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Chapter 55


New occasions of war in Italy--Differences between the marquis of
Ferrara, and the Venetians--The king of Naples and the Florentines
attack the papal states--The pope's defensive arrangements--The
Neapolitan army routed by the papal forces--Progress of the
Venetians against the marquis of Ferrara--The pope makes peace,
and enters into a league against the Venetians--Operations of the
League against the Venetians--The Venetians routed at Bondeno--
Their losses--Disunion among the League--Lodovico Sforza makes
peace with the Venetians--Ratified by the other parties.

The invasion of the Turks had deferred the war which was about to
break forth from the anger of the pope and the Venetians at the peace
between the Florentines and the king. But as the beginning of that
invasion was unexpected and beneficial, its conclusion was equally
unlooked for and injurious; for Mahomet dying suddenly, dissensions
arose among his sons, and the forces which were in Puglia being
abandoned by their commander, surrendered Otranto to the king. The
fears which restrained the pope and the Venetians being thus removed,
everyone became apprehensive of new troubles. On the one hand, was the
league of the pope and the Venetians, and with them the Genoese,
Siennese, and other minor powers; on the other, the Florentines, the
king, and the duke, with whom were the Bolognese and many princes. The
Venetians wished to become lords of Ferrara, and thought they were
justified by circumstances in making the attempt, and hoping for a
favorable result. Their differences arose thus: the marquis of Ferrara
affirmed he was under no obligation to take salt from the Venetians,
or to admit their governor; the terms of convention between them
declaring, that after seventy years, the city was to be free from both
impositions. The Venetians replied, that so long as he held the
Polesine, he was bound to receive their salt and their governor. The
marquis refusing his consent, the Venetians considered themselves
justified in taking arms, and that the present moment offered a
suitable opportunity; for the pope was indignant against the
Florentines and the king; and to attach the pope still further, the
Count Girolamo, who was then at Venice, was received with all possible
respect; first admitted to the privileges of a citizen, and then
raised to the rank of a senator, the highest distinctions the Venetian
senate can confer. To prepare for the war, they levied new taxes, and
appointed to the command of the forces, Roberto da San Severino, who
being offended with Lodovico, governor of Milan, fled to Tortona,
whence, after occasioning some disturbances, he went to Genoa, and
while there, was sent for by the Venetians, and placed at the head of
their troops.

These circumstances becoming known to the opposite league, induced it
also to provide for war. The duke of Milan appointed as his general,
Federigo d'Urbino; the Florentines engaged Costanzo, lord of Pesaro;
and to sound the disposition of the pope, and know whether the
Venetians made war against Ferrara with his consent or not, King
Ferrando sent Alfonso, duke of Calabria, with his army across the
Tronto, and asked the pontiff's permission to pass into Lombardy to
assist the marquis, which was refused in the most peremptory manner.
The Florentines and the king, no longer doubtful about the pope's
intentions, determined to harass him, and thus either compel him to
take part with them, or throw such obstacles in his way, as would
prevent him from helping the Venetians, who had already taken the
field, attacked the marquis, overran his territory, and encamped
before Figaruolo, a fortress of the greatest importance. In pursuance
of the design of the Florentines and the king, the duke of Calabria,
by the assistance of the Colonna family (the Orsini had joined the
pope), plundered the country about Rome and committed great
devastation; while the Florentines, with Niccolo Vitelli, besieged and
took Citta di Castello, expelling Lorenzo Vitelli, who held it for the
pope, and placing Niccolo in it as prince.

