Italy Part One

Italy Part Two

Italy Part Three

Italy Part Four

Italy Part Five

Italy Part Six

Italy Part Seven

Forum

Weekly Poll

Please Help Click Here

The History Of Italy
Author: Hallam, Henry
 

 

Part VI

 



Notwithstanding the deranged condition of the Milanese, no further
attempts were made by the senate of Venice for twenty years. They had not yet
acquired that decided love of war and conquest which soon began to influence
them against all the rules of their ancient policy. There were still left
some wary statesmen of the old school to check ambitious designs. Sanuto has
preserved an interesting account of the wealth and commerce of Venice in those
days. This is thrown into the mouth of the Doge Mocenigo, whom he represents
as dissuading his country, with his dying words, from undertaking a war
against Milan. "Through peace our city has every year," he said, "ten
millions of ducats employed as mercantile capital in different parts of the
world; the annual profit of our traders upon this sum amounts to four
millions. Our housing is valued at 7,000,000 ducats; its annual rental at
500,000. Three thousand merchant-ships carry on our trade; forty-three
galleys and three hundred smaller vessels, manned by 19,000 sailors, secure
our naval power. Our mint has coined 1,000,000 ducats within the year. From
the Milanese dominions alone we draw 1,654,000 ducats in coin, and the value
of 900,000 more in cloths; our profit upon this traffic may be reckoned at
600,000 ducats. Proceeding as you have done to acquire this wealth, you will
become masters of all the gold in Christendom; but war, and especially unjust
war, will lead infallibly to ruin. Already you have spent 900,000 ducats in
the acquisition of Verona and Padua; yet the expense of protecting these
places absorbs all the revenue which they yield. You have many among you, men
of probity and experience; choose one of these to succeed me; but beware of
Francesco Foscari. If he is doge, you will soon have war, and war will bring
poverty and loss of honor." ^l Mocenigo died, and Foscari became doge: the
prophecies of the former were neglected; and it cannot wholly be affirmed that
they were fulfilled. Yet Venice is described by a writer thirty years later
as somewhat impaired in opulence by her long warfare with the dukes of Milan.

[Footnote l: Sanuto, Vite di Duchi di Venezia, in Script. Rer. Ital. t. xxii.
p. 958. Mocenigo's harangue is very long in Sanuto. I have endeavored to
preserve the substance. But the calculations are so strange and manifestly
inexact that they deserve little regard. Daru has given them more at length,
Hist. de Venise, vol. ii. p. 205. The revenues of Venice, which had amounted
to 996,290 ducats in 1423, were but 945,750 in 1469, notwithstanding her
acquisition, in the meantime, of Brescia, Bergamo, Ravenna, and Crema. Id.
ii. 462. They increased considerably in the next twenty years. The taxes,
however, were light in the Venetian dominions; and Daru conceives the revenues
of the republic, reduced to a corn price, to have not exceeded the value of
11,000,000 francs at the present day: p. 542.]

The latter had recovered a great part of their dominions as rapidly as
they had lost them. Giovanni Maria, the elder brother, a monster of guilt
even among the Visconti, having been assassinated, Filippo Maria assumed the
government of Milan and Pavia, almost his only possessions. But though weak
and unwarlike himself, he had the good fortune to employ Carmagnola, one of
the greatest generals of that military age. Most of the revolted cities were
tired of their new masters, and, their inclinations conspiring with
Carmagnola's eminent talents and activity, the house of Visconti reassumed its
former ascendency from the Sessia to the Adige. Its fortunes might have been
still more prosperous if Filippo Maria had not rashly as well as ungratefully
offended Carmagnola. That great captain retired to Venice, and inflamed a
disposition towards war which the Florentines and the Duke of Savoy had
already excited. The Venetians had previously gained some important
advantages in another quarter, by reducing the country of Friuli, with part of
Istria, which had for many centuries depended on the temporal authority of a
neighboring prelate, the patriarch of Aquileia. They entered into this new
alliance. [A.D. 1426.] No undertaking of the republic had been more
successful. Carmagnola led on their armies, and in about two years Venice
acquired Brescia and Bergamo, and extended her boundary to the river Adda,
which she was destined never to pass.

