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themselves. After various letters of protestthe advanced
period of the season brought operations to a close.

Meantime negotiations for peace had been re-
opened, again through the good offices of Cardinal of
Santa Croce. After some delay the plenipotentiaries
met at Ferrara, and while the congress was sitting,
Filippo again employed Valfenario as a means for
communicating with Carmagnola, and, as usual, the

1 Animirato " increscendoli e avendo compassione, second mi va per
deUa mise.ria, del duca," quoted by Battistella, op. cit. p. 206,


general informed the Senate and received the stereo-
typed reply that Filippo was merely trifling with him.
Negotiations were still proceeding slowly and with
difficulty at Ferrara, when Carmagnola applied for
leave to go to the baths. This was granted. On his way
through Venice he was received with every mark of
honour and esteem.

In the congress at Ferrara, as far as Carmagnola was
concerned, the chief point lay in the Venetian demand
that he should be allowed to retain his Milanese fiefs
without their feudal obligation. This the duke strenu-
ously refused to grant. Venice clearly aimed at sever-
ing the last bond between Filippo and Carmagnola,
while the duke was equally determined to retain a hold
over the great condottiere whom the shifting fortunes of
mercenary service might bring to his side once again.
Venice insisted, and Filippo at length gave way up to
a certain point : he consented that Carmagnola should
retain the title of Count of Castelnovo, but at the same
time should be personally free from all obligation to-
wards his feudal superior. In the course of these
negotiations Carmagnola had declared to the Venetian
government that, as far as he was concerned, no one
but the Republic should be recognized as superior in
any dominion held by him, and begged them not to
allow considerations for his convenience to hinder the
conclusion of peace. For this generosity the Senate
voted him public thanks. Peace was signed on April 19,
1428. Visconti showed great reluctance to acknowledge
the personal independence of Carmagnola, but after a
threat that war might be renewed, he finally gave way.
Visconti, however, never meant the peace to be
permanent. On May 30 he again told the emperor that
it was wrung from him by necessity, implying that he
felt himself at liberty to break it. He delayed as far as
possible the consignment of the Bergamasque, which,
by the treaty of Ferrara, had become Venetian territory.
But eventually all the terms were carried out, and
Carmagnola and his generals came to Venice for the
VOL. i. 13


solemn reconsignment of the standard of San Marco.
The Senate delayed its rewards to the commander-in-
chief until it had, as it declared, sounded his wishes
and intentions a phrase which hardly indicates con-
fidence in Carmagnola's future conduct.

The peace lasted two years, during which time
Carmagnola was resident in the Bresciano. With
significant persistence Filippo continued his corre-
spondence directly with his late commander-in-chief, in
spite of the fact that war had ceased. He set himself
to conciliate the general and to remove all cause of
suspicion and distrust. The count was relieved of the
penalties pronounced against him and was restored
to the position he had held in the Milanese before he
fled from it.

Carmagnola kept the Senate informed, and it is
impossible to believe that they did not view with
suspicion such a correspondence. At the very least
there was the obvious danger that they might lose
Carmagnola's services at the close of his contract.
On January 5, 1429, the Council of Ten declared its
competence to take the affairs of the count into con-
sideration, but resolved to refer the matter to the
Senate. This intervention of the Ten would indicate
that the conduct of the count was considered a
question of public safety.

As a matter of fact, early in January, Carmagnola
had asked leave to surrender his appointment. Taken
in connection with his known correspondence with
the duke, the government naturally concluded that he
intended to pass over into Filippo's service. The
Senate refused, and after some insistence on both sides,
on February 15, 1429, a new contract was signed.
Carmagnola was reappointed commander-in-chief;
he was granted civil and criminal jurisdiction over
the forces, except in places where a Venetian governor
resided ; his own condotta of 500 lances was at his
sole disposition; and his pay was to be 1,000 ducats
a month for two years. The Republic invested


him in the fief of Chiari, worth 6,000 ducats a

This new contract with Venice seems to have angered
Filippo Maria. It delayed his hopes of winning Car-
magnola back to his service. When the count applied
for leave to go to the baths near Siena, the government
warned him that they had it from a sure source that
the duke intended some mischief against his person,
and begged him to choose Abano. He declined and
stood by his original intention, though his personal
guard amounted to 300 foot and 60 horse.

