The History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella The Catholic, V3
by William H. Prescott
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[7] Martyr, whose copious correspondence furnishes the most valuable commentary, unquestionably, on the proceedings of this reign, is provokingly reserved in regard to this interesting matter. He contents himself with remarking in one of his letters, that "the Spaniards derided Philip's negotiations as of no consequence, and indeed altogether preposterous, considering the attitude assumed by the nation at that very time for maintaining its claims by the sword;" and he dismisses the subject with a reflection, that seems to rest the merits of the case more on might than right. "Exitus, qui judex est rerum aeternus, loquatur. Nostri regno potiuntur majori ex parte." (Opus Epist., epist. 257.) This reserve of Martyr might be construed unfavorably for Ferdinand, were it not for the freedom with which he usually criticizes whatever appears really objectionable to him in the measures of the government.

[8] Grotius, De Jure Belli et Pacis, lib. 2, cap. 11, sec. 12; lib. 3, cap. 22, sec. 4.—Gentilis, De Jure Belli, lib. 3, cap. 14, apud Bynkershoek, Quaest. Juris Publici, lib. 2, cap. 7.

[9] Bynkershoek, Quaest. Juris Publici, lib. 2, cap. 7.—Mably, Droit Publique, chap. 1.—Vattel, Droit des Gens, liv. 2, chap. 12.—Martens, Law of Nations, trans., book 2, chap. 1.

Bynkershoek, the earliest of these writers, has discussed the question with an amplitude, perspicuity, and fairness unsurpassed by any who have followed him.

[10] Philip is known in history by the title of "the Handsome," implying that he was, at least, quite as remarkable for his personal qualities, as his mental.

[11] Opus Epist., epist. 253.—Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. viii. pp. 235, 238.—Gomez, De Rebus Gestis, fol. 44.

[12] Carbajal, Anales, MS., ano 1503.—Gomez, De Rebus Gestis, fol. 45, 46.

He was born at Alcala de Henares. Ximenes availed himself of this circumstance to obtain from Isabella a permanent exemption from taxes for his favorite city, which his princely patronage was fast raising up to contest the palm of literary precedence with Salamanca, the ancient "Athens of Spain." The citizens of the place long preserved, and still preserve, for aught I know, the cradle of the royal infant, in token of their gratitude. Robles, Vida de Ximenez, p. 127.

[13] Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 268.—Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 56.—Gomez, De Rebus Gestis, fol. 46.

[14] "Espejo de bondad," mirror of virtue, as Oviedo styles this cavalier. He was always much regarded by the sovereigns, and the lucrative post of contador mayor, which he filled for many years, enabled him to acquire an immense estate, 50,000 ducats a year, without imputation on his honesty. Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 2, dial. 2.

[15] The name of this cavalier, as well as that of his cousin, Alonso de Cardenas, grand master of St. James, have become familiar to us in the Granadine war. If Don Gutierre made a less brilliant figure than the latter, he acquired, by means of his intimacy with the sovereigns, and his personal qualities, as great weight in the royal councils as any subject in the kingdom. "Nothing of any importance," says Oviedo, "was done without his advice." He was raised to the important posts of comendador de Leon, and contador mayor, which last, in the words of the same author, "made its possessor a second king over the public treasury." He left large estates, and more than five thousand vassals. His eldest son was created duke of Maqueda. Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 2, dial. 1.—Col. de Ced., tom. v. no. 182.

[16] Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 255.—Gomez, de Rebus Gestis, fol. 45.—For some further account of these individuals see Part I, Chapter 14, note 10.

Martyr thus panegyrizes the queen's fortitude under her accumulated sorrows. "Sentit, licet constantissima sit, et supra foeminam prudens, has alapas fortunae saevientis regina, ita concussa fluctibus undique, veluti vasta rupes, maris in medio." Opus Epist., loc. cit.

[17] Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. pp. 405, 406.—Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. viii. pp. 235-238.—Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. pp. 300, 301.—Memoires de la Tremoille, chap. 19, apud Petitot, Collection des Memoires, tom. xiv.

[18] Aleson, Annales de Navarra, tom. v. pp. 110-112.

The king of Navarre promised to oppose the passage of the French, if attempted, through his dominions; and, in order to obviate any distrust on the part of Ferdinand, sent his daughter Margaret to reside at the court of Castile, as a pledge for his fidelity. Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. viii. p. 235.

[19] Younger brother of Robert, third duke of Bouillon. (D'Auton, Hist. de Louys XII., part. 2, pp. 103, 186.) The reader will not confound him with his namesake, the famous "boar of Ardennes,"—more familiar to us now in the pages of romance than history,—who perished ignominiously some twenty years before this period, in 1484, not in fight, but by the hands of the common executioner at Utrecht. Duclos, Hist. de Louis XI., tom. ii. p. 379.

[20] Gonzalo Ayora, Capitan de la Guardia Real, Cartas al Rey, Don Fernando, (Madrid, 1794,) carta 9.—Aleson, Annales de Navarra, tom. v. pp. 112, 113.—Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. p. 407.—Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 51.—Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom, ii, rey 30, cap. 13, sec. 11.

[21] Gonzalo Ayora, Cartas, cap. 9.—Zurita, Anales, ubi supra.— Bernaldez, Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 197, 198.—Carbajal, Anales, MS., ano 1503.—Sandoval, Hist. del Emp. Carlos V., tom. i. p. 8.—Col. de Cedulas, tom. i. no. 97.

The most authentic account of the siege of Salsas is to be found in the correspondence of Gonzalo Ayora, dated in the Spanish camp. This individual, equally eminent in letters and arms, filled the dissimilar posts of captain of the royal guard and historiographer of the crown. He served in the army at this time, and was present at all its operations. Pref. ad Cartas, de Ayora; and Nic. Antonio, Biliotheca Nova, tom. i. p. 551.

[22] Peter Martyr, Opus Epist, epist. 263.

The loyal captain, Ayora, shows little of this Christian vein. He concludes one of his letters with praying, no doubt most sincerely, "that the Almighty would be pleased to infuse less benevolence into the hearts of the sovereigns, and incite them to chastise and humble the proud French, and strip them of their ill-gotten possessions, which, however repugnant to their own godly inclinations, would tend greatly to replenish their coffers, as well as those of their, faithful and loving subjects." See this graceless petition in his Cartas, carta 9, p. 66.

[23] "Exaudivit igitur sancte reginee religiosorumque ac virginum preces summus Altitonans." (Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 263.) The learned Theban borrows an epithet more familiar to Greek and Roman than to Christian ears.

[24] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 54.—Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. rey 30, cap. 13, sec. 11.-Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 264.—Carbajal, Anales, MS., ano 1503.—Bernaldez, Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 198.—Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. pp. 408, 409.—Gonzalo Ayora, Cartas, carta 11.—Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., dial. de Deza.

Peter Martyr seems to have shared none of Isabella's scruples in regard to bringing the enemy to battle. On the contrary, he indulges in a most querulous strain of sarcasm against the Catholic king for his remissness in this particular. "Quar elucescente die moniti nostri de Gallorum discessu ad eos, at sero, concurrerunt. Rex Perpiniani agebat, ad millia passuum sex non brevia, uti nosti. Propterea sero id actum, venit concitato cursu, at sero. Ad hostes itur, at sero. Cernunt hostium acies, at sero, at a longe. Distabant jam milliaria circiter duo. Ergo sero Phryges sapuerunt. Cujus haec culpa, tu scrutator aliunde; mea est, si nescis. Maximam dedit ea dies, quae est, si nescis, calendarum Novembrium sexta, Hispanis ignominiam, et aliquando jacturam illis pariet collachrymandam." Letter to the cardinal of Santa Cruz, epist. 262.

[25] Aleson, Annales de Navarra, tom. v. p. 113.

Oviedo, who was present in this campaign, seems to have been of the same opinion. At least he says, "If the king had pursued vigorously, not a Frenchman would have lived to carry back the tidings of defeat to his own land." If we are to believe him, Ferdinand desisted from the pursuit at the earnest entreaty of Bishop Deza, his confessor. Quincuagenas, MS.

[26] Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 55.—Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. rey 30, cap. 13, sec. 11.—Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 264.—Lanuza, Historias, tom. i. cap. 17.—Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap. 16.—Machiavelli, Legazione Prima a Roma, let. 27.

Mons. Varillas notices as the weak side of Louis XII., "une demangeaison de faire la paix a contre temps, dont il fut travaille durant toute sa vie." (Politique de Ferdinand, liv. 1, p. 148.) A statesman shrewder than Varillas, De Retz, furnishes, perhaps, the best key to this policy, in the remark, "Les gens foibles ne plient jamais quand ils le doivent."




Melancholy State of Italy.—Great Preparations of Louis.—Gonsalvo Repulsed before Gaeta.—Armies on the Garigliano.—Bloody Passage of the Bridge.—Anxious Expectation of Italy.—Critical Situation of the Spaniards.—Gonsalvo's Resolution.—Heroism of Paredes and Bayard.

We must now turn our eyes towards Italy, where the sounds of war, which had lately died away, were again heard in wilder dissonance than ever. Our attention, hitherto, has been too exclusively directed to mere military manoeuvres to allow us to dwell much on the condition of this unhappy land. The dreary progress of our story, over fields of blood and battle, might naturally dispose the imagination to lay the scene of action in some rude and savage age; an age, at best, of feudal heroism, when the energies of the soul could be roused only by the fierce din of war.

