In the course of these months--the last months of Petrarch's residence in Milan, and the last of his son's life--Petrarch had the satisfaction of realizing that Giovanni was making a serious effort to reform, and was making progress in that effort. One of the most hopeful signs was Giovanni's great admiration for Nelli. For Giovanni there was no one else in the world who was worthy to be compared to Nelli. If in a conversation at which he was present he heard anyone spoken of as comparable to Nelli he would usually hold his peace, as being in the presence of his elders, and would merely look down and smile: but sometimes he was impelled to break his silence, and he then spoke of Nelli in such a way as to make manifest the reverence he had for him and the love he bore him [ Sen. I2 and 3].
Perhaps during Petrarch's absence, perhaps soon after his return, letters for him from Charles IV and from Jan ze Středa, were brought to Milan by Sagremor.
The Emperor's letter was occasioned by the fact that Duke Rudolf IV was claiming that Austria was a sovereign state, exempt from the jurisdiction of the Empire, and was basing his claim in part on two brief documents which were ostensibly privileges granted by Caesar and by Nero. The first begins and ends thus:
Nos Julius Imperator, nos cesar et cultor deorum, nos supremus terre Imperialis Augustus . . . Datum Rome capitali mundi die Veneris regni nostri Anno primo et exaccionis auri anno primo.
The second begins and ends thus: