European Coalition against Venice Part I

By | February 25, 2022

For the moment, the Blois pacts did not bear fruit. But the obscure diplomatic work against Venice did not cease. In 1507, darkly colored meeting of the king of France and Ferdinand the Catholic in Savona, shortly after the king of France, with the help of the Spanish fleet, had suppressed the rebellion in Genoa. The following year Maximilian, disappointed by this alliance, failed his plan to unite all the forces of Germany against France, sought compensation elsewhere, thought of taking the imperial crown in Rome, turned against Venice, which did not intend to give way to the his army. After the French and the Spaniards, the house of Austria begins to take its place among the protagonists of the Italian drama.

A serious moment for Venice! Concerns and unhappy forebodings, for trade, after the great ocean voyages had begun and the new routes to the Indies had been discovered and the new lands had been taken over. Now the armed assault of Europe begins. In 1508, Massimiliano’s war, from Trentino to Quarnaro: a war that Venice fought alone. She did not lack offers of help from Spain and France: but false offers, behind which the two kings also prepared to attack her. For Venice it was a defensive war in Carnia and Cadore, with some brilliant feats of arms on the upper Piave and much loyalty of those mountaineers to Venice; offensive warfare, albeit not with great luck, in Val d’Adige, by Niccolò Orsini from Pitigliano and, with much greater success, on the Isonzo and beyond. Here, Bartolomeo d’Alviano, who had also defended Cadore,

But these victories, if they weakened an enemy, aroused others who were waiting and were already preparing their weapons. France became, certainly not for love of Venice, a mediator of peace: and there was an armistice between Venice and the empire, in June 1508. But Maximilian’s maneuvers continued. Diplomacy intensified its work with all governments of Europe. France, already a mediator, became an ally of one of the two sides, that is, of the empire. Pope Julius II, at first a stranger to riding, then joined it. Thus, the ancient anti-Venetian agreements of Blois between France, Austria and the Holy See, which seemed to have been superseded and annulled by subsequent discords, regained force. Other powers, large and small, approached: Spain which wanted its Apulian ports back, the Hungarian crown which always thought of Dalmatia, Savoy who boasted rights over Cyprus, the Duke of Ferrara who intended to recover Polesine, the Duke of Mantua who also had something to claim. Thus, a vast coalition (Cambrai, December 10, 1508) was made possible by the common aversion and greed against Venice and by the mobilization of all Europe around the Mediterranean and Italy, such as never before, not even against the infidels, although she now proclaimed that she wanted to undertake, viribus unitis, an expedition precisely against the infidels, that is, the Turks. But it was necessary to begin, we read in the preface of the treaty, by restraining the greedy Venetians and punishing them for the offenses made against the Holy See and the powers. The Venetian state was, on paper, torn to pieces; Venice, reduced to her lagoons; the lion’s share, assigned to Massimiliano, that is Rovereto, Verona, Vicenza, Treviso, Padua, Friuli, the patriarchate of Aquileia. The French army moved first, from the Milanese. Venice, which did not lose heart and made extensive war preparations, faced him. Venetian war, of course, but fought with a certain feeling of purpose rather than Venetian, against a hereditary enemy capable of arousing a national reaction of people and princes beyond Alpe, in hatred of Venice and the Italians.

In the councils of the republic, it was proposed to inscribe  Defensio Italiae  on the flags. According to itypetravel, the Venetian troops faced the enemy shouting  Italia Italia, cry of Italian infantry in front of infantry from another country. But the Venetians were broken up at Agnadello, May 14, 1509. The Lombard cities, belonging to the republic, were then occupied. Verona, Padua, Vicenza also opened their doors. One had the impression that the last hour had struck for Venice: and everyone rushed on to the prey they were longing for. But Venice did not yield. If the nobles of the mainland almost everywhere sided with the invaders, especially the Habsburgs; people and peasants remained faithful and, here and there, rose up against them, as in Treviso against the Germans. Attached to Venice, the populations of the Alpine valleys showed themselves. Even the municipalities of Valcamonica, above Brescia, in the days of the invasion offered not only riches but  et sanguinem et animum. Maximilian besieged Padua, which the Venetians had recovered. The biggest gathering of people she had ever seen was with him. “Not only the establishment or weakness of the German empire in Italy depended on the acquisition and defense of so many cities, but also what happened to the proper city of Venice” (Guicciardini). But Padua defended itself very well. The republic wrote to the Padovans: “You all fight for justice for peace for the freedom of poor Italy, torn apart by barbarians”. Until, October 3, 1509, Maximilian, desperate for victory, took the field.

European Coalition against Venice 1