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Chapter 53


The Florentines prepare for war against the pope--They appeal to a
future council--Papal and Neapolitan movements against the
Florentines--The Venetians refuse to assist the Florentines--
Disturbances in Milan--Genoa revolts from the duke--Futile
endeavors to effect peace with the pope--The Florentines repulse
their enemies from the territory of Pisa--They attack the papal
states--The papal forces routed upon the borders of the Lake of

The Florentines now prepared for war, by raising money and collecting
as large a force as possible. Being in league with the duke of Milan
and the Venetians, they applied to both for assistance. As the pope
had proved himself a wolf rather than a shepherd, to avoid being
devoured under false accusations, they justified their cause with all
available arguments, and filled Italy with accounts of the treachery
practiced against their government, exposing the impiety and injustice
of the pontiff, and assured the world that the pontificate which he
had wickedly attained, he would as impiously fill; for he had sent
those whom he had advanced to the highest order of prelacy, in the
company of traitors and parricides, to commit the most horrid
treachery in the church in the midst of divine service and during the
celebration of the holy sacrament, and that then, having failed to
murder the citizens, change the government, and plunder the city,
according to his intention, he had suspended the performance of all
religious offices, and injuriously menaced and injured the republic
with pontifical maledictions. But if God was just, and violence was
offensive to him, he would be displeased with that of his viceregent,
and allow his injured people who were not admitted to communion with
the latter, to offer up their prayers to himself. The Florentines,
therefore, instead of receiving or obeying the interdict, compelled
the priests to perform divine service, assembled a council in Florence
of all the Tuscan prelates under their jurisdiction, and appealed
against the injuries suffered from the pontiff to a future general

The pope did not neglect to assign reasons in his own justification,
and maintained it was the duty of a pontiff to suppress tyranny,
depress the wicked, and exalt the good; and that this ought to be done
by every available means; but that secular princes had no right to
detain cardinals, hang bishops, murder, mangle, and drag about the
bodies of priests, destroying without distinction the innocent with
the guilty.

Notwithstanding these complaints and accusations, the Florentines
restored to the pope the cardinal whom they had detained, in return
for which he immediately assailed them with his own forces and those
of the king. The two armies, under the command of Alfonso, eldest son
of Ferrando, and duke of Calabria, who had as his general, Federigo,
count of Urbino, entered the Chianti, by permission of the Siennese,
who sided with the enemy, occupied Radda with many other fortresses,
and having plundered the country, besieged the Castellina. The
Florentines were greatly alarmed at these attacks, being almost
destitute of forces, and finding their friends slow to assist; for
though the duke sent them aid, the Venetians denied all obligation to
support the Florentines in their private quarrels, since the
animosities of individuals were not to be defended at the public
expense. The Florentines, in order to induce the Venetians to take a
more correct view of the case, sent Tommaso Soderini as their
ambassador to the senate, and, in the meantime, engaged forces, and
appointed Ercole, marquis of Ferrara, to the command of their army.
While these preparations were being made, the Castellina was so hard
pressed by the enemy, that the inhabitants, despairing of relief,
surrendered, after having sustained a siege of forty-two days. The
enemy then directed their course toward Arezzo, and encamped before
San Savino. The Florentine army being now in order, went to meet them,
and having approached within three miles, caused such annoyance, that
Federigo d'Urbino demanded a truce for a few days, which was granted,
but proved so disadvantageous to the Florentines, that those who had
made the request were astonished at having obtained it; for, had it
been refused, they would have been compelled to retire in disgrace.
Having gained these few days to recruit themselves, as soon as they
were expired, they took the castle in the presence of their enemies.
Winter being now come, the forces of the pope and king retired for
convenient quarters to the Siennese territory. The Florentines also
withdrew to a more commodious situation, and the marquis of Ferrara,
having done little for himself and less for others, returned to his
own territories.

At this time, Genoa withdrew from the dominion of Milan, under the
following circumstances. Galeazzo, at his death, left a son, Giovan
Galeazzo, who being too young to undertake the government, dissensions
arose between Sforza, Lodovico, Ottaviano, and Ascanio, his uncles,
and the lady Bona, his mother, each of whom desired the guardianship
of the young duke. By the advice and mediation of Tommaso Soderini,
who was then Florentine ambassador at the court of Milan, and of Cecco
Simonetta, who had been secretary to Galeazzo, the lady Bona
prevailed. The uncles fled, Ottaviano was drowned in crossing the
Adda; the rest were banished to various places, together with Roberto
da San Severino, who in these disputes had deserted the duchess and
joined the uncles of the duke. The troubles in Tuscany, which
immediately followed, gave these princes hope that the new state of
things would present opportunities for their advantage; they therefore
quitted the places to which their exile limited them, and each
endeavored to return home. King Ferrando, finding the Florentines had
obtained assistance from none but the Milanese, took occasion to give
the duchess so much occupation in her own government, as to render her
unable to contribute to their assistance. By means of Prospero Adorno,
the Signor Roberto, and the rebellious uncles of the duke, he caused
Genoa to throw off the Milanese yoke. The Castelletto was the only
place left; confiding in which, the duchess sent a strong force to
recover the city, but it was routed by the enemy; and perceiving the
danger which might arise to her son and herself if the war were
continued, Tuscany being in confusion, and the Florentines, in whom
alone she had hope, themselves in trouble, she determined, as she
could not retain Genoa in subjection, to secure it as an ally; and
agreed with Battistino Fregoso, the enemy of Prospero Adorno, to give
him the Castelletto, and make him prince of Genoa, on condition that
he should expel Prospero, and do nothing in favor of her son's uncles.
Upon this agreement, Battistino, by the assistance of the Castelletto
and of his friends, became lord of Genoa; and according to the custom
of the city, took the title of Doge. The Sforzeschi and the Signor
Roberto, being thus expelled by the Genoese, came with their forces
into Lunigiana, and the pope and the king, perceiving the troubles of
Lombardy to be composed, took occasion with them to annoy Tuscany in
the Pisan territory, that the Florentines might be weakened by
dividing their forces. At the close of winter they ordered Roberto da
San Severino to leave Lunigiana and march thither, which he did, and
with great tumult plundered many fortresses, and overran the country
around Pisa.

