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FIRST BOOK. - Niccolo Machiavelli, The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 1 (Life of Machiavelli, History of Florence) 
The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, tr. from the Italian, by Christian E. Detmold (Boston, J. R. Osgood and company, 1882). Vol. 1. History of Florence.
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1. The nations who inhabit the Northern regions beyond the rivers Rhine and Danube, being born in a healthful and prolific climate, often increase in such numbers that some of them are obliged to abandon their paternal lands and to seek new countries for their habitation. The order which they adopt when any one of these provinces desires to relieve itself of its surplus population is to divide themselves into three parts, apportioning to each an equal number of nobles and commons, rich and poor; after which that portion whom fate commands to leave, goes off to seek its fortune; and the two parts who have thus relieved themselves of the one third of their numbers remain to enjoy the paternal possessions. It was these nations that destroyed the Roman Empire, for which the Emperors afforded them the opportunity, who, having abandoned Rome, the ancient seat of their empire, went to reside at Constantinople, thereby enfeebling the western part of the Empire, because it was less watched over by them, and more exposed to the rapacity of their ministers and of their enemies. And truly, to ruin so great an empire, founded upon the blood of so many virtuous men, needed no less than the indolence of its princes, the faithlessness of its ministers, and the power and persistence of those who assailed it; for it was not only one people that assailed it, but many who conspired for its ruin.
The first who came from those Northern regions to assail the Empire, after the Cimbrians, — who were defeated by Marius, a Roman citizen, — were the Visigoths, which in their language signifies Western Goths. These, after some fighting on the confines of the Empire, were settled for a long time, upon a concession from the Emperor, above the river Danube; and although for various reasons and at different times they assailed the Roman provinces, they were nevertheless kept in check by the Emperors. And the last who gloriously overcame them was Theodosius, so that, being reduced to subjection, they did not re-establish any king over themselves, but, content with the stipend conceded to them, they lived and fought under his government and banner. But after the death of Theodosius, when Arcadius and Honorius, his sons, became heirs to the Empire, but not to their father’s virtues and fortunes, the times became changed with the princes.
Theodosius had appointed three governors to the three parts of the Empire, — Rufinus to the Eastern, Stilicho to the Western, and Gildon to Africa; they all, after his death, thought no longer of how to govern those provinces, but only how to possess them as independent princes. Gildon and Rufinus were put down in their attempts; but Stilicho, knowing better how to conceal his intentions, sought to acquire the confidence of the new Emperors, and at the same time to disturb them in their state in such manner that it would be the easier afterwards for him to occupy it. And by way of making the Visigoths their enemies, he advised the Emperors not to give them their accustomed provision; and besides this, deeming that these enemies were not sufficient to disturb the Empire, he ordered that the Burgundians, Franks, Vandals, and Alans, likewise Northern tribes, and already on the move in search of new lands, should assail the Roman provinces. The Visigoths, consequently, deprived of their provision, for the sake of being better organized for revenge of their wrongs, created Alaric their king; — and having assailed the Empire, after many accidents, ravaged Italy, and took and sacked Rome. After this victory Alaric died, and Ataulf succeeded him, who took for wife Placidia, the sister of the Emperors; and by reason of this relationship he agreed with them to go to the assistance of Spain and Gaul, which provinces were being assailed by the Vandals, Burgundians, Alans, and Franks, for the reasons above stated. From this resulted that the Vandals, who had occupied that part of Spain called Betica, being powerfully assailed by the Visigoths, and seeing no relief, were called by Bonifacius, who governed Africa for the Empire, to come and occupy that province, which was in a state of revolt, hoping in this way to conceal his misgovernment from the Emperor. For the reasons above stated the Vandals readily undertook that enterprise, and under the lead of their king, Genseric, made themselves masters of Africa. In the midst of this Theodosius, son of Arcadius, had succeeded to the Empire, who, giving little attention to the West, caused those populations to think of securing to themselves the possession of the lands they had conquered.
2. Thus the Vandals ruled in Africa, the Alans and Visigoths in Spain; the Franks and the Burgundians not only took Gallia, but those parts that were occupied by them were named after them, — whence one part is called France, and the other Burgundy. The fortunate successes of these stirred up new nations to the destruction of the Empire: another people, called Huns, occupied Pannonia, a province situated on the other side along the shores of the Danube, which having taken its name from them was called Hungaria. Added to these disorders came that the Emperor, seeing himself assailed on so many sides, by way of reducing the number of his enemies, began to make treaties, now with the Vandals and now with the Franks, which caused the power and authority of the Barbarians to increase, and that of the Empire to decline. Nor was the island of Britain, now called England, secure from similar destruction; for the Britons, fearing the people that had occupied France, and not seeing how the Emperor could protect them, called to their aid the Angles, a people of Germany, who engaged in the enterprise under their king, Voltigern; at first they defended the Britons, but afterwards drove them from the island and remained themselves to inhabit it, and which was called after them Anglia. But the original inhabitants, being despoiled of their country, became from necessity aggressive, and thought that, although unable to defend their own country, yet they might be able to seize that of others. They therefore crossed the sea with their families, and occupied those places which they found near the ocean, and after their own name they called that country Brittany.
3. The Huns, who, as we have said above, had occupied Pannonia, united with other tribes called Zepidians, Erulians, Turingians, and Ostrogoths (which in their language signified Eastern Goths), and set out to find new lands; and not being able to enter France, which was defended by the Barbarian forces, they went into Italy under their king, Attila, who shortly previous had killed his brother Bleda, so as to have the government all to himself; and having in this wise become very powerful, Andaric, king of the Zepidians, and Velamir, king of the Ostrogoths, became subject to him. When Attila got to Italy he besieged Aquileia, where he remained two years without any other hindrance; during this siege he ravaged the whole surrounding country and dispersed its inhabitants, which, as we shall see in its place, gave rise to the city of Venice. After the capture and destruction of Aquileia, and many other cities, Attila turned towards Rome, from the destruction of which he abstained in consequence of the entreaties of the Pope, whose venerableness had so much influence upon him that he left Italy and returned to Austria, where he died. After the death of Attila, Velamir, king of the Ostrogoths, and the chiefs of the other nations, took up arms against his two sons, Henry and Uric; they killed the one, and constrained the other to recross the Danube and return with the Huns to their own country; and the Ostrogoths and the Zepidians settled in Pannonia, and the Erulians and Turingians remained higher up on the other side of the Danube.
After the departure of Attila from Italy, Valentinian, the Western Emperor, thought of restoring the country; and by way of placing himself in better position to defend Italy against the Barbarians, he abandoned Rome and established his residence at Ravenna. The adversities which the Western Empire had suffered were the cause why the Emperor, who resided at Constantinople, had several times conceded it to others, on account of the danger and expense of its defence. And many times, even without his permission, the Romans, seeing themselves abandoned, created from their own midst an Emperor; or some one assumed the Empire of his own authority, — as happened at the time when, after the death of Valentinian, Rome was seized by Maximus, a Roman citizen, who constrained Eudoxia, widow of the former, to take him for her husband. But being of imperial blood and unable to bear her marriage to a private citizen, she resolved to revenge the insult, and for that purpose secretly agreed with Genseric, king of the Vandals and master of Africa, to come into Italy, pointing out to him the facility and advantage of such an enterprise. Genseric, attracted by such a prey, came promptly, and, finding Rome abandoned, sacked the city, where he remained two weeks. He also captured and sacked other places in Italy, loaded himself and his army with the plunder, and then returned to Africa. The Romans, having come back to the city after the death of Maximus, created Avitus Emperor. After many other events in Italy and elsewhere, and after the death of other Emperors, the Empire of Constantinople fell to Zeno, and that of Rome to Orestes, and Augustulus, his son, who obtained possession of the Empire by fraud. And whilst they attempted to hold it by force, the Erulians and Turingians, who, as I have said, had established themselves after the death of Attila beyond the Danube, leagued themselves together under their chief, Odoacer, and came into Italy. The settlements which they left vacant were occupied by the Longobards, a people also from the North, led by Godago, their king; and these were, as I shall show in its place, the worst plague of Italy. When Odoacer came into Italy he defeated and killed Orestes near Pavia, and Augustulus fled. After this victory (in order that Rome might change its title with its power) Odoacer abandoned the title of Emperor and had himself proclaimed King of Rome, and was the first of the chiefs of the Barbarian tribes that scoured the world at that time who undertook to reside in Italy. For the others, after having despoiled it, sought other countries where to establish their seats, influenced either by fear or inability to hold Italy, which could so easily be succored by the Emperor of the East, or from some other occult reason.
4. At this time, then, the ancient Roman Empire was reduced under the following princes: Zeno, ruling in Constantinople, commanded the whole of the Eastern Empire; the Ostrogoths were masters of Mœsia and Pannonia; the Visigoths, the Franks and Burgundians, held France; and the Erulians and Turingians, Italy. The government of the Ostrogoths had come to Theodoric, who, being on terms of friendship with Zeno, Emperor of the East, wrote to him that it seemed unjust to his Ostrogoths that, being superior to all the other tribes in power, they should be inferior in dominion, and that it was impossible for him to restrain them any longer within the limits of Pannonia; so that, seeing the necessity for allowing them to take up arms and go in search of new lands, he wished first to make it known to him, so that he might provide for it by conceding them some country where, with his good grace, they might live honestly with more comfort and convenience to themselves. Whereupon, Zeno, partly from fear and partly from the desire to drive Odoacer out of Italy, conceded to Theodoric authority to move against Odoacer and to take possession of Italy. Theodoric promptly set out from Pannonia, which he left to the Zepidians, who were his friends, and having come into Italy he slew Odoacer and his son, and after his example he assumed the title of King of Italy, and established his seat at Ravenna, influenced by the same considerations that had induced the Emperor Valentinian to reside there.
Theodoric excelled both in war and in peace, whence he was always victorious in the one, and in the other greatly benefited his people and cities. He distributed the Ostrogoths through the country under their chiefs, so that in war he might be able to command, and in peace to supervise them. He increased Ravenna, restored Rome, and with the exception of military commands he gave back to her citizens all their former honors. He restrained within their limits all the Barbarian kings who were occupants of the Empire, without any warlike disturbance, but simply by the force of his authority. He built up the country, established fortresses between the Adriatic and the Alps, so as to impede more effectually the passage of fresh Barbarians, who might wish to assail Italy. And if so much virtue had not been stained at the end of his life by some cruelties practised towards certain suspected persons in his kingdom, such as the deaths of Simmaco and Boezio, two most saintly men, his memory would have been worthy of all honor; for by means of his valor and goodness Rome and all the other parts of the Western Empire, relieved of the constant shocks which it had borne during so many years from repeated Barbarian inundations, raised themselves again and brought themselves back to good order and happiness.
