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    Chapter 46

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    Chapter 47
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    CHAPTER II

    The duke of Milan becomes lord of Genoa--The king of Naples and
    the duke of Milan endeavor to secure their dominions to their
    heirs--Jacopo Piccinino honorably received at Milan, and shortly
    afterward murdered at Naples--Fruitless endeavors of Pius II. to
    excite Christendom against the Turks--Death of Francesco Sforza,
    duke of Milan--Perfidious counsel given to Piero de' Medici by
    Diotisalvi Neroni--Conspiracy of Diotisalvi and others against
    Piero--Futile attempts to appease the disorders--Public spectacles
    --Projects of the conspirators against Piero de' Medici--Niccolo
    Fedini discloses to Piero the plots of his enemies.

    While Florence and Italy were in this condition, Louis XI. of France
    was involved in very serious troubles with his barons, who, with the
    assistance of Francis, duke of Brittany, and Charles, duke of
    Burgundy, were in arms against him. This attack was so serious, that
    he was unable to render further assistance to John of Anjou in his
    enterprise against Genoa and Naples; and, standing in need of all the
    forces he could raise, he gave over Savona (which still remained in
    the power of the French) to the duke of Milan, and also intimated,
    that if he wished, he had his permission to undertake the conquest of
    Genoa. Francesco accepted the proposal, and with the influence
    afforded by the king's friendship, and the assistance of the Adorni,
    he became lord of Genoa. In acknowledgment of this benefit, he sent
    fifteen hundred horse into France for the king's service, under the
    command of Galeazzo, his eldest son. Thus Ferrando of Aragon and
    Francesco Sforza became, the latter, duke of Lombardy and prince of
    Genoa, and the former, sovereign of the whole kingdom of Naples. Their
    families being allied by marriage, they thought they might so confirm
    their power as to secure to themselves its enjoyment during life, and
    at their deaths, its unencumbered reversion to their heirs. To attain
    this end, they considered it necessary that the king should remove all
    ground of apprehension from those barons who had offended him in the
    war of John of Anjou, and that the duke should extirpate the adherents
    of the Bracceschi, the natural enemies of his family, who, under
    Jacopo Piccinino, had attained the highest reputation. The latter was
    now the first general in Italy, and possessing no territory, he
    naturally excited the apprehension of all who had dominions, and
    especially of the duke, who, conscious of what he had himself done,
    thought he could neither enjoy his own estate in safety, nor leave
    them with any degree of security to his son during Jacopo's lifetime.
    The king, therefore, strenuously endeavored to come to terms with his
    barons, and using his utmost ingenuity to secure them, succeeded in
    his object; for they perceived their ruin to be inevitable if they
    continued in war with their sovereign, though from submission and
    confidence in him, they would still have reason for apprehension.
    Mankind are always most eager to avoid a certain evil; and hence
    inferior powers are easily deceived by princes. The barons, conscious
    of the danger of continuing the war, trusted the king's promises, and
    having placed themselves in his hands, they were soon after destroyed
    in various ways, and under a variety of pretexts. This alarmed Jacopo
    Piccinino, who was with his forces at Sulmona; and to deprive the king
    of the opportunity of treating him similarly, he endeavored, by the
    mediation of his friends, to be reconciled with the duke, who, by the
    most liberal offers, induced Jacopo to visit him at Milan, accompanied
    by only a hundred horse.

