History of Medieval and of Modern Civilization to the End of the Seventeenth Century

By Charles Seignobos; James Alton James | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
STRUGGLE BETWEEN THE HOUSE OF FRANCE AND THE HOUSE OF AUSTRIA

ITALY AT THE CLOSE OF THE MIDDLE AGES

The Condottieri. --All the cities of Italy made war upon each other. There came a time when they no longer had enough inhabitants from which to recruit their army. They negotiated with army contractors. The condottiere (the mercenary) took it upon himself, for a certain sum, to form a troop of soldiers, to command and to support them. These soldiers by profession, recruited among the adventurers from all lands, passed from one city to another, according as they found it to their advantage. They had not even, like the Swiss and the lansquenets, the honesty to fight well for the one who paid them. The condottieri of the two opposing armies agreed not to injure each other, a battle was nothing more than a parade. There were "wars which began without fear, were carried on without danger, and which ended without damage" ( Machiavelli).

The Tyrants. --After two centuries of revolutions the greater number of Italians were disgusted with self-government. Some of the towns decided to choose a prince, who would govern them in a masterful man-

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