After the completion of his cure he returned to
Chiari, his fief in the Bresciano, and was almost im-
mediately interviewed by an agent from the duke,
Cristoforo Ghilino, the duke's inspector of revenues
and also, it must be noted, Carmagnola's factor for his
Milanese estates. And this policy of sending emissaries
to Carmagnola was kept up with increasing activity all
through the months of January and February, 1430.
In March the count went to Venice with a letter from
Visconti in his pocket. After consultation the Senate
requested Carmagnola to give the duke clearly to
understand that he must desist from all further
correspondence ; Filippo, of course, paid no heed.

War was coming on again. The duke continued
to harass Monferrat, and the Republic now declared
that she would consider such conduct a casus belli.
In August Carmagnola was summoned to Venice to
consult, and he then asked for a part of the Milanese
if it fell to Venetian arms. The Senate promised him
any city he chose and its territory except Milan itself,
and the full restitution of all his fiefs in the Milanese ;
and letters patent were issued to that effect. It had by
this time become clear to the Senate that Carmagnola's
ambition was to create an independent principality for
himself, an ambition common to most of his brother
condottieri, and from this point onwards they en-
deavoured to stimulate him to action by increasing
the value of the prize they offered.


Early in 1431 hostilities broke out. This last cam-
paign of Carmagnola presents the same features as its
two predecessors, only in a heightened degree : the
same inexplicable inactivity and sluggishness; the
same demand to close the campaign in August ;
the same persistent communications from the duke ;
the same official professions of confidence, coupled
with a growing discontent in public opinion and
irritation tending towards suspicion in the mind of
the Senate. The campaign opened with an attack on
Lodi, in which Carmagnola failed, and a reverse at
Soncino, where he allowed himself to be entrapped.
On May 30 the standard of San Marco was solemnly
consigned to him in the Duomo of Brescia, and he
took the field in force.

It is needless for us to follow the details of this
campaign. It will suffice if we dwell briefly on the
various points which were afterwards brought up
against Carmagnola as proofs of a treacherous

On June 22, after a reconnaissance, carried out the
evening before by Pasino Eustacchio and Giovanni
Grimaldi, the duke's admirals on the Po, Nicol6
Trevisan, the Venetian commander, apparently on
the positive orders of Carmagnola, 1 who was his
superior officer, 2 moved up the river to attack the
enemy. The current was against him, his men were
tired with rowing before the engagement began ; his
ships for the same reason failed to keep their stations,
while the enemy, with a favourable current, bore down
on him in perfect order. His fleet was gradually
pushed over to the right bank of the stream, the
bank opposite to that on which Carmagnola's army
was stationed; the result was a crushing defeat.
Carmagnola's forces must have been quite close, for

1 " Vista la presente (lettera) el dovesse andar con 1' armada suxo."
Orders sent by Carmagnola to Trevisan on the night of June 21-22,
quoted by Battistella, op. cit. p. 282.

J Battistella, op. cit. p. 278.


the din of battle was heard in the camp. Trevisan,
when he found himself hard pressed, repeatedly sent
to beg for instant succour, and Paolo Correr, the
provveditore with the general, " on hearing the guns
and seeing the ducal galleons bearing down, told Car-
magnola that he ought either to attack Cremona (by
way of causing a diversion) or to march down to the
banks of the Po to support the doge's fleet, which
had come up the river on his orders"; and the
chronicler adds, " Carmagnola looked annoyed ; said
he would take steps ; e nulla fece" It is possible that
in fact he could not do anything, owing to the position
assumed by the fleets; yet the impression is left that he
wilfully made absolutely no effort to support Trevisan. 1
Carmagnola thought it necessary to write to Venice
to defend his conduct the first time he ever did so.
In his own support he sent in copies of his orders to
Trevisan. The Senate replied that no excuse was
called for; that they knew where the blame lay.
And, as a matter of fact, they passed a heavy sentence
on Trevisan a sentence that was reduced but not
quashed after Carmagnola's trial.

