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The History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella The Catholic, V2 by William H. Prescott

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his great nobility. The remarkable adaptation of the characters of the
principal sovereigns of Europe to this exigency, in the latter half of the
fifteenth century, would seem to have something providential in it. Henry
the Seventh of England, Louis the Eleventh of France, Ferdinand of Naples,
John the Second of Aragon, and his son Ferdinand, and John the Second of
Portugal, however differing in other respects, were all distinguished by a
sagacity, which enabled them to devise the most subtile and comprehensive
schemes of policy, and which was prolific in expedients for the
circumvention of enemies too potent to be encountered by open force.

Their operations, all directed towards the same point, were attended with
similar success, resulting in the exaltation of the royal prerogative at
the expense of the aristocracy, with more or less deference to the rights
of the people, as the case might be; in France, for example, with almost
total indifference to them, while in Spain they were regarded, under the
parental administration of Isabella, which tempered the less scrupulous
policy of her husband, with tenderness and respect. In every country,
however, the nation at large gained greatly by the revolution, which came
on insensibly, at least without any violent shock to the fabric of
society, and which, by securing internal tranquillity and the ascendency
of law over brute force, gave ample scope for those intellectual pursuits,
that withdraw mankind from sensual indulgence, and too exclusive devotion
to the animal wants of our nature.

No sooner was the internal organization of the different nations of Europe
placed on a secure basis, than they found leisure to direct their views,
hitherto confined within their own limits, to a bolder and more distant
sphere of action. Their international communication was greatly
facilitated by several useful inventions coincident with this period, or
then first extensively applied. Such was the art of printing, diffusing
knowledge with the speed and universality of light; the establishment of
posts, which, after its adoption by Louis the Eleventh, came into frequent
use in the beginning of the sixteenth century; and lastly, the compass,
which, guiding the mariner unerringly through the trackless wastes of the
ocean, brought the remotest regions into contact. With these increased
facilities for intercommunication, the different European states might be
said to be brought into as intimate relation with one another, as the
different provinces of the same kingdom were before. They now for the
first time regarded each other as members of one great community, in whose
action they were all mutually concerned. A greater anxiety was manifested
to detect the springs of every political movement of their neighbors.
Missions became frequent, and accredited agents were stationed, as a sort
of honorable spies, at the different courts. The science of diplomacy, on
narrower grounds, indeed, than it is now practised, began to be studied.
[2] Schemes of aggression and resistance, leading to political
combinations the most complex and extended, were gradually formed. We are
not to imagine, however, the existence of any well-defined ideas of a
balance of power at this early period. The object of these combinations
was some positive act of aggression or resistance, for purposes of
conquest or defence, not for the maintenance of any abstract theory of
political equilibrium. This was the result of much deeper reflection, and
of prolonged experience.

The management of the foreign relations of the nation, at the close of the
fifteenth century, was resigned wholly to the sovereign. The people took
no further part or interest in the matter, than if it had concerned only
the disposition of his private property. His measures were, therefore,
often characterized by a degree of temerity and precipitation, that could
not have been permitted under the salutary checks afforded by popular
interposition. A strange insensibility, indeed, was shown to the rights
and interests of the nation. War was regarded as a game, in which the
sovereign parties engaged, not on behalf of their subjects, but
exclusively on their own. Like desperate gamblers, they contended for the
spoils or the honors of victory, with so much the more recklessness as
their own station was too elevated to be materially prejudiced by the
results. They contended with all the animosity of personal feeling; every
device, however paltry, was resorted to; and no advantage was deemed
unwarrantable, which could tend to secure the victory. The most profligate
maxims of state policy were openly avowed by men of reputed honor and
integrity. In short, the diplomacy of that day is very generally
characterized by a low cunning, subterfuge, and petty trickery, which
would leave an indelible stain on the transactions of private individuals.

Italy was, doubtless, the great school where this political morality was
taught. That country was broken up into a number of small states, too
nearly equal to allow the absolute supremacy of any one; while, at the
same time, it demanded the most restless vigilance on the part of each to
maintain its independence against its neighbors. Hence such a complexity
of intrigues and combinations as the world had never before witnessed. A
subtile, refined policy was conformable to the genius of the Italians. It
was partly the result, moreover, of their higher cultivation, which
naturally led them to trust the settlement of their disputes to superior
intellectual dexterity, rather than to brute force, like the
_barbarians_ beyond the Alps. [3] From these and other causes, maxims
were gradually established, so monstrous in their nature as to give the
work, which first embodied them in a regular system, the air of a satire
rather than a serious performance, while the name of its author has been
converted into a by-word of political knavery. [4]

At the period before us, the principal states of Italy were, the republics
of Venice and Florence, the duchy of Milan, the papal see, and the kingdom
of Naples. The others may be regarded merely as satellites, revolving
round some one or other of these superior powers, by whom their respective
movements were regulated and controlled. Venice may be considered as the
most formidable of the great powers, taking into consideration her wealth,
her powerful navy, her territory in the north, and princely colonial
domain. There was no government in that age which attracted such general
admiration, both from natives and foreigners; who seem to have looked upon
it as affording the very best model of political wisdom. [5] Yet there was
no country where the citizen enjoyed less positive freedom; none whose
foreign relations were conducted with more absolute selfishness, and with
a more narrow, bargaining spirit, savoring rather of a company of traders
than of a great and powerful state. But all this was compensated, in the
eyes of her contemporaries, by the stability of her institutions, which
still remained unshaken, amidst revolutions which had convulsed or
overturned every other social fabric in Italy. [6]

The government of Milan was at this time under the direction of Lodovico
Sforza, or Lodovico the Moor, as he is commonly called; an epithet
suggested by his complexion, but which he willingly retained, as
indicating the superior craftiness on which he valued himself. [7] He held
the reins in the name of his nephew, then a minor, until a convenient
season should arrive for assuming them in his own. His cool, perfidious
character was stained with the worst vices of the most profligate class of
Italian statesmen of that period.

The central parts of Italy were occupied by the republic of Florence,
which had ever been the rallying point of the friends of freedom, too
often of faction; but which had now resigned itself to the dominion of the
Medici, whose cultivated tastes and munificent patronage shed a splendid
illusion over their administration, which has blinded the eyes of
contemporaries, and even of posterity.

The papal chair was filled by Alexander the Sixth, a pontiff whose
licentiousness, avarice, and unblushing effrontery have been the theme of
unmingled reproach, with Catholic as well as Protestant writers. His
preferment was effected by lavish bribery, and by his consummate address,
as well as energy of character. Although a native Spaniard, his election
was extremely unpalatable to Ferdinand and Isabella, who deprecated the
scandal it must bring upon the church, and who had little to hope for
themselves, in a political view, from the elevation of one of their own
subjects even, whose mercenary spirit placed him at the control of the
highest bidder. [8]

The Neapolitan sceptre was swayed by Ferdinand the First, whose father,
Alfonso the Fifth, the uncle of Ferdinand of Aragon, had obtained the
crown by the adoption of Joanna of Naples, or rather by his own good
sword. Alfonso settled his conquest on his illegitimate son Ferdinand, to
the prejudice of the rights of Aragon, by whose blood and treasure he had
achieved it. Ferdinand's character, the very opposite of his noble
father's, was dark, wily, and ferocious. His life was spent in conflict
with his great feudal nobility, many of whom supported the pretensions of
the Angevin family. But his superior craft enabled him to foil every
attempt of his enemies. In effecting this, indeed, he shrunk from no deed
of treachery or violence, however atrocious, and in the end had the
satisfaction of establishing his authority, undisputed, on the fears of
his subjects. He was about seventy years of age at the period of which we
are treating, 1493. The heir apparent, Alfonso, was equally sanguinary in
his temper, though possessing less talent for dissimulation than his

Such was the character of the principal Italian courts at the close of the
fifteenth century. The politics of the country were necessarily regulated
by the temper and views of the leading powers. They were essentially
selfish and personal. The ancient republican forms had been gradually
effaced during this century, and more arbitrary ones introduced. The name
of freedom, indeed, was still inscribed on their banners, but the spirit
had disappeared. In almost every state, great or small, some military
adventurer, or crafty statesman, had succeeded in raising his own
authority on the liberties of his country; and his sole aim seemed to be
to enlarge it still further, and to secure it against the conspiracies and
revolutions, which the reminiscence of ancient independence naturally
called forth. Such was the case with Tuscany, Milan, Naples, and the
numerous subordinate states. In Rome, the pontiff proposed no higher
object than the concentration of wealth and public honors in the hands of
his own family. In short, the administration of every state seemed to be
managed with exclusive reference to the personal interests of its chief.
Venice was the only power of sufficient strength and stability to engage
in more extended schemes of policy, and even these were conducted, as has
been already noticed, in the narrow and calculating spirit of a trading

But, while no spark of generous patriotism seemed to warm the bosoms of
the Italians; while no sense of public good, or even menace of foreign
invasion, could bring them to act in concert with one another, [9] the
internal condition of the country was eminently prosperous. Italy had far
outstripped the rest of Europe in the various arts of civilized life; and
she everywhere afforded the evidence of faculties developed by unceasing
intellectual action. The face of the country itself was like a garden;
"cultivated through all its plains to the very tops of the mountains;
teeming with population, with riches, and an unlimited commerce;
illustrated by many munificent princes, by the splendor of many noble and
beautiful cities, and by the majesty of religion; and adorned with all
those rare and precious gifts, which render a name glorious among the
nations." [10] Such are the glowing strains in which the Tuscan historian
celebrates the prosperity of his country, ere yet the storm of war had
descended on her beautiful valleys.

This scene of domestic tranquillity was destined to be changed by that
terrible invasion which the ambition of Lodovico Sforza brought upon his
country. He had already organized a coalition of the northern powers of
Italy, to defeat the interference of the king of Naples in behalf of his
grandson, the rightful duke of Milan, whom his uncle held in subjection
during a protracted minority, while he exercised all the real functions of
sovereignty in his name. Not feeling sufficiently secure from his Italian
confederacy, Sforza invited the king of France to revive the hereditary
claims of the house of Anjou to the crown of Naples, promising to aid him
in the enterprise with all his resources. In this way, this wily
politician proposed to divert the storm from his own head, by giving
Ferdinand sufficient occupation at home.

The throne of France was at that time filled by Charles the Eighth, a
monarch scarcely twenty-two years of age. His father, Louis the Eleventh,
had given him an education unbecoming, not only a great prince, but even a
private gentleman. He would allow him to learn no other Latin, says
Brantôme, than his favorite maxim, "Qui nescit dissimulare, nescit
regnare." [11] Charles made some amends for this, though with little
judgment, in later life, when left to his own disposal. His favorite
studies were the exploits of celebrated conquerors, of Caesar and
Charlemagne particularly, which filled his young mind with vague and
visionary ideas of glory. These dreams were still further nourished by the
tourneys and other chivalrous spectacles of the age, in which he
delighted, until he seems to have imagined himself some doughty paladin of
romance, destined to the achievement of a grand and perilous enterprise.
It affords some proof of this exalted state of his imagination, that he
gave his only son the name of Orlando, after the celebrated hero of
Roncesvalles. [12]

With a mind thus excited by chimerical visions of military glory, he lent
a willing ear to the artful propositions of Sforza. In the extravagance of
vanity, fed by the adulation of interested parasites, he affected to
regard the enterprise against Naples as only opening the way to a career
of more splendid conquests, which were to terminate in the capture of
Constantinople, and the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre. He even went so
far as to purchase of Andrew Paleologus, the nephew and heir of
Constantine, the last of the Caesars, his title to the Greek empire. [13]

Nothing could be more unsound, according to the principles of the present
day, than Charles's claims to the crown of Naples. Without discussing the
original pretensions of the rival houses of Aragon and Anjou, it is
sufficient to state, that, at the time of Charles the Eighth's invasion,
the Neapolitan throne had been in the possession of the Aragonese family
more than half a century, under three successive princes solemnly
recognized by the people, sanctioned by repeated investitures of the papal
suzerain, and admitted by all the states of Europe. If all this did not
give validity to their title, when was the nation to expect repose?
Charles's claim, on the other hand, was derived originally from a
testamentary bequest of René, count of Provence, operating to the
exclusion of the son of his own daughter, the rightful heir of the house
of Anjou; Naples being too notoriously a female fief to afford any pretext
for the action of the Salic law. The pretensions of Ferdinand, of Spain,
as representative of the legitimate branch of Aragon, were far more
plausible. [14]

Independently of the defects in Charles's title, his position was such as
to make the projected expedition every way impolitic. A misunderstanding
had for some time subsisted between him and the Spanish sovereigns, and he
was at open war with Germany and England; so that it was only by large
concessions that he could hope to secure their acquiescence in an
enterprise most precarious in its character, and where even complete
success could be of no permanent benefit to his kingdom. "He did not
understand," says Voltaire, "that a dozen villages adjacent to one's
territory, are of more value than a kingdom four hundred leagues distant."
[15] By the treaties of Etaples and Senlis, he purchased a reconciliation
with Henry the Seventh of England, and with Maximilian, the emperor elect;
and finally, by that of Barcelona, effected an amicable adjustment of his
difficulties with Spain. [16]

