Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/145

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to have been serious, and cannot be said to impair the rights of Charles VIII.'

Thus there were two paths open to the ambition of the French king, when freed from the prudent tutelage of his sister Anne. The head of the young monarch was filled with chimerical dreams. His domestic troubles had been satisfactorily composed. His standing force of cavalry, fitted alike for the shock of battle, for scouting and skirmishing, and for missile tactics, was full of military enthusiasm and wanted work. His artillery was far ahead of any other in Europe. His infantry was less satisfactory, but could be strengthened from abroad. He had himself but lately come to man's estate and was eager to prove himself a man and a king. At his Court were the Neapolitan exiles, especially the San Severino princes, eager to press on him a definite plan of conquest. He was estranged from the wise counsellors who had kept him so long in leading-strings. Supple courtiers and men of business, Etienne de Vesc, and Guillaume Briconnet, were at his side, ready to find means for the execution of any scheme that pleased their royal master, and promised to them incidental profits. The crown of Sicily carried with it the crown of Jerusalem, thus suggesting at once and facilitating an ulterior project of crusade; and Europe needed a crusade.

The Moor was probably the first among the Italian princes to see that French intervention in Italy, so often talked of, had at length become a real danger. He approached the King of France in 1491, and received from him in the name of his nephew the investiture of Genoa, which had been similarly granted to Francesco, his father, by Louis XI. In 1492 he obtained the renewal of the alliance formerly enjoyed by his father, thus recovering the position of favour which his elder brother had lost through his indiscreet leanings towards Charles the Bold.

The Milanese embassy of unusual magnificence that soon afterwards visited France had no compromising instructions. Its object was to win the French courtiers by presents, to make all vague assurances of general devotion, and to secure if possible the protection of the King for the Duke of Bari himself. In all this it succeeded. Whatever may have been spoken of in private—and Commines suggests that the most important topics were discussed—it is probable that no promises were made which Ludovico could not afterwards disavow. Yet it is clear that he desired to secure a safeguard for himself, not only against France, but also against Naples. For his relations with that country were less than cordial. The King of Naples could hardly acquiesce permanently in the humiliation of his grand-daughter, which Isabella herself deeply resented. Hitherto he had been hampered by war with the Pope, but peace was concluded at the end of 1491. Ludovico looked to France to protect him against Naples; he hoped to achieve this end without armed French intervention; but in any case, if invasion