Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/146

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occurred, he was determined that Naples and not Milan or the Duke of Bari should be the victim.

The events of the next two years illustrate the unstable nature of Italian policy and Italian alliances. Lorenzo de' Medici died in April, 1492, while the Milanese embassy was at Paris. The choice before his son Piero was a difficult one. It was the traditional policy of Florence to keep up intimate, almost subservient, relations with France, where the commercial and financial interests of the Medici Bank were important, but on the other hand to prevent, if possible, active foreign interference in Italy. These two aims were probably now no longer to be reconciled; and Piero sacrificed the first without attaining the second. Following, as it seems, the counsels of Virginio Orsini, his wife's cousin, he drew closer to Naples, thus alarming and alienating Ludovico, who soon afterwards concluded an alliance with Venice and Rome. Piero rejected all overtures from France; and the opening campaign was preceded by the expulsion of the Medici agents from French territory.

The accession of Alexander VI in August, 1492, seemed at first a great good fortune for Ludovico; for his brother, the Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, was reputed to have supreme influence with the new pontiff. A little matter, the sale by Franceschetto Cibo, son of the late Pope, of two places in the Patrimonio, Anguillara and Cervetri, to Virginio Orsini, the friend of Piero and captain general of Naples, assisted the secret endeavours of Ascanio to animate the Pope against Naples and Florence. The league of the Pope with Milan and Venice, and an indirect encouragement of France in her plans against Naples, were results of this ill-feeling. But the dread of a General Council, of which Charles had rashly spoken, may have inclined Alexander to entertain the pressing solicitations of Ferrante, supported by the offer of an advantageous marriage for one of Alexander's sons to a Neapolitan princess. The Pope allowed his anger to be appeased, and in August, 1493, returned an evasive answer to the confident request of Perron de Baschi, the French envoy, for the investiture of Naples, with a free passage and the supply of provisions for French troops. After the death of Ferrante in January, 1494, Alexander confirmed the investiture to his son Alfonso, and in February he solemnly warned the French King against disturbing the peace of Christian Italy.

Leagued with Savelli, Colonna, and Orsini, the fiery Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, afterwards Pope Julius II, was consistent only in his opposition to Alexander. So long as the Pope was hostile to Naples, Giuliano supported Ferrante, and, retiring from Rome, he occupied his strongly fortified castle at Ostia, a standing menace to the city. When Naples was reconciled, he returned sulkily to Rome. But when the certainty of the invasion was established, he saw his opportunity for striking a blow, left Rome in April, 1494,and joined the King of France at Lyons, to urge upon him the necessity of a Council, with a view to the deposition of Alexander.