Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/232

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which remained faithful to him for about a month. He had governed the district with justice and integrity, and won the affections of the inhabitants. But his inopportune illness was fatal to his prospects. The Venetians, always on the watch for opportunities to enlarge their inland empire, obtained possession of Faenza and Rimini; Pesaro returned under the rule of its former Lord; Imola and Forli surrendered themselves to the Pope. By the end of January, 1504, Cesare Borgia was forced to sign an agreement by which he abandoned to Julius II all his claims to the Romagna, in return for permission to withdraw wherever he might wish. In the spring he arrived at Naples and, taken prisoner by Gonzalo, was conveyed to Spain. He was killed in battle in Navarre (1507).

But whatever advantages the Florentines might have derived from the disappearance of Cesare Borgia, they were more than counterbalanced by several other events. The final defeat of the French at the battle of the Garigliano (December 28, 1503) placed the whole of southern Italy in the power of Spain; and the movements of Gonzalo, who was known to be willing to help Pisa, were a source of constant anxiety to the Republic. The presence of the Venetians in the Romagna, the ignorance which yet prevailed as to the intentions of the Pope, and the want of troops and of money, combined to produce a situation of extreme gravity at Florence. Within the city itself there was much discontent with the government of Soderini. He was, it is true, acceptable to the masses, having been able by rigid economy to lighten somewhat the burden of taxation; but the leading families in the State were irritated by neglect and by the filling up of the Signoria and Colleges with persons who were either nominees of the Gonfaloniere, or too insignificant to offer an effective opposition to his designs. His chief supporters were to be found among the younger men recently embarked upon political life and beginning to win a reputation for themselves. Among these Machiavelli in many unpretentious ways was of immense service to Soderini and, though sometimes disagreeing with him, proved ready to subordinate personal opinions to what seemed the general interest of the State. This was clearly seen early in 1504, when an attempt was made to reduce Pisa to extremities by diverting the course of the Arno. The plan had been strongly urged by Soderini and was supported by Machiavelli in his official capacity, though he had little hope that it could prove successful. Ultimately it had, of course, to be abandoned.

The French defeat at Naples naturally aroused hopes that they might be driven from Milan also. The Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, brother of Ludovico il Moro, was now at Rome and bestirring himself vigorously to win assistance in recovering the duchy. The project could not succeed if Florence blocked the way, and Soderini was too devoted to France ever to entertain the idea. Ascanio therefore