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    Chapter 42

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    Chapter 43
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    Prosecution of the war between the count and the Milanese--The
    Milanese reduced to extremity--The people rise against the
    magistrates--Milan surrenders to the count--League between the new
    duke of Milan and the Florentines, and between the king of Naples
    and the Venetians--Venetian and Neapolitan ambassadors at Florence
    --Answer of Cosmo de' Medici to the Venetian ambassador--
    Preparations of the Venetians and the king of Naples for the war--
    The Venetians excite disturbances in Bologna--Florence prepares
    for war--The emperor, Frederick III. at Florence--War in Lombardy
    between the duke of Milan and the Venetians--Ferrando, son of the
    king of Naples, marches into Tuscany against the Florentines.

    The ambassadors were at Reggio when they heard that the count had
    become lord of Milan; for as soon as the truce had expired, he
    approached the city with his forces, hoping quickly to get possession
    of it in spite of the Venetians, who could bring no relief except from
    the side of the Adda, which route he could easily obstruct, and
    therefore had no apprehension (being then winter) of their arrival,
    and he trusted that, before the return of spring, he would be
    victorious, particularly, as by the death of Francesco Piccinino,
    there remained only Jacopo his brother, to command the Milanese. The
    Venetians had sent an ambassador to Milan to confirm the citizens in
    their resolution of defense, promising them powerful and immediate
    aid. During the winter a few slight skirmishes had taken place between
    the count and the Venetians; but on the approach of milder weather,
    the latter, under Pandolfo Malatesti, halted with their army upon the
    Adda, and considering whether, in order to succor the Milanese, they
    ought to risk a battle, Pardolfo, their general, aware of the count's
    abilities, and the courage of his army, said it would be unadvisable
    to do so, and that, under the circumstances, it was needless, for the
    count, being in great want of forage, could not keep the field, and
    must soon retire. He therefore advised them to remain encamped, to
    keep the Milanese in hope, and prevent them from surrendering. This
    advice was approved by the Venetians, both as being safe, and because,
    by keeping the Milanese in this necessity, they might be the sooner
    compelled to submit to their dominion; for they felt quite sure that
    the injuries they had received would always prevent their submission
    to the count.

    In the meantime, the Milanese were reduced to the utmost misery; and
    as the city usually abounded with poor, many died of hunger in the
    streets; hence arose complaints and disturbances in several parts,
    which alarmed the magistrates, and compelled them to use their utmost
    exertions to prevent popular meetings. The multitude are always slow
    to resolve on commotion; but the resolution once formed, any trivial
    circumstance excites it to action. Two men in humble life, talking
    together near the Porta Nuova of the calamities of the city, their own
    misery, and the means that might be adopted for their relief, others
    beginning to congregate, there was soon collected a large crowd; in
    consequence of it a report was spread that the neighborhood of Porta
    Nuova had risen against the government. Upon this, all the lower
    orders, who only waited for an example, assembled in arms, and chose
    Gasparre da Vicomercato to be their leader. They then proceeded to the
    place where the magistrates were assembled, and attacked them so
    impetuously that all who did not escape by flight were slain: among
    the number, as being considered a principal cause of the famine, and
    gratified at their distress, fell Lionardo Veniero, the Venetian
    ambassador. Having thus almost become masters of the city, they
    considered what course was next to be adopted to escape from the
    horrors surrounding them, and to procure peace. A feeling universally
    prevailed, that as they could not preserve their own liberty, they
    ought to submit to a prince who could defend them. Some proposed King
    Alfonso, some the duke of Savoy, and others the king of France, but
    none mentioned the count, so great was the general indignation against
    him. However, disagreeing with the rest, Gasparre da Vicomercato
    proposed him, and explained in detail that if they desired relief from
    war, no other plan was open, since the people of Milan required a
    certain and immediate peace, and not a distant hope of succor. He
    apologized for the count's proceedings, accused the Venetians, and all
    the powers of Italy, of which some from ambition and others from
    avarice were averse to their possessing freedom. Having to dispose of
    their liberty, it would be preferable, he said, to obey one who knew
    and could defend them; so that, by their servitude they might obtain
    peace, and not bring upon themselves greater evils and more dangerous
    wars. He was listened to with the most profound attention; and, having
    concluded his harangue, it was unanimously resolved by the assembly,
    that the count should be called in, and Gasparre was appointed to wait
    upon him and signify their desire. By the people's command he conveyed
    the pleasing and happy intelligence to the count, who heard it with
    the utmost satisfaction, and entered Milan as prince on the twenty-
    sixth of February, 1450, where he was received with the greatest
    possible joy by those who, only a short time previously had heaped on
    him all the slanders that hatred could inspire.

