Valentino, p.12

Valentino, page 12



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be seen happy to-day and ruined to-morrow without having shown any

  change of disposition or character. This, I believe, arises firstly

  from causes that have already been discussed at length, namely, that

  the prince who relies entirely on fortune is lost when it changes. I

  believe also that he will be successful who directs his actions

  according to the spirit of the times, and that he whose actions do not

  accord with the times will not be successful. Because men are seen, in

  affairs that lead to the end which every man has before him, namely,

  glory and riches, to get there by various methods; one with caution,

  another with haste; one by force, another by skill; one by patience,

  another by its opposite; and each one succeeds in reaching the goal by

  a different method. One can also see of two cautious men the one

  attain his end, the other fail; and similarly, two men by different

  observances are equally successful, the one being cautious, the other

  impetuous; all this arises from nothing else than whether or not they

  conform in their methods to the spirit of the times. This follows from

  what I have said, that two men working differently bring about the

  same effect, and of two working similarly, one attains his object and

  the other does not.

  Changes in estate also issue from this, for if, to one who governs

  himself with caution and patience, times and affairs converge in such

  a way that his administration is successful, his fortune is made; but

  if times and affairs change, he is ruined if he does not change his

  course of action. But a man is not often found sufficiently

  circumspect to know how to accommodate himself to the change, both

  because he cannot deviate from what nature inclines him to do, and

  also because, having always prospered by acting in one way, he cannot

  be persuaded that it is well to leave it; and, therefore, the cautious

  man, when it is time to turn adventurous, does not know how to do it,

  hence he is ruined; but had he changed his conduct with the times

  fortune would not have changed.

  Pope Julius the Second went to work impetuously in all his affairs,

  and found the times and circumstances conform so well to that line of

  action that he always met with success. Consider his first enterprise

  against Bologna, Messer Giovanni Bentivogli being still alive. The

  Venetians were not agreeable to it, nor was the King of Spain, and he

  had the enterprise still under discussion with the King of France;

  nevertheless he personally entered upon the expedition with his

  accustomed boldness and energy, a move which made Spain and the

  Venetians stand irresolute and passive, the latter from fear, the

  former from desire to recover the kingdom of Naples; on the other

  hand, he drew after him the King of France, because that king, having

  observed the movement, and desiring to make the Pope his friend so as

  to humble the Venetians, found it impossible to refuse him. Therefore

  Julius with his impetuous action accomplished what no other pontiff

  with simple human wisdom could have done; for if he had waited in Rome

  until he could get away, with his plans arranged and everything fixed,

  as any other pontiff would have done, he would never have succeeded.

  Because the King of France would have made a thousand excuses, and the

  others would have raised a thousand fears.

  I will leave his other actions alone, as they were all alike, and they

  all succeeded, for the shortness of his life did not let him

  experience the contrary; but if circumstances had arisen which

  required him to go cautiously, his ruin would have followed, because

  he would never have deviated from those ways to which nature inclined


  I conclude, therefore that, fortune being changeful and mankind

  steadfast in their ways, so long as the two are in agreement men are

  successful, but unsuccessful when they fall out. For my part I

  consider that it is better to be adventurous than cautious, because

  fortune is a woman, and if you wish to keep her under it is necessary

  to beat and ill-use her; and it is seen that she allows herself to be

  mastered by the adventurous rather than by those who go to work more

  coldly. She is, therefore, always, woman-like, a lover of young men,

  because they are less cautious, more violent, and with more audacity

  command her.



  Having carefully considered the subject of the above discourses, and

  wondering within myself whether the present times were propitious to a

  new prince, and whether there were elements that would give an

  opportunity to a wise and virtuous one to introduce a new order of

  things which would do honour to him and good to the people of this

  country, it appears to me that so many things concur to favour a new

  prince that I never knew a time more fit than the present.

  And if, as I said, it was necessary that the people of Israel should

  be captive so as to make manifest the ability of Moses; that the

  Persians should be oppressed by the Medes so as to discover the

  greatness of the soul of Cyrus; and that the Athenians should be

  dispersed to illustrate the capabilities of Theseus: then at the

  present time, in order to discover the virtue of an Italian spirit, it

  was necessary that Italy should be reduced to the extremity that she

  is now in, that she should be more enslaved than the Hebrews, more

  oppressed than the Persians, more scattered than the Athenians;

  without head, without order, beaten, despoiled, torn, overrun; and to

  have endured every kind of desolation.

  Although lately some spark may have been shown by one, which made us

  think he was ordained by God for our redemption, nevertheless it was

  afterwards seen, in the height of his career, that fortune rejected

  him; so that Italy, left as without life, waits for him who shall yet

  heal her wounds and put an end to the ravaging and plundering of

  Lombardy, to the swindling and taxing of the kingdom and of Tuscany,

  and cleanse those sores that for long have festered. It is seen how

  she entreats God to send someone who shall deliver her from these

  wrongs and barbarous insolencies. It is seen also that she is ready

  and willing to follow a banner if only someone will raise it.

