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Chapter 39


Discords of Florence--Jealousy excited against Neri di Gino
Capponi--Baldaccio d'Anghiari murdered--Reform of government in
favor of the Medici--Enterprises of Sforza and Piccinino--Death of
Niccolo Piccinino--End of the war--Disturbances in Bologna--
Annibale Bentivoglio slain by Battista Canneschi, and the latter
by the people--Santi, supposed to be the son of Ercole
Bentivoglio, is called to govern the city of Bologna--Discourse of
Cosmo de' Medici to him--Perfidious designs of the duke of Milan
against Sforza--General war in Italy--Losses of the duke of Milan
--The duke has recourse to the count, who makes peace with him--
Offers of the duke and the Venetians to the count--The Venetians
furtively deprive the count of Cremona.

While the affairs of Romagna proceeded thus, the city of Florence was
not tranquil. Among the citizens of highest reputation in the
government, was Neri di Gino Capponi, of whose influence Cosmo de'
Medici had more apprehension than any other; for to the great
authority which he possessed in the city was added his influence with
the soldiery. Having been often leader of the Florentine forces he had
won their affection by his courage and talents; and the remembrance of
his own and his father's victories (the latter having taken Pisa, and
he himself having overcome Niccolo Piccinino at Anghiari) caused him
to be beloved by many, and feared by those who were averse to having
associates in the government. Among the leaders of the Florentine army
was Baldaccio d'Anghiari, an excellent soldier, for in those times
there was not one in Italy who surpassed him in vigor either of body
or mind; and possessing so much influence with the infantry, whose
leader he had always been, many thought they would follow him wherever
he chose to lead them. Baldaccio was the intimate friend of Neri, who
loved him for his talents, of which he had been a constant witness.
This excited great suspicion in the other citizens, who, thinking it
alike dangerous either to discharge or retain him in their service,
determined to destroy him, and fortune seemed to favor their design.
Bartolommeo Orlandini was Gonfalonier of Justice; the same person who
was sent to the defense of Marradi, when Niccolo Piccinino came into
Tuscany, as we have related above, and so basely abandoned the pass,
which by its nature was almost impregnable. So flagrant an instance of
cowardice was very offensive to Baldaccio, who, on many occasions,
both by words and letters, had contributed to make the disgraceful
fact known to all. The shame and vexation of Bartolommeo were extreme,
so that of all things he wished to avenge himself, thinking, with the
death of his accuser, to efface the stain upon his character.

This feeling of Bartolommeo Orlandini was known to other citizens, so
that they easily persuaded him to put Baldaccio to death, and at one
avenge himself, and deliver his country from a man whom they must
either retain at great peril, or discharge to their greater confusion.
Bartolommeo having therefore resolved to murder him, concealed in his
own apartment at the palace several young men, all armed; and
Baldaccio, entering the piazza, whither it was his daily custom to
come, to confer with the magistrates concerning his command, the
Gonfalonier sent for him, and he, without any suspicion, obeyed.
Meeting him in the corridor, which leads to the chambers of the
Signory, they took a few turns together discoursing of his office,
when being close to the door of the apartments in which the assassins
were concealed, Bartolommeo gave them the signal, upon which they
rushed out, and finding Baldaccio alone and unarmed, they slew him,
and threw the body out of the window which looks from the palace
toward the dogano, or customhouse. It was thence carried into the
piazza, where the head being severed, it remained the whole day
exposed to the gaze of the people. Baldaccio was married, and had only
one child, a boy, who survived him but a short time; and his wife,
Annalena, thus deprived of both husband and offspring, rejected every
proposal for a second union. She converted her house into a monastery,
to which she withdrew, and, being joined by many noble ladies, lived
in holy seclusion to the end of her days. The convent she founded, and
which is named from her, preserves her story in perpetual remembrance.

This circumstance served to weaken Neri's power, and made him lose
both influence and friends. Nor did this satisfy the citizens who held
the reins of government; for it being ten years since their
acquisition of power, and the authority of the Balia expired, many
began to exhibit more boldness, both in words and deeds, than seemed
consistent with their safety; and the leaders of the party judged,
that if they wished to preserve their influence, some means must be
adopted to increase it. To this end, in 1444 the councils created a
new Balia, which reformed the government, gave authority to a limited
number to create the Signory, re-established the Chancery of
Reformations, depriving Filippo Peruzzi of his office of president in
it, and appointing another wholly under their influence. They
prolonged the term of exile to those who were banished; put Giovanni
di Simone Vespucci in prison; deprived the Accoppiatori of their
enemies of the honors of government, and with them the sons of Piero
Baroncelli, the whole of the Seragli, Bartolommeo Fortini, Francesco
Castellani, and many others. By these means they strengthened their
authority and influence, and humbled their enemies, or those whom they
suspected of being so.

