blitzthedragon

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Excellent wordsmanship as always, Jersey.
 

JerseyGiants88

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Chapter 19: Embargoes and Spies, 1510-1512

As Florence emerged from the crisis years of the Lessi and Savonarola regimes, a new conflict came to the forefront. The republics of Florence and Venice, once allies, had become irreconcilable enemies. As the two strongest states in northern Italy, a war between the two seemed unavoidable. The Venetians had attempted to strike first. They had organized and led the League of Vicenza, formed after Florence's victory in the First Italian War. However, disputes within the League, particularly between Venice and Milan over Brescia, had caused it to fall apart. Through a series of diplomatic miscalculations by the government of Doge Domenico Trevisano, not only had the League disbanded, but Venice stood almost alone, its sole remaining ally being the Duchy of Augsburg. Its ruler, Duke Nicolaus II, had hoped to use his alliance with Venice to balance against the Habsburgs. Gonfaloniere Girolamo Rospigliosi de’ Medici recognized that Venice's weak position presented Florence with an excellent opportunity to strike back at its rival.

While most of the republic had been preoccupied with Savonarola or other local political struggles in the provinces, the army, ensconced at its fortress in Parma for those years, was focused entirely on training and preparation for war. They assumed that the League of Vicenza could attack at any moment, and so all of their drills and plans were to repel an attack from the north and then respond with a counter-offensive. As the strongest member of the League, Venice received the lion's share of focus from the Florentine army leadership.

The Army of Florence in 1510 was a mix of veterans of the First Italian War in the senior leadership in charge of a rank and file that had never been to war. Nevertheless, General Carlo Ulivelli had emphasized to his officers and senior enlisted the importance of passing on the lessons they had learned to the newer soldiers. As a result, the training and drilling that the army had been doing would have them ready for battle when the time came. In addition, new advances in tactics to adapt to the changing ways of war were being put into place.

The development of pike and shot formations, where mixed units of pikemen and arquebusiers worked together had largely reduced the effectiveness of heavy armor. As a result, many armies, including Florence’s had begun experimenting with lighter, faster moving cavalry armed with firearms of their own. This would increase their shock value and limit the effectiveness of the still inaccurate arquebusiers. Several of the Florentine cavalry regiments were outfitted in this new style, which would soon be put to the test.

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Advances in cavalry tactics and armament gave Florence an edge over its enemies in Italy

However, the army's planning for war with Venice did not apply just to conventional military preparation. Historically, spying was the domain of the diplomatic corps. However, with no real diplomatic focus coming from Savonarola, the diplomats largely fell out of use, languishing in the capitals to which they were assigned with little to guide them. While individuals continued to collect information on potential enemy activities, the overall Florentine intelligence network had fallen largely into irrelevance. The army, desperate for information on enemy troop movements and battle plans, began to develop an intelligence network of its own. They recruited agents in all of the League of Vicenza states. They put the greatest amount of effort, as they had been doing with everything, into Venice. It would pay off greatly.

In November of 1510 Captain Manfredo Albizzi, disguised as a French merchant, traveled to Venice to try and recruit new spies. While there, he met a nun named Clarice Roccia. Sister Clarice was originally from Florence, the illegitimate daughter of the wealthy merchant Severino l’Appo and a servant woman. When she was just sixteen she had married one of her father's employees, a ship captain named Tommaso Roccia. However, when he turned out to be an abusive drunk, Clarice killed him and fled Florence to go to Venice and found refuge at the convent at the Church of Corpus Domini. She had become a nun but had always dreamed of returning to Florence. When she met Albizzi on his mission to Venice, she was eager to volunteer her services to Florence in exchange for the promise of a pardon for the murder of her husband. Albizzi readily agreed. By coincidence, Albizzi was a good friend of Clarice's half-brother, Andrea l'Appo, also an officer in the Florentine army, and l'Appo vouched for Clarice's trustworthiness and loyalty to Florence.

Sister Clarice turned out to be a skilled and diligent spy. Working together, Captain Albizzi and Sister Clarice were able to develop an extensive spy network in Venice. Additionally, due to her being a nun, Clarice was able to get work in the Basilica of St. Mark’s and discovered the best places to listen in on conversations. With the Basilica in such close proximity to the centers of power in the Republic of Venice, it was a natural area of congregation for its leaders. Listening in on their conversations, Sister Clarice was able to keep the Florentine army steadily informed on major troop movements, preparations for war, and diplomatic maneuvering among other things. She even managed to become a confidant of several of the Doge's top advisors, giving her, and by extension Florence, an insight into the plans of their rivals' leaders. Through her information, the army was able to refine its war plans and create detailed offensive schemes.


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Sister Clarice Roccia was an important spy for the Republic of Florence in Venice

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Florence had developed a sophisticated spy network in Venice by 1510

After Gonfaloniere de' Medici took power, the diplomats also moved to reclaim their role as the principal intelligence gatherers for Florence. They were not about to let themselves be outdone by the upstart army spies such as Sister Clarice. Ippolito Tonelli, as the new foreign minister, knew that the Gonfaloniere and the army were angling toward a confrontation with Venice. Yet Tonelli was opposed to any offensive war as he felt that Florence risked too much in exchange for too little. He felt that the main goal of containing the Venetians and weakening them could be achieved by other means. Through their own spies, Tonelli and his diplomats had learned that there was a great deal of unhappiness among the Venetian peasantry in the republic’s mainland provinces. Tonelli thought that if he could successfully foment a peasant uprising it would remove the need for Florence to go to war. Gonfalonire de’ Medici supported the idea, though likely because he just saw it as a chance to weaken the Venetian army prior to a Florentine offensive.

Tonelli dispatched one of his most trusted diplomats and friends, Arturo Lomelli to find and begin talks with peasant leadership. Lomelli roamed the countryside in the provinces of Brescia and Verona hoping to organize a core group of peasants in order to fund and arm them. However, this proved more difficult than he had anticipated. Even after he had been able to identify a group of peasant leaders, infighting among them caused problems from the beginning.


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Florence attempted to foment an uprising among the peasants on the Venetian mainland

Then, on 23 August 1511, a meeting of peasants outside of Verona was raided by Venetian army patrols. A number of the local rebel leaders were arrested along with Lomelli. They were brought to Venice where the peasants were executed almost immediately upon arrival. Lomelli, on the other hand, was tortured as the Venetians attempted to get the identities and locations of other peasant rebel groups from him. After that, he was paraded through the city and put in a stockade in St. Mark’s Square.

When word got back to Florence about what had happened, the reaction was overwhelmingly negative. The idea of a prominent Florentine diplomat being tortured and publicly humiliated in a foreign capital caused widespread outrage. Even the normally reserved pacifist Ippolito Tonelli was ready to go to war after hearing the reports of what had been done to his friend. The Assembly voted to impose a trade embargo on Venice in response, which the Gonfaloniere quickly approved. Venice retaliated with an embargo of its own on Florence.

As the much larger economic power, the Venetian embargo hurt Florence badly, while the Florentine embargo did little. The merchants began struggling to meet the demand for goods they needed to import. The shortage of goods combined with high price increases on living necessities made the winter of 1511-12 particularly difficult, especially in the southern provinces of Arezzo and Urbino. While the embargo was meant as a way to retaliate against Venice short of going to war, it ended up making war inevitable. The Venetians knew how badly the embargo was affecting the Florentine economy and were unlikely to lift it even if their rivals unilaterally lifted theirs first. Therefore, Florence was left with two options: have their economy strangled or go to war. They easily chose the second option. However, there were a number of political obstacles that had to be overcome first.

With the economic situation worsening due to the Venetian embargo, Gonfaloniere de’ Medici sent Ippolito Tonelli to Vienna to gauge Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II's willingness to go to war. The Habsburgs had been humiliated by the loss of the vitally important province of Karnten to the Venetians in the War of the League of Verona. Ever since, they had been looking for a chance to take it back. The Emperor and his foreign minister, Josef Haspinger, who had previously served as the Habsburgs' ambassador to Florence, declared that they would be happy to support Florence in a war with their mutual rival. In exchange for a promise that the return of Kärnten to Austria would be a condition in any peace deal, they promised to enter any war between Florence and Venice. With the support of Emperor Ferdinand secured, Tonelli returned to Florence to pass the good news to Gonfaloniere de' Medici.

Nevertheless, there was also a domestic political obstacle for the Gonfaloniere and others in the pro-war camp to clear. A large portion of the population, tired of the instability of the previous decade and just looking for stability, had no taste for war whatsoever. This war weariness extended to the Assembly for a variety of reasons. First, the powerful merchants were divided. One portion of this influential class was pro-war because they felt it was the only way to get rid of the Venetian embargo and bring normalcy back to their trade companies. However, others opposed the war. They looked at the enormous Venetian navy and knew that war meant that not only would they suffer under an embargo, but that their trade ships would be confined to the Florentine ports or otherwise hunted down on the high seas. They were not the only ones. Much of the country nobility opposed the war as well, knowing that their crops, and therefore their profits, would be requisitioned to feed the army. In order to overcome this anti-war coalition, the Gonfaloniere and the pro-war faction would have to have a good reason to present to the Assembly.

That reason presented itself on 9 June 1512, when two Florentine trading vessels owned by the Compagnia dell’Elba, whose owners belonged to the anti-war faction, attempted to dock in the port of Ragusa. In what would become known simply as the Ragusa Incident, they were intercepted by four Venetian galleys, which boarded the ships and sailed them north to Venice, with their crew in irons. When they docked in Venice, an angry crowd turned out. The crew was beaten severely in broad daylight and the two ships were looted for their goods and set ablaze, all under the watch of Venetian troops. The sailors were then arrested and imprisoned in the infamous Piombi, where the Florentine diplomat and agent Arturo Lomelli was already being held.


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The Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) leading to the Piombi prison (right) in Venice, where the Florentines were held following the Ragusa Incident

This news was met with even greater outrage in Florence than the Lomelli incident. Much of the anti-war sentiment among the traders and merchants disappeared quickly. If their ships and sailors could be attacked even in free ports like Ragusa, then any hope for their struggling companies to survive was finished. If they were going to live under the conditions of a blockade anyway, they might as well be blockaded while Florence had a chance to force an end to the embargo.

On 21 June 1512, Gonfaloniere de’ Medici sent a declaration of war to the Assembly for approval. General Carlo Ulivelli sent out orders for the army to prepare for war. At that point the army was all unified and in its large encampment at Campi Bisenzio 18 kilometers northwest of the capital. Ulivelli and his top commanders began drawing up plans for an invasion of the Venetian mainland.

The matter was not, however, decided immediately in the Assembly. The debate turned acrimonious not only over whether or not to go to war, but also on how the war would be funded, how much of the demand for soldiers and supplies would be placed on the provinces in Emilia-Romagna, and on whether the merchant fleet would be impressed into wartime service. Finally, on 26 June, the Speaker of the Assembly, Ignazzio Spadolini, long time rival of the Gonfaloniere, stood and gave a speech in the Assembly, his first time weighing in on the debate. He declared his total confidence in his old enemy Girolamo de’ Medici’s leadership and reminded his colleagues that the honor of the republic was at stake. Spadolini, a skilled politician and influential man, was able to sway enough of the Assembly to finally put the matter to a vote. On the afternoon of the 26th, the vote passed and the Republic of Florence declared war on the Republic of Venice. Two days later, General Ulivelli was riding north at the head of the Florentine army, headed to war.
 

Idhrendur

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Yes! Time to show those Venetians not to cause trouble.
 

JerseyGiants88

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Historical Vignette 8: Florentine Girls, 24 June 1512

Florence

“Did you really have to bring me along?” asked Cesare de’ Medici, sounding bored.

“Yes, your commander requires your assistance in a social matter and you are here to provide it,” replied Lorenzino, "you should be honored to be of use."

“When a commander employs his subordinates in matters of personal gain it is improper, lowers morale, and--”

“Oh shut up about it,” said Lorenzino cutting off Cesare’s recitation of one of General Ulivelli’s points of guidance for the army.

“So how long have you been trying to get Valentina Spadolini to go out with you?” queried Cesare.

“Two months,” said Lorenzino. They were sitting on a small stone wall outside the Palazzo Spadolini, awaiting Valentina and a friend of hers to come out and meet them. Both men were wearing black outfits with gray trim, the colors of the Iron Legion of Florence. Cesare was proud when he was put into the regiment, one of the best and most celebrated in the entire army. Lorenzino, on the other hand, was a veteran of the regiment, and one of its best and toughest commanders.


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The Palazzo Spadolini

Lorenzino was not a typical army officer. He was born an orphan in the port city of Livorno, abandoned by his mother, and raised by a fish monger. While Lorenzino had fond memories of his childhood with the man who adopted him, the fishmonger died when he was only eight years old. After that, he roamed the streets, joining the ragged gangs of children in the bustling port city and living off of the profits of petty crimes and whatever food they could scrounge up. When he was eleven, he left Livorno for the countryside. While on the road one day, he tried to steal from an army food wagon. He was caught but the quartermaster of the supply train, mistaking Lorenzino for a much older boy due to his height and strength, offered him the chance to join the army. He served with the quartermaster for two years. When the First Italian War started and the army was in need of good fighting men, he was transferred to the infantry. He was only thirteen.

