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    Chapter 54

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    Chapter 55
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    The duke of Calabria routs the Florentine army at Poggibonzi--
    Dismay in Florence on account of the defeat--Progress of the duke
    of Calabria--The Florentines wish for peace--Lorenzo de' Medici
    determines to go to Naples to treat with the king--Lodovico
    Sforza, surnamed the Moor, and his brothers, recalled to Milan--
    Changes in the government of that city in consequence--The Genoese
    take Serezana--Lorenzo de' Medici arrives at Naples--Peace
    concluded with the king--The pope and the Venetians consent to the
    peace--The Florentines in fear of the duke of Calabria--
    Enterprises of the Turks--They take Otranto--The Florentines
    reconciled with the pope--Their ambassadors at the papal court--
    The pope's reply to the ambassadors--The king of Naples restores
    to the Florentines all the fortresses he had taken.

    The army being thus reduced, without a leader, and disorder prevailing
    in every department, the duke of Calabria, who was with his forces
    near Sienna, resolved to attack them immediately. The Florentines,
    finding the enemy at hand, were seized with a sudden panic; neither
    their arms, nor their numbers, in which they were superior to their
    adversaries, nor their position, which was one of great strength,
    could give them confidence; but observing the dust occasioned by the
    enemy's approach, without waiting for a sight of them, they fled in
    all directions, leaving their ammunition, carriages, and artillery to
    be taken by the foe. Such cowardice and disorder prevailed in the
    armies of those times, that the turning of a horse's head or tail was
    sufficient to decide the fate of an expedition. This defeat loaded the
    king's troops with booty, and filled the Florentines with dismay; for
    the city, besides the war, was afflicted with pestilence, which
    prevailed so extensively, that all who possessed villas fled to them
    to escape death. This occasioned the defeat to be attended with
    greater horror; for those citizens whose possessions lay in the Val di
    Pesa and the Val d'Elsa, having retired to them, hastened to Florence
    with all speed as soon as they heard of the disaster, taking with them
    not only their children and their property, but even their laborers;
    so that it seemed as if the enemy were expected every moment in the
    city. Those who were appointed to the management of the war,
    perceiving the universal consternation, commanded the victorious
    forces in the Perugino to give up their enterprise in that direction,
    and march to oppose the enemy in the Val d'Elsa, who, after their
    victory, plundered the country without opposition; and although the
    Florentine army had so closely pressed the city of Perugia that it was
    expected to fall into their hands every instant, the people preferred
    defending their own possessions to endeavoring to seize those of
    others. The troops, thus withdrawn from the pursuit of their good
    fortune, were marched to San Casciano, a castle within eight miles of
    Florence; the leaders thinking they could take up no other position
    till the relics of the routed army were assembled. On the other hand,
    the enemy being under no further restraint at Perugia, and emboldened
    by the departure of the Florentines, plundered to a large amount in
    the districts of Arezzo and Cortona; while those who under Alfonso,
    duke of Calabria, had been victorious near Poggibonzi, took the town
    itself; sacked Vico and Certaldo, and after these conquests and
    pillagings encamped before the fortress of Colle, which was considered
    very strong; and as the garrison was brave and faithful to the
    Florentines, it was hoped they would hold the enemy at bay till the
    republic was able to collect its forces. The Florentines being at
    Santo Casciano, and the enemy continuing to use their utmost exertions
    against Colle, they determined to draw nearer, that the inhabitants
    might be more resolute in their defense, and the enemy assail them
    less boldly. With this design they removed their camp from Santo
    Casciano to Santo Geminiano, about five miles from Colle, and with
    light cavalry and other suitable forces were able every day to annoy
    the duke's camp. All this, however, was insufficient to relieve the
    people of Colle; for, having consumed their provisions, they were
    compelled to surrender on the thirteenth of November, to the great
    grief of the Florentines, and joy of the enemy, more especially of the
    Siennese, who, besides their habitual hatred of the Florentines, had a
    particular animosity against the people of Colle.

