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EIGHTH 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 beginning of this Eighth Book being between two conspiracies, the one already related and having occurred at Milan, and the other to be narrated and occurring at Florence, it would seem to be proper and in accordance with our usual habit to discuss the nature and importance of conspiracies. This we should gladly have done if the matter could be briefly disposed of, and we had not already treated the subject at length in another place. But having done so, we will now leave it and pass to another, and will relate how, the government of the Medici having overcome all its openly declared enemies, and aiming to obtain undivided authority in the city and to hold a position entirely apart from all the others in the republic, it became necessary that it should also subdue its secret enemies. For whilst the Medici contended with some other families of equal authority and influence, those citizens who were jealous of their power could openly oppose them without fear of being crushed at the very outset of their opposition; for the magistrates having become free, neither of the parties had cause for apprehension. But after the victory of 1466 the whole government became as it were concentrated in the hands of the Medici, who acquired so much authority that those who were dissatisfied with it concluded that they must either submit patiently, or resort to a conspiracy if they wished to put an end to that state of things. But conspiracies rarely succeed, and very often cause the ruin of those who set them on foot, whilst those against whom they were aimed are only the more aggrandized thereby. So that a sovereign who is assailed by such means, if he is not killed, as was Galeazzo, Duke of Milan, (which rarely happens, however,) rises to greater power, and very often becomes bad after having originally been good. For such attempts inspire a prince with fear, and fear brings with it the necessity of securing himself, and this causes violence and wrong to others, whence hatreds are engendered, which in turn often lead to the ruin of the prince. And thus these conspiracies quickly cause the ruin of those who originate them, and in the course of time prove most injurious to those against whom they were directed.
2. (1478.) Italy was divided at this time by two leagues, as we have shown above; the Pope and the king of Naples on the one side, and the Venetians, the Duke of Milan, and the Florentines on the other; and although they had not yet come to actual war, yet every day fresh causes occurred for its breaking out. Above all, the Supreme Pontiff sought on all occasions to injure the Florentines. Thus upon the death of Messer Filippo de’ Medici, Archbishop of Pisa, the Pope, in opposition to the wishes of the Signoria of Florence, invested Francesco Salviati, a declared enemy of the Medici, with the archbishopric. And as the Signoria were not willing to give him possession of it, further difficulties resulted. Moreover, the Pope did everything in Rome to favor the family of the Pazzi, and took every occasion to show disfavor to the Medici. The family of the Pazzi were at that time one of the most distinguished in Florence, both by their wealth and nobility. The head of the family was Messer Jacopo, whom the people had created a noble on account of his birth and wealth. He had no children except one illegitimate son; but he had a number of nephews, the sons of his brothers, Messers Piero and Antonio; the sons of the first were Guglielmo, Francesco, Rinato, and Giovanni, and those of the other were Andrea, Niccolo, and Galeotto. Cosimo de’ Medici, in view of the opulence and rank of the Pazzi, had given his niece Bianca in marriage to Guglielmo, hoping by this alliance to unite the two families more closely, and to put an end to the hatreds and enmities that were constantly arising from their mutual suspicions. But so uncertain and fallacious are all human calculations, that it turned out just the reverse; for some of Lorenzo’s counsellors pointed out to him that it would be most hazardous and adverse to his authority to unite so much wealth and power in the hands of any one citizen; and for this reason Messer Jacopo and his nephews did not obtain those places and dignities, which in the estimation of other citizens they seemed to merit. This was the first thing to excite the anger of the Pazzi and the apprehensions of the Medici, — and as the one increased, the other grew likewise; whence the Pazzi, on every occasion when they came in competition with other citizens, were not favorably regarded by the magistrates. Francesco dei Pazzi being at Rome, the Council of the Eight, forgetful of that respect which it was customary to observe towards distinguished citizens, compelled him for some slight reason to return to Florence; so that the Pazzi complained of it everywhere in offensive and disdainful language, which only increased the suspicions of the others, and served to bring more injuries upon themselves. Giovanni dei Pazzi had married the daughter of Giovanni Borromei, an exceedingly rich man, and whose entire wealth had descended on his death to his daughter, who was his only child. But his nephew Carlo held possession of some of his property, and, the matter having come to litigation, a law was passed, by virtue of which the wife of Giovanni dei Pazzi was despoiled of her paternal inheritance, which was conceded to Carlo; this wrong the Pazzi ascribed altogether to the influence of the Medici. Giuliano de’ Medici often remonstrated on this subject with his brother Lorenzo, saying that he feared that by attempting to grasp too much they would lose all.
3. But Lorenzo in the heat of youth and power wanted to direct everything himself, and wanted to have every one recognize his authority. The Pazzi, on the other hand, proud of their rank and wealth, could not bear to submit to all these wrongs, and began to think of revenge. The first to propose anything definite against the Medici was Francesco, who was more sensitive and high-spirited than the others; so that he resolved either to recover what he had lost, or to lose what he possessed. And as the government of Florence was odious to him, he lived almost entirely at Rome, where, according to the custom of Florentine merchants, he carried on large financial operations. And being intimately allied with the Count Girolamo, they often complained to each other of the Medici, and came to the conclusion that, if they wished to live secure, the one in the enjoyment of his estates, and the other in his city, it would be necessary to change the government of Florence; which they thought however could not be done without the death of Giuliano and Lorenzo. They judged that the Pope and the king would readily agree to this, provided they could convince them of the facility with which this could be effected. Having once taken up this idea, they communicated the whole matter to Francesco Salviati, Archbishop of Pisa, who being an ambitious man, and still smarting under a recent injury received at the hands of the Medici, readily concurred with them. And after examining as to the best course to be adopted, they resolved, as the best means of insuring success, to draw Messer Jacopo dei Pazzi into their plans, believing that without his co-operation they could effect nothing. For this purpose it was deemed best that Francesco dei Pazzi should go to Florence, and that the Archbishop and the Count Girolamo should remain in Rome near the Pope, so as to be able to communicate the matter to him at the proper time. Francesco found Messer Jacopo more cautious and difficult than he had anticipated; and having so informed his friends at Rome, it was thought necessary to influence him through higher authority. Thereupon the Archbishop and the Count Girolamo communicated the whole matter to Giovan Battista da Montesecco, the Pope’s Condottiere, who had a high reputation as a soldier, and was under obligations both to the Pope and the Count. But he pointed out to them the difficulties and dangers of the undertaking, which the Archbishop endeavored to explain away, pointing out in turn the important aid which the Pope and the king of Naples would lend to the enterprise; and, above all, the hatred which the citizens of Florence bore to the Medici, the numerous relatives that would follow the Salviati and the Pazzi, and the facility with which Giuliano and Lorenzo could be killed, they being in the habit of walking through the city unaccompanied and unsuspecting; as also the ease with which the government could be changed after their death. Battista did not entirely believe all this, having heard many of the Florentines speak very differently.
4. Whilst the conspirators were occupied with these projects and discussions, Carlo, lord of Faenza, fell sick, so that his speedy death was apprehended. The Archbishop and the Count Girolamo thought this a suitable occasion for sending Giovan Battista to Florence, and thence into the Romagna, on pretence of recovering certain lands of his of which the lord of Faenza had held possession. The Count therefore commissioned Giovan Battista to seek an interview with Lorenzo, and in his name to solicit his advice as to how best to proceed in this affair of the Romagna; and to confer with Francesco dei Pazzi and then unitedly to endeavor to persuade Messer Jacopo to come into their views. And to enable Giovan Battista to bring to bear upon Messer Jacopo the authority of the Pope, they caused him, before his departure, to have an interview with the pontiff, who promised to give them all the assistance in his power for their undertaking. Giovan Battista, having arrived at Florence, called upon Lorenzo, who received him most graciously, and advised him most kindly and judiciously in relation to the points he had submitted to him. Giovan Battista was filled with admiration for Lorenzo, having found him to all appearances quite a different man from what had been represented to him; and he judged him to be gentle and wise, and most amicably disposed towards the Count. Nevertheless he wanted to confer with Francesco; but not finding him, as he was absent at Lucca, he had an interview with Messer Jacopo, who was at first quite indisposed to entertain the affair; but before he left him he was somewhat moved by the authority of the Pope, in consequence of which he requested Giovan Battista to go on his trip to the Romagna and return, and said that meantime Francesco would be back in Florence, and they could then discuss the matter more fully. Giovan Battista accordingly went and returned, and after the pretended consultation with Lorenzo about the affairs of the Count, he met Messer Jacopo and Francesco dei Pazzi and succeeded in inducing Messer Jacopo to consent to the enterprise. Thereupon they discussed the mode of proceeding. Messer Jacopo did not think it practicable whilst the two brothers Medici were in Florence, and therefore suggested that they should wait until Lorenzo should go to Rome, as it was generally reported he intended doing; and that then the plot might be carried out. Francesco was pleased at the idea of Lorenzo’s going to Rome, but maintained that, even if he did not go there, both brothers might be killed either at some wedding or play, or in church. And as to foreign aid, he thought that the Pope might get troops enough together under pretence of an attempt upon the castle of Montone, there being good reason for taking it from the Count Carlo, on account of the disturbances which he had created in the territory of Sienna and Perugia, which we have related above.
They came, however, to no further conclusion than that Francesco dei Pazzi and Giovan Battista should go to Rome and there arrange everything with the Count and the Pope. The subject was discussed anew in Rome, and finally it was concluded that, the attempt upon Montone being determined upon, Giovan Francesco da Tolentino, one of the Pope’s captains, should go into the Romagna, and Messer Lorenzo da Castello into his own country, and that both should hold themselves in readiness, with their own companies and the troops of their respective countries, to act according to the orders of the Archbishop Salviati and Francesco dei Pazzi; that these should come to Florence together with Giovan Battista da Montesecco, and there provide everything necessary for the execution of the plot, for which King Ferdinand, through his ambassador, had promised all needed assistance. When the Archbishop and Francesco dei Pazzi had come to Florence they drew Jacopo, son of Messer Poggio, into their plot, a learned but ambitious youth, and ever eager for novelty. They also drew in the two Jacopo Salviatis, the one a brother and the other a relative of the Archbishop. They furthermore brought in Bernardo Bandini and Napoleone Franzesi, ardent youths, and greatly attached to the family of the Pazzi. Amongst the foreigners who joined besides the above named were Messer Antonio da Volterra, and one Stefano, a priest, who taught Latin to the daughter of Messer Jacopo dei Pazzi. Rinato dei Pazzi, a grave and prudent man, and who well knew all the ills that flow from similar enterprises, did not join in the conspiracy, but rather expressed his detestation of it, and did all that he honestly could do to break it up.
5. The Pope had sent Rafaelle di Riario, a nephew of the Count Girolamo, to the University of Pisa for the purpose of studying the ecclesiastical laws, and whilst still there the Pope promoted him to the dignity of Cardinal. The conspirators deemed it advisable to bring this Cardinal to Florence, so that they might avail of his presence to conceal amongst his retinue such associates as they might need, and who might thus take part in the execution of the plot. The Cardinal came, and was received by Messer Jacopo dei Pazzi at his villa of Montughi, near Florence. The conspirators intended also, by his means, to bring Lorenzo and Giuliano to the same place at the same time, so that they might on that occasion put them both to death. They managed therefore to have the Cardinal invited by them to a banquet at their villa at Fiesole. Giuliano, however, either from chance or purposely, did not attend this banquet. Having been disappointed in this plan, the conspirators thought that, if they were to invite the Medici to a banquet in Florence, both brothers would surely come. This being agreed upon, Lorenzo and Giuliano were invited for Sunday, April 26, 1478; and the conspirators, confident of being able to kill them in the midst of this feast, convened on Saturday night, and made all necessary dispositions for the execution of their design on the following day. But when Sunday came, Francesco was notified that Giuliano would not appear at the banquet. The chiefs of the conspiracy therefore met again, and concluded that it would not do to postpone the execution any longer; as it would be impossible to avoid discovery, the plot being known to so many. They therefore resolved to kill them in the cathedral church of Santa Reparata, where the two brothers would come according to their custom, especially as the Cardinal was to be there. They wanted Giovan Battista to undertake the killing of Lorenzo, and Francesco dei Pazzi and Bernardo Bandini were to despatch Giuliano. But Giovan Battista refused, either because his feelings towards Lorenzo had become mollified by the intercourse he had had with him, or for some other reason. He said that he would never have audacity enough to commit so great an outrage in church, and thus add sacrilege to treason. This was the beginning of the ruin of their plot. For time pressing, they were obliged to intrust the killing of Lorenzo to Messer Antonio da Volterra and the priest Stefano, who were both by nature and habit entirely unfit for so great an undertaking; for if any act requires boldness and intrepidity, and that resoluteness in life and disregard of death which only great experience can give, it is such an occasion, where it has often been seen that even men experienced in arms and accustomed to blood have had their courage fail them. But having finally decided upon this course, they agreed that the signal for action should be when the priest, who celebrated the principal mass, should take the communion; and in the mean time the Archbishop Salviati with Jacopo di Messer Poggio and their followers should seize the public palace, so that the Signoria either voluntarily or by force would have to act with them after the death of the two young Medici.
