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    Chapter 39

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    Chapter 40
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    Discords of Florence--Jealousy excited against Neri di Gino
    Capponi--Baldaccio d'Anghiari murdered--Reform of government in
    favor of the Medici--Enterprises of Sforza and Piccinino--Death of
    Niccolo Piccinino--End of the war--Disturbances in Bologna--
    Annibale Bentivoglio slain by Battista Canneschi, and the latter
    by the people--Santi, supposed to be the son of Ercole
    Bentivoglio, is called to govern the city of Bologna--Discourse of
    Cosmo de' Medici to him--Perfidious designs of the duke of Milan
    against Sforza--General war in Italy--Losses of the duke of Milan
    --The duke has recourse to the count, who makes peace with him--
    Offers of the duke and the Venetians to the count--The Venetians
    furtively deprive the count of Cremona.

    While the affairs of Romagna proceeded thus, the city of Florence was
    not tranquil. Among the citizens of highest reputation in the
    government, was Neri di Gino Capponi, of whose influence Cosmo de'
    Medici had more apprehension than any other; for to the great
    authority which he possessed in the city was added his influence with
    the soldiery. Having been often leader of the Florentine forces he had
    won their affection by his courage and talents; and the remembrance of
    his own and his father's victories (the latter having taken Pisa, and
    he himself having overcome Niccolo Piccinino at Anghiari) caused him
    to be beloved by many, and feared by those who were averse to having
    associates in the government. Among the leaders of the Florentine army
    was Baldaccio d'Anghiari, an excellent soldier, for in those times
    there was not one in Italy who surpassed him in vigor either of body
    or mind; and possessing so much influence with the infantry, whose
    leader he had always been, many thought they would follow him wherever
    he chose to lead them. Baldaccio was the intimate friend of Neri, who
    loved him for his talents, of which he had been a constant witness.
    This excited great suspicion in the other citizens, who, thinking it
    alike dangerous either to discharge or retain him in their service,
    determined to destroy him, and fortune seemed to favor their design.
    Bartolommeo Orlandini was Gonfalonier of Justice; the same person who
    was sent to the defense of Marradi, when Niccolo Piccinino came into
    Tuscany, as we have related above, and so basely abandoned the pass,
    which by its nature was almost impregnable. So flagrant an instance of
    cowardice was very offensive to Baldaccio, who, on many occasions,
    both by words and letters, had contributed to make the disgraceful
    fact known to all. The shame and vexation of Bartolommeo were extreme,
    so that of all things he wished to avenge himself, thinking, with the
    death of his accuser, to efface the stain upon his character.

    This feeling of Bartolommeo Orlandini was known to other citizens, so
    that they easily persuaded him to put Baldaccio to death, and at one
    avenge himself, and deliver his country from a man whom they must
    either retain at great peril, or discharge to their greater confusion.
    Bartolommeo having therefore resolved to murder him, concealed in his
    own apartment at the palace several young men, all armed; and
    Baldaccio, entering the piazza, whither it was his daily custom to
    come, to confer with the magistrates concerning his command, the
    Gonfalonier sent for him, and he, without any suspicion, obeyed.
    Meeting him in the corridor, which leads to the chambers of the
    Signory, they took a few turns together discoursing of his office,
    when being close to the door of the apartments in which the assassins
    were concealed, Bartolommeo gave them the signal, upon which they
    rushed out, and finding Baldaccio alone and unarmed, they slew him,
    and threw the body out of the window which looks from the palace
    toward the dogano, or customhouse. It was thence carried into the
    piazza, where the head being severed, it remained the whole day
    exposed to the gaze of the people. Baldaccio was married, and had only
    one child, a boy, who survived him but a short time; and his wife,
    Annalena, thus deprived of both husband and offspring, rejected every
    proposal for a second union. She converted her house into a monastery,
    to which she withdrew, and, being joined by many noble ladies, lived
    in holy seclusion to the end of her days. The convent she founded, and
    which is named from her, preserves her story in perpetual remembrance.

