The Italian States on the Eve of the New Invasions 4

The Italian States on the Eve of the New Invasions Part 4


Short peace: because in the kingdom the barons, irritated by the increasing taxes, persuaded that the opportunity was good after so much suffering of the king, conspired and rose up. The pope, following an old policy, helped them. And so yesterday’s allies against Venice became enemies again. Roberto Sanseverino, rebel against the king, leader of the Venetians, was in command of the Church’s militias. He fought up to Abruzzo, where the count of Montorio raised the Eagle in favor of the Church. And the barons held some intelligence with Venice, who promised her, in exchange for aid, a gift from Apulian cities. With Ferdinando, however, Florentines and Milanese stayed and intrigued to revive the cities of Umbria; while Alfonso, son of the king, camped under Rome. The times of Ladislao or, better, of Frederick II seemed to have returned. Even now there is, in those sovereigns, a spirit of rebellion that seeks to justify itself in the field of principles. It was not by chance that Lorenzo Valla had written his pamphlet against the Constantinian donation in Naples. An anti-temporal streak of thought was also in Gioviano Pontano, humanist and minister of the king. But king and pope agreed, August 1486; they treated kings and barons. Long, tortuous negotiations. Until the king had in his hands, by treason, several of those barons: he tried them, condemned them, killed some, took the lordships away from their heirs, gave great publicity to the proceedings. Not differently other kings of that time worked: a time that saw the decisive duel between nobility and kingdom. But the king of Naples reaped less fruit than others. In the fiercest survivors hatred, intentions of revenge, waiting for an avenger from overseas or from beyond mountains. Nor can it be said that, in return, the king won the favor of the people. Very little help in the defense against the Turks who had attacked and captured Otranto, they provided the local populations in 1480. The bourgeois of Aquila and other cities gave themselves up to the pope or joined the barons against the king.

In short, sterile wars, as sterile are rebellions and repressions: they only produce waste of money, impoverishment of state finances, and, almost everywhere, discontent of subjects. No state is stronger than the neighboring state or the coalition that is immediately formed, as soon as a prince or a republic shows some ambition for enlargement. This coalition, in its turn, after a year or a month, disintegrates when one of its members hints at obtaining some greater advantage through it: and another is formed. The watchword is “freedom of Italy”, that is, the  status quo territorial. And since Venice seems to threaten this “freedom” most of all, so a relative harmony is formed against it. But the fear of Venice, if she could keep them united for some time, if she could make them watch with some complacency the Turkish advance over the Venetian lands of Levante, did not make them friends. Hence, inability to make a good war, due to the balance of forces; inability to make peace. And the very fine diplomacy of our principles and governments ran out of itself.

In such conditions, it is understandable that the limits to the invasion of the states of Europe in the things of the peninsula are weak. A little the perennial concern to safeguard the many mercantile interests that Toscani, Lombardi, Venetians, Genoese had abroad; some hope of obtaining positive benefits; the fact is that the Italian governments, in addition to adopting a very compliant policy, also solicited the intervention of this or that foreign prince.

Thus, against Venice, from the end of the 14th century, Scaligeri, Carraresi, patriarchs of Aquileia, Visconti, did nothing but invoke the empire and king of Hungary. To the Turks, in their forward march, the Genoese and also Anconetani render more than a service, trying to divert them towards the possessions of Venice or lending a hand against the Venetian ships. After all, according to, the whole attitude of the Italian princes in relation to the Turks, in the 15th century, is rather inviting. Florence, traditionally linked to France, almost a prisoner of France for the many capitals invested in that country, often, in the second half of the century, turns to that king for support. The Holy See, always struggling with Naples, very poor in military forces, declares that, not receiving help from anyone in Italy, it will also have to turn to foreigners and perhaps return, like a century before, it was foreigners. In 1484-85, Venice, fighting the Pontifical Aragonese Sforza coalition, excited the Duke of Orleans to conquer the Milanese and the Duke of Bourbon to recover the kingdom of Naples, while the others incited the King of Hungary against Venice. To which king of Hungary, in 1488, the Anconetani, enemies of Venice and rebels to the pope also turned, raising the insignia of that king and placing themselves under his protection.

The Italian States on the Eve of the New Invasions 4