LODOVICO SFORZA AND THE FIRST FRENCH INVASION (1492-1498)
TO the student of Italian history the year 1492 may well seem the beginning of the end -- the end, that is, of the independence of the native Italian States, and of the Sforza dynasty in Milan with the rest. Henceforth the Alps served no longer as the natural barrier between Italians and ultramontanes, but became, rather, the highway of European armies. The days of petty local wars and of the maintenance of the balance of power by means of leagues and counter leagues between the chief Italian States were at an end, and Italy was plunged into the vortex of European politics.
The aims which determined the diplomatic relations of Milan in 1492 were those which had been from the first the guiding principles of Sforza's foreign policy. Il Moro, as his father and brother before him, concentrated his energies on the preservation of the Triple Alliance and on the continuance of friendly relations between Milan and France. Yet before the year was out the final breach in the Triple Alliance was already visible, while friendship with France was hurrying the ruler of Milan into a course of action which proved his ultimate destruction. When Gian Galeazzo received the investiture of Genoa, Il Moro was anxious to renew the league with France which had originated under Louis XI. The French ambassadors, however, insisted that Lodovico must first restore three cities which he had taken from the Marquis of Montferrat, with the result that the conclusion of the treaty was deferred for another year. Hence the quarrel between Charles VIII. and Maximilian, King of the Romans, over Anne of Brittany was particularly acceptable to Il Moro. "The Duke thinks," wrote a Florentine