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State of the family of the Medici at Florence -- Enmity of Sixtus IV. toward Florence -- Differences between the family of the Pazzi and that of the Medici -- Beginning of the conspiracy of the Pazzi -- Arrangements to effect the design of the conspiracy -- Giovanni Batista da Montesecco is sent to Florence -- The pope joins the conspiracy -- The king of Naples becomes a party to it -- Names of the conspirators -- The conspirators make many ineffectual attempts to kill Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici -- The final arrangement -- Order of the conspiracy.
This book, commencing between two conspiracies, the one at Milan already narrated, the other yet to be recorded, it would seem appropriate, and in accordance with our usual custom, were we to treat of the nature and importance of these terrible demonstrations. This we should willingly do had we not discussed the matter elsewhere, or could it be comprised in few words. But requiring much consideration, and being already noticed in another place, it will be omitted, and we shall proceed with our narrative. The government of the Medici having subdued all its avowed enemies in order to obtain for that family undivided authority, and distinguish them from other citizens in their relation to the rest, found it necessary to subdue those who secretly plotted against them. While Medici contended with other families, their equals in authority and reputation, those who envied their power were able to oppose them openly without danger of being suppressed at the first demonstration of hostility; for the magistrates being free, neither party had occasion to fear, till one or other of them was overcome. But after the victory of 1466, the government became so entirely centred in the Medici, and they acquired so much authority, that discontented spirits were obliged either to suffer in silence, or, if desirous to destroy them, to attempt it in secrecy, and by clandestine means; which plots rarely succeed and most commonly involve the ruin of those concerned in them, while they frequently contribute to the aggrandizement of those against whom they are directed. Thus the prince of a city attacked by a conspiracy, if not slain like the duke of Milan (which seldom happens), almost always attains to a greater degree of power, and very often has his good disposition perverted to evil. The proceedings of his enemies give him cause for fear; fear suggests the necessity of providing for his own safety, which involves the injury of others; and hence arise animosities, and not unfrequently his ruin. Thus these conspiracies quickly occasion the destruction of their contrivers, and, in time, inevitably injure their primary object.
Italy, as we have seen above, was divided into two factions; the pope and the king on one side; on the other, the Venetians, the duke, and the Florentines. Although the flames of war had not yet broken out, every day gave rise to some new occasion for rekindling them; and the pope, in particular, in all his plans endeavored to annoy the Florentine government. Thus Filippo de' Medici, archbishop of Pisa, being dead, Francesco Salviati, a declared enemy of the Medici, was appointed his successor, contrary to the wish of the Signory of Florence, who being unwilling to give him possession, there arose between them and the pope many fresh grounds of offense, before the matter was settled. Besides this, he conferred, at Rome, many favors upon the family of the Pazzi, and opposed that of the Medici, whenever an opportunity offered. The Pazzi were at this time, both on account of nobility of birth and their great wealth, the most brilliant in France. The head of this family was Jacopo, whom the people, on account of his distinguished pre-eminence, had made a knight. He had no children, except one natural daughter, but many nephews, sons of his brothers Piero and Antonio, the first of whom were Guglielmo, Francesco, Rinato, Giovanni, and then, Andrea, Niccolo, and Galeotto. Cosmo de' Medici, noticing the riches and rank of this family, had given his granddaughter, Bianca, to Guglielmo, hoping by this marriage to unite the houses, and obviate those enmities and dissensions so frequently occasioned by jealousy. However (so uncertain and fallacious are our expectations), very different feelings were thus originated; for Lorenzo's advisers pointed out to him how dangerous it was, and how injurious to his authority, to unite in the same individuals so much wealth and power. In consequence, neither Jacopo nor his nephews obtained those degrees of honor, which in the opinion of other citizens were their due. This gave rise to anger in the Pazzi, and fear on the part of the Medici; as the former of these increased, so did the latter; and upon all occasions, when the Pazzi came in competition with other citizens, their claims to distinction, however strong, were set aside by the magistracy. Francesco de' Pazzi, being at Rome, the Council of Eight, upon some trivial occasion, compelled him to return, without treating him with the respect usually observed toward great citizens, so that the Pazzi everywhere bitterly complained of the ill usage they experienced, and thus excited suspicion in others, and brought down greater evils upon themselves. Giovanni de' Pazzi had married the daughter of Giovanni Buonromei, a very wealthy man, whose riches on his decease, without other children, came to his daughter. His nephew, Carlo, however, took possession of part, and the question being litigated, a law was passed, by virtue of which the wife of Giovanni de' Pazzi was robbed of her inheritance, and it was given to Carlo. In this piece of injustice the Pazzi at once recognized the influence of the Medici. Giuliano de' Medici often complained to his brother Lorenzo of the affair, saying he was afraid that by grasping at too much they would lose all.
Lorenzo, flushed with youth and power, would assume the direction of everything, and resolved that all transactions should bear an impress of his influence. The Pazzi, with their nobility and wealth unable to endure so many affronts, began to devise some means of vengeance. The first who spoke of any attempt against the Medici, was Francesco, who, being more sensitive and resolute than the others, determined either to obtain what was withheld from him, or lose what he still possessed. As the government of Florence gave him great offense, he resided almost constantly at Rome, where, like other Florentine merchants, he conducted extensive commercial operations; and being a most intimate friend of Count Girolamo, they frequently complained to each other of the conduct of the Medici. After a while they began to think that for the count to retain his estates, or the Pazzi their rights in the city, it would be necessary to change the government of Florence; and this they considered could not be done without the death of Giuliano and Lorenzo. They imagined the pope and the king would be easily induced to consent, because each could be convinced of the facility of the enterprise. Having acquired these ideas, they communicated them to Francesco Salviati, archbishop of Pisa, who, being ambitious and recently offended by the Medici, willingly adopted their views. Considering their next step, they resolved, in order to facilitate the design, to obtain the consent of Jacopo de' Pazzi, without whose concurrence they feared it would be impracticable. With this view, it was resolved that Francesco de' Pazzi should go to Florence, while the archbishop and the count were to remain at Rome, to be ready to communicate with the pope when a suitable opportunity occurred. Francesco found Jacopo de' Pazzi more cautious and difficult to persuade than he could have wished, and on imparting this to his friends at Rome, it was thought he desired the sanction of some greater authority to induce him to adopt their views. Upon this, the archbishop and the count communicated the whole affair to Giovanni Batista da Montesecco, a leader of the papal forces, possessing military reputation, and under obligations to the pope and the count. To him the affair seemed difficult and dangerous, while the archbishop endeavored to obviate his objections by showing how much assistance the pope and the king would lend to the enterprise; the hatred of the Florentines toward the Medici, the numerous friends the Salviati and the Pazzi would bring with them, the readiness with which the young men might be slain, on account of their going about the city unaccompanied and without suspicion, and the facility with which the government might then be changed. These things Giovanni Batista did not in reality believe, for he had heard from many Florentines quite contrary statements.
While occupied with these deliberations, Carlo, lord of Faenza, was taken ill, and tears were entertained for his life. This circumstance seemed to the archbishop and the count to offer an opportunity for sending Giovanni Batista to Florence, and thence to Romagna, under pretence of recovering certain territories belonging to the latter, of which the lord of Faenza had taken possession. The count therefore commissioned Giovanni Batista to have an interview with Lorenzo de' Medici, and on his part request his advice how to proceed with respect to the affair of Romagna; that he should then see Francesco de' Pazzi, and in conjunction with him endeavor to induce his uncle Jacopo to adopt their ideas. To render the pope's authority available in their behalf, Giovanni Batista was ordered, before his departure, to communicate with the pontiff, who offered every means at his disposal in favor of their enterprise. Giovanni Batista, having arrived at Florence, obtained an interview with Lorenzo, by whom he was most graciously received; and with regard to the advice he was commissioned to ask, obtained a wise and friendly answer; so that he was astonished at finding him quite a different character from what he had been represented, and considered him to possess great sagacity, an affectionate heart, and most amicably disposed toward the count. He found Francesco de' Pazzi had gone to Lucca, and spoke to Jacopo, who was at first quite opposed to their design, but before they parted the pope's authority seemed to have influenced him; for he told Giovanni Batista, that he might go to Romagna, and that before his return Francesco would be with him, and they would then consult more particularly upon the subject. Giovanni Batista proceeded to Romagna, and soon returned to Florence. After a pretended consultation with Lorenzo, upon the count's affairs, he obtained an interview with Francesco and Jacopo de' Pazzi, when the latter gave his consent to their enterprise. They then discussed the means of carrying it into effect. Jacopo de' Pazzi was of opinion that it could not be effected while both the brothers remained at Florence; and therefore it would be better to wait till Lorenzo went to Rome, whither it was reported he had an intention of going; for then their object would be more easily attained. Francesco de' Pazzi had no objection to Lorenzo being at Rome, but if he were to forego the journey, he thought that both the brothers might be slain, either at a marriage, or at a play, or in a church. With regard to foreign assistance, he supposed the pope might assemble forces for the conquest of the fortress of Montone, being justified in taking it from Count Carlo, who had caused the tumults already spoken of in Sienna and Perugia.
Still no definite arrangement was made; but it was resolved that Giovanni Batista and Francesco de' Pazzi should go to Rome and settle everything with the pontiff. The matter was again debated at Rome; and at length it was concluded that besides an expedition against Montone, Giovan Francesco da Tolentino, a leader of the papal troops, should go into Romagna, and Lorenzo da Castello to the Val di Tavere; that each, with the forces of the country, should hold himself in readiness to perform the commands of the archbishop de' Salviati and Francesco de Pazzi, both of whom were to come to Florence, and provide for the execution of their design, with the assistance of Giovanni Batista da Montesecco. King Ferrando promised, by his ambassador, to contribute all in his power to the success of their undertaking. Francesco de' Pazzi and the archbishop having arrived at Florence, prevailed upon Jacopo di Poggio, a well educated youth, but ambitious and very desirous of change, to join them, and two others, each of the name of Jacopo Salviati, one a brother, the other a kinsman, of the archbishop. They also gained over Bernardo Bandini and Napoleone Franzeni, two bold young men, under great obligations to the family of the Pazzi. Besides those already mentioned, they were joined by Antonio da Volterra and a priest named Stefano, who taught Latin to the daughter of Jacopo de' Pazzi. Rinato de' Pazzi, a grave and prudent man, being quite aware of the evils resulting from such undertakings, refused all participation in the conspiracy; he held it in abhorrence, and as much as possible, without betraying his kinsmen, endeavored to counteract it.