    This circumstance served to weaken Neri's power, and made him lose
    both influence and friends. Nor did this satisfy the citizens who held
    the reins of government; for it being ten years since their
    acquisition of power, and the authority of the Balia expired, many
    began to exhibit more boldness, both in words and deeds, than seemed
    consistent with their safety; and the leaders of the party judged,
    that if they wished to preserve their influence, some means must be
    adopted to increase it. To this end, in 1444 the councils created a
    new Balia, which reformed the government, gave authority to a limited
    number to create the Signory, re-established the Chancery of
    Reformations, depriving Filippo Peruzzi of his office of president in
    it, and appointing another wholly under their influence. They
    prolonged the term of exile to those who were banished; put Giovanni
    di Simone Vespucci in prison; deprived the Accoppiatori of their
    enemies of the honors of government, and with them the sons of Piero
    Baroncelli, the whole of the Seragli, Bartolommeo Fortini, Francesco
    Castellani, and many others. By these means they strengthened their
    authority and influence, and humbled their enemies, or those whom they
    suspected of being so.

    Having thus recovered and confirmed their government, they then turned
    their attention to external affairs. As observed above, Niccolo
    Piccinino was abandoned by King Alfonso, and the count having been
    aggrandized by the assistance of the Florentines, attacked and routed
    him near Fermo, where, after losing nearly the whole of his troops,
    Niccolo fled to Montecchio, which he fortified in such a manner that
    in a short time he had again assembled so large an army as enabled him
    to make head against the count; particularly as the season was now
    come for them to withdraw into quarters. His principal endeavor during
    the winter was to collect troops, and in this he was assisted both by
    the pope and Alfonso; so that, upon the approach of spring, both
    leaders took the field, and Niccolo, being the strongest, reduced the
    count to extreme necessity, and would have conquered him if the duke
    had not contrived to frustrate his designs. Filippo sent to beg he
    would come to him with all speed, for he wished to have a personal
    interview, that he might communicate matters of the highest
    importance. Niccolo, anxious to hear them, abandoned a certain victory
    for a very doubtful advantage; and leaving his son Francesco to
    command the army, hastened to Milan. The count being informed of the
    circumstance, would not let slip the opportunity of fighting in the
    absence of Niccolo; and, coming to an engagement near the castle of
    Monte Loro, routed the father's forces and took the son prisoner.
    Niccolo having arrived at Milan saw that the duke had duped him, and
    learning the defeat of his army and the capture of his son, he died of
    grief in 1445, at the age of sixty-four, having been a brave rather
    than a fortunate leader. He left two sons, Francesco and Jacopo, who,
    possessing less talent than their father, were still more unfortunate;
    so that the arms of the family became almost annihilated, while those
    of Sforza, being favored by fortune, attained augmented glory. The
    pope, seeing Niccolo's army defeated and himself dead, having little
    hope of assistance from Aragon, sought peace with the count, and, by
    the intervention of the Florentines, succeeded. Of La Marca, the pope
    only retained Osimo, Fabriano, and Recanati; all the rest remained in
    the count's possession.

