Thus, France in the Po Valley and in Genoa; Spain in the South. The two monarchies are now the arbiter of the situation. The equilibrium of the Italian states has been replaced by the equilibrium of France and Spain in Italy and, in a certain sense, in Europe. Of decisive value, for Spain, had been the ancient possession of Sicily, a true bridgehead on the peninsula. Naples, which was the largest Italian state, and Milan, which was the most reputed of the new principalities, are on the ground. And the prestige, the political credit of the Florentine state, after 1494, is also wounded, also due to the serious moral and institutional crisis that takes its name from Girolamo Savonarola. There is a moment that even the State of the Church seems destined to succumb. There, Cesare Borgia very much exploiting the need in which the two major contenders, France and Spain, found themselves, of buying Italian solidarity, in the year 1500 he threw himself into recovering, nominally for the Church, actually for himself, Romagna, of which the pope appointed him duke. And he rid that region, and then also Marche and Umbria, from the lords who ruled over it. He looked even further, Tuscany, where Siena was not against him, Pisa even offered itself to him. But in Tuscany Florence resisted; the same friend France opposed, she who wanted to free that road to Rome and Naples. And partly because of this French opposition, partly because in the meantime the Spanish actions were rising again in the kingdom, after Cerignola and Seminara, the Borgias, who now seem to have fixed themselves in the idea of Tuscany, recollected, albeit without compromising themselves too much, to Spain. The Pope’s death, Caesar’s illness, they precipitated these dynastic ambitions and caused some other wounds to the State of the Church, since the Venetians, taking advantage of the Borgian and French crisis, also took other cities in Romagna, as in Puglia. The purchase of Faenza in 1503 was especially important for Venice, which was also seeking to have Pisa, which was, at the mouth of the Lamone valley, almost the gateway to Tuscany: indeed, for Machiavelli, the gateway to all Italy or the ruin for Venice.
And truly a cloud was beginning to thicken over the republic, after so much of its growth in the midst of the ruin of others, indeed after so much concurrence given to the ruin of others. Great discontent in the curia against Venice. Julius II, now rising to the pontificate full of good intentions for the religion and peace of Italy, intended this religion and peace above all as the freedom and strength of the Holy See, as the restoration of the State of the Church, as an impediment to all hegemony, in Italy, it does not matter whether of Italian or foreign potentates. And he immediately turned to retrieve his. By now, aut aut: either the popes became lords of their state definitively or the state was definitively falling apart, with so many greed swirling around it, encouraged by the same moral secularization that it had suffered, in the previous age, as a result of the unscrupulous politics and the nepotistic purposes of the popes. Thus, what Sixtus IV and Alexander VI had believed they were doing and partly done through relatives, and to the advantage perhaps more of the relatives than of the Church, Julius II proposed to do it directly, to give the papacy absolute “freedom” against anyone. After all, he continued the work of Cesare Borgia, who had begun to hit those turbulent Umbrian, Marche and Romagna dynasties very hard, to crumble those staters, to establish a certain confidence among the troubled populations in a strong central power. Thus Julius II was the first true and greatest founder of the Papal State. He energetically requested from Venice the restitution of the Romagna cities and castles, declaring that, to protect the rights of the Holy See, he would also turn to France and Spain. Indeed, he mixed and presided in 1504 the rapprochement between Louis XII and Maximilian of Habsburg, an ancient enemy of the French, especially now after the conquest of Milan, but no less and even more an enemy of Venice, and now aimed at detaching the French from the Venetians . In March 1504, according to medicinelearners.com, armistice between the two sovereigns, Valois and Habsburg; in September, again with the intervention of the pontiff, the Blois pacts, which reaffirmed the right of the king of the Romans over the duchy of Milan, but the king of France invested with it, and the conquest and partition of the Venetian state was agreed, for the benefit of the Milanese and those who had a right to it, of the empire, of the Church. Venice, to thwart the threat, gave some lands to the pope: but the minor ones, keeping instead Cervia, rich in salt marshes, Ravenna, Faenza, Rimini, which gave it control of important waterways and land. The pope was satisfied by then, but continued his work in other directions. What they had taken from ecclesiastical lands was returned by the Florentines; he chased Baglioni from Perugia and Bentivoglio from Bologna, the two major centers of the state after Rome, overcoming every obstacle, creating accomplished facts, with rapid procedures that must have pleased Machiavelli a lot.