THE secular struggle between the Houses of Burgundy and Valois reaches a new stage in the era of the Reformation. The murder of the Duke of Orleans in the streets of Paris in 1407 involved at first only a junior branch of the French royal House in the blood feud with Burgundy. The alliance of Orleans and Armagnac in 1410, and of both with Charles the Dauphin in 1418, swept in the senior branch, and led to the retributive murder of John of Burgundy at Montereau in 1419. Steadily the area of infection widens. A relentless Ate dominates all the early years of Philip the Good, and then, laid for a while to sleep at Arras (1435), reappears in the days of Charles the Bold. Not only political and national aims, but an hereditary dynastic hatred might have inspired Louis XI in his campaigns of war and intrigue until the crushing blow at Nancy. The grandson of Charles the Bold, Philip the Fair, seemed, in his jealousy of Ferdinand and his devotion to the interests of the Netherlands, to have forgotten the ancestral feud. But his son and heir, whom we know best as Charles the Fifth, inherited, together with the inconsequent rivalries of Maximilian, and the more enduring and successful antagonism of Ferdinand, the old Burgundian duty of revenge. Thus the chronic hostility between the Kings of Valois-Angoulême and the united line of Burgundy, Austria, Castile, and Aragon has a dramatic touch of predestined doom, which might find a fitting counterpart in a Norse Saga or the Nibelungenlied.
But greater forces than hereditary hate drove Europe to the gulf in which the joy of the Renaissance was forever extinguished. The territorial consolidation of the previous age in Europe, though striking, had been incomplete. The union of the French and Spanish kingdoms had gone on natural lines. But Italy had been less fortunate. At the death of Ferdinand her fate was still uncertain. The Spaniards stood firm in Sicily and Naples, the French seemed to stand secure in Milan. Venice had withstood the shock of united Europe. Florence seemed strengthened by the personal protection of the Holy Father. But so long as two rival foreign Powers held their ground in Italy, consolidation had gone too far or not far enough. Italy must be either Italian or Spanish or French. The equilibrium was unstable. No amicable arrangement could permanently preserve the status quo. The issue could only be solved by the arbitrament of arms.
In Germany the case was different. There consolidation seemed to be out of the question. Neither the preponderance of any single Power, nor that of any combination of Powers, held out hopes of successful conquest. And the German nation, inured to arms, could offer a very different resistance to that which any of the Italian States could maintain. Thus the history of Europe in this period falls into two well-marked sections. The Teutonic lands work out their own development under the influence of the new religious thought, unaffected as a whole by the competition for supremacy in Europe. They had their own dangers from the Turk and in civil strife. But the struggle, although ostensibly between the Emperor and the King of France, was in reality between Spain and France for hegemony in western Europe, supremacy in Italy. The struggle was dynastic, but dynasties are the threads about which nations crystallize.
At the outset the forces were not ill-matched. On the death of Ferdinand in 1516 the Archduke Charles succeeded by hereditary right to the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon and their dependencies, to the kingdoms of the two Sicilies, to the Franche-Comté of Burgundy, and to the provinces of the Netherlands. On the death of Maximilian in 1519, he added to these the Habsburg inheritance in eastern Europe, which he wisely resigned before long to his brother Ferdinand. For soldiers he could rely on his Spanish dominions, on the regular forces organized by Charles the Bold in the Netherlands, on the less trustworthy levies of Germany and Italy. The Netherlands and Spain gave him a considerable revenue, which exceeded in gross the revenue of the French King, but was not equally available for common dynastic purposes, owing to the difficulty of exporting and transporting treasure, and the cogent necessities of internal government. The Sicilies might pay for their own government, and provide an occasional supplement, but the resources of these kingdoms hardly compensated for the needs of their defence. The maritime resources of Spain were considerable, but ill-organized and therefore not readily available.
The French King on the other hand, though his dominions were less extensive, had manifest advantages both for attack and defence. His territory was compact, and almost all capacity for internal resistance had been crushed out by the vigorous policy of Louis XI and Anne of Beaujeu. His subjects were rich and flourishing, and far more industrious than those of Spain. All their resources were absolutely at his control. Even the clergy could be relied upon for ample subsidies. His financial system was superior to that of any other existing State. He could make such laws and impose such taxes as suited his sovereign pleasure. Since the Concordat of 1516 all important clerical patronage was in his hands; and the great ecclesiastical revenues served him as a convenient means for rewarding ministers, and attaching to himself the great families whose cadets were greedy of spiritual promotion. His cavalry and artillery were excellent and well organized. His infantry had not yet been satisfactorily developed, but his resources permitted him to engage mercenaries, and Germans and Swiss were still ready to serve the highest bidder. In defence he could fight upon interior lines. For attack he had a ready road to Italy through the friendly territories of Savoy. The possession of Milan secured to him the maritime power of Genoa, a very valuable addition to his own.
In character the two potentates were less equally matched. Francis was bold, and vigorous upon occasion, but inconsequent in action; his choice of men was directed by favoritism; his attention was diverted from business by the pursuit of every kind of pleasure, the more as well as the less refined. His extravagance was such as to hamper his public activity. To the last he never showed any increasing sense of royal responsibility, and preserved in premature old age the frivolous and vicious habits of his youth.
At the death of Ferdinand Charles was still a boy, and, until the death of Guillaume de Croy, Sire de Chièvres (1521), his own individuality did not make itself clearly felt. Chièvres, his old tutor, now his principal minister, dominated his action. Yet at the election to the Empire it was his own pertinacity that secured for him the victory when others would have been content to obtain the prize for his brother Ferdinand. Throughout his life this pre-eminent trait of manly perseverance marks him with a certain stamp of greatness. Slow in action, deliberate in council to the point of irresolution, he yet pursued his ends with unfailing obstinacy until by sheer endurance he prevailed. Extreme tenacity in the maintenance of his just rights, moderation in victory, and abstinence from all chimerical enterprise, are the other qualities to which he owes such success as he obtained. Fortune served him well on more than one conspicuous occasion; but he merited her favors by indefatigable patience; and he never made on her exorbitant demands. Of his two grandfathers he resembles Ferdinand far more than Maximilian. In the course of his career these characteristics were developed and became more notable; unlike his rival he learnt from life; but from his youth he was serious, persistent, sober. In his choice of ministers and judgment of men he showed himself greatly superior to Francis. He was well served throughout his life; and never allowed a minister to become his master. Unsympathetic, unimaginative, he lacked the endearing graces of a popular sovereign; he lacked the gifts that achieve greatness. But, born to greatness, he maintained unimpaired the heritage he had received; and, at whatever price of personal and national exhaustion, he left the House of Habsburg greater than he had found it. When we consider the ineluctable burden of his several and discrete realms, the perplexing and multifarious dangers to which he was exposed, the mere mechanical friction occasioned by distance and boundaries and intervening hostile lands, the inefficient organization, political, financial, and military, of his countries at that time, the obstacles opposed by institutions guarding extinct and impossible local privilege, the world-shaking problems which broke up all previous settled order, then the conscientious sincerity with which he addressed his mediocre talents to the allotted work must earn for him at least a place in our esteem.
On neither side was the struggle for world-empire. Charles would have been content to recover Milan in self-defence, and the duchy of Burgundy as his hereditary and indefeasible right. France had good grounds for claiming Milan and Naples. But it is doubtful whether Francis would have been as moderate after victory as Charles.
The struggle can be considered apart from developments in Germany. But it has its reaction on German fortunes. Had Charles not been hampered throughout his career by the contest with France he would not have been forced to temporize with the Reforming movement until it was too late for effective action. The Most Christian King was an unconscious ally of Luther, as he was a deliberate ally of the Turk. Immediately the conflict concerned the fate of Italy. Indirectly it weakened the resistance of Europe to the Reformed opinions, and to the Muslim in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.
After Marignano (1515) and the Peace of Noyon (1516), which professed to shelve all outstanding questions and secure perpetual friendship between Spain and France, Europe had peace for a while. It was arranged at Noyon that Charles should take Louise, the daughter of the King of France, to wife, and that the rights over the kingdom of Naples should go with her. Until this babe-in-arms should become his wife, Charles was to pay 100,000 crowns a year as rent for Naples, and 50,000 until she bore him a son. If Louise died, some daughter of a later birth was to be substituted as his affianced bride, and this clause actually took effect. Charles promised satisfaction with regard to Spanish Navarre, conquered by Ferdinand in 1512; perhaps he even secretly engaged himself to restore it to Catharine, its lawful Queen, within six months. The treaty was concluded under the influence of Flemish counselors, who had surrounded Charles, since he had taken up the government of the Netherlands in the previous year. It was inspired by a desire for peace with France in interests exclusively Burgundian. But it had also its value for Spain, for it gave Charles a breathing space in which to settle the affairs of his new kingdoms. Maximilian, now in isolation, was forced to come to terms with France and Venice, and surrender Verona; and peace was secured in Italy for a while. At a subsequent conference at Cambray in 1517 the partition of Italy between Habsburg and Valois was discussed, but nothing was definitely settled. English diplomatists looked on askance at the apparent reconciliation, but their hopes of fishing in troubled waters were soon revived.