This treaty, which involved the restoration of Roussillon and Cerdagne,
was of great importance to the crown of Aragon. These provinces, it will
be remembered, had been originally mortgaged by Ferdinand's father, King
John the Second, to Louis the Eleventh of France, for the sum of three
hundred thousand crowns, in consideration of aid to be afforded by the
latter monarch against the Catalan insurgents. Although the stipulated sum
had never been paid by Aragon, yet a plausible pretext for requiring the
restitution was afforded by Louis the Eleventh's incomplete performance of
his engagements, as well as by the ample reimbursement, which the French
government had already derived from the revenues of these countries. [17]
This treaty had long been a principal object of Ferdinand's policy. He had
not, indeed, confined himself to negotiation, but had made active
demonstrations more than once of occupying the contested territory by
force. Negotiation, however, was more consonant to his habitual policy;
and, after the termination of the Moorish war, he pressed it with the
utmost vigor, repairing with the queen to Barcelona, in order to watch
over the deliberations of the envoys of the two nations at Figueras. [18]

The French historians accuse Ferdinand of bribing two ecclesiastics, in
high influence at their court, to make such a representation of the
affair, as should alarm the conscience of the young monarch. These holy
men insisted on the restoration of Roussillon as an act of justice; since
the sums for which it had been mortgaged, though not repaid, had been
spent in the common cause of Christendom, the Moorish war. The soul, they
said, could never hope to escape from purgatory, until restitution was
made of all property unlawfully held during life. His royal father, Louis
the Eleventh, was clearly in this predicament, as he himself would
hereafter be, unless the Spanish territories should be relinquished; a
measure, moreover, the more obligatory on him, since it was well known to
be the dying request of his parent. These arguments made a suitable
impression on the young monarch, and a still deeper on his sister, the
duchess of Beaujeu, who exercised great influence over him, and who
believed her own soul in peril of eternal damnation by deferring the act
of restoration any longer. The effect of this cogent reasoning was no
doubt greatly enhanced by the reckless impatience of Charles, who
calculated no cost in the prosecution of his chimerical enterprise. With
these amicable dispositions an arrangement was at length concluded, and
received the signatures of the respective monarchs on the same day, being
signed by Charles at Tours, and by Ferdinand and Isabella at Barcelona,
January 19th, 1493. [19]

The principal articles of the treaty provided, that the contracting
parties should mutually aid each other against all enemies; that they
should reciprocally prefer this alliance to that with any other, _the
vicar of Christ excepted_; that the Spanish sovereigns should enter
into no understanding with any power, _the vicar of Christ excepted_,
prejudicial to the interests of France; that their children should not be
disposed of in marriage to the kings of England, or of the Romans, or to
any enemy of France, without the French king's consent. It was finally
stipulated that Roussillon and Cerdagne should be restored to Aragon; but
that, as doubts might be entertained to which power the possession of
these countries rightfully appertained, arbitrators _named by Ferdinand
and Isabella_ should be appointed, if requested by the French monarch,
with full power to decide the question, by whose judgment the contracting
parties mutually promised to abide. This last provision, obviously too
well guarded to jeopard the interests of the Spanish sovereigns, was
introduced to allay in some measure the discontents of the French, who
loudly inveighed against their cabinet, as sacrificing the interests of
the nation; accusing, indeed, the Cardinal D'Albi, the principal agent in
the negotiation, of being in the pay of Ferdinand. [20]

The treaty excited equal surprise and satisfaction in Spain, where
Roussillon was regarded as of the last importance, not merely from the
extent of its resources, but from its local position, which made it the
key of Catalonia. The nation, says Zurita, looked on its recovery as
scarcely less important than the conquest of Granada; and they doubted
some sinister motive, or deeper policy than appeared in the conduct of the
French king. He was influenced, however, by no deeper policy than the
cravings of a puerile ambition. [21]

The preparations of Charles, in the mean while, excited general alarm
throughout Italy. Ferdinand, the old king of Naples, who in vain
endeavored to arrest them by negotiation, had died in the beginning of
1494. He was succeeded by his son Alfonso, a prince of bolder but less
politic character, and equally odious, from the cruelty of his
disposition, with his father. He lost no time in putting his kingdom in a
posture of defence; but he wanted the best of all defences, the attachment
of his subjects. His interests were supported by the Florentine republic
and the pope, whose family had intermarried with the royal house of
Naples. Venice stood aloof, secure in her remoteness, unwilling to
compromise her interests by too precipitate a declaration in favor of
either party.

The European powers regarded the expedition of Charles the Eighth with
somewhat different feelings; most of them were not unwilling to see so
formidable a prince waste his resources in a remote and chimerical
expedition; Ferdinand, however, contemplated with more anxiety an event,
which might terminate in the subversion of the Neapolitan branch of his
house, and bring a powerful and active neighbor in contact with his own
dominions in Sicily. He lost no time in fortifying the faltering courage
of the pope by assurances of support. His ambassador, then resident at the
papal court, was Garcilasso de la Vega, father of the illustrious poet of
that name, and familiar to the reader by his exploits in the Granadine
war. This personage with rare political sagacity combined an energy of
purpose, which could not fail to infuse courage into the hearts of others.
He urged the pope to rely on his master, the king of Aragon, who, he
assured him, would devote his whole resources, if necessary, to the
protection of his person, honor, and estate. Alexander would gladly have
had this promise under the hand of Ferdinand; but the latter did not think
it expedient, considering his delicate relations with France, to put
himself so far in the power of the wily pontiff. [22]

In the mean time, Charles's preparations went forward with the languor and
vacillation resulting from divided councils and multiplied embarrassments.
"Nothing essential to the conduct of a war was at hand," says Comines. The
king was very young, weak in person, headstrong in will, surrounded by few
discreet counsellors, and wholly destitute of the requisite funds. [23]
His own impatience, however, was stimulated by that of the youthful
chivalry of his court, who burned for an opportunity of distinction; as
well as by the representations of the Neapolitan exiles, who hoped, under
his protection, to re-establish themselves in their own country. Several
of these, weary with the delay already experienced, made overtures to King
Ferdinand to undertake the enterprise on his own behalf, and to assert his
legitimate pretensions to the crown of Naples, which, they assured him, a
large party in the country was ready to sustain. The sagacious monarch,
however, knew how little reliance was to be placed on the reports of
exiles, whose imaginations readily exaggerated the amount of disaffection
in their own country. But, although the season had not yet arrived for
asserting his own paramount claims, he was determined to tolerate those of
no other potentate. [24]

Charles entertained so little suspicion of this, that, in the month of
June, he despatched an envoy to the Spanish court, requiring Ferdinand's
fulfilment of the treaty of Barcelona, by aiding him with men and money,
and by throwing open his ports in Sicily for the French navy. "This
gracious proposition," says the Aragonese historian, "he accompanied with
information of his proposed expedition against the Turks; stating
incidentally, as a thing of no consequence, his intention to take Naples
by the way." [25]

Ferdinand saw the time was arrived for coming to an explicit declaration
with the French court. He appointed a special mission, in order to do this
in the least offensive manner possible. The person selected for this
delicate task was Alonso de Silva, brother of the count of Cifuentes, and
_clavero_ of Calatrava, a cavalier possessed of the coolness and address
requisite for diplomatic success. [26]

The ambassador, on arriving at the French court, found it at Vienne in all
the bustle of preparation for immediate departure. After seeking in vain a
private audience from King Charles, he explained to him the purport of his
mission in the presence of his courtiers. He assured him of the
satisfaction which the king of Aragon had experienced, at receiving
intelligence of his projected expedition against the infidel. Nothing gave
his master so great contentment, as to see his brother monarchs employing
their arms, and expending their revenues, against the enemies of the
Cross; where even failure was greater gain than success in other wars. He
offered Ferdinand's assistance in the prosecution of such wars, even
though they should be directed against the Mahometans of Africa, over whom
the papal sanction had given Spain exclusive rights of conquest. He
besought the king not to employ the forces destined to so glorious a
purpose against any one of the princes of Europe, but to reflect how great
a scandal this must necessarily bring on the Christian cause; above all,
he cautioned him against forming any designs on Naples, since that kingdom
was a fief of the church, in whose favor an exception was expressly made
by the treaty of Barcelona, which recognized her alliance and protection
as paramount to every other obligation. Silva's discourse was responded to
by the president of the parliament of Paris in a formal Latin oration,
asserting generally Charles's right to Naples, and his resolution to
enforce it previously to his crusade against the infidel. As soon as it
was concluded, the king rose and abruptly quitted the apartment. [27]

Some days after, he interrogated the Spanish ambassador, whether his
master would not, in case of a war with Portugal, feel warranted by the
terms of the late treaty in requiring the co-operation of France, and on
what plea the latter power could pretend to withhold it. To the first of
these propositions the ambassador answered in the affirmative, if it were
a defensive war, but not, if an offensive one, of his own seeking; an
explanation by no means satisfactory to the French monarch. Indeed, he
seems not to have been at all prepared for this interpretation of the
compact. He had relied on this, as securing without any doubt the non-
interference of Ferdinand, if not his actual co-operation in his designs
against Naples. The clause touching the rights of the church was too
frequent in public treaties to excite any particular attention; and he was
astounded at the broad ground, which it was now made to cover, and which
defeated the sole object proposed by the cession of Roussillon. He could
not disguise his chagrin and indignation at what he deemed the perfidy of
the Spanish court. He refused all further intercourse with Silva, and even
stationed a sentinel at his gate, to prevent his communication with his
subjects; treating him as the envoy, not of an ally, but of an open enemy.

The unexpected and menacing attitude, however, assumed by Ferdinand,
failed to arrest the operations of the French monarch, who, having
completed his preparations, left Vienne in the month of August, 1494, and
crossed the Alps at the head of the most formidable host which had scaled
that mountain barrier since the irruption of the northern barbarians. [29]
It will be unnecessary to follow his movements in detail. It is sufficient
to remark, that his conduct throughout was equally defective in principle
and in sound policy. He alienated his allies by the most signal acts of
perfidy, seizing their fortresses for himself, and entering their capitals
with all the vaunt and insolent port of a conquerer. On his approach to
Rome, the pope and the cardinals took refuge in the castle of St. Angelo,
and on the 31st of December, Charles defiled into the city at the head of
his victorious chivalry; if victorious they could be called, when, as an
Italian historian remarks, they had scarcely broken a lance, or spread a
tent, in the whole of their progress. [30]

The Italians were panic-struck at the aspect of troops so different from
their own, and so superior to them in organization, science, and military
equipment; and still more in a remorseless ferocity of temper, which had
rarely been witnessed in their own feuds. Warfare was conducted on
peculiar principles in Italy, adapted to the character and circumstances
of the people. The business of fighting, in her thriving communities,
instead of forming part of the regular profession of a gentleman, as in
other countries at this period, was intrusted to the hands of a few
soldiers of fortune, _condottieri_, as they were called, who hired
themselves out, with the forces under their command, consisting
exclusively of heavy-armed cavalry, to whatever state would pay them best.
These forces constituted the capital, as it were, of the military chief,
whose obvious interest it was to economize as far as possible all
unnecessary expenditure of his resources. Hence, the science of defence
was almost exclusively studied. The object seemed to be, not so much the
annoyance of the enemy, as self-preservation. The common interests of the
_condottieri_ being paramount to every obligation towards the state
which they served, they easily came to an understanding with one another
to spare their troops as much as possible; until at length battles were
fought with little more personal hazard than would be incurred in an
ordinary tourney. The man-at-arms was riveted into plates of steel of
sufficient thickness to turn a musket-ball. The ease of the soldier was so
far consulted, that the artillery, in a siege, was not allowed to be fired
on either side from sunset to sunrise, for fear of disturbing his repose.
Prisoners were made for the sake of their ransom, and but little blood was
spilled in an action. Machiavelli records two engagements, at Anghiari and
Castracaro, among the most noted of the time for their important
consequences. The one lasted four hours, and the other half a day. The
reader is hurried along through all the bustle of a well-contested fight,
in the course of which the field is won and lost several times; but, when
he comes to the close, and looks for the list of killed and wounded, he
finds to his surprise not a single man slain, in the first of these
actions; and, in the second, only one, who, having tumbled from his horse,
and being unable to rise, from the weight of his armor, was suffocated in
the mud! Thus war became disarmed of its terrors. Courage was no longer
essential in a soldier; and the Italian, made effeminate, if not timid,
was incapable of encountering the adventurous daring and severe discipline
of the northern warrior. [31]

The astonishing success of the French was still more imputable to the free
use and admirable organization of their infantry, whose strength lay in
the Swiss mercenaries. Machiavelli ascribes the misfortunes of his nation
chiefly to its exclusive reliance on cavalry. [32] This service, during
the whole of the Middle Ages, was considered among the European nations
the most important; the horse being styled by way of eminence "the
battle." The memorable conflict of Charles the Bold with the Swiss
mountaineers, however, in which the latter broke in pieces the celebrated
Burgundian _ordonnance_, constituting the finest body of chivalry of
the age, demonstrated the capacity of infantry; and the Italian wars, in
which we are now engaged, at length fully re-established its ancient