5. And truly, if ever there was a period of utter wretchedness in Italy and in those provinces that were overrun by the Barbarians, it was that from the time of Arcadius and Honorius to that of Theodoric. For when we consider how injurious a mere change of ruler or form of government is to any republic or kingdom, not from any extrinsic force, but merely from civil discords, — and when it is seen what inconsiderable changes have caused the ruin of even the most powerful republics and kingdoms, — then it will be easy to imagine how much Italy and the other provinces of the Roman Empire must have suffered in those times, when they changed, not only their forms of government and their princes, but also their laws and customs, their mode of living, their religion, their language, dress, and even their names. Each one of such changes, to say nothing of all of them taken together, is enough to terrify any firm and constant mind by merely thinking of it, and without witnessing or being himself obliged to undergo it. This state of things caused the ruin, but also the birth and growth, of many cities. Amongst those that were ruined were Aquileia, Luni, Chiusi, Popolonia, Fiesole, and many others; and amongst those that sprung into existence were Venice, Sienna, Ferrara, Aquila, and other considerable places and castles, the names of which I omit for the sake of brevity. Those which from small cities grew into large ones were Florence, Genoa, Pisa, Milan, Naples, and Bologna; to all these must be added the destruction and rebuilding of Rome and other cities that were at various times destroyed and rebuilt. From these ruins and these new peoples sprang new languages, as appears from those which obtained in France, Spain, and Italy, where the mixture of the native tongues of these nations with the ancient Roman tongue produced the new language. Besides this, not only were the names of the provinces changed, but also those of lakes, rivers, seas, and of men; for France and Italy are full of new names, altogether different from the old ones; for without noting many others we see that the names of Po, Garda, Archipelago, &c. are entirely dissimilar from the ancient names of those localities. Men also changed their names, and from Cæsar and Pompey became Pieri, Giovanni, and Mattei. But amongst all these changes not the least one was that of religion; for combating the habit of the ancient faith with the miracles of the new, gave rise to the gravest tumults and discords amongst men, — and even if the Christian religion had been a united one, its introduction would nevertheless have been followed by minor discords; but the Greek Church, opposing those of Rome and Ravenna together, and the heretical sects being in conflict with the Catholics, caused infinite misery in the world: of which Africa furnishes us proof, for she had to endure far more troubles from the sect of the Arians, to which the Vandals adhered, than she suffered from their cruelty and rapacity. Men thus living in the midst of so many persecutions bore the terror of their souls written in their eyes; for, besides the infinite evils which they had to endure, they were deprived in great measure of the ability to seek a refuge in the help of God, which is the hope of the wretched; for the greater portion of them, being uncertain as to what God they should fly to for refuge, died miserably, bereft of all help and all hope.
6. Theodoric therefore merited no mean praise as having been the first to put an end to so many evils, so that for the thirty-eight years during which he reigned in Italy he restored her to such greatness that the former miseries were in great part forgotten. But when he came to die and the kingdom fell to Atalaric, son of his daughter Amalasiunta, the measure of Italy’s ill fortune not being yet exhausted, she relapsed into her former wretchedness; for Atalaric died shortly after his grandfather, and, the government remaining in the hands of his mother, she was betrayed by Teodatus, whom she had called to her aid in the government of the kingdom. Having killed the queen and declared himself king, he became very odious to the Ostrogoths, which encouraged the Emperor Justinian to believe himself able to drive Teodatus out of Italy. Justinian appointed Belisarius as captain of this undertaking, who had already conquered Africa, expelled the Vandals from it, and brought that province back to subjection to the Empire. Thereupon Belisarius took possession of Sicily, and, passing thence into Italy, took Naples and Rome. The Goths seeing their impending ruin, killed King Teodatus as being the cause of it, and elected in his stead Vitigites, who after some fighting was besieged by Belisarius in Ravenna, and taken; but before his victory was completed Belisarius was recalled by Justinian, and Giovanni and Vitales put in his place, who were in no way his equals in valor and experience. This caused the Goths to take courage again, and they created Ildovado their king, who at that time was governor of Verona. He was killed, and after him the kingdom fell to Totilas, who routed the troops of the Emperor and reoccupied Tuscany and Naples, and drove his captains back almost to the extreme limits of the states which Belisarius had recovered. Justinian therefore deemed it advisable to send Belisarius back to Italy, who, having returned there with a small force, rather lost the reputation which his first victories had given him, but which he had to achieve anew. For whilst Belisarius was at Ostia with his troops, Totilas took Rome under his very eyes, and, finding that he could neither hold nor leave it, he destroyed it in great part, and drove the people out, who carried their Senators away with them; and paying but slight heed to Belisarius, he went with his army into Calabria to meet the troops that had come from Greece to aid that general. Belisarius, seeing Rome abandoned, resolved upon an undertaking worthy of him; for, having entered the ruins of Rome, he rebuilt the walls of the city with the utmost celerity, and recalled its inhabitants. Fortune, however, did not favor this praiseworthy attempt, for Justinian, being at that time attacked by the Parthians, recalled Belisarius, who, in obedience to his master, abandoned Italy to the mercy of Totilas, who retook Rome, but did not treat the city with the same cruelty as at first, because of the entreaties of St. Benedict, who had a reputation of great sanctity, and induced Totilas to apply himself rather to the rebuilding of the city. Justinian meantime made terms with the Parthians, and, attempting to send fresh troops to the succor of Italy, was prevented by the Sclaves, a new Northern people who had passed the Danube and assailed Illyria and Thracia, so that Totilas was enabled to occupy almost the whole of Italy.
But after Justinian had defeated the Sclaves he sent the eunuch Narsetes with an army into Italy, who, being eminent in the art of war, defeated and killed Totilas immediately upon reaching Italy. And the rest of the Goths that remained after this defeat retreated to Pavia, where they made Teja their king. Narsetes, on the other hand, after his victory, took Rome, and finally came to battle with Teja near Nocera, and killed him and scattered his army. In consequence of this victory the name of the Goths disappeared from Italy entirely, where they had ruled for seventy years, from the time of their King Theodoric to that of Teja.
7. But no sooner was Italy liberated from the Goths than Justinian died, and was succeeded by his son Justinus, who by the advice of his wife Sophia recalled Narsetes from Italy and sent Longinus in his place. Following the practice of others, Longinus established his residence at Ravenna, and moreover gave a new form of government to Italy; for he did not establish governors of provinces, as the Goths had done, but created chiefs in all the cities and places of moment, with the title of Duke. And in this distribution he did not honor Rome more than the other places, for having abolished the Consuls and the Senate, which dignities had until that time been maintained there, he put Rome under a duke, who was sent there every year from Ravenna, so that it was thence called the Dukedom of Rome; and to him who remained in place of the Emperor at Ravenna he gave the title of Exarch. These divisions made the ruin of Italy still more easy, and gave more ready opportunity to the Longobards to take possession of it.
8. Narsetes was very indignant against the Emperor for being deprived of the government of that province, which he had conquered by his valor and with his blood; for Sophia, not content with injuring him by having him recalled, added insulting words, saying that she wanted him to return to spin with the other eunuchs; so that Narsetes, full of indignation, persuaded Alboin, king of the Longobards, who then ruled over Pannonia, to come and seize Italy. The Longobards, as we have seen above, had taken possession of the places near the Danube that had been abandoned by the Erulians and Turingians, when they were led into Italy by their king, Odoacer. Having remained there some time, and Alboin, a cruel and daring man, having become their king, they passed the Danube, and fought with Commundo, king of the Zepidi, who held Pannonia, and defeated him. Amongst the booty taken was the daughter of Commundo, named Rosamunda, whom Alboin took for his wife, and made himself master of Pannonia. Prompted by his cruel nature, he had a cup made out of the skull of Commundo, from which he drank in memory of that victory. But when called into Italy by Narsetes, with whom he had formed a friendship during his war with the Goths, he left Pannonia to the Huns, who, as we have said, had returned to their country after the death of Attila, and thence came into Italy. Finding that country divided into so many parts, Alboin occupied in one move Pavia, Milan, Verona, Vicenza, all Tuscany, and the greater part of Flaminia, now called the Romagna. So that it seemed to him that, after so many and such rapid victories, he had already conquered all Italy, and celebrated it by a grand banquet at Verona. Having become excited by much drink, he filled the skull of Commundo with wine, and had it presented to Rosamunda, his queen, who sat opposite to him at table; saying in a loud voice, so that she might hear it, that on an occasion of so much gladness he wished her to drink with her father. This speech was like a sword thrust into the breast of the lady, who resolved upon revenge; and knowing that Almachilde, a noble and savage Longobard youth, was in love with one of her maids, arranged with her that she should secretly cause Almachilde to pass a night with the queen instead of herself. Almachilde, having according to appointment met the queen in a dark place, and believing himself to be with the maid, lay with Rosamunda, who, after having discovered herself to him, told him that it was at his option either to kill Alboin, and always to enjoy her and the kingdom, or to be himself killed by Alboin as the ravisher of his wife. Almachilde consented to kill Alboin; but, after having put him to death, seeing that he could not hold the kingdom, and fearing to be killed himself by the Longobards, who were greatly attached to Alboin, he fled, taking with him the queen and all the royal treasure, to Longinus, in Ravenna, who received him honorably. During these troubles, the Emperor Justinus had died, and Tiberius had been made Emperor in his place, who, being engaged in a war with the Parthians, could not go to the assistance of Italy. This seemed, therefore, a favorable opportunity to Longinus to make himself king of the Longobards and of all Italy by means of Rosamunda and her treasures; and having conferred with her on the subject, he persuaded her to kill Almachilde, and to take him for her husband. Rosamunda having agreed to this, she ordered a cup of poisoned wine, which she carried with her own hand to Almachilde, who, being thirsty as he came out of his bath, drank the half of it; and feeling immediately after an internal commotion, he concluded that he had been poisoned, and forced Rosamunda to drink the rest, and thus in a few hours they both died, and Longinus was deprived of the hope of becoming king.
Meantime the Longobards met together at Pavia, which they had made the principal seat of their kingdom, and made Clefi their king, who rebuilt Imola, which had been destroyed by Narsetes, and occupied Rimini, and almost every other place down to Rome; but in the course of his victories death overtook him. This Clefi was cruel in his ways, not only to strangers, but also to his Longobards, who, being alarmed by the royal power, resolved to have no more kings, but created from amongst themselves thirty dukes, who should govern them. This was the reason why the Longobards never obtained possession of all Italy, and why their kingdom never extended beyond Benevento; and also why Rome, Ravenna, Cremona, Mantua, Padua, Monselice, Parma, Bologna, Faenza, Furli, and Cesena partly defended themselves for a time, and partly were never occupied by the Longobards. For the fact of their having no kings had made them more disposed for war; but afterwards having again established royalty, they became, from having for a time enjoyed freedom from control, less inclined to obedience, and more ready for discord amongst themselves, which circumstance first retarded their success, and in the end caused their being driven entirely out of Italy. The Longobards then being established within the above indicated limits, the Romans and Longinus made a treaty with them that each should retain their arms, and keep and enjoy what they possessed.
