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Chapter 44


Christendom alarmed by the progress of the Turks--The Turks routed
before Belgrade--Description of a remarkable hurricane--War
against the Genoese and Gismondo Malatesti--Genoa submits to the
king of France--Death of Alfonso king of Naples--Succeeded by his
son Ferrando--The pope designs to give the kingdom of Naples to
his nephew Piero Lodovico Borgia--Eulogy of Pius II.--Disturbances
in Genoa between John of Anjou and the Fregosi--The Fregosi
subdued--John attacks the kingdom of Naples--Ferrando king of
Naples routed--Ferrando reinstated--The Genoese cast off the
French yoke--John of Anjou routed in the kingdom of Naples.

The pope, though anxious to restrain Jacopo Piccinino, did not neglect
to make provision for the defense of Christendom, which seemed in
danger from the Turks. He sent ambassadors and preachers into every
Christian country, to exhort princes and people to arm in defense of
their religion, and with their persons and property to contribute to
the enterprise against the common enemy. In Florence, large sums were
raised, and many citizens bore the mark of a red cross upon their
dress to intimate their readiness to become soldiers of the faith.
Solemn processions were made, and nothing was neglected either in
public or private, to show their willingness to be among the most
forward to assist the enterprise with money, counsel, or men. But the
eagerness for this crusade was somewhat abated, by learning that the
Turkish army, being at the siege of Belgrade, a strong city and
fortress in Hungary, upon the banks of the Danube, had been routed and
the emperor wounded; so that the alarm felt by the pope and all
Christendom, on the loss of Constantinople, having ceased to operate,
they proceeded with deliberately with their preparations for war; and
in Hungary their zeal was cooled through the death of Giovanni Corvini
the Waiwode, who commanded the Hungarian forces on that memorable
occasion, and fell in the battle.

To return to the affairs of Italy. In the year 1456, the disturbances
occasioned by Jacopo Piccinino having subsided, and human weapons laid
aside, the heavens seemed to make war against the earth; dreadful
tempestuous winds then occurring, which produced effects unprecedented
in Tuscany, and which to posterity will appear marvelous and
unaccountable. On the twenty-fourth of August, about an hour before
daybreak, there arose from the Adriatic near Ancona, a whirlwind,
which crossing from east to west, again reached the sea near Pisa,
accompanied by thick clouds, and the most intense and impenetrable
darkness, covering a breadth of about two miles in the direction of
its course. Under some natural or supernatural influence, this vast
and overcharged volume of condensed vapor burst; its fragments
contended with indescribable fury, and huge bodies sometimes ascending
toward heaven, and sometimes precipitated upon the earth, struggled,
as it were, in mutual conflict, whirling in circles with intense
velocity, and accompanied by winds, impetuous beyond all conception;
while flashes of awful brilliancy, and murky, lurid flames incessantly
broke forth. From these confused clouds, furious winds, and momentary
fires, sounds issued, of which no earthquake or thunder ever heard
could afford the least idea; striking such awe into all, that it was
thought the end of the world had arrived, that the earth, waters,
heavens, and entire universe, mingling together, were being resolved
into their ancient chaos. Wherever this awful tempest passed, it
produced unprecedented and marvelous effects; but these were more
especially experienced near the castle of St. Casciano, about eight
miles from Florence, upon the hill which separates the valleys of Pisa
and Grieve. Between this castle and the Borgo St. Andrea, upon the
same hill, the tempest passed without touching the latter, and in the
former, only threw down some of the battlements and the chimneys of a
few houses; but in the space between them, it leveled many buildings
quite to the ground. The roofs of the churches of St. Martin, at
Bagnolo, and Santa Maria della Pace, were carried more than a mile,
unbroken as when upon their respective edifices. A muleteer and his
beasts were driven from the road into the adjoining valley, and found
dead. All the large oaks and lofty trees which could not bend beneath
its influence, were not only stripped of their branches but borne to a
great distance from the places where they grew, and when the tempest
had passed over and daylight made the desolation visible, the
inhabitants were transfixed with dismay. The country had lost all its
habitable character; churches and dwellings were laid in heaps;
nothing was heard but the lamentations of those whose possessions had
perished, or whose cattle or friends were buried beneath the ruins;
and all who witnessed the scene were filled with anguish or
compassion. It was doubtless the design of the Omnipotent, rather to
threaten Tuscany than to chastise her; for had the hurricane been
directed over the city, filled with houses and inhabitants, instead of
proceeding among oaks and elms, or small and thinly scattered
dwellings, it would have been such a scourge as the mind, with all its
ideas of horror, could not have conceived. But the Almighty desired
that this slight example should suffice to recall the minds of men to
a knowledge of himself and of his power.