The pope had sent Raffaello di Riario, a nephew of Count Girolamo, to the college of Pisa, to study canon law, and while there, had advanced him to the dignity of a cardinal. The conspirators determined to bring this cardinal to Florence, as they would thus be better able to conceal their design, since any persons requisite to be introduced into the city might easily be made to appear as a part of his retinue, and his arrival might facilitate the completion of their enterprise. The cardinal came, and was received by Jacopo de' Pazzi at his villa of Montughi, near Florence. By his means it was also intended to bring together Giuliano and Lorenzo, and whenever this happened, to put them both to death. They therefore invited them to meet the cardinal at their villa of Fiesole; but Giuliano, either intentionally or through some preventing cause, did not attend; and this design having failed, they thought that if asked to an entertainment at Florence, both brothers would certainly be present. With this intention they appointed Sunday, the twenty-sixth of April, 1478, to give a great feast; and, resolving to assassinate them at table, the conspirators met on the Saturday evening to arrange all proceedings for the following day. In the morning it was intimated to Francesco that Giuliano would be absent; on which the conspirators again assembled and finding they could no longer defer the execution of their design, since it would be impossible among so many to preserve secrecy, they determined to complete it in the cathedral church of Santa Reparata, where the cardinal attending, the two brothers would be present as usual. They wished Giovanni Batista da Montesecco to undertake the murder of Lorenzo, while that of Giuliano was assigned to Francesco de' Pazzi and Bernardo Bandini. Giovanni Batista refused, either because his familiarity with Lorenzo had created feelings in his favor, or from some other reason, saying he should not have resolution sufficient to commit such a deed in a church, and thus add sacrilege to treachery. This caused the failure of their undertaking; for time pressing, they were compelled to substitute Antonio da Volterra and Stefano, the priest, two men, who, from nature and habit, were the most unsuitable of any; for if firmness and resolution joined with experience in bloodshed be necessary upon any occasion, it is on such as these; and it often happens that those who are expert in arms, and have faced death in all forms on the field of battle, still fail in an affair like this. Having now decided upon the time, they resolved that the signal for the attack should be the moment when the priest who celebrated high mass should partake of the sacrament, and that, in the meantime, the Archbishop de' Salviati, with his followers, and Jacopo di Poggio, should take possession of the palace, in order that the Signory, after the young men's death, should voluntarily, or by force, contribute to their assistance.
Giuliano de' Medici slain -- Lorenzo escapes -- The archbishop Salviati endeavors to seize the palace of the Signory -- He is taken and hanged -- The enterprise of the conspirators entirely fails -- Manifestations of the Florentines in favor of Lorenzo de' Medici -- The conspirators punished -- The funeral of Giuliano -- The pope and the king of Naples make war upon the Florentines -- Florence excommunicated -- Speech of Lorenzo de' Medici to the citizens of Florence.
The conspirators proceeded to Santa Reparata, where the cardinal and Lorenzo had already arrived. The church was crowded, and divine service commenced before Giuliano's arrival. Francesco de' Pazzi and Bernardo Bandini, who were appointed to be his murderers, went to his house, and finding him, they, by earnest entreaties, prevailed upon him to accompany them. It is surprising that such intense hatred, and designs so full of horror as those of Francesco and Bernardo, could be so perfectly concealed; for while conducting him to the church, and after they had reached it, they amused him with jests and playful discourse. Nor did Francesco forget, under pretense of endearment, to press him in his arms, so as to ascertain whether under his apparel he wore a cuirass or other means of defense. Giuliano and Lorenzo were both aware of the animosity of the Pazzi, and their desire to deprive them of the government; but they felt assured that any design would be attempted openly, and in conjunction with the civil authority. Thus being free from apprehension for their personal safety both affected to be on friendly terms with them. The murderers being ready, each in his appointed station, which they could retain without suspicion, on account of the vast numbers assembled in the church, the preconcerted moment arrived, and Bernardo Bandini, with a short dagger provided for the purpose, struck Giuliano in the breast, who, after a few steps, fell to the earth. Francesco de' Pazzi threw himself upon the body and covered him with wounds; while, as if blinded by rage, he inflicted a deep incision upon his own leg. Antonio and Stefano, the priest, attacked Lorenzo, and after dealing many blows, effected only a slight incision in the throat; for either their want of resolution, the activity of Lorenzo, who, finding himself attacked, used his arms in his own defense, or the assistance of those by whom he was surrounded, rendered all attempts futile. They fled and concealed themselves, but being subsequently discovered, were put to death in the most ignominious manner, and their bodies dragged about the city. Lorenzo, with the friends he had about him, took refuge in the sacristy of the church. Bernardo Bandini, after Giuliano's death, also slew Francesco Nori, a most intimate friend of the Medici, either from some previous hatred or for having endeavored to render assistance to Giuliano; and not content with these murders, he ran in pursuit of Lorenzo, intending, by his own promptitude, to make up for the weakness and inefficiency of the others; but finding he had taken refuge in the vestry, he was prevented.
In the midst of these violent and fearful deeds, during which the uproar was so terrible, that it seemed almost sufficient to bring the church down upon its inmates, the cardinal Riario remained close to the altar, where he was with difficulty kept in safety by the priests, until the Signory, upon the abatement of the disturbance, could conduct him to their palace, where he remained in the utmost terror till he was set at liberty.
There were at this time in Florence some people of Perugia, whom party feuds had compelled to leave their homes; and the Pazzi, by promising to restore them to their country, obtained their assistance. The Archbishop de' Salviati, going to seize the palace, together with Jacopo di Poggio, and the Salviati, his friends, took these Perugini with him. Having arrived, he left part of his people below, with orders that when they heard a noise they should make themselves masters of the entrance, while himself, with the greater part of the Perugini, proceeded above, and finding the Signory at dinner (for it was now late), was admitted after a short delay, by Cesare Petrucci, the Gonfalonier of Justice. He entered with only a few of his followers, the greater part of them being shut up in the cancelleria into which they had gone, whose doors were so contrived, that upon closing they could not be opened from either side, without the key. The archbishop being with the gonfalonier, under pretense of having something to communicate on the part of the pope, addressed him in such an incoherent and hesitating manner, that the gonfalonier at once suspected him, and rushing out of the chamber to call assistance, found Jacopo di Poggio, whom he seized by the hair of the head, and gave into the custody of his attendants. The Signory hearing the tumult, snatched such arms as they could at the moment obtain, and all who had gone up with the archbishop, part of them being shut up, and part overcome with terror, were immediately slain or thrown alive out of the windows of the palace, at which the archbishop, the two Jacopi Salviati, and Jacopodi Poggio were hanged. Those whom the archbishop left below, having mastered the guard and taken possession of the entrance occupied all the lower floors, so that the citizens, who in the uproar, hastened to the palace, were unable to give either advice or assistance to the Signory.
Francesco de' Pazzi and Bernardo Bandini, perceiving Lorenzo's escape, and the principal agent in the enterprise seriously wounded, became immediately conscious of the imminent peril of their position. Bernardo, using the same energy in his own behalf that had served him against the Medici, finding all lost, saved himself by flight. Francesco, wounded as he was, got to his house, and endeavored to get on horseback, for it had been arranged they should ride through the city and call the people to arms and liberty; but he found himself unable, from the nature of his wound, and, throwing himself naked upon his bed, begged Jacopo de' Pazzi to perform the part for which he was himself incapacitated. Jacopo, though old and unaccustomed to such business, by way of making a last effort, mounted his horse, and, with about a hundred armed followers, collected without previous preparation, hastened to the piazza of the palace, and endeavored to assemble adherents by cries of "people," and "liberty"; but the former, having been rendered deaf by the fortune and liberty of the Medici, the latter was unknown in Florence, and he found no followers. The signors, who held the upper part of the palace, saluted him with stones and threats. Jacopo, while hesitating, was met by Giovanni Seristori, his brother-in-law, who upbraided him with the troubles he had occasioned, and then advised him to go home, for the people and liberty were as dear to other citizens as to himself. Thus deprived of every hope, Lorenzo being alive, Francesco seriously wounded, and none disposed to follow him, not knowing what to do, he resolved, if possible, to escape by flight; and, accompanied by those whom he had led into the piazza, left Florence with the intention of going into Romagna.
In the meantime the whole city was roused to arms, and Lorenzo de' Medici, accompanied by a numerous escort, returned to his house. The palace was recovered from its assailants, all of whom were either slain or made prisoners. The name of the Medici echoed everywhere, and portions of dead bodies were seen borne on spears and scattered through the streets; while everyone was transported with rage against the Pazzi, and pursued them with relentless cruelty. The people took possession of their houses, and Francesco, naked as they found him, was led to the palace, and hanged beside the archbishop and the rest. He could not be induced, by any injurious words or deeds, to utter a syllable, but regarding those around with a steady look, he silently sighed. Guglielmo de' Pazzi, brother-in-law to Lorenzo, fled to the latter's house, and by his innocence and the intercession of his wife, Bianca, he escaped death. There was not a citizen of any rank whatever who did not, upon this occasion, wait upon Lorenzo with an offer of his services; so great were the popularity and good fortune which this family had acquired by their liberality and prudence. Rinato de' Pazzi was at his villa when the event took place, and on being informed of it, he endeavored to escape in disguise, but was arrested upon the road and brought to Florence. Jacopo de' Pazzi was taken while crossing the mountains of Romagna, for the inhabitants of these parts having heard what had occurred, and seeing him in flight, attacked and brought him back to the city; nor could he, though he frequently endeavored, prevail with them to put him to death upon the road. Jacopo and Rinato were condemned within four days after the murder of Giuliano. And though so many deaths had been inflicted that the roads were covered with fragments of human bodies, not one excited a feeling of regret, except that of Rinato; for he was considered a wise and good man, and possessed none of the pride for which the rest of his family were notorious. As if to mark the event by some extraordinary circumstance, Jacopo de' Pazzi, after having been buried in the tomb of his ancestors, was disinterred like an excommunicated person, and thrown into a hole at the outside of the city walls; from this grave he was taken, and with the halter in which he had been hanged, his body was dragged naked through the city, and, as if unfit for sepulture on earth, thrown by the populace into the Arno, whose waters were then very high. It was an awful instance of the instability of fortune, to see so wealthy a man, possessing the utmost earthly felicity, brought down to such a depth of misery, such utter ruin and extreme degradation. It is said he had vices, among which were gaming and profane swearing, to which he was very much addicted; but these seem more than balanced by his numerous charities, for he relieved many in distress, and bestowed much money for pious uses. It may also be recorded in his favor, that upon the Saturday preceding the death of Giuliano, in order that none might suffer from his misfortunes, he discharged all his debts; and whatever property he possessed belonging to others, either in his own house or his place of business, he was particularly careful to return to its owners. Giovanni Batista da Montesecco, after a long examination, was beheaded; Napoleone Franzesi escaped punishment by flight; Giulielmo de' Pazzi was banished, and such of his cousins as remained alive were imprisoned in the fortress of Volterra. The disturbances being over, and the conspirators punished, the funeral obsequies of Giuliano were performed amid universal lamentation; for he possessed all the liberality and humanity that could be wished for in one of his high station. He left a natural son, born some months after his death, named Giulio, who was endowed with that virtue and felicity with which the whole world is now acquainted; and of which we shall speak at length when we come to our own times, if God spare us. The people who had assembled in favor of the Pazzi under Lorenzo da Castello in the Val di Tavere, and under Giovan Francesco da Tolentino in Romagna, approached Florence, but having heard of the failure of the conspiracy, they returned home.
