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against this eldest son of the Church. The invasion of Charles VIII. is a strong proof of the evils which Italy suffered from the division of her territory; and yet M. SIMONDE, in his introductory chapter to his twelfth volume, labours to shew that she would not have been less unfortunate if she had been united under one government. All his arguments on this subject appear to us very inconclusive. After a comparison of Italy with Spain, when the four independent kingdoms of the latter country were united under one sovereign, and in which comparison in many cases the analogy does not hold, the author asks; Who can say whether, if united into one state, Italy would have been the conqueror of the vanquished ? while in either case slavery must have been equally her portion. At all events, it is more than probable that such an union would have freed Italy from the disgrace of having been subdued by foreign arms. Had not the vicious ambition of one of her princes afforded the strangers a free passage through Lombardy, and had the French king anticipated no succours, but rather the determined resistance of men who in an invading foeman could not recognize a friend, it is impossible to suppose that Charles VIII., with all his impotent ambition, could have been mad enough to undertake such an enterprize. < But,' again inquires the author, . if the Italians had constituted a single monarchy, who can say that a civil war might not have opened their frontiers to the strangers ? Now it almost invariably happens that, in cases of civil commotion, the attack of a foreign enemy has the effect of healing domestic dissensions. The arms of England were never more respected than during the usurpation of Cromwell; and, amid all the anarchy of the French Revo. lution, the foreign enemies of France were humbled and subdued. With respect to the argument of a disputed succession, this inconvenience must operate at least as much in a country divided into several petty sovereignties, as in a state under the power of a single monarch. It was less,' we are told, in uniting Italy in one empire, than in preserving her republics, that the hope of her independence consisted.' Surely, the whole history of this ill-fated land contradicts such an assertion. The wars of state against state and of republic against republic, the treaties, and the breaking of treaties, and all the intricate involutions of Italian politics, terminating in the introduction of a foreign power, are proofs which it is difficult to explain away. In ancther part of his work, M. DE S. seems to admit the necessity of an union. • At last, it became evident that an union of the Italian powers was requisite to fortify the passes of that country against the incur
sions of the stranger. This union existed, indeed, in the public records: it had been confirmed by the treaty of Bagnolo, 7th August, 1484, and by that of Rome, Ith August, 1486, both of which were still in full force: but it could not extinguish the secret rivalry of the sovereigns, or the jealousy and the hatred which divided Italy into two hostile factions, and only waited for an opportunity to burst forth.'
The intrigues which led to the descents of the French into Italy, and the calamitous history of that invasion, are detailed at considerable length by M. Simonde. He appears, however, to attribute too much importance to the childish refusal of Piero de' Medici to join the embassies of Naples, Milan, and Ferrara, in their presentation to the new pontiff, when he assigns this as the cause of Ludovico embracing the interests of the house of Anjou. Other and more potent reasons induced him to adopt that measure, although he might have deemed it necessary to masque them for a time under a pretended adherence to the family of Aragon: for he could not suppose that a prince of that house would tamely behold the husband of his grand-daughter dethroned, and extend the hand of alliance to the usurper. It is true that the French king also was nearly related to the unfortunate Duke of Milan: but Ludovico calculated well when he supposed that the ties of kindred were too weak to restrain à mind like that of Charles VIII. In vain did the Duchess Isabella urge at his feet the crimes of Ludovico and the sufferings of his nephew;
she was answered by the cold silence of the sovereign, and the insulting remarks of his abandoned courtiers.
A league with such a man was not unbecoming the depraved ambition of Ludovico Sforza ; and on his head must rest the eternal infamy of having opened the passes of the Alps to those hordes, which, emulating the enormities of their Gothic ancestors, proved that they had not yet forfeited their title to the name of Barbarians.
The following are the reflections of M. DE SISMONDI on the invasion of Italy: but, on a careful review of circumstances, they seem scarcely to be supported by facts :
• Some of the great revolutions which change the face of the world, and call forth all the powers of the human mind, are distinguished by the most able calculation and combination of citcumstances, both in the attack and in the defence; every accident is foreseen; every obstacle is increased with art by the one side, and opposed with address by the other. Fortune, which cannot be totally excluded from human affairs, is corrected at least by constant foresight; and that just self-confidence, which is the result of the exertion of all the faculties of mind, being communicated from the commander to the ranks, each in his station does his duty as a citizen or a soldier ; every order is executed as it is given; and even those who are vanquished may yet boast that they have been educated in the noblest school of war and policy. Other revolutions, equally important in their result, are accomplished by means entirely different :-unskilfulness is opposed to unskilfulness;- and the error which ought to lead to ruin fails to produce this copsequence, because it is overbalanced by some still more egregious blunder of the other side. No foresight can calculate the chances of such a struggle: we may reckon on human interest, but not on human folly; for one wise step there are a thousand which are foolish ; and the empire of fortune is prodigiously increased when it exerts its influence even over the operations of the mind. The fate of Italy in 1494 was decided by a struggle between incapacity and unskilfulness: when considered individually, it seemed as if each party was destined to be vanquished; and, in surveying the conduct of the kings of France and Naples, it appeared equally impossible that Charles should conquer Italy or that Alfonso should prevent him.' (Vol. xii. p. 106.)