To return to our history. King Alfonso was dissatisfied with the
peace, and as the war which he had unnecessarily caused Jacopo
Piccinino to make against the Siennese, had produced no important
result, he resolved to try what could be done against those whom the
conditions of the League permitted him to attack. He therefore, in the
year 1456, assailed the Genoese, both by sea and by land, designing to
deprive the Fregosi of the government and restore the Adorni. At the
same time, he ordered Jacopo Piccinino to cross the Tronto, and attack
Gismondo Malatesti, who, having fortified his territories, did not
concern himself, and this part of the king's enterprise produced no
effect; but his proceedings against Genoa occasioned more wars against
himself and his kingdom than he could have wished. Piero Fregoso was
then doge of Genoa, and doubting his ability to sustain the attack of
the king, he determined to give what he could not hold, to some one
who might defend it against his enemies, in hope, that at a future
period, he should obtain a return for the benefit conferred. He
therefore sent ambassadors to Charles VII. of France, and offered him
the government of Genoa. Charles accepted the offer, and sent John of
Anjou, the son of King René, who had a short time previously left
Florence and returned to France, to take possession with the idea,
that he, having learned the manners and customs of Italy, would be
able to govern the city; and also that this might give him an
opportunity of undertaking the conquest of Naples, of which René,
John's father, had been deprived by Alfonso. John, therefore,
proceeded to Genoa, where he was received as prince, and the
fortresses, both of the city and the government, given up to him. This
annoyed Alfonso, with the fear that he had brought upon himself too
powerful an enemy. He was not, however, dismayed; but pursued his
enterprise vigorously, and had led his fleet to Porto, below
Villamarina, when he died after a sudden illness, and thus John and
the Genoese were relieved from the war. Ferrando, who succeeded to the
kingdom of his father Alfonso, became alarmed at having so powerful an
enemy in Italy, and was doubtful of the disposition of many of his
barons, who being desirous of change, he feared would take part with
the French. He was also apprehensive of the pope, whose ambition he
well knew, and who seeing him new in the government, might design to
take it from him. He had no hope except from the duke of Milan, who
entertained no less anxiety concerning the affairs of the kingdom than
Ferrando; for he feared that if the French were to obtain it, they
would endeavor to annex his own dominions; which he knew they
considered to be rightfully their own. He, therefore, soon after the
death of Alfonso, sent letters and forces to Ferrando; the latter to
give him aid and influence, the former to encourage him with an
intimation that he would not, under any circumstances, forsake him.
The pontiff intended, after the death of Alfonso, to give the kingdom
of Naples to his nephew Piero Lodovico Borgia, and, to furnish a
decent pretext for his design and obtain the concurrence of the powers
of Italy in its favor he signified a wish to restore that realm to the
dominion of the church of Rome; and therefore persuaded the duke not
to assist Ferrando. But in the midst of these views and opening
enterprises, Calixtus died, and Pius II. of Siennese origin, of the
family of the Piccolomini, and by name Ćneas, succeeded to the
pontificate. This pontiff, free from the ties of private interest,
having no object but to benefit Christendom and honor the church, at
the duke's entreaty crowned Ferrando king of Naples; judging it easier
to establish peace if the kingdom remained in the hands which at
present held it, than if he were to favor the views of the French, or,
as Calixtus purposed, take it for himself. Ferrando, in acknowledgment
of the benefit, created Antonio, one of the pope's nephews, prince of
Malfi, gave him an illegitimate daughter of his own in marriage, and
restored Benevento and Terracina to the church.

