Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 57


The pope becomes attached to the Florentines--The Genoese seize
Serezanello--They are routed by the Florentines--Serezana
surrenders--Genoa submits to the duke of Milan--War between the
Venetians and the Dutch--Osimo revolts from the church--Count
Girolamo Riario, lord of Furli, slain by a conspiracy--Galeotto,
lord of Faenza, is murdered by the treachery of his wife--The
government of the city offered to the Florentines--Disturbances in
Sienna--Death of Lorenzo de' Medici--His eulogy--Establishment of
his family--Estates bought by Lorenzo--His anxiety for the defense
of Florence--His taste for arts and literature--The university of
Pisa--The estimation of Lorenzo by other princes.

The pope having observed in the course of the war, how promptly and
earnestly the Florentines adhered to their alliances, although he had
previously been opposed to them from his attachment to the Genoese,
and the assistance they had rendered to the king, now evinced a more
amicable disposition, and received their ambassadors with greater
favor than previously. Lorenzo de' Medici, being made acquainted with
this change of feeling, encouraged it with the utmost solicitude; for
he thought it would be of great advantage, if to the friendship of the
king he could add that of the pontiff. The pope had a son named
Francesco, upon whom designing to bestow states and attach friends who
might be useful to him after his own death, saw no safer connection in
Italy than Lorenzo's, and therefore induced the latter to give him one
of his daughters in marriage. Having formed this alliance, the pope
desired the Genoese to concede Serezana to the Florentines, insisting
that they had no right to detain what Agostino had sold, nor was
Agostino justified in making over to the Bank of San Giorgio what was
not his own. However, his holiness did not succeed with them; for the
Genoese, during these transactions at Rome, armed several vessels,
and, unknown to the Florentines, landed three thousand foot, attacked
Serezanello, situated above Serezana, plundered and burnt the town
near it, and then, directing their artillery against the fortress,
fired upon it with their utmost energy. This assault was new and
unexpected by the Florentines, who immediately assembled their forces
under Virginio Orsino, at Pisa, and complained to the pope, that while
he was endeavoring to establish peace, the Genoese had renewed their
attack upon them. They then sent Piero Corsini to Lucca, that by his
presence he might keep the city faithful; and Pagolantonio Soderini to
Venice, to learn how that republic was disposed. They demanded
assistance of the king and of Signor Lodovico, but obtained it from
neither; for the king expressed apprehensions of the Turkish fleet,
and Lodovico made excuses, but sent no aid. Thus the Florentines in
their own wars are almost always obliged to stand alone, and find no
friends to assist them with the same readiness they practice toward
others. Nor did they, on this desertion of their allies (it being
nothing new to them) give way to despondency; for having assembled a
large army under Jacopo Guicciardini and Pietro Vettori, they sent it
against the enemy, who had encamped upon the river Magra, at the same
time pressing Serezanello with mines and every species of attack. The
commissaries being resolved to relieve the place, an engagement
ensued, when the Genoese were routed, and Lodovico dal Fiesco, with
several other principal men, made prisoners. The Serezanesi were not
so depressed at their defeat as to be willing to surrender, but
obstinately prepared for their defense, while the Florentine
commissaries proceeded with their operations, and instances of valor
occurred on both sides. The siege being protracted by a variety of
fortune, Lorenzo de' Medici resolved to go to the camp, and on his
arrival the troops acquired fresh courage, while that of the enemy
seemed to fail; for perceiving the obstinacy of the Florentines'
attack, and the delay of the Genoese in coming to their relief, they
surrendered to Lorenzo, without asking conditions, and none were
treated with severity except two or three who were leaders of the
rebellion. During the siege, Lodovico had sent troops to Pontremoli,
as if with an intention of assisting the Florentines; but having
secret correspondence in Genoa, a party was raised there, who, by the
aid of these forces, gave the city to the duke of Milan.

At this time the Dutch made war upon the Venetians, and Boccolino of
Osimo, in the Marca, caused that place to revolt from the pope, and
assumed the sovereignty. After a variety of fortune, he was induced to
restore the city to the pontiff and come to Florence, where, under the
protection of Lorenzo de' Medici, by whose advice he had been
prevailed upon to submit, he lived long and respected. He afterward
went to Milan, but did not experience such generous treatment; for
Lodovico caused him to be put to death. The Venetians were routed by
the Dutch, near the city of Trento, and Roberto da S. Severino, their
captain, was slain. After this defeat, the Venetians, with their usual
good fortune, made peace with the Dutch, not as vanquished, but as
conquerors, so honorable were the terms they obtained.

