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At the death of Charles the Fat in 888, that part of Italy which acknowledged the supremacy of the Western empire was divided, like France and Germany, among a few powerful vassals, hereditary governors of provinces. The principal of these were the dukes of Spoleto and Tuscany, the marquises of Ivrea, Susa, and Friuli. The great Lombard duchy of Benevento, which had stood against the arms of Charlemagne, and comprised more than half the present kingdom of Naples, had now fallen into decay, and was straitened by the Greeks in Apulia, and by the principalities of Capua and Salerno, which had been severed from its own territory, on the opposite coasts Though princes of the Carolingian line continued to reign in France, their character was too little distinguished to challenge the obedience of Italy, already separated by family partitions from the Transalpine nations; and the only contest was among her native chiefs. One of these, Berenger, originally Marquis of Friuli, or the March of Treviso, reigned for thirty- six years, but with continually disputed pretensions; and after his death the calamities of Italy were sometimes aggravated by tyranny, and sometimes by intestine war. The Hungarians desolated Lombardy; the southern coasts were infested by the Saracens, now masters of Sicily. Plunged in an abyss, from which she saw no other means of extricating herself, Italy lost sight of her favorite independence, and called in the assistance of Otho the First, King of Germany. Little opposition was made to this powerful monarch. Berenger II, the reigning sovereign of Italy, submitted to hold the kingdom of him as a fief. But some years afterwards, new disturbances arising, Otho descended from the Alps a second time, deposed Berenger, and received at the hands of Pope John XII the imperial dignity [a.d. 951], which had been suspended for nearly forty years.

Every ancient prejudice, every recollection, whether of Augustus or of Charlemagne, had led the Italians to annex the notion of sovereignty to the name of Roman Emperor; nor were Otho, or his two immediate descendants, by any means inclined to waive these supposed prerogatives, which they were well able to enforce. Most of the Lombard princes acquiesced without apparent repugnance in the new German government, which was conducted by Otho the Great with much prudence and vigor, and occasionally with severity. The citizens of Lombardy were still better satisfied with a change that ensured a more tranquil and regular administration than they had experienced under the preceding kings. But in one, and that the chief of Italian cities, very different sentiments were prevalent. We find, indeed, a considerable obscurity spread over the internal history of Rome during the long period from the recovery of Italy by Belisarius to the end of the eleventh century. The popes appear to have possessed some measure of temporal power, even while the city was professedly governed by the exarchs of Ravenna, in the name of the Eastern empire. This power became more extensive after her separation from Constantinople. It was, however, subordinate to the undeniable sovereignty of the new imperial family, who were supposed to enter upon all the rights of their predecessors. There was always an imperial officer, or prefect, in that city, to render criminal justice; an oath of allegiance to the emperor was taken by the people; and upon any irregular election of a pope, a circumstance by no means unusual, the emperors held themselves entitled to interpose. But the spirit and even the institutions of the Romans were republican. Amidst the darkness of the tenth century, which no contemporary historian dissipates, we faintly distinguish the awful names of senate, consuls, and tribunes, the domestic magistracy of Rome. These shadows of past glory strike us at first with surprise; yet there is no improbability in the supposition that a city so renowned and populous, and so happily sheltered from the usurpation of the Lombards, might have preserved, or might afterwards establish, a kind of municipal government, which it would be natural to dignify with those august titles of antiquity. During that anarchy which ensued upon the fall of the Carolingian dynasty, the Romans acquired an independence which they did not deserve. The city became a prey to the most terrible disorders; the papal chair was sought for at best by bribery or controlling influence, often by violence and assassination; it was filled by such men as naturally rise by such means, whose sway was precarious, and generally ended either in their murder or degradation. For many years the supreme pontiffs were forced upon the church by two women of high rank but infamous reputation, Theodora and her daughter Marozia. The kings of Italy, whose election in a diet of Lombard princes and bishops at Roncaglia was not conceived to convey any pretensions to the sovereignty of Rome, could never obtain any decided influence in papal elections, which were the object of struggling factions among the resident nobility. In this temper of the Romans, they were ill disposed to resume habits of obedience to a foreign sovereign. The next year after Otho’s coronation they rebelled, the pope at their head; but were of course subdued without difficulty, [a.d. 962.] The same republican spirit broke out whenever the emperors were absent in Germany, especially during the minority of Otho III, and directed itself against the temporal superiority of the pope.

But when that emperor attained manhood he besieged and took the city, crushing all resistance by measures of severity; and especially by the execution of the consul Crescentius, a leader of the popular faction, to whose instigation the tumultuous license of Rome was principally ascribed.

At the death of Otho III without children, in 1002, the compact between Italy and the emperors of the house of Saxony was determined. Her engagement of fidelity was certainly not applicable to every sovereign whom the princes of Germany might raise to their throne: Accordingly Ardoin Marquis of Ivrea was elected King of Italy. But a German party existed among the Lombard princes and bishops, to which his insolent demeanor soon gave a pretext for inviting Henry II, the new king of Germany, collaterally related to their late sovereign. Ardoin was deserted by most of the Italians, but retained his former subjects in Piedmont, and disputed the crown for many years with Henry, who passed very little time in Italy. During this period there was hardly any recognized government; and the Lombards became more and more accustomed, through necessity, to protect themselves, and to provide for their own internal police. Meanwhile the German nation had become odious to the Italians. The rude soldiery, insolent and addicted to intoxication, were engaged in frequent disputes with the citizens, wherein the latter, as is usual in similar cases, were exposed first to the summary vengeance of the troops, and afterwards to penal chastisement for sedition. In one of these tumults, at the entry of Henry II in 1004, the city of Pavia was burned to the ground, which inspired its inhabitants with a constant animosity against that emperor. Upon his death in 1024, the Italians were disposed to break once more their connection with Germany, which had elected as sovereign Conrad Duke of Franconia. They offered their crown to Robert King of France, and to William Duke of Guienne; but neither of them was imprudent enough to involve himself in the difficult and faithless politics of Italy. It may surprise us that no candidate appeared from among her native princes. But it had been the dexterous policy of the Othos to weaken the great Italian fiefs, which were still rather considered as hereditary governments than as absolute patrimonies, by separating districts from their jurisdiction, under inferior marquises and rural counts. The bishops were incapable of becoming competitors, and generally attached to the German party. The cities already possessed material influence, but were disunited by mutual jealousies. Since ancient prejudices, therefore, precluded a federate league of independent principalities and republics, for which perhaps the actual condition of Italy unfitted her, Eribert Archbishop of Milan, aeeompanied by some other chief men of Lombardy, repaired to Constance, and tendered the crown to Conrad, which he was already disposed to claim as a sort of dependency upon Germany, [a.d. 1024.] It does not appear that either Conrad or his successors were ever regularly elected to reign over Italy; but whether this ceremony took place or not, we may certainly date from that time the subjection of Italy to the Germanic body. It became an unquestionable maxim, that the votes of a few German princes conferred a right to the sovereignty of a country which had never been conquered, and which had never formally recognized this superiority. But it was an equally fundamental rule, that the elected King of Germany could not assume the title of Roman Emperor until his coronation by the pope. The middle appellation of King of the Romans was invented as a sort of approximation to the imperial dignity. But it was not till the reign of Maximilian that the actual coronation at Rome was dispensed with, and the title of emperor taken immediately after the election.

The period between Conrad of Franconia and Frederic Barbarossa, or from about the middle of the eleventh to that of the twelfth century, is marked by three great events in Italian history; the struggle between the empire and the papacy for ecclesiastical investitures, the establishment of the Norman kingdom in Naples, and the formation of distinct and nearly independent republics among the cities of Lombardy. The first of these will find a more appropriate place in a subsequent chapter, where I shall trace the progress of ecclesiastical power. But it produced a long and almost incessant state of disturbance in Italy; and should be mentioned at present as one of the main causes which excited in that country a systematic opposition to the imperial authority.

The southern provinces of Italy, in the beginning of the eleventh century, were chiefly subject to the Greek empire, which had latterly recovered part of its losses, and exhibited some ambition and enterprise, though without any intrinsic vigor. They were governed by a lieutenant, styled Catalan who resided at Bari in Apulia. On the Mediterranean coast three duchies, or rather republics of Naples, Gaeta, and Amalfi, had for several ages preserved their connection with the Greek empire, and acknowledged its nominal sovereignty. The Lombard principalities of Benevento, Salerno, and Capua had much declined from their ancient splendor. The Greeks were, however, not likely to attempt any further conquests: the court of Constantinople had relapsed into its usual indolence; nor had they much right to boast of successes rather due to the Saracen auxiliaries whom they hired from Sicily. No momentous revolution apparently threatened the south of Italy, and least of all could it be anticipated from what quarter the storm was about to gather.

The followers of Rollo, who rested from plunder and piracy in the quiet possession of Normandy, became devout professors of the Christian faith, and particularly addicted to the custom of pilgrimage, which gratified their curiosity and spirit of adventure. In small bodies, well armed on account of the lawless character of the countries through which they passed, the Norman pilgrims visited the shrines of Italy and even the Holy Land. Some of these, very early in the eleventh century, were engaged by a Lombard prince of Salerno against the Saracens, who had invaded his territory; and through that superiority of valor, and perhaps of corporal strength, which this singular people seem to have possessed above all other Europeans, they made surprising havoc among the enemy. This exploit led to fresh engagements, and these engagements drew new adventurers from Normandy; they founded the little city of Aversa, near Capua, and were employed by the Greeks against the Saracens of Sicily. But, though performing splendid services in this war, they were ill repaid by their ungrateful employers; and being by no means of a temper to bear with injury, they revenged themselves by a sudden invasion of Apulia. [a.d. 1042.] This province was speedily subdued, and divided among twelve Norman counts; but soon afterwards Robert Guiscard, one of twelve brothers, many of whom were renowned in these Italian wars, acquired the sovereignty; and, adding Calabria to his conquests, put an end to the long dominion of the Eastern emperors in Italy. [a.d. 1057.] He reduced the principalities of Salerno and Benevento, in the latter instance sharing the spoil with the pope, who took the city to himself, while Robert retained the territory. His conquests in Greece, which he invaded with the magnificent design of overthrowing the Eastern empire, were at least equally splendid, though less durable, [a.d. 1061.] Roger, his younger brother, undertook meanwhile the romantic enterprise, as it appeared, of conquering the island of Sicily with a small body of Norman volunteers. But the Saracens were broken into petty states, and discouraged by the bad success of their brethren in Spain and Sardinia. After many years of war Roger became sole master of Sicily, and took the title of Count. The son of this prince, upon the extinction of Robert Guiscard’s posterity, united the two Norman sovereignties, and, subjugating the free republics of Naples and Amalfi, and the principality of Capua, established a boundary which has hardly been changed since his time.” [a.d. 1127.]

The first successes of these Norman leaders were viewed unfavorably by the popes. Leo IX marched in person against Robert Guiscard with an army of German mercenaries, but was beaten and made prisoner in this unwise enterprise, the scandal of which nothing but good fortune could have lightened. He fell, however, into the hands of a devout people, who implored his absolution for the crime of defending themselves; and, whether through gratitude, or as the price of his libera­tion, invested them with their recent conquests in Apulia, as fiefs of the Holy See. This investiture was repeated and enlarged as the popes, especially in their contention with Henry IV and Henry V, found the advantage of using the Normans as faithful auxiliaries. Finally, Innocent II, in 1139, conferred upon Roger the title of King of Sicily. It is difficult to understand by what pretence these countries could be claimed by the see of Rome in sovereignty, unless by virtue of the pretended donation of Constantine, or that of Louis the Debonair, which is hardly less suspicious; and least of all how Innocent II could surrender the liberties of the city of Naples, whether that was considered as an independent republic, or as a portion of the Greek empire. But the Normans, who had no title but their swords, were naturally glad to give an appearance of legitimacy to their conquest; and the kingdom of Naples, even in the hands of the most powerful princes in Europe, never ceased to pay a feudal acknowledgment to the chair of St. Peter.

The revolutions which time brought forth on the opposite side of Italy were still more interesting. Under the Lombard and French princes every city with its adjacent district was subject to the government and jurisdiction of a count, who was himself subordinate to the duke or marquis of the province. From these counties it was the practice of the first German emperors to dismember particular towns or tracts of country, granting them upon a feudal tenure to rural lords, by many of whom also the same title was assumed. Thus by degrees the authority of the original officers was confined almost to the walls of their own cities; and in many cases the bishops obtained a grant of the temporal government, and exercised the functions which had belonged to the count.

It is impossible to ascertain the time at which the cities of Lombardy began to assume a republican form of government, or to trace with precision the gradations of their progress. The last historian of Italy asserts that Otho the First erected them into municipal communities, and permitted the election of their magistrates; but of this he produces no evidence; and Muratori, from whose authority it is rash to depart without strong reasons, is not only silent about any charters, but discovers no express unequivocal testimonies of a popular government for the whole eleventh century. The first appearance of the citizens acting for themselves is in a tumult at Milan in 991, when the archbishop was expelled from the city. But this was a transitory ebullition, and we must descend lower for more specific proofs. It is possible that the disputed succession of Ardoin and Henry, at the beginning of the eleventh age, and the kind of interregnum which then took place, gave the inhabitants an opportunity of choosing magistrates and of sharing in public deliberations. A similar relaxation indeed of government in France had exposed the people to greater servitude, and established a feudal aristocracy. But the feudal tenures seem not to have produced in Italy that systematic and regular subordination which existed in France during the same period; nor were the mutual duties of the relation between lord and vassal so well understood or observed. Hence we find not only disputes, but actual civil war, between the lesser gentry or vavassors, and the higher nobility, their immediate superiors. These differences were adjusted by Conrad the Salic, who published a remarkable edict in 1037, by which the feudal law of Italy was reduced to more certainty. From this disunion among the members of the feudal confederacy, it was more easy for the citizens to render themselves secure against its dominion. The cities too of Lombardy were far more populous and better defended than those of France; they had learned to stand sieges in the Hungarian invasions of the tenth century, and had acquired the right of protecting themselves by strong fortifications. Those which had been placed under the temporal government of their bishops had peculiar advantages in struggling for emancipation. This circumstance in the state of Lombardy I consider as highly important towards explaining the subsequent revolution. Notwithstanding several exceptions, a churchman was less likely to be bold and active in command than a soldier; and the sort of election which was always necessary, and sometimes more than nominal, on a vacancy of the see, kept up among the citizens a notion that the authority of their bishop and chief magistrate emanated in some degree from themselves. In many instances, especially in the church of Milan, the earliest perhaps, and certainly the most famous of Lombard republics, there occurred a disputed election; two, or even three, competitors claimed the archiepiscopal functions, and were compelled, in the absence of the emperors, to obtain the exercise of them by means of their own faction among the citizens.

These were the general causes which, operating at various times during the eleventh century, seem gradually to have produced a republican form of government in the Italian cities. But this part of history is very obscure. The archives of all cities before the reign of Frederic Barbarossa have perished. For many years there is a great deficiency of contemporary Lombard historians; and those of a later age, who endeavored to search into the antiquities of their country, have found only some barren and insulated events to record. We perceive, however, throughout the eleventh century, that the cities were continually in warfare with each other. This, indeed, was according to the manners of that age, and no inference can absolutely be drawn from it as to their internal freedom. But it is observable that their chronicles speak, in recording these transactions, of the people, and not of their leaders, which is the true republican tone of history. Thus, in the Annals of Pisa, we read, under the years 1002 and 1004, of victories gained by the Pisans over the people of Lucca; in 1006, that the Pisans and Genoese conquered Sardinia These annals, indeed, are not by a contemporary writer, nor perhaps of much authority. But we have an original account of a war that broke out in 1057, between Pavia and Milan, in which the citizens are said to have raised armies, made alliances, hired foreign troops, and in every respect acted like independent states. There was, in fact, no power left in the empire to control them. The two Henrys IV and V were so much embarrassed during the quarrel concerning investitures, and the continual troubles of Germany, that they were less likely to interfere with the rising freedom of the Italian cities, than to purchase their assistance by large concessions. Henry IV granted a charter to Pisa in 1081, full of the most important privileges, promising even not to name any marquis of Tuscany without the people’s consent;  and it is possible that, although the instruments have perished, other places might obtain similar advantages. However this may be, it is certain that before the death of Henry V, in 1125, almost all the cities of Lombardy, and many among those of Tuscany, were accustomed to elect their own magistrates, and to act as independent communities in waging war and in domestic government.

The territory subjected originally to the count or bishop of these cities, had been reduced, as I mentioned above, by numerous concessions to the rural nobility. But the new republics, deeming themselves entitled to all which their former governors had once possessed, began to attack their near­est neighbors, and to recover the sovereignty of all their ancient territory. They besieged the castles of the rural counts, and successively reduced them into subjection. They sup­pressed some minor communities, which had been formed in imitation of themselves by little towns belonging to their district. Sometimes they purchased feudal superiorities or territorial jurisdictions, and, according to a policy not unusual with the stronger party, converted the rights of property into those of government. Hence, at the middle of the twelfth century, we are assured by a contemporary writer that hardly any nobleman could be found, except the Marquis of Montferrat, who had not submitted to some city. We may except, also, I should presume, the families of Este and Malaspina, as well as that of Savoy. Muratori produces many charters of mutual compact between the nobles and the neighboring cities; whereof one invariable article is, that the former should reside within the walls a certain number of months in the year. The rural nobility, thus deprived of the independence which had endeared their castles, imbibed a new ambition of directing the municipal government of the cities, which consequently, during this period of the republics, fell chiefly into the hands of the superior families. It was the sagacious policy of the Lombards to invite settlers by throwing open to them the privileges of citizenship, and sometimes they even bestowed them by compulsion. Sometimes a city, imitating the wisdom of ancient Rome, granted these privileges to all the inhabitants of another. Thus, the principal cities, and especially Milan, reached, before the middle of the twelfth century, a degree of population very far beyond that of the capitals of the great kingdoms. Within their strong walls and deep trenches, and in the midst of their well-peopled streets, the industrious dwelt secure from the license of armed pillagers and the oppression of feudal tyrants. Artisans, whom the military landholders contemned, acquired and deserved the right of bearing arms for their own and the public defense. Their occupations became liberal, because they were the foundation of their political franchises; the citizens were classed in companies according to their respective crafts, each of which had its tribune or standard bearer (gonfalonier), at whose command, when any tumult arose or enemy threatened, they rushed in arms to muster in the market-place.

But, unhappily, we cannot extend the sympathy which institutions so full of liberty create to the national conduct of these little republics. Their love of freedom was alloyed by that restless spirit, from which a democracy is seldom exempt, of tyrannizing over weaker neighbors. They played over again the tragedy of ancient Greece, with all its circumstances of inveterate hatred, unjust ambition, and atrocious retaliation, though with less consummate actors upon the scene. Among all the Lombard cities, Milan was the most conspicuous, as well for power and population as for the abuse of those resources by arbitrary and ambitious conduct. Thus, in mi, they razed the town of Lodi to the ground, distributing the inhabitants among six villages, and subjecting them to an un­relenting despotisms Thus, in 1118, they commenced a war of ten years’ duration with the little city of Como; but the surprising perseverance of its inhabitants procured for them better terms of capitulation, though they lost their original independence. The Cremonese treated so harshly the town of Crema that it revolted from them, and put itself under the protection of Milan. Cities of more equal forces carried on interminable hostilities by wasting each other’s territory, destroying the harvests, and burning the villages.

The sovereignty of the emperors, meanwhile, though not very effective, was in theory always admitted. Their name was used in public acts, and appeared upon the coin. When they came into Italy they had certain customary supplies of provisions, called fodrum regale, at the expense of the city where they resided; during their presence all inferior magistracies were suspended, and the rights of jurisdiction devolved upon them alone. But such was the jealousy of the Lombards, that they built the royal palaces outside their gates; a precaution to which the emperors were compelled to submit. This was at a very early time a subject of contention between the inhabitants of Pavia and Conrad II, whose palace, seated in the heart of the city, they had demolished in a sedition, and were unwilling to rebuild in that situation.

Such was the condition of Italy when Frederic Barbarossa, Duke of Suabia, and nephew of the last emperor, Conrad III, ascended the throne of Germany. [1152.] His accession forms the commencement of a new period, the duration of which is about one hundred years, and which is terminated by the death of Conrad IV, the last emperor of the house of Suabia. It is characterized, like the former, by three distinguishing features in Italian history; the victorious struggle of the Lombard and other cities for independence, the final establishment of a temporal sovereignty over the middle provinces by the popes, and the union of the kingdom of Naples to the dominions of the house of Suabia.

In Frederic Barbarossa the Italians found a very different sovereign from the two last emperors, Lothaire and Conrad III, who had seldom appeared in Italy, and with forces quite inadequate to control such insubordinate subjects. The distinguished valor and ability of this prince rendered a severe and arbitrary temper and a haughty conceit of his imperial rights more formidable. He believed, or professed to believe, the magnificent absurdity, that, as successor of Augustus, he inherited the kingdoms of the world. In the same right, he more powerfully, if not more rationally, laid claim to the entire prerogatives of the Roman emperors over their own subjects; and in this the professors of the civil law, which was now diligently studied, lent him their aid with the utmost servility. To such a disposition the self-government of the Lombard cities appeared mere rebellion. Milan especially, the most renowned of them all, drew down upon herself his inveterate resentment. He found, unfortunately, too good a pretense in her behavior towards Lodi. Two natives of that ruined city threw themselves at the emperor’s feet, imploring him, as the ultimate source of justice, to redress the wrongs of their country. It is a striking proof of the terror inspired by Milan that the consuls of Lodi disavowed the complaints of their country­men, and the inhabitants trembled at the danger of provoking a summary vengeance, against which the imperial arms seemed no protection. The Milanese, however, abstained from attacking the people of Lodi, though they treated with contempt the emperor’s order to leave them at liberty. Frederic meanwhile came into Italy, and held a diet at Roncaglia, where complaints poured in from many quarters against the Milanese. Pavia and Cremona, their ancient enemies, were impatient to renew hostilities under the imperial auspices. Brescia, Tortona, and Crema were allies, or rather dependents, of Milan. Frederic soon took occasion to attack the latter confederacy. Tortona was compelled to surrender and levelled to the ground. But a feudal army was soon dissolved; the emperor had much to demand his attention at Rome, where he was on ill terms with Adrian IV; and when the imperial troops were withdrawn from Lombardy, the Milanese rebuilt Tortona, and expelled the citizens of Lodi from their dwellings. Frederic assembled a fresh army, to which almost every city of Lombardy, willingly or by force, contributed its militia. It is said to have exceeded a hundred thousand men. The Milanese shut them­selves up within their walls; and perhaps might have defied the imperial forces, if their immense population, which gave them confidence in arms, had not exposed them to a different enemy. Milan was obliged by hunger to capitulate, upon conditions not very severe, if a vanquished people could ever safely rely upon the convention that testifies their submission.

Frederic, after the surrender of Milan, held a diet at Roncaglia, where the effect of his victories was fatally perceived. [a.d. 1158.] The bishops, the higher nobility, the lawyers, vied with one another in exalting his prerogatives. He defined the regalian rights, as they were called, in such a manner as to exclude the cities and private proprietors from coining money, and from tolls or territorial dues, which they had for many years possessed. These, however, he permitted them to retain for a pecuniary stipulation. A more important innovation was the appointment of magistrates, with the title of podesta, to administer justice concurrently with the consuls; but he soon proceeded to abolish the latter office in many cities, and to throw the whole government into the hands of his own magistrates. He prohibited the cities from levying war against each other. It may be presumed that he showed no favor to Milan. The capitulation was set at naught in its most express provisions; a podesta was sent to supersede the consuls and part of the territory taken away. Whatever might be the risk of resistance, and the Milanese had experience enough not to undervalue it, they were determined rather to see their liberties at once overthrown than gradually destroyed by a faithless tyrant. They availed themselves of the absence of his army to renew the war. Its issue was more calamitous than that of the last. Almost all Lombardy lay patient under subjection. The small town of Crema, always the faithful ally of Milan, stood a memorable siege against the imperial army; but the inhabitants were ultimately compelled to capitulate for their lives, and the vindictive Cremonese razed their dwellings to the ground. But all smaller calamities were forgotten when the great city of Milan, worn out by famine rather than subdued by force, was reduced to surrender at discretion. Lombardy stood in anxious suspense to know the determination of Frederic respecting this ancient metropolis, the seat of the early Christian emperors, and second only to Rome in the hierarchy of the Latin church. A delay of three weeks excited fallacious hopes; but at the end of that time an order was given to the Milanese to evacuate their habitations. The deserted streets were instantly occupied by the imperial army; the people of Pavia and Cremona, of Lodi and Como, were commissioned to revenge themselves on the respective quarters of the city assigned to them; and in a few days the pillaged churches stood alone amidst the ruins of what had been Milan.

There was now little left of that freedom to which Lombardy had aspired: it was gone like a pleasant dream, and she awoke to the fears and miseries of servitude. [A.D. 1162.] Frederic obeyed the dictates of his vindictive temper, and of the policy usual among statesmen. He abrogated the consular regimen in some even of the cities which had supported him, and established his podesta in their place. This magistrate was always a stranger, frequently not even an Italian; and he came to his office with all those prejudices against the people he was to govern which cut off every hope of justice and humanity. The citizens of Lombardy, especially the Milanese, who had been dispersed in the villages adjoining their ruined capital, were unable to meet the perpetual demands of tribute. In some parts, it is said, two-thirds of the produce of their lands, the only wealth that remained, were extorted from them by the imperial officers. It was in vain that they prostrated them­selves at the feet of Frederic. He gave at the best only vague promises of redress; they were in his eyes rebels ; his delegates had acted as faithful officers, whom, even if they had gone a little beyond his intentions, he could not be expected to punish.