    It was now the depth of winter, and the weather so unsuitable for war,
    that the pope and the king, either designing to hold out a hope of
    peace, or more quietly to enjoy the fruit of their victories, proposed
    a truce for three months to the Florentines, and allowed them ten days
    to consider the reply. The offer was eagerly accepted; but as wounds
    are well known to be more painful after the blood cools than when they
    were first received, this brief repose awakened the Florentines to a
    consciousness of the miseries they had endured; and the citizens
    openly laid the blame upon each other, pointing out the errors
    committed in the management of the war, the expenses uselessly
    incurred, and the taxes unjustly imposed. These matters were boldly
    discussed, not only in private circles, but in the public councils;
    and one individual even ventured to turn to Lorenzo de' Medici, and
    say, "The city is exhausted, and can endure no more war; it is
    therefore necessary to think of peace." Lorenzo was himself aware of
    the necessity, and assembled the friends in whose wisdom and fidelity
    he had the greatest confidence, when it was at once concluded, that as
    the Venetians were lukewarm and unfaithful, and the duke in the power
    of his guardians, and involved in domestic difficulties, it would be
    desirable by some new alliance to give a better turn to their affairs.
    They were in doubt whether to apply to the king or to the pope; but
    having examined the question in all sides, they preferred the
    friendship of the king as more suitable and secure; for the short
    reigns of the pontiffs, the changes ensuing upon each succession, the
    disregard shown by their church toward temporal princes, and the still
    greater want of respect for them exhibited in her determinations,
    render it impossible for a secular prince to trust a pontiff, or
    safely to share his fortune; for an adherent of the pope will have a
    companion in victory, but in defeat must stand alone, while the
    pontiff is sustained by his spiritual power and influence. Having
    therefore decided that the king's friendship would be of the greatest
    utility to them, they thought it would be most easily and certainly
    obtained by Lorenzo's presence; for in proportion to the confidence
    they evinced toward him, the greater they imagined would be the
    probability of removing his impressions of past enmities. Lorenzo
    having resolved to go to Naples, recommended the city and government
    to the care of Tommaso Soderini, who was at that time Gonfalonier of
    Justice. He left Florence at the beginning of December, and having
    arrived at Pisa, wrote to the government to acquaint them with the
    cause of his departure. The Signory, to do him honor, and enable him
    the more effectually to treat with the king, appointed him ambassador
    from the Florentine people, and endowed him with full authority to
    make such arrangements as he thought most useful for the republic.

    At this time Roberto da San Severino, with Lodovico and Ascanio
    (Sforza their elder brother being dead) again attacked Milan, in order
    to recover the government. Having taken Tortona, and the city and the
    whole state being in arms, the duchess Bona was advised to restore the
    Sforzeschi, and to put a stop to civil contentions by admitting them
    to the government. The person who gave this advice was Antonio
    Tassino, of Ferrara, a man of low origin, who, coming to Milan, fell
    into the hands of the duke Galeazzo, and was given by him to his
    duchess for her valet. He, either from his personal attractions, or
    some secret influence, after the duke's death attained such influence
    over the duchess, that he governed the state almost at his will. This
    greatly displeased the minister Cecco, whom prudence and long
    experience had rendered invaluable; and who, to the utmost of his
    power, endeavored to diminish the authority of Tassino with the
    duchess and other members of the government. The latter, aware of
    this, to avenge himself for the injury, and secure defenders against
    Cecco, advised the duchess to recall the Sforzeschi, which she did,
    without communicating her design to the minister, who, when it was
    done, said to her, "You have taken a step which will deprive me of my
    life, and you of the government." This shortly afterward took place;
    for Cecco was put to death by Lodovico, and Tassino, being expelled
    from the dukedom, the duchess was so enraged that she left Milan, and
    gave up the care of her son to Lodovico, who, becoming sole governor
    of the dukedom, caused, as will be hereafter seen, the ruin of Italy.

    Lorenzo de' Medici had set out for Naples, and the truce between the
    parties was in force, when, quite unexpectedly, Lodovico Fregoso,
    being in correspondence with some persons of Serezana, entered the
    place by stealth, took possession of it with an armed force, and
    imprisoned the Florentine governor. This greatly offended the Signory,
    for they thought the whole had been concerted with the connivance of
    King Ferrando. They complained to the duke of Calabria, who was with
    the army at Sienna, of a breach of the truce; and he endeavored to
    prove, by letters and embassies, that it had occurred without either
    his own or his father's knowledge. The Florentines, however, found
    themselves in a very awkward predicament, being destitute of money,
    the head of the republic in the power of the king, themselves engaged
    in a long-standing war with the latter and the pope, in a new one with
    the Genoese, and entirely without friends; for they had no confidence
    in the Venetians, and on account of its changeable and unsettled state
    they were rather apprehensive of Milan. They had thus only one hope,
    and that depended upon Lorenzo's success with the king.