    Peace being restored to La Marca, the whole of Italy would have
    obtained repose had it not been disturbed by the Bolognese. There were
    in Bologna two very powerful families, the Canneschi and the
    Bentivogli. Of the latter, Annibale was the head; of the former,
    Battista, who, as a means of confirming their mutual confidence, had
    contracted family alliances; but among men who have the same objects
    of ambition in view, it is easy to form connections, but difficult to
    establish friendship. The Bolognese were in a league with the
    Venetians and Florentines, which had been effected by the influence of
    Annibale, after they had driven out Francesco Piccinino; and Battista,
    knowing how earnestly the duke desired to have the city favorable to
    him, proposed to assassinate Annibale, and put Bologna into his power.
    This being agreed upon, on the twenty-fifth of June, 1445, he attacked
    Annibale with his men, and slew him: and then, with shouts of "the
    duke, the duke," rode through the city. The Venetian and Florentine
    commissaries were in Bologna at the time, and at first kept themselves
    within doors; but finding that the people, instead of favoring the
    murderers, assembled in the piazza, armed in great numbers, mourning
    the death of Annibale, they joined them; and, assembling what forces
    they could, attacked the Canneschi, soon overpowered them, slew part,
    and drove the remainder out of the city. Battista, unable to effect
    his escape, or his enemies his capture, took refuge in a vault of his
    house, used for storing grain. The friends of the Bentivogli, having
    sought him all day, and knowing he had not left the city, so terrified
    his servants, that one of them, a groom, disclosed the place of his
    concealment, and being drawn forth in complete armor he was slain, his
    body dragged about the streets, and afterward burned. Thus the duke's
    authority was sufficient to prompt the enterprise, but his force was
    not at hand to support it.

    The tumults being settled by the death of Battista, and the flight of
    the Canneschi, Bologna still remained in the greatest confusion. There
    not being one of the house of Bentivogli of age to govern, Annibale
    having left but one son whose name was Giovanni, only six years old,
    it was apprehended that disunion would ensue among the Bentivogli, and
    cause the return of the Cannecshi, and the ruin both of their own
    country and party. While in this state of apprehension, Francesco,
    sometime Count di Poppi, being at Bologna, informed the rulers of the
    city, that if they wished to be governed by one of the blood of
    Annibale, he could tell them of one; and related that about twenty
    years ago, Ercole, cousin of Annibale, being at Poppi, became
    acquainted with a girl of the castle, of whom was born a son named
    Santi, whom Ercole, on many occasions acknowledged to be his own, nor
    could he deny it, for whoever knew him and saw the boy, could not fail
    to observe the strongest resemblance. The citizens gave credit to the
    tale, and immediately sent to Florence to see the young man, and
    procure of Cosmo and Neri permission to return with him to Bologna.
    The reputed father of Santi was dead, and he lived under the
    protection of his uncle, whose name was Antonio da Cascese. Antonio
    was rich, childless, and a friend of Neri, to whom the matter becoming
    known, he thought it ought neither to be despised nor too hastily
    accepted; and that it would be best for Santi and those who had been
    sent from Bologna, to confer in the presence of Cosmo. They were
    accordingly introduced, and Santi was not merely honored but adored by
    them, so greatly were they influenced by the spirit of party. However,
    nothing was done at the time, except that Cosmo, taking Santi apart,
    spoke to him thus: "No one can better advise you in this matter than
    yourself; for you have to take that course to which your own mind
    prompts you. If you be the son of Ercole Bentivoglio, you will
    naturally aspire to those pursuits which are proper to your family and
    worthy of your father; but if you be the son of Agnolo da Cascese, you
    will remain in Florence, and basely spend the remainder of your days
    in some branch of the woolen trade." These words greatly influenced
    the youth, who, though he had at first almost refused to adopt such a
    course, said, he would submit himself wholly to what Cosmo and Neri
    should determine. They, assenting to the request of the Bolognese,
    provided suitable apparel, horses, and servants; and in a few days he
    was escorted by a numerous cavalcade to Bologna, where the
    guardianship of Annibale's son and of the city were placed in his
    hands. He conducted himself so prudently, that although all his
    ancestors had been slain by their enemies, he lived in peace and died
    respected by everyone.

    After the death of Niccolo Piccinino and the peace of La Marca,
    Filippo wishing to procure a leader of his forces, secretly negotiated
    with Ciarpellone, one of the principal captains of Count Francesco,
    and arrangements having been made, Ciarpellone asked permission to go
    to Milan to take possession of certain castles which had been given
    him by Filippo during the late wars. The count suspecting what was in
    progress, in order to prevent the duke from accommodating himself at
    his expense, caused Ciarpellone to be arrested, and soon afterward put
    to death; alleging that he had been detected plotting against him.
    Filippo was highly annoyed and indignant, which the Venetians and the
    Florentines were glad to observe, for their greatest fear was, that
    the duke and the count should become friends.