9. About that time the Popes began to acquire greater authority than they had hitherto enjoyed. The first successors of St. Peter had secured the respect and reverence of men by the sanctity of their lives and the miracles which they performed. The example of their virtues extended the Christian religion to that degree that the princes were obliged to submit to it for the sake of putting an end to the great confusion that prevailed in the world. The Emperor then having become a Christian, and having left Rome and established himself at Constantinople, it followed, as we have said at the beginning, that the Roman Empire fell more rapidly into decadence, whilst the Church of Rome increased in power and influence. Nevertheless, until the coming of the Longobards, all Italy being subject to the authority of the Emperors or kings, the Popes at that time never assumed more authority than what the reverence of their characters and their learning gave them. In all other respects they obeyed either the Emperors or the kings, and on several occasions were put to death by them, or were employed by them as ministers. But he who caused the pontiffs to become more influential in the affairs of Italy was Theodoric, king of the Goths, when he established his residence at Ravenna; because Rome, having been left without a prince, the Romans had reason for yielding more obedience to the pontiffs, for the sake of their protection. Their actual authority, however, was not much increased by this; it only caused the church of Rome to have precedence of that of Ravenna. But when the Longobards came and reduced Italy to many parts, they afforded the Popes the opportunity to become more active; for being, as it were, the chief power in Rome, the Emperor of Constantinople and the Longobards held them in such respect that the Romans, through the Pope, not as subjects but as equals, confederated with the Longobards and with Longinus. And thus the pontiffs, continuing to be at one time the friends of the Longobards and then again of the Greeks, materially increased their consideration and influence.
It was at this epoch, and under the Emperor Heraclius, that the ruin of the Eastern Empire began. The Sclaves, of whom we have made mention above, having again attacked Illyria, made themselves masters of it, and gave it their own name, Sclavonia. The other parts of that empire were assailed, first by the Persians and after that by the Saracens, who came from Arabia under Mahomet, and finally by the Turks, who, having taken Syria, Africa, and Egypt, the impotence of that empire no longer afforded the Pope any refuge there in his oppressions; and, on the other hand, as the power of the Longobards increased, he thought it necessary for him to seek new friends, and therefore had recourse to the king of France. So that all the wars that were made by the barbarians in Italy after that time were caused by the pontiffs, and all the Barbarians that overran that country were, in most instances, called there by them. This course of proceeding is continued even in our times, and has ever kept, and still keeps, Italy disunited and weak. And therefore the history of the events from that time until the present will not show any more the progress of the decline of the Empire, which was general, but the growth of the power of the pontiffs, and of those other princes that ruled Italy after that time until the coming of Charles VIII. And it will be seen how the Popes, first by means of the Censure, and afterwards by the Censure and force of arms together and combined with indulgences, became at the same time both terrible and venerable, and how, having misused both the one and the other of those means, the Censure lost its terrors entirely and the indulgences were no longer valued.
10. But to return to the order of our history, I say that when Gregory III. had become Pope, and Aistolfo king of the Longobards, the latter occupied Ravenna, in contravention of the treaties he had made, and set on foot a war against the Pope. Gregory thereupon, for the reasons above given, having no confidence in the Emperor of Constantinople on account of his weakness, and unwilling to trust the Longobards, who had repeatedly broken their faith, had recourse to Pepin II., who from being lord of Austrasia and Brabant, had become king of France, not so much by his own power and merits as by those of Charles Martel, his father, and of Pepin, his grandfather. It was Charles Martel who, when governor of that country, gained that memorable victory over the Saracens at Torsi, on the river Loire, where more than two hundred thousand of them were slain; whereupon Pepin II., through the influence of his father’s reputation and his own valor, became king of that realm. Pope Gregory, as has been said, sent to him for assistance against the Longobards, which Pepin promised him, but desired first to see him personally and to honor his presence. Gregory, therefore, went to France, and, after having been honored by the king, was sent back to Italy accompanied by an army, who besieged the Longobards in Pavia. Whereupon Aistolfo, constrained by necessity, made terms with the French, who concluded the agreement at the request of the Pope, who did not wish his enemy killed, but desired that he should live and be converted to the Christian faith. Aistolfo bound himself by this treaty to restore to the Church all the lands which he had occupied; but after the return of Pepin with his troops to France, Aistolfo disregarded his obligations under the treaty, and Gregory had again recourse to Pepin, who once more sent his troops into Italy, defeated the Longobards, and took Ravenna; which, contrary to the will of the Greek Emperor, he gave to the Pope, together with all the other lands that were comprised under the Exarchate, adding thereto the lands of Urbino and La Marca. During the transfer of these lands, Aistolfo died, and Desiderius, a Longobard, who was Duke of Tuscany, took up arms to seize that kingdom, and demanded assistance from the Pope, promising him his friendship in return, which Gregory conceded to him, so that the other princes submitted to him. At first, Desiderius kept his pledges, and transferred the lands to the pontiff according to the agreement made with Pepin; after which no more exarchs came from Constantinople to Ravenna, which remained subject to the rule of the Pope. After that Pepin died, and was succeeded by his son Charles, who, from the greatness of his deeds, was called the Great.
11. Meantime Theodore I. had been elevated to the papal chair; he soon became involved in difficulties with Desiderius, and was besieged by him in Rome; so that he was obliged to have recourse to Charles, who, having passed the Alps, besieged Desiderius in Pavia, took him and his sons prisoners and sent them to France, and then went to visit the Pope at Rome, where he decided that the Pope, as Vicar of God, could not be judged by men, and in turn the Pope and the Roman people declared Charles Emperor. And thus Rome again began to have Emperors in the West, and whilst formerly the Pope had to be confirmed by the Emperor, the Emperor now on his election had need of the Pope; and thus the Empire began to lose its dignity, and that of the pontiff was increased; and by these means the papal authority steadily grew beyond that of the temporal princes.
The Longobards had now been two hundred and thirty-two years in Italy, and only remained foreigners in name; and when King Charles wanted to reorganize Italy during the papacy of Leo III., he consented to the Longobards inhabiting the places where they had been born and bred, and that that country should be called after them Lombardy. And as they held the name of Rome in great reverence, they desired that that entire portion of Italy adjacent to their possessions, and which was subject to the Exarch of Ravenna, should be called the Romagna. Besides this Charles created his son Pepin King of Italy, whose jurisdiction extended as far as Benevento, and all the rest was held by the Greek Emperor, with whom Charles had concluded a treaty.
At that time Pascal I. was chosen supreme pontiff, and the parochians of the churches of Rome, from being near the Pope and present at his election, assumed the name of Cardinals for the purpose of sustaining their power with a splendid title, and they arrogated to themselves so much influence, particularly after they had excluded the Roman people from the elections of the Popes, that the choice of pontiffs rarely passed outside of their number.
After the death of Pascal, Eugene II. was created Pope under the title of St. Sabina; and Italy, since being under the control of the French, changed in part the form and organization of its government, by the Pope’s having assumed more authority in temporal matters, and by the introduction into Italy of the titles of Count and Marquis, in the same way as the title of Duke was first established by Longinus, the Exarch of Ravenna. After Eugene II. a Roman priest called Osporco came to be Pope; the ugliness of his name caused him on his election to assume that of Sergio, and it was this circumstance that gave rise to the practice of changing their names which the Popes adopt on their election.
12. Meanwhile the Emperor Charles had died, and was succeeded by his son Louis; after whose death there occurred such dissensions amongst his sons, that at the time of his grandsons the Empire was taken from France and transferred to Germany; and the first German Emperor was called Arnolfo. The discords amongst the descendants of Charles lost them not only the Empire, but also the kingdom of Italy; for the Longobards, having recovered their strength, attacked the Pope and the Romans, so that, not knowing where to seek assistance, the Pope, from necessity, made Berengarius, Duke of Friuli, king of Italy. These events encouraged the Huns who were in Pannonia to assail Italy; but having encountered Berengarius in battle, they were forced to return to Pannonia, or rather to Hungary, as that province was then called. At that period Romano was Emperor in Greece, having taken the Empire from Constantine, whose armies he had commanded. This usurpation had stirred up a rebellion against him in Puglia and Calabria, which provinces owed obedience to the Empire; this made Romano so indignant that he permitted the Saracens to enter those provinces, of which they made themselves masters, and then also attempted to take Rome. But the Romans, seeing Berengarius occupied in defending himself against the Huns, put Alberic, Duke of Tuscany, at their head, and his valor saved Rome from the Saracens; who, after raising the siege of Rome, built a fortress on Mount Galgano, whence they dominated Puglia and Calabria and threatened the rest of Italy. It was thus that Italy suffered terrible afflictions in those days, being assailed towards the Alps by the Huns, and towards Naples by the Saracens.
This unhappy state of things lasted many years in Italy under the three Berengarii, who succeeded one another. The Pope and the Church were constantly disturbed by these troubles, there being no one to whom they could resort for help, owing to the dissensions of the Western princes and the impotence of the Eastern. The city of Genoa and its adjacent shores were ravaged by the Saracens, which gave rise to the greatness of the city of Pisa, which afforded a refuge to many unfortunate people who had been driven from their own homes. These events occurred in the year 931 of the Christian era. But now, when Otho, Duke of Saxony and son of Henry and Mathilda, a man of great prudence and reputation, had become Emperor, the Pope Agapites appealed to him to come into Italy and to deliver her from the tyranny of the Berengarii.
13. The states of Italy were at that time distributed as follows: Lombardy was under Berengarius III. and his son Albert; Tuscany was governed by a minister of the Western Emperor; Puglia and Calabria obeyed in part the Greek Emperor, and in part the Saracens. Rome chose every year two Consuls from amongst her nobles, who governed it according to ancient customs; to these was added a Prefect, who represented the people. There was also a Council of Twelve, who distributed every year the rectors for the different places subject to Rome. The Popes had more or less authority throughout Italy, according as they were in favor with the Emperors or with the other princes that were most powerful in the country. The Emperor Otho then came into Italy and took the government from the Berengarii, who had held it for fifty-five years, and restored to the Pope all his dignities. Otho had a son and a grandson bearing the same name as himself, who one after the other succeeded him in the Empire. At the time of Otho III., Pope Gregory V. was expelled by the Romans, whereupon Otho came into Italy and restored the Pope in Rome; who, by way of revenging himself upon the Romans, took from them the power of creating the Emperors, and bestowed it upon six princes of Germany, namely, the Bishops of Mayence, Treves, and Cologne, and the princes of Brandenburg, the Palatinate, and of Saxony. This occurred in the year 1002.