Charles utilized the respite for his visit to Spain in 1517. While here he was not only occupied with the troublesome affairs of his new kingdoms, but with the question of the Empire. Maximilian, who, although not yet sixty years of age, was worn out by his tumultuous life, was anxious to secure the succession to his grandson. At the Diet of Augsburg, 1518, he received the promise of the Electors of Mainz, Cologne, the Palatinate, Brandenburg, and Bohemia for the election of Charles as Roman King. The French King was already in the field, but the promises and influence of Maximilian, and the money which Charles was able to supply, overbore for the moment this powerful antagonism. On the receipt of this news Pope Leo X, who had already been attracted to the side of France, was seriously alarmed. The union of the imperial power with the throne of Naples was contrary to the time-honored doctrines of papal policy. Thenceforward he declared himself more openly a supporter of the French claims. Meanwhile, if Charles was to be elected before Maximilian’s death, the latter must first receive from the Pope the imperial crown. This Leo refused to facilitate. In all this the Pope showed himself as ever more mindful of the temporal interests of the Roman See and of his own dynastic profit, than of the good of Europe or religion. Both in the coming struggle with victorious Islam, and against the impending religious danger, an intimate alliance with Charles was of far more value than the support of France. But the meaner motives prevailed.
On January 19, 1519, Maximilian died, and the struggle broke out in a new form. The promises of the Electors proved to be of no account. All had to be done over again. The zeal of his agents, his more abundant supplies of ready cash, the support of the Pope, at first gave Francis the advantage. Troubles broke out in the Austrian dominions. Things looked black in Spain. Even the wise Margaret of Savoy lost hope, and recommended that Ferdinand should be put forward in place of Charles. Charles showed himself more resolute and a better judge of the situation. He had friends in Germany, Germans, who understood German politics better than the emissaries of Francis. The influence of England on either side was discounted by Henry VIII’s own candidature. German opinion was decidedly in favor of a German election, and although Charles was by birth, education, and sympathy a Netherlander, yet the interests of his House in Germany were important, and it may not have been generally known how little German were his predilections. The great house of Fugger came courageously to his aid and advanced no less than 500,000 florins. The advantage of this support lay not only in the sum supplied, but in the preference of the Electors for Augsburg bills. The Elector of Mainz refused to accept any paper other than the obligations of well-known German merchants. At the critical moment Francis could not get credit. The Swabian League forbade the merchants of Augsburg to accept his bills. He endeavored in vain to raise money in Genoa and in Lyons.
It is needless to pursue the base intrigues and tergiversations of the several Electors. The Elector of Saxony played the most honorable part, for he refused to be a candidate himself, and declined all personal gratification. The Elector of Mainz showed himself perhaps the most greedy and unfaithful. He received 100,000 florins from Charles alone and the promise of a pension of 10,000, which it is satisfactory to note was not regularly paid. Money on the one hand, and popular pressure on the other decided the issue. The Rhinelands, where the possessions of four Electors lay and where the election was to take place, were enthusiastic for the Habsburg candidature. It was here that the national idea was strongest, and the humanists were eloquent in their support of Maximilian’s grandson. The army of the Swabian League, under Franz von Sickingen, the great German condottiere, was ready to act on behalf of Charles; it had been recently engaged in evicting the Duke Ulrich of Württemberg from his dominions, and was now secured by Charles for three months for his own service. Here also money had its value. Sickingen and the Swabian League received 171,000 florins. At the end the Pope gave way and withdrew his opposition. On June 28, 1519, the Electors at Frankfort voted unanimously for the election of Charles. The election cost him 850,000 florins.
It is a commonplace of historians to exclaim at the fruitless waste of energy involved in this electoral struggle, and to point out that Charles was not richer or more powerful as Emperor than he was before; while on the other hand his obligations and anxieties were considerably increased. But so long as prestige plays its part in human affairs, so long a reasonable judgment will justify the ambition of Charles. He was still perhaps in the youthful frame of mind which willingly and ignorantly courts responsibility and faces risks, the frame of mind in which he entered on his first war with Francis, saying: “Soon he will be a poor King or I shall be a poor Emperor”. But the imperial’s Crown was in some sort hereditary in his race. Had he pusillanimously refused it, his prestige must have suffered severely. As a German prince he could not brook the interference of a foreign and a hostile power in the affairs of Germany. The imperial contest was inevitable, and was in fact the peaceful overture to another contest, equally inevitable, and more enduring, waged over half a continent, through nearly forty years.
War was in fact inevitable, and Charles was ill-prepared to meet it. His affairs in Spain went slowly, and it was not until May, 1520, that Charles was able to sail for the north, leaving open revolt at Valencia, and discontent in his other dominions. The fortunate issue of these complications has been related in the first volume of this History. Diplomacy had already paved the way for an understanding with Henry VIII, which took more promising shape at Gravelines, after a visit to Henry at Dover and Canterbury, and the famous interview of Henry VIII and Francis I at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Wolsey’s skilful diplomacy had brought it about that both the greatest monarchs of Europe were bidding eagerly for his and his master’s favor. A pension and a bishopric for the Cardinal, a renewal for England of the commercial treaty with the Netherlands were the preliminary price. At Gravelines it was agreed that Charles and Henry should have the same friends and the same enemies; and that neither Power should conclude an alliance with any other without the consent of both. If war broke out between Charles and Francis, Henry was to act against the aggressor. For two years the agreements for the marriage of the Dauphin with the English Princess Mary, and of Charles with Charlotte the daughter of Francis (Louise having died) were to receive no further confirmation. Towards the end of this period another meeting was to take place at which another agreement should be concluded. Each Power was to maintain a regular ambassador at the Court of the other. The pains taken by Wolsey to reassure Francis and to show that Henry had rejected propositions from Charles for a joint attack on France prove that he was still anxious to prevent the Roman King from drawing near to France; but the nett result of the interviews was to guarantee Charles against any immediate adhesion of England to his rival.
1521] Charles allied with Leo X and Henry VIII.
Fortified by this belief, and leaving his aunt Margaret of Savoy to govern the Netherlands with extensive powers, Charles proceeded to his coronation, which took place at Aachen on October 23, 1520. Meanwhile in Castile and Valencia the troubles continued, until the rising of the Comuneros was definitely crushed at the battle of Villalar, April 24, 1521. Charles was thus relieved from one of his worst anxieties, though the condition of his finances was so bad that he could only look with alarm on the prospect of war. All his Spanish revenues were pledged and nothing could be expected from that source. Still the outbreak of war was delayed, and he was able to bring the Diet of Worms to a close before any decisive step was needed. And more important still, in the eager hunt for alliances on both sides, Charles proved the more successful. On May 29, 1521, a secret alliance had been concluded on his behalf with the Pope.
From the time of the imperial election Leo had foreseen the consequences, and had turned his shallow statecraft to the task of considering what could be got for the Papal See and his own family from the impending war. At first he had urged a prompt and united attack upon Charles, in which France, Venice, and England were to join. This might well have succeeded while Charles was still embroiled in Castile. Then while negotiations with France and England nagged and each Power was maneuvering for the weather-gauge, Leo began to see that France and Venice could never consent to his favorite scheme for the annexation of Ferrara, the one part of Julius' design which yet remained unexecuted. France was closely linked with Alfonso d'Este, and Venice preferred him as a neighbor to the Pope. Then Leo turned to Charles, and Charles was ready to promise all that he could ask: Parma, Piacenza, Ferrara, imperial protection for the Medici, the restoration of Francesco Sforza in Milan and the Adorni in Genoa, and the suppression of the enemies of the Catholic faith. In return the Pope promised the investiture of Naples, and a defensive alliance. Leo would have been glad to make the alliance offensive, but the Emperor was in no hurry for war, and still hoped that it might be averted.
The alliance with Leo was valuable to Charles for the resources, material and spiritual, which the Pope and the Medici controlled, for the protection which the Papal States afforded against attacks on Naples from the north, and for the access they gave to Lombardy from the south. Still more valuable appeared the alliance with England, as securing the Netherlands against a joint attack. Wolsey at first was anxious to play the part of mediator or arbitrator between the hostile powers. At length at Bruges the agreement was reached on August 25. Chièvres was dead (May 18, 1521), and Charles took himself the leading part in these negotiations. Charles was to marry Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII. The Emperor and King entered the most solemn alliance not only for the defence of their present possessions, but for the recovery of all that they could severally claim. The Emperor, who was meditating a visit to Spain, was to visit England on the way. War was to be openly declared in March, 1523. But if no suspension of hostilities came about between Charles and France, the declaration of war was to take place on the occasion of Charles' visit to England. All this was to be secured by the most solemn and public declarations within four months.