The pope now found himself in very great straits; for the city of Rome
was disturbed by factions and the country covered with enemies. But
acting with courage and resolution, he appointed Roberto da Rimino to
take the command of his forces; and having sent for him to Rome, where
his troops were assembled, told him how great would be the honor, if
he could deliver the church from the king's forces, and the troubles
in which it was involved; how greatly indebted, not only himself, but
all his successors would be, and, that not mankind merely, but God
himself would be under obligations to him. The magnificent Roberto,
having considered the forces and preparations already made, advised
the pope to raise as numerous a body of infantry as possible, which
was done without delay. The duke of Calabria was at hand, and
constantly harassed the country up to the very gates of Rome, which so
roused the indignation of the citizens, that many offered their
assistance to Roberto, and all were thankfully received. The duke,
hearing of these preparations, withdrew a short distance from the
city, that in the belief of finding him gone, the magnificent Roberto
would not pursue him, and also in expectation of his brother Federigo,
whom their father had sent to him with additional forces. But Roberto,
finding himself nearly equal to the duke in cavalry, and superior in
infantry, marched boldly out of Rome and took a position within two
miles of the enemy. The duke, seeing his adversaries close upon him,
found he must either fight or disgracefully retire. To avoid a retreat
unbecoming a king's son, he resolved to face the enemy; and a battle
ensued which continued from morning till midday. In this engagement,
greater valor was exhibited on both sides than had been shown in any
other during the last fifty years, upward of a thousand dead being
left upon the field. The troops of the church were at length
victorious, for her numerous infantry so annoyed the ducal cavalry,
that they were compelled to retreat, and Alfonso himself would have
fallen into the hands of the enemy, had he not been rescued by a body
of Turks, who remained at Otranto, and were at that time in his
service. The lord of Rimino, after this victory, returned triumphantly
to Rome, but did not long enjoy the fruit of his valor; for having,
during the heat of the engagement, taken a copious draught of water,
he was seized with a flux, of which he very shortly afterward died.
The pope caused his funeral to be conducted with great pomp, and in a
few days, sent the Count Girolamo toward Citta di Castello to restore
it to Lorenzo, and also endeavor to gain Rimino, which being by
Roberto's death left to the care of his widow and a son who was quite
a boy, his holiness thought might be easily won; and this certainly
would have been the case, if the lady had not been defended by the
Florentines, who opposed him so effectually, as to prevent his success
against both Castello and Rimino.

While these things were in progress at Rome and in Romagna, the
Venetians took possession of Figaruolo and crossed the Po with their
forces. The camp of the duke of Milan and the marquis was in disorder;
for the count of Urbino having fallen ill, was carried to Bologna for
his recovery, but died. Thus the marquis's affairs were unfortunately
situated, while those of the Venetians gave them increasing hopes of
occupying Ferrara. The Florentines and the king of Naples used their
utmost endeavors to gain the pope to their views; and not having
succeeded by force, they threatened him with the council, which had
already been summoned by the emperor to assemble at Basle; and by
means of the imperial ambassadors, and the co-operation of the leading
cardinals, who were desirous of peace, the pope was compelled to turn
his attention toward effecting the pacification of Italy. With this
view, at the instigation of his fears, and with the conviction that
the aggrandizement of the Venetians would be the ruin of the church
and of Italy, he endeavored to make peace with the League, and sent
his nuncios to Naples, where a treaty was concluded for five years,
between the pope, the king, the duke of Milan, and the Florentines,
with an opening for the Venetians to join them if they thought proper.
When this was accomplished, the pope intimated to the Venetians, that
they must desist from war against Ferrara. They refused to comply, and
made preparations to prosecute their design with greater vigor than
they had hitherto done; and having routed the forces of the duke and
the marquis at Argenta, they approached Ferrara so closely as to pitch
their tents in the marquis's park.