Far otherwise, however; the tents of the hostile armies were now pitched in the bosom of the most lovely and cultivated regions on the globe; inhabited by a people who had carried the various arts of policy and social life to a degree of excellence elsewhere unknown; whose natural resources had been augmented by all the appliances of ingenuity and industry; whose cities were crowded with magnificent and costly works of public utility; into whose ports every wind that blew wafted the rich freights of distant climes; whose thousand hills were covered to their very tops with the golden labors of the husbandman; and whose intellectual development showed itself, not only in a liberal scholarship far outstripping that of their contemporaries, but in works of imagination, and of elegant art more particularly, which rivalled the best days of antiquity. The period before us, indeed, the commencement of the sixteenth century, was that of their meridian splendor, when Italian genius, breaking through the cloud which had temporarily obscured its early dawn, shone out in full effulgence; for we are now touching on the age of Machiavelli, Ariosto, and Michael Angelo,—the golden age of Leo the Tenth.

It is impossible, even at this distance of time, to contemplate without feelings of sadness the fate of such a country, thus suddenly converted into an arena for the bloody exhibitions of the gladiators of Europe; to behold her trodden under foot by the very nations on whom she had freely poured the light of civilization; to see the fierce soldiery of Europe, from the Danube to the Tagus, sweeping like an army of locusts over her fields, defiling her pleasant places, and raising the shout of battle, or of brutal triumph under the shadow of those monuments of genius, which have been the delight and despair of succeeding ages. It was the old story of the Goths and Vandals acted over again. Those more refined arts of the cabinet, on which the Italians were accustomed to rely, much more than on the sword, in their disputes with one another, were of no avail against these rude invaders, whose strong arm easily broke through the subtile webs of policy which entangled the movements of less formidable adversaries. It was the triumph of brute force over civilization,—one of the most humiliating lessons by which Providence has seen fit to rebuke the pride of human intellect. [1]

The fate of Italy inculcates a most important lesson. With all this outward show of prosperity, her political institutions had gradually lost the vital principle, which could alone give them stability or real value. The forms of freedom, indeed, in most instances, had sunk under the usurpation of some aspiring chief. Everywhere patriotism was lost in the most intense selfishness. Moral principle was at as low an ebb in private, as in public life. The hands, which shed their liberal patronage over genius and learning, were too often red with blood. The courtly precincts, which seemed the favorite haunt of the Muses, were too often the Epicurean sty of brutish sensuality; while the head of the church itself, whose station, exalted over that of every worldly potentate, should have raised him at least above their grosser vices, was sunk in the foulest corruptions that debase poor human nature. Was it surprising, then, that the tree, thus cankered at heart, with all the goodly show of blossoms on its branches, should have fallen before the blast, which now descended in such pitiless fury from the mountains?

Had there been an invigorating national feeling, any common principle of coalition among the Italian states; had they, in short, been true to themselves, they possessed abundant resources in their wealth, talent, and superior science, to have shielded their soil from violation. Unfortunately, while the other European states had been augmenting their strength incalculably by the consolidation of their scattered fragments into one whole, those of Italy, in the absence of some great central point round which to rally, had grown more and more confirmed in their original disunion. Thus, without concert in action, and destitute of the vivifying impulse of patriotic sentiment, they were delivered up to be the spoil and mockery of nations, whom in their proud language they still despised as barbarians; an impressive example of the impotence of human genius, and of the instability of human institutions, however excellent in themselves, when unsustained by public and private virtue. [2]

The great powers, who had now entered the lists, created entirely new interests in Italy, which broke up the old political combinations. The conquest of Milan enabled France to assume a decided control over the affairs of the country. Her recent reverses in Naples, however, had greatly loosened this authority; although Florence and other neighboring states, which lay under her colossal shadow, still remained true to her. Venice, with her usual crafty policy, kept aloof, maintaining a position of neutrality between the belligerents, each of whom made the most pressing efforts to secure so formidable an 'ally. She had, however, long since entertained a deep distrust of her French neighbor; and, although she would enter into no public engagements, she gave the Spanish minister every assurance of her friendly disposition towards his government. [3] She intimated this still more unequivocally, by the supplies she had allowed her citizens to carry into Barleta during the late campaign, and by other indirect aid of a similar nature during the present; for all which she was one day to be called to a heavy reckoning by her enemies.

The disposition of the papal court towards the French monarch was still less favorable; and it took no pains to conceal this after his reverses in Naples. Soon after the defeat of Cerignola, it entered into correspondence with Gonsalvo de Cordova; and, although Alexander the Sixth refused to break openly with France, and sign a treaty with the Spanish sovereigns, he pledged himself to do so, on the reduction of Gaeta. In the mean time, he freely allowed the Great Captain to raise such levies as he could in Rome, before the very eyes of the French ambassador. So little had the immense concessions of Louis, including those of principle and honor, availed to secure the fidelity of this treacherous ally. [4]

With the emperor Maximilian, notwithstanding repeated treaties, he was on scarcely better terms. That prince was connected with Spain by the matrimonial alliances of his family, and no less averse to France from personal feeling, which, with the majority of minds, operates more powerfully than motives of state policy. He had, moreover, always regarded the occupation of Milan by the latter as an infringement, in some measure, of his imperial rights. The Spanish government, availing itself of these feelings, endeavored through its minister, Don Juan Manuel, to stimulate Maximilian to the invasion of Lombardy. As the emperor, however, demanded, as usual, a liberal subsidy for carrying on the war, King Ferdinand, who was seldom incommoded by a superfluity of funds, preferred reserving them for his own enterprises, to hazarding them on the Quixotic schemes of his ally. But, although the negotiations were attended with no result, the amicable dispositions of the Austrian government were evinced by the permission given to its subjects to serve under the banners of Gonsalvo, where indeed, as we have already seen, they formed some of his best troops. [5]

But while Louis the Twelfth drew so little assistance from abroad, the heartiness with which the whole French people entered into his feelings at this crisis, made him nearly independent of it, and, in an incredibly short space of time, placed him in a condition for resuming operations on a far more formidable scale than before. The preceding failures in Italy he attributed in a great degree to an overweening confidence in the superiority of his own troops, and his neglect to support them with the necessary reinforcements and supplies. He now provided against this by remitting large sums to Rome, and establishing ample magazines of grain and military stores there, under the direction of commissaries for the maintenance of the army. He equipped without loss of time a large armament at Genoa, under the marquis of Saluzzo, for the relief of Gaeta, still blockaded by the Spaniards. He obtained a small supply of men from his Italian allies, and subsidized a corps of eight thousand Swiss, the strength of his infantry; while the remainder of his army, comprehending a fine body of cavalry, and the most complete train of artillery, probably, in Europe, was drawn from his own dominions. Volunteers of the highest rank pressed forward to serve in an expedition, to which they confidently looked for the vindication of the national honor. The command was intrusted to the marechal de la Tremouille, esteemed the best general in France; and the whole amount of force, exclusive of that employed permanently in the fleet, is variously computed from twenty to thirty thousand men. [6]

In the month of July, the army was on its march across the broad plains of Lombardy, but, on reaching Parma, the appointed place of rendezvous for the Swiss and Italian mercenaries, was brought to a halt by tidings of an unlooked-for event, the death of Pope Alexander the Sixth. He expired on the 18th of August, 1503, at the age of seventy-two, the victim, there is very little doubt, of poison he had prepared for others; thus closing an infamous life by a death equally infamous. He was a man of undoubted talent, and uncommon energy of character. But his powers were perverted to the worst purposes, and his gross vices were unredeemed, if we are to credit the report of his most respectable contemporaries, by a single virtue. In him the papacy reached its lowest degradation. His pontificate, however, was not without its use; since that Providence, which still educes good from evil, made the scandal, which it occasioned to the Christian world, a principal spring of the glorious Reformation. [7]

The death of this pontiff occasioned no particular disquietude at the Spanish court, where his immoral life had been viewed with undisguised reprobation, and made the subject of more than one pressing remonstrance, as we have already seen. His public course had been as little to its satisfaction; since, although a Spaniard by birth, being a native of Valencia, he had placed himself almost wholly at the disposal of Louis the Twelfth, in return for the countenance afforded by that monarch to the iniquitous schemes of his son, Caesar Borgia.

The pope's death was attended with important consequences on the movements of the French. Louis's favorite minister, Cardinal D'Amboise, had long looked to this event as opening to him the succession to the tiara. He now hastened to Italy, therefore, with his master's approbation, proposing to enforce his pretensions by the presence of the French army, placed, as it would seem, with this view at his disposal.

