“Given at Constantinople, in our palace, on the 12th of September A.D. 1494.”
This letter was the cause of great joy to the Holy Father: the aid of four or five thousand Turks would be insufficient under the present circumstances, and would only serve to compromise the head of Christendom, while the sum of 300,000 ducats—that is, nearly a million francs—was good to get in any sort of circumstances. It is true that, so long as D’jem lived, Alexander was drawing an income of 180,000 livres, which as a life annuity represented a capital of nearly two millions; but when one needs ready mangy, one ought to be able to make a sacrifice in the way of discount. All the same, Alexander formed no definite plan, resolved on acting as circumstances 杭州足浴店可以吹 should indicate.
But it was a more pressing business to decide how he should behave to the King of France: he had never anticipated the success of the French in Italy, and we have seen that he laid all the foundations of his family’s future grandeur upon his alliance with the house of Aragon. But here was this house tattering, and a volcano more terrible than her own Vesuvius was threatening to swallow up Naples. He must therefore change his policy, and attach himself to the victor,—no easy matter, for Charles VIII was bitterly annoyed with the pope for having refused him the investiture and given it to Aragon.
In consequence, he sent Cardinal Francesco Piccolomini as an envoy to the king. This choice looked like a mistake at first, seeing that the ambassador was a nephew of Pius II, who had vigorously opposed the house 杭州千花阁论坛 of Anjou; but Alexander in acting thus had a second design, which could not be discerned by those around him. In fact, he had divined that Charles would not be quick to receive his envoy, and that, in the parleyings to which his unwillingness must give rise, Piccolomini would necessarily be brought into contact with the young king’s advisers. Now, besides his ostensible mission to the king, Piccalamini had also secret instructions for the more influential among his counsellors. These were Briconnet and Philippe de Luxembourg; and Piccolomini was authorised to promise a cardinal’s hat to each of them. The result was just what Alexander had foreseen: his envoy could not gain admission to Charles, and was obliged to confer with the people about him. This was what the pope wished. Piccolomini returned to Rome with the king’s refusal, but with a promise from Briconnet and Philippe de Luxembourg that they would use all their influence with Charles in favour of the Holy Father, and prepare him to receive a fresh embassy.
But the French all this time were advancing, and never stopped more than forty-eight hours in any town, so that it became more and more urgent to get something settled with Charles. The king had entered Siena and Viterbo without striking a blow; Yves d’ Alegre and Louis de Ligny had taken over Ostia from the hands of the Colonnas; Civita Vecchia and Corneto had opened their gates; the Orsini had submitted; even Gian Sforza, the pope’s son-in-law, had retired from the alliance with Aragon. Alexander accordingly judged that the moment had came to abandon his ally, and sent to Charles the Bishops of Concordia and Terni, and his confessor, Mansignore Graziano. They were charged to renew to Briconnet and Philippe de Luxembourg the promise of the cardinalship, and had full powers of negotiation in the name of their master, both in case Charles should wish to include Alfonso II in the treaty, and in case he should refuse to sign an agreement with any other but the pope alone. They found the mind of Charles influenced now by the insinuation of Giuliano della Ravere, who, himself a witness of the pope’s simony, pressed the king to summon a council and depose the head of the Church, and now by the secret support given him by the Bishops of Mans and St. Malo. The end of it was that the king decided to form his own opinion about the matter and settle nothing beforehand, and continued this route, sending the ambassadors back to the pope, with the addition of the Marechal de Gie, the Seneschal de Beaucaire, and Jean de Gannay, first president of the Paris Parliament. They were ordered to say to the pope—
That the king wished above all things to be admitted into Rome without resistance; that, an condition of a voluntary, frank, and loyal admission, he would respect the authority of the Holy Father and the privileges of the Church;
That the king desired that D’jem should be given up to him, in order that he might make use of him against the sultan when he should carry the war into Macedonia or Turkey or the Holy Land;
That the remaining conditions were so unimportant that they could be brought forward at the first conference.
The ambassadors added that the French army was now only two days distant from Rome, and that in the evening of the day after next Charles would probably arrive in person to demand an answer from His Holiness.
It was useless to think of parleying with a prince who acted in such expeditious fashion as this. Alexander accordingly warned Ferdinand to quit Rome as soon as possible, in the interests of his own personal safety. But Ferdinand refused to listen to a word, and declared that he would not go out at one gate while Charles VIII came in at another. His sojourn was not long. Two days later, about eleven o’clock in the morning, a sentinel placed on a watch-tower at the top of the Castle S. Angelo, whither the pope had retired, cried out that the vanguard of the enemy was visible on the horizon. At once Alexander and the Duke of Calabria went up an the terrace which tops the fortress, and assured themselves with their own eyes that what the soldier said was true. Then, and not till then, did the duke of Calabria mount an horseback, and, to use his own words, went out at the gate of San Sebastiana, at the same moment that the French vanguard halted five hundred feet from the Gate of the People. This was on the 31st of December 1494.
