Venice had converted her guardianship of Ravenna into actual possession as remainder-heir to the Polentani, Lords of that city; a step which brought into the field against her the Roman Curia, and was not without important bearings on the final combination of the Papacy with her other enemies at the League of Cambray.
The death of Filippo Maria Visconti left Milan and the Visconti possessions without a Lord. Visconti's only child Bianca was married to Sforza, and in right of her he claimed succession; but the city of Milan declared itself a republic. Venice seized Lodi and Piacenza and offered to support the Milanese Republic if it would recognise the capture. Milan declined. But that city was soon forced to open its gates to Sforza; and shortly afterwards Venice and Sforza came to terms in the Peace of Lodi (1454V), by which the Republic was confirmed in possession of Bergamo and Brescia and acquired Crema and Treviglio as well, thereby affording her enemies fresh proofs for that charge of insatiable greed which they were already beginning to move against her.
But Visconti's death produced another result still more momentous not only for Venice but for all Italy as well. Filippo Maria had left no heirs male; and the French claim,—that of the house of Orleans based upon the marriage of Valentina Visconti with the father of Charles of Orleans,—was immediately advanced. -It opened a new epoch in Italian history, preparing the way for the complications inseparable from the advent of foreign princes in Italian politics.
There were two reasons which induced Venice to accept gladly the Treaty of Lodi. The long War with Visconti, though it had brought her a large accession of territory, had also cost her very dear; but it was of even greater significance that all Europe and Venice especially, as the power most nearly concerned, had been startled by the news that the Turks had captured Constantinople and that the Eastern Empire was at an end for ever. This event took place in 1453, the year before the Peace of Lodi.
We have seen already that the real desire of the Republic was to trade with the Turks, and not to fight them; from the very outset when she made a treaty with Sultan Mohammad in 1410 and again after the victory of Gallipoli, her whole energies had been directed to securing her colonies and insuring freedom of traffic. But now, with the Mussulmans established in Constantinople and spreading down the Levant, it was inevitable that Venice should be brought into hostile relations with their growing power.
The fall of Constantinople was the last external event of moment in the brilliant reign of Francesco Foscari. Internal events also contributed to render his Dogeship remarkable. He seems to have come to the throne as the embodiment of the new oligarchy which had taken final shape at the closing of the Great Council, and which had consolidated its authority by the creation of the Ten. He was the first Doge in whose election the people had no part. In presenting him to his subjects the old formula "