The changes desired by the pope and the king in the government of Florence, not having taken place, they determined to effect by war what they had failed to accomplish by treachery; and both assembled forces with all speed to attack the Florentine states; publicly declaring that they only wished the citizens to remove Lorenzo de' Medici, who alone of all the Florentines was their enemy. The king's forces had already passed the Tronto, and the pope's were in Perugia; and that the citizens might feel the effect of spiritual as well as temporal weapons, the pontiff excommunicated and anathematized them. Finding themselves attacked by so many armies, the Florentines prepared for their defense with the utmost care. Lorenzo de' Medici, as the enemy's operations were said to be directed against himself alone, resolved first of all to assemble the Signory, and the most influential citizens, in the palace, to whom, being above three hundred in number, he spoke as follows: -- "Most excellent signors, and you, magnificent citizens, I know not whether I have more occasion to weep with you for the events which have recently occurred, or to rejoice in the circumstances with which they have been attended. Certainly, when I think with what virulence of united deceit and hatred I have been attacked, and my brother murdered, I cannot but mourn and grieve from my heart, from my very soul. Yet when I consider with what promptitude, anxiety, love, and unanimity of the whole city my brother has been avenged and myself defended, I am not only compelled to rejoice, but feel myself honored and exalted; for if experience has shown me that I had more enemies than I apprehended, it has also proved that I possess more warm and resolute friends than I could ever have hoped for. I must therefore grieve with you for the injuries others have suffered, and rejoice in the attachment you have exhibited toward myself; but I feel more aggrieved by the injuries committed, since they are so unusual, so unexampled, and (as I trust you believe) so undeserved on our part. Think, magnificent citizens, to what a dreadful point ill fortune has reduced our family, when among friends, amidst our own relatives, nay, in God's holy temple, we have found our greatest foes. Those who are in danger turn to their friends for assistance; they call upon their relatives for aid; but we found ours armed, and resolved on our destruction. Those who are persecuted, either from public or private motives, flee for refuge to the altars; but where others are safe, we are assassinated; where parricides and assassins are secure, the Medici find their murderers. But God, who has not hitherto abandoned our house, again saved us, and has undertaken the defense of our just cause. What injury have we done to justify so intense desire of our destruction? Certainly those who have shown themselves so much our enemies, never received any private wrong from us; for, had we wished to injure them, they would not have had an opportunity of injuring us. If they attribute public grievances to ourselves (supposing any had been done to them), they do the greater injustices to you, to this palace, to the majesty of this government, by assuming that on our account you would act unfairly to any of your citizens; and such a supposition, as we all know, is contradicted by every view of the circumstances; for we, had we been able, and you, had we wished it, would never have contributed to so abominable a design. Whoever inquires into the truth of these matters, will find that our family has always been exalted by you, and from this sole cause, that we have endeavored by kindness, liberality, and beneficence, to do good to all; and if we have honored strangers, when did we ever injure our relatives? If our enemies' conduct has been adopted, to gratify their desire for power (as would seem to be the case from their having taken possession of the palace and brought an armed force into the piazza), the infamous, ambitious, and detestable motive is at once disclosed. If they were actuated by envy and hatred of our authority, they offend you rather than us; for from you we have derived all the influence we possess. Certainly usurped power deserves to be detested; but not distinctions conceded for acts of kindness, generosity, and magnificence. And you all know that our family never attained any rank to which this palace and your united consent did not raise it. Cosmo, my grandfather, did not return from exile with arms and violence, but by your unanimous desire and approbation. It was not my father, old and inform, who defended the government against so many enemies, but yourselves by your authority and benevolence defended him; neither could I, after his death, being then a boy, have maintained the position of my house except by your favor and advice. Nor should we ever be able to conduct the affairs of this republic, if you did not contribute to our support. Therefore, I know not the reason of their hatred toward us, or what just cause they have of envy. Let them direct their enmity against their own ancestors, who, by their pride and avarice, lost the reputation which ours, by very opposite conduct, were enabled to acquire. But let it be granted we have greatly injured them, and that they are justified in seeking our ruin; why do they come and take possession of the palace? Why enter into league with the pope and the king, against the liberties of this republic? Why break the long-continued peace of Italy? They have no excuse for this; they ought to confine their vengeance to those who do them wrong, and not confound private animosities with public grievances. Hence it is that since their defeat our misfortune is the greater; for on their account the pope and the king make war upon us, and this war, they say, is directed against my family and myself. And would to God that this were true; then the remedy would be sure and unfailing, for I would not be so base a citizen as to prefer my own safety to yours; I would at once resolve to ensure your security, even though my own destruction were the immediate and inevitable consequence. But as the wrongs committed by princes are usually concealed under some less offensive covering, they have adopted this plea to hide their more abominable purpose. If, however, you think otherwise, I am in your hands; it is with you to do with me what you please. You are my fathers, my protectors, and whatever you command me to do I will perform most willingly; nor will I ever refuse, when you find occasion to require it, to close the war with my own blood which was commenced with that of my brother." While Lorenzo spoke, the citizens were unable to refrain from tears, and the sympathy with which he had been heard was extended to their reply, delivered by one of them in the name of the rest, who said that the city acknowledged many advantages derived from the good qualities of himself and his family; and encouraged them to hope that with as much promptitude as they had used in his defense, and in avenging his brother's death, they would secure to him his influence in the government, which he should never lose while they retained possession of the country. And that their deeds might correspond with their words, they immediately appointed a number of armed men, as a guard for the security of his person against domestic enemies.
The Florentines prepare for war against the pope -- They appeal to a future council -- Papal and Neapolitan movements against the Florentines -- The Venetians refuse to assist the Florentines -- Disturbances in Milan -- Genoa revolts from the duke -- Futile endeavors to effect peace with the pope -- The Florentines repulse their enemies from the territory of Pisa -- They attack the papal states -- The papal forces routed upon the borders of the Lake of Perugia.
The Florentines now prepared for war, by raising money and collecting as large a force as possible. Being in league with the duke of Milan and the Venetians, they applied to both for assistance. As the pope had proved himself a wolf rather than a shepherd, to avoid being devoured under false accusations, they justified their cause with all available arguments, and filled Italy with accounts of the treachery practiced against their government, exposing the impiety and injustice of the pontiff, and assured the world that the pontificate which he had wickedly attained, he would as impiously fill; for he had sent those whom he had advanced to the highest order of prelacy, in the company of traitors and parricides, to commit the most horrid treachery in the church in the midst of divine service and during the celebration of the holy sacrament, and that then, having failed to murder the citizens, change the government, and plunder the city, according to his intention, he had suspended the performance of all religious offices, and injuriously menaced and injured the republic with pontifical maledictions. But if God was just, and violence was offensive to him, he would be displeased with that of his viceregent, and allow his injured people who were not admitted to communion with the latter, to offer up their prayers to himself. The Florentines, therefore, instead of receiving or obeying the interdict, compelled the priests to perform divine service, assembled a council in Florence of all the Tuscan prelates under their jurisdiction, and appealed against the injuries suffered from the pontiff to a future general council.
The pope did not neglect to assign reasons in his own justification, and maintained it was the duty of a pontiff to suppress tyranny, depress the wicked, and exalt the good; and that this ought to be done by every available means; but that secular princes had no right to detain cardinals, hang bishops, murder, mangle, and drag about the bodies of priests, destroying without distinction the innocent with the guilty.
Notwithstanding these complaints and accusations, the Florentines restored to the pope the cardinal whom they had detained, in return for which he immediately assailed them with his own forces and those of the king. The two armies, under the command of Alfonso, eldest son of Ferrando, and duke of Calabria, who had as his general, Federigo, count of Urbino, entered the Chianti, by permission of the Siennese, who sided with the enemy, occupied Radda with many other fortresses, and having plundered the country, besieged the Castellina. The Florentines were greatly alarmed at these attacks, being almost destitute of forces, and finding their friends slow to assist; for though the duke sent them aid, the Venetians denied all obligation to support the Florentines in their private quarrels, since the animosities of individuals were not to be defended at the public expense. The Florentines, in order to induce the Venetians to take a more correct view of the case, sent Tommaso Soderini as their ambassador to the senate, and, in the meantime, engaged forces, and appointed Ercole, marquis of Ferrara, to the command of their army. While these preparations were being made, the Castellina was so hard pressed by the enemy, that the inhabitants, despairing of relief, surrendered, after having sustained a siege of forty-two days. The enemy then directed their course toward Arezzo, and encamped before San Savino. The Florentine army being now in order, went to meet them, and having approached within three miles, caused such annoyance, that Federigo d'Urbino demanded a truce for a few days, which was granted, but proved so disadvantageous to the Florentines, that those who had made the request were astonished at having obtained it; for, had it been refused, they would have been compelled to retire in disgrace. Having gained these few days to recruit themselves, as soon as they were expired, they took the castle in the presence of their enemies. Winter being now come, the forces of the pope and king retired for convenient quarters to the Siennese territory. The Florentines also withdrew to a more commodious situation, and the marquis of Ferrara, having done little for himself and less for others, returned to his own territories.
At this time, Genoa withdrew from the dominion of Milan, under the following circumstances. Galeazzo, at his death, left a son, Giovan Galeazzo, who being too young to undertake the government, dissensions arose between Sforza, Lodovico, Ottaviano, and Ascanio, his uncles, and the lady Bona, his mother, each of whom desired the guardianship of the young duke. By the advice and mediation of Tommaso Soderini, who was then Florentine ambassador at the court of Milan, and of Cecco Simonetta, who had been secretary to Galeazzo, the lady Bona prevailed. The uncles fled, Ottaviano was drowned in crossing the Adda; the rest were banished to various places, together with Roberto da San Severino, who in these disputes had deserted the duchess and joined the uncles of the duke. The troubles in Tuscany, which immediately followed, gave these princes hope that the new state of things would present opportunities for their advantage; they therefore quitted the places to which their exile limited them, and each endeavored to return home. King Ferrando, finding the Florentines had obtained assistance from none but the Milanese, took occasion to give the duchess so much occupation in her own government, as to render her unable to contribute to their assistance. By means of Prospero Adorno, the Signor Roberto, and the rebellious uncles of the duke, he caused Genoa to throw off the Milanese yoke. The Castelletto was the only place left; confiding in which, the duchess sent a strong force to recover the city, but it was routed by the enemy; and perceiving the danger which might arise to her son and herself if the war were continued, Tuscany being in confusion, and the Florentines, in whom alone she had hope, themselves in trouble, she determined, as she could not retain Genoa in subjection, to secure it as an ally; and agreed with Battistino Fregoso, the enemy of Prospero Adorno, to give him the Castelletto, and make him prince of Genoa, on condition that he should expel Prospero, and do nothing in favor of her son's uncles. Upon this agreement, Battistino, by the assistance of the Castelletto and of his friends, became lord of Genoa; and according to the custom of the city, took the title of Doge. The Sforzeschi and the Signor Roberto, being thus expelled by the Genoese, came with their forces into Lunigiana, and the pope and the king, perceiving the troubles of Lombardy to be composed, took occasion with them to annoy Tuscany in the Pisan territory, that the Florentines might be weakened by dividing their forces. At the close of winter they ordered Roberto da San Severino to leave Lunigiana and march thither, which he did, and with great tumult plundered many fortresses, and overran the country around Pisa.
At this time, ambassadors came to Florence from the emperor, the king of France, and the king of Hungary, who were sent by their princes to the pontiff. They solicited the Florentines also to send ambassadors to the pope, and promised to use their utmost exertion to obtain for them an advantageous peace. The Florentines did not refuse to make trial, both for the sake of publicly justifying their proceedings, and because they were really desirous of peace. Accordingly, the ambassadors were sent, but returned without coming to any conclusion of their differences. The Florentines, to avail themselves of the influence of the king of France, since they were attacked by one part of the Italians and abandoned by the other, sent to him as their ambassador, Donato Acciajuoli, a distinguished Latin and Greek scholar, whose ancestors had always ranked high in the city, but while on his journey he died at Milan. To relieve his surviving family and pay a deserved tribute to his memory, he was honorably buried at the public expense, provision was made for his sons, and suitable marriage portions given to his daughters, and Guid' Antonio Vespucci, a man well acquainted with pontifical and imperial affairs, was sent as ambassador to the king in his stead.
