Christina Paleotti (Dudley), Duchess of Northumberland

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Christina Paleotti (Dudley)

Also Known As: "Christina", "Cristina di Nortumbria", ""The Angel"", ""La Paleotti""
Birthdate: (69)
Birthplace: Florence, Granducato di Toscana, (Present Italy)
Death: February 12, 1719 (65-73)
Probably Casa Paleotti, Bologna, Legation of Bologna (Present Provincia Bologna), Papal States (within present Emilia-Romagna), (Present Italy) (Died after receiving news of the execution of her son, Ferdinando Paleotti, in London for the death of his servant.)
Place of Burial: Bologna, Provincia Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Carlo 'Charles' Dudley and Marie Dudley (Gouffier)
Wife of Marchese Andrea Paleotti
Mother of Countess Adelhida Paleotti Talbot, Duchess of Shrewsbury

Managed by: Carole (Erickson) Pomeroy,Vol. C...
Last Updated:

About Christina Paleotti (Dudley), Duchess of Northumberland

Translated from "In Cerca di Fama: Docenti universitarie, artiste virtuose e animatrici dei salotti culturali in Bologna, dal medio evo al XIX secolo" by Fabia Zanasi:

Bologna also had its own personalities, a beautiful creature, daring, very erudite, and with a strong spirit, Christina Dudley Paleotti (1650-1719). Christina, the English daughter of the Duke of Northumberland and Earl of Warwick, was a young girl of 13 years in the service of Queen Christina of Savoy when the Marchese Andrea Paleotti met her and married her in Turin. She was only a few years in Bologna amid a society built on envious gossip and literature that surrounded this satirically lively and enterprising person, Christina, accustomed to a more cosmopolitan society that an Emilian town. However, she was an undeniable beauty, as celebrated in these verses:

  • The graces of the face, the game's words
  • The snow in her breast and her cheeks on fire.
  • Le grazie el viso, alle parole il gioco,
  • Le nevi al petto ed alle quance il foco.

In a satire from 1668, in which the Bolognese noblewomen were associated with tarot cards, Christina was portrayed as an Angel. Only three years earlier, during her stay in Rome, this Angel had an illegitimate daughter, Maria, born from an affair with Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna. But Christina became the wife of a man who lived a turbulent life. In fact, in 1671, he was arrested over certain contracts he had signed, but the chronicles do not provide precise information about the indictment.

Like any good hostess, Christina organized entertainment, complete with erudite conversations, in her home on S. Donato Road (now Via Zamboni, No. 32). In Italy, in the 1600s, the term "conversation" was associated with the living room, because the word "living" became widespread only in the 18th century. During one of these gatherings, Paleotti served sweets and chocolate, but one drink proved fatal for one of the guests, the Count Guido Pepoli. Louis, son of Christina, was accused of poisoning him out of jealousy. We therefore know that Christina had introduced to him to a beautiful young girl from Turkey, of whom all men were madly infatuated. So it was fate that this beautiful Englishwoman should live in the midst of amorous intrigues. Very cleverly, she also gave over her son to Diana Marcantonio Colonna, daughter of her past lover. For the occasion, in the courtyard of the palace, Paleotti commissioned the work Rosane (1697), translated from French and acted out by the best actors in the city.

Passionate and strong-willed, Christina was also endowed with remarkable artistic sensibility, an inspirational source of some sonnets, viewed positively by Benedetto Croce, who believed this female's personality to be among the most energetic among the poets of the 1600s. Love, the theme of youth, focusing on jealousy, with maturity, heartfelt accents are replaced, resulting in negative reconciliation of existence, that determines sincere repentance and reconciliation with God's will, in fact, the invocation of a final composition, the rimatrice explains: "This is not what I was thinking, not what I had intended."

In the verses of the leading English gentlewoman are certain keywords such as "will," "mind," and "reason," that emphasize an attitude of intellectual speculation as a means of self-analysis.

After a life troubled by many pains, caused also by the behavior of her children - especially Teresa, mentally unstable and plagued by amorous sorrows, who ended her life shut up in a convent - Christina Dudley Paleotti died in 1719.

From a portrait by Paul Mignard, kept in the Pinacoteca di Torino, we can still admire the beautiful face of Christina, characterized by a slightly stretched oval mouth and a well-designed, on the whole, attractive appearance that justifies the many passions she aroused in the hearts of men.


