforza was no simple affair, and

certainly not one left to chance. Astrology played a crucial role in establishing

the marriage rituals, in particular their place, date, and time. Considering the

premium placed on producing a healthy male heir and Gian Galeazzo’s own

difficulties, it seems quite understandable that the day and time of Ludovico

and Beatrice’s union was determined with the favor of the heavens in mind.

Barely more than a year after their marriage, on January 25, 1493, at the 23rd

hour, Beatrice gave birth to a boy, thus fulfilling Ludovico’s expectations and

his desire to father a potential heir to the duchy. To celebrate his own dynastic

alliance with the Este, the child was aptly named after Beatrice’s father,


Nothing about this birth seems to have been left unplanned: it was clear

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that Ludovico placed much hope on the birth of a boy who would confer on

him a stronger sense of legitimacy in declaring himself duke once his nephew

died. As recounted by Isabella d’Este’s lady-Â�in-Â�waiting, Teodora Angeli, who

had been sent by the marchioness to assist her sister, Beatrice, at Ercole’s

birth, Ambrogio Varesi’s quarters in the castle were very close to where

�Beatrice was; her living quarters were next to the room used by Ludovico to

summon the Privy Council, on one side of which, in the middle, stood Â�Varesi’s

astrolabe, a vivid reminder of the astrologer’s acquired prominence within

Ludovico’s group of counselors. Without Varesi, Teodora added emphatically,

nothing was decided.33 It is clear that Varesi was heavily involved in Beatrice’s

care and wellbeing, at least as much as he had been in choosing the date of her

marriage and the day and time of its consummation. This is clearly indicated

by the fact that even the levatura di parto—Â�the moment when a woman left

her bed after having given birth—Â�was determined after consulting our astrologer. Given the difficulties of childbirth in early modern times, this moment

was naturally considered particularly important for the new mother—Â�the

levatura signaled a woman’s survival from childbirth (something that could

not be taken for granted given the mortality rate of Renaissance women at

childbirth), her return to full health, and her ability to resume her role as

wife.34 Not surprisingly, religion played an important role in the process: as

Teodora recounted, on February 23, 1493, Beatrice d’Este and the Duchess of

Milan, Isabella of Aragon (who had given birth to a daughter only a few

weeks before), left their beds to attend a mass at Santa Maria delle Grazie and

thank God for having safely delivered their children. What is remarkable,

however, is that once again Varesi had been put in charge of establishing the

best time for Beatrice to leave her bed: this, Teodora recounted, was established “per puncto d’ astrologia,” without which, she stressed once more,

nothing could be decided.35

This example is clearly revealing of the trust that Ludovico placed on

Â�Varesi’s astrological advice. His dynastic and personal ambitions were increasingly punctuated by astrological consultations that were requested to ensure

the success of his political enterprise and of his marriage with Beatrice. Varesi,

who had gained Ludovico’s trust by saving his life, increasingly obtained a

position of privilege within the ducal court, and the location of his rooms so

close to those where the Privy Council was held is indicative of the close relationship of astrology and politics at this particular time.


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On the Move: Astrology, Diplomacy, and Travel

Astrology’s influence on Beatrice and Ludovico was not limited to their marriage ceremony or the delivery of a healthy boy, but extended to all other aspects

pertaining to their persons where astrology was deemed relevant. Their health

and travels certainly fell under this rubric. For this reason, when the couple

travelled with Eleonora of Aragon and a large retinue to Ferrara a few months

after Ercole’s birth, Varesi’s letters of astrological advice determined the day

and time for their actions. The party left Milan on March 4, as established by

Varesi after Ludovico consulted him.36 Around the same time, Varesi enthusiastically predicted to Ludovico (presumably with the help of astrology) that his

wife would bear him a second male child before a year had passed, generating

some anxiety among the Este court that Beatrice could outdo her sister Isabella

in producing the legacy required of all noble women. Ludovico put so much

trust in Ambrogio Varesi’s prediction that he had already invited Beatrice’s

mother, Eleonora of Aragon, to that birth!37 After having stopped in Vigevano

and Cremona, the Sforza-�Este retinue headed toward Ferrara. Ludovico joined

his wife, Beatrice, in Parma, and the contingent proceeded toward the city,

entering it on May 18 “at the astrologically propitious time.” Ludovico’s rapid

and unexpected decisions as to his travels, apparently, left Isabella puzzled,

seemingly indicating that such overreliance on astrological elections was not

common among the Este, and it raised eyebrows among members of the

court.38 By the time Beatrice and Ludovico arrived, Isabella d’Este had already

left for Venice, where the Este owned a palace on the Canal Grande, but the

Milanese contingent was met by the marquis, Francesco Gonzaga.39

The Sforza retinue remained in Ferrara for a week. On May 25, the

�Sforza-�Este party left the city, once more at the astrologically propitious

time.40 While Ludovico took off with Ercole d’Este for Belriguardo, near

�Ferrara, the rest of the contingent proceeded toward Venice. The Doge of

Venice and other patricians of the city received Beatrice and the rest of the

party in spectacular fashion.41 The impressive size of the Sforza-Â�Este retinue—Â�

1,200 people in total—Â�already suggests that the visit was not simply a pleasure trip.42 A long-Â�standing opponent of both the Sforza and the Este, and

particularly suspicious of Ludovico’s intentions, Venice had not looked favorably on the Sforza-Â�Este political union. Pressured by Ludovico, however, on

April 22, 1493, Venice was forced to join the league with Milan and the Pope

against Naples.43 The trip thus had the clear diplomatic purpose of celebrating

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the recent political alliance, and Beatrice, with her charm and beauty, was

instrumental to the success of this mission.

