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BOOK I

TO THE VISCOUNT FRANCESCO MARIA SFORZA,
DUKE OF MILAN

THE beginning of my Decades De Orbe Novo was presented to Your Excellency's uncle, the Vicechancellor Ascanio, formerly one of the most illustrious of the cardinals, whose merits were exceeded by none. He had often asked and commanded me to inform him of everything that happened in those fardistant western lands. I appeal to the confirming testimony of a man gifted with all the virtues and experience, Marino Caracciolo,1 Prothonotary Apostolic, Bishop-elect of Catania, and at present Ambassador of the Emperor Charles at your court. He was secretary to your uncle when the ocean first opened its gates which had been closed since the beginning of the world. He it was who received my Decades in his master's name and penned the answers dictated to him by the Cardinal. When Ascanio died, I relapsed into idleness, since no one any longer urged me to work. King Frederick, before Fortune showed herself his pitiless stepmother rather than his mother, obtained a second edition of my book from me, through the intermediary of his uncle the Cardinal of Aragon. Later the Sovereign Pontiff, Leo X., and his successor Adrian VI., urged me by their briefs and letters to continue my labours. They gathered the dispersed Decades into one volume, and charged me to preserve the records of such great deeds from oblivion. You, Most Illustrious Prince,1 who have been born later and have ascended the throne of your forefathers, will only receive the narrative of the latest events. Since your secretary, Camillo Gillino, has interpreted your wishes to the Emperor, I turn from other sovereigns to address my narrative exclusively to Your Excellency, in whose principality I was born.

1 Marino Caracciolo, born in 1469, was a trusted friend of Leo X., for whom he undertook several important missions, notably the negotiations with the Elector of Saxony for the surrender of Martin Luther. He later entered the service of Charles V., by whom he was named governor of Milan after the death of Francesco Maria. He was created Cardinal by Paul III., and died in Milan, January 28,1538. Consult Guicciardini, i., xv., xvi., xvii.

Your Excellency has suffered many trials, and you have often affirmed and vowed that the perusal of my Decades would prove the most agreeable diversion. From the moment when the ocean, thanks to Christopher Columbus, generously disclosed its secrets, up to this present time, the narrative of events had been collected into one volume by Giacomo Pierio, Prothonotary Apostolic, Bishop-elect of Catania, when he repaired to your court as the Emperor's ambassador. This volume was destined for Pope Adrian. Thanks to the printers a part of its contents had already been previously circulated. Another part had been copied by him from my manuscript. He is now at Your Excellency's court. Ask him what has happened, and if he does not give a faithful account, treat him as an unworthy servant.

Now that we have hastily summed up what has preceded, let us review the recent marvels revealed by the ocean. For our ocean is more prolific than the Albanian sow, to which tradition assigned thirty pigs at a litter; and more liberal than a generous prince. Does it not

1 Francesco Maria Sforza, last duke of Milan, was the son of Lodovico il Moro and was born in 1492. He obtained possession of the duchy after the battle of Bicoque in 1522. His independence was more seeming than real, Charles V. being, practically, his suzerain. He died in 1535. Consult Giovio, Vita F. Maria S/orzia ducis, 1539; Ratti, Memoria delta famiglia Sforza.

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