The defeat on the Po upset the whole plan of
campaign. The discussion of future operations led
to a difference of opinion between the commander-
in-chief and the provveditore, Correr; the Senate,
when appealed to, supported the general. But Car-
magnola did hardly anything of note, 3 and presently
the Senate were amazed by receiving notice that the
campaign must close at the end of August. It is to
be observed that contemporaneously with this notice
from Carmagnola, Filippo Maria believed himself in a
position to withdraw Piccinino and his troops from the
field of operations. 3 On August 14 the Senate replied

1 Battistella, op. cit. p. 289, is of opinion that Carmagnola's action
was the first step on the perilous road of treachery.

1 Battistella (p. 292) notes the strana lentezza of the general.

8 Possevin, quoted by Battistella (p. 296, note 3), says distinctly that
Filippo counted on Carmagnola's treacherous retirement into quarters.


expressing their " great displeasure," and immediately
afterwards they sent two commissioners to the camp
to dissuade the general from abandoning active opera-
tions, and also with orders to investigate the reasons
adduced by Carmagnola. This order to investigate,
given now for the first time, is significant, and indi-
cates great dissatisfaction if not actual suspicion.
The Senate further remarked that there was too
marked a difference between the activity of the duke's
generals and their own. Did not the duke's cavalry
require forage as well as theirs ? and yet he kept the
field till late in winter.

This was followed on September 4 by positive
orders the first time we hear of them that the
general was to keep the field. But all in vain. At
the beginning of October he cantoned the larger part
of his troops. The patience of Venice was running
out, and we are approaching the crisis. On Octo-
ber 9 motion was made in the Senate to take into
consideration the affairs of the count. Deliberation
was suspended for a few days, but on the 13th it was
moved "that in order to know where we are, et non
stare in his perpetuis laboribus et expensts" on Monday
following the Senate should express its opinion on
the matter. This was passed, but was immediately
followed by a vote to suspend action for the present.
The Senate, possibly in the absence of convincing
proof of guilt, resolved to return yet again to its old
policy of endeavouring to stimulate its general by
promises of large rewards. Events, however, were
shortly to compel them to abandon this tentative
attitude and to force them into sharp and vigorous

On October 17 Cavalcabo, one of Carmagnola's
officers, made a bold attempt to seize Cremona. By
a well-planned escalade in the night-time he captured
the gate and fort of San Luca. Carmagnola was
only three miles off, and though repeatedly asked
to support Cavalcabd, he either did not move or


arrived too late, and the attempt failed. News reached
Venice that Cremona was in their hands, but a second
despatch dashed the universal joy and gave cause for
bitter disappointment and indignation. 1

With the failure to capture Cremona the inglorious
campaign of 1431 came to an end. Carmagnola had
done nothing save to rouse anger and possibly the
suspicion of his employer. Venice had gained nothing,
in spite of her great army of thirty thousand men in
the field. Her purse and her patience were alike all
but exhausted.

Meanwhile the duke's emissaries continued to reach
Carmagnola in his quarters at Brescia. On Novem-
ber 3 he informed the Senate that Daniele da Imola
had brought him an offer from the duke to name him
plenipotentiary for peace negotiations. Apparently
no notice was taken of this, because Carmagnola was
suddenly called on to undertake the command of
operations against the Hungarians in Fruili. The
enemy, however, retired before his arrival. In De-
cember a motion was brought forward to instruct the
governors of Brescia to sound Carmagnola as to the
real objects of his ambition. The Senate say that they
have heard that he aspired to the lordship of Milan ;
should this prove to be the case, then the governors,
in the name of the Republic, are to give him a promise
that Milan shall be his should he succeed in taking
it. The motion was not carried, and though it was
repeated in January, 1432, it met the same fate. But
the episode is important. It shows us the Senate
still endeavouring to overcome their general's inac-
tivity by holding out the prospect of vast prizes ; it
also indicates that such a policy had ceased to recom-
mend itself to the majority; and it throws light on
Carmagnola's private aims and desires, the creation
of an independent principality.

1 Battistella (p. 308) here admits a second case of treacherous con-
duct : " Egli arrivfc tardi perche tardi voile arrivare." But on the
point there is no documentary evidence.