The attack of Signor Roberto upon the Pisan territory, being unexpected, greatly perplexed the Florentines; for having to resist the foe in the direction of Sienna, they knew not how to provide for the places about Pisa. To keep the Lucchese faithful, and prevent them from furnishing the enemy either with money or provisions, they sent as ambassador Piero di Gino Capponi, who was received with so much jealousy, on account of the hatred which that city always cherishes against the Florentines from former injuries and constant fear, that he was on many occasions in danger of being put to death by the mob; and thus his mission gave fresh cause of animosity rather than of union. The Florentines recalled the marquis of Ferrara, and engaged the marquis of Mantua; they also as earnestly requested the Venetians to send them Count Carlo, son of Braccio, and Deifobo, son of Count Jacopo, and after many delays, they complied; for having made a truce with the Turks, they had no excuse to justify a refusal, and could not break through the obligation of the League without the utmost disgrace. The counts, Carlo and Deifobo, came with a good force, and being joined by all that could be spared from the army, which, under the marquis of Ferrara, held in check the duke of Calabria, proceeded toward Pisa, to meet Signor Roberto, who was with his troops near the river Serchio, and who, though he had expressed his intention of awaiting their arrival, withdrew to the camp at Lunigiana, which he had quitted upon coming into the Pisan territory, while Count Carlo recovered all the places that had been taken by the enemy in that district.
The Florentines, being thus relieved from the attack in the direction of Pisa, assembled the whole force between Colle and Santo Geminiano. But the army, on the arrival of Count Carlo, being composed of Sforzeschi and Bracceschi, their hereditary feuds soon broke forth, and it was thought that if they remained long in company, they would turn their arms against each other. It was therefore determined, as the smaller evil, to divide them; to send one party, under Count Carlo, into the district of Perugia, and establish the other at Poggibonzi, where they formed a strong encampment in order to prevent the enemy from penetrating the Florentine territory. By this they also hoped to compel the enemy to divide their forces; for Count Carlo was understood to have many partisans in Perugia, and it was therefore expected, either that he would occupy the place, or that the pope would be compelled to send a large body of men for its defense. To reduce the pontiff to greater necessity, they ordered Niccolo Vitelli, who had been expelled from Citta di Castello, where his enemy Lorenzo Vitelli commanded, to lead a force against that place, with the view of driving out his adversary and withdrawing it from obedience to the pope. At the beginning of the campaign, fortune seemed to favor the Florentines; for Count Carlo made rapid advances in the Perugino, and Niccolo Vitelli, though unable to enter Castello, was superior in the field, and plundered the surrounding country without opposition. The forces also, at Poggibonzi, constantly overran the country up to the walls of Sienna. These hopes, however, were not realized; for in the first place, Count Carlo died, while in the fullest tide of success; though the consequences of this would have been less detrimental to the Florentines, had not the victory to which it gave occasion, been nullified by the misconduct of others. The death of the count being known, the forces of the church, which had already assembled in Perugia, conceived hopes of overcoming the Florentines, and encamped upon the lake, within three miles of the enemy. On the other side, Jacopo Guicciardini, commissary to the army, by the advice of Roberto da Rimino, who, after the death of Count Carlo, was the principal commander, knowing the ground of their sanguine expectations, determined to meet them, and coming to an engagement near the lake, upon the site of the memorable rout of the Romans, by Hannibal, the Carthaginian general, the papal forces were vanquished. The news of the victory, which did great honor to the commanders, diffused universal joy at Florence, and would have ensured a favorable termination of the campaign, had not the disorders which arose in the army at Poggibonzi thrown all into confusion; for the advantage obtained by the valor of the one, was more than counterbalanced by the disgraceful proceedings of the other. Having made considerable booty in the Siennese territory, quarrels arose about the division of it between the marquis of Mantua and the marquis of Ferrara, who, coming to arms, assailed each other with the utmost fury; and the Florentines seeing they could no longer avail themselves of the services of both, allowed the marquis of Ferrara and his men to return home.
The duke of Calabria routs the Florentine army at Poggibonzi -- Dismay in Florence on account of the defeat -- Progress of the duke of Calabria -- The Florentines wish for peace -- Lorenzo de' Medici determines to go to Naples to treat with the king -- Lodovico Sforza, surnamed the Moor, and his brothers, recalled to Milan -- Changes in the government of that city in consequence -- The Genoese take Serezana -- Lorenzo de' Medici arrives at Naples -- Peace concluded with the king -- The pope and the Venetians consent to the peace -- The Florentines in fear of the duke of Calabria -- Enterprises of the Turks -- They take Otranto -- The Florentines reconciled with the pope -- Their ambassadors at the papal court -- The pope's reply to the ambassadors -- The king of Naples restores to the Florentines all the fortresses he had taken.
The army being thus reduced, without a leader, and disorder prevailing in every department, the duke of Calabria, who was with his forces near Sienna, resolved to attack them immediately. The Florentines, finding the enemy at hand, were seized with a sudden panic; neither their arms, nor their numbers, in which they were superior to their adversaries, nor their position, which was one of great strength, could give them confidence; but observing the dust occasioned by the enemy's approach, without waiting for a sight of them, they fled in all directions, leaving their ammunition, carriages, and artillery to be taken by the foe. Such cowardice and disorder prevailed in the armies of those times, that the turning of a horse's head or tail was sufficient to decide the fate of an expedition. This defeat loaded the king's troops with booty, and filled the Florentines with dismay; for the city, besides the war, was afflicted with pestilence, which prevailed so extensively, that all who possessed villas fled to them to escape death. This occasioned the defeat to be attended with greater horror; for those citizens whose possessions lay in the Val di Pesa and the Val d'Elsa, having retired to them, hastened to Florence with all speed as soon as they heard of the disaster, taking with them not only their children and their property, but even their laborers; so that it seemed as if the enemy were expected every moment in the city. Those who were appointed to the management of the war, perceiving the universal consternation, commanded the victorious forces in the Perugino to give up their enterprise in that direction, and march to oppose the enemy in the Val d'Elsa, who, after their victory, plundered the country without opposition; and although the Florentine army had so closely pressed the city of Perugia that it was expected to fall into their hands every instant, the people preferred defending their own possessions to endeavoring to seize those of others. The troops, thus withdrawn from the pursuit of their good fortune, were marched to San Casciano, a castle within eight miles of Florence; the leaders thinking they could take up no other position till the relics of the routed army were assembled. On the other hand, the enemy being under no further restraint at Perugia, and emboldened by the departure of the Florentines, plundered to a large amount in the districts of Arezzo and Cortona; while those who under Alfonso, duke of Calabria, had been victorious near Poggibonzi, took the town itself; sacked Vico and Certaldo, and after these conquests and pillagings encamped before the fortress of Colle, which was considered very strong; and as the garrison was brave and faithful to the Florentines, it was hoped they would hold the enemy at bay till the republic was able to collect its forces. The Florentines being at Santo Casciano, and the enemy continuing to use their utmost exertions against Colle, they determined to draw nearer, that the inhabitants might be more resolute in their defense, and the enemy assail them less boldly. With this design they removed their camp from Santo Casciano to Santo Geminiano, about five miles from Colle, and with light cavalry and other suitable forces were able every day to annoy the duke's camp. All this, however, was insufficient to relieve the people of Colle; for, having consumed their provisions, they were compelled to surrender on the thirteenth of November, to the great grief of the Florentines, and joy of the enemy, more especially of the Siennese, who, besides their habitual hatred of the Florentines, had a particular animosity against the people of Colle.
It was now the depth of winter, and the weather so unsuitable for war, that the pope and the king, either designing to hold out a hope of peace, or more quietly to enjoy the fruit of their victories, proposed a truce for three months to the Florentines, and allowed them ten days to consider the reply. The offer was eagerly accepted; but as wounds are well known to be more painful after the blood cools than when they were first received, this brief repose awakened the Florentines to a consciousness of the miseries they had endured; and the citizens openly laid the blame upon each other, pointing out the errors committed in the management of the war, the expenses uselessly incurred, and the taxes unjustly imposed. These matters were boldly discussed, not only in private circles, but in the public councils; and one individual even ventured to turn to Lorenzo de' Medici, and say, "The city is exhausted, and can endure no more war; it is therefore necessary to think of peace." Lorenzo was himself aware of the necessity, and assembled the friends in whose wisdom and fidelity he had the greatest confidence, when it was at once concluded, that as the Venetians were lukewarm and unfaithful, and the duke in the power of his guardians, and involved in domestic difficulties, it would be desirable by some new alliance to give a better turn to their affairs. They were in doubt whether to apply to the king or to the pope; but having examined the question in all sides, they preferred the friendship of the king as more suitable and secure; for the short reigns of the pontiffs, the changes ensuing upon each succession, the disregard shown by their church toward temporal princes, and the still greater want of respect for them exhibited in her determinations, render it impossible for a secular prince to trust a pontiff, or safely to share his fortune; for an adherent of the pope will have a companion in victory, but in defeat must stand alone, while the pontiff is sustained by his spiritual power and influence. Having therefore decided that the king's friendship would be of the greatest utility to them, they thought it would be most easily and certainly obtained by Lorenzo's presence; for in proportion to the confidence they evinced toward him, the greater they imagined would be the probability of removing his impressions of past enmities. Lorenzo having resolved to go to Naples, recommended the city and government to the care of Tommaso Soderini, who was at that time Gonfalonier of Justice. He left Florence at the beginning of December, and having arrived at Pisa, wrote to the government to acquaint them with the cause of his departure. The Signory, to do him honor, and enable him the more effectually to treat with the king, appointed him ambassador from the Florentine people, and endowed him with full authority to make such arrangements as he thought most useful for the republic.
At this time Roberto da San Severino, with Lodovico and Ascanio (Sforza their elder brother being dead) again attacked Milan, in order to recover the government. Having taken Tortona, and the city and the whole state being in arms, the duchess Bona was advised to restore the Sforzeschi, and to put a stop to civil contentions by admitting them to the government. The person who gave this advice was Antonio Tassino, of Ferrara, a man of low origin, who, coming to Milan, fell into the hands of the duke Galeazzo, and was given by him to his duchess for her valet. He, either from his personal attractions, or some secret influence, after the duke's death attained such influence over the duchess, that he governed the state almost at his will. This greatly displeased the minister Cecco, whom prudence and long experience had rendered invaluable; and who, to the utmost of his power, endeavored to diminish the authority of Tassino with the duchess and other members of the government. The latter, aware of this, to avenge himself for the injury, and secure defenders against Cecco, advised the duchess to recall the Sforzeschi, which she did, without communicating her design to the minister, who, when it was done, said to her, "You have taken a step which will deprive me of my life, and you of the government." This shortly afterward took place; for Cecco was put to death by Lodovico, and Tassino, being expelled from the dukedom, the duchess was so enraged that she left Milan, and gave up the care of her son to Lodovico, who, becoming sole governor of the dukedom, caused, as will be hereafter seen, the ruin of Italy.
Lorenzo de' Medici had set out for Naples, and the truce between the parties was in force, when, quite unexpectedly, Lodovico Fregoso, being in correspondence with some persons of Serezana, entered the place by stealth, took possession of it with an armed force, and imprisoned the Florentine governor. This greatly offended the Signory, for they thought the whole had been concerted with the connivance of King Ferrando. They complained to the duke of Calabria, who was with the army at Sienna, of a breach of the truce; and he endeavored to prove, by letters and embassies, that it had occurred without either his own or his father's knowledge. The Florentines, however, found themselves in a very awkward predicament, being destitute of money, the head of the republic in the power of the king, themselves engaged in a long-standing war with the latter and the pope, in a new one with the Genoese, and entirely without friends; for they had no confidence in the Venetians, and on account of its changeable and unsettled state they were rather apprehensive of Milan. They had thus only one hope, and that depended upon Lorenzo's success with the king.