But there still remained at the heart of Lombardy the strong principle of national liberty, imperishable among the perishing armies of her patriots, inconsumable in the conflagration of her cities. Those whom private animosities had led to assist the German conqueror blushed at the degradation of their country, and at the share they had taken in it. A league was secretly formed, in which Cremona, one of the chief cities on the im­perial side, took a prominent part. [a.d. 1167.] Those beyond the Adige, hitherto not much engaged in the disputes of central Lombardy, had already formed a separate confederacy to secure themselves from encroachments, which appeared the more unjust, as they had never borne arms against the emperor. Their first successes corresponded to the justice of their cause; Frederic was repulsed from the territory of Verona, a fortunate augury for the rest of Lombardy, [a.d. 1164.] These two clusters of cities on the east and west of the Adige now united themselves into the famous Lombard league, the terms of which were settled in a general diet. Their alliance was to last twenty years, during which they pledged themselves to mutual assistance against anyone who should exact more from them than they had been used to perform from the time of Henry to the first coming of Frederic into Italy; implying in this the recovery of their elective magistracies, their rights of war and peace, and those lucrative privileges which, under the name of regalian, had been wrested from them in the diet of Roncaglia.

This union of the Lombard cities was formed at a very fa­vorable juncture. Frederic had almost ever since his accession been engaged in open hostility with the see of Rome, and was pursuing the fruitless policy of Henry IV, who had endeavored to substitute an antipope of his own faction for the legitimate pontiff. In the prosecution of this scheme he had besieged Rome with a great army, which, the citizens resisting longer than he expected, fell a prey to the autumnal pestilence which visits the neighborhood of that capital. The flower of German nobility was cut off by this calamity, and the emperor recrossed the Alps, entirely unable for the present to withstand the Lombard confederacy. Their first overt act of insurrection was the rebuilding of Milan; the confederate troops all joined in this undertaking; and the Milanese, still numerous, though dispersed and persecuted, revived as a powerful republic. Lodi was compelled to enter into the league. Pavia alone continued on the imperial side. As a check to Pavia, and to the Marquis of Montferrat, the most potent of the independent nobility, the Lombards planned the erection of a new city between the confines of these two enemies, in a rich plain to the south of the Po, and bestowed upon it, in compliment to the Pope, Alexander III, the name of Alessandria. Though, from its hasty construction, Alessandria was even in that age deemed rude in appearance, it rapidly became a thriving and populous city. The intrinsic energy and resources of Lombardy were now made manifest. Frederic, who had triumphed by their disunion, was unequal to contend against their league. After several years of indecisive war the emperor invaded the Milanese territory; but the confederates gave him battle, and gained a complete victory at Legnano. [a.d. 1176.] Frederic escaped alone and disguised from the field, with little hope of raising a fresh army, though still reluctant from shame to acquiesce in the freedom of Lombardy. lie was at length persuaded, through the mediation of the republic of Venice, to consent to a truce of six years, the provisional terms of which were all favorable to the league. It was weakened, however, by the defection of some of its own members; Cremona, which had never cordially united with her ancient enemies, made separate conditions with Frederic, and suffered herself to be named among the cities on the imperial side in the armistice. Tortona and even Alessandria followed the same course during the six years of its duration; a fatal testimony of unsubdued animos­ities, and omen of the calamities of Italy. At the expiration of the truce Frederic’s anxiety to secure the crown for his son overcame his pride, and the famous peace of Constance estab­lished the Lombard republics in real independence, [a.d. 1183.]

By the treaty of Constance the cities were maintained in the enjoyment of all the regalian rights, whether within their walls or in their district, which they could claim by usage. Those of levying war, of erecting fortifications, and of administering civil and criminal justice, were specially mentioned. The nomination of their consuls, or other magistrates, was left absolutely to the citizens; but they were to receive the investiture of their office from an imperial legate. The customary tributes of provision during the emperor’s residence in Italy were preserved; and he was authorized to appoint in every city a judge, of appeal in civil causes. The Lombard league was confirmed, and the cities were permitted to renew it at their own discretion; but they were to take every ten years an oath of fidelity to the emperor. This just compact preserved, along with every security for the liberties and wel­fare of the cities, as much of the imperial prerogatives as could be exercised by a foreign sovereign consistently with the people’s happiness.

The successful insurrection of Lombardy is a memorable refutation of that system of policy to which its advocates give the appellation of vigorous, and which they perpetually hold forth as the only means through which a disaffected people are to be restrained. By a certain class of statesmen, and by all men of harsh and violent disposition, measures of conciliation, adherence to the spirit of treaties, regard to ancient privileges, or to those rules of moral justice which are paramount to all positive right, are always treated with derision. Terror is their only specific; and the physical inability to rebel their only security for allegiance. But if the razing of cities, the abrogation of privileges, the impoverishment and oppression of a nation could assure its constant submission, Frederic Barbarossa would never have seen the militia of Lombardy arrayed against him at Legnano. Whatever may be the pressure upon a conquered people, there will come a moment of their recoil. Nor is it material to allege, in answer to the present instance, that the accidental destruction of Frederic’s army by disease enabled the cities of Lombardy to succeed in their resistance. The fact may well be disputed, since Lombardy, when united, appears to have been more than equal to a contest with any German force that could have been brought against her; but even if we admit the effect of this circumstance, it only exhibits the precariousness of a policy which collateral events are always liable to disturb. Providence reserves to itself various means by which the bonds of the oppressor may be broken; and it is not for human sagacity to anticipate whether the army of a conqueror shall moulder in the unwholesome marshes of Rome or stiffen with frost in a Russian winter.

The peace of Constance presented a noble opportunity to the Lombards of establishing a permanent federal union of small republics; a form of government congenial from the earliest ages to Italy, and that, perhaps, under which she is again destined one day to flourish. They were entitled by the provisions of that treaty to preserve their league, the basis of a more perfect confederacy, which the course of events would have emancipated from every kind of subjection to Germany. But dark, long-cherished hatreds, and that implacable vindictiveness which, at least in former ages, distinguished the private manners of Italy, deformed her national character, which can only be the aggregate of individual passions. For revenge she threw away the pearl of great price, and sacrificed even the recollection of that liberty which had stalked like a majestic spirit among the ruins of Milan. It passed away, that high disdain of absolute power, that steadiness of self-devotion, which raised the half-civilized Lombards of the twelfth century to the level of those ancient republics from whose history our first notions of freedom and virtue are derived. The victim by turns of selfish and sanguinary factions, of petty tyrants, and of foreign invaders, Italy has fallen like a star from its place in heaven; she has seen her harvests trodden down by the horses of the stranger, and the blood of her children wasted in quarrels not their own: Conquering or conquered, in the indignant language of her poet, still alike a slave, a long retribution for the tyranny of Rome.

Frederic did not attempt to molest the cities of Lombardy in the enjoyment of those privileges conceded by the treaty of Constance. His ambition was diverted to a new scheme for aggrandizing the house of Suabia by the marriage of his eldest son Henry with Constance, the aunt and heiress of William II, King of Sicily. That kingdom, which the first monarch Roger had elevated to a high pitch of renown and power, fell into decay through the misconduct of his son William, surnamed the Bad, and did not recover much of its lustre under the second William, though styled the Good. His death without issue was apparently no remote event; and Constance was the sole legitimate survivor of the royal family. It is a curious circumstance that no hereditary kingdom appears absolutely to have excluded females from its throne, except that which from its magnitude was of all the most secure from falling into the condition of a province. The Sicilians felt too late the defect of their constitution, which permitted an independent people to be transferred, as the dowry of a woman, to a foreign prince, by whose ministers they might justly ex­pect to be insulted and oppressed. Henry, whose marriage with Constance took place in 1186, and who succeeded in her right to the throne of Sicily three years afterwards, was exasperated by a courageous but unsuccessful effort of the Norman barons to preserve the crown for an illegitimate branch of the royal family; and his reign is disgraced by a series of atrocious cruelties. The power of the house of Suabia was now at its zenith on each side of the Alps; Henry received the imperial crown the year after his father’s death in the third crusade, and even prevailed upon the princes of Germany to elect his infant son Frederic as his successor. But his own premature decease clouded the prospects of his family: Constance sur­vived him but a year; and a child of four years old was left with the inheritance of a kingdom which his father’s severity had rendered disaffected, and which the leaders of German mercenaries in his service desolated and disputed.

During the minority of Frederic II, from 1198 to 1216, the papal chair was filled by Innocent III, a name second only, and hardly second, to that of Gregory VII. Young, noble, and intrepid, he united with the accustomed spirit of ecclesiastical usurpation, which no one had ever carried to so high a point, the more worldly ambition of consolidating a separate principality for the Holy See in the centre of Italy. The real or spurious donations of Constantine, Pepin, Charlemagne, and Louis, had given rise to a perpetual claim, on the part of the popes, to very extensive dominions; but little of this had been effectuated, and in Rome itself they were thwarted by the prefect, an officer who swore fidelity to the emperor, and by the insubordinate spirit of the people. In the very neighborhood the small cities owned no subjection to the capital, and were probably as much self-governed as those of Lombardy. One is transported back to the earliest times of the republic in reading of the desperate wars between Rome and Tibur or Tuscu­lum ; neither of which was subjugated till the latter part of the twelfth century. At a further distance were the duchy of Spoleto, the march of Ancona, and what had been the exarchate of Ravenna, to all of which the popes had more or less grounded pretensions. Early in the last-mentioned age the famous Countess Matilda, to whose zealous protection Gregory VII. had been eminently indebted during his long dispute with the emperor, granted the reversion of all her possessions to the Holy See, first in the lifetime of Gregory, and again under the pontificate of Paschal III. These were very extensive, and held by different titles. Of her vast imperial fiefs, Mantua, Modena, and Tuscany, she certainly could not dispose. The duchy of Spoleto and march of Ancona were supposed to rest upon a different footing. I confess myself not distinctly to comprehend the nature of this part of her succession. These had been formerly among the great fiefs of the kingdom of Italy. But if I understand it rightly, they had tacitly ceased to be subject to the emperors some years before they were seized by Godfrey of Lorraine, father-in-law and stepfather of Matilda. To his son, her husband, she succeeded in the possession of those countries. They are commonly consid­ered as her allodial or patrimonial property; yet it is not easy to see how, being herself a subject of the empire, she could transfer even her allodial estates from its sovereignty. Nor on the other hand can it apparently be maintained that she was lawful sovereign of countries which had not long since been imperial fiefs, and the suzerainty over which had never been renounced. The original title of the Holy See, therefore, does not seem incontestable even as to this part of Matilda’s donation. But I state with hesitation a difficulty to which the authors I have consulted do not advert. It is certain, however, that the emperors kept possession of the whole during the twelfth century, and treated both Spoleto and Ancona as parts of the empire, notwithstanding continual remonstrances from the Roman pontiffs. Frederic Barbarossa, at the negotiations of Venice in 1177, promised to restore the patrimony of Matilda in fifteen years; but at the close of that period Henry VI. was not disposed to execute this arrangement, and granted the county in fief to some of his German followers. Upon his death the circumstances were favorable to Innocent III. The infant King of Sicily had been intrusted by Constance to his guardianship. A double election of Philip, brother of Henry VI, and of Otho Duke of Brunswick, engaged the princes of Germany, who had entirely overlooked the claims of young Frederic, in a doubtful civil war. Neither party was in a condition to enter Italy; and the imperial dignity was vacant for several years, till, the death of Philip removing one competitor, Otho IV, whom the pope had constantly favored, was crowned emperor. During this interval the Italians had no superior; and Innocent availed himself of it to maintain the pretensions of the see. These he backed by the production of rather a questionable document, the will of Henry VI, said to have been found among the baggage of Marquard, one of the German soldiers who had been invested with fiefs by the late emperor. The cities of what was later called the ecclesiastical state had in the twelfth century their own municipal government like those of Lombardy; but they were far less able to assert a complete independence. They gladly, therefore, put themselves under the protection of the Holy See, which held out some prospect of securing them from Marquard and other rapacious partisans, without disturbing their internal regulations. Thus the duchy of Spoleto and march of Ancona submitted to Innocent III; but he was not strong enough to keep constant possession of such extensive territories, and some years afterwards adopted the prudent course of granting Ancona in fief to the Marquis of Este. He did not, as may be supposed, neglect his authority at home; the prefect of Rome was now compelled to swear allegiance to the pope, which put an end to the regular imperial supremacy over that city, and the privileges of the citizens were abridged; This is the proper era of that temporal sovereignty which the bishops of Rome possess over their own city, though still prevented by various causes, for nearly three centuries, from becoming unquestioned and unlimited.

The policy of Rome was now more clearly defined than ever. In order to preserve what she had thus suddenly gained rather by opportunity than strength, it was her interest to enfeeble the imperial power, and consequently to maintain the freedom of the Italian republics. Tuscany had hitherto been ruled by a marquis of the emperor’s appointment, though her cities were flourishing, and, within themselves, independent. In imitation of the Lombard confederacy, and impelled by Innocent II, they now (with the exception of Pisa, which was always strongly attached to the empire) formed a similar league for the preservation of their rights. In this league the influence of the pope was far more strongly manifested than in that of Lombardy. Although the latter had been in alliance with Alexander III, and was formed during the height of his dispute with Frederic, this ecclesiastical quarrel mingled so little in their struggle for liberty that no allusion to it is found in the act of their confederacy. But the Tuscan union was expressly established “for the honor and aggrandizement of the apostolic see.” The members bound themselves to defend the possessions and rights of the church, and not to acknowledge any king or emperor without the approbation of the supreme pontiff. The Tuscans accordingly were more thoroughly attached to the church party than the Lombards, whose principle was animosity towards the house of Suabia. Hence, when Innocent III, some time after, supported Frederic II. against the Emperor Otho IV, the Milanese and their allies were arranged on the imperial side; but the Tuscans continued to adhere to the pope.

In the wars of Frederic Barbarossa against Milan and its allies, we have seen the cities of Lombardy divided, and a considerable number of them firmly attached to the imperial interest. It does not appear, I believe, from history, though it is by no means improbable, that the citizens were at so early a time divided among themselves, as to their line of public policy, and that the adherence of a particular city to the emperor, or to the Lombard league, was only, as proved afterwards the case, that one faction or another acquired an ascendency in its councils. But jealousies long existing between the different classes, and only suspended by the national struggle which terminated at Constance, gave rise to new modifications of interests, and new relations towards the empire. About the year 1200, or perhaps a little later, the two leading parties which divided the cities of Lombardy, and whose mutual animosity, having no general subject of contention, required the association of a name to direct as well as invigorate its prejudices, became distinguished by the celebrated appellations of Guelfs and Ghibelins; the former adhering to the papal side, the latter to that of the emperor. These names were derived from Germany, and had been the rallying word of faction for more than half a century in that country before they were transported to a still more favorable soil. The Guelfs took their name from a very illustrious family, several of whom had successively been dukes of Bavaria in the tenth and eleventh centuries. The heiress of the last of these intermarried with a younger son of the house of Este, a noble family settled near Padua, and possessed of great estates on each bank of the lower Po. They gave birth to a second line of Guelfs, from whom the royal house of Brunswick is descended. The name of Ghibelin is derived from a village in Franconia, whence Conrad the Salic came, the progenitor, through females, of the Suabian emperors. At the election of Lothaire in 1125, the Suabian family were disappointed of what they considered almost an hereditary possession; and at this time an hostility appears to have commenced between them and the house of Guelf, who were nearly related to Lothaire. Henry the Proud, and his son Henry the Lion, representatives of the latter family, were frequently persecuted by the Suabian emperors; but their fortunes belong to the history of Germany. Meanwhile the elder branch, though not reserved for such glorious destinies as the Guelfs, continued to flourish in Italy; the marquises of Este were by far the most powerful nobles in eastern Lombardy, and about the end of the twelfth century began to be considered as the heads of the church party in their neighborhood. They were frequently chosen to the office of podesta, or chief magistrate, by the cities of Romagna; and in 1208 the people of Ferrara set the fatal example of sacrificing their freedom for tranquillity, by electing Azzo VII, Marquis of Este, as their lord or sovereign.

Otho IV was son of Henry the Lion, and consequently head of the Guelfs. On his obtaining the imperial crown, the prejudices of Italian factions were diverted out of their usual chan­nel. He was soon engaged in a quarrel with the pope, whose hostility to the empire was certain, into whatever hands it might fall. In Milan, however, and generally in the cities which had belonged to the Lombard league against Frederic I, hatred of the house of Suabia prevailed more than jealousy of the imperial prerogatives; they adhered to names rather than to principles, and supported a Guelf emperor even against the pope. Terms of this description, having no definite relation to principles which it might be troublesome to learn and defend, are always acceptable to mankind, and have the peculiar advantage of precluding altogether that spirit of compromise and accommodation, by which it is sometimes endeavored to obstruct their tendency to hate and injure each other. From this time, every city, and almost every citizen, gloried in one of these barbarous denominations. In several cities the imperial party predominated through hatred of their neighbors, who espoused that of the church. Thus the inveterate feuds between Pisa and Florence, Modena and Bologna, Cremona and Milan, threw them into opposite factions. But there was in every one of these a strong party against that which prevailed, and consequently a Guelf city frequently became Ghibelin, or conversely, according to the fluctuations of the time.

The change to which we have adverted in the politics of the Guelf party lasted only during the reign of Otho IV When the heir of the house of Suabia grew up to manhood, Innocent, who, though his guardian, had taken little care of his interests, as long as he flattered himself with the hope of finding a Guelf emperor obedient, placed the young Frederic at the head of an opposition, composed of cities always attached to his family, and of such as implicitly followed the see of Rome. He met with considerable success both in Italy and Germany, and after the death of Otho, received the imperial crown. But he had no longer to expect any assistance from the pope who conferred it. Innocent was dead, and Honorius III., his successor, could not behold without apprehension the vast power of Frederic, supported in Lombardy by a faction which balanced that of the church, and menacing the ecclesiastical territories on the other side, by the possession of Naples and Sicily. This kingdom, feudatory to Rome, and long her firmest ally, was now, by a fatal connection which she had not been able to prevent, thrown into the scale of her most dangerous enemy. Hence the temporal dominion which Innocent III had taken so much pains to establish became a very precarious possession, ex­posed on each side to the attacks of a power that had legitimate pretensions to almost every province composing it. The life of Frederic II was wasted in an unceasing contention with the church, and with his Italian subjects, whom she excited to rebellions against him. Without inveighing, like the popish writers, against this prince, certainly an encourager of letters, and endowed with many eminent qualities, we may lay to his charge a good deal of dissimulation; I will not add ambition, because I am not aware of any period in the reign of Frederic, when he was not obliged to act on his defence against the aggression of others. But if he had been a model of virtues, such men as Honorius III, Gregory IX, and Innocent IV, the pope with whom he had successively to contend, would not have given him respite, while he remained master of Naples, as well as the empire.

It was the custom of every pope to urge princes into a crusade, which the condition of Palestine rendered indispensable, or, more properly, desperate. But this great piece of supererogatory devotion had never yet been raised into an absolute duty of their station, nor had even private persons been ever required to take up the cross by compulsion. Honorius III, however, exacted a vow from Frederic, before he conferred upon him the imperial crown, that he would undertake a crusade for the deliverance of Jerusalem. Frederic submitted to this engagement, which perhaps he never designed to keep, and certainly endeavored afterwards to evade. Though he became by marriage nominal King of Jerusalem, his excellent understanding was not captivated with so barren a prospect, and at length his delays in the performance of his vow pro­voked Gregory IX to issue against him a sentence of excommunication. Such a thunderbolt was not to be lightly re­garded ; and Frederic sailed, the next year, for Palestine. But having disdained to solicit absolution for what he considered as no crime, the court of Rome was excited to still fiercer indignation against this profanation of a crusade by an excom­municated sovereign. Upon his arrival in Palestine, he received intelligence that the papal troops had broken into the kingdom of Naples. No one could rationally have blamed Frederic, if he had quitted the Holy Land as he found it; but he made a treaty with the Saracens, which, though by no means so disadvantageous as under all the circumstances might have been expected, served as a pretext for new calumnies against him in Europe. The charge of irreligion, eagerly and successfully propagated, he repelled by persecuting edicts against heresy that do no great honor to his memory, and availed him little at the time. Over his Neapolitan dominions he exercised a rigorous government, rendered perhaps necessary by the levity and insubordination characteristic of the inhabitants, but which tended, through the artful representations of Honorius and Gregory, to alarm and alienate the Italian republics.

A new generation had risen up in Lombardy since the peace of Constance, and the prerogatives reserved by that treaty to the empire were so seldom called into action, that few cities were disposed to recollect their existence. They denominated themselves Guelfs or Ghibelins, according to habit, and out of their mutual opposition, but without much reference to the empire. Those however of the former party, and especially Milan, retained their antipathy to the house of Suabia. Though Frederic II. was entitled, as far as established usage can create a right, to the sovereignty of Italy, the Milanese would never acknowledge him, nor permit his coronation at Monza, according to ancient ceremony, with the iron crown of the Lombard kings. The pope fomented, to the utmost of his power, this disaffected spirit, and encouraged the Lombard cities to renew their former league. This, although conformable to a provision in the treaty of Constance, was manifestly hostile to Frederic, and may be considered as the commencement of a second contest between the republican cities of Lombardy and the empire. But there was a striking difference between this and the former confederacy against Frederic Barbarossa. In the league of 1167, almost every city, forgetting all smaller animosities in the great cause of defending the national privileges, contributed its share of exertion to sustain that perilous conflict; and this transient unanimity in a people so distracted by internal faction as the Lombards is the surest witness to the justice of their undertaking. Sixty years afterwards, their war against the second Frederic had less of provocation and less of public spirit. It was in fact a party struggle of Guelf and Ghibelin cities, to which the names of the church and the empire gave more of dignity and consistence.

The republics of Italy in the thirteenth century were so numerous and independent, and their revolutions so frequent, that it is a difficult matter to avoid confusion in following their history. It will give more arrangement to our ideas, and at the same time illustrate the changes that took place in these little states, if we consider them as divided into four clusters or constellations, not indeed unconnected one with another, yet each having its own centre of motion and its own boundaries. The first of these we may suppose formed of the cities in central Lombardy, between the Sessia and the Adige, the Alps and the Ligurian mountains; it comprehends Milan, Cremona, Pavia, Brescia, Bergamo, Parma, Piacenza, Mantua. Lodi, Alessandria, and several others less distinguished. These were the original seats of Italian liberty, the great movers in the wars of the elder Frederic. Milan was at the head of this cluster of cities, and her influence gave an ascendency to the Guelf party; she had, since the treaty of Constance, rendered Lodi and Pavia almost her subjects, and was in strict union with Brescia and Piacenza. Parma, however, and Cremona, were unshaken defenders of the empire. In the second class we may place the cities of the march of Verona, between the Adige and the frontiers of Germany. Of these there were but four worth mentioning: Verona, Vicenza, Padua, and Treviso. The citizens of all the four were inclined to the Guelf interests; but a powerful body of rural nobility, who had never been compelled, like those upon the Upper Po, to quit their fortresses in the hilly country, or reside within the walls, attached themselves to the opposite denomination. Some of them obtained very great authority in the civil feuds of these four republics; and especially two brothers, Eccelin and Alberic da Romano, of a rich and distinguished family, known for its devotion to the empire. By extraordinary vigor and decision of character, by dissimulation and breach of oaths, by the intimidating effects of almost unparalleled cruelty, Eccelin da Romano became after some years the absolute master of three cities, Padua, Verona, and Vicenza; and the Guelf party, in consequence, was entirely subverted beyond the Adige, during the continuance of his tyranny. Another cluster was composed of the cities in Romagna; Bologna, Imola, Faenza, Ferrara, and several others. Of these, Bologna was far the most powerful, and, as no city was more steadily for the interests of the church, the Guelfs usually predominated in this class; to which also the influence of the house of Este not a little contributed. Modena, though not geographically within the limits of this division, may be classed along with it from her constant wars with Bologna. A fourth class will comprehend the whole of Tuscany, separated almost entirely from the politics of Lom­bardy and Romagna. Florence headed the Guelf cities in this province, Pisa the Ghibelin. The Tuscan union was formed, as has been said above, by Innocent III, and was strongly inclined to the popes; but gradually the Ghibelin party acquired its share of influence; and the cities of Siena, Arezzo, and Lucca shifted their policy, according to external circumstances or the fluctuations of their internal factions. The petty cities in the region of Spoleto and Ancona hardly perhaps deserve the name of republics; and Genoa does not readily fall into any of our four classes, unless her wars with Pisa may be thought to connect her with Tuscany.

After several years of transient hostility and precarious truce, the Guelf cities of Lombardy engaged in a regular and protracted war with Frederic II, or more properly with their Ghibelin adversaries. Few events of this contest deserve particular notice. Neither party ever obtained such decisive advantages as had alternately belonged to Frederic Barbarossa and the Lombard confederacy, during the war of the preceding century. A defeat of the Milanese by the emperor, at Corte Nuova, in 1237, was balanced by his unsuccessful siege at Brescia the next year. The Pisans assisted Frederic to gain a great naval victory over the Genoese fleet, in 1241; but he was obliged to rise from the blockade of Parma, which had left the standard of Ghibelinism, in 1248. Ultimately, however, the strength of the house of Suabia was exhausted by so tedious a struggle; the Ghibelins of Italy had their vicissitudes of success; but their country, and even themselves, lost more and more of the ancient connection with Germany.

