Ercole Pio, a descendant of the Pio di Savoia family, lived in Hungary between 1508 and 1510 as governor of Eger, in the service of the bishop of Eger, Ippolito I d’Este. Ercole started the work with great enthusiasm, writing several reports to his lord over the two years.
Of these, in a letter dated to 12 January 1509 from Eger, he expresses his concern about the plague that has broken out in the country, claiming that they have been passing villages ravaged by plague, where the number of deaths could reach 1,500. His road leads to Nagyszombat (Tirnava, present day Trnava, Slovakia), where the royal court has been temporarily staying as far away as possible from the areas infected with the epidemic. Here King Vladislaus II received him.
The audience of Ercole was organized by an Italian chamberlain of the king. Ercole handed over the gifts sent by his lord: a live cheetah, for example, along with his caretaker. Cheetah hunting was not widespread in Hungary, it was certainly brought to Italy from Constantinople in the middle of the 15th century and later it was a form of sophisticated aristocratic gifting. The presence of the exotic animal attracted a great deal of interest among Hungarians, which we can also read about in this letter. In addition to the cheetah, hunting dogs and hawks were also transported, which the king was particularly pleased with. Ercole, after the handover of the gift, went to Eger where he arrived after a journey described as adventurous.
The original record held by: State Archives of Modena
Reference code: Archivio di Stato di Modena, Archivio Segreto Estense, Cancelleria, Carteggio Ambasciatori, Ungheria, busta 4, Ercole Pio, 12 gennaio 1509
Date of creation: Eger, 12 January 1509