It thus appeared that the internal dissensions of Italy might be
quelled, and the pontiff prepared to induce the powers of Christendom
to unite in an enterprise against the Turks (as Calixtus had
previously designed) when differences arose between the Fregosi and
John of Anjou, the lord of Genoa, which occasioned greater and more
important wars than those recently concluded. Pietrino Fregoso was at
his castle of Riviera, and thought he had not been rewarded by John in
proportion to his family's merits; for it was by their means the
latter had become prince of the city. This impression drove the
parties into open enmity; a circumstance gratifying to Ferrando, who
saw in it relief from his troubles, and the sole means of procuring
his safety: he therefore assisted Pietrino with money and men,
trusting to drive John out of the Genoese territory. The latter being
aware of his design, sent for aid to France; and, on obtaining it,
attacked Pietrino, who, through his numerous friends, entertained the
strongest assurance of success; so that John was compelled to keep
within the city, into which Pietrino having entered by night, took
possession of some parts of it; but upon the return of day, his people
were all either slain or made prisoners by John's troops, and he
himself was found among the dead.

This victory gave John hopes of recovering the kingdom; and in
October, 1459, he sailed thither from Genoa, with a powerful fleet,
and landed at Baia; whence he proceeded to Sessa, by the duke of which
place he was favorably received. The prince of Taranto, the Aquilani,
with several cities and other princes, also joined him; so that a
great part of the kingdom fell into his hands. On this Ferrando
applied for assistance to the pope and the duke of Milan; and, to
diminish the number of his enemies, made peace with Gismondo
Malatesti, which gave so much offense to Jacopo Piccinino, the
hereditary enemy of Gismondo, that he resigned his command under
Ferrando, and joined his rival. Ferrando also sent money to Federigo,
lord of Urbino, and collected with all possible speed what was in
those times considered a tolerable army; which, meeting the enemy upon
the river Sarni, an engagement ensued in which Ferrando was routed,
and many of his principal officers taken. After this defeat, the city
of Naples alone, with a few smaller places and princes of inferior
note, adhered to Ferrando, the greater part having submitted to John.
Jacopo Piccinino, after the victory, advised an immediate march upon
Naples; but John declined this, saying, he would first reduce the
remainder of the kingdom, and then attack the seat of government. This
resolution occasioned the failure of his enterprise; for he did not
consider how much more easily the members follow the head than the
head the members.

After his defeat, Ferrando took refuge in Naples, whither the
scattered remnants of his people followed him; and by soliciting his
friends, he obtained money and a small force. He sent again for
assistance to the pope and the duke, by both of whom he was supplied
more liberally and speedily than before; for they began to entertain
most serious apprehensions of his losing the kingdom. His hopes were
thus revived; and, marching from Naples, he regained his reputation in
his dominions, and soon obtained the places of which he had been
deprived. While the war was proceeding in the kingdom, a circumstance
occurred by which John of Anjou lost his influence, and all chance of
success in the enterprise. The Genoese had become so weary of the
haughty and avaricious dominion of the French, that they took arms
against the viceroy, and compelled him to seek refuge in the
castelletto; the Fregosi and the Adorni united in the enterprise
against him, and were assisted with money and troops by the duke of
Milan, both for the recovery and preservation of the government. At
the same time, King René coming with a fleet to the assistance of his
son, and hoping to recover Genoa by means of the castelletto, upon
landing his forces was so completely routed, that he was compelled to
return in disgrace to Provence. When the news of his father's defeat
reached Naples, John was greatly alarmed, but continued the war for a
time by the assistance of those barons who, being rebels, knew they
would obtain no terms from Ferrando. At length, after various trifling
occurrences, the two royal armies came to an engagement, in which John
was routed near Troia, in the year 1463. He was, however, less injured
by his defeat than by the desertion of Jacopo Piccinino, who joined
Ferrando; and, being abandoned by his troops, he was compelled to take
refuge in Istria, and thence withdrew to France. This war continued
four years. John's failure was attributable to negligence; for victory
was often within his grasp, but he did not take proper means to secure
it. The Florentines took no decisive part in this war. John, king of
Aragon, who succeeded upon the death of Alfonso, sent ambassadors to
request their assistance for his nephew Ferrando, in compliance with
the terms of the treaty recently made with his father Alfonso. The
Florentines replied, that they were under no obligation; that they did
not think proper to assist the son in a war commenced by the father
with his own forces; and that as it was begun without either their
counsel or knowledge, it must be continued and concluded without their
help. The ambassadors affirmed the engagement to be binding on the
Florentines, and themselves to be answerable for the event of the war;
and then in great anger left the city.

Thus with regard to external affairs, the Florentines continued
tranquil during this war; but the case was otherwise with their
domestic concerns, as will be particularly shown in the following

Niccolo Machiavelli