Lorenzo arrived at Naples by sea, and was most honorably received, not only by Ferrando, but by the whole city, his coming having excited the greatest expectation; for it being generally understood that the war was undertaken for the sole purpose of effecting his destruction, the power of his enemies invested his name with additional lustre. Being admitted to the king's presence, he spoke with so much propriety upon the affairs of Italy, the disposition of her princes and people, his hopes from peace, his fears of the results of war, that Ferrando was more astonished at the greatness of his mind, the promptitude of his genius, his gravity and wisdom, than he had previously been at his power. He consequently treated him with redoubled honor, and began to feel compelled rather to part with him as a friend, than detain him as an enemy. However, under various pretexts he kept Lorenzo from December till March, not only to gain the most perfect knowledge of his own views, but of those of his city; for he was not without enemies, who would have wished the king to detain and treat him in the same manner as Jacopo Piccinino; and, with the ostensible view of sympathizing for him, pointed out all that would, or rather that they wished should, result from such a course; at the same time opposing in the council every proposition at all likely to favor him. By such means as these the opinion gained ground, that if he were detained at Naples much longer, the government of Florence would be changed. This caused the king to postpone their separation more than he would have otherwise done, to see if any disturbance were likely to arise. But finding everything go quietly on, Ferrando allowed him to depart on the sixth of March, 1479, having, with every kind of attention and token of regard, endeavored to gain his affection, and formed with him a perpetual alliance for their mutual defense. Lorenzo returned to Florence, and upon presenting himself before the citizens, the impressions he had created in the popular mind surrounded him with a halo of majesty brighter than before. He was received with all the joy merited by his extraordinary qualities and recent services, in having exposed his own life to the most imminent peril, in order to restore peace to his country. Two days after his return, the treaty between the republic of Florence and the king, by which each party bound itself to defend the other's territories, was published. The places taken from the Florentines during the war were to be taken up at the discretion of the king; the Pazzi confined in the tower of Volterra were to be set at liberty, and a certain sum of money, for a limited period, was to be paid to the duke of Calabria.
As soon as this peace was publicly known, the pope and the Venetians were transported with rage; the pope thought himself neglected by the king; the Venetians entertained similar ideas with regard to the Florentines, and complained that, having been companions in the war, they were not allowed to participate in the peace. Reports of this description being spread abroad, and received with entire credence at Florence, caused a general fear that the peace thus made would give rise to greater wars; and therefore the leading members of the government determined to confine the consideration of the most important affairs to a smaller number, and formed a council of seventy citizens, in whom the principal authority was invested. This new regulation calmed the minds of those desirous of change, by convincing them of the futility of their efforts. To establish their authority, they in the first place ratified the treaty of peace with the king, and sent as ambassadors to the pope Antonio Ridolfi and Piero Nasi. But, notwithstanding the peace, Alfonso, duke of Calabria, still remained at Sienna with his forces, pretending to be detained by discords among the citizens, which, he said, had risen so high, that while he resided outside the city they had compelled him to enter and assume the office of arbitrator between them. He took occasion to draw large sums of money from the wealthiest citizens by way of fines, imprisoned many, banished others, and put some to death; he thus became suspected, not only by the Siennese but by the Florentines, of a design to usurp the sovereignty of Sienna; nor was any remedy then available, for the republic had formed a new alliance with the king, and were at enmity with the pope and the Venetians. This suspicion was entertained not only by the great body of the Florentine people, who were subtle interpreters of appearances, but by the principal members of the government; and it was agreed, on all hands, that the city never was in so much danger of losing her liberty. But God, who in similar extremities has always been her preserver, caused an unhoped- for event to take place, which gave the pope, the king, and the Venetians other matters to think of than those in Tuscany.
The Turkish emperor, Mahomet II. had gone with a large army to the siege of Rhodes, and continued it for several months; but though his forces were numerous, and his courage indomitable, he found them more than equalled by those of the besieged, who resisted his attack with such obstinate valor, that he was at last compelled to retire in disgrace. Having left Rhodes, part of his army, under the Pasha Achmet, approached Velona, and, either from observing the facility of the enterprise, or in obedience to his sovereign's commands, coasting along the Italian shores, he suddenly landed four thousand soldiers, and attacked the city of Otranto, which he easily took, plundered, and put all the inhabitants to the sword. He then fortified the city and port, and having assembled a large body of cavalry, pillaged the surrounding country. The king, learning this, and aware of the redoubtable character of his assailant, immediately sent messengers to all the surrounding powers, to request assistance against the common enemy, and ordered the immediate return of the duke of Calabria with the forces at Sienna.
This attack, however it might annoy the duke and the rest of Italy, occasioned the utmost joy at Florence and Sienna; the latter thinking it had recovered its liberty, and the former that she had escaped a storm which threatened her with destruction. These impressions, which were not unknown to the duke, increased the regret he felt at his departure from Sienna; and he accused fortune of having, by an unexpected and unaccountable accident, deprived him of the sovereignty of Tuscany. The same circumstance changed the disposition of the pope; for although he had previously refused to receive any ambassador from Florence, he was now so mollified as to be anxious to listen to any overtures of peace; and it was intimated to the Florentines, that if they would condescend to ask the pope's pardon, they would be sure of obtaining it. Thinking it advisable to seize the opportunity, they sent twelve ambassadors to the pontiff, who, on their arrival, detained them under different pretexts before he would admit them to an audience. However, terms were at length settled, and what should be contributed by each in peace or war. The messengers were then admitted to the feet of the pontiff, who, with the utmost pomp, received them in the midst of his cardinals. They apologized for past occurrences; first showing they had been compelled by necessity, then blaming the malignity of others, or the rage of the populace, and their just indignation, and enlarging on the unfortunate condition of those who are compelled either to fight or die; saying, that since every extremity is endured in order to avoid death, they had suffered war, interdicts, and other inconveniences, brought upon them by recent events, that their republic might escape slavery, which is the death of free cities. However, if in their necessities they had committed any offense, they were desirous to make atonement, and trusted in his clemency, who, after the example of the blessed Redeemer, would receive them into his compassionate arms.
The pope's reply was indignant and haughty. After reiterating all the offenses against the church during the late transactions, he said that, to comply with the precepts of God, he would grant the pardon they asked, but would have them understand, that it was their duty to obey; and that upon the next instance of their disobedience, they would inevitably forfeit, and that most deservedly, the liberty which they had just been upon the point of losing; for those merit freedom who exercise themselves in good works and avoid evil; that liberty, improperly used, injures itself and others; that to think little of God, and less of his church, is not the part of a free man, but a fool, and one disposed to evil rather than good, and to effect whose correction is the duty not only of princes but of every Christian; so that in respect of the recent events, they had only themselves to blame, who, by their evil deeds, had given rise to the war, and inflamed it by still worse actions, it having been terminated by the kindness of others rather than by any merit of their own. The formula of agreement and benediction was then read; and, in addition to what had already been considered and agreed upon between the parties, the pope said, that if the Florentines wished to enjoy the fruit of his forgiveness, they must maintain fifteen galleys, armed, and equipped, at their own expense, as long as the Turks should make war upon the kingdom of Naples. The ambassadors complained much of this burden in addition to the arrangement already made, but were unable to obtain any alleviation. However, after their return to Florence, the Signory sent, as ambassador to the pope, Guidantonio Vespucci, who had recently returned from France, and who by his prudence brought everything to an amicable conclusion, obtained many favors from the pontiff, which were considered as presages of a closer reconciliation.
Having settled their affairs with the pope, Sienna being free, themselves released from the fear of the king, by the departure of the duke of Calabria from Tuscany, and the war with the Turks still continuing, the Florentines pressed the king to restore their fortresses, which the duke of Calabria, upon quitting the country, had left in the hands of the Siennese. Ferrando, apprehensive that if he refused, they would withdraw from the alliance with him, and by new wars with the Siennese deprive him of the assistance he hoped to obtain from the pope and other Italian powers, consented that they should be given up, and by new favors endeavored to attach the Florentines to his interests. It is thus evident, that force and necessity, not deeds and obligations, induce princes to keep faith.
The castles being restored, and this new alliance established, Lorenzo de' Medici recovered the reputation which first the war and then the peace, when the king's designs were doubtful, had deprived him of; for at this period there was no lack of those who openly slandered him with having sold his country to save himself, and said, that in war they had lost their territories, and in peace their liberty. But the fortresses being recovered, an honorable treaty ratified with the king, and the city restored to her former influence, the spirit of public discourse entirely changed in Florence, a place greatly addicted to gossip, and in which actions are judged by the success attending them, rather than by the intelligence employed in their direction; therefore, the citizens praised Lorenzo extravagantly, declaring that by his prudence he had recovered in peace, what unfavorable circumstances had taken from them in war, and that by his discretion and judgment he had done more than the enemy with all the force of their arms.
New occasions of war in Italy -- Differences between the marquis of Ferrara, and the Venetians -- The king of Naples and the Florentines attack the papal states -- The pope's defensive arrangements -- The Neapolitan army routed by the papal forces -- Progress of the Venetians against the marquis of Ferrara -- The pope makes peace, and enters into a league against the Venetians -- Operations of the League against the Venetians -- The Venetians routed at Bondeno -- Their losses -- Disunion among the League -- Lodovico Sforza makes peace with the Venetians -- Ratified by the other parties.
The invasion of the Turks had deferred the war which was about to break forth from the anger of the pope and the Venetians at the peace between the Florentines and the king. But as the beginning of that invasion was unexpected and beneficial, its conclusion was equally unlooked for and injurious; for Mahomet dying suddenly, dissensions arose among his sons, and the forces which were in Puglia being abandoned by their commander, surrendered Otranto to the king. The fears which restrained the pope and the Venetians being thus removed, everyone became apprehensive of new troubles. On the one hand, was the league of the pope and the Venetians, and with them the Genoese, Siennese, and other minor powers; on the other, the Florentines, the king, and the duke, with whom were the Bolognese and many princes. The Venetians wished to become lords of Ferrara, and thought they were justified by circumstances in making the attempt, and hoping for a favorable result. Their differences arose thus: the marquis of Ferrara affirmed he was under no obligation to take salt from the Venetians, or to admit their governor; the terms of convention between them declaring, that after seventy years, the city was to be free from both impositions. The Venetians replied, that so long as he held the Polesine, he was bound to receive their salt and their governor. The marquis refusing his consent, the Venetians considered themselves justified in taking arms, and that the present moment offered a suitable opportunity; for the pope was indignant against the Florentines and the king; and to attach the pope still further, the Count Girolamo, who was then at Venice, was received with all possible respect; first admitted to the privileges of a citizen, and then raised to the rank of a senator, the highest distinctions the Venetian senate can confer. To prepare for the war, they levied new taxes, and appointed to the command of the forces, Roberto da San Severino, who being offended with Lodovico, governor of Milan, fled to Tortona, whence, after occasioning some disturbances, he went to Genoa, and while there, was sent for by the Venetians, and placed at the head of their troops.
These circumstances becoming known to the opposite league, induced it also to provide for war. The duke of Milan appointed as his general, Federigo d'Urbino; the Florentines engaged Costanzo, lord of Pesaro; and to sound the disposition of the pope, and know whether the Venetians made war against Ferrara with his consent or not, King Ferrando sent Alfonso, duke of Calabria, with his army across the Tronto, and asked the pontiff's permission to pass into Lombardy to assist the marquis, which was refused in the most peremptory manner. The Florentines and the king, no longer doubtful about the pope's intentions, determined to harass him, and thus either compel him to take part with them, or throw such obstacles in his way, as would prevent him from helping the Venetians, who had already taken the field, attacked the marquis, overran his territory, and encamped before Figaruolo, a fortress of the greatest importance. In pursuance of the design of the Florentines and the king, the duke of Calabria, by the assistance of the Colonna family (the Orsini had joined the pope), plundered the country about Rome and committed great devastation; while the Florentines, with Niccolo Vitelli, besieged and took Citta di Castello, expelling Lorenzo Vitelli, who held it for the pope, and placing Niccolo in it as prince.