6. This arrangement having been determined upon, they went into the church, where the Cardinal had already arrived with Lorenzo de’ Medici. The church was crowded with people, and divine service had already commenced, but Giuliano had not yet come. Francesco dei Pazzi, therefore, together with Bernardo, who had been designated to kill Giuliano, went to his house, and by artful persuasion induced him to go to the church. It is really a noteworthy fact that so much hatred and the thoughts of so great an outrage could be concealed under so much resoluteness of heart, as was the case with Francesco and Bernardo; for on the way to church, and even after having entered it, they entertained him with jests and youthful pleasantries. And Francesco even, under pretence of caressing him, felt him with his hands and pressed him in his arms for the purpose of ascertaining whether he wore a cuirass or any other means of protection under his garments. Both Giuliano and Lorenzo de’ Medici knew the bitter feelings of the Pazzi towards them, and their anxiety to deprive them of the government of the state; but they had no apprehensions for their lives, believing that, if the Pazzi were to attempt anything, it would be by civil proceedings and not by violence; and therefore, not being apprehensive of their personal safety, they simulated a friendly feeling for them.
The murderers thus prepared placed themselves, some close by the side of Lorenzo, which the great crowd in the church enabled them to do easily without exciting suspicion, and the others near to Giuliano. At the appointed moment Bernardo Bandini struck Giuliano in the breast with a short dagger which he had prepared for the purpose. After a few steps Giuliano fell to the ground, and Francesco dei Pazzi threw himself upon him covering him with wounds, and was so maddened by the fury with which he assailed Giuliano that he inflicted a severe wound upon himself in one of his legs. Messer Antonio and Stefano, on the other hand, attacked Lorenzo, but after many blows succeeded only in wounding him slightly in the throat; for either their irresolution, or the courage of Lorenzo, who on finding himself assailed defended himself with his weapon, or the interference of bystanders, defeated all their efforts to kill him, so that becoming alarmed they fled and concealed themselves, but being found were ignominiously put to death, and their bodies dragged through the whole city. Lorenzo, on the other hand, together with the friends he had around him, shut himself up in the sacristy of the church. Bernardo Bandini, seeing Giuliano dead, also killed Francesco Nori, a devoted friend of the Medici, either because of some old hatred, or because Francesco attempted to assist Giuliano. And not content with these two murders, he rushed to seek Lorenzo, so as to make good by his courage and swiftness what the others by their cowardice and tardiness had failed to do; but Lorenzo being shut up in the sacristy, Bernardo could not carry out his intention. In the midst of these violent and tumultuous scenes, which were so terrible that it seemed as though the church itself were falling, the Cardinal took refuge by the altar, where he was with difficulty saved by two priests, until the alarm had somewhat abated, when the Signoria were enabled to conduct him to his palace, where he remained in greatest apprehension until his liberation.
7. There happened at this time in Florence certain citizens of Perugia, whom the violence of faction had driven from their homes; these the Pazzi had drawn into their plot by promises of restoring them to their country. The Archbishop Salviati, who went to seize the palace together with Jacopo di Messer Poggio and his relatives and friends, took these Perugians with him; and having arrived at the palace he left a portion of his followers below, with orders that, upon the first noise they heard, they were at once to occupy the entrance of the palace, whilst he himself with the larger number of the Perugians rushed upstairs, where he found the Signoria at dinner, for it was already late; but after a short time he was admitted by the Gonfaloniere of Justice, Cesare Petrucci. He entered with a few of his followers, leaving the rest outside; the greater portion of these shut themselves up in the chancelry, the door of which was so arranged that, once closed, it could neither be opened from the inside nor the outside without the key. The Archbishop meantime, having entered the hall together with the Gonfaloniere on pretence of having something to communicate to him on behalf of the Pope, addressed him in an incoherent and suspicious manner, so that his language and change of countenance excited such suspicion in the Gonfaloniere that he rushed out shouting, and, meeting Jacopo di Messer Poggio, he seized him by the hair and gave him in charge of two sergeants. The Signoria, having taken the alarm, quickly seized such arms as chance supplied them, and all those who had come upstairs with the Archbishop, most of whom were shut up in the chancelry and the rest terror-stricken, were either slain or thrown alive out of the palace windows, between which the Archbishop, the two Jacopo Salviatis, and Jacopo di Messer Poggio were hanged. Those who remained below had forced the guard and the gate, and occupied the entire lower floor of the palace; so that the citizens, who upon hearing the alarm had rushed to the palace, could neither give aid nor counsel to the Signoria.
8. Meantime Francesco dei Pazzi and Bernardo Bandini, seeing that Lorenzo had escaped and that the one of them on whom the success of the conspiracy mainly depended was seriously wounded, became alarmed. Bernardo, with the same promptness and courage in behalf of his own safety that he had displayed against his enemies, the Medici, saved himself by flight. Francesco, having returned to his own house, tried to mount on horseback, for it was arranged that they should ride through the city and call the people to arms and liberty; but the wound in his leg and the consequent great loss of blood prevented him. He therefore undressed, and throwing himself naked upon his bed, he begged Messer Jacopo to do what he himself could not. Messer Jacopo, though old and unaccustomed to scenes of violence, yet, by way of a last effort to save their fortunes, mounted a horse, and, followed by about one hundred armed men gathered for this purpose, went to the Piazza, calling for help on behalf of the people and of liberty. But the one having been made deaf by the wealth and liberality of the Medici, and the other being unknown in Florence, his calls remained unheeded by any one. The Signori, on the other hand, who were masters of the upper part of the palace, greeted him with stones and menaces. Whilst hesitating, Messer Jacopo was met by his brother-in-law, Giovanni Serristori, who reproved him for the riot they had occasioned and advised him to return home, as the other citizens had the people’s welfare and liberty as much at heart as he. Messer Jacopo, bereft of all hope therefore, and seeing the palace in the hands of the enemy, Lorenzo safe, and the people not disposed to follow him, and being at a loss what else to do, resolved if possible to save his life by flight, and with such followers as were with him in the Piazza he left Florence to go into the Romagna.
9. Meantime the whole city was in arms, and Lorenzo de’ Medici accompanied by many armed men had returned to his house. The palace was recovered by the people, and those who had seized it were all captured and put to death, and the name of the Medici was shouted throughout the whole city; whilst the heads and limbs of the conspirators were paraded on pikes or dragged through the streets, and the Pazzi were pursued by everybody with violent abuse and acts of cruelty. Their houses were already in the possession of the populace, and Francesco was dragged naked from his bed and led to the palace, and there hung by the side of the Archbishop and the others. But it was impossible either on the way there or afterwards to induce Francesco by any degree of maltreatment to say one word of what had been said or done by the conspirators; and fixedly looking in another direction he sighed in silence without one word of complaint. Guglielmo dei Pazzi, brother-in-law of Lorenzo, was saved in Lorenzo’s house, both on account of his innocence and through the influence of his wife Bianca. Every citizen, armed or not, called at Lorenzo’s house on this occasion to offer him his personal service or his substance; such was the power and public favor which the house of Medici had acquired by their prudence and liberality. Rinato dei Pazzi was living in retirement at his villa when these disturbances occurred. When he heard of the affair, he attempted to fly in disguise, but was recognized on the road and captured and carried to Florence; and although he repeatedly entreated his captors to kill him on the road, yet he could not prevail upon them to do it. Messers Jacopo and Rinato were condemned to death, and executed four days after the attempt upon the Medici. Amongst the many persons that were killed during those days, and whose limbs encumbered the highways, Messer Rinato was the only one that excited commiseration; for he had ever been regarded as a wise and good man, and was known to be free from that pride of which the other members of the Pazzi family were accused. And so that these events might not fail to serve as an extraordinary example, Messer Jacopo, who at first was buried in the tomb of his ancestors, was removed thence, like an excommunicated person, and interred outside of the city walls. And even from there his body was taken and dragged naked through the entire city with the very rope with which he had been hanged; and then, as though unfit to be buried in the earth, the same persons who had dragged the body through the streets of Florence, cast it into the waters of the river Arno, which were at that moment unusually high. A truly memorable instance of the instability of fortune, for a man to fall from such a position of wealth and prosperity, to such a depth of misfortune, ruin, and disgrace. Messer Jacopo dei Pazzi was said to have had some vices, amongst others gaming and swearing, which were compensated for, however, by his many charities, for he gave most liberally to the churches and the poor. It may also be said in his favor, that, on the Saturday preceding the Sunday that was devoted to so many murders, he discharged all his debts, so as to save others from being involved in his misfortunes; and returned with the most scrupulous care to the real owners all the goods which he had in his own and in the public warehouse belonging to others. Giovan Battista da Montesecco was beheaded after a lengthy examination; Napoleone Franzesi escaped by flight from the punishment of death; Guglielmo dei Pazzi was exiled; and such of his cousins as remained alive were imprisoned in the lowest dungeons of the castle of Volterra. All these disturbances being thus ended and the conspirators punished, the obsequies of Giuliano de’ Medici were celebrated with general lamentations; for he had possessed as much liberality and humanity as could be desired in any one born to such high fortune. He left a natural son, born a few months after his death, who was named Giulio, and who had all the virtues and good fortune now known to the whole world,* and of whom we shall speak more fully when we come to the affairs of the present day if God spares our life. The troops that had been collected under Giovan Francesco da Tolentino in the Romagna, and under Messer Lorenzo da Castello in the Val di Tevere, and who were already on the march to Florence to support the conspirators, returned home when they heard of the disastrous failure of the enterprise.
