MASSIMILIANO SFORZA AND THE SWISS CONFEDERATION 1508-1515
THE final overthrow of Lodovico Il Moro had been brought about by the Swiss, and it was their pikes which upheld his son Maximilian during the three troubled years of his reign in Milan. Hence the wearisome fluctuations of Swiss policy, during the period that intervened, gain an importance which they would not otherwise possess. In them lies the clue to the process which transformed the betrayers of one member of the House of Sforza into the guardians of another. At the same time they form the prelude to what is perhaps the most curious episode in the history of Milan, an episode which seemed about to determine the fate of the Duchy, once and for all, by turning it into a Swiss Canton.
Two main causes are responsible for the concern of the Swiss in the affairs of Milan at this time.1 Cf. Kohler, C., Les Suisses dans les guerres d'Italie ( 1506-1512), which forms the chief authority for the relations between the Swiss and Milan at this period.In the first place it was a matter of vital necessity to that nation that its all-important commerce in Lombardy should be placed on a sure basis. If to such Cantons as Zurich and Bern the connection with Milan formed the chief source of their commercial prosperity, to the Forest Cantons it was practically a matter of life and death. To close the passes of the Alps against them would be to cut them off from their chief food supply. Throughout the fifteenth century the Swiss had aimed at obtaining permanent control over two of the chief Alpine routes by the acquisition of Bellinzona and Domodossola. Bellinzona, as the modern traveller knows well,