After the death of Otho III., Henry, Duke of Bavaria, was created Emperor by the Electors, and was crowned twelve years afterwards by Pope Stephen VIII. Henry and his wife, Simeonda, led a most holy life, as may be seen from the many churches endowed and built by them; amongst others, the Church of San Miniato, near the city of Florence. Henry died in the year 1024, and was succeeded by Conrad of Suabia; and after him came Henry II., who came to Rome, and, there being a schism in the Church and three Popes, he displaced them all and had Clement II. elected, by whom he was crowned Emperor.
14. At this time Italy was governed in part by the people and in part by princes, and partly by envoys of the Emperors, the most prominent of which, and to whom the others deferred, were called Chancellors. Amongst the most powerful princes was Gottfried, and the Countess Mathilda, his wife, who was the daughter of Beatrice, sister of Henry II. She and her husband possessed Lucca, Parma, Reggio, and Mantua, together with all the lands that are now called “II Patrimonio.” The pontiffs experienced at this time great difficulties from the ambition of the Roman people, who at first availed of the authority of the Popes to free themselves from the Emperors; and, after having taken the government of the city into their own hands and remodelled it according to their own seeming, suddenly became hostile to the Popes, who received more ill-treatment from the people of Rome than from any other Christian prince. And in the days when the Popes by means of the Censure caused all the West to tremble, the Roman people revolted, none of them having any other intention than to deprive each other of influence and authority.
As Gregory V. had taken from the Romans the power to create the Emperors, so Nicholas II., when he came to the pontificate, deprived the people of Rome of the privilege of concurring in the creation of the Popes, and established that the election of the Popes should belong exclusively to the Cardinals. Nor was he content with this, but having come to an agreement with the princes that governed Calabria and Puglia (for reasons which we shall presently state), he constrained all the officials sent there by the Romans for the administration of justice to render obedience to the Popes, and some of them he deprived of their offices entirely.
15. After the death of Nicholas II. there was a schism in the Church, because the clergy of Lombardy would not yield obedience to Alexander II., who had been elected Pope at Rome; and they created Cadolo of Parma Antipope. The Emperor Henry, who hated the power of the Popes, gave Pope Alexander to understand that he must resign the pontificate, and the Cardinals that they must go into Germany to create a new Pope. This caused Henry to be the first prince who was made to feel the power of spiritual weapons; for the Pope called a council at Rome, and deprived Henry of the Empire and of his kingdom. Some of the Italian people followed Henry and some the Pope, which was the seed of the feuds between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines (Waiblingen); so that Italy, after the invasions of the Barbarians had ceased, became torn by intestine wars. Henry thereupon, being excommunicated, was constrained by his people to go to Italy and kneel barefoot to the Pope and ask his forgiveness, which occurred in the year 1080. Nevertheless, soon after, other differences arose between the Pope and Henry, so that the Pope excommunicated him anew, whereupon the Emperor sent his son, who was also called Henry, to Rome; and he, assisted by the Romans, who hated the Pope, besieged him in his castle; but Robert Guiscard having come from Puglia to relieve the Pope, Henry did not wait to encounter him, but returned alone to Germany. The Romans, however, persisted obstinately in the siege, so that the city of Rome was again sacked by Robert, and thrown back into its former ruined condition, from which it had been restored by several successive Popes. As this Robert Guiscard was the founder of the kingdom of Naples, it seems to me not superfluous to give some particular account of his origin and his deeds.
16. The dissensions amongst the heirs of Charlemagne, of which we have spoken above, afforded the opportunity to a new Northern people, called the Normans, to come and assail France, and to take possession of that portion which is called Normandy. A part of this people came into Italy at the time when that country was infested by the Berengarii, the Saracens, and the Huns, and took possession of some lands in the Romagna, where they maintained themselves bravely during the subsequent wars. Tancred, who was one of these Norman princes, had numerous sons, amongst whom were William, called Ferabar, and Robert, called Guiscard. The principality had now come to William, and the disturbances of Italy had ceased in that part of the country. Nevertheless, the Saracens held Sicily, and constantly plundered the shores of Italy. William therefore agreed with the Princes of Capua and Salerno, and with Melorco, the Greek, who governed Puglia and Calabria for the Greek Emperor, to attack the Saracens in Sicily; and it was agreed between them that, in case of success, they should divide the booty and the lands equally, one fourth to each. The enterprise proved fortunate, and after driving out the Saracens they took possession of Sicily. But after this victory Melorco secretly caused troops to be sent over from Greece, by the aid of whom he seized the whole island in the name of the Emperor, and only divided the booty with the others. William was ill content with this, but awaited a more convenient time to manifest it, and left the island, accompanied by the Princes of Salerno and Capua. When these had parted from him to return to their homes, William, instead of returning to the Romagna, turned with his troops towards Puglia, and promptly seized Melfi, and thence in a short time, despite of the resistance of the troops of the Greek Emperor, made himself master of almost the whole of Puglia and Calabria, which provinces had been subject to his brother, Robert Guiscard, at the time of Pope Nicholas II. Having had great differences with his nephews about the inheritance of these provinces, Robert availed of the influence of the Pope to compose them, which the latter did most readily, being desirous of securing the friendship of Robert, so that he might defend him against the German Emperor and the insolence of the Roman people. This indeed happened, as we have related above, when at the instance of Gregory VII. he drove Henry from Rome, and reduced the people of that city to subjection. Robert was succeeded by his sons Ruggieri and William, who added to their possessions Naples, and all the country between Naples and Rome, as also Sicily, of which Ruggieri had made himself master. But William afterwards, whilst on his way to Constantinople to espouse the daughter of the Emperor, was attacked by Ruggieri, and deprived by him of his state. Ruggieri, elated by this acquisition, had himself proclaimed King of Italy, but afterwards contented himself with the title of King of Puglia and Sicily, and was the first to give a name and organization to that kingdom, which has maintained itself in its ancient limits, although it has several times changed not only its dynasty, but also its nationality. For when the Norman line became extinct, the kingdom was transferred to the Germans, and from them to the French; from these it passed to the Aragonese, and is now possessed by the Flemish.
17. Urban II. had now come to the supreme Pontificate; he was hated by the Romans, and believing that he could not remain securely in Rome on account of the disturbances in Italy, he turned his attention to a grand and noble enterprise. He went to France with all his clergy, and having gathered a large assemblage of people at Antwerp, he addressed them a discourse against the infidels, by which he inflamed their minds to that degree that they resolved to undertake a war against the Saracens in Asia. This enterprise and similar subsequent ones were called the Crusades, because all who joined in them wore a red cross on their arms or on their clothes. The chiefs in this enterprise were Godfrey, Eustace, and Baldwin, Counts of Bouillon, and a certain Peter the Hermit, who was celebrated for his sanctity and wisdom. Many kings and nations aided this undertaking with money, and many individuals served as soldiers without any pay: such was the power and influence of religion upon the minds of men in those days, stimulated by the example of those who were the leaders in this enterprise. At first the results were glorious, for all Asia Minor, Syria, and part of Egypt, fell under the power of the Christians. It gave rise to the order of the Knights of Jerusalem, which exists to this day and holds the island of Rhodes, and has remained the chief obstacle to the power of the Mahometans. It also gave birth to the order of the Knight Templars, which became extinguished, however, soon after, in consequence of their bad habits. Various events occurred in connection with this undertaking by which at different times many individuals and nations became famous. The kings of England and France lent it their aid and support; and the people of Pisa, Venice, and Genoa acquired great renown, and fought with varying fortunes in this expedition, up to the time of Saladin the Saracen, whose valor, together with the dissensions of the Christians, deprived them in the end of all the glory they had acquired in the beginning; and after ninety years they were driven out of the places which they had at first recovered with so much honor.
18. After the death of Urban, Pascal II. was made Pope, and the Empire fell to Henry IV., who went to Rome feigning friendship for the Pope; but afterwards he imprisoned him, together with all his clergy, and did not liberate them again until they conceded to him the power of disposing of the Church in Germany as seemed to him proper. At this time occurred the death of the Countess Mathilda, who left all her estates to the Church. After the death of Pascal and of the Emperor Henry, more Popes and Emperors succeeded, until the Pontificate came to Alexander III., and the Empire to Frederick of Suabia, called Barbarossa. At that period the Popes had had many difficulties with the Roman people and the Emperors, which increased very much at the time of Barbarossa. Frederick excelled in war, but his pride was such that he could not bear to yield to the Popes; nevertheless, after his election, he came to Rome to be crowned, and then returned peacefully to Germany. But he did not remain long in that frame of mind, for he returned to Italy to reduce to subjection some towns of Lombardy that had refused him obedience. At this time the Cardinal St. Clement, a Roman by birth, separated himself from the Pope, and was himself made Pope by some of the cardinals. The Emperor Frederick was at that time encamped before Crema, and when Pope Alexander complained to him of the Antipope, Clement, he replied that they should both come before him, and that then he would decide which of them was the true Pope. This answer displeased Alexander, and seeing Frederick inclined to favor the Antipope, he excommunicated him, and fled to Philip, king of France. Frederick meanwhile continued the war in Lombardy, and took and destroyed Milan; in consequence of which Verona, Padua, and Vicenza united against him for their common defence.
In the midst of these occurrences the Antipope died, whereupon Frederick created Guido of Cremona Antipope in his place. The Romans at this time, partly in consequence of the absence of the Pope and partly in consequence of the obstacles which the Emperor met with in Lombardy, had resumed considerable authority in Rome, and claimed obedience from those places that used to be subject to them. And as the Tusculanians refused to concede any authority to them, they went in mass to attack them; but the Tusculanians, being supported by Frederick, routed the Roman army with such slaughter that Rome never afterwards was either populous or rich. Pope Alexander meantime had returned to Rome, deeming himself safe now in remaining there because of the enmity between Frederick and the Romans, as also on account of the enemies which Frederick had in Lombardy. But, regardless of all such considerations, Frederick took the field and marched upon Rome, where Alexander, however, did not await him, but fled to William, king of Puglia, who had become heir to that kingdom after the death of Ruggieri. But Frederick gave up the siege of Rome in consequence of the pest, and returned to Germany; and the towns of Lombardy that had conspired against him, by way of enabling them to subdue Pavia and Tortona, which were held by the Imperialists, built a city that should serve them as a stronghold, and which they called Alexandria, in honor of Pope Alexander, and in derision of Frederick. Guido the Antipope also died, and his place was filled by Giovanni da Fermo, who, favored by the Imperial party, remained at Montefiascone.