10. As the hoped for changes in the government of Florence did not take place, the Pope and the king of Naples resolved to bring about by war what the conspiracy had failed to effect. Both gathered their armies with all possible speed for the purpose of attacking the government of Florence, publishing to the world at the same time that all they wanted of the city of Florence was that they should remove Lorenzo de’ Medici from it, he being the only one of all their citizens whom they regarded as an enemy. The king’s troops had already passed the Tronto, and those of the Pope were at Perugia, when the latter, by way of making the Florentines feel his spiritual as well as his temporal power, excommunicated and anathematized them. The Florentines, seeing such large forces moving against them, made the utmost exertions to prepare for their defence. As it was generally reported that this war was particularly aimed at Lorenzo, he resolved before anything else to assemble the Signori in the palace, and with them all the most distinguished citizens, to the number of three hundred, whom he addressed in the following words: “I know not, most excellent Signori, and you, illustrious citizens, whether to lament with you at the events that have taken place, or whether to rejoice at them. Certainly, when I think of the deep deception and bitter hatred with which I was assailed and my brother murdered, I cannot but feel overwhelmed with sadness, and lament them with all my heart and soul. But on the other hand, when I consider with what promptitude, zeal, and love, and with what universal accord, my brother was avenged and myself defended, then I not only feel that I have cause for rejoicing, but actually have an inward feeling of exaltation and glory. For truly, if experience has shown that I have more enemies in the city than I had supposed, it has also proved to me that I have more ardent and devoted friends than I had ever belived. I am forced, then, to lament with you on account of the wrongs done to others; but at the same time I must rejoice because of your kindness to me. But in proportion as these wrongs were unusual and unprecedented, and the less they were deserved by us, the more am I constrained to grieve at them. For consider, O illustrious citizens, to what a degree of ill fortune our house has been brought, that we could not be secure in the midst of friends and relatives, and not even in the church itself. Those who have occasion to fear for their lives generally look to their friends and relatives for aid; but we found ours armed for our destruction. The churches usually are a place of refuge for those who are persecuted for private purposes or for reasons of state; but where others look for friendly aid, there we found assassins; and where parricides and murderers find an asylum, there the Medici found their death! But God, who had never before abandoned our house, has even now saved us, and has taken the defence of our just cause into his own hands. What injury have we done to any one to provoke such a desire for revenge? Truly those who have shown themselves such violent enemies of ours had never received any private wrongs at our hands; for had we been disposed to injure them, they would never have had the opportunity of injuring us. If they attribute to us any public wrongs they may have suffered, and of which I know nothing, they insult you more than us, and this palace and the majesty of this government more than our house. For it would go to show that you have undeservedly wronged your own citizens on our account, which is very far from the truth; for you would no more have done it than we would have asked it. And whoever will honestly seek for the truth of the matter will find that the advancement of our family has ever been by general consent, and for no other reason than because we have striven to oblige every one with kindness and liberality and with benefits. If, then, we have treated strangers thus, how can it be supposed that we would outrage our own relatives? If they were influenced by the desire for dominion, as would seem to have been the case from their seizing the palace and coming armed into the Piazza, then that of itself shows their detestable ambition and damnable designs, and condemns them. If they did it from jealousy and hatred of our authority, then the offence was greater to you than to us; for it was you who gave us that authority. Certainly the authority which men usurp merits hatred, but not that which is gained by kindness, liberality, and munificence. And you know that our house never attained any rank to which they were not raised by this Signoria and your unanimous consent. It was not force of arms and violence that brought my grandfather Cosimo back from exile, but it was your unanimous desire and approval; and it was not my aged and infirm father who defended the state against its many enemies, but you defended him with your benevolence and authority. Nor could I (being at that time, as it were, but a boy) have maintained the rank and dignity of my house had it not been for your counsels and your favor. Our house never did and never could have directed the affairs of this republic, if you, jointly with them, had not sustained and directed them. I know not, therefore, what reason they could have had for hating us, nor what just grounds for jealousy. Let them show hatred to their own ancestors, who, by their pride and avarice, lost that influence which ours knew how to acquire by the very opposite means and efforts. But admit even that the injuries done them by us were very great, and that they were justified in seeking our destruction, yet this would not justify their attempt to seize this palace. Why league themselves with the king of Naples and the Pope against the liberties of this republic? Why break the long peace of Italy? They have no excuse for all this. Let them assail those who have wronged them, but let them not confound private enmities with public wrongs. It is this that increases our troubles and misfortunes even after their defeat; for in their stead come the Pope and the king of Naples to make war upon us, which they assert is aimed at me and at my house. Would to God that this were true, for then the remedy would be prompt and sure; for I should not be so base a citizen as to prefer my safety to your dangers, but I would infinitely rather avert the danger from you at the risk of my own destruction. But as the powerful always cover their unjust acts with some less dishonest pretext, so have our enemies taken this mode of cloaking their ambitious designs. Should you, however, think differently, then I can only say that I am in your hands; it is for you to direct me or not, as you please. You are my fathers and my defenders, and I shall submit at all times with pleasure to your instructions, and shall never refuse, whenever it may seem good to you, to terminate with my own blood this war, which was begun with that of my brother.”
The citizens could not refrain from tears whilst Lorenzo spoke; and with the same feelings with which they had listened to him one of their number responded, saying that “the city of Florence recognized the great merits of himself and his family, and that Lorenzo might remain of good cheer; for with the same promptitude with which they had avenged his brother’s death and saved his own life they would assure him his authority and influence, which he should never lose so long as they possessed their country.” And to make their acts correspond with their words, they provided at once a certain number of armed men to serve as a body guard to Lorenzo, to protect him against insidious attacks of domestic enemies.
11. After that they attended to the preparations for war, getting their troops together and raising large amounts of money. They sent for assistance to the Duke of Milan and to the Venetians, by virtue of the terms of their league with them. And as the Pope had shown himself a wolf rather than a shepherd, and to save themselves from being devoured like guilty ones, they made every effort in their power to exonerate themselves from the charges brought against them. They published throughout all Italy a full account of the treason practised against them, showing the impiety and injustice of the Pope, and how badly he exercised that pontificate which he had wickedly obtained. For he had sent those whom he had raised to the highest prelacy, in company with traitors and parricides, to commit the most atrocious crime within a church, in the midst of divine service and at the very moment of the celebration of the holy sacrament. And then, having failed in the attempt to murder the citizens and change the government of the city and plunder it at his pleasure, he had laid an interdict upon Florence and threatened and insulted her with his pontifical malediction. But, added they, if God be just and violence be offensive to him, then certainly the conduct of his Vicar on earth must greatly displease him; and He would surely permit an outraged people to appeal to him direct, as they were prevented from doing so through the Pontiff. The Florentines therefore, instead of accepting and obeying the interdict, obliged the priests to perform divine service; they called a council in Florence of all the prelates of Tuscany, and appealed to the future council against the wrongs done them by the Pope. On the other hand, the Pope did not lack reasons for justifying his conduct, alleging that it was the duty of the Pope to crush all tyrannies, to oppress the wicked and exalt the good, which he was bound to do by all available means; and that it did not become secular princes to imprison cardinals, hang bishops, murder priests and dismember their bodies and drag them through the streets, and to kill the innocent and the wicked alike without distinction.
12. Notwithstanding all these quarrels and mutual criminations the Florentines restored the Cardinal, whom till then they had held, to the Pope. Sixtus IV. however, regardless of everything, attacked them with his entire forces, and with those of the king of Naples. The two armies, under the command of Alfonso, oldest son of King Ferdinand and Duke of Calabria, with the Duke of Urbino as his general, entered Chianti through the territory of the Siennese, who sided with the enemy. They seized Radda and a number of other castles, devastated the whole country, and then laid siege to Castellina. These aggressions greatly alarmed the Florentines, for they were yet without troops, and their allies were slow in sending forward assistance. Although the Duke of Milan had ordered some sent, yet the Venetians denied their obligation to assist the Florentines in any private affairs; for they argued that, as the war was directed against private individuals, they were not bound under the conditions of their league to render any assistance, as private enmities were not to be defended at the public expense. To induce the Venetians to take a more correct view of the case the Florentines deputed Messer Tommaso Soderini to the Senate of Venice; and meantime they hired troops and appointed Ercole, Marquis of Ferrara, captain of their army.
Whilst these preparations were going on, the enemy pressed Castellina so close that its inhabitants, despairing of relief, surrendered, after forty days’ resistance. Thence the enemy turned towards Arezzo, and encamped before Monte a San Savino. But the Florentine army, being now organized and having marched to meet the enemy, took their position within three miles of them, and harassed them to that degree that Frederick of Urbino was obliged to ask for a truce of some days. This was conceded by the Florentines, though so greatly to their own disadvantage that those who had asked for it were much astonished at its having been granted; for a refusal would have obliged them to an ignominious retreat. But having thus gained a respite, they reorganized their forces, so that when the truce expired they took the castle of San Savino in the very face of our troops. Winter having now set in, the enemy retired to the Siennese territory for the purpose of going into convenient winter quarters. The Florentines also went into the most comfortable quarters they could find; and the Marquis of Ferrara returned to his own possessions, having gained small advantage for himself and still less for the Florentines.
13. It was at this time that Genoa became separated from the government of Milan under the following circumstances. After the murder of Galeazzo, his son Giovan Galeazzo being too young to assume the government, dissensions arose between his uncles, Lodovico, Ottaviano, and Ascanio Sforza, and the lady Bona, his mother, each of them wishing to have the guardianship of the young Duke. The lady Bona, dowager Duchess, carried the day in this contention, through the advice of Messer Tommaso Soderini, at the time Florentine ambassador at Milan, and of Messer Cecco Simonetta, who had been the secretary of Galeazzo. Whereupon the Sforzas fled from Milan; Ottaviano was drowned in crossing the Adda, and the others were banished to different places; and with them fled Ruberto da San Severino, who had abandoned the Duchess in these troubles and joined the uncles. The disturbances in Tuscany having broken out soon after this, and these princes hoping in these new events to find opportunities for re-establishing their fortunes, left their places of banishment, and tried each some new means for returning to their country. King Ferdinand, seeing that the Florentines were assisted in their need only by the government of Milan, wanted to deprive them also of this assistance, and therefore resolved to give the Duchess so much to occupy her in her own state that she would not be able to supply any aid to the Florentines. By means of Prospero Adorno and the Signor Ruberto da San Severino, and the rebellious Sforzas, he induced Genoa to revolt against the government of the Duke of Milan. The Castelletto only remained in the possession of the Milanese government; and the Duchess, basing her hopes upon that, sent a large force of men to recover the city; these, however, were defeated. Seeing the danger that might result to the dominions of her son and to herself if this war continued, (Tuscany being at that time all in confusion, and the Florentines, upon whom her sole hopes rested, being themselves in trouble,) the Duchess resolved that, if she could not keep Genoa in subjection, she would at least have it for an ally. She agreed, therefore, with Battistino Fregoso, the enemy of Prospero Adorno, to turn the Castelletto over to him, and to make him sovereign of Genoa, on condition that he should expel Prospero, and show no favor to the rebellious Sforzas. Having concluded this arrangement, Battistino, with the aid of the Castelletto and his party, made himself master of Genoa, and, according to custom, assumed the title of Doge. Thereupon the Sforzas and Signor Ruberto were expelled by the Genoese, and went with such troops as followed them to Lunigiana. The Pope and the king of Naples, seeing the troubles of Lombardy settled, took occasion, by means of these exiled Genoese, to attack Tuscany in the direction of Pisa, so that the Florentines, by having to divide their forces, might be weakened. And therefore they arranged, winter being now over, to have the Signor Ruberto da San Severino leave Lunigiana with his troops, and attack the Pisan territory. The Signor Ruberto thereupon created the greatest disturbance, taking and sacking many Pisan castles, and devastating the country up to the very walls of the city of Pisa.
14. About this time the Emperor of Germany and the kings of France and of Hungary sent ambassadors to the Pope, who, on their way to Rome, stopped at Florence, and there urged the Florentine authorities also to send ambassadors to the Pope, promising to do their utmost to bring the war to an end by a satisfactory peace. The Florentines, for the sake of proving their real desire for peace, did not refuse to make the experiment; and accordingly they sent ambassadors to Rome, who returned, however, without any result. The Florentines thereupon, having been attacked by one portion of the Italians and abandoned by another, wished at least to secure for themselves the influence of the king of France, and for this purpose sent as ambassador to that king Messer Donato Acciaiuoli, a man very learned in Greek and Latin literature, and whose ancestors had always held a high rank in the city of Florence. But on the way there he died at Milan; whereupon his country, to compensate his family and honor his memory, had him interred with the greatest honors at the public expense, and bestowed upon his sons exemption from taxes, and upon his daughters suitable marriage dowers. Messer Donato was replaced by Messer Guido Antonio Vespucci, a man thoroughly versed in imperial and pontifical matters.
The invasion of the Pisan territory by Signor Ruberto troubled the Florentines greatly, as is generally the case with unexpected difficulties. For having a most serious war upon their hands in the Siennese territory, they hardly knew how to provide for the war in the Pisan country; still they aided the Pisans as far as they could with instructions and provisions. And by way of keeping the Lucchese to their allegiance, so that they might not supply money or provisions to the enemy, they sent Messer Piero Gino di Neri Capponi there as an ambassador. He was received by them, however, with so much distrust, owing to the hatred of the Lucchese to the Florentines on account of former injuries and constant fear, that he ran the risk several times of being killed by the populace. Thus this embassy gave rise rather to fresh animosities than to a new union. The Florentines recalled the Marquis of Ferrara, and took into their pay the Marquis of Mantua; and most earnestly asked of the Venetians the Count Carlo, son of Braccio, and Deifobo, son of the Count Jacopo, both of whom the Venetians conceded to them after much cavilling; for, having made a truce with the Turk, they could make no valid excuse, and were ashamed openly to disregard their obligations under the league. The Counts Carlo and Deifobo came, therefore, with a considerable number of troops, and, uniting these with all that could be detached from the army which under the Marquis of Ferrara was opposed to the forces of the Duke of Calabria, they moved towards Pisa to encounter the Signor Ruberto, who was with his troops near the river Serchio. And although he had made show of an intention to await our forces, yet he did not, but withdrew to Lunigiana, into the same encampment which he had quitted when he entered the Pisan territory. After his withdrawal, Count Carlo recovered all the places that had been taken by the enemy in the Pisan country.