While matters were in this state Carmagnola, in
February, 1432, informed the Senate that Cristoforo
Ghilino had sent him fresh messages from the duke.
The Senate replied on the 2ist, absolutely forbid-
ding him to answer these or any other messages.
Carmagnola's only response was to tell the Senate that
Ghilino still insisted on an interview. The Senate
repeated the order not to receive Ghilino, and informed
the general that all negotiations for peace were now
transferred to plenipotentiaries at Ferrara. If we are
to accept the statement of Giulio Porro, these orders
were disobeyed. Carmagnola on one occasion did
receive a ducal emissary in his tent by night, and on
another occasion he passed beyond the lines to confer
with agents from Filippo. 1 But worse was still to
follow. In striking contrast with Carmagnola's in-
activity, the ducal troops under Piccinino vigorously
assumed the offensive, and in February easily recovered
Casalmaggiore, Toricella, Casalbutano, and Bordelano
the last-named is said to have surrendered on the
positive instigation of Carmagnola himself. 2 Moreover,
he deliberately threw away an opportunity for cap-
turing Soncino, a large part of whose walls had
collapsed. The war, in short, was going from bad
to worse, and Venice could stand it no longer; she
had exercised a patience that no other state would
have displayed, but when this was exhausted, she
acted rapidly and without hesitation.

On March 27, 1432, the Council of Ten took the
matter in hand, and resolved that in view of previous

1 Porro says he read these facts in the reports of the proweditori,
in the archives at Venice. These papers cannot now be found ; and
Battistella conjectures that Porro is really referring to the documents
of the Senate. Battistella (op. cit. p. 334) declares that it was not
permissible for Carmagnola to negotiate with the enemy on the
subject of peace. But if not then, why earlier, when Battistella
will not admit guilt or blame ? The situation and the facts are the
same ; the Senate's interpretation of them only had changed owing to

1 Battistella, op. cit. p. 337.


and recent information, the governors of Brescia should
be ordered to arrest Carmagnola immediately. 1 This
proposal, however, presented dangers. All along the
government had been in dread lest Carmagnola should
leave their service and return to the duke ; this dread
accounts for the conciliatory tone of the senatorial
communications, and for the reiterated expressions
of confidence, which certainly contributed to blind
Carmagnola to the perils of his position. Carma-
gnola at Brescia was in the midst of his troops,
surrounded by his personal bodyguard and compara-
tively close to the duke's territories. There was
considerable risk that he might escape. The matter
was deferred till the following day, and meantime the
usual Giunta (Zonta) of twenty nobles was elected, as
in cases of great gravity. It was further proposed
that the Senate should be kept sitting in perman-
ence till the Ten had reached a resolution, but
this was modified to the administration of the oath
of secrecy as regards the letters read in Senate and
as regards the convocation of the Ten with the Zonta?
This shows that the information on which they were
acting had been communicated first to the Senate, and
that it was the Senate who had set the Ten in motion.
On March 29 the Ten despatched their secretary,
Giovanni de Imperiis, to Brescia, with an invitation
to Carmagnola to come to Venice that they might
consult on the operations of the spring; upon the
doubts and difficulties connected therewith they en-
large, with a view to concealing their real intent. The
secretary is also to say that they have invited the
Marquis of Mantua to meet the general. Carmagnola

1 Battistella, op. cit. p. 339 and doc. xxxviii.

* The documents are quoted by Cibrario, op. cit. pp. 53-72. " Quod
consilium rogatorum licentietur sed mandetur omnibus sub pena
haveris et persone quod teneant secretas litteras in dicto consilio et
similiter convocatum huius consilii de Decem ac additionem datam
dicto consilio." The first dicto refers to the Senate, the second dicto
to the Ten,