The Swiss were formed into battalions varying from three to eight thousand
men each. They wore little defensive armor, and their principal weapon was
the pike, eighteen feet long. Formed into these solid battalions, which,
bristling with spears all around, received the technical appellation of
the _hedgehog_, they presented an invulnerable front on every quarter. In
the level field, with free scope allowed for action, they bore down all
opposition, and received unshaken the most desperate charges of the steel-
clad cavalry on their terrible array of pikes. They were too unwieldy,
however, for rapid or complicated manoeuvres; they were easily
disconcerted by any unforseen impediment, or irregularity of the ground;
and the event proved, that the Spanish foot, armed with its short swords
and bucklers, by breaking in under the long pikes of its enemy, could
succeed in bringing him to close action, where his formidable weapon was
of no avail. It was repeating the ancient lesson of the Roman legion and
the Macedonian phalanx. [33]

In artillery, the French were at this time in advance of the Italians,
perhaps of every nation in Europe. The Italians, indeed, were so
exceedingly defective in this department, that their best field-pieces
consisted of small copper tubes, covered with wood and hides. They were
mounted on unwieldy carriages drawn by oxen, and followed by cars or
wagons loaded with stone balls. These guns were worked so awkwardly, that
the besieged, says Guicciardini, had time between the discharges to repair
the mischief inflicted by them. From these circumstances, artillery was
held in so little repute, that some of the most competent Italian writers
thought it might be dispensed with altogether in field engagements. [34]

The French, on the other hand, were provided with a beautiful train of
ordnance, consisting of bronze cannon about eight feet in length, and many
smaller pieces. [35] They were lightly mounted, drawn by horses, and
easily kept pace with the rapid movements of the army. They discharged
iron balls, and were served with admirable skill, intimidating their
enemies by the rapidity and accuracy of their fire, and easily demolishing
their fortifications, which, before this invasion, were constructed with
little strength or science. [36]

The rapid successes of the French spread consternation among the Italian
states, who now for the first time seemed to feel the existence of a
common interest, and the necessity of efficient concert. Ferdinand was
active in promoting these dispositions, through his ministers, Garcilasso
de la Vega and Alonso de Silva. The latter had quitted the French court on
its entrance into Italy, and withdrawn to Genoa. From this point he opened
a correspondence with Lodovico Sforza, who now began to understand, that
he had brought a terrible engine into play, the movements of which,
however mischievous to himself, were beyond his strength to control. Silva
endeavored to inflame still further his jealousy of the French, who had
already given him many serious causes of disgust; and, in order to detach
him more effectually from Charles's interests, encouraged him with the
hopes of forming a matrimonial alliance for his son with one of the
infantas of Spain. At the same time, he used every effort to bring about a
co-operation between the duke and the republic of Venice, thus opening the
way to the celebrated league which was concluded in the following year.

The Roman pontiff had lost no time, after the appearance of the French
army in Italy, in pressing the Spanish court to fulfil its engagements. He
endeavored to propitiate the good-will of the sovereigns by several
important concessions. He granted to them and their successors the
_tercias_, or two-ninths of the tithes, throughout the dominions of
Castile; an impost still forming part of the regular revenue of the crown.
[38] He caused bulls of crusade to be promulgated throughout Spain,
granting at the same time a tenth of the ecclesiastical rents, with the
understanding that the proceeds should be devoted to the protection of the
Holy See. Towards the close of this year, 1494, or the beginning of the
following, he conferred the title of Catholic on the Spanish sovereigns,
in consideration, as is stated, of their eminent virtues, their zeal in
defence of the true faith of the apostolic see, their reformation of
conventual discipline, their subjugation of the Moors of Granada, and the
purification of their dominions from the Jewish heresy. This orthodox
title, which still continues to be the jewel most prized in the Spanish
crown, has been appropriated in a peculiar manner to Ferdinand and
Isabella, who are universally recognized in history as _Los Reyes
Católicos_. [39]

Ferdinand was too sensible of the peril, to which the occupation of Naples
by the French would expose his own interests, to require any stimulant to
action from the Roman pontiff. Naval preparations had been going forward
during the summer, in the ports of Galicia and Guipuscoa. A considerable
armament was made ready for sea by the latter part of December, at
Alicant, and placed under the command of Galceran de Requesens, count of
Trevento. The land forces were intrusted to Gonsalvo de Cordova, better
known in history as the Great Captain. Instructions were at the same time
sent to the viceroy of Sicily, to provide for the security of that island,
and to hold himself in readiness to act in concert with the Spanish fleet.

Ferdinand, however, determined to send one more embassy to Charles the
Eighth, before coming to an open rupture with him. He selected for this
mission Juan de Albion and Antonio de Fonseca, brother of the bishop of
that name, whom we have already noticed as superintendent of the Indian
department. The two envoys reached Rome, January 28th, 1495, the same day
on which Charles set out on his march for Naples. They followed the army,
and on arriving at Veletri, about twenty miles from the capital, were
admitted to an audience by the monarch, who received them in the presence
of his officers. The ambassadors freely enumerated the various causes of
complaint entertained by their master against the French king; the insult
offered to him in the person of his minister Alonso de Silva; the
contumelious treatment of the pope, and forcible occupation of the
fortresses and estates of the church; and finally, the enterprise against
Naples, the claims to which as a papal fief could of right be determined
in no other way than by the arbitration of the pontiff himself. Should
King Charles consent to accept this arbitration, they tendered the good
offices of their master as mediator between the parties; should he decline
it, however, the king of Spain stood absolved from all further obligations
of amity with him, by the terms of the treaty of Barcelona, which
expressly recognized his right to interfere in defence of the church. [41]

Charles, who could not dissemble his indignation during this discourse,
retorted with great acrimony, when it was concluded, on the conduct of
Ferdinand, which he stigmatized as perfidious, accusing him, at the same
time, of a deliberate design to circumvent him, by introducing into their
treaty the clause respecting the pope. As to the expedition against
Naples, he had now gone too far to recede; and it would be soon enough to
canvass the question of right, when he had got possession of it. His
courtiers, at the same time, with the impetuosity of their nation,
heightened by the insolence of success, told the envoys, that they knew
well enough how to defend their rights with their arms, and that King
Ferdinand would find the French chivalry enemies of quite another sort
from the holiday tilters of Granada.

These taunts led to mutual recrimination, until at length Fonseca, though
naturally a sedate person, was so far transported with anger, that he
exclaimed, "The issue then must be left to God,--arms must decide it;"
and, producing the original treaty, bearing the signatures of the two
monarchs, he tore it in pieces before the eyes of Charles and his court.
At the same time he commanded two Spanish knights who served in the French
army to withdraw from it, under pain of incurring the penalties of
treason. The French cavaliers were so much incensed by this audacious
action, that they would have seized the envoys, and, in all probability,
offered violence to their persons, but for Charles's interposition, who
with more coolness caused them to be conducted from his presence, and sent
back under a safe escort to Rome. Such are the circumstances reported by
the French and Italian writers of this remarkable interview. They were not
aware that the dramatic exhibition, as far as the ambassadors were
concerned, was all previously concerted before their departure from Spain.

Charles pressed forward on his march without further delay. Alfonso the
Second, losing his confidence and martial courage, the only virtues that
he possessed, at the crisis when they were most demanded, had
precipitately abandoned his kingdom while the French were at Rome, and
taken refuge in Sicily, where he formally abdicated the crown in favor of
his son, Ferdinand the Second. This prince, then twenty-five years of age,
whose amiable manners were rendered still more attractive by contrast with
the ferocious temper of his father, was possessed of talent and energy
competent to the present emergency, had he been sustained by his subjects.
But the latter, besides being struck with the same panic which had
paralyzed the other people of Italy, had too little interest in the
government to be willing to hazard much in its defence. A change of
dynasty was only a change of masters, by which they had little either to
gain or to lose. Though favorably inclined to Ferdinand, they refused to
stand by him in his perilous extremity. They gave way in every direction,
as the French advanced, rendering hopeless every attempt of their spirited
young monarch to rally them, till at length no alternative was left, but
to abandon his dominions to the enemy, without striking a blow in their
defence. He withdrew to the neighboring island of Ischia, whence he soon
after passed into Sicily, and occupied himself there in collecting the
fragments of his party, until the time should arrive for more decisive
action. [43]

Charles the Eighth made his entrance into Naples at the head of his
legions, February 22d, 1495, having traversed this whole extent of hostile
territory in less time than would be occupied by a fashionable tourist of
the present day. The object of his expedition was now achieved. He seemed
to have reached the consummation of his wishes; and, although he assumed
the titles of King of Sicily and of Jerusalem, and affected the state and
authority of Emperor, he took no measures for prosecuting his chimerical
enterprise further. He even neglected to provide for the security of his
present conquest; and, without bestowing a thought on the government of
his new dominions, resigned himself to the licentious and effeminate
pleasures so congenial with the soft voluptuousness of the climate, and
his own character. [44]

While Charles was thus wasting his time and resources in frivolous
amusements, a dark storm was gathering in the north. There was not a state
through which he had passed, however friendly to his cause, which had not
complaints to make of his insolence, his breach of faith, his infringement
of their rights, and his exorbitant exactions. His impolitic treatment of
Sforza had long since alienated that wily and restless politician, and
raised suspicions in his mind of Charles's designs against his own duchy
of Milan. The emperor elect, Maximilian, whom the French king thought to
have bound to his interests by the treaty of Senlis, took umbrage at his
assumption of the imperial title and dignity. The Spanish ambassadors,
Garcilasso de la Vega, and his brother Lorenzo Suarez, the latter of whom
resided at Venice, were indefatigable in stimulating the spirit of
discontent. Suarez, in particular, used every effort to secure the co-
operation of Venice, representing to the government, in the most urgent
terms, the necessity of general concert and instant action among the great
powers of Italy, if they would preserve their own liberties. [45]

Venice, from its remote position, seemed to afford the best point for
coolly contemplating the general interests of Italy. Envoys of the
different European powers were assembled there, as if by common consent,
with the view of concerting some scheme of operation for their mutual
good. The conferences were conducted by night, and with such secrecy as to
elude for some time the vigilant eye of Comines, the sagacious minister of
Charles, then resident at the capital. The result was the celebrated
league of Venice. It was signed the last day of March, 1495, on the part
of Spain, Austria, Rome, Milan, and the Venetian republic. The ostensible
object of the treaty, which was to last twenty-five years, was the
preservation of the estates and rights of the confederates, especially of
the Roman see. A large force, amounting in all to thirty-four thousand
horse and twenty thousand foot, was to be assessed in stipulated
proportions on each of the contracting parties. The secret articles of the
treaty, however, went much further, providing a formidable plan of
offensive operations. It was agreed in these, that King Ferdinand should
employ the Spanish armament, now arrived in Sicily, in re-establishing his
kinsman on the throne of Naples; that a Venetian fleet of forty galleys
should attack the French positions on the Neapolitan coasts; that the duke
of Milan should expel the French from Asti, and blockade the passes of the
Alps, so as to intercept the passage of further reinforcements; and that
the emperor and the king of Spain should invade the French frontiers, and
their expenses be defrayed by subsidies from the allies. [46] Such were
the terms of this treaty, which may be regarded as forming an era in
modern political history, since it exhibits the first example of those
extensive combinations among European princes, for mutual defence, which
afterwards became so frequent. It shared the fate of many other
coalitions, where the name and authority of the whole have been made
subservient to the interests of some one of the parties, more powerful, or
more cunning, than the rest.

The intelligence of the new treaty diffused general joy throughout Italy.
In Venice, in particular, it was greeted with _fêtes_, illuminations,
and the most emphatic public rejoicing, in the very eyes of the French
minister, who was compelled to witness this unequivocal testimony of the
detestation in which his countrymen were held. [47] The tidings fell
heavily on the ears of the French in Naples. It dispelled the dream of
idle dissipation in which they were dissolved. They felt little concern,
indeed, on the score of their Italian enemies, whom their easy victories
taught them to regard with the same insolent contempt, that the paladins
of romance are made to feel for the unknightly rabble, myriads of whom
they could overturn with a single lance. But they felt serious alarm as
they beheld the storm of war gathering from other quarters,--from Spain
and Germany, in defiance of the treaties by which they had hoped to secure
them. Charles saw the necessity of instant action. Two courses presented
themselves: either to strengthen himself in his new conquests, and prepare
to maintain them until he could receive fresh reinforcements from home, or
to abandon them altogether and retreat across the Alps, before the allies
could muster in sufficient strength to oppose him. With the indiscretion
characteristic of his whole enterprise, he embraced a middle course, and
lost the advantages which would have resulted from the exclusive adoption
of either.

* * * * *

The principal light, by which we are to be guided through the remainder of
this history, is the Aragonese annalist, Zurita, whose great work,
although less known abroad than those of some more recent Castilian
writers, sustains a reputation at home, unsurpassed by any other, in the
great, substantial qualities of an historian. The notice of his life and
writings has been swelled into a bulky quarto by Dr. Diego Dormer, in a
work entitled, "Progressos de la Historia en el Reyno de Aragon. Zaragoza,
1680;" from which I extract a few particulars.