From Italy after the Renaissance:

Cristina di Nortumbria is not one of the great women of the century, but the lives of this clever, beautiful adventuress and her children are so full and varied that they help to throw a vivid light on the social conditions towards the end of it, when French influence was rapidly gaining the ascendant. Her story has been admirably told by Corrado Ricci in his "Vita Barocca," which makes anyone with a taste for such amusements sigh for a year's browsing among the diaries and avvisi in the Bologna library. Her English origin gives Cristina an added interest for us.

She was born to adventure. Her father was Carlo, son of Robert, the eldest surviving son and heir of Elizabeth's favorite, the Earl of Leicester. Robert had left England in 1606 in disgust at the treatment his claims to legitimacy had received. James I confiscated his property when he refused to return. With him went his cousin, Elizabeth Southwell, an old love of Essex, disguised as his page. They both became Roman Catholics. He repudiated his first wife, who was still alive in England, and married Elizabeth by Papal dispensation. He rose high in favor with the Tuscan court, being Grand Chamberlain to three Grand Duchesses. One of them, Maria Maddalena, induced her brother, the Emperor Ferdinand, to make him Duke of Northumberland in 1620. In his youth, he had an adventurous career at sea, and it was as a sailor that he made himself indispensable to the Grand Duke. Not only was his help invaluable in building a fleet, but it was on his advice that Leghorn, for which he designed the mole, was made a free port. He also induced a number of English Catholics to settle there.

Dudley actually appealed to the Papal court against the confiscation of his property in England, and was awarded 8 million pounds, with 200,000 pounds interest, by way of compensation. The sentence was fixed to the Duomo in Florence, to the great annoyance of the Grand Duke, who feared complications with England.

Carlo had not the opportunities of his father for sowing his wild oats decently. A typical Italian scapegrace of the day, he consorted with outlaws, keeping a Genoese bravo in his pay. He had already been in prison, when, one day, while the family was at mass, he borke into his father's villa and carried off all the plate, afterwards taking refuge in a church where he lived in sanctuary with two armed retainers. The Grand Duke did his best to help his father to manage him and he was confined in the Bargello to bring him to his senses. However, in due course, he became a gentleman of the Bedchamber to Cardinal Medici, though he was always quarrelsome. He married a French girl of good family, Madamoiselle de Gouffier de Poitou.

Cristina was his daughter. Such was her beauty and her wit at the age of 14, when she was at the court of Savoy, that she captivated the Constable Colonna, who seduced her. As we have seen, he was the husband of Marie Mancini. This betrayal after four years of married life was a great blow to her pride. It nipped in the bud the affection he had been gradually winning with so much patience and skill. Cristina's daughter was recognized by the Colonna family. She became a nun and lived to a great age. A husband was found for Cristina to cover the scandal in Marchese Andrea Paleotti of Bologna, a match far inferior to thos made by her sisters. This was in 1663. In 1662, Andrea had been at his father's house in the country with his wife, when... escort her in six-horse coaches, and she was visited by most of the ladies who were not too particular or too old-fashioned. The jewels she brought back with the consent of her husband, who delighted in her success, were said to be worth a thousand crowns.

There is an admirable scene which brings out her skill in plucking her admirers. Some friends were seated round her, enjoying the cool breeze of an August evening, on the benches such as were once to be found before most of the palaces in Bologna, outside Casa Paleotti, facing the open square, where no stands the theater. Cristina was in great form, giving an amusing description fo the lovers of the Marchesa Malvezzi could bear and she rounded on her, describing her own life and lovers without mincing words. The other ladies, most of whom, doubtless, had their own little slips on their consciences, thought it rather bad form and moved off in silent embarrassment. In any case, Cristina was too sure of her position to trouble about such attacks from any woman.

The Malvezzi had mentioned Senator Barbazza as the one man whom Cristina could still pluck, and an order soon came from Rome bidding the Legate either shut her up in a convent or expel her from the Legation on account of her way of life. Barbazza, convinced that either his wife or her father was the cause of the order, went to his wife, and when she denied it, made a terrible scene, declaring that if he found her in the house next morning, he would not answer for his actions. To his surprise, she left him with all her jewels, linen, and other possessions. He had no wish for the scandal of an open break, but nothing would induce her to return.