From that day forward, Lorenzino had been a man of the Iron Legion. Despite his young age, he turned out to be the type of man that others naturally followed. Fearless in battle, he distinguished himself at Formigine and again at the Battle of Parenza on the Po River, where the Legion took heavy casualties. Lorenzino had learned to read while serving under the quartermaster which, coupled with his bravery and skill, earned him a position of command.

Now, even the son of the Gonfaloniere of the Republic of Florence took orders from the orphan from Livorno. Nevertheless, Cesare idolized Lorenzino, he was everything the young Medici hoped to become as a soldier: strong, fearless, and focused in the heat of battle. For all his complaining, he would follow Lorenzino anywhere. That didn’t mean he wouldn’t occasionally make a joke or two at his expense.

“Two months!? My God!” said Cesare laughing, “Valentina is not usually so...difficult. I would’ve dropped it a long time ago.”

“Well not all of us get to sleep with noble women left and right the way you do young Medici,” snapped Lorenzino.

Cesare smiled. “You know I prefer a nice country girl, less delicate, more fun. And they don’t have annoying little friends that have to be babysat, thus requiring me to bring along some poor young officer, in violation of the general’s wisdom may I add, just to amuse her.”

“I don’t know why you’re being such a nuisance,” said Lorenzino testily, “for all you know Signorina Spadolini’s friend will be quite good looking.”

Cesare glanced at Lorenzino and shook his head in disappointment, the way a professor would toward a student who simply could not grasp his wisdom. “Listen to yourself: Signorina Spadolini,” he said her name in a mock, overly formal way. Lorenzino looked annoyed, which only pushed Cesare to keep going. “She’s not exactly known for her virtue,” he continued, “not that I’m a huge supporter of virtue. It tends to be quite boring. Although, she does have quite a figure on her. And those lips, mm-mm,” Cesare went on as if talking about a piece of fruit, “and talented lips at that. You know she gave me my first--”

“That’s enough!” barked Lorenzino, finally fed up with his subordinates’ games and using the same tone of authority he would use to discipline a hapless private soldier in his battalion. Lorenzino could be a harsh disciplinarian but, unlike most of his fellow officers including Cesare, he had also experienced much of the harshness of army life that he now meted out. “You know I hope you’ll be a more obedient subordinate if we are ever in a battle together,” he continued.


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Captain Lorenzino

“Well that’s different,” protested Cesare, now slightly annoyed his honor was being brought into question.

“Is it?” shot back Lorenzino with mock interest, “why don’t you explain the difference to me, with all of your expertise on the subject.”

“I’ve killed men,” snapped the younger officer indignantly.

“Oh my, how impressive,” said Lorenzino with all the sarcasm he could muster. The he changed to a serious tone, “cutting some fanatic’s throat in the middle of the night isn’t the same as being in battle.

Cesare decided to drop the matter, this was not an argument he was going to win. He closed his eyes and turned his head upward, letting the summer sun pleasantly warm his face. Thankfully for him, and all of the citizen’s of the city, a pleasant breeze kept making its way through the winding streets and alleys. Ever since he was a child summer had always been his favorite time of the year. It always seemed so eventful, so full of possibility.

Suddenly the door to the Palazzo Spadolini cracked open and a servant girl emerged. “Signor Lorenzino?” she asked timidly.

“Yes?” replied the older soldier jumping to his feet.

“Signorina Spadolini will be out shortly,” said the young woman, “she apologizes for the delay.” With that she disappeared inside, shutting the door.

“Now her, I’d fuck,” said Cesare looking at the heavy wooden doors.

“You’d fuck anything,” replied Lorenzino, shaking his head, “and stop being crude. You will not ruin this for me.”

“Ruin what?” asked Cesare skeptically, “your chance to stick your cock in Valentina Spadolini? Don’t worry, if you’re not a complete imbecile you will be able to do it.”

“Well that is obvious, she let you do it,” shot back Lorenzino, finally giving Cesare a smile. That was the type of banter he was usually accustomed to from his commander and friend. Lorenzino had been stiff and serious all morning. “And that’s not my goal,” he went on, “I plan on courting Signorina Spadolini, like the lady she is.”

Cesare looked at his commander with an expression that combined skepticism with a benign, condescending sadness.

“Look I hope I don’t offend you,” he said, “and I know the army has allowed you to rise improbably from orphan boy to the commander of a fine battalion where the son of the leader of the republic has to obey your commands and do whatever you order him to do. But Florentine high society is not quite so...democratic. The Spadolini are one of the most powerful and, dare I say, arrogant families in the city.”

“Like yours?” shot back Lorenzino.

“Yes, exactly like mine,” said Cesare, unphased by the retort. Now it was his turn to be serious, “I just don’t want you to be disappointed. Plus, the Assembly is going to vote to declare war on Venice soon and we’ll have to march off to battle. Who knows how long we’ll be gone. A girl like Valentina Spadolini isn’t going to wait around for some commoner, even if he does command the finest battalion in the whole army.”

“Maybe she’ll think it’s romantic,” replied Lorenzino hopefully.

Cesare rolled his eyes. “Yes, and maybe she’ll think your scar is romantic too,” he said referring to the prominent scar on his commander’s right cheek. In truth, Cesare was jealous of that scar. He thought it was exactly the type he’d like to get. It didn’t make Lorenzino look ugly at all, just more rugged.

“Many women do,” replied Lorenzino, “it let’s them know I’m a man who has done things, not some soft little boy like you.”

He deserved that insult, Cesare thought to himself, he’d walked right into it.

Before he could retort, the door to the Palazzo Spadolini opened again, ending their conversation. The servant girl reappeared. “May I present Signorina Valentina Spadolini,” she said giving a curtsy, “and Signorina Caterina Montefeltro.”

Caterina? Thought Cesare excitedly jumping up. The two young women emerged from the door. Valentina looked stunning, as she usually did, her dark brown hair flowing down behind her. She was wearing a red silk gown with wide, open sleeves lined in dark blue. She wore a gold carcanet around her neck and large golden earrings. The Spadolinis liked to show off their wealth. Caterina looked great as well, wearing a turquoise silk gown with slashed sleeves tied in bows at the shoulders. Her long blond hair was pulled back and confined in a small embroidered cap and then wrapped in a long tail down her back. Her high waist was accentuated with a knotted gold silk sash. The full sleeves of her chemise were gathered into ornamented bands with golden accents.

The two men bowed toward Valentina, “Signorina Spadolini,” they both said. Cesare looked up in time to see Valentina give him a dismissive side eye. They bowed again in the direction of Caterina, “Signorina Montefeltro.” Caterina gave a curtsy to Lorenzino then ran toward Cesare and nearly knocked him over as she hugged him.

“Cesare!” she shouted, embracing him warmly. Lorenzino looked confused while Valentina shook her head in disappointment at her friend’s childishness. “It’s so good to see you again, it’s been so long.”

Cesare blushed, “I thought you would have forgotten all about me.”

“Don’t be silly,” she replied, “how could I? I will always remember how you would defend me when the older children teased me when we were young. And you were the only boy who enjoyed talking about books and history with me.”

Cesare turned even redder, “yeah, except when Piero Strozzi beat me to a pulp.”

“It was still so brave,” she beamed.

“Alright children, grow up,” cut in Valentina, “let’s go shall we?” She held out her arm to Lorenzino who, for a moment, seemed unsure of what to do. “Well?” she asked impatiently, “are you going to take my arm or what?” Lorenzino quickly complied, slightly embarrassed. Cesare offered his arm to Caterina, she took it smiling. The two pairs set off west along the Via Porta Rossa toward Via de’ Tornabuoni, Cesare and Caterina following behind.

“Why are we going this way?” asked Cesare, curious why they were walking the opposite direction of the Ponte Vecchio.

“Because this is a stroll, not errand,” called back Valentina condescendingly, “and I’d like to walk along the river for a bit.”

“I didn’t know you were back from Urbino,” said Cesare to Caterina, ignoring Valentina's comment.

“I just got back three days ago,” she said as they walked slowly through the narrow street. Cesare was looking at her, admiring the way the shy, bookish little girl he had known had become an elegant, pretty young woman.

“I haven’t had a chance to really see the city since I’ve been back,” she was saying, “I do miss it so much. The culture and the bustle are unmatched. Urbino is beautiful but so provincial.” As they reached Piazza Santa Trinita, Cesare noticed her looking around, taking in the sights and sounds of the capital. The width of Via de’ Tornabuoni brought a nice breeze through the square. A group of merchants walked by, arguing loudly among themselves. They walked past a tavern on their left by where the Borgo Santi Apostoli crept away into the shadows of the Palazzo Spini, its patrons drinking wine and eating cheese and meats at wooden tables outside, enjoying the early summer weather. A few of the men eyed the two ladies intently. Cesare tried his best to look menacing, and placed his hand on his sword hilt. Caterina did not notice.


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Piazza Santa Trinita looking south along Via de' Tornabuoni toward the river

Untroubled, she continued talking, excitedly discussing the comparative qualities of Florence and Urbino and Milan (where she’d stayed two full months, “nearly as cultured as Florence”) and Venice (“so much activity; and the canals, just divine!”) and Naples (“so different, almost like one would imagine a city of the Orient”). Cesare was entranced. Caterina had really grown up. Not only was she beautiful, but interesting and well travelled too! thought Cesare to himself, not like most of the girls he knew.

“How about you?” she asked as they reached the river and turned left on the Lungarno, the street that runs along the river. The sun shone down on them now that they were out of the shadows of the large buildings. The light made Caterina’s hair shine like gold. The breeze that had been flowing through the streets felt even nicer now, bringing the sweet smells of the countryside along with it.

“I’m in the army,” said Cesare proudly.

“So it is true,” she replied, “when I first heard, I was so worried about you, but it seems like you are doing well.”

“I am. I like it all in all, a good way to get into a routine and keep fit,” he said flexing his biceps a bit, hoping Caterina would feel them.

She was looking over at the badge with the chain-mailed fist of the Iron Legion embroidered on his tunic with one crimson fleur-de-lis below it. “What does that mean?” she asked pointing to it.

“Well this is the symbol of the regiment I belong to, the Iron Legion,” he said pointing to the fist and then, indicating the fluer-de-lis, “and that means I am a lowly lieutenant, free to be bossed around by Captain Lorenzino over there.” Cesare nodded in the direction of his friend.

“Is it true he is a commoner with no family?” asked Caterina in a whisper, leaning in closer to him.

“It is,” replied Cesare, “but don’t let that fool you, he’s as good as any commander in the army, and very intelligent too.”

“Can you imagine him and Valentina together?” asked Caterina in an excited whisper, “so scandalous, so romantic.”

Cesare laughed, “I guess it would be.” He looked out over the Arno. The unpredictable river was flowing like a torrent that day, when it had been almost dry just a week earlier. Even the best scientists could not get a grasp on the river’s erratic behavior, which was part of why Cesare liked it so much. One never knew what it would be like from one day to another.

“I’m so excited to go see what the sellers have to offer,” Caterina was saying, “I haven’t been to the shops on the Ponte Vecchio in years.”

“Well now that you are back in Florence you can visit it whenever you like,” said Cesare.

“Well I am not moving back to Florence, I am just visiting,” replied Caterina.

“Oh,” said Cesare trying not to sound too disappointed, “are you returning to Urbino?”

“For a time,” she replied, “you sound disappointed to hear it.”

“Well, no, no I am not,” said Cesare attempting to sound uninterested, “I am just curious why.”

“Well my father and uncle want me to marry.”

“Marry who?” Cesare asked, still feigning indifference.

She gave him a curious look. “There are a few eligible suitors,” she said, “Vincenzo Gonzaga, Emmanuele Filiberto di Savoia, perhaps a Trastamara--”

“Foreigners!?” he blurted out, unable to catch himself that time.

“What of it?” she asked indignantly.

“Oh nothing,” replied Cesare regaining his composure, “I just thought you would want to marry a Florentine man. After all, your family's seat may be in Urbino, but you are from here.”

“Did you have anyone in mind?” she asked, looking at him.

Cesare said nothing, unsure how to proceed. He looked ahead and saw Valentina lean in and whisper something to Lorenzino. The commander turned and nodded enthusiastically.

“Well?” Caterina pressed on.

He was saved when Valentina turned around. “My dear,” she said speaking to Caterina, diverting her attention, “I don’t think I have it in me to go to the market today. And Signor Lorenzino has promised to take me on a ride on his horse.”

Caterina looked as if her dreams had just been shattered. “But you promised we would go to the Ponte Vecchio,” she whined to her friend , “and if you’re up for riding, how can you be too tired for the market?”

“You and I can still go,” said Cesare consolingly, “I need to get a few items for myself. I’ll be your escort and we can let those two lovebirds have some time to themselves. They’re not old friends like we are. They should get to know each other better.”

Valentina looked at Cesare and gave him a barely perceptible nod of approval. “Well great then! Have fun at the market children,” she said turning back to Caterina while she roughly grabbed Lorenzino’s arm. Valentina dragged him away with her.

Cesare smiled at the image of the fearsome battle commander made utterly defenseless by a girl. “I do not think we will be seeing them again for some time,” he said to Caterina, “ever since we were children Valentina always got what she wanted.”