About this time, there arose serious troubles in Romagna. Francesco
d'Orso, of Furli, was a man of great authority in that city, and
became suspected by the count Girolamo, who often threatened him. He
consequently, living under great apprehensions, was advised by his
friends to provide for his own safety, by the immediate adoption of
such a course as would relieve him from all further fear of the count.
Having considered the matter and resolved to attempt it, they fixed
upon the market day, at Furli, as most suitable for their purpose; for
many of their friends being sure to come from the country, they might
make use of their services without having to bring them expressly for
the occasion. It was the month of May, when most Italians take supper
by daylight. The conspirators thought the most convenient hour would
be after the count had finished his repast; for his household being
then at their meal, he would remain in the chamber almost alone.
Having fixed upon the hour, Francesco went to the count's residence,
left his companions in the hall, proceeded to his apartment, and
desired an attendant to say he wished for an interview. He was
admitted, and after a few words of pretended communication, slew him,
and calling to his associates, killed the attendant. The governor of
the place coming by accident to speak with the count, and entering the
apartment with a few of his people, was also slain. After this
slaughter, and in the midst of a great tumult, the count's body was
thrown from the window, and with the cry of "church and liberty," they
roused the people (who hated the avarice and cruelty of the count) to
arms, and having plundered his house, made the Countess Caterina and
her children prisoners. The fortress alone had to be taken to bring
the enterprise to a successful issue; but the Castellan would not
consent to its surrender. They begged the countess would desire him to
comply with their wish, which she promised to do, if they would allow
her to go into the fortress, leaving her children as security for the
performance of her promise. The conspirators trusted her, and
permitted her to enter; but as soon as she was within, she threatened
them with death and every kind of torture in revenge for the murder of
her husband; and upon their menacing her with the death of her
children, she said she had the means of getting more. Finding they
were not supported by the pope, and that Lodovico Sforza, uncle to the
countess, had sent forces to her assistance, the conspirators became
terrified, and taking with them whatever property they could carry
off, they fled to Citta di Castello. The countess recovered the state,
and avenged the death of her husband with the utmost cruelty. The
Florentines hearing of the count's death, took occasion to recover the
fortress of Piancaldoli, of which he had formerly deprived them, and,
on sending some forces, captured it; but Cecco, the famous engineer,
lost his life during the siege.

To this disturbance in Romagna, another in that province, no less
important, has to be added. Galeotto, lord of Faenza, had married the
daughter of Giovanni Bentivogli, prince of Bologna. She, either
through jealousy or ill treatment by her husband, or from the
depravity of her own nature, hated him to such a degree, that she
determined to deprive him of his possessions and his life; and
pretending sickness, she took to her bed, where, having induced
Galeotto to visit her, he was slain by assassins, whom she had
concealed for that purpose in the apartment. She had acquainted her
father with her design, and he hoped, on his son-in-law's death, to
become lord of Faenza. A great tumult arose as soon as the murder was
known, the widow, with an infant son, fled into the fortress, the
people took up arms, Giovanni Bentivogli, with a condottiere of the
duke of Milan, named Bergamino, engaged for the occasion, entered
Faenza with a considerable force, and Antonio Boscoli, the Florentine
commissary, was also there. These leaders being together, and
discoursing of the government of the place, the men of Val di Lamona,
who had risen unanimously upon learning what had occurred, attacked
Giovanni and Bergamino, the latter of whom they slew, made the former
prisoner, and raising the cry of "Astorre and the Florentines,"
offered the city to the commissary. These events being known at
Florence, gave general offense; however, they set Giovanni and his
daughter at liberty, and by the universal desire of the people, took
the city and Astorre under their protection. Besides these, after the
principal differences of the greater powers were composed, during
several years tumults prevailed in Romagna, the Marca, and Sienna,
which, as they are unimportant, it will be needless to recount. When
the duke of Calabria, after the war of 1478, had left the country, the
distractions of Sienna became more frequent, and after many changes,
in which, first the plebeians, and then the nobility, were victorious,
the latter and length maintained the superiority, and among them
Pandolfo and Jacopo Petrucci obtained the greatest influence, so that
the former being distinguished for prudence and the latter for
resolution, they became almost princes in the city.