The army, accordingly, was ordered to advance towards Rome, and halt within a few miles of its gates. The conclave of cardinals, then convened to supply the vacancy in the pontificate, were filled with indignation at this attempt to overawe their election; and the citizens beheld with anxiety the encampment of this formidable force under their walls, anticipating some counteracting movement on the part of the Great Captain, which might involve their capital, already in a state of anarchy, in all the horrors of war. Gonsalvo, indeed, had sent forward a detachment of between two and three thousand men, under Mendoza and Fabrizio Colonna, who posted themselves in the neighborhood of the city, where they could observe the movements of the enemy. [8]

At length Cardinal D'Amboise, yielding to public feeling, and the representations of pretended friends, consented to the removal of the French forces from the neighborhood, and trusted for success to his personal influence. He over-estimated its weight. It is foreign to our purpose to detail the proceedings of the reverend body, thus convened to supply the chair of St. Peter. They are displayed at full length by the Italian writers, and must be allowed to form a most edifying chapter in ecclesiastical history. [9] It is enough to state, that, on the departure of the French, the suffrages of the conclave fell on an Italian, who assumed the name of Pius the Third, and who justified the policy of the choice by dying in less time than his best friends had anticipated;— within a month after his elevation. [10]

The new vacancy was at once supplied by the election of Julius the Second, the belligerent pontiff who made his tiara a helmet, and his crosier a sword. It is remarkable, that, while his fierce, inexorable temper left him with scarcely a personal friend, he came to the throne by the united suffrages of each of the rival factions of France, Spain, and, above all, Venice, whose ruin in return he made the great business of his restless pontificate. [11]

No sooner had the game, into which Cardinal D'Amboise had entered with such prospects of success, been snatched from his grasp by the superior address of his Italian rivals, and the election of Pius the Third been publicly announced, than the French army was permitted to resume its march on Naples, after the loss,—an irreparable loss,—of more than a month. A still greater misfortune had befallen it, in the mean time, in the illness of Tremouille, its chief; which compelled him to resign the command into the hands of the marquis of Mantua, an Italian nobleman, who held the second station in the army. He was a man of some military experience, having fought in the Venetian service, and led the allied forces, with doubtful credit indeed, against Charles the Eighth at the battle of Fornovo. His elevation was more acceptable to his own countrymen than to the French; and in truth, however competent to ordinary exigencies, he was altogether unequal to the present, in, which he was compelled to measure his genius with that of the greatest captain of the age. [12]

The Spanish commander, in the mean while, was detained before the strong post of Gaeta, into which Ives d'Allegre had thrown himself, as already noticed, with the fugitives from the field of Cerignola, where he had been subsequently reinforced by four thousand additional troops under the marquis of Saluzzo. From these circumstances, as well as the great strength of the place, Gonsalvo experienced an opposition, to which, of late, he had been wholly unaccustomed. His exposed situation in the plains, under the guns of the city, occasioned the loss of many of his best men, and, among others, that of his friend Don Hugo de Cardona, one of the late victors at Seminara, who was shot down at his side, while conversing with him. At length, after a desperate but ineffectual attempt to extricate himself from his perilous position by forcing the neighboring eminence of Mount Orlando, he was compelled to retire to a greater distance, and draw off his army to the adjacent village of Castellone, which may call up more agreeable associations in the reader's mind, as the site of the Villa Formiana of Cicero. [13] At this place he was still occupied with the blockade of Gaeta, when he received intelligence that the French had crossed the Tiber, and were in full march against him. [14]

While Gonsalvo lay before Gaeta, he had been intent on collecting such reinforcements as he could from every quarter. The Neapolitan division under Navarro had already joined him, as well as the victorious legions of Andrada from Calabria. His strength was further augmented by the arrival of between two and three thousand troops, Spanish, German, and Italian, which the Castilian minister, Francisco de Roxas, had levied in Rome; and he was in daily hopes of a more important accession from the same quarter, through the good offices of the Venetian ambassador. Lastly, he had obtained some additional recruits, and a remittance of a considerable sum of money, in a fleet of Catalan ships lately arrived from Spain. With all this, however, a heavy amount of arrears remained due to his troops. In point of numbers he was still far inferior to the enemy; no computation swelling them higher than three thousand horse, two of them light cavalry, and nine thousand foot. The strength of his army lay in his Spanish infantry, on whose thorough discipline, steady nerve, and strong attachment to his person he felt he might confidently rely. In cavalry, and still more in artillery, he was far below the French, which, together with his great numerical inferiority, made it impossible for him to keep the open country. His only resource was to get possession of some pass or strong position, which lay in their route, where he might detain them, till the arrival of further reinforcements should enable him to face them on more equal terms. The deep stream of the Garigliano presented such a line of defence as he wanted. [15]

On the 6th of October, therefore, the Great Captain broke up his camp at Castellone, and, abandoning the whole region north of the Garigliano to the enemy, struck into the interior of the country, and took post at San Germano, a strong place on the other side of the river, covered by the two fortresses of Monte Casino [16] and Rocca Secca. Into this last he threw a body of determined men under Villalba, and waited calmly the approach of the enemy.

It was not long before the columns of the latter were descried in full march on Ponte Corvo, at a few miles' distance only on the opposite side of the Garigliano. After a brief halt there, they traversed the bridge before that place and advanced confidently forward in the expectation of encountering little resistance from a foe so much their inferior. In this they were mistaken; the garrison of Rocca Secca, against which they directed their arms, handled them so roughly, that, after in vain endeavoring to carry the place in two desperate assaults, the marquis of Mantua resolved to abandon the attempt altogether, and, recrossing the river, to seek a more practicable point for his purpose lower down. [17]

Keeping along the right bank, therefore, to the southeast of the mountains of Fondi, he descended nearly to the mouth of the Garigliano, the site, as commonly supposed, of the ancient Minturnae. [18] The place was covered by a fortress called the Tower of the Garigliano, occupied by a small Spanish garrison, who made some resistance, but surrendered on being permitted to march out with the honors of war. On rejoining their countrymen under Gonsalvo, the latter were so much incensed that the garrison should have yielded on any terms, instead of dying on their posts, that, falling on them with their pikes, they massacred them all to a man. Gonsalvo did not think proper to punish this outrage, which, however shocking to his own feelings, indicated a desperate tone of resolution, which he felt he should have occasion to tax to the utmost in the present exigency. [19]

The ground now occupied by the armies was low and swampy, a character which it possessed in ancient times; the marshes on the southern side being supposed to be the same in which Marius concealed himself from his enemies during his proscription. [20] Its natural humidity was greatly increased, at this time, by the excessive rains, which began earlier and with much more violence than usual. The French position was neither so low nor so wet as that of the Spaniards. It had the advantage, moreover, of being supported by a well-peopled and friendly country in the rear, where lay the large towns of Fondi, Itri, and Gaeta; while their fleet, under the admiral Prejan, which rode at anchor in the mouth of the Garigliano, might be of essential service in the passage of the river.

In order to effect this, the marquis of Mantua prepared to throw a bridge across, at a point not far from Trajetto. He succeeded in it, notwithstanding the swollen and troubled condition of the waters, [20] in a few days, under cover of the artillery, which he had planted on the bank of the river, and which from its greater elevation entirely commanded the opposite shore.

The bridge was constructed of boats belonging to the fleet, strongly secured together and covered with planks. The work being completed, on the 6th of November the army advanced upon the bridge, supported by such a lively cannonade from the batteries along the shore, as made all resistance on the part of the Spaniards ineffectual. The impetuosity with which the French rushed forward was such as to drive back the advanced guard of their enemy, which, giving way in disorder, retreated on the main body. Before the confusion could extend further, Gonsalvo, mounted a la gineta, in the manner of the light cavalry, rode through the broken ranks, and, rallying the fugitives, quickly brought them to order. Navarro and Andrada, at the same time, led up the Spanish infantry, and the whole column charging furiously against the French, compelled them to falter and at length to fall back on the bridge.

The struggle now became desperate, officers and soldiers, horse and foot, mingling together, and fighting hand to hand, with all the ferocity kindled by close personal combat. Some were trodden under the feet of the cavalry, many more were forced from the bridge, and the waters of the Garigliano were covered with men and horses, borne down by the current, and struggling in vain to gain the shore. It was a contest of mere bodily strength and courage, in which skill and superior tactics were of little avail. Among those who most distinguished themselves, the name of the noble Italian, Fabrizio Colonna, is particularly mentioned. An heroic action is recorded also of a person of inferior rank, a Spanish alferez, or standard-bearer, named Illescas. The right hand of this man was shot away by a cannon-ball. As a comrade was raising up the fallen colors, the gallant ensign resolutely grasped them, exclaiming that "he had one hand still left." At the same time, muffling a scarf round the bleeding stump, he took his place in the ranks as before. This brave deed did not go unrewarded, and a liberal pension was settled on him, at Gonsalvo's instance.