Caterina giggled and nodded her head in agreement. Cesare looked at her. He had a strong urge to kiss her right there. Instead, he snatched Caterina’s golden sash off her waist and took off running toward the Ponte Vecchio.

“Hey!” she shouted behind him, trying to chase him down. They weaved in and out of the crowd and past stalls and stands and shops. At the middle point of the bridge he slowed down and let her catch up. She ran up breathing heavily, pushed him against the stone railing of the bridge, and grabbed her sash back.

“You little devil!” she said, wide-eyed, panting, but smiling. “What was that for!? That is no way to treat a high born lady!”

Cesare reached out, put his hands on her waist, and pulled her closer. “Look at it,” he said waving his hand toward the city, “isn’t it beautiful?”


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View of from the Ponte Vecchio, looking upstream along the Arno

“It is,” she agreed as they gazed up river.

“Why would you want to leave it?”

“You’re going to be leaving it too,” she replied, suddenly serious.

The war. He’d somehow forgotten all about it. For years he’d dreamed of marching off and leading men into battle and now that it was about to happen all he wanted to do was stay right there on the highest point of that old bridge with that sweet, pretty girl and feel the summer breeze. As if to reinforce the point, a group of foot soldiers, also enjoying their last days of relaxation before duty called them off to some foreign land, walked past. They saw him and removed their hats and nodded to him. He raised his hand to them in acknowledgement.

Caterina looked at him admiringly. “Well that just reminded me that you are all grown up after all, despite your antics.” She took his hand. “Come,” she said, “let us forget the war and sad things for now, let us have some fun, like we were children again.”

He smiled at her, “that sounds wonderful.”

“I’m going to need some new dresses for when suitors come to visit me,” she said teasingly, “perhaps you can help me pick them out.”

“Gladly,” he replied laughing, “I’ll see that you are dressed in the most hideous rags.” She pushed him again and turned to walk away. He stood, leaning against the stone wall of the bridge, watching her. That silk dress was fitted just right, he thought to himself smiling. He straightened up and followed her into the crow.

They spent the rest of the afternoon running around the different shops and stalls of the Ponte Vecchio, trying on clothes and jewelry and masks and costumes. That evening they sat together on the banks of the Arno staring at the stars and reminiscing. When Cesare finally walked Caterina back to the door of the Palazzo Spadolini, they stopped and looked at each other.

“I want to see you every day until I have to leave,” he said looking in her eyes.

She blushed, “I’d like that.”

“And then when I’m gone I’ll send letters back as often as I can. I’ll remind you that you belong back here, in Florence.” Despite his best efforts his eyes were beginning to water.

“Oh you sweet, silly boy,” she said reaching up to wipe his eyes, “what a cruel world we live in that they make nice boys like you go off to war.” She leaned in and kissed Cesare on the cheek. “Good night Cesare de’ Medici,” she said and turned toward the door. She knocked on it and a few moments later it opened. “See you tomorrow,” she smiled and disappeared inside.

As he walked slowly northward on Via dei Sassetti toward home, he tried to decide if he was in love. Was it possible? He had a long walk ahead of him back to the Palazzo Medici. He wondered how much longer he would be in Florence. When he reached Piazza San Giovanni and passed the Baptistry, the enormous dome of Santa Maria del Fiore rising behind it, he said a quiet prayer that the Assembly continue to babble about coins and troop levies and take their time to declare war on Venice. The more they squabbled, the more time he would have to spend with Caterina. He would marry her, he concluded, somehow. First, he had to survive the war. The reality of the situation came rushing back to him. He shuddered, and tried in vain to push the thought out of his head.
 

JerseyGiants88

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Chapter 20: The Lion and the Lily, 1512-1515

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War between Florence and Venice had become nearly inevitable by the end of the First Italian War. The Venetians had openly declared themselves the rivals of the republic to the south that had once been their ally. Since the end of that conflict in 1499 Italy had been almost entirely at peace. With the exception of a minor and inconclusive conflict between Milan and Genoa in 1509-1510, the peninsula had been peaceful. The Republic of Florence’s declaration of war shattered that peace and ushered in an extensive period of war. What would become known as the Second Italian War or the Florentine-Venetian War would set off a cascade of conflicts that went far beyond the principal combatants.

Because Venice and Florence did not border on each other, the Florentine armies had to secure passage through one of the duchies along the Po River: Mantua or Ferrara. The latter, ruled by Duke Alfonso I of the House of Este, despised the Florentines and was sympathetic to the Venetian cause. He refused the Florentines entry. Their other option, Duke Sigismondo I of the House of Gonzaga was more accommodating, but for a price. The Este-Gonzaga rivalry had been going on for decades with neither family being able to tilt the balance against the other. Now, sandwiched between two increasingly powerful republics, the Gonzaga decided that their best bet was to throw in with one or the other and, hopefully, leverage that partnership against the rival Estes. Duke Sigismondo decided that Florence, not Venice, was the new power in Italy and when General Carlo Ulivelli and his commanders came to negotiate safe passage through Mantua, they countered with an offer of their own. The Gonzaga would allow the Florentine army through, in exchange for an alliance with the Republic of Florence against the Estes. Ulivelli, never a man to bother himself with diplomatic nuance and considering it an issue that could be dealt with later, agreed. The Gonzaga were happy with the deal and the Florentines were free to continue their campaign.

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Carlo Ulivelli, General of the Army of Florence
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Crossing the Po and advancing on Brescia

The Florentines also received help from another ally: Switzerland. In August of 1512 the Swiss sent a large gift of gold to Florence to help with the war effort. Syndic Ruprecht Sporri also considered the Venetians a threat and was glad to see them under attack. Gonfaloniere de’ Medici, sensing an opportunity to get more help from him than just gold, sent Ippolito Tonelli to Bern in order to bring Switzerland into the war. It would take the top diplomat several months but, eventually, the Swiss sent their armies to war.

The first major engagement of the Second Italian War involved troops from neither Florence nor Venice, nor any Italian state. Venice’s ally, the Duchy of Augsburg, had launched an attack into Austria in an effort to fight their way over the Alps and into Italy to link their army with their ally's. However, the army of Augbsurg, under the command of Gregor Boelken, was quickly and easily defeated on 6 August 1512 in Tirol by a much larger Austrian army led by Michael von Riedsel. From that point forward, Augsburg became nearly irrelevant in the war, contributing little to their ally.

The war at sea was a different story. As everyone had expected, the mighty Venetian navy sank Florentine and Austrian ships wherever they could be found and imposed a highly effective blockade on their ports. This served to make the economic impact that had started with the embargo hurt even more. Now, no Florentine merchant ships were able to move at all. Then, in a move that would go down in infamy and earn the Venetians the everlasting hatred of all of Florence, they invited the Barbary Pirates of Tunisia to raid the Florentine coastlines. With their fleet trapped in the Port of Livorno, and no ships to conduct anti-piracy patrols, the Barbary Pirates were able to attack and plunder with impunity. Their first raid occurred on 25 August 1512 and they would continue throughout the war. The corsairs plundered gold and dragged off men, women, and children as slaves. Tales (of varying degrees of authenticity) of murdered children, men pressed into service on the galleys, and women sold into harems in North Africa incensed people throughout Italy, not just Florence. Word that the raids were being facilitated by the Venetians soon spread. The Florentines vowed revenge but, for the time being, there was nothing they could do to stop their coastal towns and cities from being ravaged by the corsairs. These pirate raids were the first glimpse into how bloody and ruthless the conflict would become.

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The Barbary Pirates’ raids struck fear into the hearts of coastal residents

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Tales of Italian women taken by the corsairs and forced into slavery were particularly outrageous to the people of the Republic of Florence

Meanwhile, The Venetians had invaded southern Austria and were laying siege to the main Austrian port at Gorz. There they hoped to take the Emperor's main anchorage and burn his fleet in the harbor or force it out to sea to be wiped out by the waiting Venetian galleys. The Venetian army, under the command of Francesco Contarini, scion of one of the merchant republic’s wealthiest families. Their goal was to attack the Austrians first, before they could combine their army with the Florentines, defeat them, and then turn against Florence. This plan, while sensible, left the Venetian mainland territories open to unchallenged invasion.

General Ulivelli was more than happy to take advantage of that. He marched his troops north to lay siege to the strategically placed Venetian stronghold of Brescia. The fortress outside the city could block all of the main roads from Italy to the Alpine passes that led into Austria. Taking it would enable the Florentines to march on Klagenfurt in the province of Kärnten in order to take it back from the Venetians and hand it over to Habsburgs. Girolamo de' Medici and his foreign minister, Ippolito Tonelli, were also still working toward bringing Switzerland into the war on their side. This made taking Brescia even more important, as it would open up all resupply and reinforcement routes between Florence and its ally to the northwest. With the Venetian army tied up with their own siege of Gorz, there was little hope for help to come to the defenders of the city.

The Florentines reached Brescia on 21 August 1512 and quickly surrounded the city and began their siege. Despite the odds against them, the defenders held strong. It would take the Florentines more than seven months to force the fortress to capitulate. Part of the reason for the long duration of the siege was General Ulivelli's desire to minimize his own casualties. While he was sympathetic to the Gonfaloniere's desire for better coordination Florence's allies, for the general, the war would be won or lost in the field. Accordingly, he felt that wasting his men's lives in an assault on the fortress or the city was wasteful and would lower morale. He wanted to maintain his army's high spirits as well as its manpower for the inevitable battles against the Venetian army later on. While his enemy was not challenging him directly, Ulivelli was content to sit back and starve out the garrison and people of Brescia.

While the Florentines were laying siege to Brescia, Emperor Ferdinand II ordered General von Riedsel to take his army south and attempt to lift the siege of Gorz. However, the Venetians were ready for the attack. They were bolstered by newly arrived troops from the Knights Hospitaller and the Republic of Naxos. The Grand Master of the Knights, the brilliant tactician Emericus von Hormpesch took overall command and beat back the attack and his force nearly surrounded the Austrian force though von Riedsel was able to lead an orderly withdrawal. After the failure of the Austrian counter-offensive at Gorz, the city surrendered and the Venetian soldiers destroyed the Austrian fleet in the port.

When Brescia finally surrendered, on 30 March 1513, General Ulivelli decided to march his army east and join the Austrians to attack Klagenfurt. The Venetians, seeing their enemies closing in on the strategic city, moved north from Gorz as well. The Austrian army was still regrouping following its defeat at Gorz while the Florentines were slowed down as they made the difficult Alpine crossing from Brescia into the Habsburg lands to the north. Therefore, the Venetians beat their enemies back to Klagenfurt and began preparing for battle. It was lost on nobody that knew history that the Venetian positions were within a day’s ride of the location of the two most decisive battles of the War of the League of Verona: Maria Saal in May of 1462 and Sankt Veit an der Glan in July of 1465. In that conflict, Florence had fought on the Venetian side against the Austrians and, ultimately, the bloodily contested province was taken by the Most Serene Republic. Now, half a century later, the Florentines found themselves on the other side, attacking a Venetian army alongside their Austrian allies in an effort to win the province back for the Emperor

The battle for Klagenfurt was shaping up to be an epic clash that could decide the outcome of the whole war. The Florentines and their newly arrived Swiss allies were closing in from the west, the rebuilt Habsburg army was coming from the east, and the Venetians were well positioned in an easily defensible area. However, von Hormpesch was too good of a commander to let himself get trapped and destroyed between two enemy armies. He commanded about 31,000 men, mostly Venetians reinforced by several thousand troops from Naxos and his own contingent of Knights Hospitaller. He was opposed by a combined force of nearly 50,000 men, about evenly divided between the Swiss-Florentine army to the west and the Habsburg army to the east.

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Emericus von Hormpesch, Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller

While the Battle of Klagenfurt, which was actually two separate battles, would go down as a Florentine-Habsburg victory because they were able to hold the field and begin a siege of the city, it was actually a masterful performance by von Hompesch and his army. Instead of sitting in their defensive positions, the Venetians attacked first as the two enemy armies approached. First, they struck the Austrians near the village of Ebenthal, surprising them and forcing them to halt. Leaving a strong rearguard with the mission to delay their crossing of the Gurk River and only withdraw under pressure, von Hormpesch wheeled his force around and marched them eighteen kilometers back west to strike the Swiss-Florentine troops near the village of Tuderschitz. With the numbers in his favor now, von Hormpesch moved to overrun and destroy Ulivelli's army. The Florentines were saved only be the skill and numerical superiority of their artillery. The Venetians, who were trying to move quickly, were not able to bring their guns to bear as quickly as their enemies could. The Florentine artillery tore through the Venetian formations as they advanced and their infantry was able to repel several determined assaults that threatened to break the line. It did not hurt that despite their remarkable gallantry, von Hormpesch’s men were exhausted after a full day of fighting and marching and fighting again. With the opportunity for a quick victory gone and not wanting to risk getting his army trapped, von Hompesch decided to withdraw south. He left a strong garrison in Klagenfurt to delay the city's fall and keep the enemy armies from a quick victory there. With the Venetians gone, the Florentines and Austrians were free to besiege Klagenfurt and take back their lost province of Kärnten. However, due to von Hormpesch's maneuvers, they missed the opportunity to destroy the Venetian army and end the war quickly. Many more bloody months were ahead for both sides.