    Jacopo had served many years with his father and brother, first under
    Duke Filippo, and afterward under the Milanese republic, so that by
    frequent intercourse with the citizens he had acquired many friends
    and universal popularity, which present circumstances tended to
    increase; for the prosperity and newly acquired power of the
    Sforzeschi had occasioned envy, while Jacopo's misfortunes and long
    absence had given rise to compassion and a great desire to see him.
    These various feelings were displayed upon his arrival; for nearly all
    the nobility went to meet him; the streets through which he passed
    were filled with citizens, anxious to catch a glimpse of him, while
    shouts of "The Bracceschi! the Bracceschi!" resounded on all sides.
    These honors accelerated his ruin; for the duke's apprehensions
    increased his desire of destroying him; and to effect this with the
    least possible suspicion, Jacopo's marriage with Drusiana, the duke's
    natural daughter, was now celebrated. The duke then arranged with
    Ferrando to take him into pay, with the title of captain of his
    forces, and give him 100,000 florins for his maintenance. After this
    agreement, Jacopo, accompanied by a ducal ambassador and his wife
    Drusiana, proceeded to Naples, where he was honorably and joyfully
    received, and for many days entertained with every kind of festivity;
    but having asked permission to go to Sulmona, where his forces were,
    the king invited him to a banquet in the castle, at the conclusion of
    which he and his son Francesco were imprisoned, and shortly afterward
    put to death. It was thus our Italian princes, fearing those virtues
    in others which they themselves did not possess, extirpated them; and
    hence the country became a prey to the efforts of those by whom it was
    not long afterward oppressed and ruined.

    At this time, Pope Pius II. having settled the affairs of Romagna, and
    witnessing a universal peace, thought it a suitable opportunity to
    lead the Christians against the Turks, and adopted measures similar to
    those which his predecessors had used. All the princes promised
    assistance either in men or money; while Matthias, king of Hungary,
    and Charles, duke of Burgundy, intimated their intention of joining
    the enterprise in person, and were by the pope appointed leaders of
    the expedition. The pontiff was so full of expectation, that he left
    Rome and proceeded to Ancona, where it had been arranged that the
    whole army should be assembled, and the Venetians engaged to send
    ships thither to convey the forces to Sclavonia. Upon the arrival of
    the pope in that city, there was soon such a concourse of people, that
    in a few days all the provisions it contained, or that could be
    procured from the neighborhood, were consumed, and famine began to
    impend. Besides this, there was no money to provide those who were in
    want of it, nor arms to furnish such as were without them. Neither
    Matthias nor Charles made their appearance. The Venetians sent a
    captain with some galleys, but rather for ostentation and the sake of
    keeping their word, than for the purpose of conveying troops. During
    this position of affairs, the pope, being old and infirm, died, and
    the assembled troops returned to their homes. The death of the pontiff
    occurred in 1465, and Paul II. of Venetian origin, was chosen to
    succeed him; and that nearly all the principalities of Italy might
    change their rulers about the same period, in the following year
    Francesco Sforza, duke of Milan, also died, having occupied the
    dukedom sixteen years, and Galleazzo, his son, succeeded him.

    The death of this prince infused redoubled energy into the Florentine
    dissensions, and caused them to produce more prompt effects than they
    would otherwise have done. Upon the demise of Cosmo, his son Piero,
    being heir to the wealth and government of his father, called to his
    assistance Diotisalvi Neroni, a man of great influence and the highest
    reputation, in whom Cosmo reposed so much confidence that just before
    his death he recommended Piero to be wholly guided by him, both with
    regard to the government of the city and the management of his
    fortune. Piero acquired Diotisalvi with the opinion Cosmo entertained
    of him, and said that as he wished to obey his father, though now no
    more, as he always had while alive, he should consult him concerning
    both his patrimony and the city. Beginning with his private affairs,
    he caused an account of all his property, liabilities, and assets, to
    be placed in Diotisalvi's hands, that, with an entire acquaintance
    with the state of his affairs, he might be able to afford suitable
    advice, and the latter promised to use the utmost care. Upon
    examination of these accounts the affairs were found to be in great
    disorder, and Diotisalvi, instigated rather by his own ambition than
    by attachment to Piero or gratitude to Cosmo, thought he might without
    difficulty deprive him of both the reputation and the splendor which
    his father had left him as his inheritance. In order to realize his
    views, he waited upon Piero, and advised him to adopt a measure which,
    while it appeared quite correct in itself, and suitable to existing
    circumstances, involved a consequence destructive to his authority. He
    explained the disorder of his affairs, and the large amount of money
    it would be necessary to provide, if he wished to preserve his
    influence in the state and his reputation of wealth; and said there
    was no other means of remedying these disorders so just and available
    as to call in the sums which his father had lent to an infinite number
    of persons, both foreigners and citizens; for Cosmo, to acquire
    partisans in Florence and friends abroad, was extremely liberal of his
    money, and the amount of loans due to him was enormous. Piero thought
    the advice good, because he was only desirous to repossess his own
    property to meet the demands to which he was liable; but as soon as he
    had ordered those amounts to be recalled, the citizens, as if he had
    asked for something to which he had no kind of claim, took great
    offense, loaded him with opprobrious expressions, and accused him of
    being avaricious and ungrateful.