During the heat of the melee, the guns on the French shore had been entirely silent, since they could not be worked without doing as much mischief to their own men as to the Spaniards, with whom they were closely mingled. But, as the French gradually recoiled before their impetuous adversaries, fresh bodies of the latter rushing forward to support their advance necessarily exposed a considerable length of column to the range of the French guns, which opened a galling fire on the further extremity of the bridge. The Spaniards, notwithstanding "they threw themselves into the face of the cannon," as the marquis of Mantua exclaimed, "with as much unconcern as if their bodies had been made of air instead of flesh and blood," found themselves so much distressed by this terrible fire, that they were compelled to fall back; and the van, thus left without support, at length retreated in turn, abandoning the bridge to the enemy. [21]

This action was one of the severest which occurred in these wars. Don Hugo de Moncada, the veteran of many a fight by land and sea, told Paolo Giovio that "he had never felt himself in such imminent peril in any of his battles, as in this." [22] The French, notwithstanding they remained masters of the contested bridge, had met with a resistance which greatly discouraged them; and, instead of attempting to push their success further, retired that same evening to their quarters on the other side of the river. The tempestuous weather, which continued with unabated fury, had now broken up the roads, and converted the soil into a morass, nearly impracticable for the movements, of horse, and quite so for those of artillery, on which the French chiefly relied; while it interposed comparatively slight obstacles to the manoeuvres of infantry, which constituted the strength of the Spaniards. From a consideration of these circumstances, the French commander resolved not to resume active operations till a change of weather, by restoring the roads, should enable him to do so with advantage. Meanwhile he constructed a redoubt on the Spanish extremity of the bridge, and threw a body of troops into it, in order to command the pass whenever he should be disposed to use it. [23]

While the hostile armies thus lay facing each other, the eyes of all Italy were turned to them, in anxious expectation of a battle which should finally decide the fate of Naples. Expresses were daily despatched from the French camp to Rome, whence the ministers of the different European powers transmitted the tidings to their respective governments. Machiavelli represented at that time the Florentine republic at the papal court, and his correspondence teems with as many floating rumors and speculations as a modern gazette. There were many French residents in the city, with whom the minister was personally acquainted. He frequently notices their opinions on the progress of the war, which they regarded with the most sanguine confidence, as sure to result in the triumph of their own arms, when once fairly brought into collision with the enemy. The calmer and more penetrating eye of the Florentine discerns symptoms in the condition of the two armies of quite a different tendency. [24]

It seemed now obvious, that victory must declare for that party which could best endure the hardships and privations of its present situation. The local position of the Spaniards was far more unfavorable than that of the enemy. The Great Captain, soon after the affair of the bridge, had drawn off his forces to a rising ground about a mile from the river, which was crowned by the little hamlet of Cintura, and commanded the route to Naples. In front of his camp he sunk a deep trench, which, in the saturated soil, speedily filled with water; and he garnished it at each extremity with a strong redoubt. Thus securely intrenched, he resolved patiently to await the movements of the enemy.

The situation of the army, in the mean time, was indeed deplorable. Those who occupied the lower level were up to their knees in mud and water; for the excessive rains, and the inundation of the Garigliano, had converted the whole country into a mere quagmire, or rather standing pool. The only way in which the men could secure themselves was by covering the earth as far as possible with boughs and bundles of twigs; and it was altogether uncertain how long even this expedient would serve against the encroaching element. Those on the higher grounds were scarcely in better plight. The driving storms of sleet and rain, which had continued for several weeks without intermission, found their way into every crevice of the flimsy tents and crazy hovels, thatched only with branches of trees, which afforded a temporary shelter to the troops. In addition to these evils, the soldiers were badly fed, from the difficulty of finding resources in the waste and depopulated regions in which they were quartered, [25] and badly paid, from the negligence, or perhaps poverty, of King Ferdinand, whose inadequate remittances to his general exposed him, among many other embarrassments, to the imminent hazard of disaffection among the soldiery, especially the foreign mercenaries, which nothing, indeed, but the most delicate and judicious conduct on his part could have averted. [26]

In this difficult crisis, Gonsalvo de Cordova retained all his usual equanimity, and even the cheerfulness, so indispensable in a leader who would infuse heart into his followers. He entered freely into the distresses and personal feelings of his men, and, instead of assuming any exemption from fatigue or suffering on the score of his rank, took his turn in the humblest tour of duty with the meanest of them, mounting guard himself, it is said, on more than one occasion. Above all, he displayed that inflexible constancy, which enables the strong mind in the hour of darkness and peril to buoy up the sinking spirits around it. A remarkable instance of this fixedness of purpose occurred at this time.

The forlorn condition of the army, and the indefinite prospect of its continuance, raised a natural apprehension in many of the officers, that, if it did not provoke some open act of mutiny, would in all probability break down the spirits and constitution of the soldiers. Several of them, therefore, among the rest Mendoza and the two Colonnas, waited on the commander-in-chief, and, after stating their fears without reserve, besought him to remove the camp to Capua, where the troops might find healthy and commodious quarters, at least until the severity of the season was mitigated; before which, they insisted, there was no reason to anticipate any movement on the part of the French. But Gonsalvo felt too deeply the importance of grappling with the enemy, before they should gain the open country, to be willing to trust to any such precarious contingency. Besides, he distrusted the effect of such a retrograde movement on the spirits of his own troops. He had decided on his course after the most mature deliberation; and, having patiently heard his officers to the end, replied in these few but memorable words; "It is indispensable to the public service to maintain our present position; and be assured, I would sooner march forward two steps, though it should bring me to my grave, than fall back one, to gain a hundred years." The decided tone of the reply relieved him from further importunity. [27]

There is no act of Gonsalvo's life, which on the whole displays more strikingly the strength of his character. When thus witnessing his faithful followers drooping and dying around him, with the consciousness that a word could relieve them from all their distresses, he yet refrained from uttering it, in stern obedience to what he regarded as the call of duty; and this too on his own responsibility, in opposition to the remonstrances of those on whose judgment he most relied.

Gonsalvo confided in the prudence, sobriety, and excellent constitution of the Spaniards, for resisting the bad effects of the climate. He relied too on their tried discipline, and their devotion to himself, for carrying them through any sacrifice he should demand of them. His experience at Barleta led him to anticipate results of a very opposite character with the French troops. The event justified his conclusions in both respects.

The French, as already noticed, occupied higher and more healthy ground, on the other side of the Garigliano, than their rivals. They were fortunate enough also to find more effectual protection from the weather in the remains of a spacious amphitheatre, and some other edifices, which still covered the site of Minturnae. With all this, however, they suffered more severely from the inclement season than their robust adversaries. Numbers daily sickened and died. They were much straitened, moreover, from want of provisions, through the knavish peculations of the commissaries who had charge of the magazines in Rome. Thus situated, the fiery spirits of the French soldiery, eager for prompt and decisive action, and impatient of delay, gradually sunk under the protracted miseries of a war, where the elements were the principal enemy, and where they saw themselves melting away like slaves in a prison-ship, without even the chance of winning an honorable death on the field of battle. [28]

The discontent occasioned by these circumstances was further swelled by the imperfect success, which had attended their efforts, when allowed to measure weapons with the enemy.

At length the latent mass of disaffection found an object on which to vent itself, in the person of their commander-in-chief, the marquis of Mantua, never popular with the French soldiers. They now loudly taxed him with imbecility, accused him of a secret understanding with the enemy, and loaded him with the opprobrious epithets with which Trans-alpine insolence was accustomed to stigmatize the Italians. In all this, they were secretly supported by Ives d'Allegre, Sandricourt, and other French officers, who had always regarded with dissatisfaction the elevation of the Italian general; till at length the latter, finding that he had influence with neither officers nor soldiers, and unwilling to retain command where he had lost authority, availed himself of a temporary illness, under which he was laboring, to throw up his commission, and withdrew abruptly to his own estates.

He was succeeded by the marquis of Saluzzo, an Italian, indeed, by birth, being a native of Piedmont, but who had long served under the French banners, where he had been intrusted by Louis the Twelfth with very important commands. He was not deficient in energy of character or military science. But it required powers of a higher order than his to bring the army under subordination, and renew its confidence under present circumstances. The Italians, disgusted with the treatment of their former chief, deserted in great numbers. The great body of the French chivalry, impatient of their present unhealthy position, dispersed among the adjacent cities of Fondi, Itri, and Gaeta, leaving the low country around the Tower of the Garigliano to the care of the Swiss and German infantry. Thus, while the whole Spanish army lay within a mile of the river, under the immediate eye of their commander, prepared for instant service, the French were scattered over a country more than ten miles in extent, where, without regard to military discipline, they sought to relieve the dreary monotony of a camp, by all the relaxations which such comfortable quarters could afford. [29]

It must not be supposed that the repose of the two armies was never broken by the sounds of war. More than one rencontre, on the contrary, with various fortune, took place, and more than one display of personal prowess by the knights of the two nations, as formerly at the siege of Barleta. The Spaniards made two unsuccessful efforts to burn the enemy's bridge; but they succeeded, on the other hand, in carrying the strong fortress of Rocca Guglielma, garrisoned by the French. Among the feats of individual heroism, the Castilian writers expatiate most complacently on that of their favorite cavalier, Diego de Paredes, who descended alone on the bridge against a body of French knights, all armed in proof, with a desperate hardihood worthy of Don Quixote; and would most probably have shared the usual fate of that renowned personage on such occasions, had he not been rescued by a sally of his own countrymen. The French find a counterpart to this adventure in that of the preux chevalier Bayard, who, with his single arm, maintained the barriers of the bridge against two hundred Spaniards, for an hour or more. [30]

Such feats, indeed, are more easily achieved with the pen than with the sword. It would be injustice, however, to the honest chronicler of the day to suppose that he did not himself fully

"Believe the magic wonders that he sung."