In this resistance to Frederic II. the Lombards were much indebted to the constant support of Gregory IX and his successor Innocent IV; and the Guelf, or the church party, were used as synonymous terms. These pontiffs bore an unquenchable hatred to the house of Suabia. No concessions mitigated their animosity; no reconciliation was sincere. Whatever faults may be imputed to Frederic, it is impossible for anyone, not blindly devoted to the court of Rome, to deny that he was iniquitously proscribed by her unprincipled ambition. His real crime was the inheritance of his ancestors, and the name of the house of Suabia. In 1239 he was excommunicated by Gregory IX. To this he was tolerably accustomed by former experience; but the sentence was attended by an absolution of his subjects from their allegiance, and a formal deposition. These sentences were not very effective upon men of vigorous minds, or upon those whose passions were engaged in their cause; but they influenced both those who feared the threatenings of the clergy and those who wavered already as to their line of political conduct. In the fluctuating state of Lombardy the excommunication of Frederic undermined his interests even in cities like Parma, that had been friendly, and seemed to identify the cause of his enemies with that of religion—a prejudice artfully fomented by means of calumnies propagated against himself, and which the conduct of such leading Ghibelins as Eccelin, who lived in an open defiance of God and man, did not contribute to lessen. In 1240, Gregory proceeded to publish a crusade against Frederic, as if he had been an open enemy to religion; which he revenged by putting to death all the prisoners he made who wore the cross. There was one thing wanting to make the expulsion of the emperor from the Christian commonwealth more complete. Gregory IX accordingly projected, and Innocent IV carried into effect, the convocation of a general council. This was held at Lyons, an imperial city, but over which Frederic could no longer retain his supremacy, [a.d. 1245.] In this assembly, where one hundred and forty prelates appeared, the question whether Frederic ought to be deposed was solemnly discussed; he submitted to defend himself by his advocates; and the pope in the presence, though without formally collecting the suffrages of the council, pronounced a sentence, by which Frederic’s excom­munication was renewed, the empire and all his kingdoms taken away, and his subjects absolved from their fidelity. This is the most pompous act of usurpation in all the records of the church of Rome; and the tacit approbation of a general council seemed to incorporate the pretended right of deposing kings, which might have passed as a mad vaunt of Gregory VII and his successors, with the established faith of Christendom.

Upon the death of Frederic II in 1250, he left to his son Conrad a contest to maintain for every part of his inheritance, as well as for the imperial crown. But the vigor of the house of Suabia was gone; Conrad was reduced to fight for the kingdom of Naples, the only succession which he could hope to secure against the troops of Innocent IV, who still pursued his family with implacable hatred, and claimed that kingdom as forfeited to its feudal superior, the Holy See. After Conrad’s premature death, which happened in 1254, the throne was filled by his illegitimate brother Manfred, who retained it by his bravery and address, in despite of the popes, till they were compelled to call in the assistance of a more powerful arm.

The death of Conrad brings to a termination that period in Italian history which we have described as nearly coextensive with the greatness of the house of Suabia. It is perhaps upon the whole the most honorable to Italy: that in which she displayed the most of national energy and patriotism. A Florentine or Venetian may dwell with pleasure upon later times, but a Lombard will cast back his eye across the desert of cen­turies, till it reposes on the field of Legnano. Great changes followed in the foreign and internal policy, in the moral and military character of Italy. But before we descend to the next period, it will be necessary to remark some material circumstances in that which has just passed under our review.

The successful resistance of the Lombard cities to such princes as both the Frederics must astonish a reader who brings to the story of these middle ages notions derived from modern times. But when we consider not only the ineffectual control which could be exerted over a feudal army, bound only to a short term of service, and reluctantly kept in the field at its own cost, but the peculiar distrust and disaffection with which many German princes regarded the house of Suabia, less reason will appear for surprise. Nor did the kingdom of Naples, almost always in agitation, yield any material aid to the second Frederic. The main cause, however, of that triumph which attended Lombardy was the intrinsic energy of a free government. From the eleventh century, when the cities became virtually republican, they put out those vigorous shoots which are the growth of freedom alone. Their domestic feuds, their mutual wars, the fierce assaults of their national enemies, checked not their strength, their wealth, or their population; but rather as the limbs are nerved by labor and hardship, the republics of Italy grew in vigor and courage through the conflicts they sustained. If we but remember what savage license prevailed during the ages that preceded their rise, the rapine of public robbers, or of feudal nobles little differing from robbers, the contempt of industrious arts, the inadequacy of penal laws and the impossibility of carrying them into effect, we shall form some notion of the change which was wrought in the condition of Italy by the growth of its cities. In comparison with the blessings of industry protected, injustice controlled, emulation awakened, the disorders which ruffled their surface appear slight and momentary. I speak only of this first stage of their independence, and chiefly of the twelfth century, before those civil dissensions had reached their height by which the glory and prosperity of Lombardy was soon to be subverted.

We have few authentic testimonies as to the domestic improvement of the free Italian cities, while they still deserve the name. But we may perceive by history that their power and population, according to their extent of territory, were almost incredible. In Galvaneus Flanima, a Milanese writer, we find a curious statistical account of that city in 1288, which, though of a date about thirty years after its liberties had been overthrown by usurpation, must be considered as implying a high degree of previous advancement, even if we make allowance, as probably we should, for some exaggeration. The in­habitants are reckoned at 200,000; the private houses 13,000; the nobility alone dwelt in sixty streets; 8,000 gentlemen or heavy cavalry (milites) might be mustered from the city and its district, and 240,000 men capable of arms: a force sufficient, the writer observes, to crush all the Saracens. There were in Milan six hundred notaries, two hundred physicians, eighty schoolmasters, and fifty transcribers of manuscripts. In the district were one hundred and fifty castles with adjoining villages. Such was the state of Milan, Flamma concludes, in 1288; it is not for me to say whether it has gained or lost ground since that time. At this period the territory of Milan was not perhaps more extensive than the county of Surrey; it was bounded at a little distance, on almost every side, by Lodi, or Pavia, or Bergamo, or Como. It is possible, however, that Flamma may have meant to include some of these as dependencies of Milan, though not strictly united with it. How flourishing must the state of cultivation have been in such a country, which not only drew no supplies from any foreign land, but exported part of their own produce! It was in the best age of their liberties, immediately after the battle of Legnano, that the Milanese commenced the great canal which conducts the waters of the Tesino to their capital, a work very extraordinary for that time. During the same period the cities gave proofs of internal prosperity that in many instances have descended to our own observation in the solidity and magnificence of their architecture. Ecclesiastical structures were perhaps more splendid in France and England; but neither country could pretend to match the pal­aces and public buildings, the streets flagged with stone, the bridges of the same material, or the commodious private houses of Italy.

The courage of these cities was wrought sometimes to a tone of insolent defiance through the security inspired by their means of defence. From the time of the Romans to that when the use of gunpowder came to prevail, little change was made, or perhaps could be made, in that part of military science which relates to the attack and defence of fortified places. We find precisely the same engines of offence; the cumbrous towers, from which arrows were shot at the besieged, the machines from which stones were discharged, the battering-rams which assailed the walls, and the basket-work covering (the vinea or testudo of the ancients, and the gattus or chat-chateil of the middle ages) under which those who pushed the battering engines were protected from the enemy. On the other hand, a city was fortified with a strong wall of brick or marble, with towers raised upon it at intervals, and a deep moat in front. Sometimes the antemural or barbacan was added; a rampart of less height, which impeded the approach of the hostile engines. The gates were guarded with a portcullis; an invention which, as well as the barbacan, was borrowed from the Saracens. With such advantages for defence, a numerous and intrepid body of burghers might not unreasonably stand at bay against a powerful army; and as the consequences of capture were most terrible, while resistance was seldom hope­less, we cannot wonder at the desperate bravery of so many besieged towns. Indeed it seldom happened that one of considerable size was taken, except by famine or treachery. Tortona did not submit to Frederic Barbarossa till the besiegers had corrupted with sulphur the only fountain that supplied the citizens; nor Crema till her walls were overtopped by the battering engines. Ancona held out a noble example of sustaining the pressure of extreme famine. Brescia tried all the resources of a skilful engineer against the second Frederic; and swerved not from her steadiness, when that prince, imitating an atrocious precedent of his grandfather at the siege of Crema, exposed his prisoners upon his battering engines to the stones that were hurled by their fellow-citizens upon the walls.

Of the government which existed in the republics of Italy during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, no definite sketch can be traced. The chroniclers of those times are few and jejune; and, as is usual with contemporaries, rather intimate than describe the civil polity of their respective countries. It would indeed be a weary task, if it were even possible, to delineate the constitutions of thirty or forty little states which were in perpetual fluctuation. The magistrates elected in al­most all of them, when they first began to shake off the jurisdiction of their count or bishop, were styled consuls; a word very expressive to an Italian ear, since, in the darkest ages, tradition must have preserved some acquaintance with the republican government of Rome. The consuls were always annual; and their office comprehended the command of the national militia in war, as well as the administration of justice and preservation of public order; but their number was various ; two, four, six, or even twelve. In their legislative and deliberative councils the Lombards still copied the Roman constitution, or perhaps fell naturally into the form most calcu­lated to unite sound discretion with the exercise of popular sovereignty. A council of trust and secrecy (della credenza) was composed of a small number of persons, who took the management of public affairs, and may be called the ministers of the state. But the decision upon matters of general importance, treaties of alliance or declarations of war, the choice of consuls or ambassadors, belonged to the general council. This appears not to have been uniformly constituted in every city; and according to its composition the government was more or less democratical. An ultimate sovereignty, however, was reserved to the mass of the people; and a parliament or general assembly was held to deliberate on any change in the form of constitution.

About the end of the twelfth century a new and singular species of magistracy was introduced into the Lombard cities. During the tyranny of Frederic I he had appointed officers of his own, called podestas, instead of the elective consuls. It is remarkable that this memorial of despotic power should not have excited insuperable alarm and disgust in the free republics. But, on the contrary, they almost universally, after the peace of Constance, revived an office which had been abrogated when they first rose in rebellion against Frederic. From experience, as we must presume, of the partiality which their domestic factions carried into the administration of justice, it became a general practice to elect, by the name of podesta, a citizen of some neighboring state as their general, their criminal judge, and preserver of the peace. The last duty was frequently arduous, and required a vigorous as well as an upright magistrate. Offences against the laws and security of the commonwealth were during the middle ages as often, perhaps more often, committed by the rich and powerful than by the inferior class of society. Rude and licentious manners, family feuds and private revenge, or the mere insolence of strength, rendered the execution of criminal justice practically and in every day’s experience, what is now little required, a necessary protection to the poor against oppression. The sentence of a magistrate against a powerful offender was not pronounced without danger of tumult; it was seldom executed without force. A convicted criminal was not, as at present, the stricken deer of society, whose disgrace his kindred shrink from participating, and whose memory they strive to forget. Imputing his sentence to iniquity, or glorying in an act which the laws of his fellow-citizens, but not their sentiments, condemned, he stood upon his defence amidst a circle of friends. The law was to be enforced not against an individual, but a family—not against a family, but a faction—not perhaps against a local faction, but the whole Guelf or Ghibelin name, which might become interested in the quarrel. The podesta was to arm the republic against her refractory citizen; his house was to be besieged and razed to the ground, his defenders to be quelled by violence : and thus the people, become familiar with outrage and homicide under the command of their magistrates, were more disposed to repeat such scenes at the instigation of their passions.

The podesta was sometimes chosen in a general assembly, sometimes by a select number of citizens. His office was annual, though prolonged in peculiar emergencies. He was invariably a man of noble family, even in those cities which excluded their own nobility from any share in the government. He received a fixed salary, and was compelled to remain in the city after the expiration of his office for the purpose of answering such charges as might be adduced against his conduct. He could neither marry a native of the city, nor have any relation resident within the district, nor even, so great was their jealousy, eat or drink in the house of any citizen. The authority of these foreign magistrates was not by any means alike in all cities. In some he seems to have superseded the consuls, and commanded the armies in war. In others, as Milan and Florence, his authority was merely judicial. We find in some of the old annals the years headed by the names of the podestas, as by those of the consuls in the history of Rome.

The effects of the evil spirit of discord that had so fatally breathed upon the republics of Lombardy were by no means confined to national interests, or to the grand distinction of Guelf and Ghibelin. Dissensions glowed in the heart of every city, and as the danger of foreign war became distant, these grew more fierce and unappeasable. The feudal system had been established upon the principle of territorial aristocracy; it maintained the authority, it encouraged the pride of rank. Hence, when the rural nobility were compelled to take up their residence in cities, they preserved the ascendency of birth and riches. From the natural respect which is shown to these advantages, all offices of trust and command were shared amongst them; it is not material whether this were by positive right or continual usage. A limited aristocracy of this description, where the inferior citizens possess the right of selecting their magistrates by free suffrage from a numerous body of nobles, is not among the worst forms of government, and affords no contemptible security against oppression and anarchy. This regimen appears to have prevailed in most of the Lombard cities during the eleventh and twelfth centuries; though, in so great a deficiency of authentic materials, it would be too peremptory to assert this as an unequivocal truth. There is one very early instance, in the year 1041, of a civil war at Milan between the capitanei, or vassals of the empire, and the plebeian burgesses, which was appeased by the mediation of Henry III. This is ascribed to the ill treatment which the latter experienced —as was usual indeed in all parts of Europe, but which was endured with inevitable submission everywhere else. In this civil war, which lasted three years, the nobility were obliged to leave Milan, and carry on the contest in the adjacent plains ; and one of their class, by name Lanzon, whether moved by ambition, or by virtuous indignation against tyranny, put him­self at the head of the people.

From this time we scarcely find any mention of dissensions among the two orders till after the peace of Constance—a proof, however defective the contemporary annals may be, that such disturbances had neither been frequent nor serious. A schism between the nobles and people is noticed to have occurred at Faenza in 1185. A serious civil war of some duration broke out between them at Brescia in 1200. From this time mutual jealousies interrupted the domestic tranquillity of other cities, but it is about 1220 that they appear to have taken a decided aspect of civil war; within a few years of that epoch the question of aristocratical or popular command was tried by arms in Milan, Piacenza, Modena, Cremona, and Bologna.

It would be in vain to enter upon the merits of these feuds, which the meagre historians of the time are seldom much disposed to elucidate, and which they saw with their own prejudices. A writer of the present age would show little philosophy if he were to heat his passions by the reflection, as it were, of those forgotten animosities, and aggravate, like a partial contemporary, the failings of one or another faction. We have no need of positive testimony to acquaint us with the general tenor of their history. We know that a nobility is always insolent, that a populace is always intemperate; and may safely presume that the former began, as the latter ended, by injustice and abuse of power. At one time the aristocracy, not content with seeing the annual magistrates selected from their body, would endeavor by usurpation to exclude the bulk of the citizens from suffrage. At another, the merchants, grown proud by riches, and confident of their strength, would aim at obtaining the honors of the state, which had been reserved to the nobility. This is the inevitable consequence of commercial wealth, and indeed of freedom and social order, which are the parents of wealth. There is in the progress of civilization a term at which exclusive privileges must be relaxed, or the possessors must perish along with them. In one or two cities a temporary compromise was made through the intervention of the pope, whereby offices of public trust, from the highest to the lowest, were divided, in equal proportions, or otherwise, between the nobles and the people. This also is no bad expedient, and proved singularly efficacious in appeasing the dissensions of ancient Rome.

There is, however, a natural preponderance in the popular scale, which, in a fair trial, invariably gains on that of the less numerous class. The artisans, who composed the bulk of the population, were arranged in companies according to their occupations. Sometimes, as at Milan, they formed sep­arate associations, with rules for their internal government. The clubs, called at Milan la Motta and la Credenza, obtained a degree of weight not at all surprising to those who consider the spirit of mutual attachment which belongs to such fraternities; and we shall see a more striking instance of this hereafter in the republic of Florence. To so formidable and organized a democracy the nobles opposed their numerous families, the generous spirit that belongs to high birth, the influence of wealth and established name. The members of each distinguished family appear to have lived in the same street; their houses were fortified with square massive towers of commanding height, and wore the semblance of castles within the walls of a city. Brancaleon, the famous senator of Rome, destroyed one hundred and forty of these domestic entrenchments, which were constantly serving the purpose of civil broils and outrage. Expelled, as frequently happened, from the city, it was in the power of the nobles to avail themselves of their superiority in the use of cavalry, and to lay waste the district, till weariness of an unprofitable contention reduced the citizens to terms of compromise. But when all these resources were ineffectual, they were tempted or forced to sacrifice the public liberty to their own welfare, and lent their aid to a foreign master or a domestic usurper.

In all these scenes of turbulence, whether the contest was between the nobles and people or the Guelf or Ghibelin factions, no mercy was shown by the conquerors. The vanquished lost their homes and fortunes, and, retiring to other cities of their own party, waited for the opportunity of revenge. In a popular tumult the houses of the beaten side were frequently levelled to the ground—not perhaps from a sort of senseless fury, which Muratori inveighs against, but on account of the injury which these fortified houses inflicted upon the lower citizens. The most deadly hatred is that which men exasperated by proscription and forfeiture bear to their country; nor have we need to ask any other cause for the calamities of Italy than the bitterness with which an unsuccessful faction was thus pursued into banishment. When the Ghibelins were returning to Florence, after a defeat given to the prevailing party in 1260, it was proposed among them to demolish the city itself which had cast them out; and, but for the persuasion of one man, Farinata degl’ Uberti, their revenge would have thus extinguished all patriotism. It is to this that we must ascribe their proneness to call in assistance from every side, and to invite any servitude for the sake of retaliating upon their adversaries. The simple love of public liberty is in general, I fear, too abstract a passion to glow warmly in the human breast; and though often invigorated as well as determined by personal animosities and predilections, is as frequently extinguished by the same cause.

Independently of the two leading differences which embat­tled the citizens of an Italian state, their form of government and their relation to the empire, there were others more contemptible though not less mischievous. In every city the quarrels of private families became the foundation of general schism, sedition, and proscription. Sometimes these blended themselves with the grand distinctions of Guelf and Ghibelin; sometimes they were more nakedly conspicuous. This may be illustrated by one or two prominent examples. Imilda de’ Lambertazzi, a noble young lady at Bologna, was surprised by her brothers in a secret interview with Boniface Gieremei, whose family had long been separated by the most inveterate enmity from her own. She had just time to escape, while the Lambertazzi despatched her lover with their poisoned daggers. On her return she found his body still warm, and a faint hope suggested the remedy of sucking the venom from his wounds. But it only communicated itself to her own veins, and they were found by her attendants stretched lifeless by each other’s side. So cruel an outrage wrought the Gieremei to madness; they formed alliances with some neighboring republics; the Lambertazzi took the same measures; and after a fight in the streets of Bologna, of forty days’ duration, the latter were driven out of the city, with all the Ghibelins, their political associates. Twelve thousand citizens were condemned to banishment, their houses razed, and their estates confiscated. Florence was at rest till, in 1215, the assassination of an indi­vidual produced a mortal feud between the families Buondelmonti and Uberti, in which all the city took a part. An outrage committed at Pistoja in 1300 split the inhabitants into the parties of Bianchi and Neri; and these, spreading to Florence, created one of the most virulent divisions which annoyed that republic. In one of the changes which attended this little ramification of faction, Florence expelled a young citizen who had borne offices of magistracy, and espoused the cause of the Bianchi. Dante Alighieri retired to the courts of some Ghibelin princes, where his sublime and inventive mind, in the gloom of exile, completed that original combination of vast and ex­travagant conceptions with keen political satire which has given immortality to his name, and even lustre to the petty contests of his time.

In the earlier stages of the Lombard republic their differences, as well mutual as domestic, had been frequently appeased by the mediation of the emperors; and the loss of this salutary influence may be considered as no slight evil attached to that absolute emancipation which Italy attained in the thirteenth century. The popes sometimes endeavored to interpose an authority which, though not quite so direct, was held in greater veneration; and if their own tempers had been always pure from the selfish and vindictive passions of those whom they influenced, might have produced more general and permanent good. But they considered the Ghibelins as their own peculiar enemies, and the triumph of the opposite faction as the church’s best security. Gregory X and Nicholas III, whether from benevolent motives, or because their jealousy of Charles of Anjou, while at the head of the Guelfs, suggested the revival of a Ghibelin party as a counterpoise to his power, distinguished their pontificate by enforcing measures of reconciliation in all Italian cities; but their successors returned to the ancient policy and prejudices of Rome.

The singular history of an individual far less elevated in station than popes or emperors, Fra Giovanni di Vicenza, belongs to these times and to this subject. This Dominican friar began his career at Bologna in 1233, preaching the cessation of war and forgiveness of injuries. He repaired from thence to Padua, to Verona, and the neighboring cities. At his com­mand men laid down their instruments of war, and embraced their enemies. With that susceptibility of transient impulse natural to popular governments, several republics implored him to reform their laws and to settle their differences. A general meeting was summoned in the plain of Paquara, upon the banks of the Adige. The Lombards poured themselves forth from Romagna and the cities of the March; Guelfs and Ghibelins, nobles and burghers, free citizens and tenantry of feudal lords, marshalled around their carroccios, caught from the lips of the preacher the allusive promise of universal peace. They submitted to agreements dictated by Fra Giovanni, which contain little else than a mutual amnesty; whether it were that their quarrels had been really without object, or that he had dexterously avoided to determine the real points of contention. But power and reputation suddenly acquired are transitory. Not satisfied with being the legislator and arbiter of Italian cities, he aimed at becoming their master, and abused the enthusiasm of Vicenza and Verona to obtain a grant of absolute sovereignty. Changed from an apostle to an usurper, the fate of Fra Giovanni might be predicted; and he speedily gave place to those who, though they made a worse use of their power, had, in the eyes of mankind, more natural pretensions to possess it.



State of Italy after the Extinction of the House of Suabia


From the death of Frederic II in 1250, to the invasion of Charles VIII in 1494, a long and undistinguished period occurs, which it is impossible to break into any natural divisions. It is an age in many respects highly brilliant: the age of poetry and letters, of art, and of continual improvement. Italy displayed an intellectual superiority in this period over the Transalpine nations which certainly had not appeared since the destruction of the Roman empire. But her political history presents a labyrinth of petty facts so obscure and of so little influence as not to arrest the attention, so intricate and incapable of classification as to leave only confusion to the. memory. The general events that are worthy of notice, and give a character to this long period, are the establishment of small tyrannies upon the ruins of republican government in most of the cities, the gradual rise of three considerable states, Milan, Florence, and Venice, and the naval and commercial rivalry between the last city and Genoa, the final acquisition by the popes off their present territorial sovereignty, and the revolutions in the kingdom of Naples under the lines of Anjou and Aragon.

After the death of Frederic II the distinctions of Guelf and Ghibelin became destitute of all rational meaning. The most odious crimes were constantly perpetrated, and the utmost miseries endured, for an echo and a shade that mocked the deluded enthusiasts of faction. None of the Guelfs denied the nominal but indefinite sovereignty of the empire; and beyond a name the Ghibelins themselves would have been little disposed to carry it. But the virulent hatreds attached to these words grew continually more implacable, till ages of ignominy and tyrannical government had extinguished every energetic passion in the bosoms of a degraded people.

In the fall of the house of Suabia, Rome appeared to have consummated her triumph; and although the Ghibelin party was for a little time able to maintain itself, and even to gain ground, in the north of Italy, yet two events that occurred not long afterwards restored the ascendency of their adversaries. The first of these was the fall of Eccelin da Romano, whose rapid successes in Lombardy appeared to threaten the establishment of a tremendous despotism, and induced a temporary union of Guelf and Ghibelin states, by which he was overthrown, [a.d. 1259.] The next and far more important was the change of dynasty in Naples. This kingdom had been occupied, after the death of Conrad, by his illegitimate brother, Manfred, in the behalf, as he at first pretended, of young Conradin the heir, but in fact as his own acquisition, [a.d. 1254.] He was a prince of an active and firm mind, well fitted for his difficult post, to whom the Ghibelins looked up as their head, and as the representative of his father. It was a natural object with the popes, independently of their ill-will towards a son of Frederic II, to see a sovereign on whom they could better rely placed upon so neighboring a throne. Charles Count of Anjou, brother of St. Louis, was tempted by them to lead a crusade (for as such all wars for the interest of Rome were now considered) against the Neapolitan usurper. The chance of a battle decided the fate of Naples, and had a striking influence upon the history of Europe for several centuries. [a.d. 1266.] Manfred was killed in the field; but there re­mained the legitimate heir of the Frederics, a boy of seventeen years old, Conradin, son of Conrad, who rashly, as we say at least after the event, attempted to regain his inheritance. He fell into the hands of Charles; and the voice of those rude ages, as well as of a more enlightened posterity, has united in branding with everlasting infamy the name of that prince, who did not hesitate to purchase the security of his own title by the public execution of an honorable competitor, or rather a right­ful claimant of the throne he had usurped, [a.d. 1268.] With Conradin the house of Suabia was extinguished; but Con­stance, the daughter of Manfred, had transported his right to Sicily and Naples into the house of Aragon, by her marriage with Peter III.

This success of a monarch selected by the Roman pontiffs as their particular champion, turned the tide of faction over all Italy. He expelled the Ghibelins from Florence, of which they had a few years before obtained a complete command by means of their memorable victory upon the river Arbia. After the fall of Conradin that party was everywhere discouraged. Germany held out small hopes of support, even when the imperial throne, which had long been vacant, should be filled by one of her princes. The populace were in almost every city attached to the church and to the name of Guelf; the kings of Naples employed their arms, and the popes their excommunications; so that for the remainder of the thirteenth cen­tury the name of Ghibelin was a term of proscription in the majority of Lombard and Tuscan republics. Charles was constituted by the pope vicar-general in Tuscany. This was a new pretension of the Roman pontiffs, to name the lieutenants of the empire during its vacancy, which indeed could not be completely filled up without their consent. It soon, however, became evident that he aimed at the sovereignty of Italy. Some of the popes themselves, Gregory X and Nicholas IV, grew jealous of their own creature. At the congress of Cremona, in 1269, it was proposed to confer upon Charles the seigniory of all the Guelf cities; but the greater part were prudent enough to choose him rather as a friend than a master.

