Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/284

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the Pope's own. It is remarkable that Julius should be indebted to the least justifiable of his actions for much of his reputation with posterity. It would be difficult to conceive anything more scandalous than his sudden turning round upon his allies so soon as they had helped him to gain his ends. But he proclaimed, and no doubt with a certain measure of sincerity, that his ultimate aim was the deliverance of Italy from the foreigner; and Italian patriots have been so rejoiced to find an Italian prince actually taking up arms against the foreigner instead of merely talking about it, that they have canonised him,—and canonised he will remain. It is also to be remarked that the transactions of the remaining years of his pontificate were on a grander scale than heretofore, and better adapted to exhibit the picturesque aspects of his fiery and indomitable nature.

The War was precipitated by an incident which seemed to give the Pope an opportunity of beginning it with advantage. Louis XII had refused to grant the Swiss the terms which they demanded for the renewal of their alliance with him, which insured him the services, on occasion, of a large number of mercenaries. Julius stepped into his place, and the Swiss agreed to aid him with fifteen thousand men (May, 1510). Elated at this, he resolved to begin the War without delay, though his overtures to other allies had been coldly received, and even the grant of the investiture of Naples, a studied affront to the French King, had failed to bring Ferdinand of Aragon to his side. The Venetians, however, still unreconciled to France, and thirsting for revenge on the Duke of Ferrara, espoused the Pope's cause. The first act of hostility was a bull excommunicating the Duke of Ferrara which, Peter Martyr says, made his hair stand on end, and in which the salt-trade was not forgotten. The Popes failed to perceive how by reckless misuse they were blunting the weapon which they would soon need for more spiritual ends. Louis paid Julius back in his own coin, convoking the French clergy to protest, and threatening a General Council. Modena was reduced by the papal troops; but when, in October, Julius reached Bologna, he received the mortifying intelligence that the Swiss had deserted him, pretending that they had not understood that they were to fight against France. This left the country open to the French commander Chaumont, who, profiting by the division of the Pope's forces between Modena and Bologna, advanced so near the latter city that with a little more energy he could have captured Julius, who was confined to his bed by a fever. While the French general negotiated, Venetian reinforcements appeared and rescued the Pope, wellnigh delirious between fever and fright. When he recovered, he undertook the reduction of the castles of Concordia and Mirandola, commanding the road to Ferrara. Mirandola held out until the winter, and the Pope, enraged at the slowness of his generals, proceeded thither in person and busied himself with military operations, tramping in the deep snow,