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The Battles around Klagenfurt proved to be indecisive

Following the Venetian army's withdrawal from Klagenfurt, the Florentines and Austrians took a tactical pause to decide on their next move. They had come close to being defeated by a numerically inferior foe who had seemed trapped. General Ulivelli wanted to split their forces once again, as he was concerned that the conflicts and inefficiencies that would develop in a joint Austro-Florentine force and that the army would just turn into a slow, lumbering target for the Venetians. Ulivelli also did not trust von Riedsel's tactical decision making or that the Habsburg heir, Prince Matthias, who the Florentine general considered to be arrogant and incompetent, would not try to take command of the forces. The Florentines and Swiss would head south and besiege Treviso, the so-called "gate to Venice" while the Austrians would stay and capture Klagenfurt. Ulivelli's ultimate goal was to trap the Venetian army and, only then, unify the Austrian and Florentine forces for a decisive pitched battle. Ulivelli understood that there was no hope of ever capturing Venice itself as the approaches to the city were guarded by the seemingly invincible Venetian navy, but that if the allies could destroy their army then the war would be over.

Von Hormpesch had taken his force back down to Venice where, guarded by Venetian ships, they could refit, recover, and prepare a new offensive without risk of being attacked. Ulivelli marched his army south in preparation for a siege of Treviso. They moved quickly. The Venetian army was larger than the Florentine force, even with 7,000 Swiss soldiers supporting them, and it was important for them to reach Treviso and set themselves up in a strong defensive position before the Venetians could return to the mainland unopposed. If that happened, there was the risk that Ulivelli's force could be cut off, defeated, and forced to retreat back to Florence. If instead they reached Treviso first, they would force the Venetians to cross the lagoon to the mainland under pressure, giving them a potentially decisive tactical advantage. Von Hormpesch, backed by the navy, did not seem too concerned with getting back into the fight too quickly. The advantage on the seas gave him a crucial strategic advantage as he could freely move his army almost wherever he pleased. Therefore, he saw no reason to rush back into a fight with a Florentine army that had proven itself skilled and capable.

The Florentines reached Treviso on 19 May 1513 and settled in for the siege and to keep the Venetian army from easily crossing back to the mainland. However, the Venetian defenses at Treviso, unlike the ones at Brescia, did not consist of one large fort, but four separate ones, known as the "four sisters". The largest and strongest was at Treviso itself, which the Venetians had turned almost into a garrison city. The other three were located at Mestre, Portegrandi, and Jesole, around the Venetian lagoon. The three smaller forts could all be reinforced by water and troops could be shuttled between them if they were in danger of falling. The situation presented a vexing problem for Ulivelli and his commanders. To successfully carry out the siege, he split his force into four groups, each one assigned to a different fort. He focused on the three smaller ones, leaving only a force large enough to surround Treviso itself and keep supplies from getting in. He then had his artillery concentrate on one fort at a time. The sieges of the four sisters would be a long, methodical process that would keep the Florentine army occupied for over a year. The Venetians did not make matters easy by launching amphibious raids and sorties against their enemies' supply depots and reinforcements.

The greatest and most notorious raid was carried out by 3,000 men of Naxos, under the command of Chrysanthos Zeno starting in November of 1513. Just a week prior, the Florentines had finally captured the first of the forts at Jesole and von Hormpesch and Doge Michele Priuli wanted to distract the Florentine army so that they could move the main body of their forces east across the Adriatic to launch a new offensive against Austria. The Habsburgs had successfully retaken Gorz, but the Venetian garrison at Klagenfurt was still holding out. The goal of the raid on Florence's Adriatic coast was to force their enemy to divert troops south to defend their homeland, thereby preventing the main Florentine army from joining the Austrians in defending their own coast in the east. Doge Priuli however had a bloodier end in mind as well. On 28 June, he had defeated his predecessor, Doge Domenico Trevisano on the promise of righting the faltering Venetian war effort and delivering a victory. He and his new government decided that in order to do that, they needed to make their enemy’s population suffer as well. Accordingly, he sent his vassal's troops off with the order to kill and burn everyone and everything that they could.

The people of the Republic of Florence's Adriatic coast had been spared the horrors visited on their countrymen on the western coast by the Barbary pirates. However, the Naxos raiders would bring greater horror, for a longer time, than the corsairs ever did. The Greek raiders landed at Pesaro on 13 November 1513. They pillaged and looted the city for three days, burned the Florentine ships in the harbor, and set fire to the surrounding villages. Then, they headed inland toward the provincial capital of Urbino, seat of the House of Montefeltro and Duke Guidobaldo. The city resisted for a week, but eventually the raiders broke through the gates. They killed many of the Montefeltros and a large number of people within the city. They set fire to the castle and loaded up carts of stolen goods, which they sent back to Pesaro to be loaded on Venetian ships waiting in the harbor.

When word of the raid got back to Florence, panic began to spread. A furious Gonfaloniere de' Medici rode out to Treviso to change the situation. While he considered General Ulivelli to be an excellent field commander, de' Medici thought he was too slow and cautious when it came to sieges. When he reached the Florentine army on 9 December, he told Ulivelli that he would personally assume command of the siege. He ordered Ulivelli to instead head south with 7,000 men, crush the raiding party, and "put every last man to the sword." The Gonfaloniere, along with his chief engineer, Rodolfo Grimaldi, set out to speed up the siege of the remaining three forts. Ulivelli departed immediately, though his troops stopped briefly to sack the city of Padua on their way in retaliation for the Venetians' actions. The Naxos raid, on top the continuing corsair attacks on the Tyrrhenian coast, had markedly increased the brutality of the war. Ulivelli's men set fire to many structures in and around Padua and were ordered to slaughter any military aged males they encountered. While Ulivelli forbade his men from killing women and children this order often went unheeded. The Florentines proved that they were as skilled at committing atrocities as their enemies. The pile of bodies of the victims was stacked outside the city and burned as the army departed. After Padua, they continued their march south.

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The Sack of Padua

In the meantime, the raiders had moved north into the Romagna and were headed for Rimini. The terrified peasantry was quick to inform the Florentine forces of their movements and Ulivelli soon had them trapped. The raiders attempted to reach the coast where they could be picked up by the Venetian ships but were unable to communicate with them. The Florentines caught them just east of the castle at Gradara and pursued them to the coastal cliffs at Casteldimezzo. There, Ulivelli ordered his men to give no quarter and they proceeded to slaughter all of the Greek troops. Afterward, they did not even bury the dead raiders, but left them to rot in the sun.

While that was going on, the Venetians had moved the main body of their army by sea to Dalmatia, where they were now threatening the southern Habsburg lands once again. Ulivelli pushed his forces back north to rejoin the siege of the forts of Treviso. They arrived in early February to find that a second fort had fallen to the Florentines, but the one in Mestre as well as Treviso itself, were still holding out. The final fort would not be captured for another five months, on 14 July 1514.

Despite the delay, once Treviso, Venice's last mainland holding in Italy fell, the Florentine army was free to move once again. The defenders of Klagenfurt had proven themselves just as stubborn as those at Treviso and the Austrians did not conclude their siege of that city until early June of 1514. Then, on the 28th, Emperor Ferdinand II died, and the Electors made his son Matthias I, Holy Roman Emperor. As one of his first moves, Matthias dismissed von Riedsel and assumed command of the Habsburg armies himself. He was determined to chase the Venetians from Austria.


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Matthias I, Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria, in armor

Meanwhile, Ulivelli was dealing with his own leader’s interference in military affairs. Gonfaloniere de’ Medici had not left the army since he had arrived to oversee the siege of Treviso and the “four sisters”. The Florentine general had tolerated this on the basis that Medici was a former army engineer and, therefore, qualified to lead a siege. Now that the siege was over however, Ulivelli assumed the Gonfaloniere would turn around and go home to Florence. This, however, did not happen. De’ Medici decided to stay with the army for the remainder of the campaign. This frustrated Ulivelli, who nevertheless maintained tactical command.

Emperor Matthias made his first move to go after the Venetians in August. The Venetians had moved from Dalmatia and were once again besieging Gorz. With his rebuilt fleet at risk, Matthias wanted to avoid a repeat of what happened the last time the Venetians attacked the Habsburg’s main port. On 21 August the Austrians under the Emperor’s personal command attacked the Venetians. Matthias led his army in from the east, along the Vipava River Valley hoping to trap the Venetians against the Isonzo River to their west. However, von Hormpesch had set a trap for the Emperor and his troops. He had ordered his troops to abandon the siege and take up a blocking position at the town of Vertoiba four kilometers south of Gorz while another portion of his army went through an unguarded pass and emerged at the village of Valvolciana, behind the Austrian army. Matthias panicked upon realizing he had been ambushed and nearly allowed his army to disintegrate before him. Thankfully for the Austrians, some of his senior commanders managed to rally the men and have them conduct a fighting withdrawal back to the east.

The victory emboldened von Hormpesch, who abandoned the siege of Gorz and instead chose to march his army north, in the wake of the retreating Matthias I, and threaten Vienna or, at the very least, Graz. Uliveli and de’ Medici, upon hearing of the Habsburgs’ defeat, were at odds over how to respond. The Gonfaloniere wanted to march into Austria and help the Emperor’s army while Ulivelli, who despised Matthias, wanted to instead push south and lay siege to Trieste in the Venetian province of Istria in order to cut off their last possible re-supply route. In the end, and to Ulivelli’s frustration, de’ Medici prevailed, arguing that if they did not march north before the onset of winter, they risked being blocked south of the Alps until the passes opened up in the spring.

In September of 1514 the Venetians began laying siege to Graz. If that city fell, then the Venetians would be able to march on to Vienna and maintain their increasingly long supply line from the port down at Trieste. This time, however, Emperor Matthias would prove that he could improve as a commander. Instead of canalizing his forces to attack the Venetians outside of Graz, he approached across a wider front and made better use of his scouts to warn him of any surprises. Still, the Austrians struggled. A ferocious counterattack by the vanguard of the Knights Hospitaller, personally led by Emericus von Hormpesch, nearly turned the Austrian right flank. However, von Hormpesch was killed in the charge, the momentum ran out, and the Venetians, now leaderless, began to crumble. Francesco Contarini, the top Venetian officer, took command and was able to organize a disciplined withdrawal. Matthias I and his army had suffered the lion’s share of the casualties at Graz but, in the end, they were the ones that held the field with the bonus of having killed their enemy’s commander.


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The Habsburg pike formations at the Battle of Graz

Instead of going south, Contarini made the decision to withdraw north to the Duchy of Augsburg where he could link up with reinforcements from Venice’s ally. They reached Augsburg in mid-October. Contarini was hoping that his enemies would delay attacking and then make camp for the winter, giving him time to re-organize his forces. However, for the Florentines, Gonfaloniere de’ Medici’s decision to move north instead of south paid off. Even Ulivelli had to admit it. Now, they were perfectly positioned to quickly capitalize on the Austrians’ victory at Graz. The decisive campaign of the war was about to start.

On 23 October 1514, the Florentine army crossed into the Duchy of Augsburg. Located on the Lech River, Augsburg was in a wide valley of relatively fertile farmland, which made the approaching army’s march easier. Contarini decided to meet the invaders at the town of Bobingen, about ten kilometers south of the city. Fighting on an open field for the first time in the war, Ulivelli was finally able to put his new reiter cavalry to good use. The fast riders managed to outflank the Venetians on several occasions, throwing their lines into disarray. Once again, the skillful gunnery of the artillery batteries shone through as well, just as they did at the Battles of Klagenfurt a year and a half earlier. A final, determined charge by the Florentine infantry, led by the Iron Legion and the Reggimento Zappolino broke the Venetian lines, causing a chaotic retreat. The Reggimento Zappolino, made up mostly of men from Modena and its surrounding towns, got its name from the Battle of Zappolino, where Ghibelline Modena defeated Guelph Bologna in the War of the Oaken Bucket. The fact that a Ghibelline regiment was fighting for a historic Guelph stronghold like Florence was proof that the old political alignments in Italy no longer held.

Without von Hormpesch’s skill to keep things together, their army collapsed. The Venetians lost about 7,500 men killed or captured to the Florentine’s 2,500 casualties. De’ Medici was not content however. He wanted a total annihilation of the Venetian army to break their power and as revenge for the raids that they had orchestrated on the republic’s home provinces.

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The Battle of Augsburg was a crushing defeat for Venice

Instead of besieging Augsburg, the Florentines marched south to Tirol in pursuit of their retreating enemy. With winter quickly approaching, Ulivelli and de’ Medici wanted to destroy their foes quickly. On 23 November, the fast riding Florentine cavalry caught up to their quarry in the vicinity of Reutte. Their harassment caused a split in the army's marching formation, which in turn enabled the main body of the Florentine army to catch up to it and destroy it. On the orders of Gonfaloniere de’ Medici, no quarter was given to the Venetian troops, many of whom were cut down as they tried to surrender. By the end of the day nearly 4,000 Venetian troops lay dead in the mountain valley.

The day after the massacre a harsh early season snowstorm swept over the region, blanketing the armies and the land in snow. The mounting casualties from the battles plus increasing desertion due to low morale and the harsh winter conditions had reduced the Venetian army to just over 6,500 soldiers. On 26 November, after marching for two days through a brutal snowstorm, Contarini and his beleaguered men reached the town of Ehrwald. The vanguard of the Florentine army, also slowed down by the snowstorm, was only a few kilometers behind them and the Venetian scouts reported that the Habsburg army under Emperor Matthias I had reached Innsbruck and was preparing to cut off their retreat to the south. With their hopes of escape dashed, and in an effort to save his men, Francesco Contarini surrendered to de’ Medici and Ulivelli.

