Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/315

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


recovered the Visconti territories. In this task he was greatly assisted by the military skill of Francesco Bussone, called Carmagnola from his birthplace near Turin. By 1420 the task was accomplished, and a Visconti was once more Lord of Milan, Cremona, Crema, Bergamo, Brescia, and Genoa, as powerful as ever Gian Galeazzo had been and not one whit less ambitious. Florence took alarm at Visconti's attitude and asked Venice to join her in a league against Milan. The position was a difficult one for the Republic; Filippo Maria was undeniably menacing and he had a claim in virtue of his father's conquest to both Verona and Vicenza, now Venetian territory; on the other hand Venice was extremely unwilling to embark upon the troubled waters of Italian mainland politics, and to find herself, in all probability, committed to costly mainland campaigns which would consume the wealth she was sweeping in from the sea.

The Florentine proposals revealed two parties in the State, The Doge Mocenigo and his friends held that it was still possible to avoid a rupture with Visconti, that Venice might remain on good terms with her powerful neighbour and trade with Milan instead of fighting it. Opposed to the Doge was Francesco Foscari, head of the party of young Venice, in favour of expansion, elated by the recent acquisition of Friuli. But Mocenigo was dying, and on his death-bed he called the principal statesmen of the Republic about him and reminded them of the position of the community, which had never been more flourishing. He pointed to the merchant marine, the finest in the world, to the rapid reduction of the national debt, from ten millions to six; to the vast commerce with the territories of the Duke of Milan which represented ten million ducats capital with a net profit of two millions; he insisted that at this rate Venice would soon be mistress of the world, but that all might be lost by a rash war. Everything would depend, he said, upon the character of the man who succeeded him. He uttered a solemn warning against Francesco Foscari as a braggart, vainglorious, without solidity, grasping at much, securing little; certain to involve the State in war, to waste its wealth and leave it at the mercy of its mercenary captains. Prophetic words, but powerless to avert the doom they foretold. Foscari was elected (1423); and instantly set himself to support the Florentine request for an alliance. He did not carry his point at once, for the Mocenigo party could always urge that an alliance with Florence against Milan would draw Visconti and Sigismund together against the Republic. But Filippo Maria's successes were continuous; his troops were in the Romagna, and he had defeated Florence in battle after battle, Zagonara, Val di Lamone, Rapallo, Anghiari. In desperation the Florentines declared that if the Venetians would not help them to retain their liberties, they would pull the house about their ears. "When we refused," they said, "to help Genoa, she made Visconti her Lord; if you refuse to help us we will make him King." This threat coupled with the desertion of Visconti's