15. The Florentines, being thus relieved of the attacks in the direction of Pisa, concentrated all their troops between Colle and San Giminiano; but there being in that army, in consequence of the accession of the Count Carlo, men who had fought under the Sforzas, and some who had served under the Braccios, the old hostility between them was quickly rekindled, and they would probably have come to an open conflict if they had been allowed to remain together. To avoid therefore this minor evil, it was resolved to divide the forces, and to send one part under the Count Carlo into the Perugine territory, whilst the other part was to stop at Poggibonzi, where they were to establish an intrenched camp, so as to be able to prevent the enemy from penetrating into the Florentine territory. They hoped in this way to oblige the enemy to divide his forces also; for they thought that the Count Carlo would either take Perugia, where he was supposed to have many partisans, or that the Pope would be obliged to send a large body of troops to defend it. By way of embarrassing the Pope still more, they further ordered that Messer Niccolo Vitelli, who had left Citta di Castello, where Lorenzo, his enemy, commanded, should move upon the place with a sufficient force to drive his adversary out of it, and thus to withdraw it from its obedience to the Pope.
At first it seemed as though fortune would favor the Florentines, for Count Carlo made considerable progress in the Perugine territory; whilst Messer Niccolo Vitelli, although he had not yet succeeded in taking Castello, yet had the superior force in the field, so that he was enabled to pillage the surrounding country without opposition. The troops that had been left at Poggibonzi also scoured the country up to the very walls of Sienna. But in the end all these fine prospects proved to be delusive. In the first place the Count Carlo died in the midst of his hopes of victory; the consequences of his death, however, would have rather benefited the Florentines, if they had known how to take proper advantage of the victory that followed it. For no sooner had the death of Count Carlo become known than the forces of the Church, which had been concentrated at Perugia, became elated with the hope of now being able to crush the Florentine troops; and upon taking the field they established their camp above the lake (Trasimene) within three miles of the enemy. On the other hand Jacopo Guicciardini, commissary of the Florentine army, by the advice of the famous Ruberto da Rimini, who since the death of the Count Carlo was the first and most distinguished captain of the army and who knew the cause of the enemy’s confidence, resolved to await him. They came to an engagement by the side of the lake, where the Carthaginian Hannibal had inflicted that memorable defeat upon the Romans, and the pontifical army was completely routed. The news of this victory was received at Florence with universal joy and great praise of the captains; and it would have put an honorable end to the war had not disorders broken out in the army which was at Poggibonzi, and which deranged everything. And thus the good achieved by the one army was wholly destroyed by the disorders in the other. For the troops having taken much booty in the Siennese territory, differences arose in the distribution of it between the Marquis of Ferrara and the Marquis of Mantua; so that it came to a conflict of arms between them. These two captains assailed each other with the greatest violence, to that degree that the Florentines concluded that they could not with advantage keep both, and therefore it was agreed to let the Marquis of Ferrara return home with his troops.
16. The army being thus weakened and left without a chief, and wholly disorganized, the Duke of Calabria, who was with his forces at Sienna, resolved upon an attack, and promptly executed his design. The Florentine troops, seeing themselves assailed, and trusting neither to their arms, nor their superior number, nor to their position, which was exceedingly strong, fled at the mere sight of the cloud of dust, and without even waiting to see the enemy they abandoned to him their ammunition, their wagons, and all their artillery. Such cowardice and lack of discipline were very frequent in the armies of those days; so that the turning of a horse’s head or tail would often decide the success or failure of a battle. This rout enabled the troops of the king of Naples to make an immense booty, and filled the Florentines with dismay. For the city had been afflicted not only with the war, but also with a fearful pestilence, which had spread to that degree in the city that most of the citizens, to escape death, had fled to their villas. What made this defeat still more terrible was that those citizens who had fled to their estates in the Val di Pisa and the Val d’ Elsa, upon hearing of the rout of the army, rushed at once back to Florence, taking with them not only their families and household things, but even their laborers. It seemed almost as though the enemy might at any moment appear before the city. Those who were charged with the conduct of the war, seeing this general disorder, directed the troops that had been victorious in the Perugine district to abandon the attempt upon Perugia, and to move to the Val d’ Elsa, there to arrest the progress of the enemy, who after his victory ravaged the country without opposition. And although these troops had invested Perugia so closely that they expected every moment to succeed in taking it, yet the Florentines were more anxious to defend their own city than to continue their efforts in taking that of others. Thus that army, obliged to forego the fruits of its fortunate successes, was marched to Casciano, a castle within eight miles of Florence; it being considered that they could not make a stand anywhere else until they should have been joined by the remnants of their defeated army. That portion of the enemy’s forces which was at Perugia, being thus relieved by the withdrawal of the Florentines, became more emboldened, and committed daily great depredations in the districts of Aretino and Cortona; whilst the others, who had been victorious under the Duke of Calabria at Poggibonzi, had made themselves masters of that place and of Vico, and had sacked Certaldo; and after these captures and plunderings they laid siege to the castle of Colle, which was then considered exceedingly strong. Its garrison being loyally devoted to the Florentines, it was hoped that they would be able to hold the enemy at bay until the republic could collect her forces again. The Florentines having concentrated all their forces at San Casciano, determined to approach the enemy, who was pressing Colle with all his might, for the purpose of encouraging its inhabitants to hold out. They hoped also that, when their proximity should become known to the enemy, he would have to relax the energy of his assaults upon Colle. Having thus resolved, the Florentines raised their camp at San Casciano, and established it at San Giminiano, within five miles of Colle; and from there they daily harassed the Duke’s camp with their cavalry and other light troops. This however did not suffice to relieve the people of Colle, who, being short of all necessaries, surrendered on the 13th of November, to the great displeasure of the Florentines and the greatest joy of the enemy; and especially of the Siennese, who, apart from their general hatred of the city of Florence, had a particular animosity against the people of Colle.
17. Severe winter had now set in, and the weather was too unfavorable for the prosecution of the war. The Pope and the king of Naples, either to encourage hopes of peace or to enable them the more securely to enjoy the fruits of their victories, offered to the Florentines a truce for a term of three months, giving them ten days’ time for a reply to their proposition, which was promptly accepted. But as it is always the case that wounds are more keenly felt after the blood has cooled than at the moment of their being received, so it was with the Florentines, whom this brief repose only made the more sensible of the afflictions experienced. The citizens accused each other openly, and without regard or reserve, of the errors committed in the war, pointing to the useless expenditures and the unjust taxes. These charges circulated not only privately, but were discussed with much bitterness in the public councils, so that one of the citizens made bold to turn to Lorenzo de’ Medici, and say: “The city is weary of war, and therefore it is necessary to think seriously of peace.” Whereupon Lorenzo, who was fully aware of this necessity, held counsel with such friends as he deemed most devoted and wise. And seeing that the Venetians were lukewarm and not much to be relied upon, and the Duke of Milan still a minor and himself involved in civil discords, they promptly concluded that it would be best for them to try and better their fortune by new alliances. But they were in doubt as to whether it would be best to throw themselves into the arms of the Pope or the king of Naples.
Having examined the subject on all sides, they decided in favor of an alliance with the king, as being more stable and safe; for the shortness of the lives of the Popes, the changes caused by the succession, the little fear which the Church has of temporal princes, and her lack of consideration in taking sides, were reasons why a secular prince could not entirely trust a Pontiff, nor safely venture to share his fortunes. For whoever might be the Pontiff’s ally in war and danger would also have him to share in victory, but in defeat would be abandoned by him; inasmuch as the Pontiff was always sure of being sustained and defended by his spiritual powers and influence. Being satisfied therefore that it would be more advantageous to secure the friendship of the king of Naples, they thought the best and most certain way to obtain this would be through the personal presence of Lorenzo; because the greater the liberality displayed towards the king, the easier it would be to obliterate the remembrance of the past enmity. Lorenzo, having decided to accept this mission, committed the city and state to the care of Messer Tommaso Soderini, who was the Gonfaloniere of Justice at that time, and left Florence in the beginning of December. Upon his arrival at Pisa he wrote to the Signoria in explanation of his departure, who in return, by way of showing him all honor, and to enable him with the more dignity and effect to treat with the king in relation to the peace, appointed him Ambassador of the Florentine republic to the king of Naples, and gave him authority to conclude an alliance with the king upon such conditions as he might deem best for the republic.
18. About this same time the Signor Ruberto da San Severino, together with Lodovico and Ascanio Sforza (upon the death of their brother Ottaviano), made a fresh attack upon the state of Milan for the purpose of recovering the government. Having seized Tortona, and the whole state of Milan being in arms, the Duchess Bona was advised to readmit the Sforzas to their country and to a share in the government, and thereby to put an end to the civil contentions. The author of this advice was Antonio Tassino, a native of Ferrara and a man of low origin, who upon coming to Milan had fallen into the hands of the Duke Galeazzo, who gave him as a valet to his wife. Whether it was on account of his great personal beauty or through some other secret influence, this man Tassino obtained such an ascendency over the Duchess after her husband’s death that he almost controlled the government. This so displeased Messer Cecco Simonetta, a man distinguished by his great sagacity and experience in public affairs, that he sought by all means in his power to diminish this influence of Tassino’s with the Duchess and others in the government. Tassino observed this, and, by way of revenging himself and of having some one near who would defend him against Messer Cecco, he advised the Duchess to recall the Sforzas from banishment. Without consulting Messer Cecco on the matter, the Duchess acted upon this advice, and restored the Sforzas to their country. Whereupon Messer Cecco said to her, “The course you have taken will cost me my life, and you the loss of your state.” And so it really proved soon after, for Messer Cecco was put to death by order of Signor Lodovico, and, Tassino being after a while expelled from the duchy, the Duchess became so indignant that she left Milan, and resigned the guardianship of her son into the hands of Lodovico, who thus remained sole governor of the Duchy of Milan, which, as will be shown hereafter, proved the ruin of all Italy.
Lorenzo de’ Medici had left for Naples, and all parties were enjoying the truce, when suddenly and quite unexpectedly Lodovico Fregoso, by a secret understanding with some of the inhabitants of Serezana, entered that city by stealth with a number of armed men, seized the place, and imprisoned the Florentine governor. This act of aggression greatly incensed the chiefs of the Florentine government, who attributed it altogether to secret orders of King Ferdinand. They complained to the Duke of Calabria, who was with the army at Sienna, that hostilities had been recommenced pending the duration of the truce. He made every effort to prove by letters and special deputies that this affair had originated altogether without the knowledge and consent of his father or himself. The Florentines however regarded their condition as a most alarming one, being without money, and the chief of their state in the hands of the king of Naples, with an old war on hand against the Pope and the king, and a new one with the Genoese, and wholly without allies. For they had no hope of the Venetians, and rather feared the government of Milan, as being liable to change and unstable. The only one hope left to the Florentines was the success which Lorenzo de’ Medici might have with the king of Naples in his negotiations for peace.
19. Lorenzo had arrived by sea at Naples, where he was received with great honors and expectations, not only by the king, but also by the whole people; for this great war having had no other object than to crush him, the estimate of his own power had been increased by the magnitude of that of his enemies. Having been admitted to the presence of the king, Lorenzo spoke so ably of the condition of Italy, of the disposition of its princes and peoples, of the good that might be hoped for from peace and of the ills to be feared from war, that the king, after having heard him, was even more astonished by the greatness of his mind, the promptness of his genius, and the solidity of his judgment, than he had been before by Lorenzo’s ability single-handed to sustain so great a war. After this the king treated him with still more distinction, and began to think that it would be better to let him return to Florence as a friend rather than hold him as an enemy. He nevertheless detained him on various pretexts from December until March, not only for the purpose of becoming better acquainted with him, but also with the state of affairs in Florence. Lorenzo meantime did not lack enemies in Florence, who would gladly have seen the king keep and treat him as he had done Jacopo Piccinino. And whilst pretending to lament his detention at Naples, they spoke of it everywhere in the city, but in the public councils they opposed every measure that was favorable to Lorenzo. In this way they spread the report that, if the king detained Lorenzo much longer at Naples, there would certainly be a change in the government of Florence. This caused the king to delay the departure of Lorenzo; but as Florence continued in entire tranquillity, Ferdinand gave Lorenzo leave to depart on the 6th of March, 1479, after having first secured his friendship by every variety of gifts and demonstrations of love, and having concluded between them a treaty of perpetual alliance for the mutual protection of their states. Lorenzo thereupon returned to Florence, greater even than before he left it, and was received by the whole city with the greatest demonstrations of joy, as his noble qualities and fresh services to the state deserved, having exposed his own life for the sake of restoring peace to his country. Two days after his arrival the treaty made between the republic of Florence and the king of Naples was published, according to which they obligated themselves mutually to protect each other’s states, and that according to the king’s decision all the places that had been taken from the Florentines during the war should be restored to them, and that the Pazzi, who were confined in the tower of Volterra, should be set at liberty, and certain sums of money should be paid at stated periods to the Duke of Calabria.
