Benvenuto Cellini (15001571). Autobiography. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
ALL this while I was engaged in putting my door together, with its several appurtenances. As it is no part of my purpose to include in this autobiography such things as annalists record, I have omitted the coming of the Emperor with his great host, and the Kings mustering of his whole army.1 At the time when these events took place, his Majesty sought my advice with regard to the instantaneous fortification of Paris. He came on purpose to my house, and took me all round the city; and when he found that I was prepared to fortify the town with expedition on a sound plan, he gave express orders that all my suggestions should be carried out. His Admiral was directed to command the citizens to obey me under pain of his displeasure.
Now the Admiral had been appointed through Madame dEtampes influence rather than from any proof of his ability, for he was a man of little talent. He bore the name of M. dAnnebault, which in our tongue is Monsignor dAniballe; but the French pronounce it so that they usually made it sound like Monsignore Asino Bue.2 This animal then referred to Madame dEtampes for advice upon the matter, and she ordered him to summon Girolamo Bellarmato without loss of time.3 He was an engineer from Siena, at that time in Dieppe, which is rather more than a days journey distant from the capital. He came at once, and set the work of fortification going on a very tedious method, which made me throw the job up. If the Emperor had pushed forward at this time, he might easily have taken Paris. People indeed said that, when a treaty of peace was afterwards concluded, Madame dEtampes, who took more part in it than anybody else, betrayed the King.4 I shall pass this matter over without further words, since it has nothing to do with the plan of my Memoirs. Meanwhile, I worked diligently at the door, and finished the vase, together with two others of middling size, which I made of my own silver. At the end of those great troubles, the King came to take his ease awhile in Paris.
That accursed woman seemed born to be the ruin of the world. I ought therefore to think myself of some account, seeing she held me for her mortal enemy. Happening to speak one day with the good King about my matters, she abused me to such an extent that he swore, in order to appease her, he would take no more heed of me thenceforward than if he had never set eyes upon my face. These words were immediately brought me by a page of Cardinal Ferrara, called Il Villa, who said he had heard the King utter them. I was infuriated to such a pitch that I dashed my tools across the room and all the things I was at work on, made my arrangements to quit France, and went upon the spot to find the King. When he had dined, I was shown into a room where I found his Majesty in the company of a very few persons. After I had paid him the respects due to kings, he bowed his head with a gracious smile. This revived hope in me; so I drew nearer to his Majesty, for they were showing him some things in my own line of art; and after we had talked awhile about such matters, he asked if I had anything worth seeing at my house, and next inquired when I should like him to come. I replied that I had some pieces ready to show his Majesty, if he pleased, at once. He told me to go home and he would come immediately.
Note 3. Girolamo Bellarmati, a learned mathematicians and military architect, banished from Siena for political reasons. He designed the harbour of Havre. [back]
Note 4. There is indeed good reason to believe that the Kings mistress, in her jealousy of the Dauphin and Diane de Poitiers, played false, and enabled the Imperialists to advance beyond Epernay. [back]