    The duke's anger caused the renewal of war in La Marca. Gismondo
    Malatesti, lord of Rimino, being son-in-law of the count, expected to
    obtain Pesaro; but the count, having obtained possession, gave it to
    his brother, Alessandro. Gismondo, offended at this, was still further
    exasperated at finding that Federigo di Montefeltro, his enemy, by the
    count's assistance, gained possession of Urbino. He therefore joined
    the duke, and solicited the pope and the king to make war against the
    count, who, to give Gismondo a taste of the war he so much desired,
    resolved to take the initiative, and attacked him immediately. Thus
    Romagna and La Marca were again in complete confusion, for Filippo,
    the king, and the pope, sent powerful assistance to Gismondo, while
    the Florentines and Venetians supplied the count with money, though
    not with men. Nor was Filippo satisfied with the war in Romagna, but
    also desired to take Cremona and Pontremoli from the count; but
    Pontremoli was defended by the Florentines, and Cremona by the
    Venetians. Thus the war was renewed in Lombardy, and after several
    engagements in the Cremonese, Francesco Piccinino, the leader of the
    duke's forces, was routed at Casale, by Micheletto and the Venetian
    troops. This victory gave the Venetians hope of obtaining the duke's
    dominions. They sent a commissary to Cremona, attacked the
    Ghiaradadda, and took the whole of it, except Crema. Then crossing the
    Adda, they overran the country as far as Milan. Upon this the duke had
    recourse to Alfonso, and entreated his assistance, pointing out the
    danger his kingdom would incur if Lombardy were to fall into the hands
    of the Venetians. Alfonso promised to send him troops, but apprised
    him of the difficulties which would attend their passage, without the
    permission of the count.

    Filippo, driven to extremity, then had recourse to Francesco, and
    begged he would not abandon his father-in-law, now that he had become
    old and blind. The count was offended with the duke for making war
    against him; but he was jealous of the increasing greatness of the
    Venetians, and he himself began to be in want of money, for the League
    supplied him sparingly. The Florentines, being no longer in fear of
    the duke, ceased to stand in need of the count, and the Venetians
    desired his ruin; for they thought Lombardy could not be taken from
    him except by this means; yet while Filippo sought to gain him over,
    and offered him the entire command of his forces, on condition that he
    should restore La Marca to the pope and quit the Venetian alliance,
    ambassadors were sent to him by that republic, promising him Milan, if
    they took it, and the perpetual command of their forces, if he would
    push the war in La Marca, and prevent Alfonso from sending troops into
    Lombardy. The offers of the Venetians were great, as also were their
    claims upon him, having begun the war in order to save him from losing
    Cremona; while the injuries received from the duke were fresh in his
    memory, and his promises had lost all influence, still the count
    hesitated; for on the one hand, were to be considered his obligations
    to the League, his pledged faith, their recent services, and his hopes
    of the future, all which had their influence on him; on the other,
    were the entreaties of his father-in-law, and above all, the bane
    which he feared would be concealed under the specious offers of the
    Venetians, for he doubted not, that both with regard to Milan and
    their other promises, if they were victorious, he would be at their
    mercy, to which no prudent men would ever submit if he could avoid it.
    These difficulties in the way of his forming a determination, were
    obviated by the ambition of the Venetians, who, seeing a chance of
    occupying Cremona, from secret intelligence with that city, under a
    different pretext, sent troops into its neighborhood; but the affair
    was discovered by those who commanded Cremona for the count, and
    measures were adopted which prevented its success. Thus without
    obtaining Cremona, they lost the count's friendship, who, now being
    free from all other considerations, joined the duke.
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