    Diotisalvi, noticing the popular excitement against Piero, occasioned
    by his own advice, obtained an interview with Luca Pitti, Agnolo
    Acciajuoli, and Niccolo Soderini, and they resolved to unite their
    efforts to deprive him both of the government and his influence. Each
    was actuated by a different motive; Luca Pitti wished to take the
    position Cosmo had occupied, for he was now become so great, that he
    disdained to submit to Piero; Diotisalvi Neroni, who knew Luca unfit
    to be at the head of a government, thought that of necessity on
    Piero's removal, the whole authority of the state would devolve upon
    himself; Niccolo Soderini desired the city to enjoy greater liberty,
    and for the laws to be equally binding upon all. Agnolo Acciajuoli was
    greatly incensed against the Medici, for the following reasons: his
    son, Raffaello, had some time before married Alessandra de' Bardi, and
    received with her a large dowry. She, either by her own fault or the
    misconduct of others, suffered much ill-treatment both from her
    father-in-law and her husband, and in consequence Lorenzo d' Ilarione,
    her kinsman, out of pity for the girl, being accompanied by several
    armed men, took her away from Agnolo's house. The Acciajuoli
    complained of the injury done them by the Bardi, and the matter was
    referred to Cosmo, who decided that the Acciajuoli should restore to
    Alessandra her fortune, and then leave it to her choice either to
    return to her husband or not. Agnolo thought Cosmo had not, in this
    instance, treated him as a friend; and having been unable to avenge
    himself on the father, he now resolved to do his utmost to ruin the
    son. These conspirators, though each was influenced by a different
    motive from the rest, affected to have only one object in view, which
    was that the city should be governed by the magistrates, and not be
    subjected to the counsels of a few individuals. The odium against
    Piero, and opportunities of injuring him, were increased by the number
    of merchants who failed about this time; for it was reported that he,
    in having, quite unexpectedly to all, resolved to call in his debts,
    had, to the disgrace and ruin of the city, caused them to become
    insolvent. To this was added his endeavor to obtain Clarice degli
    Orsini as wife of Lorenzo, his eldest son; and hence his enemies took
    occasion to say, it was quite clear, that as he despised a Florentine
    alliance, he no longer considered himself one of the people, and was
    preparing to make himself prince; for he who refuses his fellow-
    citizens as relatives, desires to make them slaves, and therefore
    cannot expect to have them as friends. The leaders of the sedition
    thought they had the victory in their power; for the greater part of
    the citizens followed them, deceived by the name of liberty which
    they, to give their purpose a graceful covering, adopted upon their
    ensigns.