Such conquests could only be made by a city so peculiarly maritime as
Venice through the help of mercenary troops. But, in employing them, she
merely conformed to a fashion which states to whom it was less indispensable
had long since established. A great revolution had taken place in the system
of military service through most parts of Europe, but especially in Italy.
During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, whether the Italian cities were
engaged in their contest with the emperors or in less arduous and general
hostilities among each other, they seem to have poured out almost their whole
population as an armed and loosely organized militia. A single city, with its
adjacent district, sometimes brought twenty or thirty thousand men into the
field. Every man, according to the trade he practised, or quarter of the city
wherein he dwelt, knew his own banner and the captain he was to obey. ^m In
battle the carroccio formed one common rallying-point, the pivot of every
movement. This was a chariot, or rather wagon, painted with vermilion, and
bearing the city standard elevated upon it. That of Milan required four pair
of oxen to drag it forward. ^n To defend this sacred emblem of his country,
which Muratori compares to the ark of the covenant among the Jews, was the
constant object, that, giving a sort of concentration and uniformity to the
army, supplied in some degree the want of more regular tactics. This militia
was of course principally composed of infantry. At the famous battle of the
Arbia, in 1260, the Guelf Florentines had thirty thousand foot and three
thousand horse; ^o and the usual proportion was five, six, or ten to one.
Gentlemen, however, were always mounted; and the superiority of a heavy
cavalry must have been prodigiously great over an undisciplined and ill-armed
populace. In the thirteenth and following centuries armies seem to have been
considered as formidable nearly in proportion to the number of men-at-arms or
lancers. A charge of cavalry was irresistible; battles were continually won
by inferior numbers, and vast slaughter was made among the fugitives. ^p

[Footnote m: Muratori, Antiq. Ital. Diss. 26; Denina, Rivoluzioni d' Italia,
l. xii. c. 4.]

[Footnote n: The carroccio was invented by Eribert, a celebrated archbishop of
Milan, about 1039. Annali di Murat.; Antiq. Ital. Diss. 26. The carroccio of
Milan was taken by Frederic II. in 1237, and sent to Rome. Parma and Cremona
lost their carroccios to each other, and exchanged them some years afterwards
with great exultation. In the fourteenth century this custom had gone into
disuse. - Id. ibid. Denina, l. xii. c. 4.]

[Footnote o: Villani, l. vi. c. 79.]

[Footnote p: Sismondi, t. iii. p. 263, &c., has some judicious observations on
this subject.]

As the comparative inefficiency of foot-soldiers became evident, a
greater proportion of cavalry was employed, and armies, though better equipped
and disciplined, were less numerous. This we find in the early part of the
fourteenth century. The main point for a state at war was to obtain a
sufficient force of men-at-arms. As few Italian cities could muster a large
body of cavalry from their own population, the obvious resource was to hire
mercenary troops. This had been practised in some instances much earlier.
The city of Genoa took the Count of Savoy into pay with two hundred horse in
1225. ^q Florence retained five hundred French lances in 1282. ^r But it
became much more general in the fourteenth century, chiefly after the
expedition of the Emperor Henry VII. in 1310. Many German soldiers of fortune,
remaining in Italy on this occasion, engaged in the service of Milan,
Florence, or some other state. The subsequent expeditions of Louis of Bavaria
in 1326, and of John, King of Bohemia, in 1331, brought a fresh accession of
adventurers from the same country. Others again came from France, and some
from Hungary. All preferred to continue in the richest country and finest
climate of Europe, where their services were anxiously solicited and
abundantly repaid. An unfortunate prejudice in favor of strangers prevailed
among the Italians of that age. They ceded to them, one knows not why,
certainly without having been vanquished, the palm of military skill and
valor. The word Transalpine (Oltramontani) is frequently applied to hired
cavalry by the two Villani as an epithet of excellence.