The treaty of alliance, solemn as it professed to be, left something to be desired. France was already effectively at war with Charles. Robert de la Marck, Lord of Bouillon and Sedan, early in the year had invaded the southern Netherlands, and Duke Charles of Gelders, an old ally of France and enemy of the Burgundian rulers, had attacked the north. Henri d'Albret had marched into Navarre, and at first had met with considerable success. These attacks were manifestly supported by France, and Charles could therefore claim the aid of England by virtue of earlier treaties as the victim of unprovoked aggression. But for the time being it must suffice that England was neutralized. In the border warfare which succeeded Charles could hold his own. Sickingen chastised the Lord of Bouillon. Henri d'Albret was driven from Navarre by local levies. And although on the frontier of the Netherlands things looked black for a while, though Mezières under Bayard held out against attack and the Emperor himself risked a serious defeat near Valenciennes, though the Admiral Bonnivet succeeded in occupying Fuenterrabia, the most important position on the western Pyrenees, all was compensated and more than compensated by the seizure of Milan on November 19, 1521, by the joint forces of the Emperor and the Pope. Lombardy with the exception of a few fortresses was easily occupied, and in the north Tournay capitulated. After these astonishing successes the death of Leo, on December 1, came as an unexpected blow to the imperial hopes. But his aid had done its work. His support had been the chief instrument in preventing the Swiss from assisting Francis with their full force; papal and Florentine money had supplied the needs of the joint expedition. In return he received before his death the news that Parma and Piacenza had been recovered for the Holy See.
The campaign in Lombardy had been conducted by Prospero Colonna, in command of the papal and imperial forces, among which were 16.000 German infantry, brought by way of Trent. The French army was commanded by Odet de Foix, Vicomte de Lautrec, who owed his position to his sister's favor with the French King. They were joined by a considerable contingent from Venice. The Spanish troops under Antonio de Leyva and the Marquis of Pescara came up slowly from Naples; operations began badly; no plan of campaign commanded approval; and when at length the siege of Parma was undertaken, it had to be abandoned owing to danger from Ferrara. In October, however, on the news of the approach of a body of Swiss, whom the Pope had induced to serve for the protection of the Holy See, Colonna crossed the Po. Giovanni de' Medici defeated a Venetian force, and the Marquis of Ferrara suffered a defeat. Lautrec failed to prevent the junction of Colonna with the Swiss. There were now Swiss in both armies, and the orders of the Swiss Diet came to both armies that they were to return. But the papal contingent held firm, while those in the pay of the French deserted in great numbers. Colonna forced the passage of the Adda, and Lautrec retired on Milan, where the exactions and repressive measures of the French provoked a Ghibelline rising, as soon as the enemy appeared before the walls. The Venetians led the flight, and Lautrec abandoned the city for Como, whence he passed to winter in the Venetian territory.
The strange election of Adrian of Utrecht to the papal throne, which followed on the death of Leo, appeared at first to favor the imperial side. Adrian had been the Emperor’s tutor and was left by him as regent in Castile in 1520. But Adrian’s visionary and unworldly character unfitted him to take the traditional part of the Popes in Italian politics. It was long before he appeared in Italy, and after his arrival he long endeavored to maintain neutrality. At last, about a month before his death in September, 1523, Adrian was forced to take a side, and joined the Emperor.
The news of the successes in Lombardy put an end to the exertions of Wolsey to conclude an armistice between the Powers, and to secure his own acceptance as arbitrator. The alliance with England was confirmed, and Charles was free to sail for Spain (May 26, 1522). On his way he landed at Dover and visited Henry; and on June 19 the treaty of Windsor was concluded, according to which both sovereigns were bound to invade France each with a force of 30,000 foot, and 10,000 horse; the date named for this great effort was May, 1524.
1522] Second campaign in Lombardy.
In July, 1522, Charles reached Spain and the last remnants of rebellion were stamped out. Meanwhile his armies in Italy had been left almost to their own resources. The ample supplies voted by the Netherlands in 1521 had been all expended in the war of that year. No more money was forthcoming from the Pope or Florence. A great part of the imperial army had to be disbanded. The death of Leo threw the Swiss entirely on to the side of France. The French King moreover found no more difficulty in hiring German Landsknechte than did the Emperor himself. In the Papal State the forces of disorder reigned unchecked, and the old tyrants reappeared in Urbino, Camerino, Rimini, and Perugia.
Early in March, 1522, Lautrec moved across the Adda to join the Swiss who were coming to the number of 16,000 from the passes of the Alps. The junction was effected at Monza. But the defensive works of Colonna executed during the winter rendered Milan impregnable to assault. The enthusiastic support of the Milanese provided garrisons for the principal towns of the duchy. Francesco Sforza entered Milan on the 4th of April, and the Milanese were now fighting for a duke of their own. Lautrec, although reinforced by a French force under his brother Thomas de Lescun, could achieve nothing against the defensive strategy of Colonna. At length the impatience of the Swiss, who demanded battle or pay, forced the French to attack the enemy in a strong position of their own choosing, called the Bicocca, three miles from Milan (April 27). Here they were repulsed with considerable loss, the Milanese militia doing good service side by side with the Spaniards and the Germans. The Swiss then returned to their homes, discontented and humiliated, and the French army shortly afterwards evacuated Lombardy, excepting the three castles of Novara, Milan, and Cremona. Genoa was stormed and pillaged by the Imperialists on May 30. A new government was set up in Milan under Francesco Sforza, though the unpaid Spanish and German soldiers recompensed themselves for their arrears by pillage and exactions. In Florence the imperial success restored the Medici authority which had been seriously threatened by malcontents from the Papal States, supported by hopes of French assistance.
The treaty of Windsor led to an immediate declaration of war by Henry VIII, and during the summer of 1522 the English and Spanish fleet raided the coasts of Britanny and Normandy. Later an invading force under the Earl of Surrey and the Count van Buren entered Picardy, but little was achieved against the defensive opposition of the French. A systematic devastation of hostile country took place in this region.
In spite of their ill-success in two campaigns the French did not give up their hope of reconquering Milan. Financial distress had again forced the Emperor to reduce his forces, and the necessary means were with difficulty collected from the Italian towns and princes. The Netherlands had up to this time been the only trustworthy source of revenue, and the expenditure of Charles’ Court had made great inroads upon his treasury. Money was now coming in to the Castilian exchequer, but these funds had been pledged in advance. The Italian army was a year in arrear. Ferdinand was begging for money for measures against the Turks. The desperate appeal of Rhodes for aid in 1522 had to pass unregarded, and this outlying bulwark of Christendom capitulated at the close of 1522. Although Charles was in Spain to stimulate operations, Fuenterrabia was successfully defended by the French against all attacks until February, 1524.
On the other hand, since the autumn of 1522 the allies had been counting on powerful aid in France itself. The Duke of Bourbon, with his extended possessions in the centre of France, was almost the only remaining representative of the great appanaged princes of the fifteenth century. Although his wings had been clipped by legislative and even more by administrative changes, he still commanded a princely revenue and considerable local support. His position in the kingdom had been recognized by the gift of the highest of Crown offices, the post and dignity of Constable of France. But his title to the vast possessions which he held was not beyond question. The duchy of Bourbon had been preserved from reunion with the Crown under Louis XII by the influence of Anne, Duchess of Bourbon, better known as Anne of Beaujeu, who first procured for her daughter Susanne the right to succeed her father in the duchy (1498), and then (1505) married her to Count Charles of Montpensier, her cousin, who represented the rights of a younger branch of the Bourbon House. By this marriage Charles of Montpensier was elevated to the duchy of Bourbon, but when his wife Susanne died without issue in 1521 his title became questionable at law. From motives probably of cupidity, and of cupidity alone, a double claim was now advanced against him. The Queen Mother, Duchess of Angoulême, claimed the female fiefs as being more closely related to the main line of the Bourbon House, and the King claimed the male fiefs as escheating to the Crown. Against claimants so powerful Charles of Bourbon felt himself unable to litigate before the Parliament of Paris. The points of law were nice and the tribunal amenable to royal influence. He turned therefore to the enemies of his country. He approached Charles V and boldly asked for his sister Eleonora (widow of the King of Portugal) in marriage, offering in return to raise 500 men-at-arms and 8000 foot-soldiers and to co-operate with an invasion from the east.
But the intrigues became known, and although the King hesitated to arrest his Constable when he had him at Paris in his power, and though again in August, 1523, when the King passed through Moulins to take part in the great expedition to Italy, the Constable was allowed to stay behind on a plea of sickness, at length a peremptory summons was sent ordering him to join the King at Lyons. On this the Duke, who had been looking in vain for the approach of aid from the east, took to flight and, after attempting to escape to Spain by way of Roussillon, succeeded at length in reaching the frontier of Franche-Comté.