The cities of Lombardy, however, of either denomination, were no longer influenced by that generous disdain of one man’s will which is to republican governments what chastity is to women—a conservative principle, never to be reasoned upon, or subjected to calculations of utility. By force, or stratagem, or free consent, almost all the Lombard republics had already fallen under the yoke of some leading citizen, who became the lord (signore) or, in the German sense, tyrant of his country. The first instance of a voluntary delegation of sovereignty was that above mentioned of Ferrara, which placed itself under the lord of Este. Eccelin made himself truly the tyrant of the cities beyond the Adige; and such experience ought naturally to have inspired the Italians with more universal abhorrence of despotism. But every danger appeared trivial in the eyes of exasperated factions when com­pared with the ascendency of their adversaries. Weary of unceasing and useless contests, in which ruin fell with an alternate but equal hand upon either party, liberty withdrew from a people who disgraced her name; and the tumultuous, the brave, the intractable Lombards became eager to submit themselves to a master, and patient under the heaviest oppression. Or, if tyranny sometimes overstepped the limits of forbearance, and a seditious rising expelled the reigning prince, it was only to produce a change of hands, and transfer the impotent people to a different, and perhaps a worse, despotism. In many cities not a conspiracy was planned, not a sigh was breathed, in favor of republican government, after once they had passed under the sway of a single person. The progress indeed was gradual, though sure, from limited to absolute, from temporary to hereditary power, from a just and conciliating rule to extortion and cruelty. But before the middle of the fourteenth century, at the latest, all those cities which had spurned at the faintest mark of submission to the emperors lost even the recollection of self-government, and were bequeathed, like an undoubted patrimony, among the children of their new lords. Such is the progress of usurpation; and such the vengeance that Heaven reserves for those who waste in license and faction its first of social blessings, liberty.

The city most distinguished in both wars against the house of Suabia for an unconquerable attachment to republican in­stitutions, was the first to sacrifice them in a few years after the death of Frederic II. Milan had for a considerable time been agitated by civil dissensions between the nobility and inferior citizens. These parties were pretty equally balanced, and their success was consequently alternate. Each had its own podesta, as a party-leader, distinct from the legitimate magistrate of the city. At the head of the nobility was their archbishop, Fra Leon Perego; the people chose Martin della Torre, one of a noble family which had ambitiously sided with the democratic faction. In consequence of the crime of a nobleman, who had murdered one of his creditors, the two parties took up arms in 1257. A civil war, of various success, and interrupted by several pacifications, which in that unhappy temper could not be durable, was terminated in about two years by the entire discomfiture of the aristocracy, and by the election of Martin della Torre as chief and lord (capitano e signore) of the people. Though the Milanese did not probably intend to renounce the sovereignty resident in their general assemblies, yet they soon lost the republican spirit; five in succession of the family della Torre might be said to reign in Milan; each, indeed, by a formal election, but with an implied recognition of a sort of hereditary title. Twenty years afterwards the Visconti, a family of opposite interests, supplanted the Torriani at Milan; and the rivalry between these great houses was not at an end till the final establishment of Matteo Visconti in 1313; but the people were not otherwise considered than as aiding by force the one or other party, and at most deciding between the pretensions of their masters.

The vigor and concert infused into the Guelf party by the successes of Charles of Anjou, were not very durable. That prince was soon involved in a protracted and unfortunate quarrel with the kings of Aragon, to whose protection his revolted subjects in Italy had recurred. On the other hand, several men of energetic character retrieved the Ghibelin in­terests in Lombardy, and even in the Tuscan cities. The Visconti were acknowledged heads of that faction. A family early established as lords of Verona, the della Scala, maintained the credit of the same denomination between the Adige and the Adriatic. Castruccio Castrucani, an adventurer of remarkable ability, rendered himself prince of Lucca, and drew over a formidable accession to the imperial side from the heart of the church-party in Tuscany, though his death re­stored the ancient order of things. The inferior tyrants were partly Guelf, partly Ghibelin, according to local revolutions; but upon the whole the latter acquired a gradual ascendency. Those indeed who cared for the independence of Italy, or for their own power, had far less to fear from the phantom of imperial prerogatives, long intermitted and incapable of be­ing enforced, than from the new race of foreign princes whom the church had substituted for the house of Suabia. The Angevin kings of Naples were sovereigns of Provence, and from thence easily encroached upon Piedmont, and threatened the Milanese. Robert, the third of this line, almost openly aspired, like his grandfather Charles I, to a real sovereignty over Italy. His offers of assistance to Guelf cities in war were always coupled with a demand of the sovereignty. Many yielded to his ambition; and even Florence twice bestowed upon him a temporary dictatorship. In 1314 he was acknowledged lord of Lucca, Florence, Pavia, Alessandria, Bergamo, and the cities of Romagna. In 1318 the Guelfs of Genoa found no other resource against the Ghibelin emigrants who were under their walls than to resign their liberties to the King of Naples for the term of ten years, which he procured to be renewed for six more. The Avignon popes, especially John XXII., out of blind hatred to the Emperor Louis of Bavaria and the Visconti family, abetted all these measures of ambition. But they were rendered abortive by Robert’s death and the subsequent disturbances of his kingdom.

At the latter end of the thirteenth century there were al­most as many princes in the north of Italy as there had been free cities in the preceding age. Their equality, and the frequent domestic revolutions which made their seat unsteady, kept them for a while from encroaching on each other. Gradually, however, they became less numerous: a quantity of obscure tyrants were swept away from the smaller cities; and the people, careless or hopeless of liberty, were glad to exchange the rule of despicable petty usurpers for that of more distinguished and powerful families. About the year 1350 the central parts of Lombardy had fallen under the dominion of the Visconti. Four other houses occupied the second rank: that of Este at Ferrara and Modena; of Scala at Verona, which under Cane and Mastino della Scala had seemed likely to contest with the lords of Milan the supremacy over Lombardy; of Carrara at Padua, which later than any Lombard city had resigned her liberty; and of Gonzaga at Mantua, which, without ever obtaining any material extension of territory, continued, probably for that reason, to reign undisturbed till the eighteenth century. But these united were hardly a match, as they sometimes experienced, for the Visconti. That family, the object of every league formed in Italy for more than fifty years, in constant hostility to the church, and well inured to interdicts and excommunications, producing no one man of military talents, but fertile of tyrants detested for their perfidiousness and cruelty, was nevertheless enabled, with almost uninterrupted success, to add city after city to the dominion of Milan till it absorbed all the north of Italy. Under Gian Galeazzo, whose reign began in 1385, the viper (their armorial bearing) assumed indeed a menacing attitude he overturned the great family of Scala, and annexed their extensive possessions to his own; no power intervened from Vercelli in Piedmont to Feltre and Belluno; while the free cities of Tuscany, Pisa, Siena, Perugia, and even Bologna, as if by a kind of witchcraft, voluntarily called in a dissembling tyrant as their master.

Powerful as the Visconti were in Italy, they were long in washing out the tinge of recent usurpation, which humbled them before the legitimate dynasties of Europe. At the siege of Genoa in 1318 Robert King of Naples rejected with contempt the challenge of Marco Visconti to decide their quarrel in single combat. But the pride of sovereigns, like that of private men, is easily set aside for their interest. Galeazzo Visconti purchased with 100,000 florins a daughter of France for his son, which the French historians mention as a deplorable humiliation for their crown. A few years afterwards, Lionel Duke of Clarence, second son of Edward III, certainly not an inferior match, espoused Galeazzo’s daughter. Both these connections were short-lived; but the union of Valen­tine, daughter of Gian Galeazzo, with the Duke of Orleans, in 1389, produced far more important consequences, and served to transmit a claim to her descendants, Louis XII. and Francis I., from which the long calamities of Italy at the beginning of the sixteenth century were chiefly derived. Not long after this marriage the Visconti were tacitly admitted among the reigning princes, by the erection of Milan into a duchy under letters­ patent of the Emperor Wenceslaus [a.d. 1395.]

The imperial authority over Italy was almost entirely suspended after the death of Frederic II. A long interregnum followed in Germany; and when the vacancy was supplied by Rodolph of Hapsburg, he was too prudent to dissipate his moderate resources where the great house of Suabia had failed, [a.d. 1272.] About forty years afterwards the Em­peror Henry of Luxemburg, a prince, like Rodolph, of small hereditary possessions, but active and discreet, availed himself of the ancient respect borne to the imperial name, and the mutual jealousies of the Italians, to recover for a very short time a remarkable influence, [a.d. 1309.] But, though professing neutrality and desire of union between the Guelfs and Ghibelins, he could not succeed in removing the distrust of the former; his exigencies impelled him to large demands of money; and the Italians, when they counted his scanty German cavalry, perceived that disobedience was altogether a matter of their own choice. Henry died, however, in time to save himself from any decisive reverse. His successors, Louis of Bavaria and Charles IV, descended from the Alps with similar motives, but after some temporary good fortune were obliged to return, not without discredit. Yet the Italians never broke that almost invisible thread which connected them with Germany; the fallacious name of Roman emperor still challenged their allegiance, though conferred by seven Teutonic electors without their concurrence. Even Florence, the most independent and high-spirited of republics, was induced to make a treaty with Charles IV in I355, which, while it confirmed all her actual liberties, not a little, by that very confirmation, affected her sovereignty. This deference to the supposed prerogatives of the empire, even while they were least formidable, was partly owing to jealousy of French or Neapolitan interference, partly by the national hatred of the popes who had seceded to Avignon, and in some degree to a misplaced respect for antiquity, to which the revival of let­ters had given birth. The great civilians, and the much greater poets, of the fourteenth century, taught Italy to con­sider her emperor as a dormant sovereign, to whom her various principalities and republics were subordinate, and during whose absence alone they had legitimate authority.

In one part, however, of that country, the empire had, soon after the commencement of this period, spontaneously renounced its sovereignty. From the era of Pepin’s donation, confirmed and extended by many subsequent charters, the Holy See had tolerably just pretensions to the province en­titled Romagna, or the exarchate of Ravenna. But the popes, whose menaces were dreaded at the extremities of Europe, were still very weak as temporal princes. Even Innocent III. had never been able to obtain possession of this part of St. Peter’s patrimony. The circumstances of Rodolph’s acces­sion inspired Nicholas III with more confidence. That emperor granted a confirmation of everything included in the donations of Louis I, Otho, and his other predecessors; but was still reluctant or ashamed to renounce his imperial rights. Accordingly his charter is expressed to be granted without diminution of the empire (sine demembratione imperii); and his chancellor received an oath of fidelity from the cities of Romagna. But the pope insisting firmly on his own claim, Rodolph discreetly avoided involving himself in a fatal quarrel, and, in 1278, absolutely released the imperial supremacy over all the dominions already granted to the Holy See.

This is a leading epoch in the temporal monarchy of Rome. But she stood only in the place of the .emperor; and her ultimate sovereignty was compatible with the practicable independence of the free cities, or of the usurpers who had risen up among them. Bologna, Faenza, Rimini, and Ra­venna, with many others less considerable, took an oath indeed to the pope, but continued to regulate both their internal concerns and foreign relations at their own discretion. The first of these cities was far preeminent above the rest for population and renown, and, though not without several intermissions, preserved a republican character till the end of the fourteenth century. The rest were soon enslaved by petty tyrants, more obscure than those of Lombardy. It was not easy for the pontiffs of Avignon to reinstate themselves in a dominion which they seemed to have abandoned; but they made several attempts to recover it, sometimes with spiritual arms, sometimes with the more efficacious aid of mercenary troops. The annals of this part of Italy are peculiarly uninteresting.

Rome itself was, throughout the middle ages, very little disposed to acquiesce in the government of her bishop. His rights were indefinite, and unconfirmed by positive law; the emperor was long sovereign, the people always meant to be free. Besides the common causes of insubordination and anarchy among the Italians, which applied equally to the capital city, other sentiments more peculiar to Rome preserved a continual, though not uniform, influence for many centuries. There still remained enough in the wreck of that vast inheritance to swell the bosoms of her citizens with a consciousness of their own dignity. They bore the venerable name, they contemplated the monuments of art and empire, and forgot, in the illusions of national pride, that the tutelar gods of the building were departed forever. About the middle of the twelfth century these recollections were heightened by the eloquence of Arnold of Brescia, a political heretic who preached against the temporal jurisdiction of the hierarchy. In a temporary intoxication of fancy, they were led to make a ridiculous show of self-importance towards Frederic Bar­barossa, when he came to receive the imperial crown; but the German sternly chided their ostentation, and chastised their resistance.! With the popes they could deal more securely. Several of them were expelled from Rome during that age by the seditious citizens. Lucius II died of hurts received in a tumult. The government was vested in fifty-six senators, annually chosen by the people, through the intervention of an electoral body, ten delegates from each of the thirteen dis­tricts of the city. This constitution lasted not quite fifty years. In 1192 Rome imitated the prevailing fashion by the appointment of an annual foreign magistrate. Except in name, the senator of Rome appears to have perfectly resem­bled the podesta of other cities. This magistrate superseded the representative senate, who had proved by no means adequate to control the most lawless aristocracy of Italy. I shall not repeat the story of Brancaleon’s rigorous and in­flexible justice, which a great historian has already drawn from obscurity. It illustrates not the annals of Rome alone, but the general state of Italian society, the nature of a podesta’s duty, and the difficulties of its execution. The office of senator survives after more than six hundred years; but he no longer wields the “iron flail”  of Brancaleon; and his nomination proceeds, of course, from the supreme pontiff, not from the people. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the senate, and the senator who succeeded them, exercised one distinguishing attribute of sovereignty, that of coining gold and silver money. Some of their coins still exist, with legends in a very republican tone?” Doubtless the temporal author­ity of the popes varied according to their personal character. Innocent III had much more than his predecessors for almost a century, or than some of his successors. He made the senator take an oath of fealty to him, which, though not very comprehensive, must have passed in those times as a recognition of his superiority.

Though there was much less obedience to any legitimate power at Rome than anywhere else in Italy, even during the thirteenth century, yet, after the secession of the popes to Avignon, their own city was left in a far worse condition than before. Disorders of every kind, tumult and robbery, pre­vailed in the streets. The Roman nobility were engaged in perpetual war with each other. Not content with their own fortified palaces, they turned the sacred monuments of antiquity into strongholds, and consummated the destruction of time and conquest. At no period has the city endured such irreparable injuries; nor was the downfall of the western empire so fatal to its capital as the contemptible feuds of the Orsini and Colonna families. Whatever there was of government, whether administered by a legate from Avignon or by the municipal authorities, had lost all hold on these powerful barons. In the midst of this degradation and wretchedness, an obscure man, Nicola di Rienzi, conceived the project of restoring Rome, not only to good order, but even to her ancient greatness. He had received an education beyond his birth, and nourished his mind with the study of the best writers. After many harangues to the people, which the nobility, blinded by their self-confidence, did not attempt to repress, Rienzi suddenly excited an insurrection, and obtained complete success, [a.d. 1347.] He was placed at the head of a new government, with the title of tribune, and with almost unlimited power. The first effects of this revolution were wonderful. All the nobles submitted, though with great reluctance; the roads were cleared of robbers; tranquillity was restored at home; some severe examples of justice intimidated offenders; and the tribune was regarded by all the people as the destined restorer of Rome and Italy. Though the court of Avignon could not approve of such an usurpation, it temporized enough not directly to oppose it. Most of the Italian republics, and some of the princes, sent ambassadors, and seemed to recognize pretensions which were tolerably ostentatious. The King of Hungary and Queen of Naples submitted their quarrel to the arbitration of Rienzi, who did not, however, undertake to decide upon it. But this sudden exaltation intoxicated his understanding, and exhibited failings entirely incompatible with his elevated condition. If Rienzi had lived in our own age, his talents, which were really great, would have found their proper orbit. For his character was one not unusual among literary politicians—a combination of knowledge, eloquence, and enthusiasm for ideal excellence, with vanity, inexperience of mankind, unsteadiness, and physical timidity. As these latter qualities became conspicuous, they eclipsed his virtues and caused his benefits to be forgotten; he was compelled to abdicate his government, and retire into exile. After several years, some of which he passed in the prisons of Avignon, Rienzi was brought back to Rome, with the title of Senator, and under the command of the legate. It was supposed that the Romans, who had returned to their habits of insubordination, would gladly submit to their favorite tribune. And this proved the case for a few months; but after that time they ceased altogether to respect a man who so little respected himself in accepting a station where he could no longer be free; and Rienzi was killed in a seditions

Once more, not long after the death of Rienzi, the freedom of Rome seems to have revived in republican institutions, though with names less calculated to inspire peculiar recollections. Magistrates called bannerets, chosen from the thirteen districts of the city, with a militia of three thousand citizens at their command, were placed at the head of this commonwealth. The great object of this new organization was to intimidate the Roman nobility, whose outrages, in the total absence of government, had grown intolerable. Several of them were hanged the first year by order of the bannerets. The citizens, however, had no serious intention of throwing off their allegiance to the popes. They provided for their own security, on account of the lamentable secession and neglect of those who claimed allegiance while they denied protection. But they were ready to acknowledge and welcome back their bishop as their sovereign. Even without this they surrendered their republican constitution in 1362, it does not appear for what reason, and permitted the legate of Innocent VI to assume the government. We find, however, the institution of bannerets revived and in full authority some years afterwards. But the internal history of Rome appears to be obscure, and I have not had opportunities of examining it minutely. Some degree of political freedom the city probably enjoyed during the schism of the church; but it is not easy to discriminate the assertion of legitimate privileges from the licentious tumults of the barons or populace. In 1435 the Romans formally took away the government from Eugenius IV, and elected seven signiors or chief magistrates, like the priors of Florence. But this revolution was not of long continuance. On the death of Eugenius the citizens deliberated upon proposing a constitutional charter to the future pope. Stephen Porcaro, a man of good family and inflamed by a strong spirit of liberty, was one of their principal in­stigators. But the people did not sufficiently partake of that spirit. No measures were taken upon this occasion; and Porcaro, whose ardent imagination disguised the hopelessness of his enterprise, tampering in a fresh conspiracy, was put to death under the pontificate of Nicholas V.

The province of Tuscany continued longer than Lombardy under the government of an imperial lieutenant. It was not till about the middle of the twelfth century that the cities of Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Siena, Arezzo, Pistoja, and several less considerable, which might, perhaps, have already their own elected magistrates, became independent republics. Their history is, with the exception of Pisa, very scanty till the death of Frederic II. The earliest fact of any importance recorded of Florence occurs in 1184, when it is said that Frederic Barbarossa took from her the dominion over the district or county, and restored it to the rural nobility, on account of her attachment to the church.-s This I chiefly mention to illustrate the system pursued by the cities of bringing the territorial proprietors in their neighborhood under subjection. During the reign of Frederic II. Florence became, as far as she was able, an ally of the popes. There was, indeed, a strong Ghibelin party, comprehending many of the greatest families, which occasionally predominated through the as­sistance of the emperor. It seems, however, to have existed chiefly among the nobility; the spirit of the people was thor­oughly Guelf. After several revolutions, accompanied by alternate proscription and demolition of houses, the Guelf party, through the assistance of Charles of Anjou, obtained a final ascendency in 1266; and after one or two unavailing schemes of accommodation it was established as a fundamental law in the Florentine constitution that no person of Ghibelin ances­try could be admitted to offices of public trust, which, in such a government, was in effect an exclusion from the privileges of citizenship.

The changes of internal government and vicissitudes of success among factions were so frequent at Florence for many years after this time that she is compared by her great banished poet to one in sickness, who, unable to rest, gives herself momentary ease by continual change of posture in her bed. They did not become much less numerous after the age of Dante. Yet the revolutions of Florence should, perhaps, be considered as no more than a necessary price of her liberty. It was her boast and her happiness to have escaped, except for one short period, that odious rule of vile usurpers under which so many other free cities had been crushed. A sketch of the constitution of so famous a republic ought not to be omitted in this place. Nothing else in the history of Italy after Frederic II. is so worthy of our attention.

The basis of the Florentine polity was a division of the citizens exercising commerce into their several companies or arts. These were at first twelve; seven called the greater arts, and five lesser; but the latter were gradually increased to fourteen. The seven greater arts were those of lawyers and notaries, of dealers in foreign cloth, called sometimes Calimala, of bankers or money-changers, of woollen-drapers, of physicians and druggists, of dealers in silk, and of furriers. The inferior arts were those of retailers of cloth, butchers, smiths, shoemakers, and builders. This division, so far at least as regarded the greater arts, was as old as the beginning of the thirteenth century .v But it was fully established and rendered essential to the constitution in 1266. By the provisions made in that year each of the seven greater arts had a council of its own, a chief magistrate or consul, who administered justice in civil causes to all members of his company, and a banneret (gonfaloniere) or military officer, to whose standard they repaired when any attempt was made to disturb the peace of the city.

The administration of criminal justice belonged at Florence, as at other cities, to a foreign podesta, or rather to two foreign magistrates, the podesta and the capitano del popolo, whose jurisdiction, so far as I can trace it, appears to have been concurrent. In the first part of the thirteenth century the authority of the podesta may have been more extensive than afterwards. These offices were preserved till the innovations of the Medici. The domestic magistracies underwent more changes. Instead of consuls, which had been the first denomination of the chief magistrates of Florence, a college of twelve or fourteen persons called Anziani or Buonuomini, but varying in name as well as number, according to revolutions of party, was established about the middle of the thir­teenth century, to direct public affairs. This order was entirely changed in 1282, and gave place to a new form of supreme magistracy, which lasted till the extinction of the republic. Six priors, elected every two months, one from each of the six quarters of the city, and from each of the greater arts, except that of lawyers, constituted an executive magistracy. They lived during their continuance in office in a palace belonging to the city, and were maintained at the public cost The actual priors, jointly with the chiefs and councils (usually called la capitudine) of the seven greater arts, and with certain adjuncts (arroti) named by themselves, elected by ballot their successors. Such was the practice for about forty years after this government was established. But an innovation, begun in 1324, and perfected four years afterwards, gave a peculiar character to the constitution of Flor­ence. A lively and ambitious people, not merely jealous of their public sovereignty, but deeming its exercise a matter of personal enjoyment, aware at the same time that the will of the whole body could neither be immediately expressed on all occasions, nor even through chosen representatives, with­out the risk of violence and partiality, fell upon the singular idea of admitting all citizens not unworthy by their station or conduct to offices of magistracy by rotation. Lists were separately made out by the priors, the twelve buonuomini, the chiefs and councils of arts, the bannerets and other re­spectable persons, of all citizens, Guelfs by origin, turned of thirty years of age, and, in their judgment, worthy of public trust. The lists thus formed were then united, and those who had composed them, meeting together, in number ninety-seven, proceeded to ballot upon every name. Whoever obtained sixty-eight black balls was placed upon the reformed list; and all the names it contained, being put on separate tickets into a bag or purse (imborsati), were drawn succes­sively as the magistracies were renewed. As there were above fifty of these, none of which could be held for more than four months, several hundred citizens were called in rotation to bear their share in the government within two years. But at the expiration of every two years the scrutiny was renewed, and fresh names were mingled with those which still con­tinued undrawn; so that accident might deprive a man for life of his portion of magistracy.

Four councils had been established by the constitution of 1266 for the decision of all propositions laid before them by the executive magistrates, whether of a legislative nature or relating to public policy. These were now abrogated; and in their places were substituted one of 300 members, all plebeians, called consiglio di popolo, and one of 250, called Consiglio di commune, into which the nobles might enter. These were changed by the same rotation as the magistracies, every four months. A parliament, or general assembly of the Florentine people, was rarely convoked; but the leading principle of a democratical republic, the ultimate sovereignty of the multitude, was not forgotten. This constitution of 1324 was fixed by the citizens at large in a parliament; and the same sanction was given to those temporary delegations of the signiory to a prince, which occasionally took place. What is technically called by their historians farsi popolo was the assembly of a parliament, or a resolution of all derivative powers into the immediate operation of the popular will.

The ancient government of this republic appears to have been chiefly in the hands of its nobility. These were very numerous, and possessed large estates in the district. But by the constitution of 1266, which was nearly coincident with the triumph of the Guelf faction, the essential powers of magistracy as well as of legislation were thrown into the scale of the commons. The colleges of arts, whose functions became so eminent, were altogether commercial. Many, indeed, of the nobles enrolled themselves in these companies, and were among the most conspicuous merchants of Florence. These were not excluded from the executive college of the priors at its first institution in 1282. It was necessary, however, to belong to one or other of the greater arts in order to reach that magistracy. The majority, therefore, of the ancient families saw themselves pushed aside from the helm, which was intrusted to a class whom they had habitually held in contempt.

It does not appear that the nobility made any overt opposition to these democratical institutions. Confident in a force beyond the law, they cared less for what the law might provide against them. They still retained the proud spirit of per­sonal independence which had belonged to their ancestors in the fastnesses of the Apennines. Though the laws of Flor­ence and a change in Italian customs had transplanted their residence to the city, it was in strong and lofty houses that they dwelt, among their kindred, and among the fellows of rank. Notwithstanding the tenor of the constitution, Florence was for some years after the establishment of priors incapable of resisting the violence of her nobility. Her historians all attest the outrages and assassinations committed by them on the inferior people. It was in vain that justice was offered by the podesta and the capitano del popolo. Witnesses dared not to appear against a noble offender; or if, on a complaint, the officer of justice arrested the accused, his family made common cause to rescue their kinsman, and the populace rose in defence of the laws, till the city was a scene of tumult and bloodshed. I have already alluded to this insubordination of the higher classes as general in the Italian republics; but the Florentine writers, being fuller than the rest, are our best specific testimonies.

The dissensions between the patrician and plebeian orders ran very high, when Giano della Bella, a man of ancient line­age, but attached, without ambitious views, so far as appears, though not without passion, to the popular side, introduced a series of enactments exceedingly disadvantageous to the ancient aristocracy, [a.d. 1295.] The first of these was the appointment of an executive officer, the gonfalonier of justice, whose duty it was to enforce the sentences of the podesta and capitano del popolo in cases where the ordinary officers were insufficient. A thousand citizens, afterwards increased to four times that number, were bound to obey his commands. They were distributed into companies, the gonfaloniers or captains of which became a sort of corporation or college, and a constituent part of the government, [a.d. 1295.] This new militia seems to have superseded that of the companies of arts, which I have not observed to be mentioned at any later period. The gonfalonier of justice was part of the signiory along with the priors, of whom he was reckoned the president, and changed, like them, every two months. He was, in fact, the first magistrate of Florence. If Giano della Bella had trusted to the efficacy of this new security for justice, his fame would have been beyond reproach. But he followed it up by harsher pro­visions. The nobility were now made absolutely ineligible to the office of prior. For an offence committed by one of a noble family, his relations were declared responsible in a pen­alty of 3,000 pounds. And, to obviate the difficulty arising from the frequent intimidation of witnesses, it was provided that common fame, attested by two credible persons, should be sufficient for the condemnation of a nobleman.