[Footnote q: Muratori, Dissert, 26.]

[Footnote r: Ammirato, Ist. Fiorent. p. 159. The same was done in 1297, p.
200. A lance, in the technical language of those ages, included the lighter
cavalry attached to the man-at-arms as well as himself. In France the full
complement of a lance (lance fournie) was five or six horses; thus the 1,500
lances who composed the original companies of ordonnance raised by Charles VI.
amounted to nine thousand cavalry. But in Italy the number was smaller. We
read frequently of barbuti, which are defined lanze de dine cavalli. Corio,
p. 437. Lances of three horses were introduced about the middle of the
fourteenth century. - Id. p. 466.]

The experience of every fresh campaign now told more and more against the
ordinary militia. It has been usual for modern writers to lament the
degeneracy of martial spirit among the Italians of that age. But the contest
was too unequal between an absolutely invulnerable body of cuirassiers and an
infantry of peasants or citizens. The bravest men have little appetite for
receiving wounds and death without the hope of inflicting any in return. The
parochial militia of France had proved equally unserviceable; though, as the
life of a French peasant was of much less account in the eyes of his
government than that of an Italian citizen, they were still led forward like
sheep to the slaughter against the disciplined forces of Edward III. The
cavalry had about this time laid aside the hauberk, or coat-of-mail, their
ancient distinction from the unprotected populace; which, though incapable of
being cut through by the sabre, afforded no defence against the pointed sword
introduced in the thirteenth century, ^s nor repelled the impulse of a lance
or the crushing blow of a battle-axe. Plate-armor was substituted in its
place; and the man-at-arms, cased in entire steel, the several pieces firmly
riveted, and proof against every stroke, his charger protected on the face,
chest, and shoulders, or, as it was called, barded, with plates of steel,
fought with a security of success against enemies inferior perhaps only in
these adventitious sources of courage to himself. ^t

[Footnote s: Muratori, ad ann. 1226.]

[Footnote t: The earliest plate-armor, engraved in Montfaucon's Monumens de la
Monarchie Francaise, t. ii., is of the reign of Philip the Long, about 1315;
but it does not appear generally till that of Philip of Valois, or even later.
Before the complete harness of steel was adopted, plated caps were sometimes
worn on the knees and elbows, and even greaves on the legs. This is
represented in a statue of Charles I. King of Naples, who died in 1285.
Possibly the statue may not be quite so ancient. Montfaucon, passim. -
Daniel, Hist. de la Milice Francaise, p. 395.]

Nor was the new system of conducting hostilities less inconvenient to the
citizens than the tactics of a battle. Instead of rapid and predatory
invasions, terminated instantly by a single action, and not extending more
than a few days' march from the soldier's home, the more skilful combinations
usual in the fourteenth century frequently protracted an indecisive contest
for a whole summer. ^u As wealth and civilization made evident the advantages
of agriculture and mercantile industry, this loss of productive labor could no
longer be endured. Azzo Visconti, who died in 1339, dispensed with the
personal service of his Milanese subjects. "Another of his laws," says
Galvaneo Fiamma, "was that the people should not go to war, but remain at home
for their own business. For they had hitherto been kept with much danger and
expense every year, and especially in time of harvest and vintage, when
princes are wont to go to war, in besieging cities, and incurred numberless
losses, and chiefly on account of the long time that they were so detained. ^v
This law of Azzo Visconti, taken separately, might be ascribed to the usual
policy of an absolute government. But we find a similar innovation not long
afterwards at Florence. In the war carried on by that republic against
Giovanni Visconti in 1351, the younger Villani informs us that "the useless
and mischievous personal service of the inhabitants of the district was
commuted into a money payment." ^w This change indeed was necessarily
accompanied by a vast increase of taxation. The Italian states, republics as
well as principalities, levied very heavy contributions. Mastino della Scala
had a revenue of 700,000 florins, more, says John Villani, than the king of
any European country, except France, possesses. ^x Yet this arose from only
nine cities of Lombardy. Considered with reference to economy, almost any
taxes must be a cheap commutation for personal service. But economy may be
regarded too exclusively, and can never counterbalance that degradation of a
national character which proceeds from intrusting the public defence to
foreigners.