Having thus recovered and confirmed their government, they then turned
their attention to external affairs. As observed above, Niccolo
Piccinino was abandoned by King Alfonso, and the count having been
aggrandized by the assistance of the Florentines, attacked and routed
him near Fermo, where, after losing nearly the whole of his troops,
Niccolo fled to Montecchio, which he fortified in such a manner that
in a short time he had again assembled so large an army as enabled him
to make head against the count; particularly as the season was now
come for them to withdraw into quarters. His principal endeavor during
the winter was to collect troops, and in this he was assisted both by
the pope and Alfonso; so that, upon the approach of spring, both
leaders took the field, and Niccolo, being the strongest, reduced the
count to extreme necessity, and would have conquered him if the duke
had not contrived to frustrate his designs. Filippo sent to beg he
would come to him with all speed, for he wished to have a personal
interview, that he might communicate matters of the highest
importance. Niccolo, anxious to hear them, abandoned a certain victory
for a very doubtful advantage; and leaving his son Francesco to
command the army, hastened to Milan. The count being informed of the
circumstance, would not let slip the opportunity of fighting in the
absence of Niccolo; and, coming to an engagement near the castle of
Monte Loro, routed the father's forces and took the son prisoner.
Niccolo having arrived at Milan saw that the duke had duped him, and
learning the defeat of his army and the capture of his son, he died of
grief in 1445, at the age of sixty-four, having been a brave rather
than a fortunate leader. He left two sons, Francesco and Jacopo, who,
possessing less talent than their father, were still more unfortunate;
so that the arms of the family became almost annihilated, while those
of Sforza, being favored by fortune, attained augmented glory. The
pope, seeing Niccolo's army defeated and himself dead, having little
hope of assistance from Aragon, sought peace with the count, and, by
the intervention of the Florentines, succeeded. Of La Marca, the pope
only retained Osimo, Fabriano, and Recanati; all the rest remained in
the count's possession.

Peace being restored to La Marca, the whole of Italy would have
obtained repose had it not been disturbed by the Bolognese. There were
in Bologna two very powerful families, the Canneschi and the
Bentivogli. Of the latter, Annibale was the head; of the former,
Battista, who, as a means of confirming their mutual confidence, had
contracted family alliances; but among men who have the same objects
of ambition in view, it is easy to form connections, but difficult to
establish friendship. The Bolognese were in a league with the
Venetians and Florentines, which had been effected by the influence of
Annibale, after they had driven out Francesco Piccinino; and Battista,
knowing how earnestly the duke desired to have the city favorable to
him, proposed to assassinate Annibale, and put Bologna into his power.
This being agreed upon, on the twenty-fifth of June, 1445, he attacked
Annibale with his men, and slew him: and then, with shouts of "the
duke, the duke," rode through the city. The Venetian and Florentine
commissaries were in Bologna at the time, and at first kept themselves
within doors; but finding that the people, instead of favoring the
murderers, assembled in the piazza, armed in great numbers, mourning
the death of Annibale, they joined them; and, assembling what forces
they could, attacked the Canneschi, soon overpowered them, slew part,
and drove the remainder out of the city. Battista, unable to effect
his escape, or his enemies his capture, took refuge in a vault of his
house, used for storing grain. The friends of the Bentivogli, having
sought him all day, and knowing he had not left the city, so terrified
his servants, that one of them, a groom, disclosed the place of his
concealment, and being drawn forth in complete armor he was slain, his
body dragged about the streets, and afterward burned. Thus the duke's
authority was sufficient to prompt the enterprise, but his force was
not at hand to support it.

The tumults being settled by the death of Battista, and the flight of
the Canneschi, Bologna still remained in the greatest confusion. There
not being one of the house of Bentivogli of age to govern, Annibale
having left but one son whose name was Giovanni, only six years old,
it was apprehended that disunion would ensue among the Bentivogli, and
cause the return of the Cannecshi, and the ruin both of their own
country and party. While in this state of apprehension, Francesco,
sometime Count di Poppi, being at Bologna, informed the rulers of the
city, that if they wished to be governed by one of the blood of
Annibale, he could tell them of one; and related that about twenty
years ago, Ercole, cousin of Annibale, being at Poppi, became
acquainted with a girl of the castle, of whom was born a son named
Santi, whom Ercole, on many occasions acknowledged to be his own, nor
could he deny it, for whoever knew him and saw the boy, could not fail
to observe the strongest resemblance. The citizens gave credit to the
tale, and immediately sent to Florence to see the young man, and
procure of Cosmo and Neri permission to return with him to Bologna.
The reputed father of Santi was dead, and he lived under the
protection of his uncle, whose name was Antonio da Cascese. Antonio
was rich, childless, and a friend of Neri, to whom the matter becoming
known, he thought it ought neither to be despised nor too hastily
accepted; and that it would be best for Santi and those who had been
sent from Bologna, to confer in the presence of Cosmo. They were
accordingly introduced, and Santi was not merely honored but adored by
them, so greatly were they influenced by the spirit of party. However,
nothing was done at the time, except that Cosmo, taking Santi apart,
spoke to him thus: "No one can better advise you in this matter than
yourself; for you have to take that course to which your own mind
prompts you. If you be the son of Ercole Bentivoglio, you will
naturally aspire to those pursuits which are proper to your family and
worthy of your father; but if you be the son of Agnolo da Cascese, you
will remain in Florence, and basely spend the remainder of your days
in some branch of the woolen trade." These words greatly influenced
the youth, who, though he had at first almost refused to adopt such a
course, said, he would submit himself wholly to what Cosmo and Neri
should determine. They, assenting to the request of the Bolognese,
provided suitable apparel, horses, and servants; and in a few days he
was escorted by a numerous cavalcade to Bologna, where the
guardianship of Annibale's son and of the city were placed in his
hands. He conducted himself so prudently, that although all his
ancestors had been slain by their enemies, he lived in peace and died
respected by everyone.