Every heart confessed the influence of a romantic age,—the dying age, indeed, of chivalry,—but when, with superior refinement, it had lost nothing of the enthusiasm and exaltation of its prime. A shadowy twilight of romance enveloped every object. Every day gave birth to such extravagances, not merely of sentiment, but of action, as made it difficult to discern the precise boundaries of fact and fiction. The chronicler might innocently encroach sometimes on the province of the poet, and the poet occasionally draw the theme of his visions from the pages of the chronicler. Such, in fact, was the case; and the romantic Muse of Italy, then coming forth in her glory, did little more than give a brighter flush of color to the chimeras of real life. The characters of living heroes, a Bayard, a Paredes, and a La Palice, readily supplied her with the elements of those ideal combinations, in which she has so gracefully embodied the perfections of chivalry. [31]


[1] "O pria si cara al ciel del mondo parte, Che l'acqua cigne, e 'l sasso orrido serra; O lieta sopra ogn' altra e dolce terra, Che 'l superbo Appennin segna e diparte; Che val omai se 'l buon popol di Marte Ti lascio del mar donna e de la terra? Le genti a te gia serve, or ti fan guerra, E pongon man ne le tue treccie sparte. Lasso ne manea de' tuoi figli ancora Chi le piu strane a te chiamando insieme La spada sua nel tuo bel corpo adopre. Or son queste simili a l' antich' opre? O pur cosi pietate e Dio a' onora? Ahi secol duro, ahi tralignato seme." Bembo, rime Son. 108.

This exquisite little lyric, inferior to none other which had appeared on the same subject since the "Italia mia" of Petrarch, was composed by Bembo at the period of which we are treating.

[2] The philosophic Machiavelli discerned the true causes of the calamities, in the corruptions of his country; which he has exposed, with more than his usual boldness and bitterness of sarcasm, in the seventh book of his "Arte della Guerra."

[3] Lorenzo Suarez de la Vega filled the post of minister at the republic during the whole of the war. His long continuance in the office at so critical a period, under so vigilant a sovereign as Ferdinand, is sufficient warrant for his ability. Peter Martyr, while he admits his talents, makes some objections to his appointment, on the ground of his want of scholarship. "Nec placet quod hunc elegeritis hac tempestate. Maluissem namque virum, qui Latinum calleret, vel salterm intelligeret, linguam; hic tantum suam patriam vernaculam novit; prudentem esse alias, atque inter ignaros literarum satis esse gnarum, Rex ipse mihi testatus est. Cupissem tamen ego, quae dixi." (See the letter to the Catholic queen, Opus Epist., epist. 246.) The objections have weight undoubtedly, the Latin being the common medium of diplomatic intercourse at that time. Martyr, who on his return through Venice from his Egyptian mission took charge for the time of the interests of Spain, might probably have been prevailed on to assume the difficulties of a diplomatic station there himself. See also Part II. Chapter 11, note 7, of this History.

[4] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 38, 48.—Bembo, Istoria Viniziana, tom. iii. lib. 6.—Daru, Hist. de Venise, tom. iii. p. 347.—Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. lib. 6, p. 311, ed. 1645.— Buonaccorsi, Diario, pp. 77, 81.

[5] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 55.—Coxe, History of the House of Austria, (London, 1807,) vol. i. chap. 23.

[6] Buonaccorsi, Diario, p. 78.—St. Gelais, Hist. de Louys XII., pp. 173, 174.—Varillas, Hist. de Louis XII., tom. i. pp. 386, 387.—Memoires de la Tremoille, chap. 19, apud Petitot, Collection des Memoires, tom. xiv.— Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom. xiv. anno 1503.—Carta de Gonzalo, MS.

Historians, as usual, differ widely in their estimates of the French numbers. Guicciardini, whose moderate computation of 20,000 men is usually followed, does not take the trouble to reconcile his sum total with the various estimates given by him in detail, which considerably exceed that amount. Istoria, pp. 308, 309, 312.

[7] Buonaccorsi, Diario, p. 81.—Bembo, Istoria Viniziana, lib. 6.

The little ceremony with which Alexander's remains were treated, while yet scarcely cold, is the best commentary on the general detestation in which he was held. "Lorsque Alexandre," says the pope's maitre des ceremonies, "rendit le dernier soupir, il n'y avait dans sa chambre que l'eveque de Rieti, le dataire et quelques palefreniers. Cette chambre fut aussitot pillee. La face du cadavre devint noire; la langue s'enfla au point qu'elle remplissait la bouche qui resta ouverte. La biere dans laquelle il fallait mettre le corps se trouva trop petite; on l'y enfonca a coups de poings. Les restes du pape insultes par ses domestiques furent portes dans l'eglise de St. Pierre, sans etre accompagnes de pretres ni de torches, et on les placa en dedans de la grille du choeur pour les derober aux outrages de la populace." Notice de Burchard, apud Brequigny, Notices et Extraits des Manuscrits de la Bibliotheque du Roi, (Paris, 1787-1818,) tom. i. p. 120.

[8] Buonaccorsi, Diario, p. 82.—Machiavelli, Legazione Prima a Roma, Let. 1, 3, et al.—Bembo, Istoria Viniziana, tom. iii. lib. 6.—Ammirato, Istorie Fiorentine, tom. iii. lib. 28.—Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 47.

[9] Guicciardini, in particular, has related them with a circumstantiality which could scarcely have been exceeded by one of the conclave itself. Istoria, lib. 6, pp. 316-318.

[10] Bembo, Istoria Viniziana, lib. 6.—Ammirato, Istorie Fiorentine, tom. iii. lib. 28.

The election of Pius was extremely grateful to Queen Isabella, who caused Te Deums and thanksgivings to be celebrated in the churches, for the appointment of "so worthy a pastor over the Christian fold." See Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 265.

[11] Machiavelli, Legazione Prima a Roma, let. 6.—Bembo, Istoria Viniziana, lib. 7.

[12] Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. pp. 435-438.—Guicciardini, Istoria, lib. 6, p. 316.—Buonaccorsi, Diario, p. 83.—St. Gelais, Hist. de Louys XII., p. 173.

[13] Cicero's country seat stood midway between Gaeta and Mola, the ancient Formiae, about two miles and a half from each. (Cluverius, Ital. Antiq., lib. 3, cap. 6.) The remains of his mansion and of his mausoleum may still be discerned, on the borders of the old Appian way, by the classical and credulous tourist.

[14] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 258, 259.—Chronica del Gran Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 95.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 19.—Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 261.

[15] Zurita, Hist. del Rey Hernando, tom. i. lib. 5, cap. 38, 43, 44, 48, 57.—Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 258, 259.—Sismondi, Hist. des Francais, tom. xv. p. 417.—Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap. 16.—Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. viii. pp. 252-257.—Carta del Gran Capitan, MS.

The Castilian writers do not state the sum total of the Spanish force, which is to be inferred only from the scattered estimates, careless and contradictory as usual, of the various detachments which joined it.

[16] The Spaniards carried Monte Casino by storm, and with sacrilegious violence plundered the Benedictine monastery of all its costly plate. They were compelled, however, to respect the bones of the martyrs, and other saintly relics; a division of spoil probably not entirely satisfactory to its reverend inmates. Giovio, Vita Magni Gonsalvi, fol. 262.

[17] Chronica del Gran Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 102.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 21.—Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. lib. 6, pp. 326, 327.—Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 267.—Bernaldez, Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 188.

[18] The remains of this city, which stood about four miles above the mouth of the Liris, are still to be seen on the right of the road. In ancient days it was of sufficient magnitude to cover both sides of the river. See Strabo, Geographia, lib. 5, p. 233, (Paris, 1629, with Casaubon's notes,) p. 110.

[19] Chronica del Gran Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 107.—Giovio, Vita Magni Gonsalvi, fol. 263.

[20] The marshes of Minturnae lay between the city and the mouth of the Liris. (Cluverius, Ital. Antiq., lib. 3, cap. 10, sec. 9.) The Spanish army encamped, says Guicciardini, "in a place called by Livy, from its vicinity to Sessa, aquae Sinuessanae, being perhaps the marshes in which Marius hid himself." (Istoria, lib. 6.) The historian makes two blunders in a breath. 1st. Aquae Sinuessanae, was a name derived not from Sessa, the ancient Suessa Aurunca, but from the adjacent Sinuessa, a town about ten miles southeast of Minturnae. (Comp. Livy, lib. 22, cap. 14, and Strabo, lib. 5, p. 233.) 2d. The name did not indicate marshes, but natural hot springs, particularly noted for their salubrity. "Salubritate harum aquarum," says Tacitus in allusion to them (Annales, lib. 12); and Pliny notices their medicinal properties more explicitly. Hist. Naturalis, lib. 31, cap. 2.

[20] This does not accord with Horace's character of the Garigliano, the ancient Liris, as the "taciturnus amnis," (Carm., lib. i. 30,) and still less with that of Silius Italicus,

"Liris ... qui fonte quieto Dissimulat cursum, et nullo mutabilis imbre Perstringit tacitas gemmanti gurgite ripas." Puncia, lib. 4.

Indeed, the stream exhibits at the present day the same soft and tranquil aspect celebrated by the Roman poets. Its natural character, however, was entirely changed at the period before us, in consequence of the unexampled heaviness and duration of the autumnal rains.

[21] Bernaldez, Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 188.—Abarca, Reyes de Aragon, tom. ii. rey 30, cap. 14.—Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap. 16. —Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 269.—Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 262-264.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 22.—Machiavelli, Legazione Prima a Roma, let. 11, Nov. 10.—let. 16, Nov. 13.—let. 17.—Chronica del Gran Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 106.—Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. pp. 440, 441.

[22] Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 264.

[23] Guicciardini, Istoria, lib. 6, pp. 327, 328.—Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 262.—Machiavelli, Legazione Prima a Roma, let. 29.— Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. pp. 443-445.

[24] Legazione Prima a Roma, let. 9, 10, 18.