As the Florentines approached Ehrwald they deployed in line of battle facing the defeated Venetians. Gonfaloniere de’ Medici told Contarini that if his men laid down their weapons they would be spared, fed, have their wounds treated, and allowed to return home. The massacre at Reutte on the 23rd followed by the snowstorm had taken much of the lust for vengeance out of the Florentine army and its leaders, and now many just wanted to see the war end. In a complete reversal, the same soldiers who had been cutting Venetians down a few days earlier were now helping their conquered foes and giving them food.

With their army destroyed, the Venetians had little choice but to sue for peace. Initially, Gonfaloniere de’ Medici demanded that Doge Priuli be handed over to stand trial for the corsair raids and for the sacks of Pesaro and Urbino. However, the Venetians refused to even consider this and with no prospect of being able to defeat their navy and take Venice itself, de’ Medici dropped the demand.

The two sides met in Trent shortly after the New Year in 1515. On 6 January the parties assembled to negotiate an end to hostilities. Florence made no demands for territorial gains. However, as part of the deal with the Habsburgs to enter the war, they demanded that the province of Karnten be returned to the Archduchy of Austria. Also, the Venetians were forced to release their province of Friuli, which became the Republic of Aquileia. Florence did demand a war indemnity to repay the families of those killed and robbed in the raids. On 8 January the parties signed the Peace of Trent, ending the war.

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The Peace of Trent ended the Second Italian War

The Second Italian War, especially in its latter stages, transformed into a more savage struggle than Italy had witnessed in centuries. While the end of the Condottieri era had ushered in a new, better trained and more professionalized military, it also changed the nature of warfare. The condottieri era battles were cautious, slow moving, and usually had few casualties. Now, as the Second Italian War showed, the battles had become much more brutal. The carnage of the conflict would leave deep scars on both Florentine and Venetian society.

While Florence made no material gain in the war beyond money, they succeeded in crippling their principal rival in Italy. It would take years for Venice to rebuild its army after its destruction in the snowy Alps. The loss of key provinces would begin to take a toll on the republic financially as well. The Second Italian War marked the beginning of a long, steady decline for the Venetians from which they would not recover. For Florence, it set the stage for further expansion in Italy, as well as more carnage, in the years to come.
 

Idhrendur

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That war was more brutal than I had thought (good job conveying that aspect of warfare in your writing). While it stings the pride to not directly take territory from Venice, setting them on the road to decline is worth it. Especially if that frees you up to absorb some weaker powers in Italy without interference or needing to watch your back.
 

Nikolai

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So you weakened Venice and strenghtened Austria. But you only took gold for yourself. This won't unite Italy, you know.;) But excellent update!
 

JerseyGiants88

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That war was more brutal than I had thought (good job conveying that aspect of warfare in your writing). While it stings the pride to not directly take territory from Venice, setting them on the road to decline is worth it. Especially if that frees you up to absorb some weaker powers in Italy without interference or needing to watch your back.

So you weakened Venice and strenghtened Austria. But you only took gold for yourself. This won't unite Italy, you know.;) But excellent update!

I didn't take any territories mostly because I felt it was not necessary or strategically advantageous. I did not border on Venice and so any territory I took would have been connected to me only by sea or reliant on military access from another state and, as you saw in that update, my naval power is limited. My main goal in this war was to significantly weaken the Venetians and from then on slowly but surely erode their power until, eventually, I will be able to surpass them in naval strength and then defeat them decisively. Thanks for the kind words though.

The next update should be up tomorrow. It's going to be another historical vignette related to the war that just happened, showing some of the earlier characters' experiences in it.
 

JerseyGiants88

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Historical Vignette 9: The Winds of War, 28 June 1512-24 November 1514

28 June 1512
Florence


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Cesare de' Medici was thrilled that General Ulivelli had ordered the army to parade through Florence before heading north. He suspected it had not been the general's decision, he tended to be a man who did not like pomp and ceremony. Whatever the case, the young officer now found himself riding at the head of his men down the Via dei Martelli, their boots loud against the paving stones. Once out of the city, he would dismount his horse and walk with the men. Captain Lorenzino demanded it of his officers, no matter how high born. "An infantry officer walks with his men, the same way as he will fight and bleed with his men in battle," he told Cesare and the other young officers constantly. It was uncommon for officers to walk with their men on the march, but Lorenzino was an uncommon officer. For now however, Cesare remained mounted on his large gray and white destrier, the biggest and strongest horse in the Medici stables.

The cheering crowd waved, and young women threw flowers to the passing men. As they approached the Palazzo Panciatichi, the moment Cesare had been most looking forward to arrived. As he sat upon his horse he glanced back nervously at his men marching behind him. They looked good, their heads held high, their armor clean, their march organized and neat, the steel of their weapons gleaming in the Tuscan sun, and their banners flapping gently in the wind. Cesare was reassured, this reflected well on him.

That morning the troops had left their encampment at Campi Bisenzio and marched east along the Arno and entered Florence from the west through the Porta al Prato. Then they marched through the city and paraded past the Palazzo Vecchio where his father, the Gonfaloniere of the Republic, reviewed the troops. From the city’s main square they headed north along the Via dei Calzaiuoli and past the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Baptistry. They continued up the Via dei Martelli, which would take them past the university and, finally, through the Porta San Gallo and out of the city.

He spotted the girls almost immediately. On the balcony of the Palazzo Panciatichi, directly over the Via dei Martelli, stood Valentina Spadolini, Agnese Baglioni, Lucia Panciatichi, and Caterina Montefeltro. All four were dressed in combinations of dark reds and white to show their enthusiasm for the Florentine cause. Cesare looked down and wiped a smudge off the crimson fleur-de-lis on his breastplate. It was shining just right, as was the silvery steel of his armor, he thought to himself satisfied. He looked back up and saw that Caterina had spotted him, she started waving and pointed him out to the other girls. Cesare felt his heart beating faster but he kept his bearing. He looked up and raised his right hand in a lazy wave.


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Caterina smiled radiantly down at him. His mind flashed back to their last time together, that past Friday evening. She wore red that night as well, though a brighter shade than what she had on now. Her hair was done up in curls and she had danced barefoot under the moon on the banks of the Arno as the music from a nearby tavern drifted through the evening air. He pictured it in his mind even as he looked up at her, resplendent on the balcony, like a queen, her blond hair catching the sunlight. It felt like a dream that night. It all did, even the current moment. It was just like he had always imagined it would be.

She produced a red rose and held it up for him to see. Cesare smiled back at her. Caterina tossed it down to him, but missed short and one of the soldiers to his right caught it. Cesare looked over and saw it was Pierozzo, a youth who couldn't have been more than sixteen years old. The boy, who had grown up on the streets of Florence and had once been one of Savonarola's children, looked overjoyed with his prize. He caught Cesare looking at him and quickly took the smile off his face and snapped his head forward.

"Pierozzo!" Cesare called out, as the boy turned to look at him with trepidation. Cesare smiled, "nice catch!" The youth broke out into a grin and nodded his head toward his commander. Cesare touched his hand to his helmet in reply.

They had passed under the balcony by then, and Caterina and the other girls were behind him. He had an urge to turn around and give a final wave and smile to Caterina but decided against it. He wanted to keep his bearing, to go forward. It’s what the heroes in the stories would do.

_________________________________________________


24 November 1513
Urbino, Republic of Florence


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Caterina Montefeltro held her breath. She heard the men walking around in the room outside, speaking and joking in a language she could not understand, their chain-mail clinking and their heavy boots thudding with each step they took. From the sound of the voices there were three of them. She wished she had paid more attention to the Greek lessons she took as a girl. She loved learning the history, but the language always seemed tedious to her.

Caterina looked over at her two cousins, Carolina and Beatrice. Beatrice held her son Ercole, just a baby, in her arms. The three women were in a small cellar in the bowels of the Montefeltro family's Ducal Palace in Urbino, hiding from the raiders who swarmed over the city. Caterina had watched them flow through the gates, killing everyone they could find as they made their way to the castle. Her cousin Antonio, brother to Carolina and Beatrice and heir to the Duchy of Urbino, had hidden them in that cellar and told them to keep quiet before running off to join the fight. Caterina feared the worst for Antonio. If the enemy soldiers were in the castle, that meant the fight ended badly for the Urbinese men. She had no idea where her aunt Elisabetta was nor any of the rest of her large family. Caterina tried to push the horrific possibilities of what happened to them out of her mind. She reflected on the dark irony that her two cousins off fighting in the army were now the Montefeltros who were in the safest situation

The only important thing for the women in the cellar now was to keep quiet and hope the men standing outside decided not to be too careful in their search. The entrance was normally visible, but when Antonio had hidden them in there, he had pushed a cabinet in front of the door to hide it.

Caterina tried to listen through the door to figure out what the men were up to. They talked lazily. She heard one of them sit down while another rummaged through cabinets. The thief is looking for something more to steal, thought Caterina to herself bitterly.

Suddenly, baby Ercole cried out. Beatrice put her hand over his mouth to silence him but the damage was done. Caterina heard the men outside instantly fall silent, the rummaging stopped, and the one who had been sitting down bolted to his feet.

Then, to her horror, Caterina heard the boot steps move closer to the door of the cellar, the chain-mail clinking ominously. Then she heard nothing for what seemed like an eternity. She looked over her shoulder at her cousins, both of their faces pale and filled with fear. Caterina noticed she was trembling violently. What would they do if they found them? she wondered with dread.

The cabinet covering the entrance to the door began to move, sliding loudly over the stone floor. Then the door flew open and the three men entered, wielding their swords. The light that flowed in with them blinded Caterina temporarily. She heard one of the men laugh and begin talking excitedly. One of the others said something to him, he sounded angry, the first one to speak quieted down. Caterina had an urge to flee to the back of the cellar but kept herself between the men and her two cousins. She wasn't really sure what she could do to protect them, but she tried to stand her ground nevertheless. Not that she had anywhere to run anyway.

The soldier who had been talking excitedly sheathed his sword and walked up to her, his eyes running up and down her body. He was young, possibly even younger than she was and despite the dirt and grime on his face he was rather handsome. He moved close to her and as he approached she could smell him. The young soldier reached up and brushed a lock of her blond hair out of her face while his other hand moved to her waist as he whispered something to her. As terrified as Caterina was, the words did not sound menacing. The tone was almost gentle. Still, she closed her eyes, imagining herself somewhere else, perhaps back in Florence with Cesare. How she wished he could have been there to protect her now. She knew it was only a matter of time before his touch started getting rougher and then the horror would start. Caterina promised herself that whatever he did, she would fight back as hard as she could. His rough fingers now brushed the skin on her neck, sending a chill down her spine.

Suddenly, one of the other soldiers barked something angrily and, to her shock, the younger one's hands withdrew instantly. The older one shouted something else and the boy stepped back quickly, bowed, and mumbled something that sounded apologetic. The two older soldiers approached Caterina now. One had a grey beard and an ugly scar over his left eye, the other was also bearded, though his was black and he had eyes of a striking emerald green color.

The gray beard said something that sounded almost deferential to Caterina as he shot a contemptuous glance at the young one. She saw the brown bearded one smack the young soldier lightly on the top of his helmet. Gray Beard then reached into a satchel strapped to his waist and pulled out two large hunks of bread and a jar of olives. Holding them in both hands, he made a circular motion in the direction of Carolina and Beatrice, huddled in terror in the far corner of the room. The old soldier smiled at Caterina and pressed the bread and olives into her arms. She noticed that he was missing many teeth as she took the food instinctively. The soldier bowed and stepped back. "Thank you," she whispered, wondering if he understood. Apparently he did, because he toothless smile grew wider. He turned and bowed again in the direction of Carolina and Beatrice.

After that his smile disappeared and he turned and said something sternly to the young soldier. He wagged his finger in the boy's face, it sounded like he was giving him orders. The boy and the brown beard turned and headed for the exit of the cellar. Gray Beard bowed one more time deeply and followed behind them. Just before he exited he turned around, put his finger to his lips, and let out a "shhh." Then he disappeared outside and shut the door. Caterina heard the cabinet slide back in front of the cellar entrance. She heard Gray Beard say something else gruffly followed by the sound of a hand smacking the top of a helmet. Then all three began laughing. Caterina listened intently as the sound of their bootsteps faded away, their armor clinking along with them.

Still trembling, Caterina let out a sigh of relief. She turned and saw the shocked faces of Carolina and Beatrice and walked over to them. Beatrice handed little Ercole to Carolina and embraced Caterina strongly, weeping silently into her shoulder.