[Footnote u: This tedious warfare a la Fablus is called by Villani guerra
guereggiata, l. viii. c. 49; at least I can annex no other meaning to the
expression.]

[Footnote v: Muratori, Antiquit. Ital. Dissert. 26.]

[Footnote w: Matt. Villani, p. 135.]

[Footnote x: L. xi. c. 45. I cannot imagine why Sismondi aserts, t. iv. p.
432, that the lords of cities in Lombardy did not venture to augment the taxes
imposed while they had been free. Complaints of heavy taxation are certainly
often made against the Visconti and other tyrants in the fourteenth century.]

It could hardly be expected that stipendiary troops, chiefly composed of
Germans, would conduct themselves without insolence and contempt of the
effeminacy which courted their services. Indifferent to the cause which they
supported, the highest pay and the richest plunder were their constant
motives. As Italy was generally the theatre of war in some of her numerous
states, a soldier of fortune, with his lance and charger for an inheritance,
passed from one service to another without regret and without discredit. But
if peace happened to be pretty universal, he might be thrown out of his only
occupation, and reduced to a very inferior condition, in a country of which he
was not a native. It naturally occurred to men of their feelings, that, if
money and honor could only be had while they retained their arms, it was their
own fault if they ever relinquished them. Upon this principle they first
acted in 1343, when the republic of Pisa disbanded a large body of German
cavalry which had been employed in a war with Florence. ^y A partisan, whom
the Italians call the Duke Guarnieri, engaged these dissatisfied mercenaries
to remain united under his command. His plan was to levy contributions on all
countries which he entered with his company, without aiming at any conquests.
No Italian army, he well knew, could be raised to oppose him; and he trusted
that other mercenaries would not be ready to fight against men who had devised
a scheme so advantageous to the profession. This was the first of the
companies of adventure which continued for many years to be the scourge and
disgrace of Italy. Guarnieri, after some time, withdrew his troops, satiated
with plunder, into Germany; but he served in the invasion of Naples by Louis,
King of Hungary in 1348, and, forming a new company, ravaged the
ecclesiastical state. A still more formidable band of disciplined robbers
appeared in 1353, under the command of Fra Moriale, and afterwards of Conrad
Lando. This was denominated the Great Company, and consisted of several
thousand regular troops, besides a multitude of half-armed ruffians, who
assisted as spies, pioneers, and plunderers. The rich cities of Tuscany and
Romagna paid large sums, that the Great Company, which was perpetually in
motion, might not march through their territory. Florence alone magnanimously
resolved not to offer this ignominious tribute. Upon two occasions, once in
1358, and still more conspicuously the next year, she refused either to give a
passage to the company, or to redeem herself by money; and in each instance
the German robbers were compelled to retire. At this time they consisted of
five thousand cuirassiers, and their whole body was not less than twenty
thousand men; a terrible proof of the evils which an erroneous system had
entailed upon Italy. Nor were they repulsed on this occasion by the actual
exertions of Florence. The courage of that republic was in her councils, not
in her arms; the resistance made to Lando's demand was a burst of national
feeling, and rather against the advice of the leading Florentines; ^z but the
army employed was entirely composed of mercenary troops, and probably for the
greater part of foreigners.

[Footnote y: Sismondi, t. v. p. 380. The dangerous aspect which these German
mercenaries might assume had appeared four years before, when Lodrisio, one of
the Visconti, having quarrelled with the lord of Milan, led a large body of
troops who had just been disbanded against the city. After some desperate
battles the mercenaries were defeated and Lodrisio taken. t. v. p. 278. In
this instance, however, they acted for another; Guarnieri was the first who
taught them to preserve the impartiality of general robbers.]

[Footnote z: Matt. Villani, p. 537.]