    In this agitated state of the city, some, to whom civil discord was
    extremely offensive, thought it would be well to endeavor to engage
    men's minds with some new occupation, because when unemployed they are
    commonly led by whoever chooses to excite them. To divert their
    attention from matters of government, it being now a year since the
    death of Cosmo, it was resolved to celebrate two festivals, similar to
    the most solemn observed in the city. At one of them was represented
    the arrival of the three kings from the east, led by the star which
    announced the nativity of Christ; which was conducted with such pomp
    and magnificence, that the preparations for it kept the whole city
    occupied many months. The other was a tournament (for so they call the
    exhibition of equestrian combats), in which the sons of the first
    families in the city took part with the most celebrated cavaliers of
    Italy. Among the most distinguished of the Florentine youth was
    Lorenzo, eldest son of Piero, who, not by favor, but by his own
    personal valor, obtained the principal prize. When these festivals
    were over, the citizens reverted to the same thoughts which had
    previously occupied them, and each pursued his ideas with more
    earnestness than ever. Serious differences and troubles were the
    result; and these were greatly increased by two circumstances: one of
    which was, that the authority of the balia had expired; the other,
    that upon the death of Duke Francesco, Galeazzo the new duke sent
    ambassadors to Florence, to renew the engagements of his father with
    the city, which, among other things, provided that every year a
    certain sum of money should be paid to the duke. The principal
    opponents of the Medici took occasion, from this demand, to make
    public resistance in the councils, on pretense that the alliance was
    made with Francesco and not Galeazzo; so that Francesco being dead,
    the obligation had ceased; nor was there any necessity to revive it,
    because Galeazzo did not possess his father's talents, and
    consequently they neither could nor ought to expect the same benefits
    from him; that if they had derived little advantage from Francesco,
    they would obtain still less from Galeazzo; and that if any citizen
    wished to hire him for his own purposes, it was contrary to civil
    rule, and inconsistent with the public liberty. Piero, on the
    contrary, argued that it would be very impolitic to lose such an
    alliance from mere avarice, and that there was nothing so important to
    the republic, and to the whole of Italy, as their alliance with the
    duke; that the Venetians, while they were united, could not hope
    either by feigned friendship or open war to injure the duchy; but as
    soon as they perceived the Florentines alienated from him they would
    prepare for hostilities, and, finding him young, new in the
    government, and without friends, they would, either by force or fraud,
    compel him to join them; in which case ruin of the republic would be
    inevitable.

    The arguments of Piero were without effect, and the animosity of the
    parties began to be openly manifested in their nocturnal assemblies;
    the friends of the Medici meeting in the Crocetta, and their
    adversaries in the Pieta. The latter being anxious for Piero's ruin,
    had induced many citizens to subscribe their names as favorable to the
    undertaking. Upon one occasion, particularly when considering the
    course to be adopted, although all agreed that the power of the Medici
    ought to be reduced, different opinions were given concerning the
    means by which it should be effected; one party, the most temperate
    and reasonable, held that as the authority of the balia had ceased,
    they must take care to prevent its renewal; it would then be found to
    be the universal wish that the magistrates and councils should govern
    the city, and in a short time Piero's power would be visibly
    diminished, and, as a consequence of his loss of influence in the
    government, his commercial credit would also fail; for his affairs
    were in such a state, that if they could prevent him from using the
    public money his ruin must ensue. They would thus be in no further
    danger from him, and would succeed in the recovery of their liberty,
    without the death or exile of any individual; but if they attempted
    violence they would incur great dangers; for mankind are willing to
    allow one who falls of himself to meet his fate, but if pushed down
    they would hasten to his relief; so that if they adopted no
    extraordinary measures against him, he will have no reason for defense
    or aid; and if he were to seek them it would be greatly to his own
    injury, by creating such a general suspicion as would accelerate his
    ruin, and justify whatever course they might think proper to adopt.
    Many of the assembly were dissatisfied with this tardy method of
    proceeding; they thought delay would be favorable to him and injurious
    to themselves; for if they allowed matters to take their ordinary
    course, Piero would be in no danger whatever, while they themselves
    would incur many; for the magistrates who were opposed to him would
    allow him to rule the city, and his friends would make him a prince,
    and their own ruin would be inevitable, as happened in 1458; and
    though the advice they had just heard might be most consistent with
    good feeling, the present would be found to be the safest. That it
    would therefore be best, while the minds of men were yet excited
    against him, to effect his destruction. It must be their plan to arm
    themselves, and engage the assistance of the marquis of Ferrara, that
    they might not be destitute of troops; and if a favorable Signory were
    drawn, they would be in condition to make use of them. They therefore
    determined to wait the formation of the new Signory, and be governed
    by circumstances.

    Among the conspirators was Niccolo Fedini, who had acted as president
    of their assemblies. He, being induced by most certain hopes,
    disclosed the whole affair to Piero, and gave him a list of those who
    had subscribed their names, and also of the conspirators. Piero was
    alarmed on discovering the number and quality of those who were
    opposed to him; and by the advice of his friends he resolved to take
    the signatures of those who were inclined to favor him. Having
    employed one of his most trusty confidants to carry his design into
    effect, he found so great a disposition to change and instability,
    that many who had previously set down their names among the number of
    his enemies, now subscribed them in his favor.
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