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Europe (c.1400-1458)

Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini

Publication Year: 2013

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-x


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-2

One of the most rewarding aspects of this project has been to witness again and again the generosity of colleagues around the world. Many of the individuals who kindly assisted us were scholars we had met or knew well, but just as many were strangers to us before the project began—known only by their fine work and...

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pp. 3-48

Few words are as powerful or as controversial as “Europe.” It signifies a continent, a historical phenomenon, an economic or political force, and an ideological concept with vast cultural influence. Moreover, within each of these categories, a multitude of interpretations and definitions exist. Despite...

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Dedication Letter

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pp. 49-50

To Antonio, called Lérida, presbyter cardinal of the Holy Roman Church and his most reverend father, Aeneas, cardinal of Siena, a man of equal rank but unequal merit, sends warmest greetings.1
When I had an attack of the gout recently and was suffering from my customary joint pains,2 a German bookseller3 came to me with...

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1. Hungary

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pp. 51-64

As briefly as I can, I wish to record for posterity what, to my knowledge, were the most memorable deeds accomplished among the Europeans and the islanders who are counted as Christian during the reign of Emperor Frederick III. I will also include earlier material from time to time, when the explanation of places and...

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2. Transylvania, Valachia

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pp. 64-68

14. TRANSYLVANIA is a region situated beyond the Danube which was once inhabited by the Dacians—a fierce people, famous for many defeats inflicted on the Romans. It is inhabited in our time by three races: the Germans, Székelys, and Vlachs.
The Germans stem from Saxony. They are brave men, well versed in war, who...

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3. Thrace, Romania, Constantinople

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pp. 69-72

18. NOW THAT I have discussed the Vlachs and Hungarians, I turn my attention to the Thracians and their affairs. Thrace, according to most authors, including the more distinguished, is a spacious country which extends over a broad area. It is bordered by the Black Sea and the Propontis in the east; the Aegean Sea, the...

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4. Origin and History of the Turks

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pp. 72-78

20. I NOTE that many writers of our time, not only orators or poets but even historians, are ensnared in the error of referring to the Turks as “Trojans.”88 I believe they are influenced by the fact that the Turks occupy Troy, which was inhabited by the Trojans. But the Trojans originated in Crete and Italy. The Turkish race is...

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5. The Battle of Varna (The Turkish Wars [5–8])

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pp. 79-89

26. HAVING come this far, I would like to trace the activities of this man to their conclusion. When the fighting ended badly at the Battle of Varna, which I will describe a little later,120 Hunyadi fled and retreated into Serbia. Learning of his arrival, George went to meet him, intercepted him en route, and, as if he were an...

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6. The Battle of Kosovo

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pp. 90-93

33. A LONG period of time then elapsed in which neither the Hungarians nor the Turks took it upon themselves to challenge the other in combat; the calamity each had experienced kept them at home in a state of shock. The bloody battle of Varna had shattered the strength of both sides, and neither the Turks nor the Hungarians...

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7. The Fall of Constantinople

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pp. 93-100

36. THUS it transpired that, after the death of Murad, Mehmed took up the helm of state as he had desired. He reformed the institutions of his ancestors to suit his temperament, proclaimed his own laws at home and abroad, enriched the treasury, contrived new taxes, increased the size of his forces, and began to vent his rage and...

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8. The Battle of Belgrade

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pp. 101-103

44. HALIL PASHA, who, much to Mehmed’s displeasure had stayed alive until that day, was wretchedly tortured to death on the pretext of having betrayed the plans of the Turks to Emperor Constantine. The great wealth that he had amassed is said to have caused his destruction, together with his recall of Murad to the throne...

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9. Macedonia, Thessaly

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pp. 103-106

47. ADJOINING THRACE, and extending in a westerly and southern direction, is Macedonia, which once ruled the world. It lies between two seas, the Aegean and the Adriatic. Its southern flank is protected by the rear of Thessaly and Magnesia. Its northern part is bordered by Paeonia and...

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10. Boeotia

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p. 106-106

49. NEXT after Thessaly comes Boeotia, which stretches from east to west, touching both the Euboean Sea and the Gulf of Crisa. It is mentioned by almost all historians owing to the fame of Thebes. Here is the birthplace of the Muses in the grove of Helicon, here the glades of Cithaeron, the river Ismenus and the springs of...

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11. Attica

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p. 107-107

50. NEXT comes Hellas, which our countrymen call Greece. The ancients called it Acte, which means “coast”; then, through an alteration of the name, they called it Attica.204 Homer referred to all the inhabitants of Attica as Athenians, since Megara had not yet been built. However, the part of it which is called the Megarid makes...