19. In the midst of these events Alexander had gone to Tusculum, called there by the people to protect them with his authority against the Romans. Whilst there, envoys came to him from the king of England to explain to him that their king had no share in the guilt of the murder of the blessed Thomas, Bishop of Canterbury, of which he had been publicly accused. On account of which the Pope sent two cardinals to England to investigate the truth of the matter; who, although they could discover no manifest proof of the king’s being guilty, yet, on account of the infamy of the crime and for not having honored Thomas as he deserved, ordered that the king, by way of penance, should convene all the barons of his realm, and by a solemn oath should excuse himself in their presence; and that, furthermore, he should at once send two hundred soldiers to Jerusalem, and pay them for one year; and that the king should also be obliged personally to go to Jerusalem within three years, with as great an army as he could bring together; and to annul all the acts passed during his reign that were adverse to ecclesiastical liberty; and to consent that every one of his subjects should have the right to appeal to Rome; all which conditions were accepted by King Henry. And so great a king submitted to such a judgment, to which any private individual of the present day would disdain to submit. And yet, whilst the Pope had so much authority with princes at so great a distance, he could not make himself obeyed by the Romans, whom he could not induce, even by entreaties, to allow him to stay in Rome; although he promised them, moreover, that he would not interfere in any but ecclesiastical matters. So much more are appearances dreaded at a distance than when seen near by.
At that time Frederick had returned to Italy, and whilst he was preparing to renew hostilities against the Pope all the prelates and barons gave him to understand that they would abandon him if he did not reconcile himself with the Church; so that Frederick was obliged to go to Venice to render homage to the Pope. A pacification was there effected between them; and in the treaty the Pope withdrew from the Emperor all authority over Rome, and named William, king of Sicily and of Puglia, his coadjutor. Frederick, unable to live without being engaged in some war, undertook to go to Asia, there to give vent to his ambition against Mahomet, which he had not been able to do against the Vicar of Christ. But having reached the river Cydnus, and being attracted by the clearness of its waters, he bathed in it, and died in consequence; and thus the water rendered greater service to the Mahometans than the excommunications had rendered to the Christians; for these only checked the pride of the Emperor, whilst the former extinguished it.
20. After the death of Frederick, it only remained for the Pope to subdue the contumacy of the Romans; and after much disputing about the creation of consuls, it was agreed that the people of Rome should elect them according to custom, but that they could not enter upon their functions until after having first sworn fidelity to the Church. This agreement caused the Antipope Giovanni to fly to Monte Albano, where he died soon after. William, king of Naples, died also about this time, and the Pope proposed to take possession of that kingdom, as the king had left no son but Tancred, who was an illegitimate child. The barons, however, did not concur in the Pope’s intentions, and wanted Tancred for their king. Celestin III. was Pope at that time, who, being desirous to get the kingdom out of the hands of Tancred, managed to have Henry, son of Frederick, made Emperor, and promised him the kingdom of Naples on condition of his restoring to the Church all the lands that had belonged to her. And, by way of facilitating this matter, he withdrew from the convent Costanza, a daughter of William’s and no longer very young, and gave her to Henry for his wife. And thus did the kingdom of Naples pass from the Normans, who were the founders of it, to the Germans. After having settled matters in Germany, Henry came to Italy with his wife, Costanza, and a son four years of age, called Frederick, and took possession of the kingdom of Naples without much difficulty; for Tancred had already died, leaving only a small boy, called Ruggiero. After a time Henry died in Sicily, and Frederick succeeded to the kingdom of Naples, and Otho, Duke of Saxony, to the Empire, through the favorable influence of Pope Innocent III. But no sooner had Otho taken the crown than, contrary to all expectation, he turned against the Pope, seized the Romagna, and ordered an attack upon the kingdom, in consequence of which the Pope excommunicated him, so that he was abandoned by everybody; whereupon the Electors chose Frederick, king of Naples, Emperor. Frederick came to Rome for his coronation, but the Pope would not crown him, for he feared his power, and therefore sought to get him out of Italy, the same as he had done with Otho. Frederick became so indignant at this that he returned to Germany, and, after a protracted war, defeated Otho.
In the midst of these events Pope Innocent died, who, besides many other excellent works, built the Hospital of Santo Spirito at Rome. He was succeeded by Honorius III., during whose Pontificate the orders of St. Dominic and St. Francis were established, in the year 1218. It was this Pope who crowned Frederick, to whom John, a descendant of Baldwin, king of Jerusalem, who was with the remnant of the Christians in Asia, gave one of his daughters for wife, and with her dower he conceded to Frederick the title to that kingdom; and this gave rise to the custom that whoever is king of Naples also bears the title of king of Jerusalem.
21. The state of things in Italy at that time was as follows. The Romans made no more Consuls, and in their stead they created, by the same authority, first only one Senator, and afterwards more. The league that had been formed amongst the cities of Lombardy against Frederick Barbarossa was still in existence, and was composed of the cities of Milan, Brescia, Mantua, with the greater part of the cities of the Romagna, and in addition Verona, Vicenza, Padua, and Trevisi. On the side of the Emperor were Cremona, Bergamo, Parma, Reggio, Modena, and Trent. The other cities and castles of Lombardy and the Trevisian Marches, according to necessity, favored either the one or the other party.
At the time of Otho III. there had come into Italy one Ezzelino, of whom there remained a son born in Italy, who became father to another Ezzelino. The latter, being rich and powerful, united with Frederick II., who, as we have said, had become hostile to the Pope; and having come into Italy through the favor and means of Ezzelino, he took Verona and Mantua, destroyed Vicenza, seized Padua, and routed the army of the leagued cities, and then marched upon Tuscany. Meantime Ezzelino had subjugated the entire Trevisian Marches; but failed to take Ferrara, which was being defended by Azone d’ Este and by the troops which the Pope had in Lombardy. When the siege was raised, the Pope gave that city in fief to Azone d’ Este, from whom those are descended who rule over the city at the present day. Frederick, desirous of making himself master of Tuscany, stopped at Pisa; and in scanning his friends and his enemies in that province, he sowed so much discord that it was the ruin of all Italy, because the factions of the Guelfs and Ghibellines multiplied everywhere, those being called Guelfs who adhered to the Church, and Ghibellines those who followed the Emperor. These appellations were first applied at Pistoja. After departing from Pisa Frederick attacked and wasted the lands of the Church in every direction, so that the Pope, seeing no other remedy, proclaimed a crusade against him, the same as his predecessors had done against the Saracens. And Frederick, to prevent being suddenly abandoned by his troops, as in the case of Frederick Barbarossa, and others more powerful than himself, took a number of Saracens into his pay; and by way of fixing them as a permanent obstacle to the Church in Italy, who would not fear the papal maledictions, he gave them Nocera in the kingdom of Naples, so that, having a place of refuge of their own, they might serve him with a greater sense of security.
22. The Pontificate had now come to Innocent IV., who, fearing lest Frederick should go to Genoa and thence into France, ordered a council to be held at Lyons; to which Frederick resolved to go, but was prevented by a rebellion of the city of Parma; and being repulsed in his attack upon that city, he went into Tuscany, and thence to Sicily, where he died, leaving his son Conrad in Suabia, and his natural son Manfred he left in Puglia, having made him Duke of Benevento. Conrad came to take possession of the kingdom, but died after having reached Naples; he left one son, named Conradin, who was still young, and was at that time in Germany. Meantime Manfred seized the government, first as the guardian of Conradin; and afterwards, having started a report of Conradin’s death, he made himself king, contrary to the will of the Pope and of the Neapolitans, whom he forced to yield their consent. Whilst these things were going on in the kingdom of Naples, many disturbances occurred between the factions of the Guelfs and the Ghibellines. At the head of the Guelf party was a Legate of the Pope; and the Ghibellines were led by Ezzelino, who possessed nearly all Lombardy beyond the Po. And as the city of Padua revolted during the progress of the war, Ezzelino had twelve thousand Paduans put to death, but died himself at the age of thirty before the war had been brought to a close; after his death all his possessions became free. Manfred, king of Naples, continued in hostility towards the Church the same as his ancestors, and kept the then Pope Urban IV. in continual anxiety; so that the Pope, by way of reducing him to subjection, proclaimed a crusade against him, and went himself to Perugia there to await the gathering of troops. And as it seemed to him that but a few came, feebly and tardily, he bethought himself that, to enable him to conquer Manfred, he would need to have assistance; and therefore he turned for aid and favor to France, and created Charles of Anjou, brother of Louis, king of France, king of Sicily and Naples, and urged him to come into Italy to take possession of that kingdom. But the Pope died before Charles came to Rome, and Clement IV. was elected in his place. During his Pontificate Charles came with thirty galleys to Ostia, having ordered the other portion of his troops to come by land. During his stay in Rome the Romans, by way of gratifying him, made him Senator; and the Pope invested him with the kingdom, with the obligation, however, that he should pay every year to the Church the sum of fifty thousand florins; and he issued a decree that in future neither Charles nor any one else that held the kingdom of Naples should be Emperor. And Charles, having taken the field against Manfred, routed and killed him near Benevento, and made himself master of Sicily and of the kingdom. But Conradin, to whom the state belonged according to his father’s will, gathered a large force in Germany and came into Italy against Charles, whom he encountered and fought at Tagliacozzo, but was routed, and whilst flying in disguise was taken and put to death.
23. Italy remained quiet until the accession of Adrian V. to the Pontificate. Whilst Charles was at Rome governing it by virtue of his office of Senator, the Pope could not brook his power, and went to live at Viterbo, and solicited the Emperor Rudolph to come to his aid against Charles into Italy. And thus did the Popes, influenced either by the love of their religion, or by their personal ambition, continue to call into Italy new people, and to stir up new wars; and after having made one prince powerful they repented of it and sought his ruin, and would not permit that that province which they were themselves too weak to hold should be possessed by any one else. And the princes feared the Popes, because these always carried the day, whether fighting or flying, unless they were overpowered by some fraud, as was Boniface VIII. and some others, who were taken prisoners by the Emperor under the pretence of friendship.
Rudolph did not come into Italy, being detained by the war in which he was engaged against the king of Bohemia. In the midst of this Adrian died and was succeeded in the Pontificate by Nicholas III. of the house of Orsini, an ambitious and audacious man. Resolved by every means to diminish the power of Charles, he directed that Rudolph should complain because Charles kept a governor in Tuscany on account of the Guelf party, which had been re-established by him in that province after the death of Manfred. Charles yielded to the Emperor, and withdrew his governor, and the Pope sent his cardinal nephew there as governor of the Empire; so that the Emperor, in return for the honor shown him, restored the Romagna to the Church, which had been taken from her by his ancestors, and the Pope made Bartoldo Orsini Duke of the Romagna. The Pope, thinking that he had become sufficiently powerful to be able to contend against Charles, deprived him of the office of Senator, and issued a decree that henceforth no one of royal lineage should be able to be a Senator in Rome. He had it in his mind also to take Sicily from Charles, and for this purpose set secret negotiations on foot with Pedro, king of Aragon, which were carried into effect afterwards under his successor. He contemplated furthermore to create from amongst his family two kings, one in Lombardy and the other in Tuscany, so that they might defend the Church against the Germans whenever they might attempt to come into Italy, and against the French who were in the kingdom of Naples. But before putting these designs into execution he died, having been the first Pope who openly manifested his selfish ambition, and who designed, under color of aggrandizing the Church, to bestow honors and benefits upon his own family. Previous to that time no mention had ever been made of nephews or relatives of any of the Popes; but henceforth history is full of them, so that even their children are seen to figure in it. And after having attempted to make their children princes, there really seemed to remain nothing more for the Popes to do than to leave them the Papacy as an hereditary right. It is very true that the principalities established by the Popes until then have been but short-lived, because in many instances the Popes themselves did not live long; so that either they could not finish planting their seeds, or, if they did, they left them whilst their roots were yet so feeble and few that they were destroyed by the first storm after the power that sustained them had ceased to exist.
