At the beginning of City of Masks, Silvia Bellini has ruled over Bellezza for twenty-five years, known for her craftiness, beauty, and adeptness at politics and diplomatic affairs. Her career in politics began in her teens, when she was elected to the Bellezzan Council and was elected Duchessa at 20, with no real competition in her election. She is popular and beloved by her people. However, she has grown restless in her role as Duchessa and weary as the di Chimici family continues to pressure her into agreeing to allow Bellezza to join their alliance of city-states.
As a ruler, she gradually developed the practice of employing body doubles (such as Giuliana Massi and Simonetta) for public ceremonies and appearances, though she never exercises the practice for situations requiring her authority as Duchessa. She is also known to have specifically ordered the creation of the Glass Room in the Ducal Palazzo.
Through Rodolfo's divinations, Silvia learns that imminent danger will soon befall her, Bellezza, and a young girl, along with the arrival of a new Stravagante. As the di Chimici become increasingly desperate to remove Silvia from power, she survives an assassination attempt from a reluctant hired hand and forced to reveal her true relationship to Arianna Gasparini when Arianna is put on trial for breaking an ancient law.
In a second assassination attempt, one of Silvia's body doubles is killed in an explosion where an assassin rolls a bomb into the Glass Room; ironically, the assassin was unaware that the woman he killed was actually his fiancee. Instead of revealing that she survived, Silvia elects to pretend that she died to vacate her role as Duchessa. She reveals her desire to have Arianna succeed her, arranging for Rodolfo to become the girl's regent until she comes of age. Silvia retires to live as a private citizen under the guise of a wealthy widow in Padavia, watching and helping Arianna and Rodolfo from afar.
Freed from the constraints as a public political figure, Silvia takes advantage of her new anonymous status to travel frequently in order to ensure that Arianna remains safe and to observe the actions of the di Chimici for herself. She eventually marries Rodolfo in a private ceremony in Giglia, appearing as Rodolfo's second wife and Arianna's stepmother. As Arianna reaches the age of majority and firmly establishes herself as the Duchessa of Bellezza, Silvia chooses to publicly reveal to the citizens of Bellezza that she actually survived her second assassination attempt. After explaining to the city's councillors that Arianna's election is still valid and it should be regarded that Silvia had retired from public office, Bellezza celebrates Silvia's return.
Silvia was known to have taken best-looking mandoliers as lovers (including Rodolfo Rossi's older brothers, Egidio and Fiorentino), until she began a relationship with Rodolfo. Seeing his potential, she arranged for him to attend university in Padavia and they become lovers when he returned to Bellezza. The relationship resulted in a daughter, whom Silvia secretly gave to her older sister Valeria to raise as her own. Until the girl was nearly sixteen, the only people who knew that Silvia had a daughter were Silvia, her waiting-woman Susanna, the midwife Maria Maddalena Landini, and Valeria and her husband, Gianfranco Gasparini.
Rodolfo faithfully remained by Silvia's side as her advisor and became a respected senator in Bellezza's senate. Years later, Silvia and Rodolfo married in a secret ceremony on the Marriage with the Sea in 1577. Following Silvia's decision to withdraw from public, she lives as a wealthy widow from Padavia who later publically marries Rodolfo in Giglia and returns to the Ducal Palazzo as his new wife and Arianna's stepmother.
Notes and ReferencesEdit
- ↑ Silvia was 20 when she became Duchessa and she was elected in 1552 so she was born in 1532
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 City of Masks
- ↑ Silvia is really Rodolfo's first and only wife, but the people of Bellezza believe Rodolfo's first wife was the "late" Duchessa, not knowing Silvia is the previous Duchessa
- ↑ City of Swords