Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/234

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other: to declare for France would not only have exposed the Florentine territory to an immediate attack, but would have also alienated the sympathies of all those citizens who dreaded a conflict with the head of the Church, and wished also to stand well with the Medici. The city was full of antagonistic parties and irreconcilable interests, and an abortive conspiracy was formed to murder the Gonfaloniere. In order to gain time Machiavelli was sent upon a mission to France. On his arrival at Blois in July, 1510, he found Louis XII eager for war and inclined towards the idea of a General Council, which should secure the deposition of the Pope. This Council actually met in the following year (September), and although consisting of only a handful of members, held three sessions at Pisa, the Florentines allowing the use of the town for that purpose. It was powerless to harm Julius II, who replied by giving notice of a Council to be held at the Lateran, and thus ipso facto disqualified the Council of Pisa. It served, however, to embitter the Pope against Florence; and both Florence and Pisa were placed under an interdict.

During the winter of 1510-11 Julius II successfully continued his military operations, until his progress was checked by the appointment of Gaston de Foix to the command of the French forces, in conjunction with Gian Giacomo Trivulzio. Throughout the spring reverse followed reverse, and by June the Pope was back in Rome; indeed, if Louis XII had permitted it, Trivulzio might have followed him unhindered to Rome itself. Had he done so, France would have commanded the whole of Northern and Central Italy, and once more cleared the road to Naples. Knowing this, Ferdinand of Aragon had, so early as June, 1511, made proposals to Julius for the formation of a league to check the progress of the French. The idea, momentarily delayed by the illness of the Pope in August, was realised in October; and on the fifth of that month the Holy League was published at Rome. The contracting parties were Julius, Ferdinand and the Venetians: the ostensible object was the defence of Church interests and the recovery of Church property. The command of the allied forces was entrusted to the Viceroy of Naples, Ramon de Cardona.

Whichever side proved victorious in the inevitable struggle, the result would be equally disastrous to the Florentine Republic. Soderini still represented what might be considered the official policy of the State—friendship with France: but his authority was growing steadily weaker, and the collision of parties made any combined action impossible. It was the battle of Ravenna (April 11,1512) that finally cleared the situation. Though the French were victorious, the death of Gaston de Foix deprived them of their most efficient general, and they were henceforward helpless. By the end of June they were driven from Lombardy and ceased for the time to exist at all as factors in the politics of Italy. Florence was at the mercy of the confederates. The supreme moment had come.