Gerónimo Zurita, descended from an ancient and noble family, was born at
Saragossa, December 4th, 1512. He was matriculated at an early age in the
university of Alcalá. He there made extraordinary proficiency, under the
immediate instruction of the learned Nuñez de Guzman, commonly called El
Pinciano. He became familiar with the ancient, and a variety of modern
tongues, and attracted particular attention by the purity and elegance of
his Latinity. His personal merits, and his father's influence, recommended
him, soon after quitting the university, to the notice of the emperor
Charles V. He was consulted and employed in affairs of public importance,
and subsequently raised to several posts of honor, attesting the entire
confidence reposed in his integrity and abilities. His most honorable
appointment, however, was that of national historiographer.

In 1547, an act passed the cortes general of Aragon, providing for the
office of national chronicler, with a fixed salary, whose duty it should
be to compile, from authentic sources, a faithful history of the monarchy.
The talents and eminent qualifications of Zurita recommended him to this
post, and he was raised to it by the unanimous consent of the legislature,
in the following year, 1548. From this time he conscientiously devoted
himself to the execution of his great task. He visited every part of his
own country, as well as Sicily and Italy, for the purpose of collecting
materials. The public archives, and every accessible source of
information, were freely thrown open to his inspection, by order of the
government; and he returned from his literary pilgrimage with a large
accumulation of rare and original documents. The first portion of his
annals was published at Saragossa, in two volumes folio, 1562. The work
was not completed until nearly twenty years later, and the last two
volumes were printed under his own eye at Saragossa, in 1580, a few months
only before his death. This edition, being one of those used in the
present history, is in large folio, fairly executed, with double columns
on the page, in the fashion of most of the ancient Spanish historians. The
whole work was again published, as before, at the expense of the state, in
1585, by his son, amended and somewhat enlarged, from the manuscripts left
by his father. Bouterwek has fallen into the error of supposing, that no
edition of Zurita's Annals appeared till after the reign of Philip II.,
who died in 1592. (Geschichte der Poesie und Beredsamkeit, band iii. p.

No incidents worthy of note seem to have broken the peaceful tenor of
Zurita's life; which he terminated at Saragossa, in the sixty-eighth year
of his age, in the monastery of Santa Engracia, to which he had retired
during a temporary residence in the city, to superintend the publication
of his Annals. His rich collection of books and manuscripts was left to
the Carthusian monastery of Aula Dei; but from accident or neglect, the
greater part have long since perished. His remains were interred in the
convent where he died, and a monument, bearing a modest inscription, was
erected over them by his son.

The best monument of Zurita, however, is his Annals. They take up the
history of Aragon from its first rise after the Arabic conquest, and
continue it to the death of Ferdinand the Catholic. The reign of this
prince, as possessing the largest interest and importance, is expanded
into two volumes folio; being one-third of the whole work.

The minuteness of Zurita's investigations has laid him open to the charge
of prolixity, especially in the earlier and less important periods. It
should be remembered, however, that his work was to be the great national
repository of facts, interesting to his own countrymen, but which, from
difficulty of access to authentic sources, could never before be fully
exhibited to their inspection. But, whatever he thought of his redundancy,
in this or the subsequent parts of his narrative, it must be admitted that
he has uniformly and emphatically directed the attention of the reader to
the topics most worthy of it; sparing no pains to illustrate the
constitutional antiquities of the country, and to trace the gradual
formation of her liberal polity, instead of wasting his strength on mere
superficial gossip, like most of the chroniclers of the period.

There is no Spanish historian less swayed by party or religious prejudice,
or by the feeling of nationality, which is so apt to overflow in the loyal
effusions of the Castilian writers. This laudable temperance, indeed, has
brought on him the rebuke of more than one of his patriotic countrymen.
There is a sobriety and coolness in his estimate of historical evidence,
equally removed from temerity on the one hand, and credulity on the other;
in short, his whole manner is that of a man conversant with public
business, and free from the closet pedantry which too often characterizes
the monkish annalists. The greater part of his life was passed under the
reign of Charles V., when the spirit of the nation was not yet broken by
arbitrary power, nor debased by the melancholy superstition which settled
on it under his successor; an age, in which the memory of ancient liberty
had not wholly faded away, and when, if men did not dare express all they
thought, they at least thought with a degree of independence which gave a
masculine character to their expression. In this, as well as in the
liberality of his religious sentiments, he may be compared favorably with
his celebrated countryman Mariana, who, educated in the cloister, and at a
period when the nation was schooled to maxims of despotism, exhibits few
glimpses of the sound criticism and reflection, which are to be found in
the writings of his Aragonese rival. The seductions of style, however, the
more fastidious selection of incidents, in short, the superior graces of
narration, have given a wider fame to the former, whose works have passed
into most of the cultivated languages of Europe, while those of Zurita
remain, as far as I am aware, still undisturbed in the vernacular.


[1] Zurita, Historia del Rey Don Hernando el Cathólico, (Anales, tom. v.
vi., Zaragoza, 1580,) lib. 1, Introd.

[2] The "Legazione," or official correspondence of Machiavelli, while
stationed at the different European courts, may be regarded as the most
complete manual of diplomacy as it existed at the beginning of the
sixteenth century. It affords more copious and curious information
respecting the interior workings of the governments with whom he resided,
than is to be found in any regular history; and it shows the variety and
extent of duties attached to the office of resident minister, from the
first moment of its creation.

[3] "Sed diu," says Sallust, noticing the similar consequence of increased
refinement among the ancients, "magnum inter mortales certamen fuit, vine
corporis an virtute animi res militaris magis procederet. ***** Tum demum
periculo atque negotiis compertum est, in bello plurimum ingenium posse."
Bellum Catilinarium, cap. 1, 2.

[4] Machiavelli's political treatises, his "Principe" and "Discorsi sopra
Tito Livio," which appeared after his death, excited no scandal at the
time of their publication. They came into the world, indeed, from the
pontifical press, under the privilege of the reigning pope, Clement VII.
It was not until thirty years later that they were placed on the Index;
and this not from any exceptions taken at the immorality of their
doctrines, as Ginguené has well proved, (Histoire Littéraire d'Italie,
(Paris, 1811-19,) tom. viii. pp. 32, 74,) but from the imputations they
contained on the court of Rome.

[5] "Aquel Senado é Señoría de Venecianos," says Gonzalo de Oviedo, "donde
me parece á mi que esta recogido todo el saber é prudencia de los hombres
humanos; porque és la gente del mundo que mejor se sabe gobernar; é la
republica, que mas tiempo há durado en el mundo por la buena forma de su
regimiento, é donde con mejor manera hán los hombres vivido en comunidad
sin tener Rey;" etc. Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 3, dial. 44.

[6] Of all the incense which poets and politicians have offered to the
Queen of the Adriatic, none is more exquisite than that conveyed in these
few lines, where Sannazaro notices her position as the bulwark of

"Una Italum regina, altae pulcherrima Romae
Aemula, quae terris, quae dominaris aquis!
Tu tibi vel reges cives facis; O decus! O lux
Ausoniae, per quam libera turba sumus;
Per quam barbaries nobis non imperat, et Sol
Exoriens nostro clarius orbe micat!"

Opera Latina, lib. 3, eleg. 1, 95.

[7] Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. lib. 3, p. 147.

[8] Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 119, 123.--Fleury, Histoire
Ecclésiastique, contin. (Paris, 1722,) tom. xxiv. lib. 117, p. 545.--Peter
Martyr, whose residence and rank at the Spanish court gave him access to
the best sources of information as to the repute in which the new pontiff
was held there, expresses himself in one of his letters to Cardinal
Sforza, who had assisted at his election, in the following unequivocal
language. "Sed hoc habeto, princeps illustrissime, non placuisse meis
Regibus pontificatum ad Alexandrum, quamvis eorum ditionarium, pervenisse.
Verentur namque ne illius cupiditas, ne ambitio, ne (quod gravius)
mollities filialis Christianam religionem in praeceps trahat." Epist. 119.

[9] A remarkable example of this occurred in the middle of the fifteenth
century, when the inundation of the Turks, which seemed ready to burst
upon them, after overwhelming the Arabian and Greek empires, had no power
to still the voice of faction, or to concentrate the attention of the
Italian states, even for a moment.

[10] Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. lib. 1, p. 2.

[11] Brantôme, Vies des Hommes Illustres, Oeuvres Complètes, (Paris, 1822-
3,) tom. ii. disc. i. pp. 2, 20.

[12] Sismondi, Hist. des Français, tom. xv. p. 112.--Gaillard, Rivalité,
tom. iv. pp. 2, 3.

[13] Daru, Histoire de la République de Venise, (Paris, 1821,) tom. iii.
liv. 20.--See the deed of cession, in the memoir of M. de Foncemagne.
(Mémoires de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, tom. xvii. pp.
539-579.) This document, as well as some others which appeared on the eve
of Charles's expedition, breathes a tone of Quixotic and religious
enthusiasm that transports us back to the days of the crusades.

[14] The conflicting claims of Anjou and Aragon are stated at length by
Gaillard, with more candor and impartiality than were to be expected from
a French writer. (Histoire de François I., (Paris, 1769,) tom. i. pp. 71-
92.) They form the subject of a juvenile essay of Gibbon, in which we may
discern the germs of many of the peculiarities which afterwards
characterized the historian of the Decline and Fall. Miscellaneous Works,
(London, 1814.) vol. iii. pp. 206-222.

[15] Essai sur les Moeurs, chap. 107.--His politic father, Louis XI.,
acted on this principle, for he made no attempt to maintain his
pretensions to Naples; although Mably affects to doubt whether this were
not the result of necessity rather than policy. "Il est douteux si cette
modération fut l'ouvrage d'une connoissance approfondie de ses vrais
intérêts, ou seulement de cette défiance qu'il avoit des grands de son
royaume, et qu'il n'osoit perdre de vue." Observations sur l'Histoire de
France, Oeuvres, (Paris, 1794-5,) liv. 6, chap. 4.

[16] Flassan, Histoire de la Diplomatic Française, (Paris, 1809,) tom. i.
pp. 254-259.--Dumont, Corps Universel Diplomatique du Droit des Gens,
(Amsterdam, 1726-31,) tom. iii. pp. 297-300.

[17] See the narrative of these transactions in the Fifth and Sixth
Chapters of Part I. of this History.

Most historians seem to take it for granted, that Louis XI. advanced a sum
of money to the king of Aragon; and some state, that payment of the debt,
for which the provinces were mortgaged, was subsequently tendered to the
French king. (See, among others, Sismondi, Républiques Italiennes, tom.
xii. p. 93.--Roscoe, Life and Pontificate of Leo X., (London, 1827,) vol.
i. p. 147.) The first of these statements is a palpable error; and I find
no evidence of the last in any Spanish authority, where, if true, it would
naturally have been noticed. I must, indeed, except Bernaldez, who says,
that Ferdinand having repaid the money, borrowed by his father from Louis
XI., to Charles VIII., the latter monarch returned it to Isabella, in
consideration of the great expenses incurred by the Moorish war. It is a
pity that this romantic piece of gallantry does not rest on any better
foundation than the Curate of Los Palacios, who shows a degree of
ignorance in the first part of his statement, that entitles him to little
credit in the last. Indeed, the worthy curate, although much to be relied
on for what passed in his own province, may be found frequently tripping
in the details of what passed out of it. Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS.,
cap. 117.

[18] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, lib. 1, cap. 4, 7, 10.

[19] Fleury, Histoire Ecclésiastique, contin., tom. xxiv. pp. 533-555.--
Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, lib. 1, cap. 14.--Daru, Hist. de Venise,
tom. iii. pp. 51, 52.--Gaillard, Rivalité, tom. iv. p. 10.--Abarca, Reyes
de Aragon, tom. ii. rey 30, cap. 6.

Comines, alluding to the affair of Roussillon, says that Ferdinand and
Isabella, whether from motives of economy or hypocrisy, always employed
priests in their negotiations. "Car toutes leurs oeuvres ont fait mener et
conduire par telles gens (religieux), ou par hypocrisie, ou afin de moins
despendre." (Mémoires, p. 211.) The French king, however, made more use of
the clergy in this very transaction than the Spanish. Zurita, Hist. del
Rey Hernando, lib. 1, cap. 10.

[20] Paolo Giovio, Historia sui Temporis, (Basiliae, 1578,) lib. 1, p.
16.--The treaty of Barcelona is given at length by Dumont. (Corps
Diplomatique, tom. iii. pp. 297-300.) It is reported with sufficient
inaccuracy by many historians, who make no hesitation in saying, that
Ferdinand expressly bound himself, by one of the articles, not to
interfere with Charles's meditated attempt on Naples. (Gaillard, Rivalité,
tom. iv. p. 11.--Voltaire, Essai sur les Moeurs, chap. 107.--Comines,
Mémoires, liv. 8, chap. 23.--Giovio, Hist. sui Temporis, lib. 1, p. 16.--
Varillas, Politique d'Espagne, ou du Roi Ferdinand, (Amsterdam, 1688,) pp.
11, 12.--Roscoe, Life of Leo X., tom. i. chap. 3.) So far from this, there
is no allusion whatever to the proposed expedition in the treaty, nor is
the name of Naples once mentioned in it.