At this time, ambassadors came to Florence from the emperor, the king
of France, and the king of Hungary, who were sent by their princes to
the pontiff. They solicited the Florentines also to send ambassadors
to the pope, and promised to use their utmost exertion to obtain for
them an advantageous peace. The Florentines did not refuse to make
trial, both for the sake of publicly justifying their proceedings, and
because they were really desirous of peace. Accordingly, the
ambassadors were sent, but returned without coming to any conclusion
of their differences. The Florentines, to avail themselves of the
influence of the king of France, since they were attacked by one part
of the Italians and abandoned by the other, sent to him as their
ambassador, Donato Acciajuoli, a distinguished Latin and Greek
scholar, whose ancestors had always ranked high in the city, but while
on his journey he died at Milan. To relieve his surviving family and
pay a deserved tribute to his memory, he was honorably buried at the
public expense, provision was made for his sons, and suitable marriage
portions given to his daughters, and Guid' Antonio Vespucci, a man
well acquainted with pontifical and imperial affairs, was sent as
ambassador to the king in his stead.

The attack of Signor Roberto upon the Pisan territory, being
unexpected, greatly perplexed the Florentines; for having to resist
the foe in the direction of Sienna, they knew not how to provide for
the places about Pisa. To keep the Lucchese faithful, and prevent them
from furnishing the enemy either with money or provisions, they sent
as ambassador Piero di Gino Capponi, who was received with so much
jealousy, on account of the hatred which that city always cherishes
against the Florentines from former injuries and constant fear, that
he was on many occasions in danger of being put to death by the mob;
and thus his mission gave fresh cause of animosity rather than of
union. The Florentines recalled the marquis of Ferrara, and engaged
the marquis of Mantua; they also as earnestly requested the Venetians
to send them Count Carlo, son of Braccio, and Deifobo, son of Count
Jacopo, and after many delays, they complied; for having made a truce
with the Turks, they had no excuse to justify a refusal, and could not
break through the obligation of the League without the utmost
disgrace. The counts, Carlo and Deifobo, came with a good force, and
being joined by all that could be spared from the army, which, under
the marquis of Ferrara, held in check the duke of Calabria, proceeded
toward Pisa, to meet Signor Roberto, who was with his troops near the
river Serchio, and who, though he had expressed his intention of
awaiting their arrival, withdrew to the camp at Lunigiana, which he
had quitted upon coming into the Pisan territory, while Count Carlo
recovered all the places that had been taken by the enemy in that

The Florentines, being thus relieved from the attack in the direction
of Pisa, assembled the whole force between Colle and Santo Geminiano.
But the army, on the arrival of Count Carlo, being composed of
Sforzeschi and Bracceschi, their hereditary feuds soon broke forth,
and it was thought that if they remained long in company, they would
turn their arms against each other. It was therefore determined, as
the smaller evil, to divide them; to send one party, under Count
Carlo, into the district of Perugia, and establish the other at
Poggibonzi, where they formed a strong encampment in order to prevent
the enemy from penetrating the Florentine territory. By this they also
hoped to compel the enemy to divide their forces; for Count Carlo was
understood to have many partisans in Perugia, and it was therefore
expected, either that he would occupy the place, or that the pope
would be compelled to send a large body of men for its defense. To
reduce the pontiff to greater necessity, they ordered Niccolo Vitelli,
who had been expelled from Citta di Castello, where his enemy Lorenzo
Vitelli commanded, to lead a force against that place, with the view
of driving out his adversary and withdrawing it from obedience to the
pope. At the beginning of the campaign, fortune seemed to favor the
Florentines; for Count Carlo made rapid advances in the Perugino, and
Niccolo Vitelli, though unable to enter Castello, was superior in the
field, and plundered the surrounding country without opposition. The
forces also, at Poggibonzi, constantly overran the country up to the
walls of Sienna. These hopes, however, were not realized; for in the
first place, Count Carlo died, while in the fullest tide of success;
though the consequences of this would have been less detrimental to
the Florentines, had not the victory to which it gave occasion, been
nullified by the misconduct of others. The death of the count being
known, the forces of the church, which had already assembled in
Perugia, conceived hopes of overcoming the Florentines, and encamped
upon the lake, within three miles of the enemy. On the other side,
Jacopo Guicciardini, commissary to the army, by the advice of Roberto
da Rimino, who, after the death of Count Carlo, was the principal
commander, knowing the ground of their sanguine expectations,
determined to meet them, and coming to an engagement near the lake,
upon the site of the memorable rout of the Romans, by Hannibal, the
Carthaginian general, the papal forces were vanquished. The news of
the victory, which did great honor to the commanders, diffused
universal joy at Florence, and would have ensured a favorable
termination of the campaign, had not the disorders which arose in the
army at Poggibonzi thrown all into confusion; for the advantage
obtained by the valor of the one, was more than counterbalanced by the
disgraceful proceedings of the other. Having made considerable booty
in the Siennese territory, quarrels arose about the division of it
between the marquis of Mantua and the marquis of Ferrara, who, coming
to arms, assailed each other with the utmost fury; and the Florentines
seeing they could no longer avail themselves of the services of both,
allowed the marquis of Ferrara and his men to return home.

Niccolo Machiavelli