    The news of this event reaching Florence, orders were immediately sent
    to the envoys who were upon the way to Milan, that instead of treating
    for his alliance with the count, they should congratulate the duke
    upon his victory; they, arranging accordingly, had a most honorable
    reception, and were treated with all possible respect; for the duke
    well knew that in all Italy he could not find braver or more faithful
    friends, to defend him against the power of the Venetians, than the
    Florentines, who, being no longer in fear of the house of Visconti,
    found themselves opposed by the Aragonese and Venetians; for the
    Aragonese princes of Naples were jealous of the friendship which the
    Florentines had always evinced for the family of France; and the
    Venetians seeing the ancient enmity of the Florentines against the
    Visconti transferred to themselves, resolved to injure them as much as
    possible; for they knew how pertinaciously and invariably they had
    persecuted the Lombard princes. These considerations caused the new
    duke willingly to join the Florentines, and united the Venetians and
    King Alfonso against their common enemies; impelling them at the same
    time to hostilities, the king against the Florentines, and the
    Venetians against the duke, who, being fresh in the government, would,
    they imagined, be unable to resist them, even with all the aid he
    could obtain.

    But as the league between the Florentines and the Venetians still
    continued, and as the king, after the war of Piombino, had made peace
    with the former, it seemed indecent to commence an open rupture until
    some plausible reason could be assigned in justification of offensive
    measures. On this account each sent ambassadors to Florence, who, on
    the part of their sovereigns, signified that the league formed between
    them was made not for injury to any, but solely for the mutual defense
    of their states. The Venetian ambassador then complained that the
    Florentines had allowed Alessandro, the duke's brother, to pass into
    Lombardy with his forces; and besides this, had assisted and advised
    in the treaty made between the duke and the marquis of Mantua, matters
    which he declared to be injurious to the Venetians, and inconsistent
    with the friendship hitherto subsisting between the two governments;
    amicably reminding them, that one who inflicts unmerited injury, gives
    others just ground of hostility, and that those who break a peace may
    expect war. The Signory appointed Cosmo de' Medici to reply to what
    had been said by the Venetian ambassador, and in a long and excellent
    speech he recounted the numerous advantages conferred by the city on
    the Venetian republic; showed what an extent of dominion they had
    acquired by the money, forces, and counsel of the Florentines, and
    reminded him that, although the friendship had originated with the
    Florentines, they had never given occasion of enmity; and as they
    desired peace, they greatly rejoiced when the treaty was made, if it
    had been entered into for the sake of peace, and not of war. True it
    was, he wondered much at the remarks which had been made, seeing that
    such light and trivial matters should give offense to so great a
    republic; but if they were worthy of notice he must have it
    universally understood, that the Florentines wished their country to
    be free and open to all; and that the duke's character was such, that
    if he desired the friendship of the marquis of Mantua, he had no need
    of anyone's favor or advice. He therefore feared that these cavils
    were produced by some latent motive, which it was not thought proper
    to disclose. Be this as it might, they would freely declare to all,
    that in the same proportion as the friendship of the Florentines was
    beneficial their enmity could be destructive.

    The matter was hushed up; and the ambassadors, on their departure,
    appeared perfectly satisfied. But the league between the king and the
    Venetians made the Florentines and the duke rather apprehend war than
    hope for a long continuance of peace. They therefore entered into an
    alliance, and at the same time the enmity of the Venetians transpired
    by a treaty with the Siennese, and the expulsion of all Florentine
    subjects from their cities and territories. Shortly after this,
    Alfonso did the same, without any consideration of the peace made the
    year previous, and not having even the shadow of an excuse. The
    Venetians attempted to take Bologna, and having armed the emigrants,
    and united to them a considerable force, introduced them into the city
    by night through one of the common sewers. No sooner had they entered,
    than they raised a cry, by which Santi Bentivogli, being awakened, was
    told that the whole city was in possession of the rebels. But though
    many advised him to escape, saying that he could not save the city by
    his stay, he determined to confront the danger, and taking arms
    encouraged his followers, assembled a few friends, attacked and routed
    part of the rebels, slew many more, and drove the remainder out of the
    city. By this act of bravery all agreed he had fully proved himself a
    genuine scion of the house of the Bentivogli.

    These events and demonstrations gave the Florentines an earnest of
    approaching war; they consequently followed their usual practice on
    similar occasions, and created the Council of Ten. They engaged new
    condottieri, sent ambassadors to Rome, Naples, Venice, Milan, and
    Sienna, to demand assistance from their friends, gain information
    about those they suspected, decide such as were wavering, and discover
    the designs of the foe. From the pope they obtained only general
    expressions of an amicable disposition and admonitions to peace; from
    the king, empty excuses for having expelled the Florentines, and
    offers of safe conduct for whoever should demand it; and although he
    endeavored, as much as possible, to conceal every indication of his
    hostile designs, the ambassadors felt convinced of his unfriendly
    disposition, and observed many preparations tending to the injury of
    the republic. The League with the duke was strengthened by mutual
    obligations, and through his means they became friends with the
    Genoese, the old differences with them respecting reprisals, and other
    small matters of dispute, being composed, although the Venetians used
    every possible means to prevent it, and entreated the emperor of
    Constantinople to expel all Florentines from his dominions; so fierce
    was the animosity with which they entered on this war, and so powerful
    their lust of dominion, that without the least hesitation they sought
    the destruction of those who had been the occasion of their own power.
    The emperor, however, refused to listen to them. The Venetian senate
    forbade the Florentine ambassadors to enter their territories,
    alleging, that being in league with the king, they could not entertain
    them without his concurrence. The Siennese received the ambassadors
    with fair words, fearing their own ruin before the League could assist
    them, and therefore endeavored to appease the powers whose attack they
    were unable to resist. The Venetians and the king (as was then
    conjectured) were disposed to send ambassadors to Florence to justify
    the war. But the Venetian envoy was not allowed to enter the
    Florentine dominions, and the king's ambassador, being unwilling to
    perform his office alone, the embassy was not completed; and thus the
    Venetians learned, that however little they might esteem the
    Florentines, the latter had still less respect for them.