    Lorenzo arrived at Naples by sea, and was most honorably received, not
    only by Ferrando, but by the whole city, his coming having excited the
    greatest expectation; for it being generally understood that the war
    was undertaken for the sole purpose of effecting his destruction, the
    power of his enemies invested his name with additional lustre. Being
    admitted to the king's presence, he spoke with so much propriety upon
    the affairs of Italy, the disposition of her princes and people, his
    hopes from peace, his fears of the results of war, that Ferrando was
    more astonished at the greatness of his mind, the promptitude of his
    genius, his gravity and wisdom, than he had previously been at his
    power. He consequently treated him with redoubled honor, and began to
    feel compelled rather to part with him as a friend, than detain him as
    an enemy. However, under various pretexts he kept Lorenzo from
    December till March, not only to gain the most perfect knowledge of
    his own views, but of those of his city; for he was not without
    enemies, who would have wished the king to detain and treat him in the
    same manner as Jacopo Piccinino; and, with the ostensible view of
    sympathizing for him, pointed out all that would, or rather that they
    wished should, result from such a course; at the same time opposing in
    the council every proposition at all likely to favor him. By such
    means as these the opinion gained ground, that if he were detained at
    Naples much longer, the government of Florence would be changed. This
    caused the king to postpone their separation more than he would have
    otherwise done, to see if any disturbance were likely to arise. But
    finding everything go quietly on, Ferrando allowed him to depart on
    the sixth of March, 1479, having, with every kind of attention and
    token of regard, endeavored to gain his affection, and formed with him
    a perpetual alliance for their mutual defense. Lorenzo returned to
    Florence, and upon presenting himself before the citizens, the
    impressions he had created in the popular mind surrounded him with a
    halo of majesty brighter than before. He was received with all the joy
    merited by his extraordinary qualities and recent services, in having
    exposed his own life to the most imminent peril, in order to restore
    peace to his country. Two days after his return, the treaty between
    the republic of Florence and the king, by which each party bound
    itself to defend the other's territories, was published. The places
    taken from the Florentines during the war were to be taken up at the
    discretion of the king; the Pazzi confined in the tower of Volterra
    were to be set at liberty, and a certain sum of money, for a limited
    period, was to be paid to the duke of Calabria.

    As soon as this peace was publicly known, the pope and the Venetians
    were transported with rage; the pope thought himself neglected by the
    king; the Venetians entertained similar ideas with regard to the
    Florentines, and complained that, having been companions in the war,
    they were not allowed to participate in the peace. Reports of this
    description being spread abroad, and received with entire credence at
    Florence, caused a general fear that the peace thus made would give
    rise to greater wars; and therefore the leading members of the
    government determined to confine the consideration of the most
    important affairs to a smaller number, and formed a council of seventy
    citizens, in whom the principal authority was invested. This new
    regulation calmed the minds of those desirous of change, by convincing
    them of the futility of their efforts. To establish their authority,
    they in the first place ratified the treaty of peace with the king,
    and sent as ambassadors to the pope Antonio Ridolfi and Piero Nasi.
    But, notwithstanding the peace, Alfonso, duke of Calabria, still
    remained at Sienna with his forces, pretending to be detained by
    discords among the citizens, which, he said, had risen so high, that
    while he resided outside the city they had compelled him to enter and
    assume the office of arbitrator between them. He took occasion to draw
    large sums of money from the wealthiest citizens by way of fines,
    imprisoned many, banished others, and put some to death; he thus
    became suspected, not only by the Siennese but by the Florentines, of
    a design to usurp the sovereignty of Sienna; nor was any remedy then
    available, for the republic had formed a new alliance with the king,
    and were at enmity with the pope and the Venetians. This suspicion was
    entertained not only by the great body of the Florentine people, who
    were subtle interpreters of appearances, but by the principal members
    of the government; and it was agreed, on all hands, that the city
    never was in so much danger of losing her liberty. But God, who in
    similar extremities has always been her preserver, caused an unhoped-
    for event to take place, which gave the pope, the king, and the
    Venetians other matters to think of than those in Tuscany.

    The Turkish emperor, Mahomet II. had gone with a large army to the
    siege of Rhodes, and continued it for several months; but though his
    forces were numerous, and his courage indomitable, he found them more
    than equalled by those of the besieged, who resisted his attack with
    such obstinate valor, that he was at last compelled to retire in
    disgrace. Having left Rhodes, part of his army, under the Pasha
    Achmet, approached Velona, and, either from observing the facility of
    the enterprise, or in obedience to his sovereign's commands, coasting
    along the Italian shores, he suddenly landed four thousand soldiers,
    and attacked the city of Otranto, which he easily took, plundered, and
    put all the inhabitants to the sword. He then fortified the city and
    port, and having assembled a large body of cavalry, pillaged the
    surrounding country. The king, learning this, and aware of the
    redoubtable character of his assailant, immediately sent messengers to
    all the surrounding powers, to request assistance against the common
    enemy, and ordered the immediate return of the duke of Calabria with
    the forces at Sienna.

