Thursday 15 May 2014


Luigi “Rodomonte” Gonzaga (d.1532) was celebrated by the poet Girolamo Muzio as a man who could cast the great stone and raise the mighty bar, whose wrestling none could resist.
  • He had hands so strong he could break a horseshoe or tear a cord asunder. He was able to throw an iron ball others could not even lift and leap across the castle moat where it was 24 feet wide.
  • In a bout against a gigantic and terrible Moor, Luigi, that most Christian champion, won a triumph reminiscent of David’s fight against Goliath. With the most marvelous skill and courage our young champion seized his mighty foe and seven times, one after the other, cast him down on to the breast of his mother earth.
  • On a visit to England he engaged in a single-handed contest with a wild boar.
  • He served as a mercenary captain in a number of wars and yielded in battle only in the belief that this is more honour and glory than to sacrifice his people and himself.
  • His reward was the hand of Isabella Colonna who had been destined for another, but thought that this hero who saved our lives and lands had the greater claim on her. The marriage made Luigi Duke of Trajetto and Count of Fondi. He did not enjoy these titles for very long, however. A year later he died in the siege of Ancona. The poet Ludovico Ariosto called him the great glory of Italy, a terror to his foes… a man of strong heart and wise counsel who feared no danger and welcomed a noble death.
The funeral procession passed through the streets of Fondi and reached the Cathedral porch, with banners of conquered foes trailing in the dust… Isabella knelt during the last sad rites, clasping the orphan babe Vespasiano in her arms.

No, forget that last sentence. Christopher Hare, whom I’m quoting here, asks the indulgence of all the serious students of scientific history if I pass for a time into the realms of “Historical Romance” in my earnest endeavor to recreate the atmosphere.

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