After the death of Niccolo Piccinino and the peace of La Marca,
Filippo wishing to procure a leader of his forces, secretly negotiated
with Ciarpellone, one of the principal captains of Count Francesco,
and arrangements having been made, Ciarpellone asked permission to go
to Milan to take possession of certain castles which had been given
him by Filippo during the late wars. The count suspecting what was in
progress, in order to prevent the duke from accommodating himself at
his expense, caused Ciarpellone to be arrested, and soon afterward put
to death; alleging that he had been detected plotting against him.
Filippo was highly annoyed and indignant, which the Venetians and the
Florentines were glad to observe, for their greatest fear was, that
the duke and the count should become friends.

The duke's anger caused the renewal of war in La Marca. Gismondo
Malatesti, lord of Rimino, being son-in-law of the count, expected to
obtain Pesaro; but the count, having obtained possession, gave it to
his brother, Alessandro. Gismondo, offended at this, was still further
exasperated at finding that Federigo di Montefeltro, his enemy, by the
count's assistance, gained possession of Urbino. He therefore joined
the duke, and solicited the pope and the king to make war against the
count, who, to give Gismondo a taste of the war he so much desired,
resolved to take the initiative, and attacked him immediately. Thus
Romagna and La Marca were again in complete confusion, for Filippo,
the king, and the pope, sent powerful assistance to Gismondo, while
the Florentines and Venetians supplied the count with money, though
not with men. Nor was Filippo satisfied with the war in Romagna, but
also desired to take Cremona and Pontremoli from the count; but
Pontremoli was defended by the Florentines, and Cremona by the
Venetians. Thus the war was renewed in Lombardy, and after several
engagements in the Cremonese, Francesco Piccinino, the leader of the
duke's forces, was routed at Casale, by Micheletto and the Venetian
troops. This victory gave the Venetians hope of obtaining the duke's
dominions. They sent a commissary to Cremona, attacked the
Ghiaradadda, and took the whole of it, except Crema. Then crossing the
Adda, they overran the country as far as Milan. Upon this the duke had
recourse to Alfonso, and entreated his assistance, pointing out the
danger his kingdom would incur if Lombardy were to fall into the hands
of the Venetians. Alfonso promised to send him troops, but apprised
him of the difficulties which would attend their passage, without the
permission of the count.

Filippo, driven to extremity, then had recourse to Francesco, and
begged he would not abandon his father-in-law, now that he had become
old and blind. The count was offended with the duke for making war
against him; but he was jealous of the increasing greatness of the
Venetians, and he himself began to be in want of money, for the League
supplied him sparingly. The Florentines, being no longer in fear of
the duke, ceased to stand in need of the count, and the Venetians
desired his ruin; for they thought Lombardy could not be taken from
him except by this means; yet while Filippo sought to gain him over,
and offered him the entire command of his forces, on condition that he
should restore La Marca to the pope and quit the Venetian alliance,
ambassadors were sent to him by that republic, promising him Milan, if
they took it, and the perpetual command of their forces, if he would
push the war in La Marca, and prevent Alfonso from sending troops into
Lombardy. The offers of the Venetians were great, as also were their
claims upon him, having begun the war in order to save him from losing
Cremona; while the injuries received from the duke were fresh in his
memory, and his promises had lost all influence, still the count
hesitated; for on the one hand, were to be considered his obligations
to the League, his pledged faith, their recent services, and his hopes
of the future, all which had their influence on him; on the other,
were the entreaties of his father-in-law, and above all, the bane
which he feared would be concealed under the specious offers of the
Venetians, for he doubted not, that both with regard to Milan and
their other promises, if they were victorious, he would be at their
mercy, to which no prudent men would ever submit if he could avoid it.
These difficulties in the way of his forming a determination, were
obviated by the ambition of the Venetians, who, seeing a chance of
occupying Cremona, from secret intelligence with that city, under a
different pretext, sent troops into its neighborhood; but the affair
was discovered by those who commanded Cremona for the count, and
measures were adopted which prevented its success. Thus without
obtaining Cremona, they lost the count's friendship, who, now being
free from all other considerations, joined the duke.

Niccolo Machiavelli