The pope now found himself in very great straits; for the city of Rome was disturbed by factions and the country covered with enemies. But acting with courage and resolution, he appointed Roberto da Rimino to take the command of his forces; and having sent for him to Rome, where his troops were assembled, told him how great would be the honor, if he could deliver the church from the king's forces, and the troubles in which it was involved; how greatly indebted, not only himself, but all his successors would be, and, that not mankind merely, but God himself would be under obligations to him. The magnificent Roberto, having considered the forces and preparations already made, advised the pope to raise as numerous a body of infantry as possible, which was done without delay. The duke of Calabria was at hand, and constantly harassed the country up to the very gates of Rome, which so roused the indignation of the citizens, that many offered their assistance to Roberto, and all were thankfully received. The duke, hearing of these preparations, withdrew a short distance from the city, that in the belief of finding him gone, the magnificent Roberto would not pursue him, and also in expectation of his brother Federigo, whom their father had sent to him with additional forces. But Roberto, finding himself nearly equal to the duke in cavalry, and superior in infantry, marched boldly out of Rome and took a position within two miles of the enemy. The duke, seeing his adversaries close upon him, found he must either fight or disgracefully retire. To avoid a retreat unbecoming a king's son, he resolved to face the enemy; and a battle ensued which continued from morning till midday. In this engagement, greater valor was exhibited on both sides than had been shown in any other during the last fifty years, upward of a thousand dead being left upon the field. The troops of the church were at length victorious, for her numerous infantry so annoyed the ducal cavalry, that they were compelled to retreat, and Alfonso himself would have fallen into the hands of the enemy, had he not been rescued by a body of Turks, who remained at Otranto, and were at that time in his service. The lord of Rimino, after this victory, returned triumphantly to Rome, but did not long enjoy the fruit of his valor; for having, during the heat of the engagement, taken a copious draught of water, he was seized with a flux, of which he very shortly afterward died. The pope caused his funeral to be conducted with great pomp, and in a few days, sent the Count Girolamo toward Citta di Castello to restore it to Lorenzo, and also endeavor to gain Rimino, which being by Roberto's death left to the care of his widow and a son who was quite a boy, his holiness thought might be easily won; and this certainly would have been the case, if the lady had not been defended by the Florentines, who opposed him so effectually, as to prevent his success against both Castello and Rimino.
While these things were in progress at Rome and in Romagna, the Venetians took possession of Figaruolo and crossed the Po with their forces. The camp of the duke of Milan and the marquis was in disorder; for the count of Urbino having fallen ill, was carried to Bologna for his recovery, but died. Thus the marquis's affairs were unfortunately situated, while those of the Venetians gave them increasing hopes of occupying Ferrara. The Florentines and the king of Naples used their utmost endeavors to gain the pope to their views; and not having succeeded by force, they threatened him with the council, which had already been summoned by the emperor to assemble at Basle; and by means of the imperial ambassadors, and the co-operation of the leading cardinals, who were desirous of peace, the pope was compelled to turn his attention toward effecting the pacification of Italy. With this view, at the instigation of his fears, and with the conviction that the aggrandizement of the Venetians would be the ruin of the church and of Italy, he endeavored to make peace with the League, and sent his nuncios to Naples, where a treaty was concluded for five years, between the pope, the king, the duke of Milan, and the Florentines, with an opening for the Venetians to join them if they thought proper. When this was accomplished, the pope intimated to the Venetians, that they must desist from war against Ferrara. They refused to comply, and made preparations to prosecute their design with greater vigor than they had hitherto done; and having routed the forces of the duke and the marquis at Argenta, they approached Ferrara so closely as to pitch their tents in the marquis's park.
The League found they must no longer delay rendering him efficient assistance, and ordered the duke of Calabria to march to Ferrara with his forces and those of the pope, the Florentine troops also moving in the same direction. In order to direct the operations of the war with greater efficiency, the League assembled a diet at Cremona, which was attended by the pope's legate, the Count Girolamo, the duke of Calabria, the Signor Lodovico Sforza, and Lorenzo de' Medici, with many other Italian princes; and when the measures to be adopted were fully discussed, having decided that the best way of relieving Ferrara would be to effect a division of the enemy's forces, the League desired Lodovico to attack the Venetians on the side of Milan, but this he declined, for fear of bringing a war upon the duke's territories, which it would be difficult to quell. It was therefore resolved to proceed with the united forces of the League to Ferrara, and having assembled four thousand cavalry and eight thousand infantry, they went in pursuit of the Venetians, whose force amounted to two thousand two hundred men at arms, and six thousand foot. They first attacked the Venetian flotilla, then lying upon the river Po, which they routed with the loss of above two hundred vessels, and took prisoner Antonio Justiniano, the purveyor of the fleet. The Venetians, finding all Italy united against them, endeavored to support their reputation by engaging in their service the duke of Lorraine, who joined them with two hundred men at arms: and having suffered so great a destruction of their fleet, they sent him, with part of their army, to keep their enemies at bay, and Roberto da San Severino to cross the Adda with the remainder, and proceed to Milan, where they were to raise the cry of "The duke and the Lady Bona," his mother; hoping by this means to give a new aspect to affairs there, believing that Lodovico and his government were generally unpopular. This attack at first created great consternation, and roused the citizens in arms; but eventually produced consequences unfavorable to the designs of the Venetians; for Lodovico was now desirous to undertake what he had refused to do at the entreaty of his allies. Leaving the marquis of Ferrara to the defense of his own territories, he, with four thousand horse and two thousand foot, and joined by the duke of Calabria with twelve thousand horse and five thousand foot, entered the territory of Bergamo, then Brescia, next that of Verona, and, in defiance of the Venetians, plundered the whole country; for it was with the greatest difficulty that Roberto and his forces could save the cities themselves. In the meantime, the marquis of Ferrara had recovered a great part of his territories; for the duke of Lorraine, by whom he was attacked, having only at his command two thousand horse and one thousand foot, could not withstand him. Hence, during the whole of 1483, the affairs of the League were prosperous.
The winter having passed quietly over, the armies again took the field. To produce the greater impression upon the enemy, the League united their whole force, and would easily have deprived the Venetians of all they possessed in Lombardy, if the war had been conducted in the same manner as during the preceding year; for by the departure of the duke of Lorraine, whose term of service had expired, they were reduced to six thousand horse and five thousand foot, while the allies had thirteen thousand horse and five thousand foot at their disposal. But, as is often the case where several of equal authority are joined in command, their want of unity decided the victory to their enemies. Federigo, marquis of Mantua, whose influence kept the duke of Calabria and Lodovico Sforza within bounds, being dead, differences arose between them which soon became jealousies. Giovan Galeazzo, duke of Milan, was now of an age to take the government on himself, and had married the daughter of the duke of Calabria, who wished his son-in- law to exercise the government and not Lodovico; the latter, being aware of the duke's design, studied to prevent him from effecting it. The position of Lodovico being known to the Venetians, they thought they could make it available for their own interests; and hoped, as they had often before done, to recover in peace all they had lost by war; and having secretly entered into treaty with Lodovico, the terms were concluded in August, 1484. When this became known to the rest of the allies, they were greatly dissatisfied, principally because they found that the places won from the Venetians were to be restored; that they were allowed to keep Rovigo and the Polesine, which they had taken from the marquis of Ferrara, and besides this retain all the pre-eminence and authority over Ferrara itself which they had formerly possessed. Thus it was evident to everyone, they had been engaged in a war which had cost vast sums of money, during the progress of which they had acquired honor, and which was concluded with disgrace; for the places wrested from the enemy were restored without themselves recovering those they had lost. They were, however, compelled to ratify the treaty, on account of the unsatisfactory state of their finances, and because the faults and ambition of others had rendered them unwilling to put their fortunes to further proof.
Affairs of the pope -- He is reconciled to Niccolo Vitelli -- Discords between the Colonnesi and the Orsini -- Various events -- The war of Serezana -- Genoa occupied by her archbishop -- Death of Sixtus IV. -- Innocent VIII. elected -- Agostino Fregoso gives Serezana to the bank of St. Giorgio -- Account of the bank of St. Giorgio -- War with the Genoese for Serezana -- Stratagem of the Florentines to attack Pietra Santa -- Difficulties and final surrender of Pietra Santa -- The Lucchese lay claim to Pietra Santa -- The city of L'Aquila revolts against the king of Naples -- War between him and the pope -- The Florentines take the king's party -- Peace between the pope and the king.
During these events in Lombardy, the pope sent Lorenzo to invest Citta di Castello, for the purpose of expelling Niccolo Vitelli, the place having been abandoned to him by the League, for the purpose of inducing the pontiff to join them. During the siege, Niccolo's troops were led out against the papal forces and routed them. Upon this the pope recalled the Count Girolamo from Lombardy with orders first to recruit his army at Rome, and then proceed against Citta di Castello. But thinking afterward, that it would be better to obtain Niccolo Vitello as his friend than to renew hostilities with him, an arrangement was entered into by which the latter retained Citta di Castello, and the pope pacified Lorenzo as well as he could. He was induced to both these measures rather by his apprehension of fresh troubles than by his love of peace, for he perceived dissensions arising between the Colonessi and the Orsini.
In the war between the king of Naples and the pope, the former had taken the district of Tagliacozzo from the Orsini, and given it to the Colonnesi, who had espoused his cause. Upon the establishment of peace, the Orsini demanded its restoration by virtue of the treaty. The pope had frequently intimated to the Colonnesi that it ought to be restored; but they, instead of complying with the entreaties of the Orsini, or being influenced by the pope's threats, renewed hostilities against the former. Upon this the pontiff, unable to endure their insolence, united his own forces with those of the Orsini, plundered the houses they possessed in Rome, slew or made prisoners all who defended them, and seized most of their fortresses. So that when these troubles were composed, it was rather by the complete subjugation of one party than from any desire for peace in the other.
Nor were the affairs of Genoa or of Tuscany in repose, for the Florentines kept the Count Antonio da Marciano on the borders of Serezana; and while the war continued in Lombardy, annoyed the people of Serezana by inroads and light skirmishes. Battistino Fregoso, doge of Genoa, trusting to Pagolo Fregoso, the archbishop, was taken prisoner, with his wife and children, by the latter, who assumed the sovereignty of the city. The Venetian fleet had attacked the kingdom of Naples, taken Gallipoli, and harassed the neighboring places. But upon the peace of Lombardy, all tumults were hushed except those of Tuscany and Rome; for the pope died in five days after its declaration, either in the natural course of things, or because his grief for peace, to which he was always opposed, occasioned his end.
Upon the decease of the pontiff, Rome was immediately in arms. The Count Girolamo withdrew his forces into the castle; and the Orsini feared the Colonnesi would avenge the injuries they had recently sustained. The Colonnesi demanded the restitution of their houses and castles, so that in a few days robberies, fires, and murders prevailed in several parts of the city. The cardinals entreated the count to give the castle into the hands of the college, withdraw his troops, and deliver Rome from the fear of his forces, and he, by way of ingratiating himself with the future pontiff obeyed, and retired to Imola. The cardinals, being thus divested of their fears, and the barons hopeless of assistance in their quarrels, proceeded to create a new pontiff, and after some discussion, Giovanni Batista Cibo, a Genoese, cardinal of Malfetta, was elected, and took the name of Innocent VIII. By the mildness of his disposition (for he was peaceable and humane) he caused a cessation of hostilities, and for the present restored peace to Rome.