24. The next Pope was Martin IV., who, being French by birth, favored the party of Charles; in return for which Charles sent his troops into the Romagna, which had revolted against the Holy See; and whilst besieging Furli, Guido Bonatti, an astrologer, directed the people to assail Charles at a particular point indicated by him, so that all the French were either taken or slain.
At that time also was carried into effect the plot that had been arranged between the Pope Nicholas and Pedro, king of Aragon, according to which the Sicilians killed all the French that were found on the island. Pedro made himself master of Sicily, claiming it as belonging to him by right of his wife, Costanza, daughter of Manfred. But Charles died whilst organizing the campaign for the recovery of Sicily, leaving a son, Charles II., who was taken prisoner during the war in Sicily. For the sake of gaining his liberty he promised to return to prison provided he should not have succeeded within three years in inducing the Pope to invest the royal house of Aragon with the crown of Sicily.
25. The Emperor Rudolph, instead of coming into Italy to restore the influence of the Empire there, sent an ambassador with authority to concede their freedom to all the cities that were willing to purchase it; in consequence of which many cities purchased their liberties and changed their form of government. Adolf of Saxony succeeded to the Empire, and Pietro del Murone to the Pontificate; the latter took the name of Celestin, but being a hermit of great sanctity he renounced the Pontificate, and Boniface VIII. was elected Pope in his stead. Heaven, knowing that the time was to come when the French and the Germans should leave Italy, and that country should remain wholly in the hands of the Italians, so that the Pope deprived of foreign aid should neither be able to confirm nor enjoy his power, raised up two powerful families in Rome, the Colonna and the Orsini, who by their proximity would keep the Pope impotent. Boniface, aware of this, resolved to crush the Colonna; and after having excommunicated them, he proclaimed a crusade against them, which although it did them some harm yet injured the Church more. For the same weapon which had been most valiantly and successfully employed in defence of the faith, failed of effect when for purposes of personal ambition it was turned against Christians. And thus their very lust of power caused the Popes little by little to be enfeebled. Besides the above extreme measures, Boniface deprived two of the family of the Colonna who were cardinals of this dignity. Sciarra, the head of the house, which before him had been unknown, having fled, was taken by Catalan corsairs and put to the oars; but being afterwards recognized at Marseilles he was sent to Philip of France, who had also been excommunicated and deprived of his kingdom by Boniface. Philip considering himself as in open war against the Pope, in which he might remain either a loser or be exposed to great risks, had recourse to deceit, and, feigning a desire to make peace with the pontiff, sent Sciarra secretly into Italy. Upon arriving at Anagni, where the Pope was, he gathered his friends in the night and took the Pope prisoner. And although Boniface was soon after liberated by the people of Anagni, yet the mortification caused by that insult drove him mad, and he died.
26. It was this Boniface who organized the Jubilee of the Church in the year 1300, and ordered that it should be celebrated every hundred years. In these days there occurred many troubles between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines; and Italy, having been abandoned by the Emperors, many cities became free, and many fell under the control of despots. Pope Benedict restored the hat to Cardinal Colonna, and readmitted King Philip of France to the blessings and privileges of the Church. Benedict was succeeded by Clement V., who, being a Frenchman, transferred the pontifical seat to France in the year 1305. In the midst of these events Charles II., king of Naples, died, and was succeeded by his son, Robert; and Henry of Luxemburg had become Emperor, who came to Rome to be crowned, although the Pope was not there. His coming caused great disturbances in Lombardy; for he restored all the banished, whether Guelfs or Ghibellines, to their country, whence it resulted that, each party endeavoring to drive out the other, the province was torn by warlike dissensions, which the Emperor with all his power could not obviate. Having departed from Lombardy, the Emperor Henry went by way of Genoa to Pisa, where he attempted to take Tuscany from King Robert; but failing in this, he went on to Rome, where he remained but a few days, being driven out by the Orsini, with the help of King Robert; whereupon he returned to Pisa, and by way of carrying on the war more securely against Tuscany, and taking that state from King Robert, he caused it to be attacked by Frederick, king of Sicily. But whilst he hoped at the same time to obtain possession of Tuscany and to deprive King Robert of his state, he died, and was succeeded in the Empire by Louis of Bavaria. In the midst of these events John XXII. was elected Pope. Under his Pontificate the Emperor did not cease his persecutions against the Guelfs and the Church, which was defended in great part by King Robert and the Florentines. This gave rise to the many wars in Lombardy on the part of the Visconti against the Guelfs, and on the part of Castruccio of Lucca against the Florentines in Tuscany. But as it was the family of the Visconti that created the Dukedom of Milan, — one of the five principalities that subsequently governed Italy, — it seems to me proper here to give some account of their condition.
27. After the establishment in Lombardy of the league of the cities, already mentioned, for the purpose of mutual defence against Frederick Barbarossa, the city of Milan, having been rebuilt after its destruction, for the purpose of revenging herself for the wrongs endured, joined the league, which checked Barbarossa, and kept the Church party alive for some time in Lombardy. And in the disorders of the wars that followed thereupon the family of the Della Torres became most powerful in that city; so that their influence increased steadily, whilst the Emperors possessed but little authority in that province. But when Frederick II. came into Italy, and the Ghibelline party had become powerful by the acts of Ezzelino, there occurred in all the cities Ghibelline disturbances, whilst in Milan the Visconti were amongst the adherents of the Ghibellines, and drove the Della Torres from Milan. These had been absent, however, but a little while, before they were restored to their country by the treaties made between the Pope and the Emperor.
But the Pope, having gone with his court to France, and Henry of Luxemburg having come into Italy to be crowned at Rome, he was received at Milan by Maffeo Visconti and Guido della Torre, who were the heads of those families. Maffeo conceived the idea to avail of the presence of the Emperor to drive out Guido, believing the undertaking easy, because Guido belonged to the faction opposed to the Emperor. He therefore profited by the complaints of the people of the oppressive conduct of the Germans, and cautiously encouraged and persuaded the people to take up arms, and to arise and shake off the yoke of these barbarians. And when he supposed that he had arranged everything for his purpose, he caused some of his devoted adherents to create a tumult, whereupon the people rose in arms against the Germans. No sooner was this disturbance begun than Maffeo, with his sons and his partisans all in arms, rushed to Henry, and represented to him that the tumult had been created by the Della Torres, who, not content to remain quiet in Milan, had taken that opportunity to try and plunder him, for the purpose of ingratiating themselves with the Guelfs in Italy, and to make themselves masters of that city. But he bade Henry to be of good cheer; that he would stand by him, and that he and his party were ready to aid and defend him with all the means in their power. Henry, believing all that Maffeo told him to be the truth, united his forces to those of the Visconti, and attacked the Della Torres, who had run to all parts of the city for the purpose of staying the tumult; and those who were not taken prisoners were killed, the others were deprived of their property and sent into exile. Thus Maffeo Visconti remained Prince of Milan, and after him came Galeazzo and Azzo, and then Luchino and Giovanni; the latter became Archbishop of Milan, and Luchino, who died before him, left two sons, Bernabo and Galeazzo. But soon after, Galeazzo also died, leaving a son, Giovanni Galeazzo, called Conte di Virtu. After the death of the Archbishop, Giovanni Galeazzo murdered his uncle, Bernabo, in a treacherous manner, and remained sole Prince of Milan, and was the first who took the title of Duke. He left two sons, Philip and Giovanni Maria Angelo; the latter was killed by the people of Milan, and the government remained in the hands of Philip, who left no male children; whence the state was transferred from the house of Visconti to that of the Sforzas, in the manner and for the reasons which we shall relate at the proper time.
28. Returning now to the point from which I digressed, the Emperor Louis, for the purpose of reviving the power and influence of the imperial party, and to assume the crown, came into Italy; and being at Milan, as a pretext for obtaining money from the Milanese, he made show of leaving them their liberty and put the Visconti in prison. Afterwards he liberated them by means of Castruccio da Lucca; and having gone to Rome for the purpose of more easily disturbing Italy, he created Piero della Corvara Antipope, intending by his influence and the power of the Visconti to keep the opposing parties of Lombardy and Tuscany in a condition of weakness. But Castruccio died, which was the beginning of the Emperor’s failure; for Pisa and Lucca revolted against him, and the Pisans sent the Antipope as prisoner to the Pope in France; so that Louis, despairing of affairs in Italy, returned to Germany. No sooner had he left than John, king of Bohemia, came into Italy, called there by the Ghibellines of Brescia, and made himself master of that city and of Bergamo. And as he had come into Italy with the consent of the Pope, who however feigned the contrary, he was supported by the Legate of Bologna, who judged that that would be a good means of preventing the return of the Emperor into Italy. It was in this way that the condition of Italy became changed; for the Florentines and King Robert, seeing that the Legate supported the project of the Ghibellines, became hostile to all who were friends of the Legate and of the king of Bohemia. And many princes united with them without having any regard to either Guelf or Ghibelline party; amongst these were the Visconti, the Della Scalas, Philip Gonzago of Mantua, and the Princes of Carrara and of Este. Whereupon the Pope excommunicated them all; and the king, fearing this league, returned home to collect more forces. But having afterwards returned with these into Italy, he nevertheless found the enterprise so difficult for him that he returned to Bohemia disheartened, to the great displeasure of the Legate; leaving only Reggio and Modena guarded, and recommending Parma to Marsiglio and Piero de Rossi, who were most powerful in that city. After his departure, Bologna joined the league, and the confederates divided the four cities that yet remained to the party of the Church amongst themselves, and agreed that Parma should belong to the Della Scalas, Reggio to Gonzaga, Modena to the D’ Estes, and Lucca to the Florentines. The taking of these places occasioned many wars, which however were afterwards composed in great part by the Venetians. Some persons perhaps may wonder that, in narrating so many events that have occurred in Italy, we have deferred so long to speak of the Venetians, their state being a republic, which on account of its organization and power should be noted above every other principality in Italy. But the wonder will cease when they understand the reason of it, and therefore I shall resume the history of Venice so far back that the reader may understand her origin, and why the Venetians delayed so long taking an active part in the affairs of Italy.
