Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/168

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to be invited to join the unwieldy coalition, and each contracting power was given four months for naming its allies.

Venice had long been aware that such a conspiracy would correspond to the Pope's inmost and deepest wishes, and that similar plans had frequently been discussed between France and Maximilian. She may, notwithstanding, have relied on the jealousies and hatreds of the powers for keeping them apart. Something of the truth, however, reached her soon after the meeting of Cambray. Early news of a more precise order came to her from the great Gonzalo, who offered his services to the Signoria. The results would have been interesting had this remarkable offer been accepted. While negotiations were carried on in the vain hope of detaching the Pope from the alliance, all preparations were hurried forward for resistance. France declared war on the 7th of April; on the 27th the Pope proclaimed his ban. The Venetians had more than 30,000 men on foot, Italian men-at-arms, picked infantry from Apulia and Romagna, with the excellent levies from the Val di Lamone under Dionigi di Naldi, Stradiots from Illyria and the Morea, Sagdars from Crete, and a considerable force of native militia. Of the allies, the French were first in the field, opposed on the Adda by the Venetians under Pitigliano and Alviano. The impetuous character of the latter was ill-yoked with the Fabian strategy of his colleague, and the policy of the Signoria was a compromise between the two. Alviano proposed to cross the Adda and take the offensive. This plan having been set aside, Pitigliano determined to recover Treviglio, which had given itself to the French. The place was captured and burned, but, owing to the delay thus caused, the Venetians were not ready to prevent the French from crossing the Adda at Cassano. The Venetian orders were to run no unnecessary risk. Thus the French were allowed to capture Rivolta undisturbed. But when (May 14) Louis began to move southwards towards Pandino, and threatened to cut off Venetian communications with Crema and Cremona, the Venetians hurried to anticipate him. The light horse were sent on to occupy Pandino and Palazzo, and the main force followed along the higher ground, while the French moved by the lower road parallel to the Adda. Between Agnadello and Pandino the French found an opportunity to attack the Venetian columns on the march. By this time the Venetian army was spread over some four miles of ground, the artillery was not at hand, and Alviano, who was not present when the fight began, was only able to bring into action a small portion of the heavy-armed horse and a part of the infantry. It is not certain whether he could have refused battle, it is certain that he did not expect it. Nor is it clear whether the French movement on Pandino was a feint, or whether their attack was an afterthought, when the movement on Pandino had failed. It is certain that the French were able to throw the whole weight of their force on a part of the Venetian army. Aided however by the higher