    In the midst of these fears, the emperor, Frederick III., came into
    Italy to be crowned. On the thirtieth of January, 1451, he entered
    Florence with fifteen hundred horse, and was most honorably received
    by the Signory. He remained in the city till the sixth of February,
    and then proceeded to Rome for his coronation, where, having been
    solemnly consecrated, and his marriage celebrated with the empress,
    who had come to Rome by sea, he returned to Germany, and again passed
    through Florence in May, with the same honors as upon his arrival. On
    his return, having derived some benefits from the marquis of Mantua,
    he conceded to him Modena and Reggio. In the meantime, the Florentines
    did not fail to prepare themselves for immediate war; and to augment
    their influence, and strike the enemy with terror, they, in
    conjunction with the duke, entered into alliance with the king of
    France for the mutual defense of their states. This treaty was
    published with great pomp throughout all Italy.

    The month of May, 1452, having arrived, the Venetians thought it not
    desirable to defer any longer their attack upon the duke, and with
    sixteen thousand horse and six thousand foot assailed his territories
    in the direction of Lodi, while the marquis of Montferrat, instigated
    either by his own ambition or the entreaties of the Venetians, did the
    same on the side of Alexandria. The duke assembled a force of eighteen
    thousand cavalry and three thousand infantry, garrisoned Alexandria
    and Lodi, and all the other places where the enemy might annoy them.
    He then attacked the Brescian territory, and greatly harassed the
    Venetians; while both parties alike plundered the country and ravaged
    the smaller towns. Having defeated the marquis of Montferrat at
    Alexandria, the duke was able to unite his whole force against the
    Venetians and invade their territory.

    While the war in Lombardy proceeded thus, giving rise to various
    trifling incidents unworthy of recital, King Alfonso and the
    Florentines carried on hostilities in Tuscany, but in a similarly
    inefficient manner, evincing no greater talent, and incurring no
    greater danger. Ferrando, the illegitimate son of Alfonso, entered the
    country with twelve thousand troops, under the command of Federigo,
    lord of Urbino. Their first attempt was to attack Fojano, in the Val
    di Chiane; for, having the Siennese in their favor, they entered the
    Florentine territory in that direction. The walls of the castle were
    weak, and it was small, and consequently poorly manned, but the
    garrison were, among the soldiers of that period, considered brave and
    faithful. Two hundred infantry were also sent by the Signory for its
    defense. Before this castle, thus provided, Ferrando sat down, and
    either from the valor of its defenders or his own deficiencies,
    thirty-six days elapsed before he took it. This interval enabled the
    city to make better provision for places of greater importance, to
    collect forces and conclude more effective arrangements than had
    hitherto been made. The enemy next proceeded into the district of
    Chiane, where they attacked two small towns, the property of private
    citizens, but could not capture them. They then encamped before the
    Castellina, a fortress upon the borders of the Chianti, within ten
    miles of Sienna, weak from its defective construction, and still more
    so by its situation; but, notwithstanding these defects, the
    assailants were compelled to retire in disgrace, after having lain
    before it forty-four days. So formidable were those armies, and so
    perilous those wars, that places now abandoned as untenable were then
    defended as impregnable.

    While Ferrando was encamped in the Chianti he made many incursions,
    and took considerable booty from the Florentine territories, extending
    his depredations within six miles of the city, to the great alarm and
    injury of the people, who at this time, having sent their forces to
    the number of eight thousand soldiers under Astorre da Faenza and
    Gismondo Malatesti toward Castel di Colle, kept them at a distance
    from the enemy, lest they should be compelled to an engagement; for
    they considered that so long as they were not beaten in a pitched
    battle, they could not be vanquished in the war generally; for small
    castles, when lost, were recovered at the peace, and larger places
    were in no danger, because the enemy would not venture to attack them.
    The king had also a fleet of about twenty vessels, comprising galleys
    and smaller craft, which lay off Pisa, and during the siege of
    Castellina were moored near the Rocca di Vada, which, from the
    negligence of the governor, he took, and then harassed the surrounding
    country. However, this annoyance was easily removed by a few soldiers
    sent by the Florentines to Campiglia, and who confined the enemy to
    the coast.
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