The elaborate plans of the allies, which included the despatch of a force of 10,000 Landsknechte to Bourbon, an invasion of Picardy by a joint army of 21,000 men, and an attack on Languedoc with 34,000 men from Spain, were thus defeated. The Constable brought with him only his name and his sword. But the danger was judged sufficiently real to prevent Francis from leading his army in person into the Milanese, as had been intended. Great preparations had been made for an expedition on a royal scale, but the Admiral Bonnivet was appointed to take command instead of the King. While Bonnivet was advancing on Italy some attempt was made by the allies to execute the other parts of the plan. The Duke of Suffolk and the Count van Buren advanced by Picardy to the neighborhood of Compiègne and Senlis, the German force threatened the frontier from the side of Bresse, while a Spanish force crossed the Pyrenees in October and threatened Bayonne. The delays had shattered the effect of the combination, but the kingdom was almost undefended, and even Paris was thought to be insecure. Yet little came of all these efforts. The Germans from Bresse made an ineffectual attempt to join with Suffolk and Buren, but were hunted back across the frontier by the Count of Guise. The leaders of the northern expedition showed little enterprise, and money as usual was deficient. The Spanish army advanced upon Bayonne, but was repulsed by the vigorous defence of Lautrec, and retired ineffective. In spite of a liberal subsidy in August from the Cortes of Castile, and the seizure in October of gold coming on private account from the Indies, the great design for the partition of France proved entirely abortive.
Meanwhile Bonnivet had pursued his path to Lombardy. His army consisted of 1500 men-at-arms and some 25,000 foot, Swiss, Germans, French, and Italians. On the 14th of September he reached the Ticino. Prospero Colonna, who was in command of the imperial troops, had no adequate resources with which to resist so powerful a foe in the field. Adrian VI, it is true, had recently announced his reluctant adhesion to the imperial party, and about the same time Venice had renounced her French alliance and concluded a league with Charles. But the value of these accessions had not begun to be felt when Adrian’s death (September 14) introduced uncertainty afresh at the very moment when Bonnivet appeared in Italy. Colonna was no longer supported by Pescara, but he had at his disposition Giovanni de' Medici, the celebrated leader of the Black Italian Bands, and Antonio de Leyva. The imperial leaders abandoned the western part of the duchy to the French and retired on Milan. If Bonnivet had pressed on he would have found the capital unready for defence. But his delay gave time to improvise protection: and when he arrived an assault appeared impracticable. He determined to endeavor to reduce the city by famine.
Besides Milan, Colonna still held Pavia, Lodi, and Cremona, and wisely confined his efforts to the retention of these important posts. Bonnivet divided his forces and sent Bayard to attack Lodi and Cremona. Lodi fell, but Cremona held out, and Bayard had to be recalled. The election of Clement VII on November 19 gave for the moment strength to the imperial side. Money was sent and the Marquis of Mantua brought aid. Bonnivet was forced to abandon the siege of Milan, and retire upon the Ticino. On December 28 Prospero Colonna died, but Charles de Lannoy, the viceroy of Naples, with the Marquis of Pescara, arrived to take his place, bringing with him a small supply of money and troops. Reinforcements came from Germany, and the Imperialists, now supported more effectively by Venice, were able to take the offensive. They drove Bonnivet from Abbiate-Grasso, then from Vigevano to Novara. The reinforcements which he was eagerly expecting from the Grisons at length arrived at Chiavenna, but found neither men nor money to meet them. Giovanni de' Medici hung upon their flanks and drove the Grisons levies back over the mountains. At length Bonnivet was forced to leave Novara and endeavor to effect a junction with a force of 8000 Swiss, whom he met upon the Sesia. But this relief was too late. The moral of the army was destroyed. The remnants could only be saved by retreat. Bonnivet himself was wounded at this juncture, and the task of conducting the wearied and dispirited troops across the mountains fell upon Bayard. Bayard took command of the rear-guard, and, in protecting the movements of his comrades, fell mortally wounded by the ball of an arquebus (April 30, 1524). With him perished the finest flower of the French professional army in that age, the knight who had raised the ideal of a warrior’s life to the highest point. But his last task was successfully accomplished. The Swiss effected their retreat by Aosta, the French by Susa and Briançon. The last garrison of the French in Lombardy capitulated.
Adrian’s successor, Giulio de' Medici, Clement VII, had been supported in his election by the imperial influence, in spite of Charles’ promises to Wolsey. Giulio had long controlled the papal policy under Leo, and it was assumed that he would tread the same path. But Clement had all the defects of his qualities. Supremely subtle and acute, he had not the constancy to follow up what he had once come to regard as a mistake. He relied upon his own ingenuity and duplicity, and endeavored to sail with every wind. Thus he failed alike to serve his own interests and those of his allies.
Clement began almost at once to detach himself from the imperial alliance, dangerous in defeat, oppressive in the event of success. His efforts however to conclude a truce proved unsuccessful, and on May 25, 1524, a new compact was accepted by the allies. The Duke of Bourbon was to invade France at the head of the victorious army of Italy. A joint expedition was to invade Picardy, and a Spanish army was to attack by way of Roussillon. Henry VIII seemed to see a chance of making good the pretensions of his ancestors to the French throne, and exacted from the unwilling Duke of Bourbon an oath of fidelity to himself as King of France.
1524] Siege of Marseilles.
In July the first point of this agreement was carried into effect. The Duke of Bourbon crossed the Alps in company with Pescara and invaded France (July 1). His artillery joined him by sea at Monaco. Provence offered little resistance. The Duke entered Aix on August 9. But the other movements were delayed, and it was thought dangerous to advance on Lyons without this support. Accordingly it was determined to lay siege to Marseilles, which was surrounded on August 19. Francis had here shown unusual foresight, and the town was prepared for defence under the command of the Orsini captain, Renzo da Ceri, who had shown himself throughout a passionate friend of France. The breaches in the walls were immediately protected by earthworks, and the besiegers could not venture an assault. The French navy, reinforced by Andrea Doria with his galleys, was superior to the invaders on the sea. Meanwhile Francis was collecting with great energy an army of relief at Avignon. Unexampled tailles were imposed; the clergy were taxed, the cities gave subsidies, and the nobles forced loans. Time pressed and the assault of Marseilles was ordered for September 4, but the troops recoiled before the danger; the Marquis of Pescara, hostile throughout to the enterprise and its leader, did not conceal his disapproval; and the project was abandoned. The promised aid from Roussillon was not sent, and the diversion in Picardy was not made. On September 29, much against his will, the Duke of Bourbon ordered the retreat. The troops, ill-clothed, ill-provided, ill-shod, made their way across the mountains, closely pursued by Montmorency. Francis followed with his whole army and reached Vercelli on the same day that the retreating army arrived at Alba, about sixteen miles S.S.W. of Asti.
With troops humiliated, discontented, exhausted, resistance in the field was impossible. The imperialists adopted the same strategy that had succeeded so well against Bonnivet. They determined to hold Alessandria, Pavia, Lodi, Pizzighettone, Cremona. The citadel of Milan was garrisoned, and it was hoped that the city might be held; but it had suffered terribly from the plague, and on the approach of Francis with his whole army, the attempt was given up. Bourbon, Lannoy, and Pescara retired to Lodi; and the defence of Pavia was entrusted to Antonio de Leyva. Instead of following up the remnants of the imperial army to Lodi, and crushing them or driving them east into the arms of their uncertain Venetian allies, Francis turned aside to make himself master of Pavia. The siege artillery opened fire on November 6. An early assault having failed, Francis attempted to divert the course of the Ticino, and by this means to obtain access to the south side of the town, which relied mainly on the protection of the river. But the winter rains rendered the work impossible. Francis determined to reduce the city by blockade. Meanwhile he called up reinforcements from the Swiss, and took Giovanni de’ Medici into his pay.
Campaign of Pavia. [1524-5
Italy prepared to take the side which appeared for the moment stronger. Venice hesitated in her alliance. Clement, while endeavoring to reassure the Emperor as to his fidelity, and ostensibly negotiating for an impossible peace, concluded, on December 12, 1524, a secret treaty with France, in which Florence and Venice were included. This treaty led both Clement and Francis to their ruin. Clement paid for his cowardly betrayal at the Sack of Rome, and Francis was encouraged to detach a part of his army under the Duke of Albany to invade Naples, an enterprise which weakened his main force without securing any corresponding advantage. The Duke, after holding to ransom the towns of Italy through which he passed, reached the south of the papal territory, where he was attacked by the Colonna and driven back to Rome. It was hoped however that this diversion would induce the imperial generals to leave Lombardy to its fate and hurry to the protection of Naples. But reinforcements were coming in from Germany under Frundsberg, and it was Naples that was left to fortune. On January 24, 1525, the imperial forces moved from Lodi. After a feint on Milan, they approached Pavia, and encamped towards the east to wait their opportunity. Thence they succeeded in introducing powder and other most necessary supplies into the famished city. The seizure of Chiavenna on behalf of Charles recalled the Grisons levies to the defence of their own territory. Reinforcements coming to Francis from the Alps were cut off and destroyed. Giovanni de' Medici was incapacitated by a wound. But the condition of the beleaguered city and lack of pay and provisions did not permit of further delay. It was decided to attack Francis in his camp and risk the issue.