29. When Attila, king of the Huns, besieged Aquileia, its inhabitants, after defending themselves a long time, despaired of their safety, and took refuge as best they could, with their movables, upon those rocky shoals that lay unoccupied near the head of the Adriatic Sea. The Paduans, also, seeing the conflagration approach, and fearing that, after Aquileia should have been taken, Attila would attack them, carried all their movables of greatest value to a point on the same sea called Rivo Alto, where they also sent their women and children and old men, keeping the young men in Padua for its defence. Besides these, the people of Monselice, together with the inhabitants of the hills in the rear, impelled by the same fears, took refuge also on the same rocky shoals of the Adriatic. But after Aquileia was taken and after Attila had destroyed Padua, Monselice, Vicenza, and Verona, the inhabitants of Padua and the most influential of the other cities remained to inhabit the swamps around Rivo Alto. And all the people of the vicinity of that province, which was anciently called Venezia, driven from their homes by the same circumstances, in like manner took refuge in those marshes. Thus constrained by necessity, they left the most agreeable and fertile places to dwell in sterile and unsettled ones, deprived of all comforts. A great many people being thus suddenly brought together there, they made those places in a very short space of time, not only fertile, but most delightful; and having established order and laws amongst themselves, they lived securely whilst there was so much ruin and distress throughout Italy, and in a little while they grew in reputation and power. For, besides the above-mentioned inhabitants, many others took refuge there from the cities of Lombardy, mostly driven away by the cruelties of Clefi, king of the Longobards; and which caused the new city to increase so considerably, that at the time when Pepin, king of France, came at the Pope’s request to drive the Longobards from Italy, in the conventions that were made between Pepin and the Emperor of the Greeks, the Duke of Benevento and the Venetians obeyed neither the one nor the other, but enjoyed their independence and liberty in the midst of them. Besides this, as necessity had obliged them to live as it were in the water, so, unable to avail of the land, they were forced to see how they could gain an honest living by sea; and going with their vessels to all parts of the world, they filled their city with various kinds of merchandise, of which other people being in need caused them frequently to resort there for their supplies. Nor did the Venetians for many years think of any other dominion than that which facilitated the transport of their merchandise; and therefore they acquired many ports in Greece and in Syria. And as the French in their voyages to Asia availed of the vessels of the Venetians, they assigned to them the island of Candia as a reward. And so long as they lived in this wise their name became feared on the seas, whilst in Italy it was venerated, so that in most of the controversies that arose the Venetians for the most part became the arbiters; as was the case in the differences between the confederated princes on account of the places which they divided amongst themselves, which dispute being referred to the Venetians, the Visconti received Bergamo and Brescia.
But as the Venetians, urged on by the lust of conquest, had in the course of time obtained possession of Padua, Vicenza, and Trevisi, and afterwards of Verona, Bergamo, and Brescia, and of a number of places in the kingdom and in the Romagna, they acquired such a reputation for power that they became a terror not only to the princes of Italy, but also to the Ultramontane kings. In consequence of which these combined against the Venetians, who thereupon lost in one day that state and power which they had achieved in so many years and at such infinite expense. And although they subsequently reacquired it in part, yet not having recovered their former reputation or power, they exist, like all the other Italian states, at the discretion of others.
30. Benedict XII. having become Pope, it seemed to him that he had lost all control of Italy, and, fearing lest the Emperor Louis should make himself master of it, he bethought himself to secure the friendship of all those who had usurped the places that used to be subject to the Emperor, so that, having reason to fear the Empire, they might ally themselves to him for the defence of Italy. He therefore issued a decree that all the tyrants of Lombardy should by a just title continue to hold the places they had usurped. But after having made this concession Benedict died, and was succeeded in the Pontificate by Clement VI. The Emperor, seeing with what liberality the Pope had donated the possessions of the Empire, resolved to be not less liberal with the goods of others, and so he gave to all those who had usurped the lands of the Church full imperial authority to retain them as their own property. In consequence of which Galeotto Malatesta and his brother became lords of Rimini, Pesaro, and Fano; Antonio da Montefeltro became lord of Marca and Urbino; Guido da Polenta, of Ravenna; Sinibaldo Ordelaffi, of Furli and Cesena; Giovanni Manfredi, of Faenza; and Lodovico Alidosi, of Imola. Besides these, many others became lords of other cities; so that of the many towns that belonged to the Church but a few remained without princes. This kept the Church weak until Alexander VI., in our day, restored her to her former authority by the ruin of those princes.
At the time of granting the above concession the Emperor was at Trent, and gave out that he intended to pass into Italy, which occasioned many wars in Lombardy, whereby the Visconti made themselves masters of Parma. Robert, king of Naples, died about this time, leaving only two granddaughters, children of his son Charles, who had died some time before him. By his will he constituted the elder, Joanna, heiress of the kingdom, and that she should take for her husband Andreas, king of Hungary, his nephew. Andreas had not lived long with Joanna before she had him killed, and married another cousin the Prince of Taranto, called Lodovico. But Louis, then king of Hungary and brother to Andreas, for the purpose of avenging the death of his brother, came with troops into Italy and drove Queen Joanna and her husband from the kingdom.
31. At this time there occurred a memorable affair at Rome; namely, a certain Niccolo di Lorenzo, Chancellor of the Campidoglio, expelled the Senators from Rome and proclaimed himself chief of the Roman republic, with the title of Tribune; and re-established that ancient form of government, with so much reputation of justice and virtue that not only the neighboring states, but all Italy, sent ambassadors to him; so that the ancient provinces, seeing the regeneration of Rome, also began to raise their heads; and some from fear, and others influenced by hope, did him honor. But despite of this great reputation, Niccolo became discouraged almost at the very outset; for borne down by the weight of responsibility he fled secretly of his own accord, and went to Charles of Bohemia, who had been elected Emperor by order of the Pope, and in disregard of Louis of Bavaria. Charles, by way of making himself acceptable to the Pope, sent him Niccolo as prisoner. Not long after this, however, it occurred that one Francesco Baroncelli, in imitation of Niccolo, seized the Tribunate of Rome and expelled the Senators. The Pope, as the promptest means for repressing this attempt, had Niccolo liberated and sent to Rome, and restored him to the office of Tribune; and when Niccolo had resumed the government he had Francesco put to death. But the Colonnese having become his enemies, Niccolo was also killed a short time afterwards, and the Senators restored to their offices.
32. In the midst of these events the king of Hungary, after having driven the Queen Joanna from the kingdom of Naples, returned to his own dominions. But the Pope, who preferred to have the queen near Rome rather than the king, managed in such manner as to have the king of Hungary consent to restore the kingdom to Joanna, provided that her husband, Lodovico, should content himself with the title of Prince of Taranto, and not claim that of king. It was now the year 1350, and it seeming to the Pope that the Jubilee, which Boniface VIII. had ordained for every hundred years, might be celebrated every fifty years, and having proclaimed this by a decree, the Roman people in return for this benefit agreed that the Pope should send four cardinals to Rome to reform the government of the city, and to create Senators according to his pleasure. The Pope also pronounced Lodovico di Taranto king of Naples; whereupon the queen out of gratitude gave her patrimony of Avignon to the Church. About this time Luchino Visconti was killed, whereupon the Archbishop Giovanni remained sole lord of Milan. He frequently engaged in war against Tuscany and his other neighbors, so that he became very powerful. After his death there remained his nephews, Bernabo and Galeazzo; the latter, however, died soon after, leaving a son, Giovanni Galeazzo, who shared the government with Bernabo. At this period Charles, king of Bohemia, was Emperor, and Innocent VI. was Pope; the latter sent the Cardinal Egidius, a Spaniard, into Italy, who by his ability and valor restored the reputation of the Church, not only in the Romagna and in Rome, but in all Italy. He recovered Bologna, which had been occupied by the Archbishop of Milan; compelled the Romans to accept a foreign Senator, who should be sent there every year by the Pope; made honorable treaties with the Visconti; defeated and took prisoner Giovanni Aguto, an Englishman (John Sharpe) who was carrying on a war with four thousand English in Tuscany in aid of the Ghibellines. Whereupon Urban V., having become Pope and having heard of all these victories, resolved to visit Italy and Rome, where the Emperor Charles also came; after a few months, however, the Emperor returned home, and the Pope went back to Avignon.
After the death of Urban, Gregory XI. became pontiff; and the Cardinal Egidius also having died, Italy relapsed into its former condition of discord, caused by the peoples having combined against the Visconti. So that the Pope first sent a Legate into Italy with six thousand Bretons, and afterwards came in person and re-established his court at Rome in the year 1376, after its having been seventy-one years in France. After the death of Gregory, Urban VI. was made Pope, but shortly afterwards Clement VII. was created Pope by ten cardinals at Fondi, who declared Urban VI. improperly elected. At this time the Genoese, who had lived many years under the government of the Visconti, revolted, and an important war broke out between them and the Venetians, on account of the island of Tenedos, in which all Italy took sides. It was in this war that the first cannons were seen, a new instrument of war invented by the Germans. And although the Genoese were for a time superior and held Venice besieged for some months, yet at the end of the war the Venetians remained victors, and through the intervention of the Pope made peace in the year 1381.
33. A schism having been created in the Church, as has been stated, the Queen Joanna of Naples supported the schismatic Pope, whereupon Urban induced Charles of Durazzo, who was descended from the royal family of Naples, to attack Joanna in her kingdom. He deprived her of the government and made himself master of the kingdom. Joanna fled to France, and the king of France, irritated by the conduct of Charles, sent Louis of Anjou into Italy to recover the kingdom for the queen, and to drive Urban out of Rome and to establish the Antipope Clement there. But in the midst of this enterprise Louis died; and his troops, having been defeated, returned into France. During these events the Pope went to Naples, where he imprisoned nine cardinals for having adhered to France and to the Antipope. Afterwards he became dissatisfied with the king for having refused to make one of his nephews Prince of Capua; but feigning not to care about it, he asked the king to grant him Nocera for his residence, where he afterwards fortified himself and prepared to deprive the king of his realm. The king thereupon took the field, and the Pope fled to Genoa, where he caused the cardinals whom he had imprisoned to be put to death. Thence he went to Rome, and for the purpose of recovering his influence he created twenty-nine cardinals.
Meanwhile, Charles of Durazzo went to Hungary, and was made king of that country, where he died soon after, having left his wife and his children, Ladislas and Joanna, at Naples. At this same time, Giovanni Galeazzo, after having had his uncle, Bernabo, put to death, seized the entire government of Milan for himself. Not satisfied, however, with having become Duke of all Lombardy, he wanted also to possess Tuscany; but at the very moment when he thought that he had gained his object, and that he would now be able to have himself crowned king of Italy, death carried him off. Boniface IX. had succeeded to Urban VI.; and the Antipope Clement VII. had also died at Avignon, and Benedict XIII. was elected in his place.