None of the foreign partisans who entered into the service of Italian
states acquired such renown in that career as an Englishman whom contemporary
writers call Aucud or Agutus, but to whom we may restore his national
appellation of Sir John Hawkwood. This very eminent man had served in the war
of Edward III., and obtained his knighthood from that sovereign, though
originally, if we may trust common fame, bred to the trade of a tailor. After
the peace of Bretigni, France was ravaged by the disbanded troops, whose
devastations Edward was accused, perhaps unjustly, of secretly instigating. A
large body of these, under the name of the White Company, passed into the
service of the Marquis of Montferrat. They were some time afterwards employed
by the Pisans against Florence; and during this latter war Hawkwood appears as
their commander. For thirty years he was continually engaged in the service
of the Visconti, of the pope, or of the Florentines, to whom he devoted
himself for the latter part of his life with more fidelity and steadiness than
he had shown in his first campaigns. The republic testified her gratitude by
a public funeral, and by a monument in the Duomo, which still perpetuates his
memory.

The name of Sir John Hawkwood is worthy to be remembered as that of the
first distinguished commander who had appeared in Europe since the destruction
of the Roman empire. It would be absurd to suppose that any of the
constituent elements of military genius which nature furnishes to energetic
characters were wanting to the leaders of a barbarian or feudal army:
untroubled perspicacity in confusion, firm decision, rapid execution,
providence against attack, fertility of resource and stratagem - these are in
quality as much required from the chief of an Indian tribe as from the
accomplished commander. But we do not find them in any instance so
consummated by habitual skill as to challenge the name of generalship. No one
at least occurs to me, previously to the middle of the fourteenth century, to
whom history has unequivocally assigned that character. It is very rarely
that we find even the order of battle specially noticed. The monks, indeed,
our only chroniclers, were poor judges of martial excellence; yet, as war is
the main topic of all annals, we could hardly remain ignorant of any
distinguished skill in its operations. This neglect of military science
certainly did not proceed from any predilection for the arts of peace. It
arose out of the general manners of society, and out of the nature and
composition of armies in the middle ages. The insubordinate spirit of feudal
tenants, and the emulous quality of chivalry, were alike hostile to that
gradation of rank, that punctual observance of irksome duties, that prompt
obedience to a supreme command, through which a single soul is infused into
the active mass, and the rays of individual merit converge to the head of the
general.

In the fourteenth century we begin to conceive something of a more
scientific character in military proceedings, and historians for the first
time discover that success does not entirely depend upon intrepidity and
physical prowess. The victory of Muhldorf over the Austrian princes in 1322,
that decided a civil war in the empire, is ascribed to the ability of the
Bavarian commander. ^a Many distinguished officers were formed in the school
of Edward III. Yet their excellences were perhaps rather those of active
partisans than of experienced generals. Their successes are still due rather
to daring enthusiasm than to wary and calculating combination. Like inexpert
chess-players, they surprise us by happy sallies against rule, or display
their talents in rescuing themselves from the consequences of their own
mistakes. Thus the admirable arrangements of the Black Prince at Poitiers
hardly redeem the temerity which placed him in a situation where the egregious
folly of his adversary alone could have permitted him to triumph. Hawkwood
therefore appears to me the first real general of modern times; the earliest
master, however imperfect, in the science of Turenne and Wellington. Every
contemporary Italian historian speaks with admiration of his skilful tactics
in battle, his stratagems, his well-conducted retreats. Praise of this
description, as I have observed, is hardly bestowed, certainly not so
continually, on any former captain.

[Footnote a: Struvius, Corpus Hist. German. p. 585. Schwepperman, the
Bavarian general, is called by a contemporary writer clarus militari scientia
vir.]

