I will begin on holy Thursday in the Christian year 1487, Eastertide for the Christians, Passover for the Jews, a perilous time for all. Until that day I had lived the eight years of my life in a child's paradise. On Passover eve Fra Bernardino da Feltre preached an Easter sermon in the town of Mantova. After that day nothing was ever the same again.
The day began for me and my little brother in the ordinary way. Awakened at cock's crow by the slave girl Cateruccia, who slept at the foot of our bed, we washed up, said our prayers, and went on to Mama's room for a sweet bun and some watered wine. This repast had been...