From Venice the young bride sent affectionate and informative letters to

her husband detailing her daily activities and the many people she met in her

busy social life. During the grand party that was organized for the Este-�

Sforza contingent by the Serenissima a few days after their arrival, however,

Beatrice reported that she felt unwell, suffering from a headache and a niggling sore throat that forced her to take an hour’s leave from the party to rest

in one of the palace’s rooms.44 As her personal physician Luigi Marliani wrote

the same day, she suffered from a common cold, largely due to the change of

climate, her travels, and her lack of sleep.45 Almost daily letters from her physician updated Ludovico on Beatrice’s health, thus giving us a vivid impression of the concern and care taken for her person.

Beatrice’s cold improved, and by the time she left Venice to return to

Â�Ferrara she was on the mend. Once again, Ludovico sought Varesi’s advice on

the most suitable time for the retinue’s trip, asking him to advise on the

appropriate time for Beatrice’s departure from Ferrara. His letter to Luigi

Marliani reveals much about Ludovico’s constant dependence on Ambrogio

Varesi’s advice. In it, together with expressing his joy for the improved condition of his wife’s health, Ludovico also voiced serious concerns that Marliani

may have ignored Varesi’s advice to depart on Monday, thus leaving earlier

than the day elected by the astrologer for the retinue’s journey. Ludovico was

glad, however, to receive news that Marliani had followed Ambrogio Varesi’s

advice and that the party was ready to set off from Ferrara the following

Monday as advised:

Dear Magister Luigi, I could not be more grateful for what you have

written to me about the good health of my spouse, because there is nothing

that makes us happier than the fact that she is well and will return with

that good health that she possessed when she departed from us. And as we

understood that the time of your departure was Saturday, namely yesterday, and having seen the note by Magister Ambrogio that said it was to

be Monday at three, that is tomorrow, I was very surprised that you did not

follow the orders given by Magister Ambrogio. But having been informed

later that you will leave tomorrow, I was satisfied. Despite the fact that I

said that the right day was Saturday, we had said so thinking that this was

what Magister Ambrogio had said. For this reason, now you have to be

careful and leave Ferrara so that it is the proper hour of the day [â•–.â•–.â•–.â•–]46


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Clearly, for Ludovico and his familial entourage, timing was everything:

Marliani was reminded that not only the day of Beatrice’s departure had to

be right, but the time, too.

From other correspondence, we gather that, at the time, Varesi was in

charge of Ercole’s care and resided at the Castle of Porta Giovia, or, occasionally, at Pavia.47 Yet, he constantly dispensed travel advice to both Beatrice and

Ludovico from afar and followed similar rules when arranging for their children’s travels, as documented by a letter dated March 16, 1494, in which Varesi

informed Ludovico that the young Ercole, his personal retinue (including the

physician-Â�cum-Â�educator Nicolò Cusano), and Varesi himself were on their

way to Milan when they had to stop in Abiategrasso for a day to wait for

Saturn’s unfavorable aspect to pass.48 As these examples clearly show, by the

early 1490s there was virtually no occasion in which Ambrogio Varesi was not

consulted. The relationship between Ambrogio Varesi and Ludovico had

become symbiotic: Varesi was in charge of every important aspect related to

Ludovico’s family and actively used astrological elections to ensure his lord

that all actions were undertaken at the most propitious time. This use of elections, I would argue, was not common, and this fact gives some credit to

Cardano’s bitter critique years later that Ludovico was foolishly following his

astrologer’s advice even when the conditions were clearly not favorable, like

mounting on a horse in the middle of a storm.

As already mentioned, Beatrice’s visit to Venice had a marked diplomatic

character. She was there to promote her husband and his duchy to the Venetians and to help legitimate his role as de facto ruler of Milan as he was preparing himself to confront the Aragonese with the threat of a French descent

into Italy. We know that at this stage Ludovico was already playing a double

game with the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I, with whom he was nego�

tiating for an imperial investiture, and with the French king, Charles VIII,

from whom he wanted to obtain protection against the Aragonese of Naples.

When pressure from Naples to restore Gian Galeazzo and Isabella to their

legitimate roles of Duke and Duchess of Milan grew in 1490, Ludovico sought

a formal renewal of his alliance with France and renewed his efforts to gain

the investiture of the fief of Genoa.49 To accomplish this, however, Ludovico

needed to give his ally something in exchange. When the French ambassadors travelled to Milan in January 1492 to join the league and grant their

investiture, they asked, therefore, that Ludovico return some lands that the

Milanese had expropriated to the Marquis of Monferrat, a close ally of

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