Scandal began to cluster more and more thickly round Casa Paleotti. Cristina was even mentioned on the stage. In 1680, she obtained permission to go to Venice for the carnival. Barbazza was not well enough to go with her, but he sent her presents and even money. Not only did she give him a splendid sturgeon for his official banquet to the Anziani, but she appeared there herself, magnificently dressed, sat by him and charmed everyone by her wit and beauty.

Bologna la Grassa was always noted for its love of food and these dinners to the Anziani surpassed all others. The most famous of the century was given by Francesco Ratta when he laid down his consulship. The guests entered by a green espalier, from which hung oranges and lemons and bunches of grapes. In the midst of the banqueting hall rose a mountain 18 feet high and 48 feet round, covered with silver and green. It was crowned with a gilt statue of Felsina, the goddess of Bologna, leaning on a silver palm. Below, at the angles, were four gilt hippogriffs, holding fruit, flowers, and ears of corn made of sugar. Inside four caves reposed the figures of four river-gods with silver urns, from which flowed in place of water the finest sweetmeats. At the foot of this rocky mountain of silver were more than 50 basins filled with swettmeats and candies and over two dozen filled with choice oranges and lemons. Round the mountain, leaving a space clear for the servants, ran a table with room for 66 guests. Twenty-four center-pieces of the finest sugar work, some of them five feet high, awakened general admiration. The bottles, glasses, and silver were arranged in the corners of the room and the windows. The food was of the rarest and most choice. The total cost was estimated at over 1,000 doubloons.

This was too much for the Legate, who made himself felt at last, so that Cristina once more withdrew to Venice, where she was nearly drowned in an overturned gondola, being rescued by some patricians who dived into the canal in their doublets and wigs. Adventures of some kind accompanied her wherever she went.

She was now entering upon the second stage of her career, as Ricci puts it. Her own life as a lover was drawing to a close and her chief occupation was how to find husbands for her daughters, and even for her servants. We read of her forwarding the marriage of a young man of good birth with a singer, thus cutting short his career in the church and forcing him to leave Bologna. For this escapade, she was again threatened with banishment. Her own daughter, Adelaide, she married to Alessandro Roffeni, who threw over the girl to whom he had been engaged by his parents' wishes. But the match was not a success. Roffeni soon ran through his money and reduced his wife to positive starvation, with the result that she went home. The Legate bade her return to her husband, and when she convinced him that this was not possible, he consigned her to one of the Paleotti family, forbidding her to go to her mother's house, as it was not respectable. However, Roffeni obtained permission from his guardians to live with Cristina, paying her an allowance, and naturally his wife joined him there.

After the death of her husband in 1689, Cristina kept open house for virtually all comers. Indeed, she introduced French social ideas into Bologna, where she provided the first "conversazione" of a general kind; but it was so promiscuous and her has had such a bad name that people did not like their sons frequenting it. She even boasted of it being a kind of matrimonial agency. Once more the Cardinal Legate intervened, suggesting that she should retire into the country to look after her estates. She answered that she could not do so as she was under the protection of the Duke of Mantua, and all her decisions had to be communicated to him. Meanwhile, Adelaide, disgusted at her husband's treatment, took refuge in a convent without her mother's consent. The Legate, overjoyed, bade her place her other daughter, Anna, under similar protection. She replied that Anna was engaged to a...

...nuns to have any music at all. They obeyed for a week and then, on their feast day, the nuns of Santa Cristina came down to the grille of their church and at the Elevation broke into a song so sweet that it melted all the hearts of the listeners. The crowd in the church showered alms generously upon the altar. Other nunneries naturally followed suit and the sisters were soon playing violin and spinet as vigorously as before.

So much and more does Ricci tell us. Signor Prospero Lambertini, afterwards the excellent Pope Benedict XIV, was a good amateur actor in Bologna. In 1689, we read of his admirable acting in La Pazzia del Dolore, played by the members of a local academy.

Meanwhile, Bologna was once again thrilled by news of donna Cristina. Her daughter Anna really did make a good match in Mantua. How eagerly they must have welcomed her on her return and what congratulations they must have showered upon her.

