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    Chapter 31

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    Chapter 32
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    BOOK V


    The vicissitudes of empires--The state of Italy--The military
    factions of Sforza and Braccio--The Bracceschi and the Sforzeschi
    attack the pope, who is expelled by the Romans--War between the
    pope and the duke of Milan--The Florentines and the Venetians
    assist the pope--Peace between the pope and the duke of Milan--
    Tyranny practiced by the party favorable to the Medici.

    It may be observed, that provinces amid the vicissitudes to which they
    are subject, pass from order into confusion, and afterward recur to a
    state of order again; for the nature of mundane affairs not allowing
    them to continue in an even course, when they have arrived at their
    greatest perfection, they soon begin to decline. In the same manner,
    having been reduced by disorder, and sunk to their utmost state of
    depression, unable to descend lower, they, of necessity, reascend; and
    thus from good they gradually decline to evil, and from evil again
    return to good. The reason is, that valor produces peace; peace,
    repose; repose, disorder; disorder, ruin; so from disorder order
    springs; from order virtue, and from this, glory and good fortune.
    Hence, wise men have observed, that the age of literary excellence is
    subsequent to that of distinction in arms; and that in cities and
    provinces, great warriors are produced before philosophers. Arms
    having secured victory, and victory peace, the buoyant vigor of the
    martial mind cannot be enfeebled by a more excusable indulgence than
    that of letters; nor can indolence, with any greater or more dangerous
    deceit, enter a well regulated community. Cato was aware of this when
    the philosophers, Diogenes and Carneades, were sent ambassadors to the
    senate by the Athenians; for perceiving with what earnest admiration
    the Roman youth began to follow them, and knowing the evils that might
    result to his country from this specious idleness, he enacted that no
    philosopher should be allowed to enter Rome. Provinces by this means
    sink to ruin, from which, men's sufferings having made them wiser,
    they again recur to order, if they be not overwhelmed by some
    extraordinary force. These causes made Italy, first under the ancient
    Tuscans, and afterward under the Romans, by turns happy and unhappy;
    and although nothing has subsequently arisen from the ruins of Rome at
    all corresponding to her ancient greatness (which under a well-
    organized monarchy might have been gloriously effected), still there
    was so much bravery and intelligence in some of the new cities and
    governments that afterward sprang up, that although none ever acquired
    dominion over the rest, they were, nevertheless, so balanced and
    regulated among themselves, as to enable them to live in freedom, and
    defend their country from the barbarians.

    Among these governments, the Florentines, although they possessed a
    smaller extent of territory, were not inferior to any in power and
    authority; for being situated in the middle of Italy, wealthy, and
    prepared for action, they either defended themselves against such as
    thought proper to assail them, or decided victory in favor of those to
    whom they became allies. From the valor, therefore, of these new
    governments, if no seasons occurred of long-continued peace, neither
    were any exposed to the calamities of war; for that cannot be called
    peace in which states frequently assail each other with arms, nor can
    those be considered wars in which no men are slain, cities plundered,
    or sovereignties overthrown; for the practice of arms fell into such a
    state of decay, that wars were commenced without fear, continued
    without danger, and concluded without loss. Thus the military energy
    which is in other countries exhausted by a long peace, was wasted in
    Italy by the contemptible manner in which hostilities were carried on,
    as will be clearly seen in the events to be described from 1434 to
    1494, from which it will appear how the barbarians were again admitted
    into Italy, and she again sunk under subjection to them. Although the
    transactions of our princes at home and abroad will not be viewed with
    admiration of their virtue and greatness like those of the ancients,
    perhaps they may on other accounts be regarded with no less interest,
    seeing what masses of high spirited people were kept in restraint by
    such weak and disorderly forces. And if, in detailing the events which
    took place in this wasted world, we shall not have to record the
    bravery of the soldier, the prudence of the general, or the patriotism
    of the citizen, it will be seen with what artifice, deceit, and
    cunning, princes, warriors, and leaders of republics conducted
    themselves, to support a reputation they never deserved. This,
    perhaps, will not be less useful than a knowledge of ancient history;
    for, if the latter excites the liberal mind to imitation, the former
    will show what ought to be avoided and decried.

