10 February 1287
The Venerable Lord Interminelli of Lucca,
I write to inform you of my progress in the matter we most recently discussed when last I was in Lucca for your nuptials. I will be plain. Not having been highborn I prefer to get to the point of the matter rather than expound with flowery words as is customary in cultured correspondence. My education, if it can be described as such, began on the streets of Rome where I was a foundling. It continued under the aegis of the good Franciscan brothers who taught me, undeservedly, to read and write. It was sharpened on the battlefield of the Holy Land as squire to Ser Gerard Favre of the Temple Knights during the campaign for Acre. Finally, it was polished in the world of trade where I made my fortune and your esteemed acquaintance. Lord Interminelli, you are a man of the world, and I expect that you will suffer me to get to the point.
Two days past I returned from the kingdom of Sicilia where I conducted personal business for the great Prince Alberto of Verona (more on this anon). I am writing to advise you that, with this business now concluded, Prince Escalus — pleased with my performance — has demonstrated his gratitude by bequeathing upon me the Noble seat of Montecchi in the city of Verona for which he is Capitano and Podesta. The Montecchi have no male issue to succeed the title. The final Donna of the line has retired to the Abbey of Santa Maria in her native Treviso. Thus I will be invested in a fortnight. With this investiture, I will inherit the farmlands and villas associated with the title Montecchi. These events are in keeping with our earlier discussions, and I wish for you to be made aware that all has come to pass as I foretold.
Therefore, let us move forward with our plans for me to wed one of your daughters. As I have declared to you already, your second daughter Agneta, with whom I have made acquaintance during my many stays in your villa, is my preference. Agneta and I have had occasion to converse on falconry, the architecture of our Roman forebearers, and our shared love of candied oranges. In temperament as well as countenance I believe she would make a good match for me. You, Lord Interminelli, have expressed reservation regarding my marrying Agneta. Primarily, your desire to marry your eldest daughter Caterina first. I have not met Caterina, but that is not a concern. In this, I am happy to be governed by your judgment.
My goal in marriage is twofold. Establish a strong relationship with a business partner. As agreed, by marrying one of your daughters to me, you will commit to bearing the expense of outfitting one trading ship a year to the Levante so that I might conduct trade. In turn, you will receive half of the income from our joint venture. Additionally, you will have the right of first refusal in acquiring any fabrics or goods for your shop at a discounted cost. This right of first refusal will survive you and continue to your Scion after you. The second goal of marriage is to bring elegance and refinery to my household. Money I have plenty of, but tradition and grace is where I fall short. Through a marriage alliance with you, Lord Interminelli, I will be successful on both counts. Whichever daughter you choose to marry me will fit my requirements.
The marriage banns will be read here in Verona from the pulpit of San Pietro in Archivolto, on Santa Eusebia’s day. Thus my nuptials shall be made public along with my new title. My bride will bring with her what manner of household objects, dresses, and servants you desire. Her dowry is your investment in my ship. I will outfit her myself as is becoming of a Countess of the House Montecchi.
The stars make interesting bedfellows! As if seeing into a dark mirror, I note that the very mission I concluded in Sicilia for della Scala is one related to marriage and title as well — that of the marriage between his son Bartolomeo and Costanza di Corrado d’Antiochia. I negotiated terms of the marriage, representing my Lord della Scala. Once concluded, I accompanied the Lady Constanza’s retinue back to Verona as bodyguard. The roads being dangerous with highwaymen awaiting at every turn.
As we will be of a family, I feel free to share with you that Escalus is bankrupt. The marriage of his son to the Holy Roman Emperor’s granddaughter has, through her dowry, filled his coffers a measure, (and mine own investiture has lined his pockets as well, I might add!). Why is the mighty della Scala in need of money? His skirmishes with the San Bonifacio are expensive, and he is bleeding gold! His ego, if I may be plain, is his folly. He benefits little from these incessant battles. What territory he gains one week is lost the next. His loss is my profit. Therefore I am glad for it.
I presume the marriage plans as laid out are acceptable to you. My Lord, whichever daughter you choose to grant me will want for naught and will be respected as a Lady of Verona of the ancient house of Montecchi.
I look to your message which will clarify which daughter I am to marry and when she will arrive in Verona.
In haste, I bid you well wishes,
Romeo Abbandonato, soon to be Montecchi