Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/231

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


and succeeded in effecting a complete reconciliation with him. Florence was, however, relieved from immediate apprehension.

It was at this critical moment that the threatened conspiracy of Cesare Borgia's captains broke out. The exasperation which the Borgian projects had aroused at Florence led the conspirators to hope that the Republic would espouse their cause; and, after making themselves masters of the Duchy of Urbino, they appealed to Florence for assistance. But as soon as the existence of the conspiracy had become known, both the Pope and his son had in their turn applied to the Florentines and asked that ambassadors might be sent to confer with them. Machiavelli was deputed to visit Cesare Borgia, and remained with him till the end of the following January (1503). The arrival of French troops, for which Cesare Borgia applied to Louis XII and which were readily furnished, forced the recalcitrant captains to come to terms, and they were allowed to take service with him as before. But the hollow reconciliation deceived no one, and Machiavelli in particular had opportunities day by day to trace the stages by which Cesare Borgia, who never trusted twice to men who betrayed him once, lulled his opponents into a false sense of security, and finally took them prisoners at Sinigaglia (December 31). The ringleaders, including Vitellozzo Vitelli, were put to death by his orders. Thence he withdrew to Rome, where he arrived early in the following year (1503).

The year's work had not been, on the whole, unfavourable to the Borgias. Florence on the other hand had suffered seriously, and the incompetence of the government was generally obvious. The reform of 1502, which, carried as a compromise and supported by academic reasoning, provided for the election of a Gonfaloniere to hold office for life, did something to revive the spirits of the inhabitants, and met the wishes of Louis XII; but it added nothing to the real strength of the Republic. In the Neapolitan territory disputes had arisen between the French and the Spaniards, and all Northern Italy watched with anxiety the progress of the war. The defeat of the French at the battle of Cerignola (April 28, 1503) had a marked effect upon the policy of the Pope, who began in consequence to incline towards Spain; but on August 18 all the Borgian designs were cut short by the sudden and unexpected death of Alexander VI. His son was ill at the same time, and unable to do anything. The politics of the Italian States were thus completely disorganised, and Florence in common with the others looked anxiously for the election of the new Pope. Pius Ill's short reign of less than a month was without real influence upon the position of affairs. On November 1 he was succeeded by Julius II, whose election Cesare Borgia had not been able to prevent. With Julius II a new period begins not only in the history of Italy but of Europe.

Florence had now nothing to fear from Cesare Borgia. On the death of his father, he lost all his possessions except the Romagna,