    Italy was reduced to such a condition by her rulers, that when, by
    consent of her princes, peace was restored, it was soon disturbed by
    those who retained their armies, so that glory was not gained by war
    nor repose by peace. Thus when the league and the duke of Milan agreed
    to lay aside their arms in 1433, the soldiers, resolved upon war,
    directed their efforts against the church. There were at this time two
    factions or armed parties in Italy, the Sforzesca and the Braccesca.
    The leader of the former was the Count Francesco, the son of Sforza,
    and of the latter, Niccolo Piccinino and Niccolo Fortebraccio. Under
    the banner of one or other of these parties almost all the forces of
    Italy were assembled. Of the two, the Sforzesca was in greatest
    repute, as well from the bravery of the count himself, as from the
    promise which the duke of Milan had made him of his natural daughter,
    Madonna Bianca, the prospect of which alliance greatly strengthened
    his influence. After the peace of Lombardy, these forces, from various
    causes attacked Pope Eugenius. Niccolo Fortebraccio was instigated by
    the ancient enmity which Braccio had always entertained against the
    church; the count was induced by ambition: so that Niccolo assailed
    Rome, and the count took possession of La Marca.

    The Romans, in order to avoid the war, drove Pope Eugenius from their
    city: and he, having with difficulty escaped, came to Florence, where
    seeing the imminent danger of his situation, being abandoned by the
    princes (for they were unwilling again to take up arms in his cause,
    after having been so anxious to lay them aside), he came to terms with
    the count, and ceded to him the sovereignty of La Marca, although, to
    the injury of having occupied it, he had added insult; for in signing
    the place, from which he addressed letters to his agents, he said in
    Latin, according to the Latin custom, /Ex Girfalco nostro Firmiano,
    invito Petro et Paulo/. Neither was he satisfied with this concession,
    but insisted upon being appointed Gonfalonier of the church, which was
    also granted; so much more was Eugenius alarmed at the prospect of a
    dangerous war than of an ignominious peace. The count, having been
    thus been reconciled to the pontiff, attacked Niccolo Fortebraccio,
    and during many months various encounters took place between them,
    from all which greater injury resulted to the pope and his subjects,
    than to either of the belligerents. At length, by the intervention of
    the duke of Milan, an arrangement, by way of a truce, was made, by
    which both became princes in the territories of the church.

    The war thus extinguished at Rome was rekindled in Romagna by Batista
    da Canneto, who at Bologna slew some of the family of the Grifoni, and
    expelled from the city the governor who resided there for the pope,
    along with others who were opposed to him. To enable himself to retain
    the government, he applied for assistance to Filippo; and the pope, to
    avenge himself for the injury, sought the aid of the Venetians and
    Florentines. Both parties obtained assistance, so that very soon two
    large armies were on foot in Romagna. Niccolo Piccinino commanded for
    the duke, Gattamelata and Niccolo da Tolentino for the Venetians and
    Florentines. They met near Imola, where a battle ensued, in which the
    Florentines and Venetians were routed, and Niccolo da Tolentino was
    sent prisoner to Milan where, either through grief for his loss or by
    some unfair means, he died in a few days.

    The duke, on this victory, either being exhausted by the late wars, or
    thinking the League after their defeat would not be in haste to resume
    hostilities, did not pursue his good fortune, and thus gave the pope
    and his colleagues time to recover themselves. They therefore
    appointed the Count Francesco for their leader, and undertook to drive
    Niccolo Fortebraccio from the territories of the church, and thus
    terminate the war which had been commenced in favor of the pontiff.
    The Romans, finding the pope supported by so large an army, sought a
    reconciliation with him, and being successful, admitted his commissary
    into the city. Among the places possessed by Niccolo Fortebraccio,
    were Tivoli, Montefiascone, Citta di Castello, and Ascesi, to the last
    of which, not being able to keep the field, he fled, and the count
    besieged him there. Niccolo's brave defense making it probable that
    the war would be of considerable duration, the duke deemed to
    necessary to prevent the League from obtaining the victory, and said
    that if this were not effected he would very soon have to look at the
    defense of his own territories. Resolving to divert the count from the
    siege, he commanded Niccolo Piccinino to pass into Tuscany by way of
    Romagna; and the League, thinking it more important to defend Tuscany
    than to occupy Ascesi, ordered the count to prevent the passage of
    Niccolo, who was already, with his army, at Furli. The count
    accordingly moved with his forces, and came to Cesena, having left the
    war of La Marca and the care of his own territories to his brother
    Lione; and while Niccolo Piccinino was endeavoring to pass by, and the
    count to prevent him, Fortebraccio attacked Lione with great bravery,
    made him prisoner, routed his forces, and pursuing the advantage of
    his victory, at once possessed himself of many places in La Marca.
    This circumstance greatly perplexed the count, who thought he had lost
    all his territories; so, leaving part of his force to check Piccinino,
    with the remainder he pursued Fortebraccio, whom he attacked and
    conquered. Fortebraccio was taken prisoner in the battle, and soon
    after died of his wounds. This victory restored to the pontiff all the
    places that had been taken from him by Fortebraccio, and compelled the
    duke of Milan to sue for peace, which was concluded by the
    intercession of Niccolo da Esta, marquis of Ferrara; the duke
    restoring to the church the places he had taken from her, and his
    forces retiring into Lombardy. Batista da Canneto, as in the case with
    all who retain authority only by the consent and forces of another,
    when the duke's people had quitted Romagna, unable with his own power
    to keep possession of Bologna, fled, and Antonio Bentivogli, the head
    of the opposite party, returned to his country.