A Moorish slave now begins to play a prominent part in her story. A noble Venetian had bough her after the siege of Buda-Pest and presented her to Cristina, who was delighted to own anything so out of the ordinary, when she was in Venice. She was baptized with the name of Rosa, and such was the success of this latest exotic among male visitors to Casa Paleotti that it was rumored that she learnt a spell in Turkey which made all men fall in love with her. Indeed, disputes about Rosa seem to have resulted in two of donna Cristina's sons quarreling with her, so that she no longer lived under the same roof with them. Ultimately Rosa's hand was asked by a gentleman of Ferrara, though she was with child by an earlier lover. He duly married her and treated her always with the utmost respect as his wife. Naturally, the brothers Paleotti, who were, as one would expect, of a rather turbulent character, had sometimes to draw their swords to defend the somewhat ticklish family honor and a duel between two counts over some disrespectful words used about Adelaide ended in the Legate once more compelling donna Cristina to take a little country air on her estates. But by this time Bologna could not get on without her. They all abused her and wrote skits upon her, but the place was not the same when she was absent. There was no other house like hers, while her own admirers and the lovers of her daughters and her maids were inconsolable. When the main failed to move the Legate, two ladies of distinction petitioned him for her return. He thanked them for the visit, said he was a cavaliere in spite of the cross upon his breast, and knew that it was his duty to serve the ladies, and on the next day, donna Cristina was recalled on condition that she held no more conversazioni. Naturally, she did not respect the order. Would Bologna have allowed it had she attempted to do so? We cannot follow all the scandals, duels, and quarrels which continued to center around Casa Paleotti. Suffice it to say that a member of the great Bentivoglio family married a maid in her service in spite of all efforts to dissuade him, and retired with her to the country, and that Roffeni died a penniless waiter in a hotel in Bologna, thus setting Adelaide free for a more brilliant career.

And now we come to the last great adventure of Cristina's life, the marriage of her favorite daughter, Diana. The story was long the delight of Bologna, and Ricci tells us that there are several accounts of it extant in manuscript.

In 1694, the opera at the Teatro Malvezzi was La Forza della Virtu. It was a magnificent production and La Mignatta, the most famous prima donna of the day, was engaged for it at a salary of 2,000 crowns for the season. So many people thronged to Bologna to see it that two extra performances had to be given, ...

...fourteen in all. Among the strangers who came for the opera season were three young men of the Colonna family with Giovanni Cenci. Every night they went to Casa Paleotti, where Diana's beauty was now the chief attraction. She appears to have been very like her mother. She had golden hair and magnificent black eyes, was full of life and charm, anything but shy, and she played and sang delightfully. Moreover, she was just 17, so that it was not surprising that she completely captivated young Marc Antonio Colonna, the Constable's brother. The situation gains piquancy when we remember that donna Cristina was the mother of his sister.

"Con queste fila d'oto, ti voglio incatenar," went a song in La Forza della Virtu, which we may be sure she warbled divinely.

But alas, Marc Antonio went safely back to Rome with the others. However, he and Diana corresponded. Her letters, Ricci tells us, are charmingly written, which again shows how well she had been taught at a time when even women of so-called education could barely scrawl a note which would disgrace a servant girl of today. The style reminds him of the trills of the music of the time, even of the last bars of a minuet. These weekly letters, doubtless supervised by mama, are harmless enough and are interspersed with phrases like "mio cuore," "mio ben," which had just been imported into opera from real life, though for us they have the affected unreality of the typical opera book.

Next summer, Nerone was given with equal splendor. La Mignatta was there, though we do not hear that the Grand Prince of Tuscany was showering handsome presents on her; so were the Colonna friends from Rome. Marc Antonio almost lived at Casa Paleotti, though he lodged as before at the Dominican monastery. Persons of quality often preferred to put up at the monasteries. He accompanied the Signora Diana everywhere, to the play, out walking, and at home by the spinet. So delighted was she with this servitu that she let him see that their pleasure in each other's society was mutual.

Naturally, people began to talk. One night, at a card party in another house, brother Luigi nearly quarrelled with Giovanni Cenci for a remark he made on the subject. Ferdinando, the only brother still living with his mother, began to grumble, saying that the talks of the two lasted 'til daybreak. So Luigi actually asked the Legate to put Diana in a convent, calling his mother, with whom he had quarrelled, probably about the charms of the Moorish girl Rosa, "una disgraziata." As soon as Marc Antonio was gone, again without committing himself, Luigi carried out his purpose.