The French showed the same confidence from the beginning of hostilities. One of that nation having told Suarez, the Castilian minister at Venice, that the marshal de la Tremouille said, "He would give 20,000 ducats, if he could meet Gonsalvo de Cordova in the plains of Viterbo;" the Spaniard smartly replied, "Nemours would have given twice as much not to have met him at Cerignola." Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 36.

[25] This barren tract of uninhabited country must have been of very limited extent; for it lay in the Campania Felix, in the neighborhood of the cultivated plains of Sessa, the Massicau mountain, and Falernian fields,—names, which call up associations, that must live while good poetry and good wine shall be held in honor.

[26] Mariana, Hist. de Espana, tom. ii. lib. 28, cap. 5.—Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. lib. 6, p. 328.—Machiavelli, Legazione Prima a Roma, let. 44.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 22.—Chronica del Gran Capitan, cap. 107, 108.—The Neapolitan conquests, it will be remembered, were undertaken exclusively for the crown of Aragon, the revenues of which were far more limited than those of Castile.

[27] Bernaldez, Reyes Catolicos, MS., cap. 188.—Chronica del Gran Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 108.—Garibay, Compendio, tom. ii. lib. 19, cap, 16.—Guicciardini, Istoria, lib. 6, p. 328.—Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 58.

[28] Giovio, Vita Magni Gonsalvi, fol. 265.—Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. p. 445.—Zurita, Anales, tom. v. lib. 5, cap. 59.—Buonaccorsi, Diario, fol. 85.—Ulloa, Vita di Carlo V., fol. 22.—Varillas, Hist. de Louis XII., tom. i. pp. 401, 402.

[29] Garnier, Hist. de France, tom. v. pp. 440-443.—Giovio, Vitae Illust. Virorum, fol. 264, 265.—Guicciardini, Istoria, tom. i. lib. 6, p. 329.— Machiavelli, Legazione Prima a Roma, let. 44.—St. Gelais, Hist. de Louys XII., pp. 173, 174.

[30] Chronica del Gran Capitan, lib. 2, cap. 106.—Memoires de Bayard, chap. 25, apud Petitot, Collection des Memoires, tom. xv.—Varillas, Hist. de Louis XII., tom. i. p. 417.—Quintana, Espanoles Celebres, tom. i. pp. 288-290.—Machiavelli, Legazione Prima a Roma, let. 39, 44.

[31] Compare the prose romances of D'Auton, of the "loyal serviteur" of Bayard, and the no less loyal biographer of the Great Captain, with the poetic ones of Ariosto, Berni, and the like.

"Magnanima menzogna! or quando e il vero Si bello, che si possa a te preporre?"



1503, 1504.

Gonsalvo Crosses the River.—Consternation of the French.—Action near Gaeta.—Hotly Contested.—The French Defeated.—Gaeta Surrenders.—Public Enthusiasm.—Treaty with France.—Review of Gonsalvo's Military Conduct.— Results of the Campaign.

Seven weeks had now elapsed, since the two armies had lain in sight of each other without any decided movement on either side. During this time, the Great Captain had made repeated efforts to strengthen himself, through the intervention of the Spanish ambassador, Francisco de Rojas, [1] by reinforcements from Rome. His negotiations were chiefly directed to secure the alliance of the Orsini, a powerful family, long involved in a bitter feud with the Colonnas, then in the Spanish service. A reconciliation between these noble houses was at length happily effected; and Bartolomeo d'Alviano, the head of the Orsini, agreed to enlist under the Spanish commander with three thousand men. This arrangement was finally brought about through the good offices of the Venetian minister at Rome, who even advanced a considerable sum of money towards the payment of the new levies. [2]

The appearance of this corps, with one of the most able and valiant of the Italian captains at its head, revived the drooping spirits of the camp. Soon after his arrival, Alviano strongly urged Gonsalvo to abandon his original plan of operations, and avail himself of his augmented strength to attack the enemy in his own quarters. The Spanish commander had intended to confine himself wholly to the defensive, and, too unequal in force to meet the French in the open field, as before noticed, had intrenched himself in his present strong position, with the fixed purpose of awaiting the enemy there. Circumstances had now greatly changed. The original inequality was diminished by the arrival of the Italian levies, and still further compensated by the present disorderly state of the French army. He knew, moreover, that in the most perilous enterprises, the assailing party gathers an enthusiasm and an impetus in its career, which counterbalance large numerical odds; while the party taken by surprise is proportionably disconcerted, and prepared, as it were, for defeat before a blow is struck. From these considerations, the cautious general acquiesced in Alviano's project to cross the Garigliano, by establishing a bridge at a point opposite Suzio, a small place garrisoned by the French on the right bank, about four miles above their head-quarters. The time for the attack was fixed as soon as possible after the approaching Christmas, when the French, occupied with the festivities of the season, might be thrown off their guard. [3]

This day of general rejoicing to the Christian world at length arrived. It brought little joy to the Spaniards, buried in the depths of these dreary morasses, destitute of most of the necessaries of life, and with scarcely any other means of resisting the climate, than those afforded by their iron constitutions and invincible courage. They celebrated the day, however, with all the devotional feeling, and the imposing solemnities, with which it is commemorated by the Roman Catholic church; and the exercises of religion, rendered more impressive by their situation, served to exalt still higher the heroic constancy, which had sustained them under such unparalleled sufferings.

In the mean while, the materials for the bridge were collected, and the work went forward with such despatch, that on the 28th of December all was in readiness for carrying the plan of attack into execution. The task of laying the bridge across the river was intrusted to Alviano, who had charge of the van. The central and main division of the army under Gonsalvo was to cross at the same point; while Andrada at the head of the rear-guard was to force a passage at the old bridge, lower down the stream, opposite to the Tower of the Garigliano. [4]

The night was dark and stormy. Alviano performed the duty intrusted to him with such silence and celerity, that the work was completed without attracting the enemy's notice. He then crossed over with the van-guard, consisting chiefly of cavalry, supported by Navarro, Paredes, and Pizarro; and, falling on the sleeping garrison of Suzio, cut to pieces all who offered resistance.

The report of the Spaniards having passed the river spread far and wide, and soon reached the head-quarters of the marquis of Saluzzo, near the Tower of the Garigliano. The French commander-in-chief, who believed that the Spaniards were lying on the other side of the river, as torpid as the snakes in their own marshes, was as much astounded by the event as if a thunderbolt had burst over his head from a cloudless sky. He lost no time, however, in rallying such of his scattered forces as he could assemble, and in the mean while despatched Ives d'Allegre with a body of horse to hold the enemy in check, till he could make good his own retreat on Gaeta. His first step was to demolish the bridge near his own quarters, cutting the moorings of the boats and turning them adrift down the river. He abandoned his tents and baggage, together with nine of his heaviest cannon; leaving even the sick and wounded to the mercy of the enemy, rather than encumber himself with anything that should retard his march. The remainder of the artillery he sent forward in the van. The infantry followed next, and the rear, in which Saluzzo took his own station, was brought up by the men-at-arms to cover the retreat.

Before Allegre could reach Suzio, the whole Spanish army had passed the Garigliano, and formed on the right bank. Unable to face such superior numbers, he fell back with precipitation, and joined himself to the main body of the French, now in full retreat on Gaeta. [5]

Gonsalvo, afraid the French might escape him, sent forward Prospero Colonna, with a corps of light horse, to annoy and retard their march until he could come up. Keeping the right bank of the river with the main body, he marched rapidly through the deserted camp of the enemy, leaving little leisure for his men to glean the rich spoil, which lay tempting them on every side. It was not long before he came up with the French, whose movements were greatly retarded by the difficulty of dragging their guns over the ground completely saturated with rain. The retreat was conducted, however, in excellent order; they were eminently favored by the narrowness of the road, which, allowing but a comparatively small body of troops on either side to come into action, made success chiefly depend on the relative merits of these. The French rear, as already stated, was made up of their men-at-arms, including Bayard, Sandricourt, La Fayette, and others of their bravest chivalry, who, armed at all points, found no great difficulty in beating off the light troops which formed the advance of the Spaniards. At every bridge, stream, and narrow pass, which afforded a favorable position, the French cavalry closed their ranks, and made a resolute stand to gain time for the columns in advance.

In this way, alternately halting and retreating, with perpetual skirmishes, though without much loss on either side, they reached the bridge before Mola di Gaeta. Here, some of the gun-carriages breaking down or being overturned occasioned considerable delay and confusion. The infantry, pressing on, became entangled with the artillery. The marquis of Saluzzo endeavored to avail himself of the strong position afforded by the bridge to restore order. A desperate struggle ensued. The French knights dashed boldly into the Spanish ranks, driving back for a time the tide of pursuit. The chevalier Bayard, who was seen as usual in the front of danger, had three horses killed under him; and, at length, carried forward by his ardor into the thickest of the enemy, was retrieved with difficulty from their hands by a desperate charge of his friend Sandricourt. [6]

The Spaniards, shaken by the violence of the assault, seemed for a moment to hesitate; but Gonsalvo had now time to bring up his men-at-arms, who sustained the faltering columns, and renewed the combat on more equal terms. He himself was in the hottest of the melee; and at one time was exposed to imminent hazard by his horse's losing his footing on the slippery soil, and coming with him to the ground. The general fortunately experienced no injury, and, quickly recovering himself, continued to animate his followers by his voice and intrepid bearing, as before.