    This attack, however it might annoy the duke and the rest of Italy,
    occasioned the utmost joy at Florence and Sienna; the latter thinking
    it had recovered its liberty, and the former that she had escaped a
    storm which threatened her with destruction. These impressions, which
    were not unknown to the duke, increased the regret he felt at his
    departure from Sienna; and he accused fortune of having, by an
    unexpected and unaccountable accident, deprived him of the sovereignty
    of Tuscany. The same circumstance changed the disposition of the pope;
    for although he had previously refused to receive any ambassador from
    Florence, he was now so mollified as to be anxious to listen to any
    overtures of peace; and it was intimated to the Florentines, that if
    they would condescend to ask the pope's pardon, they would be sure of
    obtaining it. Thinking it advisable to seize the opportunity, they
    sent twelve ambassadors to the pontiff, who, on their arrival,
    detained them under different pretexts before he would admit them to
    an audience. However, terms were at length settled, and what should be
    contributed by each in peace or war. The messengers were then admitted
    to the feet of the pontiff, who, with the utmost pomp, received them
    in the midst of his cardinals. They apologized for past occurrences;
    first showing they had been compelled by necessity, then blaming the
    malignity of others, or the rage of the populace, and their just
    indignation, and enlarging on the unfortunate condition of those who
    are compelled either to fight or die; saying, that since every
    extremity is endured in order to avoid death, they had suffered war,
    interdicts, and other inconveniences, brought upon them by recent
    events, that their republic might escape slavery, which is the death
    of free cities. However, if in their necessities they had committed
    any offense, they were desirous to make atonement, and trusted in his
    clemency, who, after the example of the blessed Redeemer, would
    receive them into his compassionate arms.

    The pope's reply was indignant and haughty. After reiterating all the
    offenses against the church during the late transactions, he said
    that, to comply with the precepts of God, he would grant the pardon
    they asked, but would have them understand, that it was their duty to
    obey; and that upon the next instance of their disobedience, they
    would inevitably forfeit, and that most deservedly, the liberty which
    they had just been upon the point of losing; for those merit freedom
    who exercise themselves in good works and avoid evil; that liberty,
    improperly used, injures itself and others; that to think little of
    God, and less of his church, is not the part of a free man, but a
    fool, and one disposed to evil rather than good, and to effect whose
    correction is the duty not only of princes but of every Christian; so
    that in respect of the recent events, they had only themselves to
    blame, who, by their evil deeds, had given rise to the war, and
    inflamed it by still worse actions, it having been terminated by the
    kindness of others rather than by any merit of their own. The formula
    of agreement and benediction was then read; and, in addition to what
    had already been considered and agreed upon between the parties, the
    pope said, that if the Florentines wished to enjoy the fruit of his
    forgiveness, they must maintain fifteen galleys, armed, and equipped,
    at their own expense, as long as the Turks should make war upon the
    kingdom of Naples. The ambassadors complained much of this burden in
    addition to the arrangement already made, but were unable to obtain
    any alleviation. However, after their return to Florence, the Signory
    sent, as ambassador to the pope, Guidantonio Vespucci, who had
    recently returned from France, and who by his prudence brought
    everything to an amicable conclusion, obtained many favors from the
    pontiff, which were considered as presages of a closer reconciliation.

    Having settled their affairs with the pope, Sienna being free,
    themselves released from the fear of the king, by the departure of the
    duke of Calabria from Tuscany, and the war with the Turks still
    continuing, the Florentines pressed the king to restore their
    fortresses, which the duke of Calabria, upon quitting the country, had
    left in the hands of the Siennese. Ferrando, apprehensive that if he
    refused, they would withdraw from the alliance with him, and by new
    wars with the Siennese deprive him of the assistance he hoped to
    obtain from the pope and other Italian powers, consented that they
    should be given up, and by new favors endeavored to attach the
    Florentines to his interests. It is thus evident, that force and
    necessity, not deeds and obligations, induce princes to keep faith.

    The castles being restored, and this new alliance established, Lorenzo
    de' Medici recovered the reputation which first the war and then the
    peace, when the king's designs were doubtful, had deprived him of; for
    at this period there was no lack of those who openly slandered him
    with having sold his country to save himself, and said, that in war
    they had lost their territories, and in peace their liberty. But the
    fortresses being recovered, an honorable treaty ratified with the
    king, and the city restored to her former influence, the spirit of
    public discourse entirely changed in Florence, a place greatly
    addicted to gossip, and in which actions are judged by the success
    attending them, rather than by the intelligence employed in their
    direction; therefore, the citizens praised Lorenzo extravagantly,
    declaring that by his prudence he had recovered in peace, what
    unfavorable circumstances had taken from them in war, and that by his
    discretion and judgment he had done more than the enemy with all the
    force of their arms.
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