Such was Cristina's fury and grief at the news that she went into convulsions, for she loved Diana best of all her children. She left the family palace, put her belongings into a hired house, and went to the country for the summer. Ferdinando was no less indignant at the imprisonment of Diana and he and Luigi actually drew their swords upon each other, but they were separated by friends.

However, an experienced campaigner like Cristina was not easily checkmated. She and Diana both wrote to Marc Antonio, pointing out to him that he was the cause of her being immured. In spite of his protests and denials, the ladies persisted in their charges, but with such courteous charm that "they might be called sweet by him and the offences dear." Ricci culls a number of such phrases from his anohymous authorities.

Meanwhile, donna Cristina set up house in her new abode with Ferdinando and Adelaide, and managed to induce Luigi to release Diana on the ground that she was about to be married. Marc Antonio, who had to go to Milan on business, said he would call and congratulate Diana on her release and make his apologies. But Cristina declared publicly that he should never again set foot in her house or see the inconsolable Diana. She would go to the country or to Venice. Then towards the end of 1695, he appeared suddenly in Bologna. All was forgiven. Cristina received him graciously; Diana gave him her lovely hand to kiss, and they sent him on his way to Milan, promising that all should be forgiven, if he came back soon. He spent the Carnival of 1696 at Bologna, but so well did he behave to avoid compromising her further that everyone thought that he had gotten over his passion.

There was also the Marchese Massimo Caprera, who had long served donna Cristina by way of cloaking his love for Diana, though rumor said that he still gratified the mother's passions which had not cooled with years. Whenever Marc Antonio appeared, there were Diana's sighs, tears, and sad confidences. But the moment his back was turned, both ladies set about petting Don Massimo. Diana was an apt pupil of the school in which she had been educated. Gradually, however, the Marchese was disillusioned. He came more and more rarely, and ended by marrying an old falme. Cristina felt this desertion acutely, while Diana, her wonderful eyes ringed with dark circles, her face pale with grief and disappointment, looked more appealing and lovely than ever. The failure of Don Massimo to induce a friend, who was not indifferent to the charms of Diana, to marry her must have still further humiliated the unhappy woman.

Donna Cristina was at bay. The thought of failing where Diana was concerned was more than she could bear. She wrote Marc Antonio such a letter that, says the chronicler, a cavalier whom she made read it and who afterwards took it to post, could not reatrain his tears, which he shed copiously with the writer. Cristina had considerable literary gifts and she could turn a sonnet as well as any woman then writing in Italy.

In accordance with his father's will, Marc Antonio should by this time have been married, as his brother was childless; but the nature of the Constable's efforts to find him a wife were such that it was clear he would have preferred him to remain single and he had ended by telling him to marry whom the Devil he chose. Marc Antonio was quail-snaring when the epoch-making letter arrived. He hurried back to Rome, put his affairs in order, and started post-haste for Bologna, spreading ti abroad that he had gone back to the birds. He took up his quarters at an inn and such was the landlord's discretion that his visit remained a profound secret. He sent a note to Diana who, on seeing the Colonna seal quite fresh, exclaimed in delight: "Mamma, Marc Antonio is in Bologna - he's in Bologna!" But after reading it, she said not another word. Marc Antonio used to come after the conversazione and stay 'til dawn. Only her mother and Adelaide, tow expert intriguers, were in on the secret. The great question was how to save Diana's good name. La Paleotti knew the only way in which she meant it to be saved, but at present the quail - the metaphor is the chronicler's - was far too wary to think of entering the net.

Marc Antonio proposed a trip to Loreto. The ladies jumped at the idea. Cristina and Adelaide went in one carriage, Diana in another. Just outside Bologna, the servants who were in a third, noticed a mask, who was obviously waiting for the carriages, join the said Signora Diana. They were soon all speeding merrily along the noble Via Emilia, stretching broad and white between the villas, while the mighty Po rolled noisily down in the valley on the left. La Paleotti seems to have spent two days at Loreto...

...cavaliere of the best. Such were the great churchmen of that day. The absence of her "fede di liberta" made it impossible for Diana to be married without returning to Bologna, probably to the relief of the Patriarch; for though he entered into the minutest details as to how they should proceed, it is clear that he had no wish to entangle himself in such an affair.