These are the famous ordinances of justice which passed at Florence for the great charter of her democracy. They have been reprobated in later times as scandalously unjust; and I have little inclination to defend them. The last, especially, was a violation of those eternal principles which for­bid us, for any calculations of advantage, to risk the sacrifice of innocent blood. But it is impossible not to perceive that the same unjust severity has sometimes, under a like pretext of necessity, been applied to the weaker classes of the people, which they were in this instance able to exercise towards their natural superiors.

The nobility were soon aware of the position in which they stood. For half a century their great object was to procure the relaxation of the ordinances of justice. But they had no success with an elated enemy. In three years’ time, indeed, Giano della Bella, the author of these institutions, was driven into exile; a conspicuous, though by no means singular, proof of Florentine ingratitude. The wealth and physical strength of the nobles were, however, untouched; and their influence must always have been considerable. In the great feuds of the Bianchi and Neri the ancient families were most distinguished. No man plays a greater part in the annals of Florence at the beginning of the fourteenth century than Corso Donati, chief of the latter faction, who might pass as representative of the turbulent, intrepid, ambitious citizen-noble of an Italian republic. But the laws gradually became more sure of obedience; the sort of proscription which attended the ancient nobles lowered their spirit; while a new aristocracy began to raise its head, the aristocracy of families who, after filling the highest magistracies for two or three generations, obtained an hereditary importance, which answered the purpose of more unequivocal nobility; just as in ancient Rome plebeian fami­lies, by admission to curule offices, acquired the character and appellation of nobility, and were only distinguishable by their genealogy from the original patricians. Florence had her plebeian nobles (popolani grandi), as well as Rome; the Peruzzi, the Ricci, the Albizi, the Medici, correspond to the Catos, the Pompeys, the Brutuses, and the Antonies. But at Rome the two orders, after an equal partition of the highest offices, were content to respect their mutual privileges; at Florence the commoner preserved a rigorous monopoly, and the distinction of high birth was that it debarred men from political franchises and civil justice.

This second aristocracy did not obtain much more of the popular affection than that which it superseded. Public outrage and violation of law became less frequent; but the new leaders of Florence are accused of continual misgovernment at home and abroad, and sometimes of peculation. There was of course a strong antipathy between the leading commoners and the ancient nobles; both were disliked by the people. In order to keep the nobles under more control the governing party more than once introduced a new foreign magistrate, with the title of captain of defence (della guardia), whom they invested with an almost unbounded criminal jurisdiction. One Gabrielli of Agobbio was twice fetched for this purpose; and in each case he behaved in so tyrannical a manner as to occasion a tumult [a.d. 1336 and 1340.] His office, however, was of short duration, and the title at least did not import a sovereign command. But very soon afterwards Florence had to experience one taste of a cup which her neighbors had drunk off to the dregs, and to animate her magnanimous love of free­dom by a knowledge of the calamities of tyranny.

A war with Pisa, unsuccessfully, if not unskilfully, con­ducted, gave rise to such dissatisfaction in the city, that the leading commoners had recourse to an appointment some­thing like that of Gabrielli, and from similar motives. Walter de Brienne, Duke of Athens, was descended from one of the French crusaders who had dismembered the Grecian empire in the preceding century; but his father, defeated in battle, had lost the principality along with his life, and the titular duke was an adventurer in the court of France. He had been, however, slightly known at Florence on a former occasion. There was a uniform maxim among the Italian republics that extraordinary powers should be conferred upon none but strangers. The Duke of Athens was accordingly pitched upon for the military command, which was united with domestic jurisdiction. This appears to have been promoted by the governing party in order to curb the nobility; but they were soon undeceived in their expectations. The first act of the Duke of Athens was to bring four of the most eminent commoners to capital punishment for military offences. These sentences, whether just or otherwise, gave much pleasure to the nobles, who had so frequently been exposed to similar severity, and to the populace, who are naturally pleased with the humiliation of their superiors. Both of these were caressed by the duke, and both conspired, with blind passion, to second his ambitious views. It was proposed and carried in a full parliament, or assembly of the people, to bestow upon him the signiory for life. [A. D. 1342.] The real friends of their country, as well as the oligarchy, shuddered at this measure. Throughout all the vicissitudes of party Florence had never yet lost sight of republican institutions. Not that she had never accommodated herself to temporary circumstances by naming a signior. Charles of Anjou had been invested with that dignity for the term of ten years; Robert King of Naples, for five; and his son, the Duke of Calabria, was at his death signior of Florence. These princes named the podesta, if not the priors; and were certainly pretty absolute in their executive powers, though bound by oath not to alter the statutes of the city. But their office had always been temporary. Like the dictatorship of Rome, it was a confessed, unavoidable evil; a suspension, but not extinguishment, of rights. Like that, too, it was a dangerous precedent, through which crafty ambition and popular rashness might ultimately subvert the republic. If Walter de Brienne had possessed the subtle prudence of a Mateo Visconti or a Cane della Scala, there appears no reason to suppose that Florence would have escaped the fate of other cities; and her history might have become as useless a record of perfidy and assassination as that of Mantua or Verona.

But, happily for Florence, the reign of tyranny was very short. The Duke of Athens had neither judgment nor activity for so difficult a station. He launched out at once into excesses which it would be desirable that arbitrary power should always commit at the outset. The taxes were considerably increased; their produce was dissipated. The honor of the state was sacrificed by an inglorious treaty with Pisa; her territory was diminished by some towns throwing off their dependence. Severe and multiplied punishments spread terror through the city. The noble families, who had on the duke’s election destroyed the ordinances of justice, now found themselves exposed to the more partial caprice of a despot. He filled the magistracies with low creatures from the inferior artificers; a class which he continued to flatter. Ten months passed in this manner, when three separate conspiracies, embracing most of the nobility and most of tHe great commoners, were planned for the recovery of freedom. The duke was protected by a strong body of hired cavalry. Revolutions in an Italian city were generally effected by surprise. The streets were so narrow and so easily secured by barricades, that, if a people had time to stand on its defence, no cavalry was of any avail. On the other hand, a body of lancers in plate-armor might dissi­pate any number of a disorderly populace. Accordingly, if a prince or usurper would get possession by surprise, he, as it was called, rode the city; that is, galloped with his cavalry along the streets, so as to prevent the people from collecting to erect barricades. This expression is very usual with the historians of the fourteenth century. The conspirators at Florence were too quick for the Duke of Athens. The city was barricaded in every direction; and after a contest of some duration he consented to abdicate his signiory.

Thus Florence recovered her liberty. Her constitutional laws now seemed to revive of themselves. But the nobility, who had taken a very active part in the recent liberation of their country, thought it hard to be still placed under the rigorous ordinances of justice. Many of the richer commoners acquiesced in an equitable partition of magistracies, which was established through the influence of the bishop. But the popu­lace of Florence, with its characteristic forgetfulness of benefits, was tenacious of those proscriptive ordinances. The nobles, too, elated by their success, began again to strike and injure the inferior citizens. A new civil war in the city streets decided their quarrel; after a desperate resistance many of the principal houses were pillaged and burned; and the perpetual exclusion of the nobility was confirmed by fresh laws. But the people, now sure of their triumph, relaxed a little upon this occasion the ordinances of justice; and to make some distinction in favor of merit or innocence, effaced certain families from the list of nobility. Five hundred and thirty persons were thus elevated, as we may call it, to the rank of commoners. As it was beyond the competence of the republic of Florence to change a man’s ancestors, this nominal alteration left all the real advantages of birth as they were, and was undoubtedly an enhancement of dignity, though, in appearance, a very singular one. Conversely, several unpopular commoners were ennobled, in order to disfranchise them. Nothing was more usual in subsequent times than such an arbitrary change of rank, as a penalty or a benefit.” Those nobles who were rendered plebeian by favor were obliged to change their name and arms. The constitution now underwent some change. From six the priors were increased to eight; and instead of being chosen from each of the greater arts, they were taken from the four quarters of the city, the lesser artisans, as I conceive, being admissible. The gonfaloniers of companies were reduced to sixteen. And these, along with the signiory, and the twelve buonuomini, formed the college, where every proposition was discussed before it could be offered to the councils for their legislative sanction. But it could only originate, strictly speaking, in the signiory, that is, the gonfalonier of justice, and eight priors, the rest of the college having merely the function of advice and assistance.

Several years elapsed before any material disturbance arose at Florence. Her contemporary historian complains, indeed, that mean and ignorant persons obtained the office of prior, and ascribes some errors in her external policy to this cause. Besides the natural effects of the established rotation, a particular law, called the divieto, tended to throw the better families out of public office. By this law two of the same name could not be drawn for any magistracy: which, as the ancient families were extremely numerous, rendered it difficult for their members to succeed; especially as a ticket once drawn was not replaced in the purse, so that an individual liable to the divieto was excluded until the next biennial revolution. This created dissatisfac­tion among the leading families. They were likewise divided by a new faction, entirely founded, as far as appears, on personal animosity between two prominent houses, the Albizi and the Ricci. The city was, however, tranquil, when in 1357 a spring was set in motion which gave quite a different character to the domestic history of Florence.

At the time when the Guelfs, with the assistance of Charles of Anjou, acquired an exclusive domination in the republic, the estates of the Ghibelins were confiscated. One-third of these confiscations was allotted to the state; another went to repair the losses of Guelf citizens; but the remainder became the property of a new corporate society, denominated the Guelf party (parte Guelfa), with a regular internal organization. The Guelf party had two councils, one of fourteen and one of sixty members; three, or afterwards four, captains, elected by scrutiny every two months, a treasury, and common seal; a little republic within the republic of Florence. Their primary duty was to watch over the Guelf interest; and for this purpose they had a particular officer for the accusation of suspected Ghibelins. We hear not much, however, of the Guelf society for nearly a century after their establishment. The Ghibelins hardly vent­ured to show themselves after the fall of the White Guelfs in 1304, with whom they had been connected, and confiscation had almost annihilated that unfortunate faction. But as the oligarchy of Guelf families lost part of its influence through the divieto and system of lottery, some persons of Ghibelin descent crept into public offices; and this was exaggerated by the zealots of an opposite party, as if the fundamental policy of the city was put into danger.

The Guelf society had begun, as early as 1346, to manifest some disquietude at the foreign artisans, who, settling at Florence and becoming members of some of the trading cor­porations, pretended to superior offices. They procured accordingly a law excluding from public trust and magistracy all persons not being natives of the city or its territory. Next year they advanced a step farther; and, with a view to prevent disorder, which seemed to threaten the city, a law was passed de­claring every one whose ancestors at any time since 1300 had been known Ghibelins, or who had not the reputation of sound Guelf principles, incapable of being drawn or elected to ofifices. It is manifest from the language of the historian who relates these circumstances, and whose testimony is more remarkable from his having died several years before the politics of the Guelf corporation more decidedly showed themselves, that the real cause of their jealousy was not the increase of Ghibelinism, a merely plausible pretext, but the democratical character which the government had assumed since the revolution of 1343, which raised the fourteen inferior arts to the level of those which the great merchants of Florence exercised. In the Guelf society the ancient nobles retained a considerable influence. The laws of exclusion had never been applied to that corporation. Two of the captains were always noble, two were commoners. The people, in debarring the nobility from ordi­nary privileges, were little aware of the more dangerous channel which had been left open to their ambition. With the nobility some of the great commoners acted in concert, and especially the family and faction of the Albizi. The introduction of obscure persons into office still continued, and some meas­ures more vigorous than the law of 1347 seemed necessary to restore the influence of their aristocracy. They proposed, and, notwithstanding the reluctance of the priors, carried by violence, both in the preliminary deliberations of the signiory and in the two councils, a law by which every person accepting an office who should be convicted of Ghibelinism or Ghibelin descent, upon testimony of public fame, became liable to punish­ment, capital or pecuniary, at the discretion of the priors. To this law they gave a retrospective effect, and indeed it appears to have been little more than a revival of the provisions made in 1347, which had probably been disregarded. Many citizens who had been magistrates within a few years were cast in heavy fines on this indefinite charge. But the more usual practice was to warn (ammonire) men beforehand against undertaking public trust. If they neglected this hint, they were sure to be treated as convicted Ghibelins. Thus a very numerous class, called Ammoniti, was formed of proscribed and discontented persons, eager to throw off the intolerable yoke of the Guelf society. For the imputation of Ghibelin connections was generally an unfounded pretext for crushing the enemies of the governing faction.” Men of approved Guelf principles and origin were every day warned from their natural privileges of sharing in magistracy. This spread a universal alarm through the city; but the great advantage of union and secret confederacy rendered the Guelf society, who had also the law on their side, irresistible by their opponents. Meanwhile the pub­lic honor was well supported abroad; Florence had never be­fore been so distinguished as during the prevalence of this oligarchy.

The Guelf society had governed with more or less absoluteness for nearly twenty years, when the republic became in­volved, through the perfidious conduct of the papal legate, in a war with the Holy See. Though the Florentines were by no means superstitious, this hostility to the church appeared almost an absurdity to determined Guelfs, and shocked those prejudices about names which make up the politics of vulgar minds. The Guelf society, though it could not openly resist the popular indignation against Gregory XI, was not heartily inclined to this war. Its management fell therefore into the hands of eight commissioners, some of them not well affected to the society; whose administration was so successful and popular as to excite the utmost jealousy in the Guelfs. They began to renew their warnings, and in eight months excluded fourscore citizens.

The tyranny of a court may endure for ages; but that of a faction is seldom permanent. In June, 1378, the gonfalonier of justice was Salvestro de’ Medici, a man of approved patriotism, whose family had been so notoriously of Guelf principles that it was impossible to warn him from office. He proposed to mitigate the severity of the existing law. His proposition did not succeed; but its rejection provoked an insurrection, the forerunner of still more alarming tumults. The populace of Florence, like that of other cities, was terrible in the moment of sedition; and a party so long dreaded shrank before the physical strength of the multitude. Many leaders of the Guelf society had their houses destroyed, and some fled from the city. But instead of annulling their acts, a middle course was adopted by the committee of magistrates who had been empowered to reform the state; the Ammoniti were suspended three years longer from office, and the Guelf society preserved with some limitations. This temporizing course did not satisfy either the Ammoniti or the populace. The greater arts were generally attached to the Guelf society. Between them and the lesser arts, composed of retail and mechanical traders, there was a strong jealousy. The latter was adverse to the prevailing oli­garchy and to the Guelf society, by whose influence it was main­tained. They were eager to make Florence a democracy in fact as well as in name, by participating in the executive government.

But every political institution appears to rest on too confined a basis to those whose point of view is from beneath it. While the lesser arts were murmuring at the exclusive privileges of the commercial aristocracy, there was yet an inferior class of citizens who thought their own claims to equal privileges irrefragable. The arrangement of twenty-one trading companies had still left several kinds of artisans unincorporated, and con­sequently unprivileged. These had been attached to the art with which their craft had most connections in a sort of dependent relation. Thus to the company of drapers, the most wealthy of all, the various occupations instrumental in the manufacture, as woolcombers, dyers, and weavers, were appendant. Besides the sense of political exclusion, these artisans alleged that they were oppressed by their employers of the art, and that, when they complained to the consul, their judge in civil matters, no redress could be procured. A still lower order of the community was the mere populace, who did not practise any regular trade, or who only worked for daily hire. These were called ciompi, a corruption, it is said, of the French compere.

“Let no one,” says Machiavelli in this place, “who begins an innovation in a state expect that he shall stop it at his pleasure, or regulate it according to his intention.” After about a month from the first sedition another broke out, in which the ciompi, or lowest populace, were alone concerned. Through the sur­prise, or cowardice, or disaffection of the superior citizens, this was suffered to get ahead, and for three days the city was in the hand of a tumultuous rabble. It was vain to withstand their propositions, had they even been more unreasonable than they were. But they only demanded the establishment of two new arts for the trades hitherto dependent, and one for the lower people; and that three of the priors should be chosen from the greater arts, three from the fourteen lesser, and two from those just created. Some delay, however, occurring to prevent the sanction of these innovations by the councils, a new fury took possession of the populace; the gates of the palace belonging to the signiory were forced open, the priors compelled to fly, and no appearance of a constitutional magistracy remained to throw the veil of law over the excesses of anarchy. The republic seemed to rock from its foundations; and the circumstance to which historians ascribe its salvation is not the least singular in this critical epoch. One Michel di Lando, a woolcomber half dressed and without shoes, happened to hold the standard of justice wrested from the proper officer when the populace burst into the palace. Whether he was previously conspicuous in the tumult is not recorded; but the wild, capricious mob, who had destroyed what they had no conception how to rebuild, suddenly cried out that Lando should be gonfalonier or signior, and reform the city at his pleasure.

A choice, arising probably from wanton folly, could not have been better made by wisdom. Lando was a man of courage, moderation, and integrity. He gave immediate proofs of these qualities by causing his office to be respected. The eight commissioners of the war, who, though not instigators of the sedition, were well pleased to see the Guelf party so entirely pros­trated, now fancied themselves masters, and began to nominate priors.

But Lando sent a message to them, that he was elected by the people, and that he could dispense with their assistance. He then proceeded to the choice of priors. Three were taken from the greater arts; three from the lesser; and three from the two new arts and the lower people. This eccentric college lost no time in restoring tranquillity, and compelled the populace, by threat of punishment, to return to their occupations. But the ciompi were not disposed to give up the pleasures of anarchy so readily. They were dissatisfied at the small share allotted to them in the new distribution of offices, and murmured at their gonfalonier as a traitor to the popular cause. Lando was aware that an insurrection was projected; he took measures with the most respectable citizens; the insurgents, when they showed themselves, were quelled by force, and the gonfalonier retired from office with an approbation which all historians of Florence have agreed to perpetuate. Part of this has undoubtedly been founded on a consideration of the mischief which it was in his power to inflict. The ciompi, once checked, were soon defeated. The next gonfalonier was, like Lando, a woolcomber; but, wanting the intrinsic merit of Lando, his mean station excited universal contempt. None of the arts could endure their low coadjutors; a short struggle was made by the populace, but they were entirely overpowered with considerable slaughter, and the government was divided between the seven greater and sixteen lesser arts, in nearly equal proportions.

The party of the lesser arts, or inferior tradesmen, which had begun this confusion, were left winners when it ceased. Three men of distinguished families who had instigated the revolution became the leaders of Florence; Benedetto Alberti, Tomaso Strozzi, and Georgio Scali. Their government had at first to contend with the ciompi, smarting under loss and disappointment. But a populace which is beneath the inferior mechanics may with ordinary prudence be kept in subjection by a government that has a well-organized militia at its command. The Guelf aristocracy was far more to be dreaded. Some of them had been banished, some fined, some ennobled : the usual consequences of revolution which they had too often practised to complain.

A more iniquitous proceeding disgraces the new administration. Under pretence of conspiracy, the chief of the house of Albizi, and several of his most eminent associates, were thrown into prison. So little evidence of the charge appeared that the podesta refused to condemn them; but the people were clamorous for blood, and half with, half without the forms of justice, these noble citizens were led to execution. The part he took in this murder sullies the fame of Benedetto Alberti, who in his general conduct had been more uniformly influenced by honest principles than most of his contemporaries. Those who shared with him the ascendency in the existing government, Strozzi and Scali, abused their power by oppression towards their enemies, and insolence towards all. Their popu­larity was, of course, soon at an end. Alberti, a sincere lover of freedom, separated himself from men who seemed to emulate the arbitrary government they had overthrown. An outrage of Scali, in rescuing a criminal from justice, brought the discontent to a crisis; he was arrested, and lost his head on the scaffold; while Strozzi, his colleague, fled from the city. But this event was instantly followed by a reaction, which Alberti, perhaps, did not anticipate. Armed men filled the streets; the cry of “Live the Guelfs!” was heard. After a three years’ depression the aristocratical party regained its ascendency. They did not revive the severity practised towards the Ammoniti; but the two new arts, created for the small trades, were abolished, and the lesser arts reduced to a third part, instead of something more than one half, of public offices. Several persons who had favored the plebeians were sent into exile; and among these Michel di Lando, whose great services in subduing anarchy ought to have secured the protection of every government. Benedetto Alberti, the enemy by turns of every faction—because every faction was in its turn oppressive—experienced some years afterwards the same fate. For half a century after this time no revolution took place at Florence. The Guelf aristocracy, strong in opulence and antiquity, and rendered prudent by experience, under the guidance of the Albizi family, maintained a preponderating influence without much departing, the times considered, from moderation and respect for the laws.

It is sufficiently manifest, from this sketch of the domestic history of Florence, how far that famous republic was from affording a perfect security for civil rights or general tranquillity. They who hate the name of free constitutions may exult in her internal dissensions, as in those of Athens or Rome. But the calm philosopher will not take his standard of comparison from ideal excellence, nor even from that practical good which has been reached in our own unequalled constitution, and in some of the republics of modern Europe. The men and the institutions of the fourteenth century are to be measured by their contemporaries. Who would not rather have been a citizen of Florence than a subject of the Visconti? In a superficial review of history we are sometimes apt to exaggerate the vices of free states, and to lose sight of those inherent in tyrannical power. The bold censoriousness of republican historians, and the cautious servility of writers under an absolute monarchy, conspire to mislead us as to the relative prosperity of nations. Acts of outrage and tumultuous excesses in a free state are blazoned in minute detail, and descend to posterity; the deeds of tyranny are studiously and perpetually suppressed. Even those historians who have no particular motives for concealment turn away from the monotonous and disgusting crimes of tyrants. “ Deeds of cruelty,” it is well observed by Matteo Villani, after relating an action of Bernabo Visconti, “are little worthy of remembrance; yet let me be excused for having re­counted one out of many, as an example of the peril to which men are exposed under the yoke of an unbounded tyranny.” The reign of Bernabo afforded abundant instances of a like kind. Second only to Eccelin among the tyrants of Italy, he rested the security of his dominion upon tortures and death, and his laws themselves enact the protraction of capital pun­ishment through forty days of sufferings His nephew, Gio­vanni Maria, is said, with a madness like that of Nero or Commodus, to have coursed the streets of Milan by night with blood-hounds, ready to chase and tear any unlucky passenger. Nor were other Italian principalities free from similar tyrants, though none, perhaps, upon the whole, so odious as the Vis­conti. The private history of many families, such, for instance, as the Scala and the Gonzaga, is but a series of assassinations. The ordinary vices of mankind assumed a tint of portentous guilt in the palaces of Italian princes. Their revenge was fratricide, and their lust was incest.

Though fertile and populous, the proper district of Florence was by no means extensive. An independent nobility occupied the Tuscan Appennines with their castles. Of these the most conspicuous were the counts of Guidi, a numerous and powerful family, who possessed a material influence in the affairs of Florence and of all Tuscany till the middle of the fourteenth century, and some of whom preserved their independence much longer. To the south, the republics of Arezzo, Perugia, and Siena; to the west, those of Volterra, Pisa, and Lucca; Prato and Pistoja to the north, limited the Florentine territory. It was late before these boundaries were removed. During the usurpations of Uguccione at Pisa, and of Castruccio at Lucca, the republic of Florence was always unsuccessful in the field. After the death of Castruccio she began to act more vigorously, and engaged in several confederacies with the powers of Lombardy, especially in a league with Venice against Mastino della Scala. But the republic made no acquisition of territory till 1351, when she annexed the small city of Prato, not ten miles from her walls. Pistoja, though still nominally independent, received a Florentine garrison about the same time. Several additions were made to the district by fair purchase from the nobility of the Apennines, and a few by main force. The ter­ritory was still very little proportioned to the fame and power of Florence. The latter was founded upon her vast commercial opulence. Every Italian state employed mercenary troops, and the richest was, of course, the most powerful. In the war against Mastino della Scala in 1336 the revenues of Florence are reckoned by Villani at three hundred thousand florins, which, as he observes, is more than the king of Naples or of Aragon possesses. The expenditure went at that time very much beyond the receipt, and was defrayed by loans from the principal mercantile firms, which were secured by public funds, the earliest instance, I believe, of that financial resource. Her population was computed at ninety thousand souls. Villani reckons the district at eighty thousand men, I suppose those only of military age; but this calculation must have been too large, even though he included, as we may presume, the city in his estimate. Tuscany, though well cultivated and flourishing, does not contain by any means so great a number of inhabi­tants in that space at present.

The first eminent conquest made by Florence was that of Pisa, early in the fifteenth century. Pisa had been distinguished as a commercial city ever since the age of the Othos. From her ports, and those of Genoa, the earliest naval armaments of the western nations were fitted out against the Saracen corsairs who infested the Mediterranean coasts. In the eleventh century she undertook, and, after a pretty long struggle, completed, the important, or at least the splendid, conquest of Sardinia, an island long subject to a Moorish chieftain. Several noble families of Pisa, who had defrayed the chief cost of this expedition, shared the island in districts, which they held in fief of the republic. At a later period the Balearic isles were subjected, but not long retained, by Pisa. Her naval prowess was supported by her commerce. A writer of the twelfth century reproaches her with the Jews, the Arabians, and other “monsters of the sea,” who thronged in her streets. The crusades poured fresh wealth into the lap of the maritime Italian cities. In some of those expeditions a great portion of the armament was conveyed by sea to Palestine, and freighted the vessels of Pisa, Genoa, and Venice. When the Christians had bought with their blood the sea-coast of Syria, these republics procured the most extensive privileges in the new states that were formed out of their slender conquests, and became the conduits through which the produce of the East flowed in upon the ruder nations of Europe. Pisa maintained a large share of this commerce, as well as of maritime greatness, till near the end of the thirteenth century. In 1282, we are told by Villani, she was in great power, possessing Sardinia, Corsica, and Elba, from whence the republic, as well as private persons, derived large revenues, and almost ruled the sea with their ships and merchandises, and beyond sea were very powerful in the city of Acre, and much connected with its principal citizens. The prosperous era of Pisa is marked by her public edifices. She was the first Italian city that took a pride in architectural mag­nificence. Her cathedral is of the eleventh century; the baptistery, the famous inclined tower, or belfry, the arcades that surround the Campo Santo, or cemetery of Pisa, are of the twelfth, or, at latest, of the thirteenth.