At the news of this treaty the Pope and the Venetians became greatly incensed; the former because of the want of consideration with which he had been treated in this matter by the king, and the Venetians for similar conduct on the part of the Florentines; for they felt that, having acted together in the war, they ought to have been consulted in the conclusion of peace. When this dissatisfaction became known to the Florentines, every one feared that the peace concluded by Lorenzo would only lead to another and even more terrible war. The chiefs of the government resolved therefore to concentrate the government, and to confine the decisions to a limited number instead of a general council; and accordingly they constituted a council of seventy citizens, whom they invested with all necessary powers for important action. This new institution checked the ardor of those who were anxious for innovations; and by way of establishing their authority the first thing this council of seventy did was to ratify the treaty of peace concluded between Lorenzo and the king, and to appoint and send as ambassadors to the Pope Messer Antonio Ridolfi and Piero Nasi. Notwithstanding the treaty of peace, however, Alfonso, Duke of Calabria, remained with his army at Sienna, assigning as the reason for his not leaving the civil dissensions that agitated that city. The Duke Alfonso was at first encamped at a short distance from Sienna; but these internal discords had reached that point that he had to come into the city to act as arbiter between the contending factions. On this occasion the Duke imposed heavy fines upon many of the citizens; others he condemned to prison, some to exile, and some to death; so that by these severities he excited the suspicions not only of the Siennese, but also of the Florentines, that he desired to make himself sovereign of the city. Florence seemed to be powerless to prevent it, because of the new alliance with the king of Naples, and the resentment of the Pope and the Venetians. This suspicion was entertained not only by the people of Florence, at all times most subtle interpreters of things, but was shared also by the chiefs of the state; and all firmly believed that our city had never before been in such danger of losing its liberties. But God, who in similar extremities has always taken the city of Florence under his special protection, caused an unexpected event, which gave the Pope and the kings as well as the Venetians more important things to think of than the affairs of Florence.
20. The Grand Turk Mahomet had gone with a large military and naval force to besiege Rhodes, and had assailed it already during several months; but although his forces were very numerous and he persevered in the siege with great obstinacy, yet he found that of the besieged still greater, for they defended themselves against his powerful assaults with such bravery that Mahomet was obliged ignominiously to abandon the siege. Whilst returning from Rhodes, a portion of his fleet under Achmet Pacha turned towards Valona; and either because he was tempted by the facility of the undertaking, or because his master had so ordered him, this Pacha, in sailing along the coast of Italy, suddenly landed four thousand men and attacked the city of Otranto, which he quickly took and sacked, putting all the inhabitants to the sword. (1480.) Thereupon, with such means as were most conveniently at hand, he fortified himself in that city and port, and having collected a good body of cavalry he scoured and pillaged the surrounding country. The king of Naples, hearing of this attack and knowing the power of the assailant, despatched messengers in every direction to make it known, and to ask for help against the common enemy; and in the most pressing manner ordered the immediate return of the Duke of Calabria and his forces from Sienna.
21. Much as this attack of the Turks troubled the Duke Alfonso and the rest of Italy, just so great was the joy it caused to the Florentines and to the Siennese. The latter felt as though they had recovered their liberty, and the former that they had escaped from the danger of losing theirs. This opinion was confirmed by the regrets of the Duke at being obliged to leave Sienna, for he blamed fortune for having, by an unexpected and untoward occurrence, deprived him of the opportunity of making himself master of Tuscany. This same event caused the Pope to change his course; and whilst before he would not listen to any Florentine ambassadors, he suddenly became so affable that he gave ear to any one that would speak to him on the subject of a general peace. The Florentines were assured that, whenever they were disposed to ask forgiveness of the Pope, it would be granted to them. Believing it therefore to be well not to allow this occasion to pass, the Florentines sent ambassadors to the Pontiff.
Upon their arrival in Rome the Pope at first put off, on various pretences, granting them an audience; at last, however, terms were agreed upon between the parties, and their future relations settled, and the respective amounts were fixed which each was to contribute in peace and in war. Thereupon the ambassadors were admitted to the feet of the Pope, who awaited them with great pomp in the midst of all his cardinals. They apologized for the past, attributing it first to an unavoidable necessity, then to the malignity of others, and to the fury and just resentment of the populace. Then they expatiated upon the unhappy fate of those who are compelled either to fight or to die; and they argued that, as men are ever willing to submit to anything to escape death, so they had borne war, and interdicts, and all the ills that follow in their train, for the sake of saving their country from slavery, which in general was the cause of the death of republics. Nevertheless, if under the pressure of force they had committed any fault, they had now come to make amends, and they trusted in that clemency of the Holy Father which, according to the example of the blessed Redeemer, should cause him to receive them in his compassionate arms. To this justification the Pope replied in words full of haughtiness and anger, reproving them for all they had done in the past against the Church. Nevertheless, to act up to the precepts of God, he was willing to grant them the pardon asked for; but gave them to understand that he expected implicit obedience of them, and if they failed in that they would lose, and justly, that liberty which they had now been so near losing; and that those only merited liberty who employed it in good works, and not in evil-doing, for liberty abused injures both itself and others; and to show little respect to God, and still less to the Church, was not the practice of free men; and that it was the duty not only of princes, but of every Christian, to punish such. That therefore he had cause to complain of the past conduct of the Florentines, having by their evil works provoked the war, and supported it by still worse ones; which war had been terminated more by the kindness of others than by any merits of their own. Thereupon the draft of the treaty and the benediction were read; to which, besides the conditions established and agreed upon, the Pope added a clause to the effect that, if the Florentines wished to enjoy that benediction, they should at their expense keep fifteen galleys armed and ready so long as the Turk continued his aggressions upon the kingdom of Naples. The ambassadors complained earnestly of this additional burden, which formed no part of the original conditions of the treaty, but neither prayers nor protestations could induce the Pope to recede from this demand. After the return of the ambassadors to Florence, the Signoria, for the purpose of ratifying the treaty, sent Messer Guido Antonio Vespucci as ambassador to Rome, who had but a short time previous returned from a mission to France. He succeeded by his prudence in obtaining a modification of the conditions of the treaty, so as to make them more tolerable; he also received many favors from the Pope, in proof of his more complete reconciliation to the Florentines.
22. The affairs with the Pope being thus settled, and the departure of the Duke of Calabria from Tuscany having relieved both Florence and Sienna of all apprehensions of the king of Naples, the Florentines availed of the continuance of the war with the Turk to press King Ferdinand for the restitution of their castles, which the Duke of Calabria upon his withdrawal had left in the hands of the Siennese. The king feared lest the Florentines should leave him in his necessity and declare a fresh war against the Siennese, and thereby prevent him from obtaining the assistance he looked for from the Pope and the other Italian princes; he therefore consented to the restoration of the castles, and thus bound the Florentines to him by these new obligations. It is thus that force and necessity, and not written treaty obligations, cause princes to observe their faith. Florence having recovered her castles, and the new alliance being ratified, Lorenzo de’ Medici regained all the reputation and influence of which the war first, and then the peace (whilst there was a doubt as to the king’s intentions) had deprived him; for there had been no lack of persons at that time who calumniated Lorenzo openly, charging him with having sold his country to save himself, and that as the castles had been lost in the war, so would their liberty be lost in peace. But now, their castles having been restored to them, and an honorable peace having been concluded with the king, and the republic having regained her ancient power, public opinion changed entirely in Florence, a city ever eager for gossip, and where matters are judged of by their success rather than by the reasons that influenced them; and so they lauded Lorenzo to the skies, saying that it was his sagacity that had enabled them to recover by peace what they had lost by the ill fortune of war; and that his counsels and good judgment had effected more than armies and the power of the enemy.
The attack of the Turk had, however, only deferred the war which was about to break out because of the indignation of the Pope and the Venetians at the conclusion of the peace between Lorenzo and King Ferdinand. But as the beginning of that attack had been unlooked for and had been productive of good, so was its termination unexpected, and proved the cause of great evils. Sultan Mahomet died very suddenly, and dissensions having arisen amongst his sons, the Turkish troops that were in Puglia, being abandoned by their chief, surrendered Otranto to the king. The fear which had kept the Pope and the Venetians quiet having thus been removed, fresh troubles were generally apprehended. On the one side the Pope and the Venetians were leagued together, and with them were the Genoese, the Siennese, and other smaller powers; on the other side were the Florentines, the king of Naples, and the Duke of Milan, who were joined by the Bolognese and many other princes. The Venetians desired to possess themselves of Ferrara, deeming themselves justified in such an attempt, and having confident hopes of success. The ground alleged by them was that the Marquis of Ferrara claimed that he was no longer bound to accept a Venetian vice-governor, nor to purchase any more salt from them, inasmuch as the convention existing between them provided that, after having borne these impositions for seventy years, the city of Ferrara should be relieved of them. To this the Venetians replied, that so long as the Marquis of Ferrara held the Polesine, so long was he bound to purchase his salt from them. And as the Marquis would not submit to this, the Venetians deemed his refusal just cause for war. The moment seemed to them moreover opportune, seeing that the Pope was much irritated against the Florentines and the king of Naples. And by way of assuring to themselves the goodwill of the Pope still more, they received the Count Girolamo when he came to Venice (1482) with the greatest demonstrations of honor, and bestowed upon him the privileges of citizenship and nobility, always the highest marks of distinction which they could confer upon any one. By way of preparing for this war, the Venetians levied new imposts and appointed the Signor Ruberto da San Severino to the command of their forces; who having been offended with the Signor Lodovico Sforza, governor of Milan, had fled to Fortena, where he stirred up some tumults, and then went to Genoa, where he was at the time when he was called by the Venetians to be made commander-in-chief of their forces.
23. When these hostile preparations became known to the adverse league, they also set to work to prepare for war. The Duke of Milan chose for his captain Frederick, lord of Urbino, and the Florentines took the Signor Costanzo di Pesaro. For the purpose of sounding the Pope as to his intentions, and to ascertain whether the Venetians had his consent to their attack upon Ferrara, King Ferdinand sent the Duke Alfonso of Calabria with his army across the river Tronto, applying to the Pope for permission for Alfonso to pass into Lombardy to the assistance of the Marquis of Ferrara, which the Pope absolutely refused; so that the king and the Florentines, no longer doubtful as to the Pope’s disposition, resolved to press him with their forces, hoping thereby to constrain him into an alliance with themselves, or at least so to embarrass him as that he should not be able to furnish any assistance to the Venetians. These were already in the field and had begun hostilities against the Marquis of Ferrara, and after having first ravaged the country they next laid siege to Figarolo, a castle of much importance to the possessions of the Marquis. The king and the Florentines having resolved to attack the Pope, Alfonso, Duke of Calabria, made incursions into the country towards Rome, and with the aid of the Colonnesi, who had joined him only because the Orsini united with the Pope, he did great damage in that country. The Florentine troops on the other hand, with Messer Niccolo Vitelli, attacked and took Citta di Castello, drove out Messer Lorenzo, who held it for the Pope, and gave the sovereignty of it to Messer Niccolo.