It was mid-winter, and snow and ice and rain made the journey back anything but a pleasure, but La Paleotti, in spite her years, was no more to be hindered by such trifles than the young couple. Her excitement was at leas as great as theirs. Once in Bologna, they drove up to the little church of San Michele de Leprosetti with two friends, whom Cristina had met and pressed into her service as witnesses. Already they were enjoing in anticipation the story they would have to tell of her latest escapade. The carriage drew up out of sight and the witnesses knocked up the priest. We are back in the Promessi Sposi. Don Silvio Renrini, said his servant appearing at the window, was in bed and must not be disturbed. They insisted that the business was urgent. She let them in, the rest of the party slipping in behind them. The servant was in any case too awed at seeing a party of ladies and gentlemen of such quality in this humble parsonage to venture to stop them, had she thought of so doing. Cristina began making apologies to Don Silvio who was still in his bed, at the foot of which stood Marc Antonio, cloated and with his sword and his great plumed hat. Suddenly he declared in due form that he took Diana for his wedded wife, and Diana, flushed with excitement and prettier than ever in her hood and muff, made a similar declaration in clear, ringing tones before the horrified priest, while they took each other's gloveless hands, a point upon which the Patriarch of Venice had laid special stress: "I don't understand; I refuse consent; the marriage is not valid," exclaimed don Silvio desperately, showing by every word that he knew too well what had happened. To make matters still more sure, Marc Antonio then kissed Diana on the lips, and they both repeated their declarations, was this also on the advice of the gallant patriarch? They hurried out of the room, roaring with laughter at don Silvio's discomfiture, leaving him to enjoy his morning draft as best he might.

This Gretna Green type of marriage was not uncommon at this time, thought the Church by no means approved. Ricci finds two recorded in a single year at Bologna. Still further to legalize the marriage, the whole party went to a notary and repeated their declarations. The young couple then left Bologna, taking care to send word home of its consummation, and wen on to Ferrara and Venice. It is easy to imagine the congratulations showered on Casa Paleotti and its redoubtable chief and the wild excitement the runaway match awakened in Bologna. A Paleotti to wed a Colonna in the teeth of the whole clan! Men began to speculate on what would happen: bravi, sbitti, poison, oubliettes - such violent methods of coercion were becoming old-fashioned and out of date as the century ran out; but who could tell? One remembers the story of the oubliette for the undutiful wife with which the truculent old Archbishop had tried to make the flesh of Marc Antonio's mother, Marie Mancini, creep when he was escorting her, as a bride, from Paris to his brother, the Constable, informing her that he would have made her a much better husband, had he not been in orders. At a later date, her trip to Naples had to be curtailed because he quarreled so violently with his nephew, Abate Colonna, that he insisted on challenging him to a duel.

When the news reached Rome, the Colonna were dumbfounded. No affair of state could have made more of a stir at the Papal court. Cristina's brother, by the way, now Earl of Warwick, was a Canon of St. Peter's. They canvassed every means of annulling the marriage, even to bringing forward donna Cristina's relations with the old Constable, but in vain. People said it was a retribution for his treatment of Cristina, and saw in it the hand of God. "Don Marc Antonio has behaved admirably," said Innocent XII with a malicious smile. "And we give him our blessing. The Constable is partly to blame since he did so much to prevent him from marrying." What more was to be said. After all, as Ghisleri, the Bologna diarist, remarks, Cristina had English royal blood in her veins and could match any woman in birth, if not in virtue.

Meanwhile, the young couple stayed on in Venice. Marc Antonio dressed his lovely bride in the most expensive brocades and had jewels to the value of over 40,000 crowns brought for her from Rome, besides giving her the diamonds fro a jeweled sword. The sensation made by her beauty, with the crowning triumph of her romantic marriage, ensured her a success. Some friends returning to Bologna from Venice reported that she was "tutta galanteria" and the touch of sussiego she added to it made her absolutely delicious. Meanwhile, thanks to her marriage, her brothers were reconciled to their mother, who came back to live in the family mansion. And at length, Diana herself returned to Bologna on the ground that Venice did not suit her health. Every carriage in the town must have driven out to escort her home.