The Florentines, after the pacification of Lombardy, could not remain quiet; for it appeared disgraceful that a private gentleman should deprive them of the fortress of Serezana; and as it was allowed by the conditions of peace, not only to demand lost places, but to make war upon any who should impede their restoration, they immediately provided men and money to undertake its recovery. Upon this, Agostino Fregoso, who had seized Serezana, being unable to defend it, gave the fortress to the Bank of St. Giorgio. As we shall have frequent occasion to speak of St. Giorgio and the Genoese, it will not be improper, since Genoa is one of the principal cities of Italy, to give some account of the regulations and usages prevailing there. When the Genoese had made peace with the Venetians, after the great war, many years ago, the republic, being unable to satisfy the claims of those who had advanced large sums of money for its use, conceded to them the revenue of the Dogano or customhouse, so that each creditor should participate in the receipts in proportion to his claim, until the whole amount should be liquidated, and as a suitable place for their assembling, the palace over the Dogano was assigned for their use. These creditors established a form of government among themselves, appointing a council of one hundred persons for the direction of their affairs, and a committee of eight, who, as the executive body, should carry into effect the determinations of the council. Their credits were divided into shares, called Luoghi, and they took the title of the Bank, or Company of St. Giorgio. Having thus arranged their government, the city fell into fresh difficulties, and applied to San Giorgio for assistance, which, being wealthy and well managed, was able to afford the required aid. On the other hand, as the city had at first conceded the customs, she next began to assign towns, castles, or territories, as security for moneys received; and this practice has proceeded to such a length, from the necessities of the state, and the accommodation by the San Giorgio, that the latter now has under its administration most of the towns and cities in the Genoese dominion. These the Bank governs and protects, and every year sends its deputies, appointed by vote, without any interference on the part of the republic. Hence the affections of the citizens are transferred from the government to the San Giorgio, on account of the tyranny of the former, and the excellent regulations adopted by the latter. Hence also originate the frequent changes of the republic, which is sometimes under a citizen, and at other times governed by a stranger; for the magistracy, and not the San Giorgio, changes the government. So when the Fregosi and the Adorni were in opposition, as the government of the republic was the prize for which they strove, the greater part of the citizens withdrew and left it to the victor. The only interference of the Bank of St. Giorgio is when one party has obtained a superiority over the other, to bind the victor to the observance of its laws, which up to this time have not been changed; for as it possesses arms, money, and influence, they could not be altered without incurring the imminent risk of a dangerous rebellion. This establishment presents an instance of what in all the republics, either described or imagined by philosophers, has never been thought of; exhibiting within the same community, and among the same citizens, liberty and tyranny, integrity and corruption, justice and injustice; for this establishment preserves in the city many ancient and venerable customs; and should it happen (as in time it easily may) that the San Giorgio should have possession of the whole city, the republic will become more distinguished than that of Venice.
Agostino Fregoso conceded Serezana to the San Giorgio, which readily accepted it, undertook its defense, put a fleet to sea, and sent forces to Pietra Santa to prevent all attempts of the Florentines, whose camp was in the immediate vicinity. The Florentines found it would be essentially necessary to gain possession of Pietra Santa, for without it the acquisition of Serezana lost much of its value, being situated between the latter place and Pisa; but they could not, consistently with the treaty, besiege it, unless the people of Pietra Santa, or its garrison, were to impede their acquisition of Serezana. To induce the enemy to do this, the Florentines sent from Pisa to the camp a quantity of provisions and military stores, accompanied by a very weak escort; that the people of Pietra Santa might have little cause for fear, and by the richness of the booty be tempted to the attack. The plan succeeded according to their expectation; for the inhabitants of Pietra Santa, attracted by the rich prize took possession of it.
This gave legitimate occasion to the Florentines to undertake operations against them; so leaving Serezana they encamped before Pietra Santa, which was very populous, and made a gallant defense. The Florentines planted their artillery in the plain, and formed a rampart upon the hill, that they might also attack the place on that side. Jacopo Guicciardini was commissary of the army; and while the siege of Pietra Santa was going on, the Genoese took and burned the fortress of Vada, and, landing their forces, plundered the surrounding country. Biongianni Gianfigliazzi was sent against them, with a body of horse and foot, and checked their audacity, so that they pursued their depredations less boldly. The fleet continuing its efforts went to Livorno, and by pontoons and other means approached the new tower, playing their artillery upon it for several days, but being unable to make any impression they withdrew.
In the meantime the Florentines proceeded slowly against Pietra Santa, and the enemy taking courage attacked and took their works upon the hill. This was effected with so much glory, and struck such a panic into the Florentines, that they were almost ready to raise the siege, and actually retreated a distance of four miles; for their generals thought that they would retire to winter quarters, it being now October, and make no further attempt till the return of spring.
When the discomfiture was known at Florence, the government was filled with indignation; and, to impart fresh vigor to the enterprise, and restore the reputation of their forces, they immediately appointed Antonio Pucci and Bernardo del Neri commissaries, who, with vast sums of money, proceeded to the army, and intimated the heavy displeasure of the Signory, and of the whole city, if they did not return to the walls; and what a disgrace, if so large an army and so many generals, having only a small garrison to contend with, could not conquer so poor and weak a place. They explained the immediate and future advantages that would result from the acquisition, and spoke so forcibly upon the subject, that all became anxious to renew the attack. They resolved, in the first place, to recover the rampart upon the hill; and here it was evident how greatly humanity, affability, and condescension influence the minds of soldiers; for Antonio Pucci, by encouraging one and promising another, shaking hands with this man and embracing that, induced them to proceed to the charge with such impetuosity, that they gained possession of the rampart in an instant. However, the victory was not unattended by misfortune, for Count Antonio da Marciano was killed by a cannon shot. This success filled the townspeople with so much terror, that they began to make proposals for capitulation; and to invest the surrender with imposing solemnity, Lorenzo de' Medici came to the camp, when, after a few days, the fortress was given up. It being now winter, the leaders of the expedition thought it unadvisable to make any further effort until the return of spring, more particularly because the autumnal air had been so unhealthy that numbers were affected by it. Antonio Pucci and Biongianni Gianfigliazzi were taken ill and died, to the great regret of all, so greatly had Antonio's conduct at Pietra Santa endeared him to the army.
Upon the taking of Pietra Santa, the Lucchese sent ambassadors to Florence, to demand its surrender to their republic, on account of its having previously belonged to them, and because, as they alleged, it was in the conditions that places taken by either party were to be restored to their original possessors. The Florentines did not deny the articles, but replied that they did not know whether, by the treaty between themselves and the Genoese, which was then under discussion, it would have to be given up or not, and therefore could not reply to that point at present; but in case of its restitution, it would first be necessary for the Lucchese to reimburse them for the expenses they had incurred and the injury they had suffered, in the death of so many citizens; and that when this was satisfactorily arranged, they might entertain hopes of obtaining the place.
The whole winter was consumed in negotiations between the Florentines and Genoese, which, by the pope's intervention, were carried on at Rome; but not being concluded upon the return of spring, the Florentines would have attacked Serezana had they not been prevented by the illness of Lorenzo de' Medici, and the war between the pope and King Ferrando; for Lorenzo was afflicted not only by the gout, which seemed hereditary in his family, but also by violent pains in the stomach, and was compelled to go the baths for relief.
The more important reason was furnished by the war, of which this was the origin. The city of L'Aquila, though subject to the kingdom of Naples, was in a manner free; and the Count di Montorio possessed great influence over it. The duke of Calabria was upon the banks of the Tronto with his men-at-arms, under pretense of appeasing some disturbances among the peasantry; but really with a design of reducing L'Aquila entirely under the king's authority, and sent for the Count di Montorio, as if to consult him upon the business he pretended then to have in hand. The count obeyed without the least suspicion, and on his arrival was made prisoner by the duke and sent to Naples. When this circumstance became known at L'Aquila, the anger of the inhabitants arose to the highest pitch; taking arms they killed Antonio Cencinello, commissary for the king, and with him some inhabitants known partisans of his majesty. The L'Aquilani, in order to have a defender in their rebellion, raised the banner of the church, and sent envoys to the pope, to submit their city and themselves to him, beseeching that he would defend them as his own subjects against the tyranny of the king. The pontiff gladly undertook their defense, for he had both public and private reasons for hating that monarch; and Signor Roberto of San Severino, an enemy of the duke of Milan, being disengaged, was appointed to take the command of his forces, and sent for with all speed to Rome. He entreated the friends and relatives of the Count di Montorio to withdraw their allegiance from the king, and induced the princes of Altimura, Salerno, and Bisignano to take arms against him. The king, finding himself so suddenly involved in war, had recourse to the Florentines and the duke of Milan for assistance. The Florentines hesitated with regard to their own conduct, for they felt all the inconvenience of neglecting their own affairs to attend to those of others, and hostilities against the church seemed likely to involve much risk. However, being under the obligation of a League, they preferred their honor to convenience or security, engaged the Orsini, and sent all their own forces under the Count di Pitigliano toward Rome, to the assistance of the king. The latter divided his forces into two parts; one, under the duke of Calabria, he sent toward Rome, which, being joined by the Florentines, opposed the army of the church; with the other, under his own command, he attacked the barons, and the war was prosecuted with various success on both sides. At length, the king, being universally victorious, peace was concluded by the intervention of the ambassadors of the king of Spain, in August, 1486, to which the pope consented; for having found fortune opposed to him he was not disposed to tempt it further. In this treaty all the powers of Italy were united, except the Genoese, who were omitted as rebels against the republic of Milan, and unjust occupiers of territories belonging to the Florentines. Upon the peace being ratified, Roberto da San Severino, having been during the war a treacherous ally of the church, and by no means formidable to her enemies, left Rome; being followed by the forces of the duke and the Florentines, after passing Cesena, found them near him, and urging his flight reached Ravenna with less than a hundred horse. Of his forces, part were received into the duke's service, and part were plundered by the peasantry. The king, being reconciled with his barons, put to death Jacopo Coppola and Antonello d'Aversa and their sons, for having, during the war, betrayed his secrets to the pope.
The pope becomes attached to the Florentines -- The Genoese seize Serezanello -- They are routed by the Florentines -- Serezana surrenders -- Genoa submits to the duke of Milan -- War between the Venetians and the Dutch -- Osimo revolts from the church -- Count Girolamo Riario, lord of Furli, slain by a conspiracy -- Galeotto, lord of Faenza, is murdered by the treachery of his wife -- The government of the city offered to the Florentines -- Disturbances in Sienna -- Death of Lorenzo de' Medici -- His eulogy -- Establishment of his family -- Estates bought by Lorenzo -- His anxiety for the defense of Florence -- His taste for arts and literature -- The university of Pisa -- The estimation of Lorenzo by other princes.