The fight had now lasted two hours. The Spaniards, although still in excellent heart, were faint with fatigue and want of food, having travelled six leagues, without breaking their fast since the preceding evening. It was, therefore, with no little anxiety, that Gonsalvo looked for the coming up of his rear-guard, left, as the reader will remember, under Andrada at the lower bridge, to decide the fortune of the day.

The welcome spectacle at length presented itself. The dark columns of the Spaniards were seen, at first faint in the distance, by degrees growing more and more distinct to the eye. Andrada had easily carried the French redoubt on his side of the Garigliano; but it was not without difficulty and delay, that he recovered the scattered boats which the French had set adrift down the stream, and finally succeeded in re-establishing his communications with the opposite bank. Having accomplished this, he rapidly advanced by a more direct road, to the east of that lately traversed by Gonsalvo along the sea-side, in pursuit of the French. The latter beheld with dismay the arrival of this fresh body of troops, who seemed to have dropped from the clouds on the field of battle. They scarcely waited for the shock before they broke, and gave way in all directions. The disabled carriages of the artillery, which clogged up the avenues in the rear, increased the confusion among the fugitives, and the foot were trampled down without mercy under the heels of their own cavalry, in the eagerness of the latter to extricate themselves from their perilous situation. The Spanish light horse followed up their advantage with the alacrity of vengeance long delayed, inflicting bloody retribution for all they had so long suffered in the marshes of Sessa.

At no great distance from the bridge the road takes two directions, the one towards Itri, the other to Gaeta. The bewildered fugitives here separated; by far the greater part keeping the latter route. Gonsalvo sent forward a body of horse under Navarro and Pedro de la Paz by a short cut across the country, to intercept their flight. A large number fell into his hands in consequence of this manoeuvre; but the greater part of those who escaped the sword succeeded in throwing themselves into Gaeta. [7]

The Great Captain took up his quarters that night in the neighboring village of Castellone. His brave followers had great need of refreshment, having fasted and fought through the whole day, and that under a driving storm of rain which had not ceased for a moment. Thus terminated the battle, or rout, as it is commonly called, of the Garigliano, the most important in its results of all Gonsalvo's victories, and furnishing a suitable close to his brilliant military career. [8] The loss of the French is computed at from three to four thousand men, left dead on the field, together with all their baggage, colors, and splendid train of artillery. The Spaniards must have suffered severely during the sharp conflict on the bridge; but no estimate of their loss is to be met with, in any native or foreign writer. [9] It was observed that the 29th of December, on which this battle was won, came on Friday, the same ominous day of the week, which had so often proved auspicious to the Spaniards under the present reign. [10]

The disparity of the forces actually engaged was probably not great, since the extent of country over which the French were quartered prevented many of them from coming up in time for action. Several corps, who succeeded in reaching the field at the close of the fight, were seized with such a panic as to throw down their arms without attempting resistance. [11] The admirable artillery, on which the French placed chief reliance, was not only of no service, but of infinite mischief to them, as we have seen. The brunt of the battle fell on their chivalry, which bore itself throughout the day with the spirit and gallantry worthy of its ancient renown; never flinching, till the arrival of the Spanish rear-guard fresh in the field, at so critical a juncture, turned the scale in their adversaries' favor.

Early on the following morning, Gonsalvo made preparations for storming the heights of Mount Orlando, which overlooked the city of Gaeta. Such was the despondency of its garrison, however, that this strong position, which bade defiance a few months before to the most desperate efforts of Spanish valor, was now surrendered without a struggle. The same feeling of despondency had communicated itself to the garrison of Gaeta; and, before Navarro could bring the batteries of Mount Orlando to bear upon the city, a flag of truce arrived from the marquis of Saluzzo with proposals for capitulation.

This was more than the Great Captain could have ventured to promise himself. The French were in great force; the fortifications of the place in excellent repair; it was well provided with artillery and ammunition, and with provisions for ten days at least; while their fleet, riding in the harbor, afforded the means of obtaining supplies from Leghorn, Genoa, and other friendly ports. But the French had lost all heart; they were sorely wasted by disease; their buoyant self-confidence was gone, and their spirits broken by the series of reverses, which had followed without interruption from the first hour of the campaign, to the last disastrous affair of the Garigliano. The very elements seemed to have leagued against them. Further efforts they deemed a fruitless struggle against destiny; and they now looked with melancholy longing to their native land, eager only to quit these ill-omened shores for ever.

The Great Captain made no difficulty in granting such terms, as, while they had a show of liberality, secured him the most important fruits of victory. This suited his cautious temper far better than pressing a desperate foe to extremity. He was, moreover, with all his successes, in no condition to do so; he was without funds, and, as usual, deeply in arrears to his army; while there was scarcely a ration of bread, says an Italian historian, in his whole camp. [12]

It was agreed by the terms of capitulation, January 1st, 1504, that the French should evacuate Gaeta at once, and deliver it up to the Spaniards with its artillery, munitions, and military stores of every description. The prisoners on both sides, including those taken in the preceding campaign, an arrangement greatly to the advantage of the enemy, were to be restored; and the army in Gaeta was to be allowed a free passage by land or sea, as they should prefer, to their own country. [13]

From the moment hostilities were brought to a close; Gonsalvo displayed such generous sympathy for his late enemies, and such humanity in relieving them, as to reflect more honor on his character than all his victories. He scrupulously enforced the faithful performance of the treaty, and severely punished any violence offered to the French by his own men. His benign and courteous demeanor towards the vanquished, so remote from the images of terror with which he had been, hitherto associated in their minds, excited unqualified admiration; and they testified their sense of his amiable qualities, by speaking of him as the "gentil capitaine et gentil cavalier." [14]

The news of the rout of the Garigliano and the surrender of Gaeta diffused general gloom and consternation over France. There was scarcely a family of rank, says a writer of that country, that had not some one of its members involved in these sad disasters. [15] The court went into mourning. The king, mortified at the discomfiture of all his lofty schemes, by the foe whom he despised, shut himself up in his palace, refusing access to every one, until the agitation of his spirits threw him into an illness, which had wellnigh proved fatal.

Meanwhile his exasperated feelings found an object on which to vent themselves in the unfortunate garrison of Gaeta, who so pusillanimously abandoned their post to return to their own country. He commanded them to winter in Italy, and not to recross the Alps without further orders. He sentenced Sandricourt and Allegre to banishment for insubordination to their commander-in-chief; the latter, for his conduct, more particularly, before the battle of Cerignola; and he hanged up the commissaries of the army, whose infamous peculations had been a principal cause of its ruin. [16]

But the impotent wrath of their monarch was not needed to fill the bitter cup, which the French soldiers were now draining to the dregs. A large number of those, who embarked for Genoa, died of the maladies contracted during their long bivouac in the marshes of Minturnae. The rest recrossed the Alps into France, too desperate to heed their master's prohibition. Those who took their way by land suffered still more severely from the Italian peasantry, who retaliated in full measure the barbarities they had so long endured from the French. They were seen wandering like spectres along the high roads and principal cities on the route, pining with cold and famine; and all the hospitals in Rome, as well as the stables, sheds, and every other place, however mean, affording shelter, were filled with the wretched vagabonds, eager only to find some obscure retreat to die in.

The chiefs of the expedition fared little better. Among others, the marquis of Saluzzo, soon after reaching Genoa, was carried off by a fever, caused by his distress of mind. Sandricourt, too haughty to endure disgrace, laid violent hands on himself. Allegre, more culpable, but more courageous, survived to be reconciled with his sovereign, and to die a soldier's death on the field of battle. [17]

Such are the dismal colors in which the French historians depict the last struggle made by their monarch for the recovery of Naples. Few military expeditions have commenced under more brilliant and imposing auspices; few have been conducted in so ill-advised a manner through their whole progress; and none attended in their close with more indiscriminate and overwhelming ruin.

On the 3d of January, 1504, Gonsalvo made his entry into Gaeta; and the thunders of his ordnance, now for the first time heard from its battlements, announced that this strong key to the dominions of Naples had passed into the hands of Aragon. After a short delay for the refreshment of his troops, he set out for the capital. But, amidst the general jubilee which greeted his return, he was seized with a fever, brought on by the incessant fatigue and high mental excitement in which he had been kept for the last four months. The attack was severe, and the event for some time doubtful. During this state of suspense the public mind was in the deepest agitation. The popular manners of Gonsalvo had won the hearts of the giddy people of Naples, who transferred their affections, indeed, as readily as their allegiance; and prayers and vows for his restoration, were offered up in all the churches and monasteries of the city. His excellent constitution at length got the better of his disease. As soon as this favorable result was ascertained, the whole population, rushing to the other extreme, abandoned itself to a delirium of joy; and, when he was sufficiently recovered to give them audience, men of all ranks thronged to Castel Nuovo to tender their congratulations, and obtain a sight of the hero, who now returned to their capital, for the third time, with the laurel of victory on his brow. Every tongue, says his enthusiastic biographer, was eloquent in his praise; some dwelling on his noble port, and the beauty of his countenance; others on the elegance and amenity of his manners; and all dazzled by a spirit of munificence, which would have become royalty itself. [18]

The tide of panegyric was swelled by more than one bard, who sought, though with indifferent success, to catch inspiration from so glorious a theme; trusting doubtless that his liberal hand would not stint the recompense to the precise measure of desert. Amid this general burst of adulation, the muse of Sannazaro, worth all his tribe, was alone silent; for the trophies of the conqueror were raised on the ruins of that royal house, under which the bard had been so long sheltered; and this silence, so rare in his tuneful brethren, must be admitted to reflect more credit on his name, than the best he ever sung. [19]