On the night of February 24-25 the imperial army broke into the walled enclosure of the park of Mirabello. Delays were caused by the solid walls and day broke before the actual encounter. The news of the attack induced Francis to leave his entrenchments and to muster his army, which consisted of 8000 Swiss, 5000 Germans, 7000 French infantry, and 6000 Italians. He was not much superior in actual numbers, but stronger in artillery and cavalry. An attempt of the imperialists to join hands with the garrison of Pavia, by marching past the French army, which had had time to adopt a perfect order of battle in the park, proved impossible under a flanking artillery fire. Nor was it possible to throw up earthworks and await assault, as Lannoy had hoped. A direct attack upon the French army was necessary. In the mêlée which ensued it is almost impossible to disentangle the several causes of the issue, but it seems clear that the complete victory of the imperialists was due to the admirable fire-discipline and tactics of the veteran Spanish arquebusiers, to the attack of Antonio de Leyva with his garrison from the rear, to an inopportune movement of the German troops of the French which masked their artillery fire, and perhaps in some measure to the cowardly example of flight set by the Duke of Alençon. The French army was destroyed, the French King was captured, and all his most illustrious commanders were taken prisoners or killed. As Ravenna marks the advent of artillery as a deciding factor in great battles, so perhaps Pavia may be said to mark the superiority attained by hand firearms over the pike. The Swiss pike-men were unable to stand against the Spanish bullets.
Once more the duchy had been reconquered, and it seemed lost forever to France. Francis was sent as a prisoner first to Pizzighettone and then to Spain. Here the unwonted restraint acting on a man so passionately devoted to field-sports shook his health; he thought at one time of resigning the crown of France in favor of the Dauphin, in order to discount the advantage possessed by Charles in the custody of his royal person; but he was at length constrained to accept the Emperor’s terms. The result was the treaty of Madrid, signed by Francis on January 14, 1526, and confirmed by the most solemn oaths, and by the pledge of the King’s knightly honor, but with the deliberate and secretly expressed intention of repudiating its obligations. Francis was to marry Eleonora, the Emperor’s sister and the widow of the King of Portugal. He renounced all his rights over Milan, Naples, Genoa, Asti, together with the suzerainty of Flanders, Artois, and Tournay. He ceded to Charles the duchy of Burgundy, in which however the traditional dependencies of the duchy were not included. The Duke of Bourbon was to be pardoned and restored to his hereditary possessions. Francis abandoned the Duke of Gelders, and gave up all claims of d'Albret to Navarre. As a guarantee for the execution of the treaty the King’s two eldest sons were to be surrendered to the Emperor’s keeping; and Francis was to return as a prisoner in the event of non-fulfillment.
In spite of the outcries of historians, the terms of this treaty must be regarded as moderate. Charles exacted nothing, after his extraordinary success, except what he must have considered to be his own by right. But how far his moderation was dictated by policy, and how far by natural feelings of justice, may remain undecided. The Duke of Bourbon and Henry VIII had pressed upon him the pursuit of the war, the invasion and dismemberment of France. Had Charles really aimed at European supremacy this course was open to him. But he did not take it, whether from a prudent distrust of his English ally, or from an honest dislike for unjust and perilous schemes of aggrandizement. That he took no pains to use his own victory for the furtherance of the ends of England, may appear at first sight surprising. But Henry VIII had had no part in the victory of Pavia, and almost none in any of Charles’ successes. English subsidies had been a factor, though not a decisive factor, in the war, but English armed assistance had been uniformly ineffective. Even before the battle of Pavia Charles had known of Henry’s contemplated change of side. Moreover, since the rejection of Henry’s plans for the dismemberment of France, the English King had concluded an alliance with Louise of Savoy, the regent of France, and profited by his desertion to the extent of two millions of crowns. Charles owed nothing to Henry at the time of the treaty of Madrid.
League of Cognac. [1525-6
Other considerations of a politic nature may have inclined Charles to moderation. The Pope, appalled by the disaster of Pavia, had been preparing against the Emperor an Italian league. Francesco Sforza had been approached and had lent an ear to proposals of infidelity. Venice was secured. Even Pescara, Charles’ own servant, had been sounded by Girolamo Morone, the Chancellor of Milan, with the offer of the Kingdom of Naples. Pescara was discontented with the favor and good fortune of Lannoy, with his own position, the conditions of his service, and his rewards. He seems to have hesitated for a moment, but eventually disclosed all to Charles, and threw Morone into prison (July-October, 1525). Sforza was deprived of the chief places in the Milanese, retaining only the citadels of Milan and Cremona; but all this meant further trouble in Italy, and pointed to an understanding with France, although Mercurino Gattinara throughout had urged that no reliance should be placed on French promises. Charles deserves credit for his prudence, if not for his generosity. The notion that Francis’ permanent friendship could have been won by any greater liberality can be at once dismissed.
Francis I was liberated at the French frontier on March 17, 1526, leaving his two little sons in his place. He at once made known his intentions by delaying and finally refusing the ratification of the treaty of Madrid; and on May 22, at Cognac, a League was concluded against the Emperor, in which Francesco Sforza, the Pope, Florence, and Venice joined with France. Sforza was to receive the duchy of Milan unimpaired, the States of Italy were to be restored to all their rights, and the French Princes were to be released for a ransom of 2,000,000 crowns. Henry VIII gave fair words and encouragement in abundance, but did not join the League. The aid of France was equally illusory. The allies talked of peace, but in reality they courted war, and with it all the disasters which followed.
The adhesion, however vacillating, of Henry VIII to the party of his enemies, set Charles free from any obligations towards Mary of England, and in March, 1526, he concluded his marriage with Isabella of Portugal, a union which he had long desired, securing to him an ample dowry, and promising peace between the two Iberian kingdoms. The affairs of Italy still occupied his attention. Francesco Sforza received the first blow. Pescara was dead, but Charles still had able and devoted servants in Italy. With the troops at their disposal Antonio de Leyva and Alfonso del Guasto besieged Francesco Sforza in the citadel of Milan. After the League of Cognac had been concluded the allies advanced to his relief. The imperialists were in piteous case. Left without means of support, they were obliged to live upon the country and to levy money from the citizens of Milan. In consequence they had to deal with an actual revolt of the inhabitants which was with difficulty repressed, while the siege of the citadel was still vigorously maintained. Francesco Maria, Duke of Urbino, moving deliberately and cautiously at the head of the united Venetian and papal army, after seizing Lodi, advanced to the relief of Sforza, and was only at a short distance from the town when the Duke of Bourbon opportunely arrived with a small force (July 5). Bourbon had been named as Duke of Milan to compensate him for the loss of his French possessions which Francis had refused to restore. The Duke of Urbino then commenced an attack, which if vigorously pushed might have resulted in the destruction of the imperialist forces, between the invaders and the citadel, and among a hostile population. But he showed neither resolution nor activity, and on July 25 the citadel surrendered. The Duke of Urbino, now reinforced by some six thousand Swiss, the only aid which Francis supplied, turned to the siege of Cremona, in which he consumed his resources and two months of valuable time. The final capture of the city (September 23) was an inadequate compensation.
The attitude of Charles towards Clement VII at this juncture was expressed in his letter of September 17, 1526, in which the misdeeds of the Pope were systematically set forth. This letter was afterwards printed in Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands as a manifesto to all Christendom. The arraignment was severe but not on the whole unjust. In view of his wrongs, real and supposed, the means used by the Emperor are not surprising. His emissary, Ugo de Moncada, after vainly endeavoring to win back Clement, had turned to the still powerful family of Colonna. These nobles, Ghibellines by tradition, soldiers by profession, and raiders by inclination, after terrifying the Pope by forays in the south and by the capture of Anagni, concluded with him a treacherous peace (August 22). The Pope, already overburdened by his efforts in the north, was thus induced to disarm at home, and on September 20 the Colonna struck at Rome. They penetrated first into the southern part of the town, and then into the Leonine city, where they sacked the papal palace, and the dwellings of several Cardinals. Clement took refuge in the Castle of St Angelo, where he was shortly forced to conclude a truce of four months with the Emperor, promising to withdraw his troops from Lombardy and his galleys from before Genoa, and giving hostages for his good faith. The Emperor disavowed the actions of the allies but profited by the result, which was indeed only partial, since Giovanni de' Medici, with the best of the papal troops, continued to fight for the League, in the name of the King of France. An amnesty promised to the Colonna was disregarded, and in full Consistory their lands were declared to be confiscated, and a force was sent to execute this sentence.
