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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2159073
Rated: E · Script/Play · History · #2159073
A Play based on the life of Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan.
ACT  I  SCENE 1

  (Milan 1420s. Bianca's chamber. VISCONTI is writing at a desk, BIANCA is looking out of the window, sounds of a military procession passing below.)

BIANCA.           
God himself would take offence to see such naked ambition being so prominently displayed. From rough country camp to fine city linen can anyone own a swifter horse? Father, it is absurd.

VISCONTI.           
Naturally, but that is in the nature of all things and knowing it to be so really doesn't help in deciding what to do.

BIANCA.           
He enters our city with his entire army! Fortune clearly favours him. He is some five and twenty yet he is counted the 'wonder of the age'.

VISCONTI.           
He must be the third this month. As Duke of Milan I attract them like moths to a flame. I see the desire in their eyes, to step out of the shadows, be minted in coin, and sculpted in marble. But they might as well shout into the wind, ‘know me for once I walked the earth.’ Daughter, we prostitute ourselves for our ambition, the greater the office, the greater the violation.

BIANCA.           
But does the mob usually cry out with the hero's name. 

VISCONTI.           
(hesitates in writing). No, that is new. But should I take a man’s life because the mob cries 'Sforza?'  I will not hurt him for that. Even tyrants have their limits.

BIANCA.           
You executed Morosini for a trifle.

VISCONTI.           
The stars did not favour him.

BIANCA.           
He was the court astrologer.

VISCONTI.           
An occupational hazard.

BIANCA.           
Look, now tailors, carpenters and every other sort of base person are filling the streets. Tell me father, why are the common people  so impressed by such things?

VISCONTI.           
It is because they see only the cloak and never the reality and those few who do, I kill, exile or promote. If you were a man you would know that.

BIANCA.           
If I were a man I would be heir to the Visconti inheritance in more than name.

VISCONTI.           
Bianca, how many times must we have this? My child you need a bath in the cold water of reality. A woman cannot rule Milan. You would never survive. I cite the disaster that Queen Joanna has wrought upon Naples. Only Sforza kept the throne from our good friend Alfonso.

BIANCA.           
So mine is a life to be lived by proxy, wife, mother, mistress.  And the family's salvation you place in the hands of the condottiere?          

VISCONTI.           
The condottiere are simply mercenaries hired by contract to fight for their employers.

BIANCA.           
Not so. Sforza is one of a new breed of men that have taken violence, treachery and betrayal and raised them to an art form. Neither love nor loyalty binds him to either place or cause. He fights first for one state then another, but in the end mostly for himself. Once, such as he, wanted gold and jewels now they take fiefs and titles; they are more a danger to their employers than each other.

VISCONTI.           
How so?

BIANCA.           
Their banners compete with the ivy.

VISCONTI.           
Are you suggesting that I should employ better gardeners? Bianca, you exaggerate, he will be but one amongst many, the Lord Piccinino for one.

BIANCA.           
Piccinino! He is twice the age and half the achievement. You forget Sforza has defeated the great Braccio who stood next only to Carmagnola, our former general. The one you raised above all the others.

VISCONTI.           
You need not remind me of that! He will be here within the hour. As for Sforza, Fortune does seem to favour him. Yet it is a comfort to know that Fortune can raise a man so high that he might touch eternity with his finger tips and then in the passing of a grain of sand cast him down again into the darkness. Remember, he is but a man, two arms, two legs, and a head upon a body. 

BIANCA.           
He is more like some force of nature and twice as dangerous. See how he plays the mob with the skill of a master. He lets the moment linger in the air and then.

    Roar of the crowd is heard.

By each life he advances a step and fools love him for it. Such a man could conquer the whole of Italy.

VISCONTI.           
Many have tried. All have failed, undone by ambition.

BIANCA.           
Father he is dangerous! Kill him and have done with it. It is for the good of the state.

VISCONTI.           
It is for the good of the state that I cannot. I can neither harm him nor turn him loose, lest our enemies employ him.

BIANCA.           
Then how will you make acceptable payment to an unlimited ambition?

VISCONTI.           
I will find a way.

BIANCA.           
And for the now?

VISCONTI.           
I have asked Fiammetta to entertain him until it is time for the audience.

BIANCA.           
And how is the family whore?

VISCONTI.           
Bianca! That is ungracious, she treats you like a sister.

BIANCA.           
She assumes a familiarity that is not hers to assume. In the end I fear it will be the death of her.

VISCONTI.           
Enough! Before you vex me more there is another matter for us to discuss. I have had reports you've been flirting with the French ambassador again. Purely in the spirit of being the concerned father that I am, might one enquire if you consider that such an experience to be entirely appropriate for a future Duchess of Milan?

BIANCA.           
As the dutiful daughter that I am, I must answer that for a future Duchess of Milan, it is an entirely appropriate experience.

VISCONTI.           
A father should not be deceived into believing that there are no drawbacks to having clever children. (Holds up documents.)  These documents for instance?

BIANCA.           
The people of Milan want to honour your greatness, a statue of the Duke on his horse has been the suggestion.

VISCONTI.           
Why do they want to do that?

BIANCA.           
(quietly) It's what you do to relatives that have lived too long.

VISCONTI.           
What's that?

BIANCA.           
I said they want to honour you. You would only have to sit long enough for the artist to model you in clay.

VISCONTI.           
I confess there something about this enterprise of yours that troubles me. Are you plotting something Bianca?

BIANCA.           
Of course father, it's what high-born ladies do these days, either that or their needle work. 

Lights Down
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