Cristina continued to lead her old life. The conversazioni which were now frequented by Monsignor the Vice-Legate, went on as usual and continued to be the center of scandal. Luigi's sword was drawn more than once in defence of the honor of his house. For full details, I must refer you to Ricci. I may mention that one of her maids bore Prince Giovanni Mirandola a boy, whom he recognized and to whom he gave his name 33 years later, by special permission of the Pope.

There is more tragedy than triumph in the later history of the family. Teresa was not beautiful, but her melancholy and her great black eyes gave her a romantic attraction so that a young nobleman from Palermo fell madly in love with her. However, he went home before he could be induced to marry her and was persuaded by his parents to jilt her. Teresa then wanted to become a nun, but her mother would not hear of it, wisely as the events proved. A friend of the girl appealed to the Archbishop, and with his consent she was smuggled out of the house one evening, after hiding behind a great vase of flowers by the door, and admitted to a nunnery. At first, she was happy. But it soon appeared that she had no vocation and her hysterical attacks made her very troublesome. In spite of the vigilance with which she was watched, Diana Colonna managed to communicate with her and find out that she was wretched and wanted to be released, and urged her husband to use his influence. Then no one was allowed to see her. One day, a young noble was passing the nunnery with a couple of friends when he saw a handkerchief waving from a window. He went closer, seeing an adventure, and a shrill voice bade him go to Casa Paleotti and say she was a prisoner. The result was that she was transferred to Rome and to a milder rule. But her hysterical fits continued and she was accused of being a witch, one of the sisters declaring she had seen her climb out of a window more than 12 feet from the ground, stretching her body til her feet touched the earth. This would have been enough to send one of less rank to the stake, or at least to the prisons of the Holy Office. At last she became so troublesome that the sisters refused to keep her. As no one wanted her, she was sent home, with injunctions that she was to be cloisted in two rooms - she, a Paleotti, in Casa Paleotti. It is not surprising that she soon began to receive visits, then to go down to the famous conversazioni and at last even to visit from home. The fathers learnt how she was behaving and complained to the Legate. Such conduct on the part of a nun who had taken vows was not to be thought of. The Cardinal Archbishop with the Prior of the nunnery and the police came to Casa Paleotti to take her back to the convent in obedience to orders from Rome, in spite of poor Cristina's tears and protests. The archbishop himself pulled her from under the bed by the leg and she was once more immured. She soon became quite insane, though she lived for many years longer. Shortly after her return to the convent, the Cardinal Archbishop had a private interview with her and asked her what she wanted. She replied that she wanted a husband at once, which was probably true, His Eminence for choice.

In 1705, Bologna was startled by the news that Adelaide had married the Earl of Shrewsbury at Augsburg, and renounced her religion in order to do so. The shock was greater even than that of Diana's marriage. Cristina's sensations were of a mingled yarn, for she had entered upon the third and last stage of her kind and was becoming very religious as she grew older. Then it was rumored that the Inquisition meant to burn Adelaide's picture; then that she had been beheaded, because she continued to be a Catholic in secret, and that she died with a crucifix so firmly clutche din her hand that it was impossible to disengage it after her death. As a matter of fact, she went to London, where she soon became popular, especially with the Princess of Wales.

Cristina's life was doomed to end in tragedy. Ferdinando had always been the most troublesome of her family. The wildness of his male ancestors had in his case degenerated into criminal madness. In...


Christina children’s :

  • 1 Maria from Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna at age of 13
  • 2 Luigi who by mistake poisoned many person during a Party and 2 of them died
  • 3 Diana Married to Marc Antonio Colonna
  • 4 Teresa was Crazy and retired in an convent
  • 5 Adelaide Married to Charles 1st Duke of Shrewsbury Talbot on 2d wedding
  • 6 Laura Geltrude Vittoria Born 4 August 1665 at the age of 15
  • 7 Tommaso The oldest son
  • 8 Ferdinando Hanged in London



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Christina Paleotti (Dudley), Duchess of Northumberland's Timeline

Florence, Granducato di Toscana, (Present Italy)
Age 10
February 12, 1719
Age 69
Bologna, Legation of Bologna (Present Provincia Bologna), Papal States (within present Emilia-Romagna), (Present Italy)
Bologna, Provincia Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy