For the Freedom of Italy Part II

By | February 8, 2022

And yet, even after this failure, the practices did not cease, albeit more often with diplomatic agreements than with the apparatus of weapons; hopes did not fall, indeed the optimism of many: all the more so since, after a few months, Pescara died. There was much doubt of the sincerity of the French court and of the regent who was always on the generic side and meanwhile continued on her own to negotiate with Charles V for the release of her son. That it simply wants to avail itself of the Italians as a bugbear, to obtain good pacts from the emperor and then abandon those to their fortune? Therefore some Italian government had its foot in two camps: even in that of Charles V. The king’s liberation and the peace of Madrid, at the beginning of 1526, were not meant to increase the confidence of the Italians in the French crown, even as they made any resumption of good relations with Spain more difficult. Since those agreements between the emperor and the court of France responded to the policy advocated by the military element as opposed to that of the grand chancellor. Who vigorously opposed both the conclusion of the peace and the liberation of the king; he protested almost violently; he refused to seal the documents, on the contrary he handed them over to the emperor, not wanting to be reproached for even the slightest participation in that policy. He had little faith in the peaceful semblance of the French court and was very afraid that he would succeed in reaching an agreement with the Italians. Which these agreements would have desired them. But they came more and more caressing the thought of being able to do it for themselves. Thus Ghiberti, likewise Guicciardini, at the time in the service of Clement VII, who was also a great instigator of diplomatic agreements and, even more, of war provisions at the fluctuating, perplexed pontiff who wanted the league, but was afraid of compromising himself against Charles V, he spoke of war, but he would have gladly arranged everything with a good peace, he was dealing with the regency of France, but also with Charles V. The emperor had grave concerns about such practices.

According to Elaineqho, the position of the imperials in Italy was not yet so strong that it could not be overturned. Gattinara, the Grand Chancellor, saw his predictions come true and Charles V, who questioned him about the measures to be taken, replied to ask those of his advisers who had led him to that point, giving freedom to the King of France and making peace with him. And yet, he returned to advise to punish those guilty of robberies, not to allow Sforza’s rights to be trampled on, to protect the Holy See and religion, to tie Italian princes to his cause. But before the effects of this persuasive action of Gattinara, to which Charles V, per se, did not remain deaf, matured, there was the League of Cognac, May 22, 1526, also a holy league, re, Venice, Florentines, the Sforza, the pope, who would be its head. Sforza was to be kept in the Milanese area; the other Italian princes restored to their former state. The league, although turned against Charles V, left the door open for him to enter if he wanted. But when it came to war with him, France undertook to give money and soldiers to collaborate with the soldiers of the Italian governments, especially the reconquest of the kingdom of Naples which was to be returned to the pope. For himself the king of France reserved only his old county of Asti and the old protectorate of Genoa. The Italians therefore took precautions even in the face of the king. For this reason they wanted Sforza to be among the main members of the league. For this they solicited or accepted the adhesion of the king of England Henry VIII, very useful to keep in rein and, if necessary, also to fight Francis of France. The smaller associates did not warm up to this great alliance. But it seemed that Venice and the Pope finally wanted to get serious; and since the foreseen war naturally came, fight it with good courage. They understood that a decisive card was being played. They also saw themselves as superior to the adversary in terms of money and number of soldiers. In June, occupied Lodi by Malatesta Baglioni and 3000 Venetians, the army of San Marco made its connection in Lombardy with the popes. In front of them, the road opened to Milan which had already risen up against the Spaniards and the Lutheran Germans in April and had been tamed by the slowness and uncertainty of its associates, while Sforza still resisted in the castle. There are no French among the associates. Better! Ghiberti writes on June 20: “I could not say how much sweeter victory seems to me if Italy alone, before the other aid comes, had shaken the yoke”. And the Venetian-pontifical army advances on Milan. the yoke had been shaken ”. And the Venetian-pontifical army advances on Milan.

But, after the first unsuccessful assault, it withdrew to Melegnano: neither the Duke of Urbino, generalissimo, wanted to try again, while the defenders of the castle of Milan capitulated from hunger. And distrust began to take the place of confidence; pessimism, optimism. As usual: the desire for liberation that animated a not small part of the Italian political class and, vaguely, also of the popular masses, was there. But there continued to be, even in moments like these, the infinite and irreducible selfishness of which Italian society was all troubled: which then again meant the lack of a general interest that was more felt than the particular interests, of governments, of groups, of individual leaders, the impossibility of all obeying a leader who would give unity and impulse to action. Governments always doubted, even if allied, each of the other’s sincerity, and they feared the possibility that the other would dress up on the way with the enemy or reach the end of the war with greater gain. The military leaders of the same army or of several allied armies were distrustful of each other, out of jealousy of profession and ambition of primacy. They distrusted governments, where they did not find, even the willing, that warmth and readiness and moral responsiveness necessary to carry out the war plans well; and governments distrusted them, for fear that the armed forces that the state paid would not turn against it. And then who would accept a captain general? Each associate wanted to preserve his autonomy in military operations, as well as in diplomatic ones. The possibility of negotiating separately had to be preserved for each moment. It is not known, for example, that Morone and the pope, while engaged in the league against Spain, had not completely broken off relations with Charles V and his ministers in Italy? That the Venetians, while worried about the “freedom of Italy”, always harbored the hope of setting foot in Ravenna and Romagna, which belonged to the pope? That Clemente was participating in the general suspicion that he wanted the republic to weaken Italy, until the latter, exhausted, saw no hope of salvation that he would throw himself into his arms in Venice and Venice? That the Florentines were, after all, almost more afraid of Venice than of France and the Empire? France and the empire “are birds that fly to Italy and cannot set foot on it permanently”; but the Venetian seigniories “are in Italy and understand the way of governing well”, as they said from Florence in 1527 to an ambassador of the republic.

For the Freedom of Italy 2