    All this took place during the exile of Cosmo, after whose return,
    those who had restored him, and a great number of persons injured by
    the opposite party, resolved at all events to make themselves sure of
    the government; and the Signory for the months of November and
    December, not content with what their predecessors had done in favor
    of their party extended the term and changed the residences of several
    who were banished, and increased the number of exiles. In addition to
    these evils, it was observed that citizens were more annoyed on
    account of their wealth, their family connections or private
    animosities, than for the sake of the party to which they adhered, so
    that if these prescriptions had been accompanied with bloodshed, they
    would have resembled those of Octavius and Sylla, though in reality
    they were not without some stains; for Antonio di Bernardo Guadagni
    was beheaded, and four other citizens, among whom were Zanobi dei
    Belfratelli and Cosmo Barbadori, passing the confines to which they
    were limited, proceeded to Venice, where the Venetians, valuing the
    friendship of Cosmo de' Medici more than their own honor, sent them
    prisoners to him, and they were basely put to death. This circumstance
    greatly increased the influence of that party, and struck their
    enemies with terror, finding that such a powerful republic would so
    humble itself to the Florentines. This, however, was supposed to have
    been done, not so much out of kindness to Cosmo, as to excite
    dissensions in Florence, and by means of bloodshed make greater
    certainty of division among the citizens, for the Venetians knew there
    was no other obstacle to their ambition so great as the union of her

    The city being cleared of the enemies, or suspected enemies of the
    state, those in possession of the government now began to strengthen
    their party by conferring benefits upon such as were in a condition to
    serve them, and the family of the Alberti, with all who had been
    banished by the former government, were recalled. All the nobility,
    with few exceptions, were reduced to the ranks of the people, and the
    possessions of the exiles were divided among themselves, upon each
    paying a small acknowledgment. They then fortified themselves with new
    laws and provisos, made new Squittini, withdrawing the names of their
    adversaries from the purses, and filling them with those of their
    friends. Taking advice from the ruin of their enemies, they considered
    that to allow the great offices to be filled by mere chance of
    drawing, did not afford the government sufficient security, they
    therefore resolved that the magistrates possessing the power of life
    and death should always be chosen from among the leaders of their own
    party, and therefore that the /Accoppiatori/, or persons selected for
    the imborsation of the new Squittini, with the Signory who had to
    retire from office, should make the new appointments. They gave to
    eight of the guard authority to proceed capitally, and provided that
    the exiles, when their term of banishment was complete, should not be
    allowed to return, unless from the Signory and Colleagues, which were
    thirty-seven in number, the consent of thirty-four was obtained. It
    was made unlawful to write to or to receive letters from them; every
    word, sign, or action that gave offense to the ruling party was
    punished with the utmost rigor; and if there was still in Florence any
    suspected person whom these regulations did not reach, he was
    oppressed with taxes imposed for the occasion. Thus in a short time,
    having expelled or impoverished the whole of the adverse party, they
    established themselves firmly in the government. Not to be destitute
    of external assistance, and to deprive others of it, who might use it
    against themselves, they entered into a league, offensive and
    defensive, with the pope, the Venetians, and the duke of Milan.
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