Later, when Caterina heard about the slaughter of the raiders on the cliffs near Gradara, she thought back to the three men who had entered the cellar and said a quiet prayer for them. The two bearded soldiers could have done whatever they wanted with the three women, but they chose mercy. They gave them food. Even the young soldier, in retrospect, did not seem as bad as he did in the moment. Perhaps he never meant to rape her or harm her. Perhaps he was just a poor boy thinking he had just fallen in love with a high born girl he found in a cellar. Caterina would never know, but she chose to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Still, she was torn. Despite their kind treatment of her and her cousins, those same men must have carried out atrocities elsewhere, murdered men and raped women. The raiders, if not the three men from the cellar, had murdered most of her family, killed friends and acquaintances she had known since she was a child, and slaughtered countless others. When Caterina and her cousins finally emerged from the cellar two days later, after the raiders had left, they saw the horror that was left behind. It made her wonder why they had been spared. Was it because they were noble women and it happened that the soldiers who found them had some deferential respect for the high born? Was it little Ercole who had touched off their pity? She would never know. War, which she had never expected to experience firsthand, was more confusing, and hideous, than it was in the stories. The questions would haunt her for the rest of her life.

_________________________________________________

24 November 1514
Outside of Ehrwald, Archduchy of Austria


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Captain Lorenzino walked purposefully through the camp, his boots crunching the deep, fresh snow. He looked ahead and saw the man he was looking for. Cesare de’ Medici was sitting around a fire with some of his men, all of them trying to keep warm against the frigid wind, their heads and shoulders coated by a thin layer of white. Night was coming on quickly, and the temperature would only drop lower, perhaps the flurries would turn back into a full on blizzard. Lorenzino approached the group of men.

“De’ Medici,” he said sternly, “a word with you.” Cesare jumped to his feet and looked at him.

“Yes sir,” he said then glanced back at his men, “I will return shortly.” The young officer walked over to his commander.

“Come with me,” said Lorenzino walking toward the tree line. He heard Cesare walking behind him, both of their feet sinking into the new snow with each step. They continued in silence until they were in the trees, then Lorenzino turned on him. “Where were you when I called the officers together to discuss the plans for tomorrow?” he asked angrily.

“I know the plan,” responded Cesare coldly.

“Oh do you?” snapped Lorenzino, Cesare’s tone and arrogant answer only increasing his rage. The other just nodded. Lorenzino had an urge to punch him right then and there. “Well lieutenant,” he said emphasizing the younger man’s rank, reminding him he was a subordinate despite his noble status, “tell me what was discussed.”

Cesare glared at his commander for a moment. “Well captain,” he replied, “I can not say what, exactly, was said, but I figure it has something to do with riding down defeated men, cutting them up as they throw down down their weapons and beg for mercy, and calling that a great victory. If I were a soldier, I would be interested in plans and tactics, but I am not, we are not, we are just murderers.”

Lorenzino swung and hit Cesare with his fist straight on the jaw. He went down hard, the snow only barely breaking his fall. The punch had opened a gash on his lower lip and blood trickled down onto the white ground. Cesare did not cry out, but simply fixed his commander with a hateful glare. He slowly got to his feet. Lorenzino stared back at him.

“Do you think I care if you beat me?” Cesare asked, “do you think I even care if you kill me? You might be an orphaned bastard, but you’re still my commander, whatever that means anymore, and I’ll live or die on your word or your action. But I won’t sit around smugly discussing the cold blooded murder of defeated men, men who fought bravely and deserve better than what we are giving them now. This isn’t war, this is a hunt.”

“You listen to me you little shit, I don’t know what sort of weak sentimental moment you are going through but you will not disobey my orders.”

Cesare just maintained his cold stare. “Name one time I disobeyed an order on the battlefield,” he challenged, “I promise you cannot name one instance. I have killed for you, I have been wounded for you, and I have burned cities for you. Yesterday, I cut down some poor peasant boy after he’d dropped his weapons. It was what I was ordered to do. When he was lying on the ground he looked up at me and said, ‘mercy my lord.’ And my idea of mercy was to drive a sword through his throat.” Cesare spat blood down onto the snow at his feet.

“Whatever you have done, you have not done for me,” replied Lorenzino, trying to keep his voice steady, “you have done it for Florence. Do you think I want to slaughter men like dogs. I’d rather fight them on the field, honorably. But I do not get to choose. I have dedicated my life to the army and it has been my home. It is the only family I have. I do what I am told, whether I like it or not. Yesterday, our orders were to put all enemy soldiers to the sword. And we did it."

He looked his young friend square in the eye, “You have fought well throughout this war, you have brought honor to yourself, to your family, and to the republic. There is a reason I chose you to lead the Iron Legion’s attack at Augsburg. You are the best officer I have. But this isn’t a storybook. War is cruelty and you cannot refine it. General Ulivelli always says it, and I thought you would have learned that after Padua.”

“Oh I did,” said Cesare, “I learned that when I watched men of Florence, men who I thought were honorable, tear children from their mother’s arms, kill them, and then rape their mothers as they cried in despair. I learned that then, and I have been learning it every day since.” Suddenly tears came pouring out of Cesare’s eyes, and he began sobbing violently. The young officer buried his head in his hands and sat down on the ground.

Lorenzino watched him. “The enemy has done all of the same things you accuse us of doing. Think of your beloved Caterina, it was a miracle she wasn’t raped and killed herself when those accursed Greeks raided Urbino. And think of the poor souls that were murdered or worse, taken into slavery by the heathen corsairs. This is vengeance. And not just vengeance, it is a message to any and all future enemies who would think of doing the same thing. The Venetians were the ones who started the atrocities against our people. Yesterday, and that day at Padua, we sent a message. We sent a message that goes beyond just battle. We let all of Italy know, that an attack on the people of our republic will be repaid in kind. War is not about glory or getting your name in the history books, though for what it’s worth we have surely acquitted ourselves well enough to have earned both, but it is ultimately to keep our homes safe. And when the enemy deems it acceptable to kill our people and burn our lands, then the message must be sent that we will not allow that to happen.”

Cesare lifted his head out of his hands, his tears made streaks in the grime that caked his young face. Lorenzino took pity on him. Cesare was right, he had done everything he had been asked to do, and done it well. “I did notice a change in you after Padua,” said the captain, softening his tone, “I noticed that around the men you were still your old, humorous self, but when you were alone or with just other officers, you were quiet and brooding. I know how hard this is. Do you think I don’t feel what you feel? Do you think your men don’t feel it? This is why war is difficult. In the heat of a battle, when it is a matter of your life or your men’s life against the enemy, it is not difficult to kill. It is in times like these, that it is an endeavor.

“But it is in these moments you need to be strong. Not for me, not even for you. For the men. You must be the example for them. I have been telling you this from the day I met you. And General Ulivelli says it regularly. Now, I hope, you understand what we meant. The only reason you really exist, is to absorb the fear and despair of your men and hide it away somewhere, inside of you. Any one of your veteran men can come up with a decent battle plan and carry it out. That is not why you are here. But I don’t need to tell you this. You have been doing it. I’ve seen the way you have maintained yourself in front of the men.

“What I need from you is to keep it up. At least until this war is over. It shouldn’t be much longer. But those men need you. Especially the younger ones, like that boy Pierozzo you are so fond of. If he saw you like this, crying and at a loss, he would lose all hope too. He needs you to be strong. If you never want to wear that again,” said Lorenzino pointing to the dented and scratched fleur-de-lis on Cesare’s chest, “you won’t have to. You can get out of the army. You of all people can afford to. But not before you get these men back home. You owe them that much. Those men love you, which is a rare thing, especially for a pampered little shit like you,” that last line got Cesare to smile, “and they would follow you to the death. You owe it to them to lead them home.”

Cesare looked at Lorenzino and nodded his head weakly. The older soldier took a step forward and embraced the younger. “We are almost done brother,” he said making an effort to sound soothing, “just hold it together for me. Just a little while longer. Can you do that?”

Cesare’s eyes were pouring out tears again as he held on, he sobbed with his face pressed against the cold steel of Lorenzino’s armor. Around them, the snow continued to fall.
 

JerseyGiants88

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Chapter 21: A Brief Respite, 1515-1522

The Second Italian War had caused deep trauma across Italy. The bloodletting of the battles as well as the atrocities committed against civilian populations by both sides left deep wounds on Florentine and Venetian society. However, during the war, the Republic of Florence witnessed a sort of temporary sense of unity as a result of the shared suffering of the war effort. For the first time, men from the Emilia-Romagna were sent off to fight alongside their Tuscan comrades. The government’s fair demands for troop levies, food, and supplies from the different provinces showed no favoritism toward Tuscany at the expense of the newer provinces. As a result, much of the population east of the Apennines bought into the conflict and participated fully. For a time, the new national unity covered up many of the old divisions left over from the Savonarola era and its aftermath.

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The equal demands placed on the various provinces during the Second Italian War helped create a sense of national unity

However, following the war, the old political acrimony came back to the surface. The brief period of unity that emerged during the war years soon faded away once again as rival political factions vied for power and influence. Instead of the Guelph-Ghibelline conflicts of the past however, the republic was now riven by a new political rivalry: between those who favored a more centralized state to administer the affairs of the republic and those who supported maintaining the traditional decentralized nature of the republic.


Many powerful families, merchant companies, and guilds had come to favor a stronger central government to oversee the disparate provinces. The military leadership, flush with confidence following the victory over Venice, also favored governmental reforms toward greater concentration of power.

Those who favored greater central government also tended to support the creation of a Medici dynasty. Within this group there were two sub-factions: those who proposed naming Gonfaloniere de’ Medici dictator for life in order to stabilize Florentine politics and those others who favored the abolition of the republic altogether and the creation of a hereditary system.

The main forces favoring the hereditary system largely came from the provinces outside of Florence. To being with, many of the noble families that had gained power, especially on the eastern side of the Apennines, strongly favored the creation of a duchy. This was both out of direct loyal to the Medici family by some, and the possibilities for increased power by others. Girolamo de’ Medici had married his daughter Bianca to Annibale Bentivoglio, son of Giovanni Bentivoglio, Lord of Bologna, and his daughter Alessandra to Ranuccio Farnese, the newly crowned Duke of Parma. The alliance between the Medici and strong noble families continued after the war, with the marriage of the Gonfaloniere’s son Cesare to Caterina Montefeltro, cousin of the new Duke of Urbino Antonio III. The Houses of Bentivoglio, Farnese, and Montefeltro were the most powerful families in the republic’s non-Tuscan provinces.

Surprisingly, a great deal of support for the creation of a hereditary grand duchy began to spread among the peasantry and the urban poor. For them, the republic was little more than ceremony. The majority of “citizens” could not even vote, as they did not have the property qualifications to do so. For these masses of people, so-called Florentine “democracy” just meant that their leader would be chosen based on the whims of those who looked down upon them. And the political chaos caused by electoral politics always hurt them worse than those who were actually doing the voting.

This represented a one hundred eighty degree turn from the previous aspirations of the lower classes. In Florence, many had sided with Savonarola for the opposite reason: because he was going to bring a true democracy. His defeat, largely at the hands of the nobility and the big merchants, caused the lower classes to become disillusioned with such an idea. In the provinces, the rise of an elite group of noble families to rule was often supported by the peasantry. Giovanni Bentivoglio had used his image as a populist man of the people serving as their shield against Bologna’s rapacious signoria to vanquish his political foes on numerous occasions. Bologna’s voting criteria were even more restrictive, and her politics more chaotic, than even Florence. This was true throughout the Emilia-Romagna. In Parma, Rimini, Reggio, Sassuolo, Ravenna, and Forli the peasants supported one or another noble family to rule. This same sentiment allowed the Montefeltros to stay in power in Urbino even after most of their family was wiped out in the infamous Greek Raid on Pesaro and Urbino during the Second Italian War.

At the end of the day, one powerful noble family ruling a province or city gave the peasantry a stronger opportunity for redress of grievances than the republican system did. The big noble houses did not do this out of altruism of course, but because they recognized the peasantry as a bulwark against the rise of other families to challenge them in their respective spheres of influence.

In the Tuscan provinces support for the republics was stronger, but there was still sizable support for the creation of a duchy. The fact that the Gonfaloniere of the Republic ruled all of the provinces, however indirectly, but was elected only by Florentines, kept them cool. Lucca and Siena had no particular stake in the continuation of the republic in Florence and, even though they had been under the city’s rule since the end of the Tuscan Wars in 1450, they still considered themselves quite distinct political entities. While they did not make any public declarations for the creation of a duchy, many leaders in Lucca and Siena began favoring the idea so long as they would be granted to keep their republican system for their local government.

Only in Florence itself was republican sentiment very strong. There were two reasons for this. The first was that, unlike in every other city and province, they actually had a say over electing the Gonfaloniere. The second was that the republic was felt to be very much a Florentine institution and that its dissolution would take away a great deal of the city’s power and influence. Third, was the natural antipathy of many of the noble families in the city toward the idea of giving the Medici even more power than they already had and then making that power hereditary. Many had allied with them in order to combat Savonarola and regain their old positions, but to demand that they bend the knee to a Medici dynasty was another question.

Throughout the second half of the 1510s and early 1520s, the debate remained mostly academic and no concrete moves to create a duchy were made. Surprisingly, Gonfaloniere de’ Medici himself refused to support the idea publicly while his son Cesare actually disavowed the idea, declaring himself “a man of the republic.” Nevertheless, this political dispute would drag on and push Florence toward a decision point in the years to come.