Inert as ever, after the capture of Cremona, the Duke of Urbino allowed three weeks to pass before, strengthened by the arrival of 4000 French, he moved upon Milan, not to assault but to blockade. These delays were invaluable to Charles. They allowed him to win the adhesion of Alfonso, Duke of Ferrara, which was facilitated by the papal hostility. They allowed him to send troops from Spain to Naples (December), and to collect German levies, who arrived in Italy under Frundsberg in November. Their presence in the duchy of Mantua forced the Duke of Urbino to abandon the siege of Milan. He divided his army, leaving a part at Vauri, on the Adda, and advanced with the remainder against Frundsberg, whom he found at Borgoforte near the Po. In the skirmish which followed Giovanni de' Medici was wounded, and he died shortly afterwards at Mantua. The Duke of Urbino gave up all further attempt to prevent the junction of the imperialists, and returned to Mantua. The want of energy displayed by the Duke of Urbino throughout this campaign is not wholly to be attributed to his character. He had a well-grounded mistrust of the troops of which his army was composed, and doubted their competence to face the Spaniards. Moreover the Venetians were uncertain as to the Pope’s real intentions and were reluctant to push matters to an extreme. The success of Charles however was principally due to this policy of inaction. The Duke of Bourbon now extorted by the extremest measures the money necessary to enable him to move, requiring, for instance, 20,000 ducats of Morone as the price of his life and pardon, and at length the forces met at Fiorenzuola in the territory of Piacenza (February, 1527). The united army then moved towards the Papal States, watched at a distance by the Duke of Urbino, while garrisons were sent to save Bologna and Piacenza. The Pope, in extreme alarm, threatened by Bourbon from the north and Lannoy with the Colonna from the south, implored Francis to act, and showed himself willing to make whatever terms he could with the Emperor. Then on hearing of a small success of his troops in the south at Frosinone (January, 1527), he determined to pursue the war.
A sudden raid by Renzo da Ceri on the Abruzzi seemed at first to promise a welcome diversion, but very soon the invasions of Naples proved as unprofitable as the campaigns in the north. The project of conferring the kingdom on Louis, Count of Vaudemont, the brother of the Duke of Lorraine, which Clement had put forward, faded into the visionary. The Pope shifted his ground again, and on March 15 concluded a truce of eight months for himself and Florence.
1527] The Sack of Rome.
Meanwhile the imperial army had been long inactive at San Giovanni, N.W. of Bologna. Destitute of everything, it was not likely that they would accept a truce which brought them only 60,000 ducats. A meeting had in fact already taken place, and Frundsberg, while endeavoring to pacify his Landsknechte, was struck by apoplexy; his days of activity were over. Hereupon came the news of the truce, with its impossible proposals, prolonging the intolerable condition of inaction and want. The army clamored to go forward and Bourbon decided to lead them. The Count del Guasto, Pescara’s nephew, whose Italian patriotism always competed with his duty to his master, protested and withdrew, but on March 30 the others set forth, scantily provided with transport and provisions by the Duke of Ferrara. Clement, on the conclusion of the truce, had disbanded his troops, and while Lannoy was endeavoring on his behalf to raise the money at Florence to appease the imperialists, the tumultuous advance continued. On April 21 Lannoy met Bourbon with 100,000 ducats, but he now demanded more than twice that sum, and the march proceeded down the valley of the Arno, threatening Florence. But the army of the League was near enough to protect that city, and the only result was a futile rising of the citizens, and the accession of Florence to the League. Bourbon then determined to move on Rome, a resolution acceptable above all to his Lutheran followers. The Pope proclaimed his adhesion to the confederates, and clamored for aid. But it was too late. On May 5 the mutinous army appeared before Rome on the Monte Mario. They had left their artillery on the road, but the city was almost undefended, except for such measures as Renzo da Ceri had been able to take on orders given at the last moment. The next day the Leonine city was assaulted and captured, the Duke of Bourbon being killed at the moment of escalading the wall. Philibert, Prince of Orange, took the command. Clement had only just time to seek refuge in St Angelo.
In the main city Renzo da Ceri endeavored to persuade the Romans to protect themselves by breaking down the bridges, and preventing the entry of the Colonna from the south. But he failed. The Trastevere was easily captured, and the imperialists advanced without opposition across the bridge of Sixtus. For eight days the Sack continued, among horrors almost unexampled in the history of war. The Lutherans rejoiced to burn and to defile what all the world had adored. Churches were desecrated, women, even the religious, violated, ambassadors pillaged, cardinals put to ransom, ecclesiastical dignitaries and ceremonies made a mockery, and the soldiers fought among themselves for the spoil. The population of Rome had been much reduced by the plague of 1522, and a rough census taken shortly before the capture gives the number as about 55,000, of whom 4000 are estimated to have perished in the Sack. All who were able took to flight, and the deserted city was left to the soldiers.
The Duke of Urbino came and looked at the city from without, but decided to do nothing, though the disorder of the imperial troops gave good hopes for an attack, and the Pope at least might have been rescued. In default of all aid Clement made terms: the payment of 400,000 ducats, and the surrender of Ostia, Civita Vecchia, Piacenza, and Modena being stipulated. The Pope was closely guarded in the Castle of St Angelo. While he was helpless there the imperialists occupied Ostia and Civita Vecchia, but were not able to obtain possession of the other places. The Duke of Ferrara seized Modena and Reggio: the Venetians, in spite of their alliance, Ravenna and Cervia. The Papal State was crumbling. From Florence also the Medici nephews were expelled with their guardian, the Cardinal of Cortona. A Republic was established, though the city still adhered to the League. Meanwhile in Rome the Prince of Orange had been forced to relinquish his command, and Lannoy, who took his place soon afterwards, died of the plague, which was raging in the army. For nine months the city and its neighborhood were at the mercy of the lawless and leaderless troops.
The responsibility of Charles for the Sack of Rome cannot be accurately weighed. That he who wills the act wills also the consequences of the act is a principle that applies to both sides. Charles willed the advance of Bourbon and the armed coercion of the Pope; he willed that the Pope should be deceived by truces, which he did not intend to honor. He could not foresee that Bourbon’s army would have been completely out of control, but sooner or later such must have been the case with these Italian armies, among whom destitution was chronic. On the other hand, Clement brought his fate upon himself. He who observes faith with none cannot expect that faith will be observed with him. He who takes the sword must accept what the sword brings. And although an honorable motive, the desire to liberate Italy, and a natural motive, the desire to preserve the real independence of Florence and the papal power, may have partly influenced his actions, it is impossible to acquit Clement of a desire for personal and pontifical aggrandizement, while in the use of means for the accomplishment of these ends he showed neither rectitude, nor practical wisdom. Even in his own game of Italian duplicity he allowed himself to be outwitted.
The Pope and the Papacy were crushed into the dust, but the struggle was not yet over. Before the Sack of Rome, Henry VIII and Francis had concluded a new and offensive alliance at Westminster (April 30, 1527); and after the news had spread through Europe this was confirmed on May 29, and strengthened still further by the interview of Amiens (August 4). One more great effort was to be made in Italy to force the Emperor to accept two million crowns in lieu of Burgundy, and to release the sons of the French King. The King of England was to give support with money and with men. His zeal was quickened by a desire to liberate the Pope from imperial control, and to bring influence to bear on him for the divorce of Catharine.
In July Lautrec set forth once more from Lyons for the Milanese with an army of 20,000 foot and 900 men-at-arms, to which Italian additions were expected. Advancing by the usual route of Susa, he easily made himself master of the western districts, including Alessandria, and took Pavia by assault. Andrea Doria, the great Genoese sea-captain, who was in himself almost a European Power, came again into the King’s service, leaving the Pope, and by his aid the imperialist Adorni were driven from Genoa, and the Fregoso party set up in their place. Teodoro Trivulzio was appointed to govern the city for France. Francesco Sforza was re-established in the chief part of the Milanese. Milan alone under Leyva resisted.
But without completing the conquest of the duchy, Lautrec determined to go south to deliver the Pope. Prospects were favorable, for Ferrara had changed sides again, and Federigo da Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, abandoning his policy of neutrality, joined the League. But while Lautrec was still approaching, the Pope was forced on November 26 to accept the Emperor’s terms, which, except for the promise to convoke a General Council to deal with the Lutheran heresy, chiefly concerned the payment of money, and the grant of ecclesiastical privileges of pecuniary value; but provided against future hostility by the guarantee of Ostia, Civita Vecchia, and Citta Castellana, and the surrender of notable Cardinals as hostages. Indeed the Pope, though unlikely to turn again to Francis, who had deserted him in his need, expelled his family from Florence, and was now allied with the Duke of Ferrara. Before the day appointed for his release the Pope was allowed to escape to Orvieto (December 6), his original hostages having been also liberated by the intervention of the Cardinal Pompeo Colonna. He at once set his influence to work to establish a permanent peace. Both monarchs were prepared for peace, but the terms were difficult to arrange. In view of the great expenditure required, whether for the ransom of Burgundy, or for the alternative of war, Francis called together an assembly of Notables (December 16,1527) to justify the levy of an extraordinary imposition. The Church offered 1,300,000 livres, nobles promised unlimited aid, an offer which they afterwards unwillingly and grudgingly translated into prose; and those who spoke for the towns guaranteed 1,200,000 crowns.