[21] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, lib. 1, cap. 18.--Abarca, Reyes de
Aragon, ubi supra.

[22] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, lib. 1, cap. 28.--Bembo, Istoria
Viniziana, (Milano, 1809,) tom. i. lib. 2, pp. 118, 119.--Oviedo,
Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 3, dial. 43.

[23] Comines, Mémoires, liv. 7, introd.

[24] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, lib. 1, cap. 20.--Peter Martyr, Opus
Epist., epist. 123.--Comines, Mémoires, liv. 7, chap. 3.--Mariana, Hist.
de España, tom. ii. lib. 26, cap. 6.--Zurita concludes the arguments which
decided Ferdinand against assuming the enterprise, with one which may be
considered the gist of the whole matter. "El Rey entendia bien que no era
tan facil la causa que se proponia." Lib. 1, cap. 20.

[25] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, lib. 1, cap. 31.

[26] Oviedo notices Silva as one of three brothers, all gentle cavaliers,
of unblemished honor, remarkable for the plainness of their persons, the
elegance and courtesy of their manners, and the magnificence of their
style of living. This one, Alonso, he describes as a man of a singularly
clear head. Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 4.

[27] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, ubi supra.

[28] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, lib, 1, cap. 31, 41.

[29] Villeneuve, Mémoires, apud Petitot, Collection des Mémoires, tom.
xiv. pp. 255, 256.

The French army consisted of 3600 gens d'armes, 20,000 French infantry,
and 8000 Swiss, without including the regular camp followers. (Sismondi,
Républiques Italiennes, tom. xii. p. 132.)

The splendor and novelty of their appearance excited a degree of
admiration, which disarmed in some measure the terror of the Italians.
Peter Martyr, whose distance from the theatre of action enabled him to
contemplate more calmly the operation of events, beheld with a prophetic
eye the magnitude of the calamities impending over his country. In one of
his letters, he writes thus; "Scribitur exercitum visum fuisse nostra
tempestate nullum unquam nitidiorem. Et qui futuri sunt calamitatis
participes, Carolum aciesque illius ac peditum turmas laudibus extollunt;
sed Italorum impensâ instructas." (Opus Epist., epist. 143.) He concludes
another with this remarkable prediction; "Perimeris, Galle, ex majori
parte, nec in patriam redibis. Jacebis insepultus; sed tua non restituetur
strages, Italia." Epist. 123.

[30] Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. lib. 1, p. 71.--Scipione Ammirato,
Istorie Fiorentine, (Firenze, 1647,) p. 205.--Giannone, Istoria di Napoli,
tom. iii. lib. 29, introd.--Comines, Mémoires, liv. 7, chap. 17.--Oviedo,
Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 3, dial. 43.

[31] Du Bos, Histoire de la Ligue faite à Cambray, (Paris, 1728), tom. i.
dissert, prélim.--Machiavelli, Istorie Fiorentine, lib. 5.--Denina,
Rivoluzioni d'Italia, lib. 18, cap. 3.

[32] Arte della Guerra, lib. 2.

[33] Machiavelli, Arte della Guerra, lib. 3.--Du Bos, Ligue de Cambray,
tom. i. dis. prélim.--Giovio, Hist. sui Temporis, lib. 2, p. 41. Polybius,
in his minute account of this celebrated military institution of the
Greeks, has recapitulated nearly all the advantages and defects imputed to
the Swiss _hérisson_, by modern European writers. (See lib. 17, sec.
25 et seq.) It is singular, that these exploded arms and tactics should be
revived, after the lapse of nearly seventeen centuries, to be foiled again
in the same manner as before.

[34] Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. pp. 45, 46.--Machiavelli, Arte della
Guerra, lib. 3.--Du Bos, Ligue de Cambray, ubi supra.

[35] Guicciardini speaks of the name of "cannon," which the French gave to
their pieces, as a novelty at that time in Italy. Istoria, pp. 45, 46.

[36] Giovio, Hist. sui Temporis, lib. 2, p. 42.--Machiavelli, Arte della
Guerra, lib. 7.

[37] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, lib. 1, cap. 35.--Alonso da Silva
acquitted himself to the entire satisfaction of the sovereigns, in his
difficult mission. He was subsequently sent on various others to the
different Italian courts, and uniformly sustained his reputation for
ability and prudence. He did not live to be old. Oviedo, Quincuagenas,
MS., bat. 1, quinc. 4.

[38] Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii. lib. 26, cap. 6.--Salazar de
Mendoza, Monarquía, lib. 3, cap. 14.

This branch of the revenue yields at the present day, according to
Laborde, about 6,000,000 reals, or 1,500,000 francs. Itinéraire, tom. vi.
p. 51.

[39] Zurita, Abarca, and other Spanish historians, fix the date of
Alexander's grant at the close of 1496. (Hist. del Rey Hernando, lib, 2,
cap. 40.--Reyes de Aragon, rey 30, cap. 9.) Martyr notices it with great
particularity as already conferred, in a letter of February, 1495. (Opus
Epist., epist. 157.) The pope, according to Comines, designed to
compliment Ferdinand and Isabella for their conquest of Granada, by
transferring to them the title of Most Christian, hitherto enjoyed by the
kings of France. He had even gone so far as to address them thus in more
than one of his briefs. This produced a remonstrance from a number of the
cardinals; which led him to substitute the title of Most Catholic. The
epithet of Catholic was not new in the royal house of Castile, nor indeed
of Aragon; having been given to the Asturian prince Alfonso I. about the
middle of the eighth, and to Pedro II., of Aragon, at the beginning of the
thirteenth century.

I will remark, in conclusion, that, although the phrase _Los Reyes
Católicos_, as applied to a female equally with a male, would have a
whimsical appearance literally translated into English, it is perfectly
consonant to the Spanish idiom, which requires that all words, having
reference to both a masculine and a feminine noun, should be expressed in
the former gender. So also in the ancient languages; _Aemen tyrannoi_,
says Queen Hecuba; (Euripides, _Troad_, v. 476.) But it is clearly
incorrect to render _Los Reyes Católicos_, as usually done by English
writers, by the corresponding term of "Catholic kings."

[40] Carbajal, Anales, MS., año 1495.

[41] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 138.--Sismondi, Républiques
Italiennes, tom. xii. pp. 192-194.--Garibay, Compendio, lib. 19, cap. 4.

[42] Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 3, dial. 43.--Zurita, Hist.
del Rey Hernando, lib. 1, cap. 43.--Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap.
138.--Giovio, Hist. sui Temporis, lib. 2, p. 46.--Lanuza, Historias, tom.
i. lib. 1, cap. 6.

This appears from a letter of Martyr's, dated three months before the
interview; in which he says, "Antonius Fonseca, vir equestris ordinis, et
armis clarus, destinatus est orator, qui eum moneat, ne, priusquam de jure
inter ipsum et Alfonsum regem Neapolitanum decernatur, ulterius procedat.
Fert in mandatis Antonius Fonseca, ut Carolo capitulum id sonans ostendat,
anteque ipsius oculos (si detrectaverit) pacti veteris chirographum
laceret, atque indicat inimicitias." Opus Epist., epist. 144.

[43] Comines, Mémoires, liv. 7, chap. 16.--Villeneuve, Mémoires, apud
Petitot, Collection des Mémoires, tom. xii., p. 260.--Ammirato, Istorie
Florentine, tom. iii. lib. 26.--Summonte, Hist. di Napoli, tom. iii. lib.
6, cap. 1, 2.

[44] Giovio, Hist. sui Temporis, lib. 2, p. 55.--Giannone, Istoria di
Napoli, lib. 29, cap. 1, 2.--André de la Vigne, Histoire de Charles VIII.,
(Paris, 1617,) p. 201.

[45] Giovio, Hist. sui Temporis, lib. 2, p. 56.--Guicciardini, Istoria,
tom. i. pp. 86, 87.--Bembo, Istoria Viniziana, tom. i. lib. 2, p. 120--
Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, lib. 2, chap. 3, 5.--Comines, Mémoires,
liv. 7, chap. 19.

[46] Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. lib. 2, p. 88.--Comines, Mémoires,
liv. 7, chap. 20.--Bembo, Istoria Viniziana, tom. i. lib. 2, pp. 122,
123.--Daru, Hist. de Venise, tom. iii. pp. 255, 256.--Zurita, Hist. del
Rey Hernando, lib. 2, cap. 5.

[47] Comines, Mémoires, p. 96.--Comines takes great credit to himself for
his perspicacity in detecting the secret negotiations carried on at Venice
against his master. According to Bembo, however, the affair was managed
with such profound caution, as to escape his notice until it was
officially announced by the doge himself; when he was so much astounded by
the intelligence, that he was obliged to ask the secretary of the senate,
who accompanied him home, the particulars of what the doge had said, as
his ideas were so confused at the time, that he had not perfectly
comprehended it. Istoria Viniziana, lib. 2, pp. 128, 129.




Impolitic Conduct of Charles.--He Plunders the Works of Art.--Gonsalvo de
Cordova.--His Brilliant Qualities.--Raised to the Italian Command.--Battle
of Seminara.--Gonsalvo's Successes.--Decline of the French.--He Receives
the Title of Great Captain.--Expulsion of the French from Italy.

Charles the Eighth might have found abundant occupation, during his brief
residence at Naples, in placing the kingdom in a proper posture of
defence, and in conciliating the good-will of the inhabitants, without
which he could scarcely hope to maintain himself permanently in his
conquest. So far from this, however, he showed the utmost aversion to
business, wasting his hours, as has been already noticed, in the most
frivolous amusements. He treated the great feudal aristocracy of the
country with utter neglect; rendering himself difficult of access, and
lavishing all dignities and emoluments with partial prodigality on his
French subjects. His followers disgusted the nation still further by their
insolence and unbridled licentiousness. The people naturally called to
mind the virtues of the exiled Ferdinand, whose temperate rule they
contrasted with the rash and rapacious conduct of their new masters. The
spirit of discontent spread more widely, as the French were too thinly
scattered to enforce subordination. A correspondence was entered into with
Ferdinand in Sicily, and in a short time several of the most considerable
cities of the kingdom openly avowed their allegiance to the house of
Aragon. [1]

In the mean time, Charles and his nobles, satiated with a life of
inactivity and pleasure, and feeling that they had accomplished the great
object of the expedition, began to look with longing eyes towards their
own country. Their impatience was converted into anxiety on receiving
tidings of the coalition mustering in the north. Charles, however, took
care to secure to himself some of the spoils of victory, in a manner which
we have seen practised, on a much greater scale, by his countrymen in our
day. He collected the various works of art with which Naples was adorned,
precious antiques, sculptured marble and alabaster, gates of bronze
curiously wrought, and such architectural ornaments as were capable of
transportation, and caused them to be embarked on board his fleet for the
south of France, "endeavoring," says the Curate of Los Palacios, "to build
up his own renown on the ruins of the kings of Naples, of glorious
memory." His vessels, however, did not reach their place of destination,
but were captured by a Biscayan and Genoese fleet off Pisa. [2]

Charles had entirely failed in his application to Pope Alexander the Sixth
for a recognition of his right to Naples, by a formal act of investiture.
[3] He determined, however, to go through the ceremony of a coronation;
and, on the 12th of May, he made his public entrance into the city,
arrayed in splendid robes of scarlet and ermine, with the imperial diadem
on his head, a sceptre in one hand, and a globe, the symbol of universal
sovereignty, in the other; while the adulatory populace saluted his royal
ear with the august title of Emperor. After the conclusion of this farce,
he made preparations for his instant departure from Naples. On the 20th of
May, he set out on his homeward march, at the head of one-half of his
army, amounting in all to not more than nine thousand fighting men. The
other half was left for the defence of his new conquest. This arrangement
was highly impolitic, since he neither took with him enough to cover his
retreat, nor left enough to secure the preservation of Naples. [4]

It is not necessary to follow the French army in its retrograde movement
through Italy. It is enough to say, that this was not conducted with
sufficient despatch to anticipate the junction of the allied forces, who
assembled to dispute its passage on the banks of the Taro, near Fornovo.
An action was there fought, in which King Charles, at the head of his
loyal chivalry, achieved such deeds of heroism, as shed a lustre over his
ill-concerted enterprise, and which, if they did not gain him an
undisputed victory, secured the fruits of it, by enabling him to effect
his retreat without further molestation. At Turin he entered into
negotiation with the calculating duke of Milan, which terminated in the
treaty of Vercelli, October 10th, 1495. By this treaty Charles obtained no
other advantage than that of detaching his cunning adversary from the
coalition. The Venetians, although refusing to accede to it, made no
opposition to any arrangement, which would expedite the removal of their
formidable foe beyond the Alps. This was speedily accomplished; and
Charles, yielding to his own impatience and that of his nobles, recrossed
that mountain rampart which nature has so ineffectually provided for the
security of Italy, and reached Grenoble with his army on the 27th of the
month. Once more restored to his own dominions, the young monarch
abandoned himself without reserve to the licentious pleasures to which he
was passionately addicted, forgetting alike his dreams of ambition, and
the brave companions in arms whom he had deserted in Italy. Thus ended
this memorable expedition, which, though crowned with complete success,
was attended with no other permanent result to its authors, than that of
opening the way to those disastrous wars, which wasted the resources of
their country for a great part of the sixteenth century. [5]

Charles the Eighth had left as his viceroy in Naples Gilbert de Bourbon,
duke of Montpensier, a prince of the blood, and a brave and loyal
nobleman, but of slender military capacity, and so fond of his bed, says
Comines, that he seldom left it before noon. The command of the forces in
Calabria was intrusted to M. d'Aubigny, a Scottish cavalier of the house
of Stuart, raised by Charles to the dignity of grand constable of France.
He was so much esteemed for his noble and chivalrous qualities, that he
was styled by the annalists of that day, says Brantôme, "grand chevalier
sans reproche." He had large experience in military matters, and was
reputed one of the best officers in the French service. Besides these
principal commanders, there were others of subordinate rank stationed at
the head of small detachments on different points of the kingdom, and
especially in the fortified cities along the coasts. [6]

Scarcely had Charles the Eighth quitted Naples, when his rival, Ferdinand,
who had already completed his preparations in Sicily, made a descent on
the southern extremity of Calabria. He was supported in this by the
Spanish levies under the admiral Requesens, and Gonsalvo of Cordova, who
reached Sicily in the month of May. As the latter of these commanders was
destined to act a most conspicuous part in the Italian wars, it may not be
amiss to give some account of his early life.

Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordova, or Aguilar, as he is sometimes styled from
the territorial title assumed by his branch of the family, was born at
Montilla, in 1453. His father died early, leaving two sons, Alonso de
Aguilar, whose name occurs in some of the most brilliant passages of the
war of Granada, and Gonsalvo, three years younger than his brother. During
the troubled reigns of John the Second and Henry the Fourth, the city of
Cordova was divided by the feuds of the rival families of Cabra and
Aguilar; and it is reported that the citizens of the latter faction, after
the loss of their natural leader, Gonsalvo's father, used to testify their
loyalty to his house by bearing the infant children along with them in
their rencontres; thus Gonsalvo may be said to have been literally nursed
amid the din of battle. [7]

On the breaking out of the civil wars, the two brothers attached
themselves to the fortunes of Alfonso and Isabella. At their court, the
young Gonsalvo soon attracted attention by the uncommon beauty of his
person, his polished manners, and proficiency in all knightly exercises.
He indulged in a profuse magnificence in his apparel, equipage, and
general style of living; a circumstance, which, accompanied with his
brilliant qualities, gave him the title at the court of _el príncipe de
los cavalleros_, the prince of cavaliers. This carelessness of expense,
indeed, called forth more than once the affectionate remonstrance of his
brother Alonso, who, as the elder son, had inherited the _mayorazgo_,
or family estate, and who provided liberally for Gonsalvo's support. He
served during the Portuguese war under Alonso de Cardenas, grand master of
St. James, and was honored with the public commendations of his general
for his signal display of valor at the battle of Albuera; where, it is
remarked, the young hero incurred an unnecessary degree of personal hazard
by the ostentatious splendor of his armor. Of this commander, and of the
count of Tendilla, Gonsalvo always spoke with the greatest deference,
acknowledging that he had learned the rudiments of war from them. [8]

The long war of Granada, however, was the great school in which his
military discipline was perfected. He did not, it is true, occupy so
eminent a position in these campaigns as some other chiefs of riper years
and more enlarged experience; but on various occasions he displayed
uncommon proofs both of address and valor. He particularly distinguished
himself at the capture of Tajara, Illora, and Monte Frio. At the last
place, he headed the scaling party, and was the first to mount the walls
in the face of the enemy. He wellnigh closed his career in a midnight
skirmish before Granada, which occurred a short time before the end of the
war. In the heat of the struggle his horse was slain; and Gonsalvo, unable
to extricate himself from the morass in which he was entangled, would have
perished, but for the faithful servant of the family, who mounted him on
his own horse, briefly commending to his master the care of his wife and
children. Gonsalvo escaped, but his brave follower paid for his loyalty
with his life. At the conclusion of the war, he was selected, together
with Ferdinand's secretary Zafra, in consequence of his plausible address,
and his familiarity with the Arabic, to conduct the negotiation with the
Moorish government. He was secretly introduced for this purpose by night
into Granada, and finally succeeded in arranging the terms of capitulation
with the unfortunate Abdallah, as has been already stated. In
consideration of his various services, the Spanish sovereigns granted him
a pension, and a large landed estate in the conquered territory. [9]

After the war, Gonsalvo remained with the court, and his high reputation
and brilliant exterior made him one of the most distinguished ornaments of
the royal circle. His manners displayed all the romantic gallantry
characteristic of the age, of which the following, among other instances,
is recorded. The queen accompanied her daughter Joanna on board the fleet
which was to bear her to Flanders, the country of her destined husband.
After bidding adieu to the infanta, Isabella returned in her boat to the
shore; but the waters were so swollen, that it was found difficult to make
good a footing for her on the beach. As the sailors were preparing to drag
the bark higher up the strand, Gonsalvo, who was present, and dressed, as
the Castilian historians are careful to inform us, in a rich suit of
brocade and crimson velvet, unwilling that the person of his royal
mistress should be profaned by the touch of such rude hands, waded into
the water, and bore the queen in his arms to the shore, amid the shouts
and plaudits of the spectators. The incident may form a counterpart to the
well-known anecdote of Sir Walter Raleigh. [10]

Isabella's long and intimate acquaintance with Gonsalvo enabled her to
form a correct estimate of his great talents. When the Italian expedition
was resolved on, she instantly fixed her eyes on him as the most suitable
person to conduct it. She knew that he possessed the qualities essential
to success in a new and difficult enterprise,--courage, constancy,
singular prudence, dexterity in negotiation, and inexhaustible fertility
of resource. She accordingly recommended him, without hesitation, to her
husband, as the commander of the Italian army. He approved her choice,
although it seems to have caused no little surprise at the court, which,
notwithstanding the favor in which Gonsalvo was held by the sovereigns,
was not prepared to see him advanced over the heads of veterans, of so
much riper years and higher military renown than himself. The event proved
the sagacity of Isabella. [11]

The part of the squadron destined to convey the new general to Sicily was
made ready for sea in the spring of 1495. After a tempestuous voyage, he
reached Messina on the 24th of May. He found that Ferdinand, of Naples,
had already begun operations in Calabria, where he had occupied Reggio
with the assistance of the admiral Requesens, who reached Sicily with a
part of the armament a short time previous to Gonsalvo's arrival. The
whole effective force of the Spaniards did not exceed six hundred lances
and fifteen hundred foot, besides those employed in the fleet, amounting
to about three thousand and five hundred more. The finances of Spain had
been too freely drained in the late Moorish war to authorize any
extraordinary expenditure; and Ferdinand designed to assist his kinsman
rather with his name, than with any great accession of numbers.
Preparations, however, were going forward for raising additional levies,
especially among the hardy peasantry of the Asturias and Galicia, on which
the war of Granada had fallen less heavily than on the south. [12.]

On the 26th of May, Gonsalvo de Cordova crossed over to Reggio in
Calabria, where a plan of operation was concerted between him and the
Neapolitan monarch. Before opening the campaign, several strong places in
the province, which owed allegiance to the Aragonese family, were placed
in the hands of the Spanish general, as security for the reimbursement of
expenses incurred by his government in the war. As Gonsalvo placed little
reliance on his Calabrian or Sicilian recruits, he was obliged to detach a
considerable part of his Spanish forces to garrison these places. [13]

The presence of their monarch revived the dormant loyalty of his Calabrian
subjects. They thronged to his standard, till at length he found himself
at the head of six thousand men, chiefly composed of the raw militia of
the country. He marched at once with Gonsalvo on St. Agatha, which opened
its gates without resistance. He then directed his course towards
Seminara, a place of some strength about eight leagues from Reggio. On his
way he cut in pieces a detachment of French on its march to reinforce the
garrison there. Seminara imitated the example of St. Agatha, and,
receiving the Neapolitan army without opposition, unfurled the standard of
Aragon on its walls. While this was going forward, Antonio Grimani, the
Venetian admiral, scoured the eastern coasts of the kingdom with a fleet
of four and twenty galleys, and, attacking the strong town of Monopoli, in
the possession of the French, put the greater part of the garrison to the

D'Aubigny, who lay at this time with an inconsiderable body of French
troops in the south of Calabria, saw the necessity of some vigorous
movement to check the further progress of the enemy. He determined to
concentrate his forces, scattered through the province, and march against
Ferdinand, in the hope of bringing him to a decisive action. For this
purpose, in addition to the garrisons dispersed among the principal towns,
he summoned to his aid the forces, consisting principally of Swiss
infantry, stationed in the Basilicate under Précy, a, brave young
cavalier, esteemed one of the best officers in the French service. After
the arrival of this reinforcement, aided by the levies of the Angevin
barons, D'Aubigny, whose effective strength now greatly surpassed that of
his adversary, directed his march towards Seminara. [14]

Ferdinand, who had received no intimation of his adversary's junction with
Précy, and who considered him much inferior to himself in numbers, no
sooner heard of his approach, than he determined to march out at once
before he could reach Seminara, and give him battle. Gonsalvo was of a
different opinion. His own troops had too little experience in war with
the French and Swiss veterans to make him willing to risk all on the
chances of a single battle. The Spanish heavy-armed cavalry, indeed, were
a match for any in Europe, and were even said to surpass every other in
the beauty and excellence of their appointments, at a period, when arms
were finished to luxury. [15] He had but a handful of these, however; by
far the greatest part of his cavalry consisting of _ginetes_, or
light-armed troops, of inestimable service in the wild guerilla warfare to
which they had been accustomed in Granada, but obviously incapable of
coping with the iron _gendarmerie_ of France. He felt some distrust,
too, in bringing his little corps of infantry without further preparation,
armed, as they were, only with short swords and bucklers, and much
reduced, as has been already stated, in number, to encounter the
formidable phalanx of Swiss pikes. As for the Calabrian levies, he did not
place the least reliance on them. At all events, he thought it prudent,
before coming to action, to obtain more accurate information than they now
possessed, of the actual strength of the enemy. [16]

In all this, however, he was overruled by the impatience of Ferdinand and
his followers. The principal Spanish cavaliers, indeed, as well as the
Italian, among whom, may be found names which afterwards rose to high
distinction in these wars, urged Gonsalvo to lay aside his scruples;
representing the impolicy of showing any distrust of their own strength at
this crisis, and of balking the ardor of their soldiers, now hot for
action. The Spanish chief, though far from being convinced, yielded to
these earnest remonstrances, and King Ferdinand led out his little army
without further delay against the enemy.

After traversing a chain of hills, stretching in an easterly direction
from Seminara, at the distance of about three miles he arrived before a
small stream, on the plains beyond which he discerned the French army in
rapid advance against him. He resolved to wait its approach; and, taking
position on the slope of the hills towards the river, he drew up his horse
on the right wing, and his infantry on the left. [17]

The French generals, D'Aubigny and Précy, putting themselves at the head
of their cavalry on the left, consisting of about four hundred heavy-
armed, and twice as many light horse, dashed into the water without
hesitation. Their right was occupied by the bristling phalanx of Swiss
spearmen in close array; behind these were the militia of the country. The
Spanish _ginetes_ succeeded in throwing the French gendarmerie into
some disorder, before it could form after crossing the stream; but, no
sooner was this accomplished, than the Spaniards, incapable of
withstanding the charge of their enemy, suddenly wheeled about and
precipitately retreated with the intention of again returning on their
assailants, after the fashion of the Moorish tactics. The Calabrian
militia, not comprehending this manoeuvre, interpreted it into a defeat.
They thought the battle lost, and, seized with a panic, broke their ranks,
and fled to a man, before the Swiss infantry had time so much as to lower
its lances against them.