  Nor is there to be seen at present one in whom she can place more hope

  than in your illustrious house,[*] with its valour and fortune,

  favoured by God and by the Church of which it is now the chief, and

  which could be made the head of this redemption. This will not be

  difficult if you will recall to yourself the actions and lives of the

  men I have named. And although they were great and wonderful men, yet

  they were men, and each one of them had no more opportunity than the

  present offers, for their enterprises were neither more just nor

  easier than this, nor was God more their friend than He is yours.

  [*] Giuliano de Medici. He had just been created a cardinal by Leo X.

  In 1523 Giuliano was elected Pope, and took the title of Clement


us there is great justice, because that war is just which is

  necessary, and arms are hallowed when there is no other hope but in

  them. Here there is the greatest willingness, and where the

  willingness is great the difficulties cannot be great if you will only

  follow those men to whom I have directed your attention. Further than

  this, how extraordinarily the ways of God have been manifested beyond

  example: the sea is divided, a cloud has led the way, the rock has

  poured forth water, it has rained manna, everything has contributed to

  your greatness; you ought to do the rest. God is not willing to do

  everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory

  which belongs to us.

  And it is not to be wondered at if none of the above-named Italians

  have been able to accomplish all that is expected from your

  illustrious house; and if in so many revolutions in Italy, and in so

  many campaigns, it has always appeared as if military virtue were

  exhausted, this has happened because the old order of things was not

  good, and none of us have known how to find a new one. And nothing

  honours a man more than to establish new laws and new ordinances when

  he himself was newly risen. Such things when they are well founded and

  dignified will make him revered and admired, and in Italy there are

  not wanting opportunities to bring such into use in every form.

  Here there is great valour in the limbs whilst it fails in the head.

  Look attentively at the duels and the hand-to-hand combats, how

  superior the Italians are in strength, dexterity, and subtlety. But

  when it comes to armies they do not bear comparison, and this springs

  entirely from the insufficiency of the leaders, since those who are

  capable are not obedient, and each one seems to himself to know, there

  having never been any one so distinguished above the rest, either by

  valour or fortune, that others would yield to him. Hence it is that

  for so long a time, and during so much fighting in the past twenty

  years, whenever there has been an army wholly Italian, it has always

  given a poor account of itself; the first witness to this is Il Taro,

  afterwards Allesandria, Capua, Genoa, Vaila, Bologna, Mestri.[*]

  [*] The battles of Il Taro, 1495; Alessandria, 1499; Capua, 1501;

  Genoa, 1507; Vaila, 1509; Bologna, 1511; Mestri, 1513.

  If, therefore, your illustrious house wishes to follow these

  remarkable men who have redeemed their country, it is necessary before

  all things, as a true foundation for every enterprise, to be provided

  with your own forces, because there can be no more faithful, truer, or

  better soldiers. And although singly they are good, altogether they

  will be much better when they find themselves commanded by their

  prince, honoured by him, and maintained at his expense. Therefore it

  is necessary to be prepared with such arms, so that you can be

  defended against foreigners by Italian valour.

  And although Swiss and Spanish infantry may be considered very

  formidable, nevertheless there is a defect in both, by reason of which

  a third order would not only be able to oppose them, but might be

  relied upon to overthrow them. For the Spaniards cannot resist

  cavalry, and the Switzers are afraid of infantry whenever they

  encounter them in close combat. Owing to this, as has been and may

  again be seen, the Spaniards are unable to resist French cavalry, and

  the Switzers are overthrown by Spanish infantry. And although a

  complete proof of this latter cannot be shown, nevertheless there was

  some evidence of it at the battle of Ravenna, when the Spanish

  infantry were confronted by German battalions, who follow the same

  tactics as the Swiss; when the Spaniards, by agility of body and with

  the aid of their shields, got in under the pikes of the Germans and

  stood out of danger, able to attack, while the Germans stood helpless,

  and, if the cavalry had not dashed up, all would have been over with

  them. It is possible, therefore, knowing the defects of both these

  infantries, to invent a new one, which will resist cavalry and not be

  afraid of infantry; this need not create a new order of arms, but a

  variation upon the old. And these are the kind of improvements which

  confer reputation and power upon a new prince.

  This opportunity, therefore, ought not to be allowed to pass for

  letting Italy at last see her liberator appear. Nor can one express

  the love with which he would be received in all those provinces which

  have suffered so much from these foreign scourings, with what thirst

  for revenge, with what stubborn faith, with what devotion, with what

  tears. What door would be closed to him? Who would refuse obedience to

  him? What envy would hinder him? What Italian would refuse him homage?

  To all of us this barbarous dominion stinks. Let, therefore, your

  illustrious house take up this charge with that courage and hope with

  which all just enterprises are undertaken, so that under its standard

  our native country may be ennobled, and under its auspices may be

  verified that saying of Petrarch:

  Virtu contro al Furore

  Prendera l'arme, e fia il combatter corto:

  Che l'antico valore

  Negli italici cuor non e ancor morto.