The Pope thus found himself in the greatest strait, for the city of Rome within was perturbed by factions, and without his territory was overrun by enemies. Nevertheless, like a man of courage, resolved to conquer and not to yield to the enemy, he appointed the illustrious Ruberto da Rimini as his captain, and made him come to Rome, where he had assembled all his armed forces. Sixtus represented to Ruberto how glorious it would be for him to relieve the Church from the troubles from which she was suffering at the hands of the king of Naples, and how great the obligations under which he would lay not only himself but all his successors, and how this would be recognized by all mankind, and even by the Almighty himself. Signor Ruberto, having first reviewed the Pope’s troops and examined all his preparations, advised him to organize as much infantry as possible, which was done with the greatest zeal and promptitude. The Duke of Calabria was near Rome, and daily scoured and pillaged the country up to the very gates of the city. This so irritated the people that many of them volunteered to serve with Ruberto in liberating Rome from the presence of the enemy, all of whom the general gratefully accepted. The Duke of Calabria, informed of these preparations, removed to some little distance from the city, thinking that Ruberto would not venture so far out to encounter him; and moreover he expected his brother Frederick, whom his father had sent to him with fresh troops. Signor Ruberto, seeing that his mounted force was nearly equal to that of the Duke, and that in infantry he was greatly superior to him, marched out from Rome in order of battle, and established a camp within two miles of the enemy. Duke Alfonso, seeing the enemy upon him so contrary to all his expectations, judged that he would either have to fight, or to fly as though he had been defeated. Thus constrained as it were by his unwillingness to do anything unworthy of the son of a king, the Duke resolved to fight, and faced the enemy. Each general ranged his troops in the customary order of battle, and the engagement was begun, and lasted until noon. The battle was fought with more courage than any other in Italy for fifty years past; for over a thousand men remained dead upon the field. The result was a most glorious victory for the Church; for the enormous force of Papal infantry so harassed the Duke’s cavalry that he was obliged to retreat, and the Duke himself would have been made a prisoner if he had not been saved by a number of Turks who were fighting under his banner. After this victory Ruberto returned triumphantly to Rome, but enjoyed his glory only for a very brief time; for having in consequence of the fatigues of the day drank a great deal of water, he was seized with a dysentery which killed him in a few days. His obsequies were celebrated by the Pope with the greatest pomp and distinction. Immediately after this victory the Pope sent the Count Girolamo against Citta di Castello for the purpose of recovering its possession, and also to make an attempt upon the city of Rimini; for as Ruberto on his death left only a young son, under the charge of his widow, the Pope thought that it would be easy for him to gain possession of that city, in which he would have readily succeeded if the widow of Ruberto had not been protected by the Florentines, who opposed the Count Girolamo so vigorously that he failed entirely, both in his attempt upon the castle and upon the town of Rimini.
24. This was the state of things in the Romagna and in Rome, when the Venetians took Figarolo and passed the Po with their forces. The army of the Duke of Milan and the Marquis of Ferrara were in disorder, for their commander, the Count Frederick of Urbino, had fallen sick, and had himself transported to Bologna to be cured, but he died there. Thus the affairs of the Marquis were on the decline, and the Venetians became daily more hopeful of getting possession of Ferrara. On the other hand the king and the Florentines made every effort to induce the Pope to come into their views, and not having succeeded in making him yield to the force of arms, they threatened him with the convocation of the council which had already been proclaimed by the Emperor to be held at Basle. The king’s ambassadors who were at Rome, and the principal cardinals who were opposed to war, prevailed upon the Pope to think of a general peace, and of the union of Italy. Whereupon the Pontiff, actuated partly by fear and also because he saw that the aggrandizement of Venice would be the ruin of the Church and of Italy, turned to make terms with the league, and sent his nuncios to Naples, where a new league was concluded for five years between the Pope, the king of Naples, the Duke of Milan, and the Florentines; leaving it open to the Venetians also to join it if they so desired. This being accomplished, the Pope sent word to the Venetians to desist from their war upon Ferrara, which the Venetians refused, but rather increased their efforts for the continuance of the war; and having routed the troops of the Duke of Milan and of the Marquis of Argenta, they approached so near to Ferrara that they established their camp in the very park of the Marquis himself.
25. The league therefore thought that there was no time to be lost in sending powerful assistance to that Signor; and accordingly they ordered the Duke of Calabria to proceed to Ferrara with his own troops and those of the Pope (1483). The Florentines likewise sent all their forces there; and the better to regulate the order of the campaign, the league held a diet at Cremona, where were convened the Pope’s Legate with the Count Girolamo, the Duke of Calabria, the Signor Lodovico Sforza, Lorenzo de’ Medici, and many other Italian princes, who there arranged all the particulars of the conduct of the war. Convinced that there would be no more effectual way of succoring Ferrara than by a powerful diversion, they wanted the Signor Lodovico Sforza to declare open war against the Venetians, in behalf of the Duke of Milan. This he refused to do, fearing to involve himself in a war which it might be impossible for him to stop in his turn. It was resolved, therefore, to move their entire forces to Ferrara, and to detach four thousand mounted men and eight thousand infantry, who should attack the Venetians, who had only twenty-two hundred mounted men and six thousand infantry. The first thing to do, however, in the opinion of the league, was to destroy the flotilla which the Venetians had on the Po; and having attacked it near Bondeno, they scattered it, destroying over two hundred vessels, and taking prisoner Messer Antonio Justiniano, the Proveditore of the fleet.
Seeing all Italy combined against them, the Venetians, by way of magnifying their reputation, engaged the services of the Duke of Lorraine, with two hundred mounted men; and after the disaster to their fleet, they sent him with a part of their army to keep the enemy at bay, and ordered the Signor Ruberto da San Severino to cross the Adda with the remainder of their forces, and to proceed to Milan, there to raise the cry of the Duke and the lady Bona, his mother. In this way they hoped to stir up a revolution in Milan, believing that the Signor Lodovico Sforza and his government were odious to the people of that city. This attack caused great alarm at first, and roused the whole city of Milan to arms; but in the end it resulted very differently from the expectations of the Venetians, for it caused the Signor Lodovico now to consent to do what at first he had refused. And consequently, having left to the Marquis of Ferrara four thousand horse and two thousand infantry for the defence of his own possessions, the Duke of Calabria, with twelve thousand horse and five thousand infantry, entered the territory of Bergamo, and thence that of Brescia, and after that the Veronese, and devastated almost the entire country belonging to those three cities. The Venetians were utterly unable to prevent this; in fact, it was with the utmost difficulty that the Signor Ruberto succeeded in saving the cities themselves. On the other hand, the Marquis of Ferrara had also recovered the greater part of his territory, for the Duke of Lorraine, who was opposed to him, was unable to resist him, having but two thousand horse and one thousand infantry. And thus during the whole year of 1483 the results of the war were favorable for the league.
26. Winter having passed without any active hostilities, the armies again took the field with the opening of spring. The league had united all their forces for the purpose of more promptly crushing the Venetians; and if the war had been maintained as in the preceding year, they would easily have taken from the Venetians all the territory they held in Lombardy, for their forces were reduced to six thousand horse and five thousand infantry, whilst the league had thirteen thousand horse and six thousand infantry; for the Duke of Lorraine, having completed his engagement of one year, had returned home. But as it often happens where there are many of equal authority, differences will arise between them that will give the victory to the enemy. After the death of Frederick Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, who by his influence and authority had held the Duke of Calabria and the Signor Lodovico Sforza to their engagements, differences began to arise between them, which soon ripened into jealousies. Giovan Galeazzo, Duke of Milan, was now of suitable age to take the government into his own hands; and having married the daughter of the Duke of Calabria, the latter thought that his son-in-law, and not Signor Lodovico Sforza, ought to govern the state; but Lodovico, aware of the Duke’s desire, was resolved to prevent his carrying it into effect. So soon as Lodovico’s disposition became known to the Venetians, they seized upon the opportunity as a favorable one to enable them, according to their wont, to recover by peace what they had lost by war; and terms having been secretly negotiated between them and Lodovico, they concluded a peace in August, 1484. When this came to the knowledge of the other members of the league, it caused them the greatest dissatisfaction, mainly because they saw that they would have to restore to the Venetians the places they had taken from them, and to leave in their hands Rovigo and the Polesine, which the Venetians had taken from the Marquis of Ferrara, and which would give them almost the same control over the city of Ferrara as they formerly had. Each member of the league seemed to think that they had at great expense made a war, the conduct of which had been creditable to them, but its termination ignominious; for the places they had taken they would have to restore, whilst those they had lost they were not to recover. They had nevertheless to accept the peace, for they were weary of the expense of the war, and were unwilling, on account of the defection and ambition of others, to risk their own fortune any longer.
27. While these events were transpiring in Lombardy, the Pope, through Messer Lorenzo, besieged Citta di Castello, for the purpose of driving out Messer Niccolo Vitelli, who had been abandoned by the league with the view of conciliating the Pope. During this siege the adherents of Messer Niccolo made a sortie and routed the enemy. Hereupon the Pope recalled the Count Girolamo from Lombardy, and made him come to Rome to reorganize and strengthen his forces, and then to renew the siege of Citta di Castello. But having become satisfied afterwards that it would be better to win Messer Niccolo over by peace than to continue the war, he opened negotiations with him, and reconciled him as best he could with his adversary, Messer Lorenzo. The Pope, however, was influenced to this course more by his apprehensions of fresh troubles than by any love of peace; for he had observed an ugly spirit arising between the Colonnesi and the Orsini. The king of Naples had during his war with the Pope taken the territory of Tagliacozzo from the Orsini, and bestowed it upon the Colonnesi, who were attached to his party. Peace having afterwards been made between Sixtus IV. and King Ferdinand, the Orsini demanded the restoration of their possessions by virtue of the terms of the convention. The Pope had several times signified to the Colonnesi his wish that they should restore the territory in question; but neither the demands of the Orsini nor the menaces of the Pope could induce them to do so, but they rather committed fresh depredations and outrages upon the Orsini. Thereupon the Pontiff, unable to settle the difficulty, united his entire forces with those of the Orsini against the Colonnesi, sacked their palaces in Rome, took and killed those who attempted to defend them, and despoiled them of the greater number of their castles. And thus these troubles were quieted, not by peace, but by the ruin of one of the parties.
28. Tranquillity had not yet been re-established either in Genoa or in Tuscany. The Florentines kept the Count Antonio da Marciano with an armed force on the confines of Serezana, and whilst the war continued in Lombardy these annoyed the people of Serezana by incursions and skirmishes. And in Genoa Battistino Fregoso, Doge of that city, confiding in the Archbishop Pagolo Fregoso, was seized and imprisoned by him, together with his wife and children, whilst Pagolo made himself sovereign of the city. The Venetian fleet also attacked the kingdom of Naples, and had taken Gallipolis and ravaged the surrounding country. But all these disturbances ceased when the peace in Lombardy was concluded, excepting in Tuscany and in Rome; for five days after the proclamation of this peace Pope Sixtus IV. died, either because he had reached the natural term of his life, or because his end was hastened by the regret he felt in consequence of the peace to which he had been so greatly opposed. Sixtus IV. thus left Italy in peace, which during his life he had constantly kept involved in war. His death caused the Romans promptly to rise in arms; the Count Girolamo retreated with his troops to the castle of San Angelo; the Orsini feared that the Colonnesi would attempt to avenge the recent injuries they had inflicted upon them; and the Colonnesi demanded the restoration of their palaces and castles. All this caused within a few days murders, robberies, and conflagrations in many parts of the city. But the cardinals having urged the Count Girolamo to restore the castle of San Angelo to the Sacred College, and that he should himself retire to his estates and relieve Rome of the presence of his troops, the Count, desirous of securing to himself the favor of the future Pope, obeyed, and restored the castle to the College of Cardinals and withdrew with his troops to Imola. Whereupon the cardinals being relieved of further apprehensions, and the barons having no longer the hope of being supported by the Count in their contentions, the election of the new Pope was proceeded with. After some debate the unanimous choice fell upon Giovan Battista Cibo, Cardinal of Malfetta, a Genoese, who assumed the name of Innocent VIII. Being an affable and peaceloving man, he induced the Romans to lay down their arms, and thus succeeded in pacifying the city.
29. The Florentines could not remain quiet after the peace of Lombardy; for it seemed to them a dishonor and a shame that a mere private gentleman should have dispossessed them of the castle of Serezana. And as the stipulations of the treaty of peace provided that each party, not only should have the right to demand back the places they had lost, but even to make war upon any one who should impede such restoration, they promptly provided money and troops for the recovery of Serezana by force. Whereupon Agostino Fregoso, who held that castle, fearing that he should be unable to sustain so serious an attack with his private forces, made over the place to the San Giorgio. As I shall have occasion more than once to speak of the Genoese and of the San Giorgio, it appears to me not out of place here to explain the character of this organization and the usages of Genoa, it being one of the principal cities of Italy. When the Genoese made peace with the Venetians after that most important war which occurred between them some years ago, their republic was unable to repay the large sums of money which she had borrowed from her citizens for the expenses of that war. The republic therefore conceded to these creditors the customs revenues, on condition that each citizen, in proportion to the principal sum loaned by him to the state, should participate in those revenues until their claims were satisfied in full. And to afford these creditors a convenient place for meeting, they assigned to them for that purpose the palace over the custom-house. These creditors thereupon organized among themselves a system of government, appointing a council of one hundred, who should decide upon everything concerning their common interests; and a magistracy of eight citizens as chiefs of the whole, who should carry the resolves of the council into execution. They divided their credits into shares, which they called “Luoghi” (places), and adopted as the title of their whole body the name of San Giorgio.