34. Italy at this time was overrun by soldiers of every nationality, — English, Germans, and Bretons, — brought there in part by those princes who at various times had come into Italy, and in part sent there by the Popes whilst at Avignon. It was with these soldiers that the princes of Italy carried on their wars, until one Lodovico da Cento, a native of the Romagna, formed a company of Italian soldiers, called the San Giorgio, whose bravery and discipline very soon transferred the high reputation of the foreign soldiers to those of Italy, and of which the Italian princes afterwards availed themselves in their wars against each other. The Pope, on account of the difference which he had had with the Romans, went to Scesi, where he remained until the year of jubilee, 1400; when the Romans, to induce him to return, on account of the benefit which it would be to the city, agreed anew to accept a foreign Senator to be sent by the Pope, and allowed him to fortify the castle of San Angelo. Having returned on these conditions, the Pope, by way of enriching the Church, ordered that during a vacancy of any benefice, one year’s income of it was to be paid over to the Apostolic Chamber.
After the death of Giovanni Galeazzo, Duke of Milan, this state fell a prey to many divisions, notwithstanding his having left two sons, Giovanni Maria Angelo and Philip. In the troubles that resulted, the former was killed, and Philip remained for a time shut up in the castle of Pavia, whence he escaped by the courage and fidelity of its castellan. Amongst others who seized the places that had been possessed by their father, was Guglielmo della Scala, who during his banishment had taken refuge with Francesco da Carrara, lord of Padua, with whose assistance he retook the city of Verona, where, however, he lived but a short time, having been poisoned by order of Francesco, and the city taken from him; in consequence of which the people of Vicenza, who had lived securely under the banner of the Visconti, fearing the power of the lord of Padua, gave themselves to the Venetians, who, with their aid, made war against Francesco, and took from him first Verona and afterwards Padua.
35. In the midst of these events Pope Boniface died, and Innocent VII. was elected to succeed him. The people of Rome besought him to restore to them the fortresses and their liberty, and upon the Pope’s refusal they called King Ladislas of Naples to their aid. Afterwards, when harmony had been restored between them, the Pope returned to Rome, whence he had fled to Viterbo, where he made his nephew, Lodovico, Count della Marca. After this he died, and Gregory XII. was made Pope, with the understanding that he should resign the papacy whenever the Antipope should resign. And by the persuasion of the cardinals, and as proof that the Church could be united, Antipope Benedict came to Porto Venere, and Gregory to Lucca, where they negotiated in relation to many matters, but concluded nothing; so that the cardinals of the respective popes left them, and Benedict went to Spain and Gregory to Rimini. The cardinals, on the other hand, with the aid of Baldassar Cossa, Cardinal and Legate of Bologna, ordered a council at Pisa, where they created Alexander V. Pope, who promptly excommunicated King Ladislas, and invested Louis of Anjou with the kingdom; and, in conjunction with the Florentines, the Genoese, and the Venetians, they attacked Ladislas and took Rome from him. But in the very height of this war Alexander died, and Baldassar Cossa was created Pope, who took the name of John XXIII. He left Bologna, where he had been made Pope, and went to Rome. There he found Louis of Anjou, who had come with the army from Provence, and, having encountered Ladislas, had defeated him. But owing to the desertion of the Condottieri he could not follow up his victory, so that the king in a short time recovered his forces and recaptured Rome; whence the Pope fled to Bologna, and Louis returned to Provence. The Pope, thinking in what manner he might reduce the power of Ladislas, managed to have Sigismund, king of Hungary, elected Emperor, and persuaded him to come into Italy, where he met him at Mantua. They agreed to convene a general council, at which the Church should be reunited, so that she might be able to resist the power of her enemies.
36. At this period there were three Popes, — Gregory, Benedict, and John, — who kept the Church weak and without authority. The city of Constance, in Germany, was chosen as the place for the meeting of the general council, which, however, was not in accordance with the intentions of Pope John. And although the death of Ladislas had removed the reason which had induced the Pope to propose this general council, yet, having accepted the obligation, he could not now refuse to be present at its meeting. Having come to Constance a few months after the opening of the council, he discovered his error too late, and in attempting to fly he was arrested, imprisoned, and obliged to resign the papacy. Gregory, one of the Antipopes, resigned through an envoy sent by him to the council; and the other Antipope, Benedict, who refused to resign, was condemned as a heretic. Finally, however, being abandoned by his cardinals, he too was obliged to resign, and the council created Oddo, of the house of Colonna, Pope, who was thereafter called Martin V.; and thus the Church became united again under one Pope, after having been divided during forty years into several Pontificates.
37. At that time, as we have said, Philip Visconti was shut up in the castle of Pavia. But Fazino Cane who, during the troubles of Lombardy had made himself master of Vercelli, Alexandria, Novara, and Tortona, and had amassed great wealth, died without issue, and leaving his wife, Beatrice, heir to his estates. He had by his testament engaged his friends to make his widow marry Philip, who, having become powerful by this marriage, recovered possession of Milan and of all Lombardy; after which, by way of showing his gratitude for the great benefits received, in the ordinary manner of princes, he accused Beatrice of infidelity, and had her put to death. Having now become very powerful, Philip began to meditate war against Tuscany, in accordance with the designs of his father, Giovanni Galeozzo.
38. King Ladislas of Naples, in dying, left to his sister, Joanna, the kingdom, together with a large army, headed by the principal Condottieri of Italy. Chief amongst these was Sforza da Contignuola, who was reputed very valiant, according to the mode of fighting then in use. The queen, to escape the infamous suspicion of keeping one Pandolfo, whom she had brought up, took for her husband Giacopo della Marcia, a Frenchman of royal blood, upon condition that he should content himself with the title of Prince of Taranto, leaving to her that of queen, and the government of the kingdom. But so soon as he arrived in Naples the soldiers proclaimed him king, so that great differences arose between husband and wife, with alternate advantages to each; but in the end the queen retained control of the government, and soon after manifested her hostility to the Pope. Thereupon Sforza, for the purpose of placing her in the necessity of invoking his support, withdrew from her service. Thus the queen suddenly found herself disarmed, and, having no other resource, she appealed for aid to Alfonso, king of Aragon and Sicily, and adopted him as her son, and took into her pay Braccio da Montone, who was as well reputed in arms as Sforza, and an enemy of the Pope, from whom he had taken Perugia and some other places belonging to the Church. Subsequently, peace was made between them and the Pope; but King Alfonso, fearing lest the queen should treat him as she had done her husband, sought cautiously to make himself master of the fortresses; but Queen Joanna, being astute, prevented him, and fortified herself in the castle of Naples. This increased their mutual suspicions, so that they came to arms, and the queen, with the assistance of Sforza, who had returned to her pay, overcame Alfonso, drove him from Naples, and cancelled her adoption, and in his stead adopted Louis of Anjou, which occasioned fresh wars between Braccio, who adhered to the party of Alfonso, and Sforza, who supported the queen. In the course of this war, Sforza was drowned in crossing the river at Pescara; so that the queen, being again left without a commander, would have been driven from the kingdom had not Philip Visconti, Duke of Milan, come to her aid, in consequence of which Alfonso was obliged to return to Aragon. But Braccio, undaunted by having been abandoned by Alfonso, continued to make war against the queen. Having besieged Aquila, the Pope, deeming the greatness of Braccio inopportune for the Church, took into his pay Francesco, the son of Sforza, who went to encounter Braccio at Aquila, where he defeated and killed him. Braccio left a son, Oddo, from whom the Pope took Perugia, leaving him in possession of Montone. But Oddo was killed soon after that, whilst fighting in the Romagna for the Florentines; so that of those who had been fighting under Braccio there remained, as the most renowned, Niccolo Piccinino.
39. Having now brought our narrative down to near that period which I had designed for this First Book, there remains but little of consequence to relate except the wars of the Florentines and Venetians with Duke Philip of Milan, which will be related when we come specially to treat of Florence. I will therefore proceed no further, and will only briefly recall the condition of Italy at the period at which we have arrived with our history, and what princes and what armies she then possessed. Of the principal states, Queen Joanna II. held the kingdom of Naples; La Marca, the Patrimony, and some of the places in the Romagna, in part obeyed the Church and in part were possessed by their vicars or usurpers, — Ferrara, Modena, and Reggio by the family of Este, Faenza by the Manfredi, Imola by the Alidosi, Furli by the Ordelaffi, Rimini and Pesaro by the Malatesti, and Camerino by the Varanos. A portion of Lombardy obeyed the Duke Philip, and a portion the Venetians; for all the families that had possessed particular states in that province were extinguished, except the house of Gonzaga, which ruled over Mantua. The Florentines were masters of the greater part of Tuscany; only Lucca and Sienna had laws of their own, — Lucca under the government of the Guinigi, whilst Sienna was entirely free. The Genoese, at one time free and at another time subject to the kings of France, enjoyed no consideration, and were counted amongst the smaller powers. All these principal potentates had no troops of their own. Duke Philip, shut up in his palace, and not allowing himself to be seen, carried on his wars by commissaries. The Venetians, when they turned their attention to the land, dispensed with those forces that had won them so much glory on the seas, and, following the custom of the other Italian states, intrusted the control and direction of their armies to others. The Pope, being a priest and therefore unsuited to the profession of arms, and Queen Joanna, being a woman, did from necessity what the others had done from an evil choice. The Florentines also obeyed the same necessity; for having by their constant dissensions extinguished the nobility, and the republic being controlled by men brought up in commercial pursuits, followed the practice and fortunes of the others.
The armies of Italy then were in the hands either of the smaller princes, or of men who possessed no state; for the smaller princes adopted the profession of arms, not from any love of glory, but for the sake of wealth and security. The others, from having been reared to it from childhood, and having no other calling, sought in the profession of arms the means of achieving wealth, power, and honor. Amongst these the most famous were the Carmagnola, Francesco Sforza, Niccolo Piccinino, pupil of Braccio, Agnolo della Pergola, Lorenzo and Micheletto Attenduli, the Tartaglia, Giacopaccio, Accolino da Perugia, Niccolo da Tolentino, Guido Torello, Antonio dal Ponte ad Era, and many others of the same kind. Added to these were those smaller princes or lords of whom we have spoken above, and who were joined by the barons of Rome, the Orsini and the Colonna, together with other lords and gentlemen of the kingdom of Naples and of Lombardy. Being constantly in arms, these men had formed a league, or a sort of understanding amongst themselves, and had reduced the profession of arms to an art by which they protracted the wars, so that generally both parties for whom they were carried on were losers. And at last they reduced it to so low a standard that any captain of the most ordinary capacity, who had but a spark of the ancient valor, would have put them to shame, and would have been admired and honored by all Italy for his courage. Of such idle and indolent princes, therefore, and of these most cowardly armies, my history will be full; but before I descend to these, I shall, in accordance with my promise in the beginning, relate the origin of Florence, to explain fully to the understanding of every one what the condition of that city was in those days, and how she arrived at it in the midst of all the troubles that had befallen Italy for a thousand years.