It would have been no slight anomaly in the annals of Italy, or, we might say, of mankind, if two neighboring cities, competitors in every mercantile occupation and every naval enterprise, had not been perpetual enemies to each other. One is more surprised, if the fact be true, that no war broke out between Pisa and Genoa till 1119. From this time at least they continually recurred. An equality of forces and of courage kept the conflict uncertain for the greater part of two centuries. Their battles were numerous, and sometimes, taken separately, decisive; but the public spirit and resources of each city were called out by defeat, and we generally find a new armament replacing the losses of an unsuccessful combat. In this respect the naval contest between Pisa and Genoa, though much longer protracted, resembles that of Rome and Carthage in the first Punic war. But Pisa was reserved for her Egades. In one fatal battle, off the little isle of Meloria, in 1284, her whole navy was destroyed. Several unfortunate and expensive armaments had almost exhausted the state, and this was the last effort, by private sacrifices, to equip one more fleet. After this defeat it was in vain to contend for empire. Eleven thousand Pisans languished for many years in prison; it was a current saying that whoever would see Pisa should seek her at Genoa. A treacherous chief, that Count Ugolino whose guilt was so terribly avenged, is said to have purposely lost the battle, and prevented the ransom of the captives, to secure his power: accusations that obtain easy credit with an unsuccessful people.

From the epoch of the battle of Meloria, Pisa ceased to be a maritime power. Forty years afterwards she was stripped of her ancient colony, the island of Sardinia. The four Pisan fam­ilies who had been invested with that conquest had been apt to consider it as their absolute property; their appellation of judge seemed to indicate deputed power, but they sometimes assumed that of king, and several attempts had been made to establish an immediate dependence on the empire, or even on the pope. A new potentate had now come forward on the stage. The malcontent feudatories of Sardinia made overtures to the king of Aragon, who had no scruples about attacking the indisputable possession of a declining republic. Pisa made a few unavailing efforts to defend Sardinia; but the nominal superiority was hardly worth a contest, and she surrendered her rights to the crown of Aragon. Her commerce now dwindled with her greatness. During the fourteenth century Pisa almost renounced the ocean and directed her main attention to the politics of Tuscany. Ghibelin by invariable predilection, she was in constant opposition to the Guelf cities which looked up to Florence. But in the fourteenth century the names of freeman and Ghibelin were not easily united; and a city in that interest stood insulated between the republics of an opposite faction and the tyrants of her own. Pisa fell several times under the yoke of usurpers; she was included in the wide-spreading acquisitions of Gian Galeazzo Visconti. At his death one of his family seized the dominion, and finally the Florentines pur­chased for 400,000 florins a rival and once equal city. The Pisans made a resistance more according to what they had been than what they were.

The early history of Genoa, in all her foreign relations, is involved in that of Pisa. As allies against the Saracens of Africa, Spain, and the Mediterranean islands, as corrivals in commerce with these very Saracens or with the Christians of the East, as co-operators in the great expeditions under the banner of the cross, or as engaged in deadly warfare with each other, the two republics stand in continual parallel. From the beginning of the thirteenth century Genoa was, I think, the more prominent and flourishing of the two. She had conquered the island of Corsica at the same time that Pisa reduced Sardinia; and her acquisition, though less considerable, was longer preserved. Her territory at home, the ancient Liguria, was much more extensive, and, what was most important, contained a greater range of sea-coast than that of Pisa. But the commercial and maritime prosperity of Genoa may be dated from the recovery of Constantinople by the Greeks in 1261. Jealous of the Venetians, by whose arms the Latin emperors had been placed, and were still maintained, on their throne, the Genoese assisted Palaeologus in overturning that usurpation. They obtained in consequence the suburb of Pera or Galata, over against Constantinople, as an exclusive settlement, where their colony was ruled by a magistrate sent from home, and frequently defied the Greek capital with its armed galleys and intrepid seamen. From this convenient station Genoa extended her commerce into the Black Sea, and established her principal factory at Caffa, in the Crimean peninsula. This commercial monopoly, for such she endeavored to render it, aggravated the animosity of Venice. As Pisa retired from the field of waters, a new enemy appeared upon the horizon to dispute the maritime dominion of Genoa. Her first war with Venice was in 1258. The second was not till after the victory of Meloria had crushed her more ancient enemy. It broke out in 1293, and was prosecuted with determined fury and a great display of naval strength on both sides. One Genoese armament, as we are assured by an historian, consisted of one hundred and fifty-five galleys, each manned with from two hundred and twenty to three hundred sailors; w a force astonishing to those who know the more slender resources of Italy in modern times, but which is rendered credible by several analogous facts of good authority. Genoa was, however, beyond any other exertion. The usual fleets of Genoa and Venice were of seventy to ninety galleys.

Perhaps the naval exploits of these two republics may afford a more interesting spectacle to some minds than any other part of Italian history. Compared with military transactions of the same age, they are more sanguinary, more brilliant, and exhibit full as much skill and intrepidity. But maritime warfare is scanty in circumstances, and the indefiniteness of its locality prevents it from resting in the memory. And though the wars of Genoa and Venice were not always so unconnected with territorial politics as those of the former city with Pisa, yet, from the alternation of success and equality of forces, they did not often produce any decisive effect. One memorable encounter in the Sea of Marmora, where the Genoese fought and conquered single-handed against the Venetians, the Catalans, and the Greeks, hardly belongs to Italian history.

But the most remarkable war, and that productive of the greatest consequences, was one that commenced in 1378, after several acts of hostility in the Levant, wherein the Venetians appear to have been the principal aggressors. Genoa did not stand alone in this war. A formidable confederacy was raised against Venice, who had given provocation to many enemies. Of this Francis Carrara, signior of Padua, and the king of Hungary were the leaders. But the principal struggle was, as usual, upon the waves. During the winter of 1378 a Genoese fleet kept the sea, and ravaged the shores of Dalmatia. The Venetian armament had been weakened by an epidemic disease, and when Vittor Pisani, their admiral, gave battle to the enemy, he was compelled to fight with a hasty conscription of lands­men against the best sailors in the world. Entirely defeated, and taking refuge at Venice with only seven galleys, Pisani was cast into prison, as if his ill fortune had been his crime. Meanwhile the Genoese fleet, augmented by a strong reinforcement, rode before the long natural ramparts that separate the lagunes of Venice from the Adriatic. Six passages intersect the islands which constitute this barrier, besides the broader outlets of Brondolo and Fossone, through which the waters of the Brenta and the Adige are discharged. The lagune itself, as is well known, consists of extremely shallow water, unnavigable for any vessel except along the course of artificial and intricate passages. Notwithstanding the apparent difficulties of such an enterprise, Pietro Doria, the Genoese admiral, determined to reduce the city. His first successes gave him reason to hope. He forced the passage, and stormed the little town of Chioggia, built upon the inside of the isle bearing that name, about twenty-five miles south of Venice. Nearly four thousand pris­oners fell here into his hands: an augury, as it seemed, of a more splendid triumph. In the consternation this misfortune inspired at Venice the first impulse was to ask for peace. The ambassadors carried with them seven Genoese prisoners, as a sort of peace-offering to the admiral, and were empowered to make large and humiliating concessions, reserving nothing but the liberty of Venice. Francis Carrara strongly urged his allies to treat for peace. But the Genoese were stimulated by long hatred, and intoxicated by this unexpected opportunity of revenge. Doria, calling the ambassadors into council, thus ad­dressed them: “Ye shall obtain no peace from us, I swear to you, nor from the lord of Padua, till first we have put a curb in the mouths of those wild horses that stand upon the place of St. Mark. When they are bridled you shall have enough of peace. Take back with you your Genoese captives, for I am coming within a few days to release both them and their companions from your prisons.” When this answer was reported to the senate, they prepared to defend themselves with the character­istic firmness of their government. Every eye was turned towards a great man unjustly punished, their Admiral Vittor Pisani. He was called out of prison to defend his country amidst general acclamations; but, equal in magnanimity and simple republican patriotism to the noblest characters of antiquity, Pisani repressed the favoring voices of the multitude, and bade them reserve their enthusiasm for St. Mark, the symbol and war-cry of Venice. Under the vigorous command of Pisani the canals were fortified or occupied by large vessels armed with artillery; thirty-four galleys were equipped; every citizen contributed according to his power; in the entire want of commercial resources (for Venice had not a merchantship during this war) private plate was melted; and the senate held out the promise of ennobling thirty families who should be most forward in this strife of patriotism.

The new fleet was so ill provided with seamen that for some months the admiral employed them only in manoeuvring along the canals. From some unaccountable supineness, or more probably from the insuperable difficulties of the undertaking, the Genoese made no assault upon the city. They had, indeed, fair grounds to hope its reduction by famine or despair. Every access to the continent was cut off by the troops of Padua; and the king of Hungary had mastered almost all the Venetian towns in Istria and along the Dalmatian coast. The Doge Contarini, taking the chief command, appeared at length with his fleet near Chioggia, before the Genoese were aware. They were still less aware of his secret design. He pushed one of the large round vessels, then called cocche, into the narrow passage of Chioggia which connects the lagune with the sea, and, moor­ing her athwart the channel, interrupted that communication. Attacked with fury by the enemy, this vessel went down on the spot, and the doge improved his advantage by sinking loads of stones until the passage became absolutely unnavigable. It was still possible for the Genoese fleet to follow the principal canal of the lagune towards Venice and the northern passages, or to sail out of it by the harbor of Brondolo; but, whether from confusion or from miscalculating the dangers of their position, they suffered the Venetians to close the canal upon them by the same means they had used at Chioggia, and even to place their fleet in the entrance of Brondolo so near to the lagune that the Genoese could not form their ships in line of battle. The circumstances of the two combatants were thus entirely changed. But the Genoese fleet, though besieged in Chioggia, was impregnable, and their command of the land secured them from famine. Venice, notwithstanding her unexpected success, was still very far from secure; it was difficult for the doge to keep his position through the winter; and if the enemy could appear in open sea. the risks of combat were extremely hazardous. It is said that the senate deliberated upon transporting the seat of their liberty to Candia, and that the doge had announced his intention to raise the siege of Chioggia, if expected succors did not arrive by the 1st of January, 1380. On that very day Carlo Zeno, an admiral who, ignorant of the dangers of his country, had been supporting the honor of her flag in the Levant and on the coast of Liguria, appeared with a reinforcement of eighteen galleys and a store of provisions. From that moment the confidence of Venice revived. The fleet, now superior in strength to the enemy, began to attack them with vivacity. After several months of obstinate resistance the Genoese, whom their republic had in­effectually attempted to relieve by a fresh armament, blocked up in the town of Chioggia, and pressed by hunger, were obliged to surrender. Nineteen galleys only out of forty-eight were in good condition; and the crews were equally diminished in the ten months of their occupation of Chioggia. The pride of Genoa was deemed to be justly humbled; and even her own historian confesses that God would not suffer so noble a city as Venice to become the spoil of a conqueror.

Each of the two republics had sufficient reason to lament their mutual prejudices, and the selfish cupidity of their merchants, which usurps in all maritime countries the name of patriotism. Though the capture of Chioggia did not terminate the war, both parties were exhausted, and willing, next year, to accept the mediation of the Duke of Savoy. By the peace of Turin, Venice surrendered most of her territorial possessions to the king of Hungary. That prince and Francis Carrara were the only gainers. Genoa obtained the isle of Tenedos, one of the original subjects of dispute; a poor indemnity for her losses. Though, upon a hasty view, the result of this war appears more unfavorable to Venice, yet in fact it is the epoch of the decline of Genoa. From this time she never commanded the ocean with such navies as before; her commerce gradually went into decay; and the fifteenth century, the most splendid in the annals of Venice, is, till recent times, the most ignomin­ious in those of Genoa. But this was partly owing to internal dissensions, by which her liberty, as well as glory, was for a while suspended.

At Genoa, as in other cities of Lombardy, the principal magistrates of the republic were originally styled consuls. A chronicle drawn up under the inspection of the senate per­petuates the names of these early magistrates. It appears that their number varied from four to six, annually elected by the people in their full parliament. These consuls presided over the republic and commanded the forces by land and sea; while another class of magistrates, bearing the same title, were annually elected by the several companies into which the people were divided, for the administration of civil justice. This was the regimen of the twelfth century; but in the next Genoa fell into the fashion of intrusting the executive power to a foreign podesta. The podesta was assisted by a council of eight, chosen by the eight companies of nobility. This institution, if indeed it were anything more than a custom or usurpation, originated probably not much later than the beginning of the thirteenth century. It gave not only an aristocratic, but almost an oligarchical character to the constitution, since many of the nobility were not members of these eight societies. Of the senate or councils we hardly know more than their existence; they are very little mentioned by historians. Everything of a general nature, everything that required the expression of public will, was reserved for the entire and unrepresented sovereignty of the people. In no city was the parliament so often convened; for war, for peace, for alliance, for change of government?' These very dissonant elements were not likely to harmonize. The people, sufficiently accustomed to the forms of democracy to imbibe its spirit, repined at the practical influence which was thrown into the scale of the nobles. Nor did some of the latter class scruple to enter that path of ambition which leads to power by flattery of the populace. Two or three times within the thirteenth century a high-born demagogue had nearly overturned the general liberty, like the Torriani at Milan, through the pretence of defending that of individuals. Among the nobility themselves four houses were distinguished beyond all the rest —the Grimaldi, the Fieschi, the Doria, the Spinola; the two former of Guelf politics, the latter adherents of the empire. Perhaps their equality of forces, and a jealousy which even the families of the same faction entertained of each other, prevented any one from usurping the signiory at Genoa. Neither the Gueli nor Ghibelin party obtaining a decided preponderance, continual revolutions occurred in the city. The most celebrated was the expulsion of the Ghibelins under the Doria and Spinola in 1318. They had recourse to the Visconti of Milan, and their own resources were not unequal to cope with their country. The Guelfs thought it necessary to call in Robert King of Naples, always ready to give assistance as the price of dominion, and conferred upon him the temporary sovereignty of Genoa. A siege of several years’ duration, if we believe an historian of that age, produced as many remarkable exploits as that of Troy. They have not proved so interesting to posterity. The Ghibelins continued for a length of time excluded from the city, but in possession of the seaport of Savona, whence they traded and equipped fleets, as a rival republic, and even entered into a separate war with Venice. Experience of the uselessness of hostility, and the loss to which they exposed their common country, produced a reconciliation, or rather a compromise, in 1331, when the Ghibelins returned to Genoa. But the people felt that many years of misfortune had been owing to the private enmities of four overbearing families. An opportunity soon offered of reducing their influence within very nar­row bounds.

The Ghibelin faction was at the head of affairs in 1339, a Doria and a Spinola being its leaders, when the discontent of a large fleet in want of pay broke out in open insurrection. Savona and the neighboring towns took arms avowedly against the aristocratical tyranny; and the capital was itself on the point of joining the insurgents. There was, by the Genoese constitution, a magistrate named the abbot of the people, acting as a kind of tribune for their protection against the oppres­sion of the nobility. His functions are not, however, in any book I have seen, very clearly defined. This office had been abolished by the present government, and it was the first demand of the malcontents that it should be restored. This was acceded to, and twenty delegates were appointed to make the choice. While they delayed, and the populace was grown weary with waiting, a nameless artisan called out from an elevated station that he could direct them to a fit person. When the people, in jest, bade him speak on, he uttered the name of Simon Boccanegra. This was a man of noble birth, and well esteemed, who was then present among the crowd. The word was suddenly taken up, a cry was heard that Boccanegra should be abbot; he was instantly brought forward, and the sword of justice forced into his hand. As soon as silence could be obtained he modestly thanked them for their favor, but declined an office which his nobility disqualified him from exercising. At this a single voice out of the crowd exclaimed, “Signior!” and this title was reverberated from every side. Fearful of worse conse­quences, the actual magistrates urged him to comply with the people and accept the office of abbot. But Boccanegra, addressing the assembly, declared his readiness to become their abbot, signior, or whatever they would. The cry of “Signior!” was now louder than before; while others cried out, “Let him be duke!” The latter title was received with greater approbation; and Boccanegra was conducted to the palace, the first duke, or doge, of Genoa.

Caprice alone, or an idea of more pomp and dignity, led the populace, we may conjecture, to prefer this title to that of signior; but it produced important and highly beneficial consequences. In all neighboring cities an arbitrary government had been already established under their respective signiors; the name was associated with indefinite power, while that of doge had only been taken by the elective and very limited chief magistrate of another maritime republic. Neither Boccanegra nor his successors ever rendered their authority unlimited or hereditary. The constitution of Genoa, from an oppressive aristrocracy, became a mixture of the two other forms, with an exclusion of the nobles from power. Those four great families who had domineered alternately for almost a century lost their influence at home after the revolution of 1339. Yet, what is re­markable enough, they were still selected in preference for the highest of trusts; their names are still identified with the glory of Genoa; her fleets hardly sailed but under a Doria, a Spinola, or a Grimaldi; such confidence could the republic bestow upon their patriotism, or that of those whom they commanded. Meanwhile two or three new families, a plebeian oligarchy, filled their place in domestic honors; the Adorni, the Fregosi, the Montalti, contended for the ascendant. From their competition ensued revolutions too numerous almost for a separate history; in four years, from 1390 to 1394, die doge was ten times changed ; swept away or brought back in the fluctuations of popular tumult. Antoniotto Adorno, four times doge of Genoa, had sought the friendship of Gian Galeazzo Visconti; but that crafty tyrant meditated the subjugation of the republic, and played her factions against one another to render her fall secure. Adorno perceived that there was no hope for ultimate independence but by making a temporary sacrifice of it. His own power, ambitious as he had been, he voluntarily resigned, and placed the republic under the protection or signiory of the king of France. Terms were stipulated very favorable to her liberties; but, with a French garrison once received into the city, they were not always sure of observance.

While Genoa lost even her political independence, Venice became more conspicuous and powerful than before. That famous republic deduces its origin, and even its liberty, from an era beyond the commencement of the middle ages. The Venetians boast of a perpetual emancipation from the yoke of barbarians. From that ignominious servitude some natives, or, as their historians will have it, nobles, of Aquileia and neighboring towns, fled to the small cluster of islands that rise amidst the shoals at the mouth of the Brenta. Here they built the town of Rivoalto, the modern Venice, in 421; but their chief settlement was, till the beginning of the ninth century, at Malamocco. A living writer has, in a passage of remarkable elo­quence, described the sovereign republic, immovable upon the bosom of the waters from which her palaces emerge, contemplating the successive tides of continental invasion, the rise and fall of empires, the change of dynasties, the whole moving scene of human revolution, till, in her own turn, the last surviving witness of antiquity, the common link between two periods of civilization, has submitted to the destroying hand of time. Some part of this renown must, on a cold-blooded scrutiny, be detracted from Venice. Her independence was, at the best, the fruit of her obscurity. Neglected upon their islands, a people of fishermen might without molestation elect their own magistrates; a very equivocal proof of sovereignty in cities much more considerable than Venice. But both the western and the eastern empire alternately pretended to exercise dominion over her; she was conquered by Pepin, son of Charlemagne, and restored by him, as the chronicles say, to the Greek Emperor Nicephorus. There is every appearance that the Venetians had always considered themselves as subject, in a large sense not exclusive of their municipal self-government, to the eastern empire. And this connection was not broken, in the early part, at least, of the tenth century. But, for every essential purpose, Venice might long before be deemed an independent state. Her doge was not confirmed at Constantinople; she paid no tribute, and lent no assistance in war. Her own navies, in the ninth century, encountered the Normans, the Saracens, and the Sclavonians in the Adriatic Sea. Upon the coast of Dalmatia were several Greek cities, which the empire had ceased to protect, and which, like Venice itself, became republics for want of a master. Ra- gusa was one of these, and, more fortunate than the rest, survived as an independent city till our own age. In return for the assistance of Venice, these little seaports put themselves under her government; the Sclavonian pirates were repressed; and after acquiring, partly by consent, partly by arms, a large tract of maritime territory, the doge took the title of Duke of Dalmatia, which is said by Dandolo to have been confirmed at Constantinople, [a.d. 997.] Three or four centuries, however, elapsed before the republic became secure of these conquests, which were frequently wrested from her by rebellions of the inhabitants, or by her powerful neighbor, the king of Hungary.

A more important source of Venetian greatness was com­merce. In the darkest and most barbarous period, before Genoa or even Pisa had entered into mercantile pursuits, Venice carried on an extensive traffic both with the Greek and Saracen regions of the Levant. The crusades enriched and aggrandized Venice more, perhaps, than any other city. Her splendor may, however, be dated from the taking of Constantinople by the Latins in 1204. In this famous enterprise, which diverted a great armament destined for the recovery of Jerusalem, the French and Venetian nations were alone engaged; but the former only as private adventurers, the latter with the whole strength of their republic under its doge Henry Dandolo. Three-eighths of the city of Constantinople, and an equal proportion of the provinces, were allotted to them in the partition of the spoil, and the doge took the singular but accurate title, Duke of three-eighths of the Roman empire. Their share was increased by purchases from less opulent crusaders, especially one of much importance, the island of Candia, which they retained till the middle of the seventeenth century. These foreign acquisitions were generally granted out in fief to private Venetian nobles under the supremacy of the republic. It was thus that the Ionian islands, to adopt the vocabulary of our day, came under the dominion of Venice, and guaranteed that sovereignty which she now began to affect over the Adriatic. Those of the Archipelago were lost in the sixteenth century. This political greatness was sustained by an increasing commerce. No Christian state preserved so considerable an inter­course with the Mohammedans. While Genoa kept the keys of the Black Sea by her colonies of Pera and Caffa, Venice directed her vessels to Acre and Alexandria. These connections, as is the natural effect of trade, deadened the sense of religious antipathy; and the Venetians were sometimes charged with obstructing all efforts towards a new crusade, or even any partial attacks upon the Mohammedan nations.

The earliest form of government at Venice, as we collect from an epistle of Cassiodorus in the sixth century, was by twelve annual tribunes. Perhaps the union of the different islanders was merely federative. However, in 697, they resolved to elect a chief magistrate by name of duke, or, in their dialect, doge of Venice. No councils appear to have limited his power, or represented the national will. The doge was general and judge; he was sometimes permitted to associate his son with him, and thus to prepare the road for hereditary power; his government had all the prerogatives, and, as far as in such a state of manners was possible, the pomp, of a monarchy. But he acted in important matters with the concurrence of a general assembly, though, from the want of positive re­straints, his executive government might be considered as nearly absolute. Time, however, demonstrated to the Venetians the imperfections of such a constitution. Limitations were accordingly imposed on the doge in 1032; he was prohibited from associating a son in the government, and obliged to act with the consent of two elected counsellors, and, on important occasions, to call in some of the principal citizens. No other change appears to have taken place till 1172, long after every other Italian city had provided for its liberty by constitutional laws, more or less successful, but always manifesting a good deal of contrivance and complication. Venice was, however, dissatisfied with her existing institutions. General assemblies were found, in practice, inconvenient and unsatisfactory. Yet some adequate safeguard against a magistrate of indefinite powers was required by freemen. A representative council, as in other republics, justly appeared the best innovation that could be introduced.

The great council of Venice, as established in 1172, was to consist of four hundred and eighty citizens, equally taken from the six districts of the city, and annually renewed. But the election was not made immediately by the people. Two electors, called tribunes, from each of the six districts, appointed the members of the council by separate nomination. These tribunes at first were themselves chosen by the people, so that the intervention of this electoral body did not apparently trespass upon the democratical character of the constitution. But the great council, principally composed of men of high birth, and invested by the law with the appointment of the doge, and of all the councils of magistracy, seem, early in the thirteenth century, to have assumed the right of naming their own constituents. Besides appointing the tribunes, they took upon themselves another privilege, that of confirming or rejecting their successors before they resigned their functions. These usurpations rendered the annual election almost nugatory; the same members were usually renewed; and though the dignity of councillor was not yet hereditary, it remained, upon the whole, in the same families. In this transitional state the Venetian government continued during the thirteenth century; the people actually debarred of power, but an hereditary aristocracy not completely or legally confirmed. The right of electing, or rather of re-electing, the great council was transferred, in 1297, from the tribunes, whose office was abolished, to the council of forty; they ballotted upon the names of the members who already sat; and whoever obtained twelve favoring balls out of forty retained his place. The vacancies occasioned by rejection or death were filled up by a supplemental list formed by three electors nominated in the great council. But they were ex­pressly prohibited, by laws of 1298 and 1300, from inserting the name of any one whose paternal ancestors had not enjoyed the same honor. Thus an exclusive hereditary aristocracy was finally established. And the personal rights of noble descent were rendered complete in 1319 by the abolition of all elective forms. By the constitution of Venice as it was then settled, every descendant of a member of the great council, on attaining twenty-five years of age, entered as of right into that body, which, of course, became unlimited in its numbers.

But an assembly so numerous as the great council, even before it was thus thrown open to all the nobility, could never have conducted the public affairs with that secrecy and steadiness which were characteristic of Venice; and without an intermediary power between the doge and the patrician multitude the constitution would have gained nothing in stability to compensate for the loss of popular freedom. The great council had proceeded very soon after its institution to limit the ducal pre­rogatives. That of exercising criminal justice, a trust of vast importance, was transferred in 1179 to a council of forty members annually chosen. The executive government itself was thought too considerable for the doge without some material limitations. Instead of naming his own assistants or pregadi, he was only to preside in a council of sixty members, to whom the care of the state in all domestic and foreign relations, and the previous deliberation upon proposals submitted to the great council, was confided. This council of pregadi, generally called in later times the senate, was enlarged in the fourteenth century by sixty additional members; and as a great part of the magistrates had also seats in it, the whole number amounted to between two and three hundred. Though the legislative power, properly speaking, remained with the great council, the senate used to impose taxes, and had the exclusive right of making peace and war. It was annually renewed, like almost all other councils at Venice, by the great council. But since even this body was too numerous for the preliminary discussion of business, six councillors, forming, along with the doge, the signiory, or visible representative of the republic, were empowered to dispatch orders, to correspond with ambassadors, to treat with foreign slates, to convoke and preside in the coun­cils, and perform other duties of an administration. In part of these they were obliged to act with the concurrence of what was termed the college, comprising, besides themselves, certain select councillors, from different constituted authorities.

