Often they did not really want to call foreigners to conquer a stable dominion in Italy. The weakest could trust in a bland protectorate of a distant prince that would save their effective freedom from the closest lord. But the strongest believed that they could use foreigners in order to humiliate their adversaries and grow on their ruin. Unable to solve their problems of magnification or safety on their own, they put their hopes back where they could expect advantages. In any case, they, facing each other, in a close competition that committed self-love and vanity even more than interests, were less repugnant to the idea of a French or Spanish or Habsburg dominion in Italy, than to that of an enlargement of the other Italian states. Not that there was no lack of awareness of the moral unity of the Italians and also a certain proud feeling of superiority in literature and the arts, vis-à-vis foreigners. There was also a certain presentiment of a common destiny of the Italian states, whereby if one succumbed, the others would not enjoy it for long. But such feelings and forebodings and deplorations did not translate into political thoughts and action.
According to iamhigher.com, the Italians have indeed, for some centuries, been governed by their own principles, even if of foreign origin; but, as their political relations with the outside multiply, through the initiative of others or their own, they feel as if attracted by the larger states, they get used to putting their things back into them or seeing them, in any case, almost become arbitrators of situations Italian. It is a phenomenon of gravitation of the smallest on the largest. Even without a precise political design, the ambassadors or diplomatic agents of Naples or Florence or Rome or Milan, contending in foreign courts for the favor of those princes, put before the eyes of lords and ministers the mirage of great Italian wealth and weakness. , joined together. Conversely, before the eyes of Italians, the figure of those French or Spanish princes or whatever they were was enlarged. In them they seem to see more justice, more greatness, more possibilities and will to work, more conclusive activity. And from them they solicit what their little homeland, powerless or turned to something else, does not want or cannot give. Thus Pietro Martire d’Angera who, bored with Italy where everything is division, where “one cannot find what will surely feed the wits”, goes to Spain in the service of that king. Those were times when the idea of new lands to seek out, new businesses to start up, new riches to conquer, circulated like underground veins often emerging. It was the need for gold as a means of dealing with monetary crises; they were the difficulties that the Turkish conquest had created for trade between Asia and Europe and the desire for new roads; they were the thirst for knowledge or the ambitions of princes. And the countries that, due to their geographical position or present historical conditions, offered more favorable prospects for travel and exploration projects, attracted: as were the countries facing the Atlantic. Here happened, shortly before 1480, Cristoforo Colombo, from Genoa. Until then he had traveled the Mediterranean and the Portuguese seas, in the service of the Casa Centurione in Genoa. But in 1479 he left Genoa for Lisbon. For some years, Columbus lived there the life of pilots, merchants, shipowners, between Portugal, Madeira, the Azores, the coast of Guinea. It was persuaded that reaching Asia by heading west was much shorter than by circling Africa. And around 1480, Columbus conceived the plan for a great navigation in that sense. For about fourteen years, he pursued his plan. He knocked on the doors of many kings and governments, to have the necessary means. He finally found a hearing with the king of Spain; he untied the sails towards the west in August ’92, he reached certain islands that he believed were the Indies or Cathay, in short, Asia, he brought back samples of gold and spices. The following year, all of Europe was already full of the great news, the kings looked with envy at Ferdinand, the pontiff drew from one pole to the other the dividing line between the Portuguese possessions east of the Azores and Cape Verde, and the new and future Spanish acquisitions in the west. Before the century died, Amerigo Vespucci from Florence, Giovanni Caboto from Genoa, and later also a Venetian citizen, had made their first travels, recognized the vast American continent,