is begged to come as soon as possible. If Giovanni
succeeds in persuading the count to set out, he is to
accompany him and advise the Ten of the day of
arrival; should the general, however, show signs of
refusal, Giovanni, in order to allay suspicion, is to
say that he will take the count's views and forward
them home, but he is secretly to convey orders to
the governors to arrest Carmagnola and his wife, and
to sequestrate all letters, papers, and money, of which
an inventory is to be drawn up. On his arrival at
Venice the count is to be arrested forthwith. It
was further resolved, in view of Carmagnola's pos-
sible escape on the road to Venice, that all the
officials along the route should be ordered to seize
him if he made the attempt. Letters were directed
to all general officers in Venetian service to explain
the arrest of Carmagnola, and absolute silence was
imposed on the members of the Ten, they being for-
bidden to discuss the matter, even among themselves,
outside the council chamber. The brief letter to the
count himself, begging him to give the secretary fidem
plenariam tanquam nobis propriis, was then drafted, and
with it and his instructions Giovanni de Imperiis set
out for Brescia. He seems to have found no diffi-
culty in persuading Carmagnola to come to Venice.
On April 6 he set out apparently with a perfectly clear
conscience; at least he showed no disposition to refuse
or to escape, as the Ten had conjectured that he might.
As a sign of the highest regard, the Governors of
Brescia escorted him on the road till they met
the escort despatched from Verona, and so on from
city to city till he reached the lagoons. Carmagnola
took it all in good faith and never suspected that
he was really a prisoner. On the night of the 6th
he slept in the palace of the Venetian official Federico
Contarini. Next day he was brought down the
Brenta to the lagoons, 1 and on landing in Venice he

1 Arch, di Sfato, Collegio Notatorio, reg. 8, 1424-39, fol. 109,
" solvuntur pro tribus barchis missis obviam Comiti, L n, soldi 16."


was met by eight nobles, who at once conducted
him to the ducal palace. His escort was dismissed
while he went upstairs. Presently he was told that
the doge was indisposed, but would receive him
the next day. He turned and went downstairs ; but
as he passed along the lower arcade, out of which
the prisons opened, one of the gentlemen about him
said, " This way, if you please, my lord count."
"But that is not the way," replied Carmagnola.
" Pardon, it is the right way," and at that moment
he was hurried into prison. As the door closed on
him he exclaimed, " I am a lost man."

On the same day, April 7, after the arrest, notice
was given to the Governors of Brescia and to Fantino
Michiel and Paolo Correr, envoys at Ferrara. These
letters contain the statement of the Ten as to the
cause of the arrest, and we shall deal with them
when discussing the nature of Carmagnola's guilt.
Further, orders were sent to Dandolo Garzoni,
provveditore at Brescia, to proceed at once to Car-
magnola's fief of Chiari and to take it over in the
name of the Republic ; the oath of fidelity was to be
exacted from the troops under Carmagnola's imme-
diate personal command. Both these orders were
carried out without the smallest opposition. Car-
magnola's horses, which he had left behind in Padua,
were also sequestrated.

On the 8th the Senate, not the Ten, wrote to
their envoy at Florence, Ermolao Donato, giving
the reasons for the action taken against Carmagnola,
the grounds being that under his command " nihil
factum fuit nee fieri voluit contra inimicum," and
further " cum eis intelligentiam habuit ducendo sub
simulationem rem in longum et querendo subvertere
statum nostrum sicut clare detectum est." 1

On the pth the trial began. It was a strictly legal
trial, following meticulously the prescribed procedure
(n/0) of the Ten. A commission of eight members
1 Romanin, of cit. iv. p. 159, note I.


was elected from among the Ten to draw up the
charges against the count and to report, and was
empowered to use torture in their examination of
Carmagnola, of his chancellor, Giovanni de Moris, or
any other who might seem to have had art or part in
the proceedings of the general. Among those arrested
and sent to Venice from Brescia were a woman known
as "la Bella," and the count's household servants. The
countess was also brought to Venice, along with all
Carmagnola's correspondence.

The commission at once proceeded to their task.
Carmagnola was examined under torture l of fire
applied to his feet, his injured arm preventing the
application of the cord. He confessed " at once," and
his confession was committed to writing and read
over to him. What it contained we do not know.
The document has disappeared. On the nth Holy
Week began, and the trial was suspended. It was
resumed on the 23rd, and to make up for lost time the
commission was ordered to sit day and night. The
count's correspondence was examined. What was
found in it we do not gather from official documents ;
but a large number of the better authorities, including
Sanudo, the anonymous chronicle edited by Porro,
S. Antonino, and others, are agreed that compromising
letters and papers were discovered. It is pretty certain
that the countess, "la Bella," the servants, and an officer
called Moccino da Lugo were also heard as witnesses.
We do not know precisely what evidence they gave ;
Moccino's must have been hostile, if we can trust the
passage in Spino's Life of Colleoni : * " E per lettere di

Online LibraryHoratio F. (Horatio Forbes) BrownStudies in the history of Venice (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 31)