It might be imagined that a dignity so shorn of its lustre as that of doge would not excite an overweening ambition. But the Venetians were still jealous of extinguished power; and while their constitution was yet immature, the great council planned new methods of restricting their chief magistrate. An oath was taken by the doge on his election, so comprehensive as to embrace every possible check upon undue influence. He was bound not to correspond with foreign states, or to open their letters, except in the presence of the signiory; to acquire no property beyond the Venetian dominions, and to resign what he might already possess; to interpose, directly or indirectly, in no judicial process; and not to permit any citizen to use tokens of subjection in saluting him. As a further security, they devised a remarkably complicated mode of supplying the vacancy of his office. Election by open suffrage is always liable to tumult or corruption; nor does the method of secret ballot, while it prevents the one, afford in practice any adequate security against the other. Election by lot incurs the risk of placing incapable persons in situations of arduous trust. The Venetian scheme was intended to combine the two modes without their evils, by leaving the absolute choice of their doge to electors taken by lot. It was presumed that, among a competent number of persons, though taken promiscuously, good sense and right principles would gain such an ascendency as to prevent any flagrantly improper nomination, if undue influence could be excluded. For this purpose the ballot was rendered exceedingly complicated, that no possible ingenuity or stratagem might ascertain the electoral body before the last moment. A single lottery, if fairly conducted, is certainly suf­ficient for this end. At Venice as many balls as there were members of the great council present were placed in an urn. Thirty of these were gilt. The holders of gilt balls were rendered by a second ballot to nine. The nine elected forty, whom lot reduced to twelve. The twelve chose twenty-five by separate nominations The twenty-five were reduced by lot to nine; and each of the nine chose five. These forty-five were reduced to eleven as before; the eleven elected forty-one, who were the ultimate voters for a doge. This intricacy appears useless, and consequently absurd ; but the original principle of a Vene­tian election (for something of the same kind was applied to all their councils and magistrates) may not always be unworthy of imitation. In one of our best modern statutes, that for regulating the trials of contested elections, we have seen this mix­ture of chance and selection very happily introduced.

An hereditary prince could never have remained quiet in such trammels as were imposed upon the doge of Venice. But early prejudice accustoms men to consider restraint, even upon themselves, as advantageous; and the limitations of ducal power appeared to every Venetian as fundamental as the great laws of the English constitution do to ourselves. Many doges of Venice, especially in the middle ages, were considerable men; but they were content with the functions assigned to them, which, if they could avoid the tantalizing comparison of sovereign princes, were enough for the ambition of republicans. For life the chief magistrates of their country, her noble citizens forever, they might thank her in their own name for what she gave, and in that of their posterity for what she withheld. Once only a doge of Venice was tempted to betray the freedom of the republic [a.d. 1355]. Marin Falieri, a man far advanced in life, engaged, from some petty resentment, in a wild intrigue to overturn the government. The conspiracy was soon discov­ered, and the doge avowed his guilt. An aristocracy so firm and so severe did not hesitate to order his execution in the ducal palace.

For some years after what was called the closing of the great council by the law of 1296, which excluded all but the families actually in possession, a good deal of discontent showed itself among the commonalty. Several commotions took place about the beginning of the fourteenth century, with the object of restoring a more popular regimen. Upon the suppression of the last, in 1310, the aristocracy sacrificed their own individual freedom, along with that of the people, to the preservation of an imaginary privilege. They established the famous council of ten, that most remarkable part of the Venetian constitution. This council, it should be observed, consisted in fact of seventeen, comprising the signiory, or the doge and his six councillors, as well as the ten properly so called. The council of ten had by usage, if not by right, a controlling and dictatorial power over the senate and other magistrates, rescinding their decisions, and treating separately with foreign princes. Their vast influence strengthened the executive government, of which they formed a part, and gave a vigor to its movements which the jealousy of the councils would possibly have impeded. But they are chiefly known as an arbitrary and inquisitorial tribunal, the standing tyranny of Venice. Excluding the old council of forty, a regular court of criminal judicature, not only from the investigation of treasonable charges but of several other crimes of magnitude, they inquired, they judged, they punished, ac­cording to what they called reason of state. The public eye never penetrated the mystery of their proceedings; the accused was sometimes not heard, never confronted with witnesses; the condemnation was secret as the inquiry, the punishment undivulged like both. The terrible and odious machinery of a police, the insidious spy, the stipendiary informer, unknown to the carelessness of feudal governments, found their natural soil in the republic of Venice. Tumultuous assemblies were scarcely possible in so peculiar a city; and private conspiracies never failed to be detected by the vigilance of the council of ten. Compared with the Tuscan republics the tranquillity of Venice is truly striking. The names of Guclf and Ghibelin hardly raised any emotion in her streets, though the government was considered in the first part of the fourteenth century as rather inclined towards the latter party. But the wildest excesses of faction are less dishonoring than the stillness and moral degradation of servitude.

It was a very common theme with political writers till about the beginning of the last century, when Venice fell almost into oblivion, to descant upon the wisdom of this government. And, indeed, if the preservation of ancient institutions be, as some appear to consider it, not a means but an end, and an end for which the rights of man and laws of God may at any time be set aside, we must acknowledge that it was a wisely constructed system. Formed to compress the two opposite forces from which resistance might be expected, it kept both the doge and the people in perfect subordination. Even the coalition of an executive magistrate with the multitude, so fatal to most aristocracies, never endangered that of Venice. It is most remarkable that a part of the constitution which destroyed every man’s security, and incurred general hatred, was still maintained by a sense of its necessity. The council of ten, annually renewed, might annually have been annihilated. The great council had only to withhold their suffrages from the new candidates, and the tyranny expired of itself. This was several times attempted (I speak now of more modern ages); but the nobles, though detesting the council of ten, never steadily persevered in refusing to re-elect it. It was, in fact, become essential to Venice. So great were the vices of her constitution that she could not endure their remedies. If the council of ten had been abolished at any time since the fifteenth century, if the removal of that jealous despotism had given scope to the corruption of a poor and debased aristocracy, to the license of a people unworthy of freedom, the republic would have soon lost her territorial possessions, if not her own independence. If, indeed, it be true, as reported, that during the last hundred years this formidable tribunal had sensibly relaxed its vigilance, if the Venetian government had become less tyrannical through sloth or decline of national spirit, our conjecture will have acquired the confirmation of experience. Experience has recently shown that a worse calamity than domestic tyranny might befall the queen of the Adriatic. In the Place of St. Mark, among the monuments of extinguished greatness, a traveller may regret to think that an insolent German soldiery has replaced even the senators of Venice. Her ancient liberty, her bright and romantic career of glory in countries so dear to the imagination, her magnanimous defence in the war of Chioggia, a few thinly scattered names of illustrious men, will rise upon his mind, and mingle with his indignation at the treachery which robbed her of her independence. But if he has learned the true attributes of wis­dom in civil policy, he will not easily prostitute that word to a constitution formed without reference to property or to population, that vested sovereign power partly in a body of impoverished nobles, partly in an overruling despotism; or to a prac­tical system of government that made vice the ally of tyranny, and sought impunity for its own assassinations by encouraging dissoluteness of private life. Perhaps, too, the wisdom so often imputed to the senate in its foreign policy has been greatly exaggerated. The balance of power established in Europe, and above all in Italy, maintained for the two last centuries states of small intrinsic resources, without any efforts of their own. In the ultimate crisis, at least, of Venetian liberty, that solemn mockery of statesmanship was exhibited to contempt; too blind to avert danger, too cowardly to withstand it, the most ancient government of Europe made not an instant’s resistance; the peasants of Underwald died upon their mountains; the nobles of Venice clung only to their lives.

Until almost the middle of the fourteenth century Venice had been content without any territorial possessions in Italy; unless we reckon a very narrow strip of sea-coast, bordering on her lagunes, called the Dogato. Neutral in the great contests between the church and the empire, between the free cities and their sovereigns, she was respected by both parties, while neither ventured to claim her as an ally. But the rapid progress of Mastino della Scala, lord of Verona, with some particular injuries, led the senate to form a league with Florence against him. Villani mentions it as a singular honor for his country to have become the confederate of the Venetians, “who, for their great excellence and power, had never allied themselves with any state or prince, except at their ancient conquest of Constantinople and Romania.”  The result of this combination was to annex the district of Treviso to the Venetian dominions. But they made no further conquests in that age. On the contrary, they lost Treviso in the unfortunate war of Chioggia, and did not again regain it till 1389. Nor did they seriously attempt to withstand the progress of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, who, after overthrowing the family of Scala, stretched almost to the Adriatic, and altogether subverted for a time the balance of power in Lombardy.

But upon the death of this prince, in 1404, a remarkable crisis took place in that country. He left two sons, Giovanni Maria and Filippo Maria, both young, and under the care of a mother who was little fitted for her situation. Through her misconduct and the selfish ambition of some military leaders, who had commanded Gian Galeazzo’s mercenaries, that extensive dominion was soon broken into fragments. Bergamo, Como, Lodi, Cremona, and other cities revolted, submitting themselves in general to the families of their former princes, the earlier race of usurpers, who had for nearly a century been crushed by the Visconti. A Guelf faction revived after the name had long been proscribed in Lombardy. Francesco da Carrara, lord of Padua, availed himself of this revolution to get possession of Verona, and seemed likely to unite all the cities beyond the Adige. No family was so odious to the Venetians as that of Carrara.

Though they had seemed indifferent to the more real danger in Gian Galeazzo’s lifetime, they took up arms against this inferior enemy. Both Padua and Verona were reduced, and, the Duke of Milan ceding Vicenza, the republic of Venice came suddenly into the possession of an extensive territory. Fran­cesco da Carrara, who had surrendered in his capital, was put to death in prison at Venice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many disadvantages attended the security against wounds for which this armor had been devised. The enormous weight exhausted the force and crippled the limbs. It rendered the heat of a southern climate insupportable. In some circumstances it increased the danger of death, as in the passage of a river or morass. It was impossible to compel an enemy to fight, because the least intrenchment or natural obstacle could stop such unwieldy assailants. The troops must be kept in constant alarm at night, and either compelled to sleep under arms, or run the risk of being surprised before they could rivet their plates of steel. Neither the Italians, however, nor the Transalpines would surrender a mode of defence which they ought to have deemed inglorious. But in order to obviate some of its military inconveniences, as well as to give a concen­tration in attack, which lancers impetuously charging in a single line, according to the practice at least of France in the middle ages, did not preserve, it became usual for the cavalry to dismount, and, leaving their horses at some distance, to combat on foot with the lance. This practice, which must have been singularly embarrassing with the plate-armor of the fifteenth century, was introduced before it became so ponderous. It is mentioned by historians of the twelfth century, both as a German and an English custom. We find it in the wars of Edward III. Hawkwood, the disciple of that school, introtroduced it into Italy. And it was practised by the English in their second wars with France, especially at the battles of Crevant and Verneuil.

Meanwhile a discovery accidentally made, perhaps in some remote age and distant region, and whose importance was but slowly perceived by Europe, had prepared the way not only for a change in her military system, but for political effects still more extensive. If we consider gunpowder as an instrument of human destruction, incalculably more powerful than any that skill had devised or accident presented before, acquiring, as experience shows us, a more sanguinary dominion in every succeeding age, and borrowing all the progressive resources of science and civilization for the extermination of mankind, we shall be appalled at the future prospects of the species, and feel perhaps in no other instance so much difficulty in reconciling the mysterious dispensation with the benevolent order of Providence. As the great security for established governments, the surest preservation against popular tumult, it assumes a more equivocal character, depending upon the solution of a doubtful problem, whether the sum of general happiness has lost more in the last three centuries through arbitrary power, than it has gained through regular police and suppression of disorder.

There seems little reason to doubt that gunpowder was introduced through the means of the Saracens into Europe. Its use in engines of war, though they may seem to have been rather like our fireworks than artillery, is mentioned by an Arabic writer in the Escurial collection about the year 1249. It was known not long afterwards to our philosopher Roger Bacon, though he concealed, in some degree, the secret of its composition. In the first part of the fourteenth century cannon, or rather mortars, were invented, and the applicability of gun­powder to purposes of war was understood. Edward III employed some pieces of artillery with considerable effect at Crecy. But its use was still not very frequent; a circumstance which will surprise us less when we consider the un­scientific construction of artillery; the slowness with which it could be loaded ; its stone balls, of uncertain aim and imperfect force, being commonly fired at a considerable elevation; and especially the difficulty of removing it from place to place during an action. In sieges, and in naval engagements, as, for example, in the war of Chioggia, it was more frequently employed. Gradually, however, the new artifice of evil gained ground. The French made the principal improvements. They cast their cannon smaller, placed them on lighter car­riages, and used balls of iron. They invented portable arms for a single soldier, which, though clumsy in comparison with their present state, gave an augury of a prodigious revolution in the military art. John, Duke of Burgundy, in 1411, had 4,000 hand-cannons, as they were called, in his army. They are found under different names and modifications of form— for which I refer the reader to professed writers on tactics—in most of the wars that historians of the fifteenth century record, but less in Italy than beyond the Alps. The Milanese, in 1449, are said to have armed their militia with 20,000 muskets, which struck terror into the old generals.9 But these muskets, supported on a rest, and charged with great delay, did less execu­tion than our sanguinary science would require; and, uncom­bined with the admirable invention of the bayonet, could not in any degree resist a charge of cavalry. The pike had a greater tendency to subvert the military system of the middle ages, and to demonstrate the efficiency of disciplined infantry. Two free nations had already discomfited, by the help of such infantry, those arrogant knights on whom the fate of battles had depended—the Bohemians, instructed in the art of war by their great master, John Zisca; and the Swiss, who, after winning their independence inch by inch from the house of Austria, had lately established their renown by a splendid victory over Charles of Burgundy. Louis XI took a body of mercenaries from the United Cantons into pay. Maximilian had recourse to the same assistances And though the importance of infan­try was not perhaps decidedly established till the Milanese wars of Louis XII and Francis I, in the sixteenth century, yet the last years of the middle ages, according to our division, indicated the commencement of that military revolution in the general employment of pikemen and musketeers.

Soon after the beginning of the fifteenth century, to return from this digression, two illustrious captains, educated under Alberic di Barbiano, turned upon themselves the eyes of Italy. These were Braccio di Montone, a noble Perugian, and Sforza Attendolo, originally a peasant in the village of Cotignuola. Nearly equal in reputation, unless perhaps Braccio may be reckoned the more consummate general, they were divided by a long rivalry, which descended to the next generation, and involved all the distinguished leaders of Italy. The distractions of Naples, and the anarchy of the ecclesiastical state, gave scope not only to their military but political ambition. Sforza was invested with extensive fiefs in the kingdom of Naples, and with the office of Great Constable. Braccio aimed at independent acquisitions, and formed a sort of principality around Perugia. This, however, was entirely dissipated at his death. When Sforza and Braccio were no more, their respective parties were headed by the son of the former, Francesco Sforza, and by Nicholas Piccinino, who for more than twenty years fought, with few exceptions, under opposite banners. Piccinino was constantly in the service of Milan. Sforza, whose political talents fully equalled his military skill, never lost sight of the splendid prospects that opened to his ambition. From Eugenius IV he obtained the March of Ancona, as a fief of the Roman see. Thus rendered more independent than the ordi­nary condottieri, he mingled as a sovereign prince in the politics of Italy. He was generally in alliance with Venice and Florence, throwing his weight into their scale to preserve the balance of power against Milan and Naples. But his ultimate designs rested upon Milan. Filippo Maria, duke of that city, the last of his family, had only a natural daughter, whose hand he sometimes offered and sometimes withheld from Sforza. Even after he had consented to their union, his suspicious temper was incapable of admitting such a son-in-law into confidence, and he joined in the confederacy with the pope and King of Naples to strip Sforza of the March. At the death of Filippo Maria in 1447, that general had nothing left but his glory, and a very disputable claim to the Milanese succession. This, however, was set aside by the citizens, who revived their republican government. A republic in that part of Lombardy might, with the help of Venice and Florence, have withstood any domestic or foreign usurpation. But Venice was hostile, and Florence indifferent. Sforza became the general of this new state, aware that such would be the probable means of becoming its master. No politician of that age scrupled any breach of faith for his interest. Nothing, says Machiavelli, was thought shameful, but to fail. Sforza, with his army, deserted to the Venetians; and the republic of Milan, being both incapable of defending itself and distracted by civil dissensions, soon fell a prey to his ambition. In 1450 he was proclaimed duke, rather by right of election, or of conquest, than in virtue of his marriage with Bianca, whose sex, as well as illegitimacy, seemed to preclude her from inheriting.

I have not alluded for some time to the domestic history of a kingdom which bore a considerable part, during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, in the general combinations of Italian policy, not wishing to interrupt the reader’s attention by too frequent transitions. We must return again to a more remote age in order to take up the history of Naples. Charles of Anjou, after the deaths of Manfred and Conradin had left him without a competitor, might be ranked in the first class of European sovereigns. Master of Provence and Naples, and at the head of the Guelf faction in Italy, he had already prepared a formidable attack on the Greek empire, when a memorable revolution in Sicily brought humiliation on his latter years. John of Procida, a Neapolitan, whose patrimony had been con­fiscated for his adherence to the party of Manfred, retained, during long years of exile, an implacable resentment against the house of Anjou. From the dominions of Peter III, King of Aragon, who had bestowed estates upon him in Valencia, he kept his eye continually fixed on Naples and Sicily. The former held out no favorable prospects; the Ghibelin party had been entirely subdued, and the principal barons were of French extraction or inclinations. But the island was in a very different state. Unused to any strong government, it was now treated as a conquered country. A large body of French soldiers garrisoned the fortified towns, and the systematic op­pression was aggravated by those insults upon the honor of families which are most intolerable to an Italian temperament. John of Procida, travelling in disguise through the island, animated the barons with a hope of deliverance. In like disguise he repaired to the pope, Nicolas III, who was jealous of the new Neapolitan dynasty, and obtained his sanction to the projected insurrection; to the court of Constantinople, from which he readily obtained money; and to the King of Aragon, who employed that money in fitting out an armament, that hovered upon the coast of Africa, under pretext of attacking the Moors. It is, however, difficult at this time to distinguish the effects of preconcerted conspiracy from those of casual resentment. Before the intrigues so skilfully conducted had taken effect, yet after they were ripe for development, an outrage committed upon a lady at Palermo, during .1 procession on the vigil of Easter, provoked the people to that terrible massacre of all the 1 rcncli in their island which has obtained the name of Sicilian Vespers, [a.d. 1283.] Unpremeditated as such an ebullition of popular fury must appear, it fell in by the happiest coincidence, with the previous conspiracy The King of Aragon’s fleet was at hand; the Sicilians soon called in his assistance; he sailed to Palermo, and accepted the crown. John of Procida is a remarkable witness to the truth which the pride of governments will seldom permit them to acknowl­edge: that an individual, obscure and apparently insignificant, may sometimes, by perseverance and energy, shake the foundations of established states; while the perfect concealment of his intrigues proves also, against a popular maxim, that a political secret may be preserved by a number of persons dur­ing a considerable length of time.

The long war that ensued upon this revolution involved or interested the. greater part of civilized Europe. Philip III of France adhered to his uncle, and the King of Aragon was compelled to fight for Sicily within his native dominions. This indeed was the most vulnerable point of attack. Upon the sea lie was lord of the ascendant. His Catalans, the most intrepid of Mediterranean sailors, were led to victory by a Calabrian refugee, Roger di Loria, the most illustrious and successful admiral whom Europe produced till the age of Blake and de Ruyter. In one of Loria’s battles the eldest son of the King of Naples was made prisoner, and the first years of his own reign were spent in confinement. But notwithstanding these advantages, it was found impracticable for Aragon to contend against the arms of France, and latterly of Castile, sustained by the rolling thunders of the Vatican. Peter 111. had bequeathed Sicily to his second son James; Alfonso, the eldest, King of Aragon, could not fairly be expected to ruin his inheritance for his brother’s cause; nor were the barons of .that free country disposed to carry on a war without national objects. lie made peace, accordingly, in 1295, and engaged to withdraw all his subjects from the Sicilian service. Upon his own death, which followed very soon, Janies succeeded to the kingdom of Ara­gon, and ratified the renunciation of Sicily. But the natives of that island had received loo deeply the spirit of independence to be thus assigned over by the letter of a treaty. After solemnly abjuring by their ambassadors, their allegiance to the King of Aragon, they placed the crown upon the head of his brother Frederic. They maintained the war against Charles II. of Naples, against James of Aragon, their former king, who had bound himself to enforce their submission, and even against the great Roger di Loria, who, upon some dis­content with Frederic, deserted their banner, and entered into the Neapolitan service. Peace was at length made in 1300, upon condition that Frederic should retain during his life the kingdom, which was afterwards to revert to the crown of Naples: a condition not likely to be fulfilled.

Upon the death of Charles II, King of Naples, in 1305, a question arose as to the succession. His eldest son, Charles Martel, had been called by maternal inheritance to the throne of Hungary, and had left at his decease, a son, Carobert, the reigning sovereign of that country. According to the laws of representative succession, which were at this time tolerably settled in private inheritance, the crown of Naples ought to have regularly devolved upon that prince. But it was contested by his uncle Robert, the eldest living son of Charles II, and the cause was pleaded by civilians at Avignon before Pope Clement V, the feudal superior of the Neapolitan kingdom. Reasons of public utility, rather than of legal analogy, seem to have prevailed in the decision which was made in favor of Robert. The course of his reign evinced the wisdom of this determination. Robert, a wise and active, though not per­sonally a martial prince, maintained the ascendency of the Guelf faction, and the papal influence connected with it, against the formidable combination of Ghibelin usurpers in Lombardy, and the two emperors Henry VII and Louis of Bavaria. No male issue survived Robert, whose crown descended to his granddaughter Joanna. She had been espoused, while a child, to her cousin Andrew, son of Carobert, King of Hungary, who was educated with her in the court of Naples. Auspiciously contrived as this union might seem to silence a subsisting claim upon the kingdom, it proved eventually the source of a civil war and calamity for a hundred and fifty years. Andrew’s manners were barbarous, more worthy of his native country than of that polished court wherein he had been bred. He gave himself up to the society of Hungarians, who taught him to believe that a matrimonial crown and derivative royalty were derogatory to a prince who claimed by a paramount hereditary right. In fact, he was pressing the court of Avignon to permit his own coronation, which would have placed in a very hazardous condition the rights of the queen, with whom he was living on ill terms, when one night he was seized, strangled, and thrown out of a window, [a.d. 1343.] Public rumor, in the absence of notorious proof, imputed the guilt of this mysterious assassination to Joanna. Whether historians are authorized to assume her participation in it so confidently as they have generally done, may perhaps be doubted; though I cannot venture positively to rescind their sentence. The circumstances of Andrew’s death were undoubtedly pregnant with strong suspicions. Louis King of Hungary, his brother, a just and stem prince, invaded Naples, partly as an avenger, partly as a conqueror. The queen and her second husband, Louis of Tarento, fled to Provence, where her acquittal, after a solemn, if not an impartial, investigation, was pronounced by Clement VI. Louis, meanwhile, found it more difficult to retain than to acquire the kingdom of Naples; his own dominion required his presence; and Joanna soon recovered her crown. She reigned for thirty years more without the attack of any enemy, but not intermeddling, like her progenitors, in the gen­eral concerns of Italy. Childless by four husbands, the succession of Joanna began to excite ambitious speculations. Of all the male descendants of Charles I none remained but the King of Hungary, and Charles Duke of Durazzo, who had married the queen’s niece, and was regarded by her as the presumptive heir to the crown. But offended by her marriage with Otho of Brunswick, he procured the assistance of an Hungarian army to invade the kingdom, and, getting the queen into his power, took possession of the throne. In this enterprise he was seconded by Urban VI, against whom Joanna had unfortu­nately declared in the great schism of the church. She was smothered with a pillow, in prison, by the order of Charles. [a.d. 1378.] The name of Joan of Naples has suffered by the lax repetition of calumnies. Whatever share she may have had in her husband’s death, and certainly under circumstances of extenuation, her subsequent life was not open to any flagrant reproach. The charge of dissolute manners, so frequently made, is not warranted by any specific proof or contemporary testimony.

In the extremity of Joanna’s distress she had sought assistance from a quarter too remote to afford it in time for her relief. She adopted Louis Duke of Anjou, eldest uncle of the young King of France, Charles VI., as her heir in the kingdom of Naples and county of Provence. This bequest took effect without difficulty in the latter country. Naples was entirely in possession of Charles of Durazzo. Louis, however, entered Italy with a very large army, consisting at least of 30,000 cav­alry, and, according to some writers, more than double that number. He was joined by many Neapolitan barons attached to the late queen. But, by a fate not unusual in so imperfect a state of military science, this armament produced no adequate effect, and mouldered away through disease and want of provisions. Louis himself dying not long afterwards, the govern­ment of Charles III. appeared secure, and he was tempted to accept an offer of the crown of Hungary. This enterprise, equally unjust and injudicious, terminated in his assassination. Ladislaus, his son, a child ten years old, succeeded to the throne of Naples, under the guardianship of his mother Margaret, whose exactions of money producing discontent, the party which had supported the late Duke of Anjou became powerful enough to call in his son. Louis II, as he was called, reigned at Naples, and possessed most part of the kingdom, for several years; the young King Ladislaus, who retained some of the northern provinces, fixing his residence at Gaeta. If Louis had prosecuted the war with activity, it seems probable that he would have subdued his adversary. But his character was not very energetic; and Ladislaus, as he advanced to manhood, dis­playing much superior qualities, gained ground by degrees, till the Angevin barons, perceiving the turn of the tide, came over to his banner, and he recovered his whole dominions.