King Ferdinand in vain attempted to rally the dastardly fugitives. The
French cavalry was soon upon them, making frightful slaughter in their
ranks. The young monarch, whose splendid arms and towering plumes made him
a conspicuous mark in the field, was exposed to imminent peril. He had
broken his lance in the body of one of the foremost of the French
cavaliers, when his horse fell under him, and as his feet were entangled
in the stirrups, he would inevitably have perished in the _mêlée_, but for
the prompt assistance of a young nobleman named Juan de Altavilla, who
mounted his master on his own horse, and calmly awaited the approach
of the enemy, by whom he was immediately slain. Instances of this
affecting loyalty and self-devotion not unfrequently occur in these wars,
throwing a melancholy grace over the darker and more ferocious features of
the time. [18]

Gonsalvo was seen in the thickest of the fight, long after the king's
escape, charging the enemy briskly at the head of his handful of
Spaniards, not in the hope of retrieving the day, but of covering the
flight of the panic-struck Neapolitans. At length he was borne along by
the rushing tide, and succeeded in bringing off the greater part of his
cavalry safe to Seminara. Had the French followed up the blow, the greater
part of the royal army, with probably King Ferdinand and Gonsalvo at its
head, would have fallen into their hands, and thus not only the fate of
the campaign, but of Naples itself, would have been permanently decided by
this battle. Fortunately, the French did not understand so well how to use
a victory, as to gain it. They made no attempt to pursue. This is imputed
to the illness of their general, D'Aubigny, occasioned by the extreme
unhealthiness of the climate. He was too feeble to sit long on his horse,
and was removed into a litter as soon as the action was decided. Whatever
was the cause, the victors by this inaction suffered the golden fruits of
victory to escape them. Ferdinand made his escape on the same day on board
a vessel which conveyed him back to Sicily; and Gonsalvo, on the following
morning before break of day, effected his retreat across the mountains to
Reggio, at the head of four hundred Spanish lances. Thus terminated the
first battle of importance in which Gonsalvo of Cordova held a
distinguished command; the only one which he lost during his long and
fortunate career. Its loss, however, attached no discredit to him, since
it was entered into in manifest opposition to his judgment. On the
contrary, his conduct throughout this affair tended greatly to establish
his reputation by showing him to be no less prudent in council, than bold
in action. [19]

King Ferdinand, far from being disheartened by this defeat, gained new
confidence from his experience of the favorable dispositions existing
towards him in Calabria. Relying on a similar feeling of loyalty in his
capital, he determined to hazard a bold stroke for its recovery; and that,
too, instantly, before his late discomfiture should have time to operate
on the spirits of his partisans. He accordingly embarked at Messina, with
a handful of troops only, on board the fleet of the Spanish admiral,
Requesens. It amounted in all to eighty vessels, most of them of
inconsiderable size. With this armament, which, notwithstanding its
formidable show, carried little effective force for land operations, the
adventurous young monarch appeared off the harbor of Naples before the end
of June.

Charles's viceroy, the duke of Montpensier, at that time garrisoned Naples
with six thousand French troops. On the appearance of the Spanish navy, he
marched out to prevent Ferdinand's landing, leaving a few only of his
soldiers to keep the city in awe. But he had scarcely quitted it before
the inhabitants, who had waited with impatience an opportunity for
throwing off the yoke, sounded the tocsin, and, rising to arms through
every part of the city, and massacring the feeble remains of the garrison,
shut the gates against him; while Ferdinand, who had succeeded in drawing
off the French commander in another direction, no sooner presented himself
before the walls, than he was received with transports of joy by the
enthusiastic people. [20]

The French, however, though excluded from the city, by making a circuit
effected an entrance into the fortresses which commanded it. From these
posts, Montpensier sorely annoyed the town, making frequent attacks on it,
day and night, at the head of his gendarmerie, until they were at length
checked in every direction by barricades which the citizens hastily
constructed with wagons, casks of stones, bags of sand, and whatever came
most readily to hand. At the same time, the windows, balconies, and house-
tops were crowded with combatants, who poured down such a deadly shower of
missiles on the heads of the French as finally compelled them to take
shelter in their defences. Montpensier was now closely besieged, till at
length, reduced by famine, he was compelled to capitulate. Before the term
prescribed for his surrender had arrived, however, he effected his escape
at night, by water, to Salerno, at the head of twenty-five hundred men.
The remaining garrison, with the fortresses, submitted to the victorious
Ferdinand, the beginning of the following year. And thus, by one of those
sudden turns which belong to the game of war, the exiled prince, whose
fortunes a few weeks before appeared perfectly desperate, was again
established in the palace of his ancestors. [21]

Montpensier did not long remain in his new quarters. He saw the necessity
of immediate action, to counteract the alarming progress of the enemy. He
quitted Salerno before the end of winter, strengthening his army by such
reinforcements as he could collect from every quarter of the country. With
this body, he directed his course towards Apulia, with the intention of
bringing Ferdinand, who had already established his headquarters there, to
a decisive engagement. Ferdinand's force, however, was so far inferior to
that of his antagonist, as to compel him to act on the defensive, until he
had been reinforced by a considerable body of troops from Venice. The two
armies were then so equally matched, that neither cared to hazard all on
the fate of a battle; and the campaign wasted away in languid operations,
which led to no important result.

In the mean time, Gonsalvo de Cordova was slowly fighting his way up
through southern Calabria. The character of the country, rough and
mountainous, like the Alpuxarras, and thickly sprinkled with fortified
places, enabled him to bring into play the tactics which he had learned in
the war of Granada. He made little use of heavy-armed troops, relying on
his _ginetes_, and still more on his foot; taking care, however, to
avoid any direct encounter with the dreaded Swiss battalions. He made
amends for paucity of numbers and want of real strength, by rapidity of
movement and the wily tactics of Moorish warfare; darting on the enemy
where least expected, surprising his strong-holds at dead of night,
entangling him in ambuscades, and desolating the country with those
terrible forays, whose effects he had so often witnessed on the fair vegas
of Granada. He adopted the policy practised by his master Ferdinand the
Catholic in the Moorish war, lenient to the submissive foe, but wreaking
terrible vengeance on such as resisted. [22]

The French were sorely disconcerted by these irregular operations, so
unlike anything to which they were accustomed in European warfare. They
were further disheartened by the continued illness of D'Aubigny, and by
the growing disaffection of the Calabrians, who in the southern provinces
contiguous to Sicily were particularly well inclined to Spain.

Gonsalvo, availing himself of these friendly dispositions, pushed forward
his successes, carrying one strong-hold after another, until by the end of
the year he had overrun the whole of Lower Calabria. His progress would
have been still more rapid but for the serious embarrassments which he
experienced from want of supplies. He had received some reinforcements
from Sicily, but very few from Spain; while the boasted Galician levies,
instead of fifteen hundred, had dwindled to scarcely three hundred men;
who arrived in the most miserable plight, destitute of clothing and
munitions of every kind. He was compelled to weaken still further his
inadequate force by garrisoning the conquered places, most of which,
however, he was obliged to leave without any defence at all. In addition
to this, he was so destitute of the necessary funds for the payment of his
troops, that he was detained nearly two months at Nicastro, until
February, 1496, when he received a remittance from Spain. After this, he
resumed operations with such vigor, that by the end of the following
spring he had reduced all Upper Calabria, with the exception of a small
corner of the province, in which D'Aubigny still maintained himself. At
this crisis, he was summoned from the scene of his conquests to the
support of the king of Naples, who lay encamped before Atella, a town
intrenched among the Apennines, on the western borders of the Basilicate.
[23] The campaign of the preceding winter had terminated without any
decisive results, the two armies of Montpensier and King Ferdinand having
continued in sight of each other, without ever coming to action. These
protracted operations were fatal to the French. Their few supplies were
intercepted by the peasantry of the country; their Swiss and German
mercenaries mutinied and deserted for want of pay; and the Neapolitans in
their service went off in great numbers, disgusted with the insolent and
overbearing manners of their new allies. Charles the Eighth, in the mean
while, was wasting his hours and health in the usual round of profligate
pleasures. From the moment of recrossing the Alps he seemed to have shut
out Italy from his thoughts. He was equally insensible to the
supplications of the few Italians at his court, and the remonstrances of
his French nobles, many of whom, although opposed to the first expedition,
would willingly have undertaken a second to support their brave comrades,
whom the heedless young monarch now abandoned to their fate. [24]

At length Montpensier, finding no prospect of relief from home, and
straitened by the want of provisions, determined to draw off from the
neighborhood of Benevento, where the two armies lay encamped, and retreat
to the fruitful province of Apulia, whose principal places were still
garrisoned by the French. He broke up his camp secretly at dead of night,
and gained a day's march on his enemy, before the latter began his
pursuit. This Ferdinand pushed with such vigor, however, that he overtook
the retreating army at the town of Atella, and completely intercepted its
further progress. This town, which, as already noticed, is situated on,
the western skirts of the Basilicate, lies in a broad valley encompassed
by a lofty amphitheatre of hills, through which flows a little river,
tributary to the Ofanto, watering the town, and turning several mills
which supplied it with flour. At a few miles' distance was the strong
place of Ripa Candida, garrisoned by the French, through which Montpensier
hoped to maintain his communications with the fertile regions of the

Ferdinand, desirous if possible to bring the war to a close, by the
capture of the whole French army, prepared for a vigorous blockade. He
disposed his forces so as to intercept supplies by commanding the avenues
to the town in every direction. He soon found, however, that his army,
though considerably stronger than his rival's, was incompetent to this
without further aid. He accordingly resolved to summon to his support
Gonsalvo de Cordova, the fame of whose exploits now resounded through
every part of the kingdom. [25]

The Spanish general received Ferdinand's summons while encamped with his
army at Castrovillari, in the north of Upper Calabria. If he complied with
it, he saw himself in danger of losing all the fruits of his long campaign
of victories; for his active enemy would not fail to profit by his absence
to repair his losses. If he refused obedience, however, it might defeat
the most favorable opportunity which had yet presented itself for bringing
the war to a close. He resolved, therefore, at once to quit the field of
his triumphs, and march to King Ferdinand's relief. But, before his
departure, he prepared to strike such a blow as should, if possible,
incapacitate his enemy for any effectual movement during his absence.

He received intelligence that a considerable number of Angevin lords,
mostly of the powerful house of San Severino, with their vassals and a
reinforcement of French troops, were assembled at the little town of
Laino, on the northwestern borders of Upper Calabria; where they lay
awaiting a junction with D'Aubigny. Gonsalvo determined to surprise this
place, and capture the rich spoils which it contained, before his
departure. His road lay through a wild and mountainous country. The passes
were occupied by the Calabrian peasantry in the interest of the Angevin
party. The Spanish general, however, found no difficulty in forcing a way
through this undisciplined rabble, a large body of whom he surrounded and
cut to pieces, as they lay in ambush for him in the valley of Murano.
Laino, whose base is washed by the waters of the Lao, was defended by a
strong castle built on the opposite side of the river, and connected by a
bridge with the town. All approach to the place by the high road was
commanded by this fortress. Gonsalvo obviated this difficulty, however, by
a circuitous route across the mountains. He marched all night, and,
fording the waters of the Lao about two miles above the town, entered it
with his little army before break of day, having previously detached a
small corps to take possession of the bridge. The inhabitants, startled
from their slumbers by the unexpected appearance of the enemy in their
streets, hastily seized their arms and made for the castle on the other
side of the river. The pass, however, was occupied by the Spaniards; and
the Neapolitans and French, hemmed in on every side, began a desperate
resistance, which terminated with the death of their chief, Americo San
Severino, and the capture of such of his followers as did not fall in the
mêlée. A rich booty fell into the hands of the victors. The most glorious
prize, however, was the Angevin barons, twenty in number, whom Gonsalvo,
after the action, sent prisoners to Naples. This decisive blow, whose
tidings spread like wildfire throughout the country, settled the fate of
Calabria. It struck terror into the hearts of the French, and crippled
them so far as to leave Gonsalvo little cause for anxiety during his
proposed absence. [26]

The Spanish general lost no time in pressing forward on his march towards
Atella. Before quitting Calabria he had received a reinforcement of five
hundred soldiers from Spain, and his whole Spanish forces, according to
Giovio, amounted to one hundred men-at-arms, five hundred light cavalry,
and two thousand foot, picked men, and well schooled in the hardy service
of the late campaign. [27] Although a great part of his march lay through
a hostile country, he encountered little opposition; for the terror of his
name, says the writer last quoted, had everywhere gone before him. He
arrived before Atella at the beginning of July. The king of Naples was no
sooner advised of his approach, than he marched out of camp, attended by
the Venetian general, the marquis of Mantua, and the papal legate, Caesar
Borgia, to receive him. All were eager to do honor to the man who had
achieved such brilliant exploits; who, in less than a year, had made
himself master of the larger part of the kingdom of Naples, and that, with
the most limited resources, in defiance of the bravest and best
disciplined soldiery in Europe. It was then, according to the Spanish
writers, that he was by general consent greeted with the title of the
Great Captain; by which he is much more familiarly known in Spanish, and,
it may be added, in most histories of the period, than by his own name.