But the terms which were offered to Charles were rejected by him in January, 1628, and war was solemnly declared on behalf of France and England. Charles in reply reproached Francis with having cowardly broken his knightly word, and offered to sustain his contention with his body. Francis took up the challenge, and asked that time and place should be named. But for one reason or another, this fantastic and frivolous proposal never came to its accomplishment, and it may be doubted if either monarch desired to be taken at his word.
Siege of Naples. Defection of Doria. [1528
Lautrec was at Bologna when he heard of the liberation of the Pope, and he continued his march through the Romagna, favored by the secret friendship of Clement. Thence he penetrated through the Abruzzi and advanced upon Apulia. This move drew the imperial army out of Rome, February 17, 1528, which they had sacked once more, and left deserted. Of the forces which had sacked Rome some 11,000 were left; the Prince of Orange had resumed the command, and taken up his position at Troja to protect Naples. Lautrec refused to attack him in this strong position, professing to be waiting for reinforcements, but when the Florentine troops arrived, the Prince of Orange retired towards Naples. Meanwhile the Venetians, as in previous wars, occupied the cities on the Adriatic seaboard.
The Prince saw that the utmost he could accomplish was to save Naples. But it was with difficulty that he could collect sufficient provisions for the immediate needs of the troops and city, while Filippino Doria, cruising off the coast, intercepted supplies from Sicily. An attempt made by Moncada to surprise and crush the Genoese commander ended in disaster, with the loss of four gaUeys, the death of Moncada and of other captains (April 28, 1528), and almost immediately afterwards Lautrec appeared before the walls. Naples was now completely blockaded by the Genoese fleet, soon reinforced by the Venetians, while Lautrec established a siege on land. Meanwhile Henry the younger, Duke of Brunswick, crossed the Alps with a German force, and on June 9 joined Leyva on the Adda, unopposed by the Duke of Urbino; but instead of marching to Naples, Leyva at once proceeded to the reconquest of the duchy, a part of which, including Pavia, he had previously recovered, and Lodi was besieged. But the country was bare of all sustenance, and even when bills arrived there was no one to cash them: so after three weeks the Germans refused to continue the thankless task, and the chief part of them went home. The imperial government in Milan about this time was reduced to such straits that they were driven to impose a ruinous tax on bread to meet their most necessary expenses. French reinforcements were collecting at Asti under the Count of Saint Pol. Never had the prospects of Spain in the Peninsula looked so black. Suddenly, July 4, orders came to Filippino Doria from his uncle Andrea, to withdraw his blockading force from Naples.
Francis had made the great mistake of offending the powerful sea captain. In addition to private slights, Andrea Doria was incensed at the apparent intention of Francis to develop Savona for war and commerce at the expense of Genoa, and, when he expostulated with the King, Francis formed the dangerous design of arresting the captain in his own city, and put a French commander, without experience, Barbesieux, over his head. Charles saw his opportunity and, by the advice of the Prince of Orange, he won Doria for his own service, on favorable terms of engagement, and with the promise of liberty for Genoa under imperial protection. In vain, when Francis learnt his danger, he conceded too late everything that Doria had asked. The Admiral’s suspicion and resentment had been aroused, and he joined the Emperor once and for all.
This defection changed the whole position of affairs. While the French camp before Naples was ravaged by the plague, abundance succeeded to famine in the city. The French fleet under Barbesieux arrived on July 17 bringing a few men, but little real assistance. Lautrec clung desperately to his siege, and endeavored to collect fresh troops. The besieged became more and more audacious in their attacks; Doria appeared at Naples with his galleys; and, when on August 16 Lautrec died, the situation was hopeless. On August 28 the remnants under the Marquis of Saluzzo retired to Aversa, where they were obliged to capitulate shortly after. On September 12 Doria entered Genoa, and established a new oligarchical Republic, the French taking refuge in the Castelletto. The form of government then set up persisted, with some modification in 1576, until 1796, and Genoa had internal peace at last. In the North Pavia had been retaken by Saint Pol. The French commander made an effort to recover Genoa, but without success. The Genoese soon after occupied Savona, and the Castelletto surrendered (October 28). Finally in the spring of 1529 the combined armies of Saint Pol and the Duke of Urbino determined to reduce Milan, not by a siege, but by a combination of posts of observation. This plan, unpromising enough in itself, was frustrated by the conduct of Saint Pol, who attempted to surprise Genoa, but allowed himself to be waylaid and defeated on his march by Leyva at Landriano (June 20).
1528-9] Peace of Cambray.
Francis and his allies still held some places in the Milanese, and some outlying posts in the kingdom, as well as the cities of the Adriatic littoral. But negotiations begun in the winter between Louise of Savoy and Margaret, the ruler of the Netherlands, had resulted in a project of peace, which was vehemently desired in the interests of all countries, but especially of the Netherlands, where public opinion made itself perhaps most felt. Charles was meditating a great expedition to Italy under his personal command, but he consented to treat. He sent full powers and instructions, elastic though precise, to Margaret, who was visited by the King’s mother, Louise, at Cambray, July 5. Here the terms of peace were definitely concluded, and the treaty was signed on August 3, 1529. The compact of marriage between Francis and Eleonora was renewed. Francis resigned all pretensions to Italy, left his allies in the lurch, renounced his suzerainty over Flanders and Artois, and all the frontier places on the north-east remained in the hands of the occupant. Robert de la Marck and the Duke of Gelders were abandoned. Two millions of crowns were to be paid as ransom for the young French princes, and in lieu of the present cession of Burgundy, to which Charles reserved his right; while the possessions of Bourbon and of the Prince of Orange were left to the French King.
With this treaty the first stage in the settlement of the affairs of Western Europe was reached. To Spain was surrendered the unquestioned supremacy in Italy, while the territory of France remained practically undiminished. The agreement seemed stable. Both Powers were thoroughly tired of war. The minor Italian potentates had begun to learn that nothing could be gained by war except a change of masters, accompanied by devastation, exaction, plague, and famine. The Pope had made his choice at last. The influence of Giberti, which had always been on the French side, was removed. The moderation which Charles showed in the use of his success confirmed them in this frame of mind. It was his policy, while changing as little as possible in the government of the smaller States, to make such order as should secure to him in each effective supervision and control.
The expedition which Charles had prepared for war in Italy set forth from Barcelona, after a treaty had been concluded with the Pope (June 29), and in the hope of peace from the negotiations at Cambray. Charles may have received the news of peace on his arrival at Genoa, August 12. With the troops that he brought with him, with the victorious force from Naples, the army of Leyva, and fresh German levies from the Tyrol, he was absolute master of Italy, and could shape it at his will. His dispositions were made at Bologna, whither Clement came to confer on him the imperial crown.
Peace was made with Venice, who restored all her conquests, and paid a war indemnity. Francesco Sforza was restored to Milan: but Charles reserved the right to garrison the citadel of Milan, and the town of Como, and a Spanish force was left in the Duchy. Florence was restored to the Medici, an operation which required a ten months’ siege (October, 1529-August, 1530). Alessandro de' Medici was appointed as head of the government of the city by the decree of October 28,1530. The claim of the Duke of Ferrara to Reggio and Modena was reserved for the future decision of Charles. In all other respects the Pope was restored to his full rights, and re-entered on the possession of his temporal power, though his status now resembled that of an inferior and protected prince. Malta and Tripoli were given to the Knights of St John. A league of the powers of Italy was formed, to which finally not only the Pope, Venice, Florence, the Marquis of Mantua now created Duke, but also the Duke of Savoy, and all the minor States adhered.
The Duke of Ferrara was to join when he had been reconciled to the Pope. After all was concluded Charles received at the hands of the Pope the iron crown of Lombardy and the imperial crown, February 23-24, and left Italy for Germany (April, 1530). All the years of war he had spent in Spain, and this was the first time he had visited the ill-fated peninsula, where so much of all that is precious had been expended in supporting and combating his claims. How much had been sacrificed to these ends may best be indicated by noting that the battle of Mohacs was fought in 1526, that Ferdinand was elected to the thrones of Bohemia and Hungary in the same year, and that the Diet of Speier and the Siege of Vienna are dated in 1529.
The success of Charles appeared complete and permanent. Far other and even more difficult tasks awaited him beyond the Alps, but so far as Italy was concerned he might sleep secure. He seemed to have brought for once in her troubled history unity to Italy. That so much had been achieved appears at first sight due more to good fortune than good management. Again and again, above all at Pavia and at Naples, luck had declared in his favour when everything seemed to promise disaster. But good fortune seldom comes where it is wholly unmerited. Though always unequal in intellect and resources to the gigantic tasks that were imposed upon him, Charles had shown perseverance almost adequate to his needs. Moreover, the brilliant work of his servants, of Pescara, of Leyva, of Lannoy, of the Prince of Orange, even of the Duke of Bourbon, seems to argue something in this King which enabled him to choose the right men and retain their permanent and devoted service. The fidelity of his Spanish and to a less degree of his German soldiers compares very favourably with the conduct of other ill-paid mercenaries during this period. The Emperor's name might count for much, but men may also well have felt that in serving Charles they were serving one who could always be trusted to do his best, who would never forget or neglect his duties, even though sheer physical incapacity might often leave him far below the level of his conscientious aspiration.