  Virtue against fury shall advance the fight,

  And it i' th' combat soon shall put to flight:

  For the old Roman valour is not dead,

  Nor in th' Italians' brests extinguished.

  Edward Dacre, 1640.








  The Duke Valentino had returned from Lombardy, where he had been to

  clear himself with the King of France from the calumnies which had

  been raised against him by the Florentines concerning the rebellion of

  Arezzo and other towns in the Val di Chiana, and had arrived at Imola,

  whence he intended with his army to enter upon the campaign against

  Giovanni Bentivogli, the tyrant of Bologna: for he intended to bring

  that city under his domination, and to make it the head of his

  Romagnian duchy.

  These matters coming to the knowledge of the Vitelli and Orsini and

  their following, it appeared to them that the duke would become too

  powerful, and it was feared that, having seized Bologna, he would seek

  to destroy them in order that he might become supreme in Italy. Upon

  this a meeting was called at Magione in the district of Perugia, to

  which came the cardinal, Pagolo, and the Duke di Gravina Orsini,

  Vitellozzo Vitelli, Oliverotto da Fermo, Gianpagolo Baglioni, the

  tyrant of Perugia, and Messer Antonio da Venafro, sent by Pandolfo

  Petrucci, the Prince of Siena. Here were discussed the power and

  courage of the duke and the necessity of curbing his ambitions, which

  might otherwise bring danger to the rest of being ruined. And they

  decided not to abandon the Bentivogli, but to strive to win over the

  Florentines; and they send their m
en to one place and another,

  promising to one party assistance and to another encouragement to

  unite with them against the common enemy. This meeting was at once

  reported throughout all Italy, and those who were discontented under

  the duke, among whom were the people of Urbino, took hope of effecting

  a revolution.

  Thus it arose that, men's minds being thus unsettled, it was decided

  by certain men of Urbino to seize the fortress of San Leo, which was

  held for the duke, and which they captured by the following means. The

  castellan was fortifying the rock and causing timber to be taken

  there; so the conspirators watched, and when certain beams which were

  being carried to the rock were upon the bridge, so that it was

  prevented from being drawn up by those inside, they took the

  opportunity of leaping upon the bridge and thence into the fortress.

  Upon this capture being effected, the whole state rebelled and

  recalled the old duke, being encouraged in this, not so much by the

  capture of the fort, as by the Diet at Magione, from whom they

  expected to get assistance.

  Those who heard of the rebellion at Urbino thought they would not lose

  the opportunity, and at once assembled their men so as to take any

  town, should any remain in the hands of the duke in that state; and

  they sent again to Florence to beg that republic to join with them in

  destroying the common firebrand, showing that the risk was lessened

  and that they ought not to wait for another opportunity.

  But the Florentines, from hatred, for sundry reasons, of the Vitelli

  and Orsini, not only would not ally themselves, but sent Nicolo

  Machiavelli, their secretary, to offer shelter and assistance to the

  duke against his enemies. The duke was found full of fear at Imola,

  because, against everybody's expectation, his soldiers had at once

  gone over to the enemy and he found himself disarmed and war at his

  door. But recovering courage from the offers of the Florentines, he

  decided to temporize before fighting with the few soldiers that

  remained to him, and to negotiate for a reconciliation, and also to

  get assistance. This latter he obtained in two ways, by sending to the

  King of France for men and by enlisting men-at-arms and others whom he

  turned into cavalry of a sort: to all he gave money.

  Notwithstanding this, his enemies drew near to him, and approached

  Fossombrone, where they encountered some men of the duke and, with the

  aid of the Orsini and Vitelli, routed them. When this happened, the

  duke resolved at once to see if he could not close the trouble with

  offers of reconciliation, and being a most perfect dissembler he did

  not fail in any practices to make the insurgents understand that he

  wished every man who had acquired anything to keep it, as it was

  enough for him to have the title of prince, whilst others might have

  the principality.

  And the duke succeeded so well in this that they sent Signor Pagolo to

  him to negotiate for a reconciliation, and they brought their army to

  a standstill. But the duke did not stop his preparations, and took

  every care to provide himself with cavalry and infantry, and that such

  preparations might not be apparent to the others, he sent his troops

  in separate parties to every part of the Romagna. In the meanwhile

  there came also to him five hundred French lancers, and although he

  found himself sufficiently strong to take vengeance on his enemies in

  open war, he considered that it would be safer and more advantageous

  to outwit them, and for this reason he did not stop the work of


  And that this might be effected the duke concluded a peace with them

  in which he confirmed their former covenants; he gave them four

  thousand ducats at once; he promised not to injure the Bentivogli; and

  he formed an alliance with Giovanni; and moreover he would not force

  them to come personally into his presence unless it pleased them to do

  so. On the other hand, they promised to restore to him the duchy of

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