Giangaleazzo's own wife, Duchess Isabella, a virtuous and high-minded princess whose own merits were sadly hampered by her husband's weakness and folly, was much beloved by her own servants, but inherited the proud reserve of the Aragonese race, and led a secluded existence with her lord, who hated town life and seldom showed his face in Milan.
Charles VIII., it is plain, did not himself believe in Lodovico's guilt. When the news of Giangaleazzo's death reached him, he caused a solemn requiem mass to be held in the Duomo of Piacenza, and distributed liberal alms to the poor of the town in memory of his dead cousin.
The moment of his death was so opportune, and fitted in so exactly with Lodovico's plans; the promptness with which the Moro had acted in seizing the crown which ought to have belonged to Giangaleazzo's son, helped to confirm the suspicions that were aroused in the minds of men whom the new duke's policy had inspired with distrust, and who looked with jealous eyes on the success of his diplomacy.
Already some of the courtiers attached to Giangaleazzo's household began to whisper that the birth of Francesco, the little Count of Pavia, two years before, had been celebrated with far less pomp.
The careful examination of the various documents connected with Giangaleazzo's death has led recent historians to a different conclusion. "Nothing is further from the truth," writes Magenta, in his history of the "Castello di Pavia," "than that Giangaleazzo died of poison."
The royal ladies rode in the Duchess of Ferrara's chariot, a sumptuous carriage hung with purple, and were accompanied by Leonora herself and five other Sforza princesses Alfonso d'Este's wife, Anna; Duke Giangaleazzo's sister, Bianca Sforza; Signor Lodovico's daughter, Bianca, the youthful bride of Galeazzo Sanseverino; Madonna Beatrice Niccolo da Correggio's mother and Madonna Camilla Sforza of Pesaro.
But the proud and high-spirited duchess began to resent the subordinate position in which she and her husband were placed at their own court, and she tried to instil her keen sense of this injustice into Giangaleazzo's feeble mind.
Accordingly he ordered one of his most trusted agents, Maffeo Pirovano, to start the next day for Antwerp, with letters informing Maximilian and his wife of Giangaleazzo's death, and asking for the prompt despatch of ambassadors with the coveted privileges.
At the tournament held in Pavia in honour of Giangaleazzo's wedding, the knights had for the most part appeared in their ordinary attire; but this time, to add greater splendour to the occasion, they entered the lists in companies, clad in fancy costumes and bearing symbolical devices after the fashion of the day.
But no one suffered more keenly or shed more bitter tears than Giangaleazzo's widow, Duchess Isabella. She had unwisely declined Lodovico's advice to leave Milan when the war broke out, and take refuge on her uncle Frederic's galleys at Genoa.