Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/207

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the subject city of Arezzo and all down the Chiana valley, Florence had to fear a revival of local autonomy or lingering attachment to the Medici. From furthest North to extremest South, from the Pisan littoral to the backbone of the Apennines, the State was threatened with disintegration. The League, which in March, 1495, had been formed against the French, took Pisa under its protectorate; Ludovico il Moro, indeed, soon withdrew his troops; he had no wish to exasperate the Florentines. His aim was the erection of an oligarchy which would re-connect the chain of Florentine-Milanese alliance, snapped by Piero. But Venice had come to stay. By her settlements in Romagna and Apulia she was making the Adriatic a mare clausum; Pisa should be a stepping-stone to the monopoly of the Tuscan Gulf.

The Pisan volunteers were now stiffened by the seasoned mercenaries of Venice, whose trained engineers strengthened the defences which her artillery could arm. Her incomparable Stradiot light-horse, swimming rivers and treating mountain watercourses as highroads, pushed far into Florentine territory, raided down the line of the modern railway towards Volterra, wasted the rich corn-lands of the Elsa, threaded the intricate hill country towards the Nievole, endangering Florentine communications with Pistoia. In 1509 their ubiquity was to be the bugbear of the finest French and Imperial troops; it is small wonder that they caused embarrassment to the inexperienced Florentines. Pisa controlled a large territory; she was protected to west and south by stagnant side-channels of the Arno and miasmatic marshes; to east and north-east lay a mass of tumbling hills. The Pisan peasantry fought desperately, and every hill-village became a fortress. Pisa could not be starved, for the sea was open to Genoese and Corsican cornfactors; Lucca afforded a ready market for the sale of Pisan property; through Lucchese and Pisan hills wound convoys, whose local knowledge enabled them to baffle the vigilance, or utilise the somnolence, of the Florentine condottieri.

Savonarola staked the truth of his inspiration on the recovery of Pisa; all that Florence had lost should be restored, and much that she had never possessed should be her prize. The prophet's reputation would necessarily rise or fall with every turn in the Pisan war. Amid all the new-born enthusiasm for liberty at Florence there was no sympathy for the Pisans, who so bravely asserted theirs. Sympathetic as Savonarola was by nature, while he had not been born to a share in the old Florentine hatreds, not a word escaped his lips on behalf of the revolted town. Towards the close of the war Florentines of the upper classes felt for the ruined peasantry and the women and children a pity which they scarcely dared express; but, when at this earlier stage a solitary canon of the Cathedral asserted that Pisa had a right to liberty, he was severely punished by the Piagnone government. The idea of liberty stretched but a yard beyond the four quarters of Florence, and even there its currency was conditional on its being stamped with the hallmark of her