Gonsalvo found the French sorely distressed by the blockade, which was so
strictly maintained as to allow few supplies from abroad to pass into the
town. His quick eye discovered at once, however, that in order to render
it perfectly effectual, it would be necessary to destroy the mills in the
vicinity, which supplied Atella with flour. He undertook this, on the day
of his arrival, at the head of his own corps. Montpensier, aware of the
importance of these mills, had stationed a strong guard for their defence,
consisting of a body of Gascon archers, and the Swiss pikemen. Although
the Spaniards had never been brought into direct collision with any large
masses of this formidable infantry, yet occasional rencontres with small
detachments, and increased familiarity with its tactics, had stripped it
of much of its terrors. Gonsalvo had even so far profited by the example
of the Swiss, as to strengthen his infantry by mingling the long pikes,
with the short swords and bucklers of the Spaniards. [29]

He made two divisions of his cavalry, posting his handful of heavy-armed,
with some of the light horse, so as to check any sally from the town,
while he destined the remainder to support the infantry in the attack upon
the enemy. Having made these arrangements, the Spanish chieftain led on
his men confidently to the charge. The Gascon archery, however, seized
with a panic, scarcely awaited his approach, but fled shamefully, before
they had time to discharge a second volley of arrows, leaving the battle
to the Swiss. These latter, exhausted by the sufferings of the siege, and
dispirited by long reverses, and by the presence of a new and victorious
foe, did not behave with their wonted intrepidity, but, after a feeble
resistance, abandoned their position, and retreated towards the city.
Gonsalvo, having gained his object, did not care to pursue the fugitives,
but instantly set about demolishing the mills, every vestige of which, in
a few hours, was swept from the ground. Three days after, he supported the
Neapolitan troops in an assault on Ripa Candida, and carried that
important post, by means of which Atella maintained a communication with
the interior. [30]

Thus cut off from all their resources, and no longer cheered by hopes of
succor from their own country, the French, after suffering the severest
privations, and being reduced to the most loathsome aliment for
subsistence, made overtures for a capitulation. The terms were soon
arranged with the king of Naples, who had no desire but to rid his country
of the invaders. It was agreed, that, if the French commander did not
receive assistance in thirty days, he should evacuate Atella, and cause
every place holding under him in the kingdom of Naples, with all its
artillery, to be surrendered to King Ferdinand; and that, on these
conditions, his soldiers should be furnished with vessels to transport
them back to France; that the foreign mercenaries should be permitted to
return to their own homes; and that a general amnesty should be extended
to such Neapolitans as returned to their allegiance in fifteen days. [31]

Such were the articles of capitulation, signed on the 21st of July, 1496,
which Comines, who received the tidings at the court of France, does not
hesitate to denounce as "a most disgraceful treaty, without parallel, save
in that made by the Roman consuls at the Caudine Forks, which was too
dishonorable to be sanctioned by their countrymen." The reproach is
certainly unmerited; and comes with ill grace from a court, which was
wasting in riotous indulgence the very resources indispensable to the
brave and loyal subjects, who were endeavoring to maintain its honor in a
foreign land. [32]

Unfortunately, Montpensier was unable to enforce the full performance of
his own treaty; as many of the French refused to deliver up the places
intrusted to them, under the pretence that their authority was derived,
not from the viceroy, but from the king himself. During the discussion of
this point, the French troops were removed to Baia and Pozzuolo, and the
adjacent places on the coast. The unhealthiness of the situation, together
with that of the autumnal season, and an intemperate indulgence in fruits
and wine, soon brought on an epidemic among the soldiers, which swept them
off in great numbers. The gallant Montpensier was one of the first
victims. He refused the earnest solicitations of his brother-in-law, the
marquis of Mantua, to quit his unfortunate companions, and retire to a
place of safety in the interior. The shore was literally strewed with the
bodies of the dying and the dead. Of the whole number of Frenchmen,
amounting to not less than five thousand, who marched out of Atella, not
more than five hundred ever reached their native country. The Swiss and
other mercenaries were scarcely more fortunate. "They made their way back
as they could through Italy," says a writer of the period, "in the most
deplorable state of destitution and suffering, the gaze of all, and a sad
example of the caprice of fortune." [33] Such was the miserable fate of
that brilliant and formidable array, which scarcely two years before had
poured down on the fair fields of Italy in all the insolence of expected
conquest. Well would it be, if the name of every conqueror, whose
successes, though built on human misery, are so dazzling to the
imagination, could be made to point a moral for the instruction of his
species, as effectually as that of Charles the Eighth.

The young king of Naples did not live long to enjoy his triumphs. On his
return from Atella, he contracted an inauspicious marriage with his aunt,
a lady nearly of his own age, to whom he had been long attached. A
careless and somewhat intemperate indulgence in pleasure, succeeding the
hardy life which he had been lately leading, brought on a flux which
carried him off in the twenty-eighth year of his age, and second of his
reign. He was the fifth monarch, who, in the brief compass of three years,
had sat on the disastrous throne of Naples.

Ferdinand possessed many qualities suited to the turbulent times in which
he lived. He was vigorous and prompt in action, and naturally of a high
and generous spirit. Still, however, he exhibited glimpses, even in his
last hours, of an obliquity, not to say ferocity of temper, which
characterized many of his line, and which led to ominous conjectures as to
what would have been his future policy. [34]

He was succeeded on the throne by his uncle Frederic, a prince of gentle
disposition, endeared to the Neapolitans by repeated acts of benevolence,
and by a magnanimous regard for justice, of which the remarkable
fluctuations of his fortune had elicited more than one example. His
amiable virtues, however, required a kindlier soil and season for their
expansion; and, as the event proved, made him no match for the subtile and
unscrupulous politicians of the age.

His first act was a general amnesty to the disaffected Neapolitans, who
felt such confidence in his good faith, that they returned, with scarcely
an exception, to their allegiance. His next measure was to request the aid
of Gonsalvo de Cordova in suppressing the hostile movements made by the
French during his absence from Calabria. At the name of the Great Captain,
the Italians flocked from all quarters, to serve without pay under a
banner which was sure to lead them to victory. Tower and town, as he
advanced, went down before him; and the French general, D'Aubigny, soon
saw himself reduced to the necessity of making the best terms he could
with his conqueror, and evacuating the province altogether. The submission
of Calabria was speedily followed by that of the few remaining cities in
other quarters, still garrisoned by the French; comprehending the last
rood of territory possessed by Charles the Eighth in the kingdom of
Naples. [35]

* * * * *

Our narrative now leads us on the beaten track of Italian history. I have
endeavored to make the reader acquainted with the peculiar character and
pretensions of the principal Spanish authorities, on whom I have relied in
the progress of the work. This would be superfluous in regard to the
Italian, who enjoy the rank of classics, not only in their own country,
but throughout Europe, and have furnished the earliest models among the
moderns of historic composition. Fortunately, two of the most eminent of
them, Guicciardini and Paolo Giovio, lived at the period of our narrative,
and have embraced the whole extent of it in their histories. These two
writers, besides the attractions of elegant scholarship, and talent,
occupied a position which enabled them to take a clear view of all the
principal political movements of their age; circumstances, which have made
their accounts of infinite value in respect to foreign transactions, as
well as domestic. Guicciardini was a conspicuous actor in the scenes he
describes; and a long residence at the court of Ferdinand the Catholic
opened to him the most authentic sources of information in regard to
Spain. Giovio, from his intimate relations with the principal persons of
his time, had also access to the best sources of knowledge, while in the
notice of foreign transactions he was but little exposed to those venal
influences, which led him too often to employ the golden or iron pen of
history as interest dictated. Unfortunately, a lamentable hiatus occurs in
his greatest work, "Historiae sui Temporis," embracing the whole period
intervening between the end of Charles VIII.'s expedition and the
accession of Leo X., in 1513. At the time of the memorable sack of Rome by
the duke of Bourbon, in 1527, Giovio deposited his manuscript, with a
quantity of plate, in an iron chest, which he hid in an obscure corner of
the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. The treasure, however, did not
escape the searching eyes of two Spanish soldiers, who broke open the
chest, and one of them seized on the plate, regarding the papers as of no
value. The other, not being quite such a fool, says Giovio, preserved such
of the manuscripts as were on vellum, and ornamented with rich bindings,
but threw away what was written on paper.

The part thus thrown away contained six books, relating to the period
above mentioned, which were never afterwards recovered. The soldier
brought the remainder to their author, who bought them at the price of a
vacant benefice, which he persuaded the pope to confer on the freebooter,
in his native land of Cordova. It is not often that simony has found so
good an apology. The deficiency, although never repaired by Giovio, was in
some degree supplied by his biographies of eminent men, and, among others,
by that of Gonsalvo de Cordova, in which he has collected with great
industry all the events of any interest in the life of this great
commander. The narrative is in general corroborated by the Spanish
authorities, and contains some additional particulars, especially
respecting his early life, which Giovio's personal intimacy with the
principal characters of the period might easily have furnished.

This portion of our story is, moreover, illustrated by the labors of M.
Sismondi, in his "Républiques Italiennes," which may undoubtedly claim to
be ranked among the most remarkable historical achievements of our time;
whether we consider the dexterous management of the narrative, or the
admirable spirit of philosophy by which it is illumined. It must be
admitted, that he has perfectly succeeded in unravelling the intricate web
of Italian politics; and, notwithstanding the complicated, and, indeed,
motley character of his subject, the historian has left a uniform and
harmonious impression on the mind of the reader. This he has accomplished,
by keeping constantly in view the principle which regulated all the
various movements of the complex machinery; so that his narrative becomes,
what he terms it in his English abridgment, a history of Italian liberty.
By keeping this principle steadily before him, he has been able to solve
much that hitherto was dark and problematical in his subject; and if he
has occasionally sacrificed something to theory, he has, on the whole,
pursued the investigation in a truly philosophical manner, and arrived at
results the most honorable and cheering to humanity. Fortunately, his own
mind was deeply penetrated with reverence for the free institutions which
he has analyzed. If it is too much to say that the historian of republics
should be himself a republican, it is at least true that his soul should
be penetrated to its very depths with the spirit which animates them. No
one, who is not smitten with the love of freedom, can furnish the key to
much that is enigmatical in her character, and reconcile his readers to
the harsh and repulsive features that she sometimes wears, by revealing
the beauty and grandeur of the soul within.

That portion of our narrative which is incorporated with Italian story is
too small to occupy much space on Sismondi's plan. He has discussed it,
moreover, in a manner not very favorable to the Spaniards, whom he seems
to have regarded with somewhat of the aversion with which an Italian of
the sixteenth century viewed the ultramontane barbarians of Europe.
Perhaps the reader may find some advantage in contemplating another side
of the picture, and studying the less familiar details presented by the
Spanish authorities.


[1] Comines, Mémoires, liv. 7, chap. 17.--Summonte, Hist. di Napoli, tom.
iii. lib. 6, cap. 2.--Giannone, Istoria di Napoli, lib. 29, cap. 2.

[2] Bernaldez, Reyes Católicos, MS., cap. 140-143.

[3] Summonte, Hist. di Napoli, tom. iii. lib. 6, cap. 2.

According to Giannone, (Istoria di Napoli, lib. 29, cap. 2,) he did obtain
the investiture from the pope; but this statement is contradicted by
several, and confirmed by none, of the authorities I have consulted.

[4] Brantôme, Hommes Illustres, Oeuvres, tom. ii. pp. 3-5.--Comines,
Mémoires, liv. 8, chap. 2.

The particulars of the coronation are recorded with punctilious precision
by André de la Vigne, secretary of Queen Anne. (Hist. de Charles VIII., p.
201.) Daru has confounded this farce with Charles's original entry into
Naples in February. Hist. de Venise, tom. iii. liv. 20, p. 247.

[5] Villeneuve, Mémoires, apud Petitot, Collection de Mémoires, tom. xiv.
pp. 262, 263.--Flassan, Diplomatie Française, tom. i. pp. 267-269.--
Comines, Mémoires, liv. 8, chap. 10-12, 18.

[6] Comines, Mémoires, liv. 8, chap. 1.--Brantôme, Hommes Illustres, tom.
ii. p. 59.

[7] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, lib. 2, cap. 7.--Giovio, Vita Magni
Gonsalvi, lib. 1, pp. 204, 205.

[8] Pulgar, Sumario de las Hazañas del Gran Capitan, (Madrid, 1834,) p.
145.--Giovio, Vita Magni Gonsalvi, lib. 1, pp. 205 et seq.

[9] Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 90.--Giovio, Vita Magni Gonsalvi,
lib. 1, pp. 211, 212.--Conde, Dominacion de los Arabes, tom. iii. cap.
42.--Quintana, Españoles Célebres, tom. i. pp. 207-216.--Pulgar, Sumario,
p. 193.

Florian has given circulation to a popular error by his romance of
"Gonsalve de Cordone," where the young warrior is made to play a part he
is by no means entitled to, as hero of the Granadine war. Graver writers,
who cannot lawfully plead the privilege of romancing, have committed the
same error. See, among others, Varillas, Politique de Ferdinand, p. 3.

[10] Giovio, Vita Magni Gonsalvi, p. 214.--Chrónica del Gran Capitan
Gonzalo Hernandez de Cordova y Aguilar, (Alcalá de Henares, 1584,) cap.

Another example of his gallantry occurred during the Granadine war, when
the fire of Santa Fe had consumed the royal tent, with the greater part of
the queen's apparel and other valuable effects. Gonsalvo, on learning the
disaster, at his castle of Illora, supplied the queen so abundantly from
the magnificent wardrobe of his wife Doña Maria Manrique, as led Isabella
pleasantly to remark, that, "the fire had done more execution in his
quarters, than in her own." Pulgar, Sumario, p. 187.

[11] Giovio, Vita Magni Gonsalvi, p. 214.--Chrónica del Gran Capitan, cap.

[12] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, lib. 2, cap. 7, 24.--Quintana,
Españoles Célebres, tom. i. p. 222.--Chrónica del Gran Capitan, ubi supra.

Giovio, in his biography of Gonsalvo, estimates these forces at 5000 foot

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