- Aug 30, 2004
Cosimo di Medici
1454 - 1455
1454 - 1455
It was year 1454, nearly twelve months had passed since the realities of trade on the Mediterranean Sea shattered with the fall of the last of the Great Roman Cities. And even though the world still mourned, the people of Italy where busy elbowing each other on the small peninsula, trying to carve themselves a bigger piece of the boot, along with a larger share of the lucrative trade.
At the beginning of the new year Cosimo di Medici had sent out three envoys to ask the Genoese, the Milanese and the Venecians for mutual friendship in case of sudden, and not so, war conflicts. All but the proud duke of Milan accepted the offer. During the following few months the sides exchanged gifts to seal the deal and show their good will towards each other, among others were "A Small Horde" - a collection of Tatar slaves brought by the Genoese merchants from Kaffa and an beautifully encrusted chest, filled with whole roasted coffee beans - a gift from the Venecian Doge. There was also a letter attached to the chest: "For a clear and energetic mind my dear friend." Some of the sceptics saw this as a hint that the leader of Tuscany was not of bright intellect and had his senses clouded, but these sceptics were swiftly rebuffed by everbody who knew di Medici in person.
The other small states were also keen on finding friends abroad, though many looked too far from the Italian borders, which made the Tuscan leader more than happy. The state of Siena managed to lure the Swiss into an alliance, the small lands of Mantua and Urbino found that two outsiders should unite and Modena had to settle for Naxos, which caused many a smile among the Italian elite. The most successful were Savoy and Milan, who formed a northern alliance among each other. Sicilly was still lacking a foreign policy and was attached to its leader in Aragon.
For the next few months Cosimo di Medici was often found in a small room, in which there was a large chair and small table that resembled the one used for chess. Upon it there were ivory figures, each holding a flag of the Italian state, Cosimo arranged them in small groups, moving them from place to place. He would often hold one of the figures and stare at it for nearly an hour or more. When asked, he told that it helped him think the way his enemy did, see the world from the other palace so to say. At the beginning of 1455 the many possible moves Tuscany's neighbours could make became unimportant as the real events began to evolve faster than any man's thought could fly.
Carving up Central Italy - The war of Mantuan agression
(1455 - 1456)
Due to the unsuccesful search for reliable allies in 1454, Modena was seen as the weakest member of the Italian peninsula, even by the lowly Mantua-Urbino alliance. This in turn led to a declaration of war by Mantua, many believe the Count of Mantua saw this as a "Grow or be eaten" situation.
In the following days the states of Italy resembled a flock of crows - when one suddenly is seen as weak or sickly, others swoop down to feast on its flesh. Even though Urbino decided not to aid Mantua, they dishonored the alliance and instead found new friends in Burgundy, much to the surprise of the rest of the world, Modena found itself at war with Milan-Savoy. With a few more days passing Siana and the Pope suddenly manage to agree on their interests, ally, and declare war on Modena.
Cosimo di Medici, seeing that the power balance in Italy can shift to an unfavourable position, with his neighbours growing in power by dividing Modena, declares war himself. To secure his southern border di Medici decided to give Military Access to the newly independant Sicily, seeing as how they were the "Raven among crows" and did not think of Tuscany kindly.
Two weeks after the army marched south Cosimo di Medici died. He left this world in his favourite chair holding the ivory figure with a Tuscan flag in his hand.
His greatest accomplishment, the formation of the Tuscany-Venice-Genoa alliance, securing a strong base for future wars and control over Italian Centres of Trade, removing the fear of embargoes.