The pope having observed in the course of the war, how promptly and earnestly the Florentines adhered to their alliances, although he had previously been opposed to them from his attachment to the Genoese, and the assistance they had rendered to the king, now evinced a more amicable disposition, and received their ambassadors with greater favor than previously. Lorenzo de' Medici, being made acquainted with this change of feeling, encouraged it with the utmost solicitude; for he thought it would be of great advantage, if to the friendship of the king he could add that of the pontiff. The pope had a son named Francesco, upon whom designing to bestow states and attach friends who might be useful to him after his own death, saw no safer connection in Italy than Lorenzo's, and therefore induced the latter to give him one of his daughters in marriage. Having formed this alliance, the pope desired the Genoese to concede Serezana to the Florentines, insisting that they had no right to detain what Agostino had sold, nor was Agostino justified in making over to the Bank of San Giorgio what was not his own. However, his holiness did not succeed with them; for the Genoese, during these transactions at Rome, armed several vessels, and, unknown to the Florentines, landed three thousand foot, attacked Serezanello, situated above Serezana, plundered and burnt the town near it, and then, directing their artillery against the fortress, fired upon it with their utmost energy. This assault was new and unexpected by the Florentines, who immediately assembled their forces under Virginio Orsino, at Pisa, and complained to the pope, that while he was endeavoring to establish peace, the Genoese had renewed their attack upon them. They then sent Piero Corsini to Lucca, that by his presence he might keep the city faithful; and Pagolantonio Soderini to Venice, to learn how that republic was disposed. They demanded assistance of the king and of Signor Lodovico, but obtained it from neither; for the king expressed apprehensions of the Turkish fleet, and Lodovico made excuses, but sent no aid. Thus the Florentines in their own wars are almost always obliged to stand alone, and find no friends to assist them with the same readiness they practice toward others. Nor did they, on this desertion of their allies (it being nothing new to them) give way to despondency; for having assembled a large army under Jacopo Guicciardini and Pietro Vettori, they sent it against the enemy, who had encamped upon the river Magra, at the same time pressing Serezanello with mines and every species of attack. The commissaries being resolved to relieve the place, an engagement ensued, when the Genoese were routed, and Lodovico dal Fiesco, with several other principal men, made prisoners. The Serezanesi were not so depressed at their defeat as to be willing to surrender, but obstinately prepared for their defense, while the Florentine commissaries proceeded with their operations, and instances of valor occurred on both sides. The siege being protracted by a variety of fortune, Lorenzo de' Medici resolved to go to the camp, and on his arrival the troops acquired fresh courage, while that of the enemy seemed to fail; for perceiving the obstinacy of the Florentines' attack, and the delay of the Genoese in coming to their relief, they surrendered to Lorenzo, without asking conditions, and none were treated with severity except two or three who were leaders of the rebellion. During the siege, Lodovico had sent troops to Pontremoli, as if with an intention of assisting the Florentines; but having secret correspondence in Genoa, a party was raised there, who, by the aid of these forces, gave the city to the duke of Milan.
At this time the Dutch made war upon the Venetians, and Boccolino of Osimo, in the Marca, caused that place to revolt from the pope, and assumed the sovereignty. After a variety of fortune, he was induced to restore the city to the pontiff and come to Florence, where, under the protection of Lorenzo de' Medici, by whose advice he had been prevailed upon to submit, he lived long and respected. He afterward went to Milan, but did not experience such generous treatment; for Lodovico caused him to be put to death. The Venetians were routed by the Dutch, near the city of Trento, and Roberto da S. Severino, their captain, was slain. After this defeat, the Venetians, with their usual good fortune, made peace with the Dutch, not as vanquished, but as conquerors, so honorable were the terms they obtained.
About this time, there arose serious troubles in Romagna. Francesco d'Orso, of Furli, was a man of great authority in that city, and became suspected by the count Girolamo, who often threatened him. He consequently, living under great apprehensions, was advised by his friends to provide for his own safety, by the immediate adoption of such a course as would relieve him from all further fear of the count. Having considered the matter and resolved to attempt it, they fixed upon the market day, at Furli, as most suitable for their purpose; for many of their friends being sure to come from the country, they might make use of their services without having to bring them expressly for the occasion. It was the month of May, when most Italians take supper by daylight. The conspirators thought the most convenient hour would be after the count had finished his repast; for his household being then at their meal, he would remain in the chamber almost alone. Having fixed upon the hour, Francesco went to the count's residence, left his companions in the hall, proceeded to his apartment, and desired an attendant to say he wished for an interview. He was admitted, and after a few words of pretended communication, slew him, and calling to his associates, killed the attendant. The governor of the place coming by accident to speak with the count, and entering the apartment with a few of his people, was also slain. After this slaughter, and in the midst of a great tumult, the count's body was thrown from the window, and with the cry of "church and liberty," they roused the people (who hated the avarice and cruelty of the count) to arms, and having plundered his house, made the Countess Caterina and her children prisoners. The fortress alone had to be taken to bring the enterprise to a successful issue; but the Castellan would not consent to its surrender. They begged the countess would desire him to comply with their wish, which she promised to do, if they would allow her to go into the fortress, leaving her children as security for the performance of her promise. The conspirators trusted her, and permitted her to enter; but as soon as she was within, she threatened them with death and every kind of torture in revenge for the murder of her husband; and upon their menacing her with the death of her children, she said she had the means of getting more. Finding they were not supported by the pope, and that Lodovico Sforza, uncle to the countess, had sent forces to her assistance, the conspirators became terrified, and taking with them whatever property they could carry off, they fled to Citta di Castello. The countess recovered the state, and avenged the death of her husband with the utmost cruelty. The Florentines hearing of the count's death, took occasion to recover the fortress of Piancaldoli, of which he had formerly deprived them, and, on sending some forces, captured it; but Cecco, the famous engineer, lost his life during the siege.
To this disturbance in Romagna, another in that province, no less important, has to be added. Galeotto, lord of Faenza, had married the daughter of Giovanni Bentivogli, prince of Bologna. She, either through jealousy or ill treatment by her husband, or from the depravity of her own nature, hated him to such a degree, that she determined to deprive him of his possessions and his life; and pretending sickness, she took to her bed, where, having induced Galeotto to visit her, he was slain by assassins, whom she had concealed for that purpose in the apartment. She had acquainted her father with her design, and he hoped, on his son-in-law's death, to become lord of Faenza. A great tumult arose as soon as the murder was known, the widow, with an infant son, fled into the fortress, the people took up arms, Giovanni Bentivogli, with a condottiere of the duke of Milan, named Bergamino, engaged for the occasion, entered Faenza with a considerable force, and Antonio Boscoli, the Florentine commissary, was also there. These leaders being together, and discoursing of the government of the place, the men of Val di Lamona, who had risen unanimously upon learning what had occurred, attacked Giovanni and Bergamino, the latter of whom they slew, made the former prisoner, and raising the cry of "Astorre and the Florentines," offered the city to the commissary. These events being known at Florence, gave general offense; however, they set Giovanni and his daughter at liberty, and by the universal desire of the people, took the city and Astorre under their protection. Besides these, after the principal differences of the greater powers were composed, during several years tumults prevailed in Romagna, the Marca, and Sienna, which, as they are unimportant, it will be needless to recount. When the duke of Calabria, after the war of 1478, had left the country, the distractions of Sienna became more frequent, and after many changes, in which, first the plebeians, and then the nobility, were victorious, the latter and length maintained the superiority, and among them Pandolfo and Jacopo Petrucci obtained the greatest influence, so that the former being distinguished for prudence and the latter for resolution, they became almost princes in the city.
The Florentines after the war of Serezana, lived in great prosperity until 1492, when Lorenzo de' Medici died; for he having put a stop to the internal wars of Italy, and by his wisdom and authority established peace, turned his thoughts to the advancement of his own and the city's interests, and married Piero, his eldest son, to Alfonsina, daughter of the Cavaliere Orsino. He caused Giovanni, his second son, to be raised to the dignity of cardinal. This was the more remarkable from its being unprecedented; for he was only fourteen years of age when admitted to the college; and became the medium by which his family attained to the highest earthly glory. He was unable to make any particular provision for Guiliano, his third son, on account of his tender years, and the shortness of his own life. Of his daughters, one married Jacopo Salviati; another, Francesco Cibo; the third, Piero Ridolfi; and the fourth, whom, in order to keep his house united, he had married to Giovanni de' Medici, died. In his commercial affairs he was very unfortunate, from the improper conduct of his agents, who in all their proceedings assumed the deportment of princes rather than of private persons; so that in many places, much of his property was wasted, and he had to be relieved by his country with large sums of money. To avoid similar inconvenience, he withdrew from mercantile pursuits, and invested his property in land and houses, as being less liable to vicissitude. In the districts of Prato, Pisa, and the Val di Pesa, he purchased extensively, and erected buildings, which for magnificence and utility, were quite of regal character. He next undertook the improvement of the city, and as many parts were unoccupied by buildings, he caused new streets to be erected in them, of great beauty, and thus enlarged the accommodation of the inhabitants. To enjoy his power in security and repose, and conquer or resist his enemies at a distance, in the direction of Bologna he fortified the castle of Firenzuola, situated in the midst of the Appennines; toward Sienna he commenced the restoration and fortification of the Poggio Imperiale; and he shut out the enemy in the direction of Genoa, by the acquisition of Pietra Santa and Serezana. For the greater safety of the city, he kept in pay the Baglioni, at Perugia, and the Vitelli, at Citta di Castello, and held the government of Faenza wholly in his own power; all which greatly contributed to the repose and prosperity of Florence. In peaceful times, he frequently entertained the people with feasts, and exhibitions of various events and triumphs of antiquity; his object being to keep the city abundantly supplied, the people united, and the nobility honored. He was a great admirer of excellence in the arts, and a patron of literary men, of which Agnolo da Montepulciano, Cristofero Landini, and Demetrius Chalcondylas, a Greek, may afford sufficient proofs. On this account, Count Giovanni della Mirandola, a man of almost supernatural genius, after visiting every court of Europe, induced by the munificence of Lorenzo, established his abode at Florence. He took great delight in architecture, music, and poetry, many of his comments and poetical compositions still remaining. To facilitate the study of literature to the youth of Florence, he opened a university at Pisa, which was conducted by the most distinguished men in Italy. For Mariano da Chinazano, a friar of the order of St. Augustine, and an excellent preacher, he built a monastery in the neighborhood of Florence. He enjoyed much favor both from fortune and from the Almighty; all his enterprises were brought to a prosperous termination, while his enemies were unfortunate; for, besides the conspiracy of the Pazzi, an attempt was made to murder him in the Carmine, by Batista Frescobaldi, and a similar one by Baldinetto da Pistoja, at his villa; but these persons, with their confederates, came to the end their crimes deserved. His skill, prudence, and fortune, were acknowledged with admiration, not only by the princes of Italy, but by those of distant countries; for Matthias, king of Hungary, gave him many proofs of his regard; the sultan sent ambassadors to him with valuable presents, and the Turkish emperor placed in his hands Bernardo Bandini, the murderer of his brother. These circumstances raised his fame throughout Italy, and his reputation for prudence constantly increased; for in council he was eloquent and acute, wise in determination, and prompt and resolute in execution. Nor can vices be alleged against him to sully so many virtues; though he was fond of women, pleased with the company of facetious and satirical men, and amused with the games of the nursery, more than seemed consistent with so great a character; for he was frequently seen playing with his children, and partaking of their infantine sports; so that whoever considers this gravity and cheerfulness, will find united in him dispositions which seem almost incompatible with each other. In his later years, he was greatly afflicted; besides the gout, he was troubled with excruciating pains in the stomach, of which he died in April, 1492, in the forty-fourth year of his age; nor was there ever in Florence, or even in Italy, one so celebrated for wisdom, or for whose loss such universal regret was felt. As from his death the greatest devastation would shortly ensue, the heavens gave many evident tokens of its approach; among other signs, the highest pinnacle of the church of Santa Reparata was struck with lightning, and great part of it thrown down, to the terror and amazement of everyone. The citizens and all the princes of Italy mourned for him, and sent their ambassadors to Florence, to condole with the city on the occasion; and the justness of their grief was shortly after apparent; for being deprived of his counsel, his survivors were unable either to satisfy or restrain the ambition of Lodovico Sforza, tutor to the duke of Milan; and hence, soon after the death of Lorenzo, those evil plants began to germinate, which in a little time ruined Italy, and continue to keep her in desolation.
[NOTE: this text was typed up from a Universal Classics Library edition, published in 1901 by W. Walter Dunne, New York and London. The translator was not named.]