Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/157

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

there was money to spare. The companies of regular cavalry (ordonnances) were recruited, and in great part remodelled. Not less than 1,500 lances were at the King's disposal for the invasion, besides the forces employed in watching Burgundy and the other frontiers. Some 6,000 Swiss foot were enrolled. The total infantry reached the sum of 17,000. The artillery was finer, more numerous, and better equipped than that of Charles VIII. At length about the 10th of August this army was concentrated at Asti. The chief command was given to Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, a Milanese exile, who had left the service of the King of Naples for that of France. The Venetians were at the same time in readiness to advance on the eastern frontier.

The French, after capturing the strong place of Annone, where they massacred the garrison, occupied Valenza, Tortona, and some places of less importance, and then (August 25) closed in upon Alessandria, which was held in strength by Galeazzo San Severino. Galeazzo could not rely on his troops, inferior as they were, and ill-paid. His communications were threatened. Faithful himself, he could not trust his own brothers. On the fourth day after the invading army had encamped before the town, Galeazzo and his principal officers took to flight, and the city at once fell to the French. This was practically the end of the war. On the 30th of August there were some signs of disquiet in Milan. The Duke's treasurer Landriano was killed in the street. On the 2nd of September Ludovico quitted Milan with his treasure, still considerable, and made his way by Como and the Valtellina into Tyrol. The castle of Milan, entrusted by the Duke to his most trusted friend, Bernardino da Corte, was sold by him to the French for the equivalent of some 150,000 ducats. No further opposition was made. The duchy was occupied by the French on the west of the Adda, by Venice to the east. Beyond the Po, Parma and Piacenza, with their dependent territory, submitted without resistance to the French.

Louis now resolved to cross the Alps to take possession of his new acquisition. On the 6th of October he made his solemn entry into Milan, accompanied by a brilliant following of cardinals, princes, and ambassadors. After spending about a month in regulating the affairs of his duchy, he returned to France, leaving Trivulzio in supreme command. With him was associated a Senate consisting of the Chancellor and seventeen councillors, partly French, and partly Italian. Its functions were both administrative and judicial. The task of Trivulzio was difficult. He was himself the head of the Guelf party, and secure of Guelf support, but he had to keep on good terms with the Ghibellines, many of whom had deserted the cause of Ludovico, and accepted the new regime. The inhabitants of the duchy, impoverished by the exactions of Ludovico made for the war, hoped for some remission of taxation. But the expenses of the army of occupation were heavy, trade and industry were interrupted, and it was found impossible