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Lunedì 25 Febbraio 2008  08:08

La storia di Savonarola e la storia dei giorni nostri...

Kill Sixtus
based on "Life and Times of Girolamo Savonarola:" by Pasquale Villari, London, 1888
In the 70's of 15th century, Italy was sufficiently crushed by a lot of evils, but others, equally serious, combined to assail her.By a reaction against the feeble tyranny of her rulers, daring spirits arose among her people, ready to resort to the most desperate deeds, rather than submit to the actual state of things. Conspiracy was rampant throughout those years.

In 1476 three plots were hatched. Girolamo Gentile tried to deliver Genoa from the Milanese yoke ; Olgiati, Visconti, and Lampugnani assassinated Duke Galeazzo in church, but were themselves torn to pieces by the enraged populace in the streets of Milan; Niccolo d'Este, with a band of six hundred men, tried to gain possession of Ferrara and overthrow his brother, Duke Ercole, but, together with most of his followers, perished in the attempt. Thus, all these plots ended in the destruction of their authors, and only increased the misery of the people by consolidating the power and rousing the cruelty of their oppressors.

Nevertheless, undismayed by danger, men were rather urged by it to more desperate ventures, and no year passed without fresh attempts. The most terrible conspiracy of all was that of the Pazzi in Florence. This conspiracy was certainly extraordinary in all its details ; remarkable for the sagacity and daring of its plan; the moment chosen for its execution; the high rank of those engaged in it ; and the number of victims slain, both at the time and afterwards. Most astonishing of all was the number and rank of the ecclesiastics implicated in the plot.

The dagger that was to despatch Lorenzo de' Medici was entrusted to a priest ; Archbishop Salviati was the leader of the conspiracy in Florence and Rome ; and, according to public rumour, the Holy Father, Sixtus IV himself was one of the hottest and most determined of its promoters. He had hoped to increase his nephews' power by this means, and infuriated by the failure of the plot, threw all other considerations to the winds and made open war upon the Florentines as their declared enemy. On April 26, 1478, while Mass was being celebrated in the cathedral, and at the moment of the elevation of the Host, Giuliano de' Medici was stabbed by the Pazzi.

Lorenzo escaped the blows aimed at himself, and, having time to draw his sword, was able to fight his way into the sacristy. Angelo Poliziano, who helped to save him by promptly closing the door, tells us that the noise and confusion was so great at the moment that it seemed as though the church itself was falling down.

But this was just the appetizer because in the year 1481, serious alarms of war were threatening Ferrara from all sides. This war, solely directed, at first, against the Duke of Ferrara, gradually spread on all sides, until nearly the whole of Italy was split into two camps. The true motives of it were, on the one hand, the rising ambition of the Venetians to extend their power on the mainland ; on the other, the covetous desire of the Pope to increase his nephew's dominions.

These reasons, however, were kept concealed. The Pope pretended that he sought revenge on the Duke for having served under the Venetians when they were forced into war with him, after the failure of the Pazzi plot ; while the Venetians found pretexts for hostility in certain frontier disputes and the usual quarrels concerning their salt trade.

In vain, the Duke of Ferrara offered to yield on all these points : the two powers were now determined on war, and drew into it not only the Genoese Republic, but a number of petty potentates in Romagna and the Marches. On the other hand, the Florentine Republic, the King of Naples, the Duke of Milan, the Marquis of Mantua, Bentivoglio, lord of Bologna and the powerful House of Colonna, all sided with the Duke of Ferrara.

Thus the whole of Italy was in arms, and although the Florentines took only a verbal part in the contest, the rest of the allies were already in the field. The Duke of Calabria encountered the papal forces commanded by Roberto Malatesta; the Colonna issued from their strongholds and ravaged the Roman Campagna, while the Genoese attacked the western frontier of the Duchy of Milan.

But the chief part in the campaign was played by the Venetians. Investing Ferrara with two of their armies, they marched a third against the Duke of Milan ; Venice urged on hostilities with so much vigour that Ferrara was already reduced to famine and could hold out no longer. It was plainly evident that all the profits of the war would be reaped by the Venetians.

But directly Sixtus IV realized that his coveted prey was about to escape him, he hastened, in the blindness of his fury, to change sides. Concluding a treaty with the Neapolitan king, he granted the Duke of Calabria free passage through his states ; excommunicated the Venetians, whom he branded as foes of Christ, and incited all the powers of Italy to make war upon them.

This sudden transformation was only amazing to those unacquainted with the impetuous nature of Sixtus IV., and the excesses he was prepared to commit in order to fill his treasury and widen his frontiers. And although the Venetians remained undismayed, the Pope's desertion changed the whole aspect of the campaign.

The Duke of Calabria had already conveyed supplies to Ferrara and disturbed the progress of the siege : thus all decisive operations were again deferred. The hostile forces remained facing each other, without coming to open battle ; the neighbouring country was continually ravaged ; numbers died of hunger, none by the sword. The campaign dragged on in this incredibly feeble manner to the year 1482, when all wearied of a war that was equally hurtful to either side. Then the Venetian general accepted proposals of peace ; all the combatants withdrew, and to the universal satisfaction hostilities were suddenly at an end.

The Pope, however, was implacable. He had never ceased to fan the blaze he had kindled, and could not resign himself to the loss of all he had hoped to obtain by the war. On the I2th of August, 1484, when the ambassadors appeared before him, and read the terms of the peace, he was wild with rage, and, starting to his feet, exclaimed, " The peace you announce is humiliating and shameful ! " The following day his chronic malady, gout, flew to his chest, and thus the Holy Father died of grief because peace was concluded.

Fantastic. The same as the political vicissitudes of Italy in the last 15 years.

Giorgio Monteforti

Lunedì 25 Febbraio 2008  08:08

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