The first business of Gonsalvo was to call together the different orders of the state, and receive their oaths of allegiance to King Ferdinand. He next occupied himself with the necessary arrangements for the reorganization of the government, and for reforming various abuses which had crept into the administration of justice, more particularly. In these attempts to introduce order, he was not a little thwarted, however, by the insubordination of his own soldiery, They loudly clamored for the discharge of the arrears, still shamefully protracted, till, their discontents swelling to open mutiny, they forcibly seized on two of the principal places in the kingdom as security for the payment. Gonsalvo chastised their insolence by disbanding several of the most refractory companies, and sending them home for punishment. He endeavored to relieve them in part by raising contributions from the Neapolitans. But the soldiers took the matter into their own hands, oppressing the unfortunate people on whom they were quartered in a manner which rendered their condition scarcely more tolerable, than when exposed to the horrors of actual war. [20] This was the introduction, according to Guicciardini, of those systematic military exactions in time of peace, which became so common afterwards in Italy, adding an inconceivable amount to the long catalogue of woes which afflicted that unhappy land. [21]

Amidst his manifold duties, Gonsalvo did not forget the gallant officers who had borne with him the burdens of the war, and he requited their services in a princely style, better suited to his feelings than his interests, as subsequently appeared. Among them were Navarro, Mendoza, Andrada, Benavides, Leyva, the Italians Alviano and the two Colonnas, most of whom lived to display the lessons of tactics, which they learned under this great commander, on a still wider theatre of glory, in the reign of Charles the Fifth. He made them grants of cities, fortresses, and extensive lands, according to their various claims, to be held as fiefs of the crown. All this was done with the previous sanction of his royal master, Ferdinand the Catholic. They did some violence, however, to his more economical spirit, and he was heard somewhat peevishly to exclaim, "It boots little for Gonsalvo de Cordova to have won a kingdom for me, if he lavishes it all away before it comes into my hands." It began to be perceived at court that the Great Captain was too powerful for a subject. [22]

Meanwhile, Louis the Twelfth was filled with serious apprehensions for the fate of his possessions in the north of Italy. His former allies, the emperor Maximilian and the republic of Venice, the latter more especially, had shown many indications, not merely of coldness to himself, but of a secret understanding with his rival, the king of Spain. The restless pope, Julius the Second, had schemes of his own, wholly independent of France. The republics of Pisa and Genoa, the latter one of her avowed dependencies, had entered into correspondence with the Great Captain, and invited him to assume their protection; while several of the disaffected party in Milan had assured him of their active support, in case he would march with a sufficient force to overturn the existing government. Indeed, not only France, but Europe in general, expected that the Spanish commander would avail himself of the present crisis, to push his victorious arms into upper Italy, revolutionize Tuscany in his way, and, wresting Milan from the French, drive them, crippled and disheartened by their late reverses, beyond the Alps. [23]

But Gonsalvo had occupation enough on his hands in settling the disordered state of Naples. King Ferdinand, his sovereign, notwithstanding the ambition of universal conquest absurdly imputed to him by the French writers, had no design to extend his acquisitions beyond what he could permanently maintain. His treasury, never overflowing, was too deeply drained by the late heavy demands on it, for him so soon to embark on another perilous enterprise, that must rouse anew the swarms of enemies, who seemed willing to rest in quiet after their long and exhausting struggle; nor is there any reason to suppose he sincerely contemplated such a movement for a moment. [24]

The apprehension of it, however, answered Ferdinand's purpose, by preparing the French monarch to arrange his differences with his rival, as the latter now earnestly desired, by negotiation. Indeed, two Spanish ministers had resided during the greater part of the war at the French court, with the view of improving the first opening that should occur for accomplishing this object; and by their agency a treaty was concluded, to continue for three years, which guaranteed to Aragon the undisturbed possession of her conquests during that period. The chief articles provided for the immediate cessation of hostilities between the belligerents, and the complete re-establishment of their commercial relations and intercourse, with the exception of Naples, from which the French were to be excluded. The Spanish crown was to have full power to reduce all refractory places in that kingdom; and the contracting parties solemnly pledged themselves, each to render no assistance, secretly or openly, to the enemies of the other. The treaty, which was to run from the 25th of February, 1504, was signed by the French king and the Spanish plenipotentiaries at Lyons, on the 11th of that month, and ratified by Ferdinand and Isabella, at the convent of Santa Maria de la Mejorada, the 31st of March following. [25]

There was still a small spot in the heart of Naples, comprehending Venosa and several adjoining towns, where Louis d'Ars and his brave associates yet held out against the Spanish arms. Although cut off by the operation of this treaty from the hope of further support from home, the French knight disdained to surrender; but sallied out at the head of his little troop of gallant veterans, and thus, armed at all points, says Brantome, with lance in rest, took his way through Naples, and the centre of Italy. He marched in battle array, levying contributions for his support on the places through which he passed. In this manner he entered France, and presented himself before the court at Blois. The king and queen, delighted with his prowess, came forward to welcome him, and made good cheer, says the old chronicler, for himself and his companions, whom they recompensed with liberal largesses, proffering at the same time any boon to the brave knight, which he should demand for himself. The latter in return simply requested that his old comrade Ives d'Allegre should be recalled from exile. This trait of magnanimity, when contrasted with the general ferocity of the times, has something in it inexpressibly pleasing. It shows, like others recorded of the French gentlemen of that period, that the age of chivalry,—the chivalry of romance, indeed,—had not wholly passed away. [26]

The pacification of Lyons sealed the fate of Naples; and, while it terminated the wars in that kingdom, closed the military career of Gonsalvo de Cordova. It is impossible to contemplate the magnitude of the results, achieved with such slender resources, and in the face of such overwhelming odds, without deep admiration for the genius of the man by whom they were accomplished.

His success, it is true, is imputable in part to the signal errors of his adversaries. The magnificent expedition of Charles the Eighth failed to produce any permanent impression, chiefly in consequence of the precipitation with which it had been entered into, without sufficient concert with the Italian states, who became a formidable enemy when united in his rear. He did not even avail himself of his temporary acquisition of Naples to gather support from the attachment of his new subjects. Far from incorporating with them, he was regarded as a foreigner and an enemy, and, as such, expelled by the joint action of all Italy from its bosom, as soon as it had recovered sufficient strength to rally.

Louis the Twelfth profited by the errors of his predecessor. His acquisitions in the Milanese formed a basis for future operations; and by negotiation and otherwise he secured the alliance and the interests of the various Italian governments on his side. These preliminary arrangements were followed by preparations every way commensurate with his object. He failed in the first campaign, however, by intrusting the command to incompetent hands, consulting birth rather than talent or experience.

In the succeeding campaigns, his failure, though partly chargeable on himself, was less so than on circumstances beyond his control. The first of these was the long detention of the army before Rome by Cardinal D'Amboise, and its consequent exposure to the unexampled severity of the ensuing winter. A second was the fraudulent conduct of the commissaries, implying, no doubt, some degree of negligence in the person who appointed them; and lastly, the want of a suitable commander-in-chief of the army. La Tremouille being ill, and D'Aubigny a prisoner in the hands of the enemy, there appeared no one among the French qualified to cope with the Spanish general. The marquis of Mantua, independently of the disadvantage of being a foreigner, was too timid in council, and dilatory in conduct, to be any way competent to this difficult task.

If his enemies, however, committed great errors, it is altogether owing to Gonsalvo that he was in a situation to take advantage of them. Nothing could be more unpromising than his position on first entering Calabria. Military operations had been conducted in Spain on principles totally different from those which prevailed in the rest of Europe. This was the case especially in the late Moorish wars, where the old tactics and the character of the ground brought light cavalry chiefly into use. This, indeed, constituted his principal strength at this period; for his infantry, though accustomed to irregular service, was indifferently armed and disciplined. An important revolution, however, had occurred in the other parts of Europe. The infantry had there regained the superiority which it maintained in the days of the Greeks and Romans. The experiment had been made on more than one bloody field; and it was found that the solid columns of Swiss and German pikes not only bore down all opposition in their onward march, but presented an impregnable barrier, not to be shaken by the most desperate charges of the best heavy-armed cavalry. It was against these dreaded battalions that Gonsalvo was now called to measure for the first time the bold but rudely armed and comparatively raw recruits from Galicia and the Asturias.

He lost his first battle, into which it should be remembered he was precipitated against his will. He proceeded afterwards with the greatest caution, gradually familiarizing his men with the aspect and usages of the enemy whom they held in such awe, before bringing them again to a direct encounter. He put himself to school during this whole campaign, carefully acquainting himself with the tactics, discipline, and novel arms of his adversaries, and borrowing just so much as he could incorporate into the ancient system of the Spaniards, without discarding the latter altogether. Thus, while he retained the short sword and buckler of his countrymen, he fortified his battalions with a large number of spearmen, after the German fashion. The arrangement is highly commended by the sagacious Machiavelli, who considers it as combining the advantages of both systems, since, while the long spear served all the purposes of resistance, or even of attack on level ground, the short swords and targets enabled their wearers, as already noticed, to cut in under the dense array of hostile pikes, and bring the enemy to close quarters, where his formidable weapon was of no avail. [27]

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