The kingdom of Naples, at the close of the fourteenth century, was still altogether a feudal government. This had been introduced by the first Norman kings, and the system had rather been strengthened than impaired under the Angevin line. The princes of the blood, who were at one time numer­ous, obtained extensive domains by way of appanage. The principality of Tarento was a large portion of the kingdom.The rest was occupied by some great families, whose strength, as well as pride, was shown in the number of men-at-arms whom they could muster under their banner. At the coronation of Louis II., in 1390, the Sanseverini appeared with 1,800 cavalry completely equipped. This illustrious house, which had filled all the high offices of state, and changed kings at its pleasure, was crushed by Ladislaus, whose bold and unrelenting spirit well fitted him to bruise the heads of the aristocratic hydra. After thoroughly establishing his government at home, this ambitious monarch directed his powerful resources towards foreign conquests. The ecclesiastical territories had never been secure from rebellion or usurpation; but legitimate sovereigns had hitherto respected the patrimony of the head of the church.

It was reserved for Ladislaus, a feudal vassal of the Holy See, to seize upon Rome itself as his spoil. For several years, while the disordered state of the church, in consequence of the schism and the means taken to extinguish it, gave him an opportunity, the King of Naples occupied great part of the papal territories. He was disposed to have carried his arms farther north, and attacked the republic of Florence, if not the states of Lombardy, when his death relieved Italy from the danger of this new tyranny.

An elder sister, Joanna II, reigned at Naples after Ladislaus. Under this queen, destitute of courage and understanding, and the slave of appetites which her age rendered doubly disgraceful, the kingdom relapsed into that state of anarchy from which its late sovereign had rescued it. I shall only refer the reader to more enlarged histories for the first years of Joanna’s reign. In 1421 the two most powerful individuals were Sforza Attendolo, great constable, and Ser Gianni Caraccioli, the queen’s minion, who governed the palace with unlimited sway. Sforza, aware that the favorite was contriving his ruin, and remember­ing the prison in which he had lain more than once since the accession of Joanna, determined to anticipate his enemies by calling in a pretender to the crown, another Louis of Anjou, third in descent of that unsuccessful dynasty. The Angevin party, though proscribed and oppressed, was not extinct; and the populace of Naples in particular had always been on that side. Caraccioli’s influence and the queen’s dishonorable weakness rendered the nobility disaffected. Louis III, therefore, had no remote prospect of success. But Caraccioli was more prudent than favorites, selected from such motives, have usually proved. Joanna was old and childless; the reversion to her dominions was a valuable object to any prince in Europe. None was so competent to assist her, or so likely to be influ­enced by the hope of succession, as Alfonso, King of Aragon and Sicily. That island, after the reign of its deliverer, Frederic I, had unfortunately devolved upon weak or infant princes. One great family, the Chiaramonti, had possessed itself of half Sicily; not by a feudal title, as in other kingdoms, but as a kind of counter-sovereignty, in opposition to the crown, though affecting rather to bear arms against the advisers of their kings than against themselves. The marriage of Maria, Queen of Sicily, with Martin, son of the King of Aragon, put an end to the national independence of her country. Dying without issue, she left the crown to her husband. This was consonant, perhaps, to the received law of some European kingdoms. But, upon the death of Martin, in 1409, his father, also named Martin, King of Aragon, took possession as heir to his son, without any election by the Sicilian parliament. The Chiaramonti had been destroyed by the younger Martin, and no party remained to make opposition. Thus was Sicily united to the crown of Aragon. Alfonso, who now enjoyed those two crowns, gladly embraced the proposals of the Queen of Naples. They were founded, indeed, upon the most substantial basis, mutual interest. She adopted Alfonso as her son and successor, while he bound himself to employ his forces in delivering a kingdom that was to become his own. Louis of Anjou, though acknowledged in several provinces, was chiefly to de­pend upon the army of Sforza; and an army of Italian mercenaries could only be kept by means which he was not able to apply. The King of Aragon, therefore, had far the better prospects in the war, when one of the many revolutions of this reign defeated his immediate expectations. Whether it were that Alfonso’s noble and affable nature afforded a contrast which Joanna was afraid of exhibiting to the people, or that he had really formed a plan to anticipate his succession to the throne, she became more and more distrustful of her adopted son, till, an open rupture having taken place, she entered into a treaty with her hereditary competitor, Louis of Anjou, and, revoking the adoption of Alfonso, substituted the French prince in his room. The King of Aragon was disappointed by this unfore­seen stroke, which, uniting the Angevin faction with that of the reigning family, made it impracticable for him to maintain his ground for any length of time in the kingdom. Joanna reigned for more than ten years without experiencing any inquietude from the pacific spirit of Louis, who, content with his reversionary hopes, lived as a sort of exile in Calabria. Upon his death, the queen, who did not long survive him, settled the kingdom on his brother Regnier. The Neapolitans were gen­erally disposed to execute this bequest. But Regnier was un­luckily at that time a prisoner to the Duke of Burgundy; and, though his wife maintained the cause with great spirit, it was difficult for her, or even for himself, to contend against the King of Aragon, who immediately laid claim to the kingdom. After a contest of several years, Regnier, having experienced the treacherous and selfish abandonment of his friends, yielded the game to his adversary ; and Alfonso founded the Aragonese line of sovereigns at Naples, deriving pretensions more splendid than just from Manfred, from the house of Suabia, and from Roger Guiscard.

In the first year of Alfonso’s Neapolitan war he was defeated and taken prisoner by a fleet of the Genoese, who, as constant enemies of the Catalans in all the naval warfare of the Mediterranean, had willingly lent their aid to the Angevin party. Genoa was at this time subject to Filippo Maria, Duke of Milan, and her royal captive was transmitted to his court. But here the brilliant graces of Alfonso’s character won over his conqueror, who had no reason to consider the war as his own con­cern. The king persuaded him, on the contrary, that a strict alliance with an Aragonese dynasty in Naples against the pretensions of any French claimant would be the true policy and best security of Milan. That city, which he had entered as a prisoner, he left as a friend and ally. From this time Filippo Maria Visconti and Alfonso were firmly united in their Italian politics, and formed one weight of the balance which the republics of Venice and Florence kept in equipoise. After the succession of Sforza to the duchy of Milan the same alliance was generally preserved. Sforza had still more powerful reasons than his predecessor for excluding the French from Italy, his own title being contested by the Duke of Orleans, who derived a claim from his mother Valentine, a daughter of Gian Gale-azzo Visconti. But the two republics were no longer disposed towards war. Florence had spent a great deal without any advantage in her contest with Filippo Maria;and the new Duke of Milan had been the constant personal friend of Cosmo de’ Medici, who altogether influenced that republic. At Venice, indeed, he had been regarded with very different sentiments; the senate had prolonged their war against Milan with redoubled animosity after his elevation, deeming him a not less ambitious and formidable neighbor than the Visconti. But they were deceived in the character of Sforza. Conscious that he had reached an eminence beyond his early hopes, he had no care but to secure for his family the possession of Milan, without disturbing the balance of Lombardy. No one better knew than Sforza the faithless temper and destructive politics of the condottieri, whose interest was placed in the oscillations of interminable war, and whose defection might shake the stability of any government. Without peace it was impossible to break that ruinous system, and accustom states to rely upon their natural resources. Venice had little reason to expect further conquests in Lombardy; and if her ambition had aspired the hope of them, she was summoned by a stronger call, that of self-preservation, to defend her numerous and dispersed possessions in the Levant against the arms of Mahomet II. All Italy, indeed, felt the peril that impended from that side; and these various motions occasioned a quadruple league in 1455, between the King of Naples, the Duke of Milan, and the two republics, for the preservation of peace in Italy. One object of this alliance, and the prevailing object with Alfonso, was the implied guarantee of his succession in the kingdom of Naples to his illegitimate son Ferdinand. He had no lawful issue; and there seemed no reason why an acquisition of his own valor should pass against his will to collateral heirs. The pope, as feudal superior of the kingdom, and the Neapolitan parliament, the sole competent tribunal, confirmed the inherit­ance of Ferdinand. Whatever may be thought of the claims subsisting in the house of Anjou, there can be no question that the reigning family of Aragon were legitimately excluded from the throne of Naples, though force and treachery enabled them ultimately to obtain it.

Alfonso, surnamed the Magnanimous, was by far the most accomplished sovereign whom the fifteenth century produced. The virtues of chivalry were combined in him with the patron­age of letters, and with more than their patronage, a real enthusiasm for learning, seldom found in a king, and especially in one so active and ambitious. This devotion to literature was, among the Italians of that age, almost as sure a passport to general admiration as his more chivalrous perfection. Magnificence in architecture and the pageantry of a splendid court gave fresh lustre to his reign. The Neapolitans perceived with grateful pride that he lived almost entirely among them, in preference to his patrimonial kingdom, and forgave the heavy taxes which faults nearly allied to his virtues, profuseness and ambition, compelled him to impose. But they remarked a very different character in his son. Ferdinand was as dark and vindictive as his father was affable and generous. The barons, who had many opportunities of ascertaining his disposition, began, immediately upon Alfonso’s death, to cabal against his succession, turning their eyes first to the legitimate branch of the family, and, on finding that prospect not favorable, to John, titular Duke of Calabria, son of Regnier of Anjou, who survived to protest against the revolution that had dethroned him. [a.d. 1461.] John was easily prevailed upon to undertake an invasion of Naples. Notwithstanding the treaty concluded in 1455, Florence assisted him with money, and Venice at least with her wishes; but Sforza remained unshaken in that alliance with Ferdinand which his clear-sighted policy discerned to be the best safeguard for his own dynasty. A large propor­tion of the Neapolitan nobility, including Orsini, Prince of Tarento, the most powerful vassal of the crown, raised the banner of Anjou, which was sustained also by the youngest Piccinino, the last of the great condottieri, under whose command the veterans of former warfare rejoiced to serve. But John underwent the fate that had always attended his family in their long competition for that throne. After some brilliant suc­cesses, his want of resources, aggravated by the defection of Genoa, on whose ancient enmity to the house of Aragon he had relied, was perceived by the barons of his party, who, according to the practice of their ancestors, returned one by one to the allegiance of Ferdinand, [a.d. 1464.]

The peace of Italy was little disturbed, except by a few domestic revolutions, for several years after this Neapolitan war. Even the most short-sighted politicians were sometimes withdrawn from selfish objects by the appalling progress of the Turks, though there was not energy enough in their councils to form any concerted plans for their own security. Venice maintained a long but ultimately an unsuccessful contest with Mahomet II. for her maritime acquisitions in Greece and Al­bania; and it was not till after his death [a.d. 1481] relieved Italy from its immediate terror that the ambitious republic en­deavored to extend its territories by encroaching on the house of Este. Nor had Milan shown much disposition towards ag­grandizement. Francesco Sforza had been succeeded, such is the condition of despotic governments, by his son Galeazzo, a tyrant more execrable than the worst of the Visconti. His extreme cruelties, and the insolence of a debauchery that gloried in the public dishonor of families, excited a few daring spirits to assassinate him. [a.d. 1476.] The Milanese profited by a tyrannicide the perpetrators of which they had not courage or gratitude to protect. The regency of Bonne of Savoy, mother of the infant Duke Gian Galeazzo, deserved the praise of wis­dom and moderation. But it was overthrown in a few years by Ludovico Sforza, surnamed the Moor, her husband’s brother; who, while he proclaimed his nephew’s majority and affected to treat him as a sovereign, hardly disguised in his conduct towards foreign states that he had usurped for himself the sole direction of government, [a.d. 1480.]     

The annals of one of the few surviving republics, that of Genoa, present to us, during the fifteenth as well as the preceding century, an unceasing series of revolutions, the shortest enumeration of which would occupy several pages. Torn by the factions of Adorni and Fregosi, equal and eternal rivals, to whom the whole patrician families of Doria and Fieschi were content to become secondary, sometimes sinking from weariness of civil tumult into the grasp of Milan or France, and again, from impatience of foreign subjection, starting back from servitude to anarchy, the Genoa of those ages exhibits a singular contrast to the calm and regular aristocracy of the next three centuries. The latest revolution within the compass of this work was in 1488, when the Duke of Milan became sov­ereign, and Adorno holding the office of doge as his lieutenant.

Florence, the most illustrious and fortunate of Italian republics, was now rapidly descending from her rank among free commonwealths, though surrounded with more than usual lustre in the eyes of Europe. We must take up the story of that city from the revolution of 1382, which restored the ancient Guelf aristocracy, or party of the Albizi, to the ascendency of which a popular insurrection had stripped them. Fifty years elapsed during which this party retained the government in its own hands with few attempts at disturbance. Their principal adversaries had been exiled, according to the invariable and perhaps necessary custom of a republic; the populace and inferior artisans were dispirited by their ill success. Compared with the leaders of other factions, Maso degl’ Albizi, and Nicola di Uzzano, who succeeded him in the management of his party, were attached to a constitutional liberty. Yet so difficult is it for any government which does not rest on a broad basis of public consent to avoid injustice, that they twice deemed it necessary to violate the ancient constitution. In 1393, after a partial movement in behalf of the vanquished faction, they assembled a parliament, and established what was technically called at Florence a balia. This was a temporary delegation of sovereignty to a number, generally a considerable number, of citizens, who during the period of their dictatorship named the magistrates, instead of drawing them by lot, and banished suspected individuals. A precedent so dangerous was eventually fatal to themselves and to the freedom of their country. Besides this temporary balia, the regular scrutinies periodically made in order to replenish the bags out of which the names of all magistrates were drawn by lot, according to the constitution established in 1328, were so managed as to exclude all persons disaffected to the dominant faction. But, for still greater security, a council of two hundred was formed in 1411, out of those alone who had enjoyed some of the higher offices within the last thirty years, the period of the aristocratical ascendency, through which every proposition was to pass before it could be submitted to the two legislative councils. These precautions indicate a government conscious of public enmity; and if the Albizi had continued to sway the republic of Florence, their jealousy of the people would have suggested still more inno­vations, till the constitution had acquired, in legal form as well as substance, an absolutely aristocratical character.

But, while crushing with deliberate severity their avowed adversaries, the ruling party had left one family whose prudence gave no reasonable excuse for persecuting them, and whose popularity as well as wealth rendered the experiment hazardous. The Medici were among the most considerable of the new or plebeian nobility. From the first years of the fourteenth century their name not very unfrequently occurs in the domestic and military annals of Florence. Salvestro de’ Medici, who had been partially implicated in the democratical revolution that lasted from 1378 to 1382, escaped proscription on the revival of the Guelf party, though some of his family were, afterwards banished. Throughout the long depression of the popular faction the house of Medici was always regarded as their consolation and their hope. That house was now represented by Giovanni, whose immense wealth, honorably acquired by commercial dealings, which had already rendered the name celebrated in Europe, was expended with liberality and magnificence. Of a mild temper, and averse to cabals, Giovanni de’ Medici did not attempt to set up a party, and contented himself with repressing some fresh encroachments on the popular part of the constitution which the Albizi were disposed to make. They, in their turn, freely admitted him to that share in public councils to which he was entitled by his eminence and virtues; a proof that the spirit of their administration was not illiberally exclusive. But, on the death of Giovanni, his son Cosmo de’ Medici, inheriting his father’s riches and estimation, with more talents and more ambition, thought it time to avail himself of the popularity belonging to his name. By extensive connections with the most eminent men in Italy, especially with Sforza, he came to be considered as the first citizen of Florence. The oligarchy were more than ever unpopular. Their administration since 1382 had indeed been in general eminently successful; the acquisition of Pisa and of other Tuscan cities had aggrandized the republic, while from the port of Leghorn her ships had begun to trade with Alexandria, and sometimes to contend with the Genoese. But an unprosperous war with Lucca diminished a reputation which was never sustained by public affection. Cosmo and his friends aggravated the errors of the government, which, having lost its wise and temperate leader Nicola di Uzzano, had fallen into the rasher hands of Rinaldo degl’ Albizi. He incurred the blame of being the first aggressor in a struggle which had become inevitable. Cosmo was arrested by command of a gonfalonier devoted to the Albizi, and condemned to banishment. [a.d. 1433.] But the oligarchy had done too much or too little. The city was full of his friends; the honors conferred upon him in his exile attested the sentiments of Italy. Next year he was recalled in triumph to Florence, and the Albizi were completely overthrown.

It is vain to expect that a victorious faction will scruple to retaliate upon its enemies a still greater measure of injustice than it experienced at their hands. The vanquished have no rights in the eyes of a conqueror. The sword of returning exiles, flushed by victory and incensed by suffering, falls successively upon their enemies, upon those whom they suspect of being enemies, upon those who may hereafter become such. The Albizi had in general respected the legal forms of their free republic, which good citizens, and perhaps themselves, might hope one day to see more effective. The Medici made all their government conducive to hereditary monarchy. A multitude of noble citizens were driven from their country; some were even put to death. A balia was appointed for ten years to exclude all the Albizi from magistracy, and, for the sake of this security to the ruling faction, to supersede the legitimate institutions of the republic. After the expiration of this period the dictatorial power was renewed on pretence of fresh danger, and this was repeated six times in twenty-one years. In 1455 the constitutional mode of drawing magistrates was permitted to revive, against the wishes of some of the leading party. They had good reason to be jealous of a liberty which was incompatible with their usurpation. The gonfaloniers, drawn at random from among respectable citizens, began to act with an independence to which the new oligarchy was little accustomed. Cosmo, indeed, the acknowledged chief of the party, perceiving that some who had acted in subordination to him were looking forward to the opportunity of becoming themselves its leaders, was not unwilling to throw upon them the unpopularity attached to an usurpation by which he had maintained his influence. Without his apparent participation, though not against his will, the free constitution was again suspended by a balia appointed for the nomination of magis­trates; and the regular drawing of names by lot seems never to have been restored. Cosmo died at an advanced age in 1464. His son, Piero de’ Medici, though not deficient in either virtues or abilities, seemed too infirm in health for the administration of public affairs. At least, he could only be chosen by a sort of hereditary title which the party above mentioned, some from patriotic, more from selfish motives, were reluctant to admit. A strong opposition was raised to the family pretensions of the Medici. Like all Florentine factions, it trusted to violence; and the chance of arms was not in its favor. From this revolution in 1466, when some of the most considerable citizens were banished, we may date an acknowledged supremacy in the house of Medici, the chief of which nominated the regular magistrates, and drew to himself the whole conduct of the republic.

The two sons of Piero, Lorenzo and Julian, especially the former, though young at their father’s death, assumed, by the request of their friends, the reins of government, [a.d. 1469.] It was impossible that, among a people who had so many recollections to attach to the name of liberty, among so many citizens whom their ancient constitution invited to public trust, the control of a single family should excite no dissatisfaction; and perhaps their want of any positive authority heightened the appearance of usurpation in their influence. But, if the people’s wish to resign their freedom gives a title to accept the govern­ment of a country, the Medici were no usurpers. That family never lost the affections of the populace. The cry of Palle, Palle (their armorial distinction), would at any time rouse the Florentines to defend the chosen patrons of the republic. If their substantial influence could before be questioned, the conspiracy of the Pazzi, wherein Julian perished, excited an enthusiasm for the surviving brother, that never ceased during his life. Nor was this anything unnatural, or any severe reproach to Florence. All around, in Lombardy and Romagna, the lamp of liberty had long since been extinguished in blood. The freedom of Siena and Genoa was dearly purchased by revolutionary proscriptions; that of Venice was only a name. The republic which had preserved longest, and with greatest purity, that vestal fire, had at least no relative degradation to fear in surrendering herself to Lorenzo de’ Mediei. I need not in this place expatiate upon what the name instantly suggests, the patronage of science and art, and the constellation of scholars and poets, or architects and painters, whose reflected beams east their radiance around his head. His political reputation, though far less durable, was in his own age as conspicuous as that which he acquired in the history of letters. Equally active and sagacious, he held his way-through the varying combination of Italian policy, always with credit, and generally with success. Florence, if not enriched, was upon the whole ag­grandized during his administration, which was exposed to some severe storms from the unscrupulous adversaries, Sixtus IV. and Ferdinand of Naples, whom he was compelled to resist. As a patriot, indeed, we never can bestow upon Lorenzo de’ Medici the meed of disinterested virtue. He completed that subversion of the Florentine republic which his two immediate ancestors had so well prepared. The two councils, her regular legislature, he superseded by a permanent senate of seventy persons; while the gonfalonier and priors, become a mockery and pageant to keep up the illusion of liberty, were taught that in exercising a legitimate authority without the sanction of their prince, a name now first heard at Florence, they incurred the risk of punishment for their audacity.” Even the total dilapidation of his commercial wealth was repaired at the cost of the state; and the republic disgracefully screened the bankruptcy of the Medici by her own. But compared with the statesmen of his age, we can reproach Lorenzo with no heinous crime. He had many enemies; his descendants had many more; but no unequivocal charge of treachery or assassination has been substantiated against his memory. By the side of Galeazzo or Ludovico Sforza, of Ferdinand or his son Alfonso of Naples, of the pope Sixtus IV, he shines with unspotted lustre. So much was Lorenzo esteemed by his contemporaries, that his premature death [a.d. 1492] has frequently been considered as the cause of those unhappy revolutions that speedily ensued, and which his foresight would, it was imagined, have been able to prevent; an opinion which, whether founded in probability or otherwise, attests the common sentiment about his character.

If indeed Lorenzo de’ Medici could not have changed the destinies of Italy, however premature his death may appear if we consider the ordinary duration of human existence, it must be admitted that for his own welfare, perhaps for his glory, he had lived out the full measure of his time. An age of new and uncommon revolutions was about to arise, among the earliest of which the temporary downfall of his family was to be reckoned. The long-contested succession of Naples was again to involve Italy in war. The ambition of strangers was once more to desolate her plains. Ferdinand King of Naples had reigned for thirty years after the discomfiture of his competitor with success and ability; but with a degree of ill faith as well as tyranny towards his subjects that rendered his government deservedly odious. His son Alfonso, whose succession seemed now near at hand, was still more marked by these vices than himself. Meanwhile, the pretensions of the house of Anjou had legally descended, after the death of old Regnier, to Regnier Duke of Lorraine, his grandson by a daughter; whose marriage into the house of Lorraine had, however, so displeased her father, that he bequeathed his Neapolitan title, along with his real patrimony, the county of Provence, to a count of Maine; by whose testament they became vested in the crown of France. Louis XI., while he took possession of Provence, gave himself no trouble about Naples. But Charles VIII., inheriting his father’s ambition without that cool sagacity which restrained it in general from impracticable attempts, and far better circumstanced at home than Louis had ever been, was ripe for an expedition to vindicate his pretensions upon Naples, or even for more extensive projects. It was now two centuries since the kings of France had begun to aim, by intervals, at conquests in Italy. Philip the Fair and his successors were anxious to keep up a connection with the Guelf party, and to be considered its natural heads, as the German emperors were of the Ghibelins. The long English wars changed all views of the court of France to self-defence. But in the fifteenth century its plans of aggrandizement beyond the Alps began to revive. Several times, as I have mentioned, the republic of Genoa put itself under the dominion of France. The dukes of Savoy, possessing most part of Piedmont, and masters of the mountain-passes, were, by birth, intermarriage, and habitual policy, completely dedicated to the French interests. In the former wars of Ferdinand against the house of Anjou, Pope Pius II, a very enlightened statesman, foresaw the danger of Italy from the prevailing influence of France, and deprecated the introduction of her armies. But at that time the central parts of Lombardy were held by a man equally renowned as a soldier and a politician, Francesco Sforza. Con­scious that a claim upon his own dominions subsisted in the house of Orleans, he maintained a strict alliance with the Aragonese dynasty at Naples, as having a common interest against France. But after his death the connection between Milan and Naples came to be weakened. In the new system of alliances Milan and Florence, sometimes including Venice, were combined against Ferdinand and Sixtus IV, an unprincipled and restless pontiff. Ludovico Sforza, who had usurped the guardianship of his nephew the Duke of Milan, found, as that young man advanced to maturity, that one crime required to be completed by another. To depose and murder his ward was, however, a scheme that prudence, though not conscience, bade him hesitate to execute. He had rendered Ferdinand of Naples and Piero de’ Medici, Lorenzo’s heir, his decided enemies. A revolution at Milan would be the probable result of his continuing in usurpation. In these circumstances Lu­dovico Sforza excited the King of France to undertake the conquest of Napless [a.d. 1439.]

So long as the three great nations of Europe were unable to put forth their natural strength through internal separation or foreign war, the Italians had so little to dread for their inde­pendence, that their policy was altogether directed to regulating the domestic balance of power among themselves. In the latter part of the fifteenth century a more enlarged view of Europe would have manifested the necessity of reconciling petty animosities, and sacrificing petty ambition, in order to preserve the nationality of their governments; not by attempting to melt down Lombards and Neapolitans, principalities and republics, into a single monarchy, but by the more just and rational scheme of a common federation. The politicians of Italy were abundantly competent, as far as cool and clear understandings could render them, to perceive the interests of their country. But it is the will of Providence that the highest and surest wisdom, even in matters of policy, should never be unconnected with virtue. In relieving himself from an immediate danger, Ludovico Sforza overlooked the consideration that the presumptive heir of the King of France claimed by an ancient title that principality of Milan which he was compass­ing by usurpation and murder. But neither Milan nor Naples was free from other claimants than France, nor was she reserved to enjoy unmolested the spoil of Italy. A louder and a louder strain of warlike dissonance will be heard from the banks of the Danube, and from the Mediterranean gulf. The dark and wily Ferdinand, the rash and lively Maximilian, are preparing to hasten into the lists; the schemes of ambition are assuming a more comprehensive aspect; and the controversy of Neapolitan succession is to expand into the long rivalry between the houses of France and Austria. But here, while Italy is still untouched, and before as yet the first lances of France gleam along the defiles of the Alps, we close the history of the Middle Ages.