Having thus organized their government, it happened that the state had further need of money, and had recourse to the San Giorgio for fresh loans. This association, being rich and well managed, was able to supply all the money required; and the republic, on the other hand, in the same manner as they had in the first instance conceded the customs to the San Giorgio, so they now began to pledge their landed possessions for these fresh loans; and thus the requirements of money by the city and the loans made by the San Giorgio went on increasing, until this association had placed under their administration the greater part of the territory and the cities subject to the Genoese government. The San Giorgio governed and defended these, and every year they elected Rectors by public vote, whom they sent to those cities and places without any interference on the part of the state. The result of this was that the citizens of Genoa began to look upon the government as being a tyranny, and withdrew their affections from it, which they transferred to the San Giorgio as being wisely and impartially administered. It also gave rise to the frequent and easy changes in the government of the republic, which at one moment accepted the rule of one of her own citizens, and at another moment that of some foreign prince; whilst the government of the San Giorgio always remained the same. Thus when the Fregosi and the Adorni were contending for the government of the republic, the greater part of the citizens stood aloof, leaving the government a prey to the victor. And when one or the other usurped the government of the republic, the San Giorgio merely required of him an oath strictly to observe the laws of their body, which to this day have remained unchanged. For this association, having arms, money, and a government of their own, their laws could not be interfered with except at the risk of a certain and dangerous rebellion. Truly a rare example, and one which the philosophers, with all the republics they have ever seen or imagined, never thought of, to witness within the same circle, and amongst the same citizens, liberty and tyranny, integrity and corruption, justice and license! for it is this organization alone that preserves within the republic so many ancient and venerable customs. And if it should happen, as in course of time it surely will, that the San Giorgio shall control the city altogether, then will it be a republic more noteworthy even than that of Venice.
30. It was to this San Giorgio, then, that Agostino Fregoso transferred Serezana, which they received most willingly, and at once undertook its defence. They immediately put a fleet to sea, and sent troops to Pietrasanta, so as to cut off all communication with the Florentine camp which had been established near Serezana. The Florentines, on the other hand, wanted to get possession of Pietrasanta, for without it the possession of Serezana would have been of less value, the former lying between the latter and Pisa. But they had no pretext for attacking it unless the inhabitants, or whoever held the place, opposed them in their efforts to take Serezana. And by way of provoking such an act of hostility they sent a quantity of munitions of war and provisions from Pisa to their camp, with but a feeble escort, so that those in Pietrasanta might be tempted by this valuable convoy to capture it. This plan succeeded according to their wishes; for those in Pietrasanta seeing so great a prize before their eyes, promptly seized it. This afforded to the Florentines legitimate grounds for attacking Pietrasanta; and, leaving Serezana aside, they laid siege to Pietrasanta, which, being well garrisoned however, made a stout defence. The Florentines, having placed their artillery in the plain, erected a battery also on the hill above, so as to be able to press the place from that side also. The commissary of the Florentine army was Jacopo Guicciardini. Whilst the siege of Pietrasanta was proceeding, the Genoese fleet took and burnt the castle of Vada; and having landed their troops, they scoured and pillaged the surrounding country. Messer Bongianni Gianfigliazzi was sent against them with a body of horse and infantry, and succeeded in checking their insolence in some measure, so that they could no longer ravage the country with such impunity. But the Genoese fleet continued to annoy the Florentines; it went to Livorno, and attacked the new tower there with pontoons and other contrivances, and battered it for some days with their artillery; but finding that they could make no impression upon it, they ignominiously withdrew.
31. In the mean time the siege of Pietrasanta progressed but tardily, so that the enemy felt encouraged to make an attack upon the battery on the hill, which they captured. This success was most creditable to them, and filled the Florentine forces with alarm to that degree that they came near being thrown into complete disorder, and withdrew to a distance of four miles from the place. The captains, seeing that it was already October, contemplated going into winter quarters and resuming the siege in the spring. When this cowardly conduct became known in Florence, it filled the chiefs of the state with indignation, and they immediately appointed Antonio Pucci and Bernardo del Nero as new commissioners to restore to the army its former valor and prestige. These proceeded at once to the camp with a large sum of money, and stated to the captains the indignation of the Signoria and of the whole city, unless they at once returned with the army to the walls of Pietrasanta; and how they would cover themselves with infamy if so many captains, with so large a force, and having opposed to them only a small garrison, were to fail in taking so insignificant and weak a place. They showed them also the immediate and prospective advantages that were expected from this acquisition, and thus rekindled the courage of all, so that they resolved at once to resume the siege. But before anything else they determined to recover the battery, in the capture of which it was seen how great an effect can be produced upon the minds of the soldiers by affability and kindness; for Antonio Pucci, alternately encouraging one soldier and promising rewards to another, taking one man by the hand and embracing another, caused them all to rush to the assault with such impetuosity that they carried the battery at the first onset; though unhappily it involved the loss of the Conte Antonio da Marciano, who was killed by a cannonball. This success caused such terror to the besieged that they began to talk of surrendering. Thereupon, with the view of bringing the siege to a still more brilliant conclusion, Lorenzo de’ Medici resolved to go in person to the camp; and in a very few days after his arrival the castle of Pietrasanta was taken. Winter had now set in, and therefore the captains deemed it best not to attempt any further operations until spring, especially as the unwholesome autumn air had caused much sickness in the army, and many captains were seriously ill. Amongst them Antonio Pucci and Messer Bongianni Gianfigliazzo not only fell sick, but died, to the great regret of all; for Antonio had won universal favor by his conduct at Pietrasanta.
After the capture of this place, the people of Lucca sent ambassadors to Florence to demand Pietrasanta of them. They claimed it on the ground that it had formerly belonged to them, and that the stipulations of the treaty required the restitution to the original owners of all the places that had been taken by either one or the other party. The Florentines did not deny the conditions of the treaty, but replied that they did not know whether, according to the terms of peace that were in course of negotiation between the Genoese and themselves, they would have to restore Pietrasanta or not; and therefore they could not act in the matter until that point had been settled. And even in case that they should have to restore it, the Lucchese would first have to reimburse them the expenses of the expedition, and to compensate them for the loss of so many of their citizens; and that when they had done that, they might hope to get the place back. The whole winter was consumed in the peace negotiations between the Genoese and the Florentines, which were being carried on through the Pope at Rome; and, as they were not concluded when spring came, the Florentines would have resumed their operations against Serezana had it not been prevented by the illness of Lorenzo de’ Medici and the war that had broken out between the Pope and the king of Naples. Lorenzo suffered not only from an attack of gout, which he had inherited from his father, but also from acute pains in the stomach, which obliged him to go to the baths, in hopes of being cured.
32. But the more important reason why the Florentines did not renew their attempt upon Serezana was the war which we have mentioned above, and which had its origin as follows. The city of Aquila, though in part subject to the king of Naples, yet was, as it were, almost free; the Count Montorto was one of her most distinguished citizens (1485). The Duke of Calabria, being with his forces near the Tronto pretending to quell certain disturbances that had arisen amongst the peasants of that neighborhood, but with the real design of subjecting Aquila absolutely to the authority of the king of Naples, sent for the Count Montorto on the pretext of desiring to avail himself of his services in the matter of the disturbances. The Count obeyed the summons without the least suspicion; but upon his arrival he was made prisoner by the Duke and sent to Naples. When this became known at Aquila it stirred up the whole city; the people took to arms and killed the king’s commissary, Antonio Concinello, together with a number of citizens who were known to be adherents of his Majesty. And by way of having some support in their rebellion, the Aquileians raised the banner of the Church, and sent deputies to the Pope tendering him the city and their allegiance; and praying him as his own subjects to aid them against the tyranny of the king.
The Pope boldly undertook their defence, for he hated the king for private as well as public reasons. And as it happened that the Signor Ruberto da San Severino (who was an enemy of the state of Milan) was at that moment without any engagement, the Pope appointed him captain of his forces, and requested him to come to Rome as speedily as possible; and solicited at the same time all the relatives and friends of the Count Montorto to rise against the king. The princes of Altemura, of Salerno, and of Bisignano accordingly took up arms against King Ferdinand; who, seeing himself thus suddenly involved in war, had recourse to the Florentines and the Duke of Milan for assistance. The Florentines hesitated at first as to what course to take; but being bound by the terms of their league with the king, they preferred to act in good faith rather than to consult only their own safety and convenience. They engaged the services of the Orsini, and sent all their own troops under the Count of Pittigliano towards Rome in support of the king of Naples, who thereupon organized his forces in two divisions. One, under the Duke of Calabria, he sent towards Rome, who together with the Florentine troops was to oppose the army of the Church; and the other division King Ferdinand himself led against the barons.
This war was carried on by both sides with varying success; but in the end the king proved everywhere victorious; and in the month of August, 1486, a peace was concluded through the mediation of the king of Spain’s ambassadors. After these reverses the Pope consented to the peace, being unwilling to tempt fortune any longer. Thereupon all the Italian powers united, excluding however the Genoese, as being rebels to the state of Milan and usurpers of territory belonging to the Florentines. Peace being thus established, the Signor Ruberto da San Severino, who during the war had neither been very faithful to the Pope nor very formidable to his opponents, was ordered away from Rome by the Pope. He was pursued by the troops of the Duke and the Florentines, and finding himself about to be overtaken after he had passed Cesena, he took to flight, and reached Ravenna with less than one hundred horsemen. The remainder of his men in part entered the service of the Duke, and in part were destroyed by the peasants. After the conclusion of peace and his reconciliation with the barons the king caused Jacopo Cappolo and Antonello d’ Aversa, together with their sons, to be put to death for having during the war revealed his secrets to the Pontiff.
33. The experience of this war had shown to the Pope with what fidelity and zeal the Florentines adhere to their allies; so that where he had previously hated them on account of the Genoese, and because of the support they had given to the king of Naples, he began now to like them and to show more than ordinary favors to their ambassadors. Lorenzo de’ Medici, observing this friendly disposition, encouraged it as much as possible; for he judged that it would add greatly to his influence and reputation if he could add the friendship of the Pope to that which already existed between himself and the king of Naples. The Pontiff had a son named Francesco, for whom he desired to procure states and allies who should be able to aid him in maintaining such states after his father’s death. And there was no one in Italy whose alliance seemed to the Pope safer and more advantageous for his son than that of Lorenzo de’ Medici; he managed therefore to have Lorenzo give one of his daughters in marriage to Francesco. Having formed this alliance, the Pope urged the Genoese to cede Serezana amicably to the Florentines; he pointed out to them that they could not hold what Agostino Fregoso had sold, and that Agostino had no right to transfer to the San Giorgio what did not belong to him. But all his efforts to induce the Genoese to give up Serezana proved unsuccessful; to the contrary rather, for, whilst they were negotiating on the subject in Rome, the Genoese armed a number of their vessels, and without the Florentines being in any way aware of it they landed three thousand infantry, who attacked the castle of Serezanello, situated above Serezano, and in the possession of the Florentines, and sacked and burnt the village adjoining it, and then opened a vigorous fire upon the castle with their artillery. This sudden attack was wholly unexpected by the Florentines, who immediately gathered their forces under command of Virginio Orsini at Pisa, and at the same time sent complaints to the Pope that, whilst he was negotiating for peace, the Genoese had renewed the war upon them. They then sent Pietro Corsini to Lucca to keep that city to her allegiance; and also sent Pagolantonio Soderini to Venice to ascertain the disposition of that republic. They furthermore sent for assistance both to the king of Naples and to Signor Lodovico Sforza, but obtained none from either of them; the king saying that he was afraid of the Turkish fleet, and Lodovico delaying on various pretexts. It is thus that the Florentines in their own wars are almost invariably left to themselves, and find no one to support them with the same ardor with which they aid others. Being thus accustomed to it, they were not alarmed on this occasion to find themselves abandoned by their allies. But having raised a large force, they sent it under command of Jacopo Guicciardini and Pietro Vettori against the Genoese, who had established their camp on the upper side of the river Magra.