But, not less than the inexhaustible persistency of Charles, the defects of his rivals had contributed to the result. Francis’ choice of men was persistently unlucky. Lautrec and Bonnivet compare ill with the leaders of the imperial army. French support was never forthcoming at the crisis. When it came it was ineffectively employed. On the Italian side the leaders and the policy were similarly deficient. After all excuses have been made for the Duke of Urbino he must be judged an unenterprising commander. Giovanni de' Medici, though brilliant as a subordinate, never had a chance to show if he had the capacity to conduct a campaign. The Venetians never dared to push home the resolution on which they had for the moment decided. Clement showed all the characteristics of a man of thought involved in the uncongenial necessity of prompt, continuous, and definite action. The shadowy figure of Francesco Sforza flits upon the stage and leaves no clear impression.
Some features of the war deserve particular notice. It followed the path of least resistance, and was therefore concentrated on Italy. The invasion of France, of the Netherlands, of Spain, though occasionally attempted, was always fruitless. Germany was never touched, though an attack might have been directed upon Wurttemberg, and the Habsburg possessions in Alsace. In each of these countries national resistance would be real and vigorous, the population was warlike. Spain was further protected by its inhospitable country, north-east France and the Netherlands by the numerous defensible towns. Italy had no effective feeling of nationality, its inhabitants could fight for others but not for themselves. The immunity of the county and duchy of Burgundy from attack is surprising, but their security was mainly due to the guarantee which the Swiss exacted for their Burgundian friends and neighbours in their French treaty of 1522. Except on this occasion the national action of the Swiss, which for a brief period had decided the fortunes of Italy, 1512-15, does not reappear. They fought as mercenaries, rarely for any national interest, and even as mercenaries their unquestioned military supremacy was past away. The best Spanish foot was probably better; good Germans equally good. Moreover religious differences were beginning to paralyse the Confederation, and the Reformers discouraged foreign service. Savoy and Piedmont were the highway of the French armies, exposed on the other hand to the incursions and requisitions of the imperialists, when they had for the moment the upper hand in Milan. German assistance in men was more than might have been expected, considering the difficulties with which Ferdinand had to contend in the hereditary Habsburg lands. When the war was against the Pope, Lutheran ardour facilitated recruiting The English alliance, though eagerly sought for, proved of little advantage on any occasion. But the outcome of events in Italy decided the question of Henry’s divorce, and with it the defection of England from the papal obedience.
The possession of Milan, on which the struggle chiefly turned, was a luxury to France, a point of vital importance to Charles, so long as he held the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily together with the Netherlands. The continued presence of two first-class Powers in the peninsula was an impossibility. On the other hand, without the defence afforded by the territory and fortresses of Lombardy, Italy was constantly open to invasion, and the value of this barbican was shown in the fact that only once in all these campaigns the kingdom of Naples was seriously threatened, by the invasion of Lautrec. The other consideration, that Milan was the door by which the Spanish forces through Genoa, and the Italian forces from the South, could come to the rescue of the Netherlands in event of civil war or foreign attack, was not overlooked by Charles and his advisers, but its full significance was not in fact disclosed until the reign of Philip II. On the question of right Charles professed to be fighting for a vassal of the Empire wrongfully deforced; then for an imperial fief forfeited by Sforza’s treason; and the restitution of Milan to Sforza shows that the plea of right was not wholly insincere.
We can see that the whole issue of the struggle centred in the question of finance, but unfortunately we are unable to follow the details or draw up any budget of expenses or receipts either for France or the Spanish possessions. During the years from the election to the Empire until the Conference of Bologna, the Netherlands were the chief resource of Charles. Year after year the Estates voted unheard-of subsidies; the total contributions of the Low Countries are estimated for 1520-30 at no less than 15,000,000 livres tournois; and though a considerable part of this was consumed in the defence of the provinces, for the necessities of their government, and the maintenance of the Court of the Regent, it was to the Netherlands that Charles looked in the moments of his greatest despair. Castile came next, so soon as the revolt of the Comuneros had been crushed. The annual income of Spain may be estimated at about 1,500,000 ducats, in the first years of Charles’ reign. The Empire and the hereditary Habsburg lands may for this purpose be neglected.
Money was raised in Castile by pledging the taxes in advance, by issuing juros or bonds at fixed interest charged upon the national revenues, by mortgaging to financial houses every possible source of profit. In this way the great House of Fugger took over in 1524 the estates belonging to the masterships of the three military orders, and later the quicksilver mines of Almaden, and the silver mines of Guadalcanal. The cruzada, or revenue from indulgences granted on pretext of a fictitious crusade, became a regular source of revenue, and when, as in the time of Clement, the papal sanction was refused, the King did not scruple to raise it on his own authority, and to pledge it for many years in advance. The fifth on all treasures imported from the Indies was since the conquest of Mexico becoming a valuable supplement, and as an exceptional measure the treasure could be seized and juros issued in recompense. But the objection of the Spaniards to the export of treasure from the peninsula made the use of these resources at a distance a very difficult operation, which could only be negotiated by the aid of the most powerful financial houses. From his early years Charles relied greatly on the Fuggers; Genoa from the first, except when it was in French hands, and in the later years of his reign Antwerp, were mainstays of his financial power. Charles was very punctilious in defraying at least the interest if not the capital of his debts, and thus he was at all times able to borrow upon terms. His juros were sometimes issued at a price equivalent to a rate of 7 per cent.: but in times of greatneed and danger, when time was the dominant factor, he was obliged to pay as much as 12 and even 16 per cent, for loans. As time went on the revenues of the Netherlands were similarly pledged in advance.
The revenues of the Duchy of Milan in time of peace might have been considerable. In time of war they were whatever the army could raise from the impoverished inhabitants; and before the war was over the state of the country was such that not only was there no superfluous wealth, but the army and the inhabitants alike seemed in a fair way to perish of starvation. The case of Naples and of Sicily was not quite so desperate, in spite of two rather serious risings in Sicily which we have not had occasion to mention. But here a considerable army of occupation had to be kept up and a fleet, if possible, for the protection of the coast, if not from the French and the Genoese, at any rate from the pirates of Algiers. The surplus revenues of the southern kingdoms cannot have been large, and although very often in an emergency Lannoy produced money to content some starving troops or to move some paralysed army, the sums which are mentioned are almost always small, and give but a poor idea of the capacity of the kingdoms to assist their King. Here also the same ruinous policy was pursued as in Castile, of pledging everything in advance, of selling everything that could be sold; and years of peace would be required before the kingdoms could recover.
In Italy another valuable source of occasional revenue was the subsidies raised from the lesser Italian States, which, unless actually at war with the Emperor, could generally be coerced into payment, and, if in his alliance, were expected to contribute handsomely. The Pope was the largest giver, but Venice could sometimes be bled, and Florence, Lucca, Siena, Ferrara, Mantua, were often in a condition which made refusal difficult.
The King of France had a better financial system and was not troubled like the Spanish King by the necessity of consulting his Estates. His entire revenue was somewhat less than the joint revenues of Spain and the Netherlands, but on the other hand he could increase it more rapidly by raising the taille, and it was entirely at his disposal; nor was he troubled like Charles by the necessity of difficult financial operations before he could fit out an army. On the other hand, when his army was abroad these obstacles confronted him also. His financial ministers were not conspicuous for honesty, and the institution of the Tresor de l'Épargne in 1523, to receive all casual and unexpected sums of revenue and to build up a reserve fund to be at the King’s absolute disposal, was not so great a success as was hoped. The deficits during the years of war reached an alarming figure, and it is difficult to see how they were met. For the credit system in France was not developed as it was in Augsburg, Genoa, and Antwerp. The first public loans in France were raised on the security of the revenues of particular towns; and it was not until 1542 that the King began to build up Lyons as a financial centre to perform for him the same functions that the bourses of Genoa and Antwerp were fulfilling for Charles. The attempt had some success, and similar bourses were started at Toulouse (1556), and at Rouen (1563). Henry II on his accession acknowledged the debts of his father, and the royal credit sensibly improved. At the outset the King was obliged to pay 16 per cent, for advances, but by 1550 the rate had fallen to 12 per cent. But confidence was rudely shaken when in 1557 the King suspended the payment of interest on the debt, which at that time amounted perhaps to five million crowns. We can thus get a glimpse of the methods by which the enormous expenses of these and subsequent wars were liquidated. All the spare cash of Europe, withdrawn from commerce and industry, flowed at a crisis into the King's coffers; the road was opened to national bankruptcy, which was general soon after the treaty of Cateau-Cambresis. Princes had learnt to borrow, but they had not learnt to pay. The sources of wealth were diverted from profitable and useful enterprise to destructive war; and in the long run not even the financiers profited, though in the interval some capitalists built up fortunes, which are almost comparable with those of our own day.