I i 4
The expedition of Charles seems scarcely to call for these remarks. Though himself of a wavering and undecided character, the preparations for this war were carried on with the perseverance which distinguishes a wise and prudent commander; and he did not commence the attack until he had assured himself of the co-operation of many of the most powerful of the Italian states. The poverty of his treasury was the greatest obstacle which he had to dread: but a king who had no scruples in pawning the jewels of two noble ladies *, in whose dominions he was entertained, was not likely to let his military chest remain empty for any long
Circunstances were more than sufficiently favourable to Charles, if he had known how to profit by them; and, had this not been the case, it would have been almost impossible for him to escape destruction, his conduct during the war having been, according to Commines, one tissue of errors and absurdities. The depraved luxury in which he indulged, during his Italian expedition, was little qualified to fit him for the inflexible exertion of body and mind which could alone have procured success; and his ill-conducted retreat, which, under an able General, would rather have been a triumph than a disgrace, completed the hatred and contempt with which nearly all Italy had begun to regard her invader.
The effect of the conquest of Naples on the generality of the Italian states was far from being favourable ; and Florence
* Bianca of Montferrat, Regent of Savoy, and Maria of Montferrat,
space of time.
had eagerly seized the opportunity to cast off the yoke of the Medici, which under the unskilful management of Piero had become so galling to his fellow-citizens. M. DE SISMONDI again takes occasion, in this place, to express his decided opinion of the evil designs of that family on the liberties of their country.
• Florence had forgotten, for the most part, her republican habits, in the sixty years during which she had obeyed a family who, to disguise their despotism, environed her with a strict oligarchy. On recovering her rights, this republic herself knew not their bounds. Almost all the Italians were desirous of liberty ; yet this liberty was undefined ; and no one could with confidence determine the object which they sought to attain. Certain great abuses in the government of a single person wounded all who had experienced them, and even the mere name of a monarchy appeared to exclude every idea of liberty. In opposition, they called that a republic, in which the authority of many was substituted for the rule of a single person; and they regarded that as the best republic which had fenced its existence with the most numerous means of security, and which had succeeded in repressing for the longest period monarchical power. But they never examined whether this or that republic possessed the more or the less liberty, or whether the institutions which so well guaranteed its stability had not absolutely destroyed the security of the citizens ; and they never subunitted a government to the only test which can decide on its excellence or its defects, for they did not inquire whether it rendered happy the majority of the citizens who lived under it, and at the same time improved them by developing their faculties.' (Vol. xii. p. 228.)
Piero de' Medici was far from possessing the wisdom of Lorenzo or of Cosmo: but, whatever were his designs on the liberties of Florence, they cannot cast any shade over the virtues of his ancestors; whose government, according to M. DE S.'s own test, just quoted, does not deserve the stigma which he attaches to it: since it tended more to the developement of the human faculties, by the encouragement which it afforded to learning, and at a period so critical to the interests of letters, than almost any other government of which we read in history. The advice of Lorenzo to his son, never to try to exalt himself above the privileges of a citizen, is scarcely that of a man who had trampled on the rights of his fellow-citizens, and was desirous of transmitting to his descendants his usurped dominion.
The endeavours of the Florentines to found a popular government proved how very imperfectly they were acquainted with the principles of liberty. The impious attempts to establish the reign of Jesus Christ as their temporal sovereign,
and the mad harangues of Savonarola, gave them small cause to rejoice at the expulsion of the Medici.
Alexander VI. had been compelled to bend beneath the storm which he could not resist; and in the castle of St. Angelo, to which he had fled for safety, he signed a reluctant peace with his enemies. On their retreat, however, he armed himself once more, and formed one of the league which had determined to oppose the passage of the French king to his own country. The restless Ludovico Sforza, having by the death of his nephew attained the summit of his wishes, and finding himself no longer in need of his French allies, turned his arms against them: but at last, impartially treacherous, he deserted his new friends, and again became the ally of the French monarch. So mutable was the disposition of this ambitious prince, that the sudden changes of his politics seem to have baffled all calculation.
Very few redeeming features present themselves in the revolting picture of cruelty, treachery, and devastation, which Italy exhibited during this invasion. The struggles of the Pisans for the recovery of their liberties were indeed worthy of better times; and the energy and inflexibility which they exhibited, in casting off the Florentine yoke, are a proof tha the Roman spirit had not wholly departed : — but the example of Pisa was lost on the rest of Italy: ambition and discord reigned in the place of union and freedom: the incursions of the stranger even failed to rouse the high national feeling of indignation and resistance, which when forced into action is so overwhelming; and Italy became, as it still continues, the prey of the foreigner, or the victim of internal dissension. The wrongs and the struggles of Pisa have found an eloquent advocate in M. SIMONDE.
The death of Charles VIII. did not afford that repose to the Italians which they might reasonably have expected; for he was succeeded by a monarch who soon gave evident proofs that he did not mean to resign the pretensions of the house of Anjou to the throne of Naples. The designs of a man like Louis XII., who had been disciplined in the school of adversity, were beyond comparison more dangerous to the safety of Italy than the boyish ambition of Charles; and the cup of calamity, which the Aragonese sovereigns of Naples were fated to drain, was now nearly full. The young and brave Ferdinand II., in the love of whom the Neapolitans had almost forgotten the crimes of his ancestors, had sunken into an early grave; and his successor Frederick, betrayed by his own relatives, was compelled to leave his kingdom a prey to the ambition of France and Spain, and to seek in retirement the happiness which the world had failed to bestow. While,