The Florentines after the war of Serezana, lived in great prosperity
until 1492, when Lorenzo de' Medici died; for he having put a stop to
the internal wars of Italy, and by his wisdom and authority
established peace, turned his thoughts to the advancement of his own
and the city's interests, and married Piero, his eldest son, to
Alfonsina, daughter of the Cavaliere Orsino. He caused Giovanni, his
second son, to be raised to the dignity of cardinal. This was the more
remarkable from its being unprecedented; for he was only fourteen
years of age when admitted to the college; and became the medium by
which his family attained to the highest earthly glory. He was unable
to make any particular provision for Guiliano, his third son, on
account of his tender years, and the shortness of his own life. Of his
daughters, one married Jacopo Salviati; another, Francesco Cibo; the
third, Piero Ridolfi; and the fourth, whom, in order to keep his house
united, he had married to Giovanni de' Medici, died. In his commercial
affairs he was very unfortunate, from the improper conduct of his
agents, who in all their proceedings assumed the deportment of princes
rather than of private persons; so that in many places, much of his
property was wasted, and he had to be relieved by his country with
large sums of money. To avoid similar inconvenience, he withdrew from
mercantile pursuits, and invested his property in land and houses, as
being less liable to vicissitude. In the districts of Prato, Pisa, and
the Val di Pesa, he purchased extensively, and erected buildings,
which for magnificence and utility, were quite of regal character. He
next undertook the improvement of the city, and as many parts were
unoccupied by buildings, he caused new streets to be erected in them,
of great beauty, and thus enlarged the accommodation of the
inhabitants. To enjoy his power in security and repose, and conquer or
resist his enemies at a distance, in the direction of Bologna he
fortified the castle of Firenzuola, situated in the midst of the
Appennines; toward Sienna he commenced the restoration and
fortification of the Poggio Imperiale; and he shut out the enemy in
the direction of Genoa, by the acquisition of Pietra Santa and
Serezana. For the greater safety of the city, he kept in pay the
Baglioni, at Perugia, and the Vitelli, at Citta di Castello, and held
the government of Faenza wholly in his own power; all which greatly
contributed to the repose and prosperity of Florence. In peaceful
times, he frequently entertained the people with feasts, and
exhibitions of various events and triumphs of antiquity; his object
being to keep the city abundantly supplied, the people united, and the
nobility honored. He was a great admirer of excellence in the arts,
and a patron of literary men, of which Agnolo da Montepulciano,
Cristofero Landini, and Demetrius Chalcondylas, a Greek, may afford
sufficient proofs. On this account, Count Giovanni della Mirandola, a
man of almost supernatural genius, after visiting every court of
Europe, induced by the munificence of Lorenzo, established his abode
at Florence. He took great delight in architecture, music, and poetry,
many of his comments and poetical compositions still remaining. To
facilitate the study of literature to the youth of Florence, he opened
a university at Pisa, which was conducted by the most distinguished
men in Italy. For Mariano da Chinazano, a friar of the order of St.
Augustine, and an excellent preacher, he built a monastery in the
neighborhood of Florence. He enjoyed much favor both from fortune and
from the Almighty; all his enterprises were brought to a prosperous
termination, while his enemies were unfortunate; for, besides the
conspiracy of the Pazzi, an attempt was made to murder him in the
Carmine, by Batista Frescobaldi, and a similar one by Baldinetto da
Pistoja, at his villa; but these persons, with their confederates,
came to the end their crimes deserved. His skill, prudence, and
fortune, were acknowledged with admiration, not only by the princes of
Italy, but by those of distant countries; for Matthias, king of
Hungary, gave him many proofs of his regard; the sultan sent
ambassadors to him with valuable presents, and the Turkish emperor
placed in his hands Bernardo Bandini, the murderer of his brother.
These circumstances raised his fame throughout Italy, and his
reputation for prudence constantly increased; for in council he was
eloquent and acute, wise in determination, and prompt and resolute in
execution. Nor can vices be alleged against him to sully so many
virtues; though he was fond of women, pleased with the company of
facetious and satirical men, and amused with the games of the nursery,
more than seemed consistent with so great a character; for he was
frequently seen playing with his children, and partaking of their
infantine sports; so that whoever considers this gravity and
cheerfulness, will find united in him dispositions which seem almost
incompatible with each other. In his later years, he was greatly
afflicted; besides the gout, he was troubled with excruciating pains
in the stomach, of which he died in April, 1492, in the forty-fourth
year of his age; nor was there ever in Florence, or even in Italy, one
so celebrated for wisdom, or for whose loss such universal regret was
felt. As from his death the greatest devastation would shortly ensue,
the heavens gave many evident tokens of its approach; among other
signs, the highest pinnacle of the church of Santa Reparata was struck
with lightning, and great part of it thrown down, to the terror and
amazement of everyone. The citizens and all the princes of Italy
mourned for him, and sent their ambassadors to Florence, to condole
with the city on the occasion; and the justness of their grief was
shortly after apparent; for being deprived of his counsel, his
survivors were unable either to satisfy or restrain the ambition of
Lodovico Sforza, tutor to the duke of Milan; and hence, soon after the
death of Lorenzo, those evil plants began to germinate, which in a
little time ruined Italy, and continue to keep her in desolation.

Niccolo Machiavelli