Despite the potential conflict created by this question, the elections of 1516 and 1520 were both surprisingly calm. Even though some opposed the creation of a Medici dynasty, they still were able to acknowledge that Girolamo de’ Medici had successfully guided Florence to an improved condition. After the disaster of the Savonarola years, he reinstituted investment in arts and culture. Additionally, under the guidance of Ignazzio Spadolini, who de’ Medici made his minister of commerce and finance, the Florentine economy recovered nicely after the lifting of the Venetian embargo.

To further the efficiency of the government, Gonfaloniere de’ Medici insituted a permanent cabinet. While previous Gonfalonieri had trusted ministers, de’ Medici was the first to institute official, permanent posts filled with men who served at the pleasure of the Gonfaloniere. The first cabinet consisted of three positions: minister of commerce and finance, foreign minister, and minister of war. Under de’ Medici these were filled initially by Spadolini, Ippolito Tonelli, and Leonello Ariosto respectively. When Ariosto died in 1519, his place was taken by the chief of military engineers, Rodolfo Grimaldi.

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Gonfaloniere de’ Medici created the first permanent cabinet for Florence

The years following the Second Italian War saw Florence embrace the return to peacetime with a flourish of commerce and art. The wealth, both financial and cultural, that grew in Florence would soon once again outshine even the republic’s battlefield accomplishments.

The banks of Tuscany, and Florence and Siena in particular, had always been powers in Europe. However, two events would catapult them to even greater heights on the European financial stage. The first was due to the recently concluded war itself. When the Republic of Venice had imposed its embargo on Florence, they had exempted the banks at the urging of the Venetian merchants, who did not want to alienate important sources of insurance and capital. Likewise, the Florentine government had allowed the banks to continue to do business with the Venetian merchants. While this arrangement was condemned by opponents of Gonfaloniere Girolamo Rospigliosi de’ Medici who accused the leader of wanting to further his own family’s interests, they were supported by a large portion of the Assembly who saw it as an opportunity to keep money flowing into the republic’s coffers even under the stranglehold of the Venetian embargo.


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The expansion of the Tuscan banks made them staples of finance throughout Europe

After the war, with the Venetian countryside in ruins and with the Doge looking to rebuild his destroyed army, the recent enemy became a major customer of the banks. The influx of Venetian gold flooded their vaults and allowed them to expand.

The second boon to the Florentine banks was a result of the Protestant Reformation. States that converted were instantly sanctioned by the Church and often placed under embargo by their neighbors. Many Catholic states and banks refused to lend them money. The banks of Tuscany, particularly the Medici Bank and the Monte dei Paschi di Siena were happy to lend money to any and all Protestant states and newly founded churches in search of funding. They were able to beat many of their competitors in other Catholic states in opening or re-opening branches in the newly converted states. Their branches in cities like London and Prague soon became some of their biggest income generators.

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The headquarters of Siena's Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank, the main rival of the Medici Bank

In addition to the income brought in by the banks and the subsequent taxes they paid, other Florentine government policies helped grow the economy in the post-war years. The Second Italian War interrupted the process of stabilizing and centralizing the republican government that had started after the fall of Savonarola.

Florence, dubbed the Birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, continued to justify that title in the second half of the 1510s. In these years, Michelangelo, perhaps the greatest Florentine artist to ever live, produced some of his grandest works. In the years 1515-1519, he worked on and completed one of the most iconic sculptures in world history: the David. This 5.17 meter tall marble statue of a standing male nude represented the Biblical hero David, a favoured subject in the art of Florence. It was commissioned by the Assembly immediately following the Peace of Trent as a symbol of as a symbol of Florentine freedom to be placed on the gable of Santa Maria del Fiore. However, upon its completion, the striking beauty of the statue caused the Assembly to have it moved to the Piazza del Popolo as a symbol of the greatness of Florentine artistic achievement. It was unveiled there on 8 September 1519.


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Michelangelo's David

During this time Michelangelo was also commissioned by the Assembly at the urging of Gonfaloniere de’ Medici to do a painting of the 1364 Battle of Cascina between Florence and Pisa. The painting was meant to be a part of a series of frescoes to adorn the Hall of the Assembly in the Palazzo Vecchio highlighting great Florentine military victories. To add to his dynamic achievements during this time period, he was also hired to oversee improvements to the walls and defenses of Florence and the fortress at Parma. Michelangelo worked diligently and masterfully during his Florentine years. He enjoyed a favored and celebrated place in the republic until he left for Rome in 1520 at the urging of Pope Urbanus VII. The great artist would go on to paint the roof of the Sistine Chapel and complete another of his great works of scultpure, the Pieta, during his time in Rome.


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Michelangelo Buonarroti

Michelangelo was not the only artist doing great works at this time. In Bologna, aided by the patronage of the Bentivoglio, the Bolognese school of painting was beginning to flourish with artists like Amico Apsertini and Girolamo da Treviso creating master works of painting. The Bolognese painters sought new ways to break away from traditional modes of painting while continuing to get inspiration from their literary contemporaries, Ancient Rome, and religion. Throughout the republic, the economic growth that followed the Second Italian War helped fuel the patronage of the arts and continue to increase the republic's cultural influence and prestige.

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The great art of the Republic of Florence was often made possible by wealthy patrons and the largesse of the government

In foreign affairs, the Republic of Florence found itself existing in an Italy and a Europe in turmoil. The wars of religion, triggered by the backlash against the Protestant Reformation, were just starting up. In England, one of the bloodiest conflicts of this time pitted the Protestant King Henry VIII against Catholic rebels seeking to restore a Catholic monarch under the command of the firebrand William Clive. Wars of religion also roiled Germany and in Prague the Protestants cemented their hold on the Kingdom of Bohemia.

In Western Europe, the French war machine went back into motion, with King Louis XIII launching a war of conquest against the Crown of Castile and Aragon. This conflict would see France continue its dominance of the region in military affairs and nearly threatened to break the union of Castila and Aragon apart.

In Italy, the end of the Second Italian War left things unsettled. The decline in the power of Venice did not leave Florence unchallenged on the peninsula. The Duchy of Milan and the Duchy of Savoy both sought to step into the void left by the Venetian defeat and assert their own power. The continued Este-Gonzaga rivalry in the Po Valley kept tension high between Ferrara and Mantua, a situation ripe for exploitation. The Republic of Genoa also saw an opportunity to increase its power with its historic mercantile rival experiencing a major decline. The tranquility that returned to Italy following the Peace of Trent would prove short-lived. With an abundance of rivals remaining on the peninsula looking to check Florentine expansion
 

Nikolai

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Voss

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Awaiting the birth of the Italian Republic!
 

JerseyGiants88

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So good to see this back. I may have squealed a little when it came up in my notifications!

YEah, good to see another update.:)

Awaiting the birth of the Italian Republic!

I'm so flattered that you guys were so excited. Thanks.

When is the next "story" update?

So my next entry is going to be another history book style chapter then I think I am going to follow that up with a historical vignette. I didn't think Chapter 21 was all that great but the game didn't give me that much stuff that worked together in a narrative way during that period. I hate to make a bunch of war chapters and then just skim over the peace but for these next couple that is what is going to happen. The next war that is coming up, mentioned in he last chapter, is going to cover Chapters 22 and 23 and the next historical vignette is going to be related to that conflict. I'm going to try to get he next chapter up either later today or tomorrow at the latest.
 

Idhrendur

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Looking forward to the upcoming chapters. :)
 

JerseyGiants88

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Chapter 22: The War for the Val Padana, 1522-1525

The mighty Po River runs from a spring in the northwestern face of the Monte Viso in the province of Cuneo east across northern Italy where it flows into a large delta and on to the Adriatic Sea. The valley it forms, known as the Val Padana in Italian, boasts some of the most fertile and productive land on the entire peninsula and even the whole of Europe. Over the centuries the valley has been home to numerous prehistoric and historic peoples including the Ligures, Etruscans, Celts, Veneti, Umbri, and the Romans. The river's regular and heavy floods replenish the adjacent lands and make them rich for farming.

Just sixty kilometers west of the point where the Po’s waters enter the Adriatic Sea, sits the fortified city of Ferrara, capital of the duchy of the same name and seat of the venerable House of Este. By 1522, the Este had held Ferrara since Azzo VII was made perpetual podesta’ of the city in 1242. Duke Alfonso I, who had ruled the duchy since 1505, was a capable administrator, a well known patron of the arts, and a skilled politician who had kept his small duchy intact despite its precarious position south of the Republic of Venice, east of the Este’s hated rivals of the House of Gonzaga in Mantua, and north of the Republic of Florence. He did this by a series of alliances with Savoy and Genoa as well as his capital’s impressive fortifications, considered nearly impregnable by many military experts.

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Ferrara in 1522, walled and moated

The Republic of Florence, for its part, eyed the fertile Val Padana with envy. They already had a foothold in the valley with its Emilian provinces and actually had a city on the river itself: Piacenza in the province of Parma. However, Gonfaloniere Girolamo de’ Medici wanted to solidify the republic’s hold on the strategically and economically valuable region. The capture of Ferrara and its mighty fortress would also guarantee the Florentines a route to cross the Po and a strongpoint to protect against the Venetians, should they ever try to avenge their defeat in the Second Italian War.

At the outbreak of that last conflict, Florence had signed an alliance with Mantua and its Duke, Sigismondo I, in exchange for the right to cross the Po and the lands of the Gonzaga. However, with Sigismondo’s death in 1516, rule of the Duchy passed to his brother, Oreste as a regent for the deceased Duke’s son, Gianfrancesco II. Oreste viewed the Florentines with suspicion and feared their growing power. As a result, he declared that Mantua would never join an offensive war started by Florence in Italy, even against Ferrara, the original target of their pact. In response, foreign minister Ippolito Tonelli travelled to Mantua and dissolved the alliance.

While Mantua was not a major power, the loss of this ally represented a setback. Gonfaloniere de’ Medici, his chief military advisor Rodolfo Grimaldi, and his minister of minister of commerce and finance Ignazzio Spadolini all favored a war with Ferrara, as did the majority of the Assembly. Tonelli, who had always been a pacifist of sorts and had been deeply disturbed by the atrocities of the previous war, opposed beginning a new conflict and secretly viewed Mantua’s diplomatic slight as a blessing. Additionally, another diplomatic outcome seemed to favor his hopes for peace.

Florence had been allied with France since 1491 when Niccolo Machiavelli traveled to Paris and signed a treaty with King Louis XII. The alliance paid dividends in the First Italian War when the French armies smashed Florence’s rivals and secured the Emilia-Romagna for the republic. However, the presence of French arms in Italy and the ambitions of the House of Valois unnerved many on the peninsula, few more than Machiavelli himself. A decade after his trip to Paris, in 1501, the legendary statesman traveled to Vienna to sign a treaty with the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II in order to provide a balance against the French should they ever renounce their alliance and march their armies back into Italy against Florence. By 1523 however, Machiavelli’s balancing act was working so well that both King Louis XIV and Emperor Matthias I refused to consider joining a war on the Florentine side for fear of provoking the other into a larger conflagration. Both major powers were also deeply in debt, which made them even less enthusiastic about a new war.

As a result, the only ally Florence could call upon was the Swiss Confederation. The Swiss had long been faithful allies and their leader, Syndic Gerard Miller, saw an opportunity to gain from the conflict should Ferrara’s ally, the Duchy of Savoy, enter the fray. The Swiss considered the province of Vaud and the city of Lausanne to be rightfully theirs and saw an opportunity to take it from the Savoia. Reluctantly, Tonelli travelled to Bern in January of 1523 to make a pact with Miller that, should Savoy enter the war on the side of Ferrara, the Swiss would enter on the side of Florence. In exchange the Swiss would get Vaud and Lausanne.

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Syndic Gerard Miller of Switzerland

Even with the Swiss on board, war against Ferrara, Savoy, and Genoa was a tall order. Tonelli counseled against it. Even the military was torn on the question. The Ferraresi and their allies had a numerical advantage and their territories, especially the large Duchy of Savoy, lay in between Florence and Switzerland, potentially leaving their forces divided and making coordination almost impossible.

General Carlo Ulivelli, the commander of all Florentine forces, was against the war, citing the difficulty of mounting a campaign across such a large geographic distance and the ease with which their enemies could separate them from their allies and focus on destroying one before then turning on the other. Notably, the side counseling against war was joined by none other than the son of Gonfaloniere de’ Medici, the 29 year old Cesare, a regimental commander in the army. The side in favor of war argued that the army was still battle hardened from the last war in addition to having made extensive gains in the years since. This faction was led by the minister of war Rodolfo Grimaldi and Ulivelli’s second in command, Colonel Giuliano Vasari.

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The military was divided in its support or opposition to an offensive war against Ferrara

The pro-war faction did have a point so far as the military’s technological and tactical advances since the Second Italian War went. The reiter, the lighter, faster cavalry formations deployed to counter the effectiveness of enemy infantry’s pike and shot formations, had proven themselves in battle and had been widely adopted throughout the Florentine army.