Hawkwood was not only the greatest but the last of the foreign
condottieri, or captains of mercenary bands. While he was yet living a new
military school had been formed in Italy, which not only superseded, but
eclipsed, all the strangers. This important reform was ascribed to Alberic di
Barbiano, lord of some petty territories near Bologna. He formed a company
altogether of Italians about the year 1379. It is not to be supposed that
natives of Italy had before been absolutely excluded from service. We find
several Italians, such as the Malatesta family, lords of Rimini, and the Rossi
of Parma, commanding the armies of Florence much earlier. But this was the
first trading company, if I may borrow the analogy, the first regular body of
Italian mercenaries, attached only to their commander without any
consideration of party, like the Germans and English of Lando and Hawkwood.
Alberic di Barbiano, though himself no doubt a man of military talents, is
principally distinguished by the school of great generals which the company of
St. George under his command produced, and which may be deduced, by regular
succession, to the sixteenth century. The first in order of time, and
immediate contemporaries of Barbiano, were Jacopo del Verme, Facino Cane, and
Ottobon Terzo. Among an intelligent and educated people, little inclined to
servile imitation, the military art made great progress. The most eminent
condottieri being divided, in general, between belligerents, each of them had
his genius excited and kept in tension by that of a rival in glory. Every
resource of science as well as experience, every improvement in tactical
arrangements, and the use of arms, were required to obtain an advantage over
such equal enemies. In the first year of the fifteenth century the Italians
brought their newly acquired superiority to a test. The Emperor Robert, in
alliance with Florence, invaded Gian Galeazzo's dominions with a considerable
army. From old reputation, which so frequently survives the intrinsic
qualities upon which it was founded, an impression appears to have been
excited in Italy that the native troops were still unequal to meet the charge
of German cuirassiers. The Duke of Milan gave orders to his general, Jacopo
del Verme, to avoid a combat. But that able leader was aware of a great
relative change in the two armies. The Germans had neglected to improve their
discipline; their arms were less easily wielded, their horses less obedient to
the bit. A single skirmish was enough to open their eyes; they found
themselves decidedly inferior; and having engaged in the war with the
expectation of easy success, were readily disheartened. ^b This victory, or
rather this decisive proof that victory might be achieved, set Italy at rest
for almost a century from any apprehensions on the side of her ancient
masters.

[Footnote b: Sismondi, t. vii. p. 439.]

Whatever evils might be derived, and they were not trifling, from the
employment of foreign or native mercenaries, it was impossible to discontinue
the system without general consent; and too many states found their own
advantage in it for such an agreement. The condottieri were indeed all
notorious for contempt of engagements. Their rapacity was equal to their bad
faith. Besides an enormous pay, for every private cuirassier received much
more in value than a subaltern officer at present, they exacted gratifications
for every success. ^c But everything was endured by ambitious governments who
wanted their aid. Florence and Venice were the two states which owed most to
the companies of adventure. The one loved war without its perils; the other
could never have obtained an inch of territory with a population of sailors.
But they were both almost inexhaustively rich by commercial industry; and, as
the surest paymasters, were best served by those they employed. The Visconti
might perhaps have extended their conquest over Lombardy with the militia of
Milan; but without a Jacopo del Verme or a Carmagnola, the banner of St. Mark
would never have floated at Verona and Bergamo.

[Footnote c: Paga doppia, e mese compiuto, of which we frequently read,
sometimes granted improvidently, and more often demanded unreasonably. The
first speaks for itself; the second was the reckoning a month's service as
completed when it was begun, in calculating their pay. - Matt. Villani, p.
62; Sismondi, t. v. p. 412.

Gian Galleazo Visconti promised constant half-pay to the condottieri whom
he disbanded in 1396. This, perhaps, is the first instance of half-pay. -
Sismondi, t. vii. p. 379.]