At three in the afternoon the whole army had arrived, and the vanguard began their march, drums beating, ensigns unfurled. It was composed, says Paolo Giove, an eye-witness (book ii, p. 41 of his History), of Swiss and German soldiers, with short tight coats of various colours: they were armed with short swords, with steel edges like those of the ancient Romans, and carried ashen lances ten feet long, with straight and sharp iron spikes: only one-fourth of their number bore halberts instead of lances, the spikes cut into the form of an axe and surmounted by a four-cornered spike, to be used both for cutting like an axe and piercing like a bayonet: the first row of each battalion wore helmets and cuirasses which protected the head and chest, and when the men were drawn up for battle they presented to the enemy a triple array of iron spikes, which they could raise or lower like the spines of a porcupine. To each thousand of the soldiery were attached a hundred fusiliers: their officers, to distinguish them from the men, wore lofty plumes on their helmets.
After the Swiss infantry came the archers of Gascony: there were five thousand of them, wearing a very simple dress, that contrasted with the rich costume of the Swiss soldiers, the shortest of whom would have been a head higher than the tallest of the Gascons. But they were excellent soldiers, full of courage, very light, and with a special reputation for quickness in stringing and drawing their iron bows.
Behind them rode the cavalry, the flower of the French nobility, with their gilded helmets and neck bands, their velvet and silk surcoats, their swords each of which had its own name, their shields each telling of territorial estates, and their colours each telling of a lady-love. Besides defensive arms, each man bore a lance in his hand, like an Italian gendarme, with a solid grooved end, and on his saddle bow a quantity of weapons, some for cutting and same for thrusting. Their horses were large and strong, but they had their tails and ears cropped according to the French custom. These horses, unlike those of the Italian gendarmes, wore no caparisons of dressed leather, which made them more exposed to attack. Every knight was followed by three horses—the first ridden by a page in armour like his own, the two others by equerries who were called lateral auxiliaries, because in a fray they fought to right and left of their chief. This troop was not only the most magnificent, but the most considerable in the whole army; for as there were 2500 knights, they formed each with their three followers a total of 10,000 men. Five thousand light horse rode next, who carried huge wooden bows, and shot long arrows from a distance like English archers. They were a great help in battle, for moving rapidly wherever aid was required, they could fly in a moment from one wing to another, from the rear to the van, then when their quivers were empty could go off at so swift a gallop that neither infantry or heavy cavalry could pursue them. Their defensive armour consisted of a helmet and half-cuirass; some of them carried a short lance as well, with which to pin their stricken foe to the ground; they all wore long cloaks adorned with shoulder-knots, and plates of silver whereon the arms of their chief were emblazoned.
At last came the young king’s escort; there were four hundred archers, among whom a hundred Scots formed a line on each side, while two hundred of the most illustrious knights marched on foot beside the prince, carrying heavy arms on their shoulders. In the midst of this magnificent escort advanced Charles VIII, both he and his horse covered with splendid armour; an his right and left marched Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, the Duke of Milan’s brother, and Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, of whom we have spoken so often, who was afterwards Pope Julius II. The Cardinals Colonna and Savelli followed immediately after, and behind them came Prospero and Fabrizia Colonna, and all the Italian princes and generals who had thrown in their lot with the conqueror, and were marching intermingled with the great French lords.
For a long time the crowd that had collected to see all these foreign soldiers go by, a sight so new and strange, listened uneasily to a dull sound which got nearer and nearer. The earth visibly trembled, the glass shook in the windows, and behind the king’s escort thirty-six bronze cannons were seen to advance, bumping along as they lay on their gun-carriages. These cannons were eight feet in length; and as their mouths were large enough to hold a man’s head, it was supposed that each of these terrible machines, scarcely known as yet to the Italians, weighed nearly six thousand pounds. After the cannons came culverins sixteen feet long, and then falconets, the smallest of which shot balls the size of a grenade. This formidable artillery brought up the rear of the procession, and formed the hindmost guard of the French army.
It was six hours since the front guard entered the town; and as it was now night and for every six artillery-men there was a torch-bearer, this illumination gave to the objects around a
more gloomy character than they would have shown in the sunlight. The young king was to take up his quarters in the Palazzo di Venezia, and all the artillery was directed towards the plaza and the neighbouring streets. The remainder of the army was dispersed about the town. The same evening, they brought to the king, less to do honour to him than to assure him of his safety, the keys of Rome and the keys of the Belvedere Garden just the same thing had been done for the Duke of Calabria.