However, more than technology, it was in the field of tactics where the Florentine army made its greatest advances. General Ulivelli was not just a great commander in the field but also a sharp mind when it came to the art and science of war. Following the Florentine victory in the Second Italian War, he set out to study what had worked and what had failed, for all of the armies involved in the conflict. He was also an ardent student of history, and sought to use examples from the past to guide his vision for the future. He encouraged this same inquisitiveness and inventiveness in all of his subordinate officers and tended to reward those who were not just courageous but also creative. Following the war, he had his commanders write treatises on lessons they had learned and things they hoped to improve upon. As a result, in 1519 Ulivelli published a thick book outlining the lessons learned not just from the previous war but from all of his and his commanders’ studies. This book, Tattiche del Esercito Fiorentino (Tactics of the Florentine Army), was the first true doctrinal publication in the force’s history, and served to further streamline and make compatible the different regiments and branches. The three most important policies to come out of the Second Italian War were battlefield commissions, military drill, and maneuver.

The first, battlefield commissions, were a part of the general’s continuing efforts to professionalize the officer corps. While the bulk of the officers would remain nobleman, Ulivelli felt that in order to get the best of the best in leadership positions it was also necessary to promote the most capable and forward thinking among the enlisted to command positions. This had happened in the past, most notably with one of the celebrated heroes of the last war Captain Lorenzino. Lorenzino, born an orphan in Livorno, had gained a command in the First Italian War when most of his unit was wiped out and, through skill and courage kept it. In the Second Italian War he emerged as one of the toughest and smartest battle captains in the army, earning the personal praise of Ulivelli, who promoted him at the war’s end to regimental command. Through his fame, Lorenzino was able to marry Valentina Spadolini, only daughter of the minister of commerce and finance, and took her name, becoming Lorenzo Spadolini. Ulivelli knew the kind of example this could set for all of the enlisted men. If an orphan could become a renowned battle commander and marry into one of the wealthiest and most powerful noble families, it gave incentive for every man to strive for greatness.

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The introduction of battlefield commissions meant that any man in the army could aspire to greatness

Tattiche del Esercito Fiorentino did not just address tactics on the battlefield. The book also went into the preparation for war. One of the most important discoveries was that the regiments and battalions that had trained the most in close order drill also were the most successful in battle. The pike and shot formations demanded disciplined troops who obeyed their officers’ commands instantly and were then able to execute those commands in a quick and crisp manner. As a result, Ulivelli standardized training with a drill manual and instituted minimum requirements for all units to train rigorously in close order drill. He even began holding drill competitions to create further incentives for practice and to improve the willingness and morale of the men.

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The introduction of standardized military drill improved the cohesiveness of the army

The standardization and increased practice in drilling the troops also resulted in the improvement of the army’s ability to maneuver as a whole. However, the matter of maneuver, for General Ulivelli, was not strictly related to the movement of individual units on the battlefield. For him, maneuver was something to be applied at the level of the entire army. He wanted to instill an attacking mentality in his troops that focused on the enemy more than the taking of territory for its own sake. The lesson of the Second Italian War had been that destroying the enemy’s ability to make war was just as important, if not more important, than capturing his cities. Despite the fact that Venice itself was never threatened, the destruction of the Venetian army in Tirol ended the war and forced them to sue for peace.

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General Ulivelli's theories on maneuver placed the focus on the enemy force itself

With the army seemingly as ready for war as it ever would be, and with its senior and middling ranks filled with battle hardened veterans, Gonfaloniere de’ Medici and his advisors were confident in their ability to win a war, even against a coalition of enemies such as the one that would soon oppose them. Against his wishes, Ippolito Tonelli was dispatched to Ferrara on 6 March 1523 to deliver the Republic of Florence’s declaration of war on the Duchy of Ferrara. Within the next two weeks, Savoy, Genoa, and Alsace would enter the war on Ferrara's side and Switzerland would join the fighting on the Florentine side. The Third Italian War was under way.

General Ulivelli, despite his opposition to starting the war, was nevertheless ready to fight. Within days of the declaration of war the 18,000 strong Florentine army was on the march and headed for the river lands of the lower Po Valley. They advanced north from Bologna and on 17 March met the badly outnumbered Ferrarese army under the command of Cosimo Santarosa just south of Ferrara at the town of San Martino. Ulivelli used his fast moving cavalry to launch a double flanking attack against the enemy positions combined with a strong attack on the center of Santarosa’s lines with his infantry. The cavalry managed to turn both flanks of the Ferrarese army and within a matter of hours they were surrounded. With his hope of escape back to the capital gone, Santarosa was forced to surrender his entire army to the Florentines. Less than two weeks into the war the entire fighting power of the Duchy of Ferrara had been eliminated.

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The army of the Duchy of Ferrara was wiped out in the Battle of San Martino

The victory allowed Ulivelli’s army to begin laying siege to Ferrara. It also threw the enemy war strategy into disarray. The plan had been for Ferrara and Genoa to fight against Florence while Savoy and Alsace dealt with the Swiss. However, with the Ferraresi defeated in the field, it fell to Genoa alone to fight against Florence. The Genovese attempted to turn the tide by launching an invasion of the Republic of Florence. A 15,000 strong army under the command of Carlo Odoni fell on the mighty fortress at Parma. The war in the south became a race of sieges. If the Florentines captured Ferrara first, they could then march west and attack the Genovese. However, if Odoni was able to take Parma, he could then push his forces south and threaten Florence itself. Ulivelli was also aided by the arrival of 5,000 Swiss soldiers from the north.

Rodolfo Grimaldi, the minister of war and former chief army engineer, rode out from Florence to help oversee the siege. Ferrara had high walls and was surrounded by a moat. It would take seven months but, in the end, the persistent artillery bombardments, the effective blockade of the city, and the generous surrender terms offered by General Ulivelli would combine to cause Ferrara’s surrender. On 14 October, Emmanuele Gonzaga, the duke’s brother and the commander of the city’s defenses, yielded. In return, Ulivelli promised that no harm would come to the city’s inhabitants and that food and other supplies would be allowed in immediately. With one enemy capital taken, the Florentines looked west, where the Genovesi were still besieging Parma.

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The route of the Florentine army to Parma

The route from Ferrara to Parma was not a difficult one, and the flatlands and rolling hills enabled Ulivelli and his troops to cover the distance quickly. On 5 November, they made camp at Reggio Emilia, about 38 kilometers east of Parma. Using the city as a base of operations, Ulivelli sent out small units to attack and raid the Genovese forces, mostly at night. The raiders stole supplies and horses, blew up gunpowder for the enemy cannons, and killed isolated scouting and foraging parties. The Genovese commander, Carlo Odoni knew he could not maintain the siege and fight a numerically larger foe in the position he was in. On 10 November he broke off the siege and moved his army to the Enza River ten kilometers to the east and set up a defensive position at the town of Casalbaroncolo, where the Enza was at its narrowest point.

When his scouts reported back the enemy position however, Ulivelli did not attack them head on. Instead, he sent a small force west to take up positions on the east bank of the Enza and make a show of force while he took the main body of his army north nearly up to the Po, then swung back south, to attack his foes from the north. The maneuver forced the Genovese to defend from two positions and overstretched Odoni’s forces. On the morning of 11 November, Ulivelli launched his main attack. The decisive advantage in artillery helped beat back any counterattack efforts by the Genovese and soften up their lines for the Swiss and Florentine infanry. By the end of the day, the Genovese were in full retreat west, the siege of Parma was lifted.

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The Battle of Parma drove the Genovese from Florentine territory

With two major victories in the first two major engagements of the war in the Val Padana Ulivelli decided to press his advantage. He pursued the retreating Genovese west toward their own capital. The pursuit required the Florentines to make the arduous crossing of the Apennines with winter setting in but by the end of December they reached Genoa and began yet another siege.

All was not going perfectly for the Swiss-Florentine side however. While they were winning in Italy, in the north the enemy had the advantage. The Savoyards were besieging the capital of Bern after crushing the main Swiss army at the Battle of Ueberstorf and the Alsatians were laying siege to Chur in the east. The 5,000 Swiss soldiers in Italy, under the command of Vinzenz Miller, older brother of the Syndic, were clamoring to go back north and joint heir countrymen in defending their homeland. Ulivelli agreed and gave Miller leave to take his men away.

The geography of the Third Italian War greatly affected its conduct. After the battles of 1523 in Italy, that front of the war largely went quiet. Yes, the Florentine army was laying siege to Genoa, but aside from that there was little activity. Similarly, the crushing defeat of the Swiss by the Savoyards and Alsatians had turned that front into a war of sieges as well. The Swiss army, in the process of rebuilding itself, avoided pitched battles with its adversaries. Neither side appeared over eager to engage the other. Savoy, adapting its initial war strategy due to the conquest of Ferrara and the defeat of the Genovese at the Battle of Parma had no ability to counter the Florentines in the south. Until their foes crossed into the Duchy of Savoy itself, there was little chance they would abandon their campaign in Switzerland to assist Genoa. The Genovese, for their part, noticed this.

On 8 August 1524 the city of Genoa surrendered. Once again, General Ulivelli offered lenient peace terms to the defenders. He allowed the garrison to depart the city with their flags and arms and, once again, forbade any looting of the city or the harming of any citizens. The Genovese had not entered the war enthusiastically to begin with. They had an alliance with Ferrara but it was not a deep partnership the two states enjoyed. The Genovese now saw an opportunity to realign themselves with the Florentines. Following the fall of their capital, the Genovese leadership, under Doge Donato Pignolo entered into negotiations to leave the war.

Gonfaloniere de’ Medici travelled to Genoa to negotiate personally with Doge Pignolo. If the Florentines could force Genoa out of the war, it would leave them with a strategic advantage over Savoy and its ally Alsace. De’ Medici, on the advice of his foreign minister Ippolito Tonelli, offered an easy deal: Genoa would give up any claims on any provinces in the Republic of Florence, it would allow the Florentine armies to pass freely through its lands, and it would pay a small war indemnity. With such good terms on offer, Doge Pignolo and his advisors eagerly accepted the deal. On 3 October, Genoa and Florence signed a peace agreement, thus ending their conflict.

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With Genoa out of the war, the balance of forces began to favor Florence

While the negotiations were going on, General Ulivelli had not remained idle after the taking of Genoa. After resting and refitting in the venerable port city, he marched his army northwest and invaded the Duchy of Savoy. His hope was that the invasion would force the Savoyards to abandon their campaign in Switzerland or, at the very least, divert a large enough part of their force to allow the Swiss to fight back on an even footing. However, Duke Bernardo I was confident in his fortifications and saw the defeat of the Swiss as the only hope to win. Only by forcing Switzerland out of the war, as Florence had done to Genoa, could Savoy hope to meet their enemies on an even footing.

This did not stop Archbishop-Elector Erasmus I from trying to use his Alsatian troops to strike back. The Archbishop’s army, under the command of Karl de Hungerstein, were fresh off the capture of Chur and pushed south to make a second attempt at invading Florence. Their goal was to draw away Florentine forces from the siege of Cuneo. The move worked, as Ulivelli decided to break off his encirclement of the Savoyard fortress when he received reports of the Alsatians moving into Liguria. However, for the Florentine general, this was the undisputed best course of action. Following his doctrine of maneuver, Ulivelli considered enemy forces a more important target than territory or fortresses or cities. The Alsatians did not know the territory well and were slowed down by the rugged and mountainous terrain as well as indecision. Initially, de Hungerstein wanted to attack Genoa, but then changed his mind and tried to push on to Lucca instead. His army skirted Genoa to the north, passing through the mountains. Meanwhile, Ulivelli and his troops marched to Savona and then took the well maintained coastal road east, which enabled them to catch and cut off the Alsatians at Rapallo on 29 November 1524 when they too tried to move to the coast. The battle was a costly one for the Savoyard ally, and the Alsatians were forced to retreat back north, thus allowing the Florentines to move west to Cuneo once again and resume their siege.

The war dragged into 1525 with the situation much the same. The Swiss had rebuilt their force and, under the command of Jules von Hasseln launched an incursion into the Duchy of Savoy with the goal of removing the enemy forces from the capital of Bern, where the Savoyards had made their winter quarters, then double back and liberate the city. However, von Hasseln miscalculated the speed with which the enemy army would respond and, this time, de Hungerstein would have better luck than he did in Liguria and crushed the Swiss outside of Lausanne on 27 June 1525. With their army in ruins once again, the Swiss saw that it was just a matter of time before all their lands would be conquered.


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The Swiss were crushed at the Battle of Lausanne and were soon forced to abandon the war

The Swiss wanted out of the war but would not sue for peace without first consulting with their faithful Florentine allies. Gonfaloniere de’ Medici was initially against letting the Swiss end hostilities but Ippolito Tonelli prevailed, convincing his leader that the long term benefits of the alliance with Switzerland outnumbered the short term disadvantages of them leaving the war. With the green light to begin peace negotiations, the newly elected Syndic Karl Wächter began talks with Duke Bernardo I to end the conflict. Barnardo, eager to rid himself of a beaten but still potentially dangerous enemy, was prepared to offer lenient terms. On 14 October 1525, Switzerland and Savoy signed the Treaty of Schwyz reestablishing the status quo between them.

With Switzerland and Genoa both out of the war, Ferrara conquered, and Alsace only providing a token amount of troops, only the Republic of Florence and the Duchy of Savoy remained to fight it out. By the end of it, one of them would be nearly destroyed, while the other would emerge as the undisputed major power in Italy.
 

cpm4001

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I've been lurking on this for a while, and would like to say keep up the great work! In fact, I've enjoyed it enough that I've nominated it for the Weekly AAR Showcase award...