The enemy meantime pressed Serezanello very hard with mines and every other means of attack in their power. The Florentine commissaries attempted to relieve this castle, and the enemy did not refuse battle; an engagement ensued, in which the Genoese were defeated, and Messer Luigi da Fiesco and many other of their officers were made prisoners (1487). This victory, however, did not frighten the people of Serezana into thoughts of surrender, but rather disposed them to a still more obstinate defence, and caused the Florentine commissaries to push their attack with increased vigor; so that both attack and defence were most gallant. The siege being thus protracted, Lorenzo de’ Medici thought proper to take the field himself; and having arrived in camp, the Florentine soldiers felt greatly encouraged by his presence, whilst the Serezanese became disheartened, for seeing the persistence of the Florentines in the attack and the coldness of the Genoese in rendering them assistance, they surrendered freely and unconditionally to Lorenzo; and having thus placed themselves in the hands of the Florentines they were treated with the greatest humanity by them, with the exception of a few of the principal authors of the revolt. During the siege Lodovico Sforza had sent his forces to Pontremoli to make show of coming to the assistance of the Florentines; but having secret intelligence in Genoa, his partisans rose against the government, and with the aid of Lodovico’s troops they gave the city to the Duke of Milan.
34. At this time the Germans commenced a war against the Venetians; and Boccolino da Osimo in La Marca induced the town of Osimo to revolt against the Pope, and usurped the government of the place. After many eventful changes he was persuaded by Lorenzo de’ Medici to restore the city to the Pope, after which he went to Florence, where he lived for some time much honored, under the protection of Lorenzo. Thence he went to Milan, where, however, he did not find the same good faith, for the Signor Lodovico Sforza had him put to death. The Venetians being attacked were defeated by the Germans near the city of Trent, and their general, the Signor Ruberto da San Severino, killed. After this defeat, the Venetians, with their usual good fortune, made a treaty with the Germans, the conditions of which were so favorable for their republic that it seemed as though they had been the victors, and not the vanquished. About this time serious disturbances also broke out in the Romagna. Francesco d’ Orso of Furli, a man of high authority in that city, became suspect to the Count Girolamo, and had been repeatedly threatened by him. Francesco, living thus in constant apprehension, was advised by his friends and relatives to forestall the Count and kill him, and thus by the death of his enemy to ward off the danger from himself. Having resolved to act upon this advice, and his mind being firmly made up to it, Francesco chose as the fittest time for the execution of his design the market day in Furli; for on that day many of his friends, of whose assistance he thought he might avail himself, would come into the city without being expressly sent for. It was in the month of May, when the Italians generally take their supper before dark; the conspirators thought it would be a convenient moment to kill the Count after he should have finished his repast, as he then generally went alone to his room whilst his family were still at table.
Having decided upon this, Francesco went at the appointed hour to the residence of the Count. He left his associates in the antechamber, and having reached the room where the Count Girolamo was, he requested one of the valets to inform him that he wished to speak with him. Francesco was admitted, and finding Girolamo alone he killed him after a few words of pretended conversation; he thereupon called in his associates, and they killed the valet also. The commandant of the place happening to come in at the same time to speak with the Count, he was also slain as he entered the hall with a few attendants. After these murders Francesco and his followers threw the body of the Count Girolamo out of the window, and created a great tumult; and raising the cry of “The Church and Liberty!” they caused all the people to arm, who hated the avarice and cruelty of the Count Girolamo; and having sacked his house they took the Countess Caterina and her children prisoners. The castle only remained to be taken to bring their attempt to a successful termination; but the castellan refused to surrender it. The conspirators therefore requested the Countess to induce him to give it up, which she promised to do provided they would allow her to go into the castle, leaving her children in their hands as a pledge of her good faith. They believed in her sincerity, and permitted her to enter the castle; but so soon as she was inside she menaced them with death and every kind of punishment in revenge for the murder of her husband. The conspirators in return threatened to kill her children, to which she replied, “That she had the means of getting others.” The conspirators however became alarmed, seeing that they received no support from the Pope, and that the Signor Lodovico Sforza, the uncle of the Countess, had sent troops to her assistance; they therefore carried off what they could, and went to Citta di Castello. The Countess thereupon resumed the government, and avenged the murder of her husband with every kind of cruelty. The Florentines upon hearing of the death of the Count deemed the occasion favorable to repossess themselves of the castle of Piancaldoli, which some time back had been taken from them by the Count Girolamo; and having sent some troops there they recovered that castle, but at the cost of the life of their most distinguished engineer Cecco, who was killed on that occasion.
35. Besides these troubles in the Romagna, another of no less moment occurred in the same province. Galeotto, lord of Faenza, had for his wife the daughter of Giovanni Bentivogli, prince of Bologna, who either from jealousy, or from having been maltreated by her husband, or perhaps from her own naturally bad disposition, had taken her husband in aversion, and carried her hatred of him to that point that she resolved to deprive him of his state and his life. Feigning to be sick, she took to her bed, having previously arranged that when Galeotto came to see her he should be killed by some of her confidants, whom she was to conceal for that purpose in her chamber. She had communicated her design to her father, who hoped after the death of his son-in-law to become himself lord of Faenza. The time appointed for the execution of the plot arrived, and Galeotto entered his wife’s chamber as was his custom. After remaining some time in conversation with her, his murderers rushed from their concealment and killed him. The news of Galeotto’s death caused great excitement in Faenza; the wife, with her little son Astorre, took refuge in the castle, and the people rushed to arms. Messer Giovanni Bentivogli, together with a certain Bergamino, one of the Duke of Milan’s Condottieri, entered Faenza with a number of armed followers; the Florentine commissary, Antonio Boscoli, happened to be there also at that time. These chiefs assembled in the midst of the tumult, and were deliberating with regard to the government of the place, when the men of the Val di Lamona, who had rushed in in great number on hearing of the disturbance, attacked Messer Giovanni and Bergamino; they killed the latter and took the other prisoner, and then, raising the cry of “Astorre and the Florentines!” they offered the city to the Florentine commissary. When this affair became known in Florence, it caused general dissatisfaction; nevertheless, they ordered Messer Giovanni and his daughter to be liberated, and took charge of the city and of Astorre in compliance with the wishes of the whole population. Many other disturbances occurred during several years in La Marca and at Sienna, after the main war between the greater princes had been settled. These troubles, however, having been of little moment, I deem it superfluous to relate them. It is true that they were most frequent in Sienna after the departure of the Duke of Calabria, on the termination of the war of 1478; and after many changes, in which the people and the nobles prevailed alternately, the nobles kept the upper hand. The most influential amongst these were Pandolfo and Jacopo Petrucci, who, the one by his sagacity and the other by his courage, became as it were sovereigns of the city.
36. After the successful termination of the war of Serezana, the Florentines lived in prosperous tranquillity until the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici, in 1492; for after having established peace by his good judgment and authority, Lorenzo devoted his attention to the aggrandizement of the city and of his own family. He married his eldest son, Piero, to Alfonsina, daughter of the Cavaliere Orsini, and had his second son promoted to the dignity of Cardinal, which was the more remarkable as it was unprecedented, the youth having hardly completed his thirteenth year. This was in fact a ladder by means of which his house was enabled to mount to heaven itself, as indeed it happened in the course of time. He could not provide equally good fortune for his third son, as he was still too young when Lorenzo died. Of his daughters, one was married to Jacopo Salviati, another to Francesco Cibo, and a third to Piero Ridolfi; but the fourth, who, by way of keeping the family united, had been married to Giovanni de’ Medici, her cousin, died. In his commercial affairs, however, Lorenzo was very unfortunate; for through the irregularity of his agents, who managed his affairs, not like those of a private individual, but of a prince, the greater part of his private fortune was consumed; so that he was obliged to call upon his country to aid him with large sums of money. In consequence of this he gave up all commercial operations, and turned his attention to landed property, as being a more safe and solid wealth. He acquired large possessions in the districts of Prato and Pisa, and in the Val di Pesa, and erected upon them useful and elegant buildings, not like a private citizen, but with truly royal magnificence. After that he directed his attention to extending and embellishing the city of Florence, in which there was still much vacant land. Here he had new streets laid out and built up with houses, whereby the city was greatly enlarged and beautified. And to secure greater quiet and security within the state, and to be able to resist and combat its enemies at a greater distance from the city, he fortified the castle of Firenzuola, in the mountains towards Bologna; in the direction of Sienna he began the restoration of the Poggio Imperiale, which he fortified in the most complete manner. Towards Genoa he closed the road to the enemy by the acquisition of Pietrasanta and Serezana. Besides this, he maintained his friends the Baglioni in Perugia with subsidies and pensions, and the same with the Vitelli in Citta di Castello; and in Faenza he kept a special governor; all of which measures served as strong bulwarks to the city of Florence.
In peaceful times he often entertained the people with various festivities, such as jousts, feats of arms, and representations of triumphs of olden times. He aimed to maintain abundance in the city, to keep the people united, and the nobility honored. He had the greatest love and admiration for all who excelled in any art, and was a great patron of learning and of literary men, of which his conduct towards Cristofano Landini and Messer Demetrius the Greek furnishes the strongest proof. For this reason the Count Giovanni della Mirandola, a man of almost supernatural genius, was attracted by the magnificence of Lorenzo, and preferred to establish his home in Florence rather than in any other part of Europe, all of which he had visited in his travels. Lorenzo took the greatest delight in architecture, music, and poetry; and many of his own poetic compositions, enriched with commentaries, appeared in print. And, for the purpose of enabling the Florentine youths to devote themselves to the study of letters, he established a university in the city of Pisa, where he employed the most eminent men of all Italy as professors. He built a monastery for Fra Mariano da Chianozzona, of the order of St. Augustine, who was a most admirable pulpit orator. And thus, beloved of God and Fortune, all his enterprises were crowned with success, whilst those of his enemies had the opposite fate. For besides the conspiracy of the Pazzi, Battista Frescobaldi also attempted his assassination in the church of the Carmine; and Baldinatto of Pistoja tried the same at his villa. Each of these, together with their accomplices, suffered the most just punishment for their nefarious attempts.
Thus Lorenzo’s mode of life, his ability and good fortune, were recognized with admiration, and highly esteemed, not only by all the princes of Italy, but also by those at a great distance. Matthias, king of Hungary, gave him many proofs of his affection; the Sultan of Egypt sent ambassadors to him with precious gifts; and the Grand Turk gave up to him Bernardo Bandini, the murderer of his brother. These proofs of regard from foreign sovereigns caused Lorenzo to be looked upon with the greatest admiration by all Italy; and his reputation was daily increased by his rare ability, for he was eloquent and subtle in speech, wise in his resolves, and bold and prompt in their execution. Nor can he be charged with any vices that would stain his many virtues, though very fond of women, and delighting in the society of witty and sarcastic men, and even taking pleasure in puerile amusements, — more so than would seem becoming to so great a man, so that he was often seen taking a part in the childish sports of his sons and daughters. Considering, then, his fondness for pleasure, and at the same time his grave character, there seemed as it were united in him two almost incompatible natures. During his latter years he was greatly afflicted with sufferings from his malady, the gout, and oppressed with intolerable pains in his stomach, which increased to that degree that he died in the month of April, 1492, in the forty-fourth year of his age. Neither Florence nor all Italy ever lost a man of higher reputation for prudence and ability, or whose loss was more deplored by his country, than Lorenzo de’ Medici. And as his death was to be followed by the most ruinous consequences, Heaven gave many manifest indications of it. Amongst these was that the highest pinnacle of the church of the Santa Reparata was struck by lightning, so that a large part of the pinnacle fell to the earth, filling every one with terror and amazement. All Florence then, as well as all the princes of Italy, lamented the death of Lorenzo; in proof of which there was not one who did not send ambassadors to Florence to express his grief at so great a loss. And events very soon after proved that they had just cause for their regrets; for Italy being deprived of Lorenzo’s counsels, no means could be found to satisfy or check the ambition of Lodovico Sforza, governor of the Duke of Milan. From this, soon after Lorenzo’s death, there began to spring up those evil seeds of trouble, which ruined and continue to cause the ruin of Italy, as there was no one capable of destroying them.
end of vol. i.
University Press: John Wilson & Son, Cambridge.
[* ]This Giulio de’ Medici afterwards became Pope under the name of Clement VII.