The League found they must no longer delay rendering him efficient
assistance, and ordered the duke of Calabria to march to Ferrara with
his forces and those of the pope, the Florentine troops also moving in
the same direction. In order to direct the operations of the war with
greater efficiency, the League assembled a diet at Cremona, which was
attended by the pope's legate, the Count Girolamo, the duke of
Calabria, the Signor Lodovico Sforza, and Lorenzo de' Medici, with
many other Italian princes; and when the measures to be adopted were
fully discussed, having decided that the best way of relieving Ferrara
would be to effect a division of the enemy's forces, the League
desired Lodovico to attack the Venetians on the side of Milan, but
this he declined, for fear of bringing a war upon the duke's
territories, which it would be difficult to quell. It was therefore
resolved to proceed with the united forces of the League to Ferrara,
and having assembled four thousand cavalry and eight thousand
infantry, they went in pursuit of the Venetians, whose force amounted
to two thousand two hundred men at arms, and six thousand foot. They
first attacked the Venetian flotilla, then lying upon the river Po,
which they routed with the loss of above two hundred vessels, and took
prisoner Antonio Justiniano, the purveyor of the fleet. The Venetians,
finding all Italy united against them, endeavored to support their
reputation by engaging in their service the duke of Lorraine, who
joined them with two hundred men at arms: and having suffered so great
a destruction of their fleet, they sent him, with part of their army,
to keep their enemies at bay, and Roberto da San Severino to cross the
Adda with the remainder, and proceed to Milan, where they were to
raise the cry of "The duke and the Lady Bona," his mother; hoping by
this means to give a new aspect to affairs there, believing that
Lodovico and his government were generally unpopular. This attack at
first created great consternation, and roused the citizens in arms;
but eventually produced consequences unfavorable to the designs of the
Venetians; for Lodovico was now desirous to undertake what he had
refused to do at the entreaty of his allies. Leaving the marquis of
Ferrara to the defense of his own territories, he, with four thousand
horse and two thousand foot, and joined by the duke of Calabria with
twelve thousand horse and five thousand foot, entered the territory of
Bergamo, then Brescia, next that of Verona, and, in defiance of the
Venetians, plundered the whole country; for it was with the greatest
difficulty that Roberto and his forces could save the cities
themselves. In the meantime, the marquis of Ferrara had recovered a
great part of his territories; for the duke of Lorraine, by whom he
was attacked, having only at his command two thousand horse and one
thousand foot, could not withstand him. Hence, during the whole of
1483, the affairs of the League were prosperous.

The winter having passed quietly over, the armies again took the
field. To produce the greater impression upon the enemy, the League
united their whole force, and would easily have deprived the Venetians
of all they possessed in Lombardy, if the war had been conducted in
the same manner as during the preceding year; for by the departure of
the duke of Lorraine, whose term of service had expired, they were
reduced to six thousand horse and five thousand foot, while the allies
had thirteen thousand horse and five thousand foot at their disposal.
But, as is often the case where several of equal authority are joined
in command, their want of unity decided the victory to their enemies.
Federigo, marquis of Mantua, whose influence kept the duke of Calabria
and Lodovico Sforza within bounds, being dead, differences arose
between them which soon became jealousies. Giovan Galeazzo, duke of
Milan, was now of an age to take the government on himself, and had
married the daughter of the duke of Calabria, who wished his son-in-
law to exercise the government and not Lodovico; the latter, being
aware of the duke's design, studied to prevent him from effecting it.
The position of Lodovico being known to the Venetians, they thought
they could make it available for their own interests; and hoped, as
they had often before done, to recover in peace all they had lost by
war; and having secretly entered into treaty with Lodovico, the terms
were concluded in August, 1484. When this became known to the rest of
the allies, they were greatly dissatisfied, principally because they
found that the places won from the Venetians were to be restored; that
they were allowed to keep Rovigo and the Polesine, which they had
taken from the marquis of Ferrara, and besides this retain all the
pre-eminence and authority over Ferrara itself which they had formerly
possessed. Thus it was evident to everyone, they had been engaged in a
war which had cost vast sums of money, during the progress of which
they had acquired honor, and which was concluded with disgrace; for
the places wrested from the enemy were restored without themselves
recovering those they had lost. They were, however, compelled to
ratify the treaty, on account of the unsatisfactory state of their
finances, and because the faults and ambition of others had rendered
them unwilling to put their fortunes to further proof.

Niccolo Machiavelli