Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/265

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unconsciously misled by the noble if perilous passion for glory, he was yet fully convinced that Naples was his of right, for he had inherited the ancient pretensions of the House of Anjou. He went to war rather in the spirit of a knight-errant than in that of a conqueror, much less of a statesman. Neither he nor his counsellors dreamed that he was about to bring the political organisation of Italy down like a house of cards, and to launch France on the false path in which she was to persist for centuries without earning in the end anything but humiliation and defeat. He had already yielded Artois and Franche Comte to Maximilian of Austria for his son, under the terms of the treaty of Arras, and ceded Roussillon and Cerdagne to Ferdinand of Aragon, in order to remove every obstacle to his expedition, which he designed to be the first stage of a Crusade, headed by himself, against the Turks. He had bought the imperial rights of the Paleologi, and aimed at reviving the Byzantine Empire in his own person. With this anticipation he was determined to demand from Alexander VI the custody of the Sultan's brother Jem; whether he distinctly contemplated the deposition of the Pope is very doubtful.

Alexander VI might have secured himself by siding with France; it is to his credit that he remained faithful to his Neapolitan alliance and to the interests of Italy. A joint plan of operations was agreed upon among the Italian States; but the French, though so ill provided with money that Charles was obliged to pawn his jewels, carried everything before them by land and sea. Their land expedition was memorable as the first in which an army bound on a long march had taken with it a train of artillery. Their maritime superiority gave into their hands Ostia, so lately recovered from Cardinal della Rovere; the Colonna revolted at the gates of Rome; and Neapolitan troops, which ought to have moved northward, had to remain in order to protect the Pope. The terrified Head of Christendom sought the aid of the Turk, and employed Charles's design of setting up the captive Jem against Bayazid as an instrument for recovering the arrears of the pension paid by the Sultan in consideration of his brother's safe custody. The discovery of the negotiation involved him in obloquy; yet other Popes have preferred heretical allies to orthodox adversaries. The genuineness of his instructions to his envoy seems certain; that of Bayazid's letters urging Jem's removal by poison is very questionable: at all events the proposal, if ever made, was not entertained by Alexander.

The French meanwhile advanced rapidly. They had entered Turin on September 5; by November 8 they had reached Lucca almost without fighting. Italy was supposed to possess the most scientific generals of the age, but her soldiers were mercenaries who fought for booty as well as pay, and who thought it folly to slay an enemy who might be good for a rich ransom. An Italian battle had consequently become almost as bloodless as a review. The barbarity of the French, who actually