The Italian armies of the fifteenth century have been remarked for one
striking peculiarity. War has never been conducted at so little personal
hazard to the soldier. Combats frequently occur, in the annals of that age,
wherein success, though warmly contested, costs very few lives even to the
vanquished. ^d This innocence of blood, which some historians turn into
ridicule, was no doubt owing in a great degree to the rapacity of the
companies of adventure, who, in expectation of enriching themselves by the
ransom of prisoners, were anxious to save their lives. Much of the humanity
of modern warfare was originally due to this motive. But it was rendered more
practicable by the nature of their arms. For once, and for once only in the
history of mankind, the art of defence had outstripped that of destruction.
In a charge of lancers many fell, unhorsed by the shock, and might be
suffocated or bruised to death by the pressure of their own armor; but the
lance's point could not penetrate the breastplate, the sword fell harmless
upon the helmet, the conqueror, in the first impulse of passion, could not
assail any vital part of a prostrate but not exposed enemy. Still less was to
be dreaded from the archers or cross-bowmen, who composed a large part of the
infantry. The bow indeed, as drawn by an English foot-soldier, was the most
formidable of arms before the invention of gunpowder. That ancient weapon,
though not perhaps common among the northern nations, nor for several
centuries after their settlement, was occasionally in use before the crusades.
William employed archers in the battle of Hastings. ^e Intercourse with the
East, its natural soil, during the twelfth and thirteenth ages, rendered the
bow better known. But the Europeans improved on the eastern method of
confining its use to cavalry. By employing infantry as archers, they gained
increased size, more steady position, and surer aim for the bow. Much,
however, depended on the strength and skill of the archer. It was a
peculiarly English weapon, and none of the other principal nations adopted it
so generally or so successfully. The crossbow, which brought the strong and
weak to a level, was more in favor upon the continent. This instrument is
said by some writers to have been introduced after the first crusade in the
reign of Louis the Fat. ^f But, if we may trust William of Poitou, it was
employed, as well as the long-bow, at the battle of Hastings. Several of the
popes prohibited it as a treacherous weapon; and the restriction was so far
regarded, that, in the time of Philip Augustus, its use is said to have been
unknown in France. ^g By degress it became more general; and cross-bowmen
were considered as a very necessary part of a well-organized army. But both
the arrow and the quarrel glanced away from plate-armor, such as it became in
the fifteenth century, impervious in every point, except when the visor was
raised from the face, or some part of the body accidentally exposed. The
horse indeed was less completely protected.

[Footnote d: Instances of this are very frequent. Thus at the action of
Zagonara, in 1423, but three persons, according to Machiavelli lost their
lives, and these by suffocation in the mud. Ist. Fiorent. l. iv. At that of
Molinella, in 1467, he says that no one was killed. l. vii. Ammirato
reproves him for this, as all the authors of the time represent it to have
been sanguinary (t. ii. p. 102), and insinuates that Machiavelli ridicules the
inoffensiveness of those armies more than they deserve, schernendo, come egli
suol far, quella milizia. Certainly some few battles of the fifteenth century
were not only obstinately contested, but attended with considerable loss.
Sismondi, t. x. p. 126, 137. But, in general, the slaughter must appear very
trifling. Ammirato himself says that in an action between the Neapolitian and
papal troops in 1486, which lasted all day, not only no one was killed, but it
is not recorded that any one was wounded. Roscoe's Lorenzo de' Medici, vol.
ii. p. 37. Guicciardini's general testimony to the character of these combats
is unequivocal. He speaks of the battle of Fornova, between the confederates
of Lombardy and the army of Charles VIII. returning from Naples in 1495, as
very remarkable on account of the slaughter, which amounted on the Italian
side to 3,000 men: perche fu la prima, che da lunghissimo tempo in qua si
combattesse con uccisione e con sangue in Italia, perche innanzi a questa
morivano pochissimi uomini in un fatto d'arme. l. ii. p. 175.]

[Footnote e: Pedites in fronte locavit, sagittis armatos et balistis, item
pedites in ordine secundo firmiores et loricatos, ultimo turmas equitum. Gul.
Pictaviensis (in Du Chesne), p. 201. Several archers are represented in the
tapestry of Bayeux.]

[Footnote f: Le Grand, Vie privee des Francais, t. i. p. 349.]

[Footnote g: Du Cange, v. Balista; Muratori Diss. 26, t. i. p. 462 (Ital.).]

 

Main Page

World History Center