Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/177

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


of their allies, determined to retreat by Ivrea to Vercelli and wait for reinforcements.

Here disunion and divergent counsels led to further undecided and unconcerted movements and left the way open to the French, who only at Novara met some slight resistance. But reinforcements came across the Alps; and at the beginning of September considerable bodies of Swiss lay at Domo d1 Ossola, Varese, and Monza, unable to agree on any plan for joint action or even for concentration. Meanwhile negotiations were in progress at Gallerate, the French showing themselves ready to make considerable money grants, and offering Sforza compensation in France. On the 9th of September an agreement was actually sealed. Foremost among the peace party were the towns of Bern, Freiburg, and Solothurn. But the army, now at length partly concentrated at Monza, was ill-satisfied with the terms, and especially the men of Uri, Schwyzt and Glarus. These determined to reject the treaty and move on Milan,, where the party favourable to France had recently been overthrown.

At this moment the distribution of the various forces was as follows. The French lay at Binasco, the Swiss at Monza; Alviano near Cremona; Cardona with the Spanish, and Lorenzo de1 Medici with the papal army, near Piacenza. Cardona and Lorenzo with good reason mistrusted each other, and were mistrusted by the Swiss. But the latter were at length determined by the influence of Schinner to reject all overtures for peace, and advance against the enemy. On the 10th of September the Swiss army was in Milan. Meanwhile the French army had moved to a position S.S.E. of Milan near Marignano', in order to be in easier touch with Alviano, who had occupied Lodi.

The Swiss were still undecided and discordant. Schinner and the enemies of peace built their hopes on the effects of a casual encounter, which actually took place on September 13 and precipitated a general engagement. The Forest Cantons led the way to the attack, the others followed, not altogether willing. The French lay encamped along the road from Milan to Marignano. The front lay near San Donato, the rear-guard between San Giuliano and Marignano. The camp was strongly fortified, and the land on each side of the road made difficult by irrigation canals. The attack began late in the day. The French vanguard, in spite of the damage caused by their artillery, was thrown into some confusion, and the Landsknechte were broken. Then the centre received the assault, but withstood it. Night fell upon the combatants, and the struggle was renewed with earliest dawn. Order had been in some measure restored. It was indeed a battle of the giants. The Swiss held their own before the repeated charges of the heavy-armed French horse, and had developed a formidable flank attack on the French rear-guard. Secure of victory they had sent a detachment to break down a bridge in the enemy's rear, when Alviano came up with a part of the Venetian horse, and, as much by the moral as by the material effect of his,