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12. The Peloponnese, the Isthmus, Achaea

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pp. 108-111

51. THE PELOPONNESE is connected to Attica.208 It was once called the acropolis of all Greece. For in addition to the distinction and power of the peoples who inhabit it, its very topography marks it out for hegemony and power. It contains many gulfs and many capes as well as large and remarkable peninsulas, which are delightful...

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13. Acarnania

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p. 111-111

55. THE FIRST place one comes to is Acarnania, which lies between Epirus and Boeotia and seems to join or blend with Aetolia. Today it is called a duchy. Giovanni Ventimiglia, a native Sicilian, gave his daughter in marriage to the despot of Acarnania. When the Turks were harassing Acarnania and besieged his son-in-law, he...

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14. Epirus

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pp. 111-113

56. ON ITS western frontier, Epirus begins at the Acroceraunian Mountains and extends eastward for one thousand three hundred stades to the Ambracian Gulf.223 Ptolemy reports that in the north it adjoins Macedonia, in the east, Achaea, as far as the mouth of the Achelous River; its western side, he states, is bordered by the...

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15. Albania

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pp. 113-114

57. WHAT IS now called Albania was once the part of Macedonia which faced west. As I have recorded, it was the site of Dyrrachium and Apollonia—cities not without fame in antiquity. The language of the nation is intelligible neither to the Greeks nor to the Illyrians. I believe that this race of people once came from the Albania which...

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16. The Illyrian Nations, Bosnia

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pp. 115-116

58. AFTER Albania come the Illyrian nations, which look toward the west and the north. In our time, we refer to this race of people as Slavs. Some are called Bosnians, some Dalmatians, others Croatians, Istrians, and Carnians. Bosnia slopes inland toward Pannonia and looks to the north. The other peoples border on the...

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17. Dalmatia, Croatia, Liburnia

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pp. 116-117

60. IN DALMATIA, Stephen, the ruler of a duchy between Bosnia and Dalmatia who had been infected with the poison of the Manichees, inflicted great casualties on the people of Ragusa. Although this man had often ambushed Christians and sold them to the Turks, he had the gall to send emissaries to Rome and seek...

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18. Istria

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pp. 117-118

62. THE ANCIENTS assigned Istria to Italy. It contains Porec, Pula, and Iustinopolis, which they call Capodistria.248 However, to include it with Italy is inappropriate, since it is separated from it by a gulf of the Adriatic and, like a peninsula, surrounded by sea where it joins the mainland. To its rear is a rocky and mountainous...

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19. Carniola

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p. 119-119

63. NEXT after the Istrians come the Carnians, with whom the Iapidians are numbered. However, the Slavs, whose language dominates the region, divide the Carnians in half and say that Carniola has two parts.254 One is dry and sparsely watered, and here they locate the Istrians and Carsians, who inhabit the mountains between...

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20. Carinthia

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pp. 120-123

64. CARINTHIA, which also is a mountainous region, lies next to Carniola and adjoins Styria to the east and north; to the west and south it borders on the Italian Alps and Friuli. It contains many valleys and hills that are fertile in wheat, many lakes, and many rivers, of which the foremost is the Drava, which is no smaller than the Sava...

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21. Styria

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pp. 124-127

68. STYRIA, which I find was once called Valeria, is neighbor to Pannonia in the east; its northern side faces Austria, and to the west and south it borders on the Carnians and Carinthians. This, too, is a mountainous country, though its eastern tract contains large plains. The famous Drava and Mur rivers irrigate its land; the Mur...

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22. Austria

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pp. 127-134

72. I THINK it unnecessary to describe Austria here, since I have published a history devoted to it.274 After the death of Emperor Albert, the people of this country entrusted themselves to Frederick with the stipulation that, if the pregnant queen gave birth to a male child, he would be its guardian; if a female, he would become ruler...

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23. Moravia

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pp. 135-136

84. HEADING northward through Austria, one arrives among the Moravians, a fierce race, avid for plunder, who dwell on the other side of the Danube between the Hungarians and Bohemians. In our day, Emperor Sigismund made a gift of this country to his son-in-law Albert, who succeeded him as...

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24. Silesia

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pp. 136-138

85. AFTER Moravia, next comes Silesia—a country of no small renown, through which flows the Oder, one of Germany’s most famous rivers. Its source is in Hungary, which lies on the eastern border of Silesia, and its course ends at the Baltic Sea. This land is about two hundred miles in length and eighty miles in...

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25. Poland

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pp. 138-141

86. POLAND is a vast region which lies next to Silesia in the west and borders the Hungarians, Lithuanians, and Prussians. The capital city of the kingdom is Kraków, which contains a flourishing school of the liberal arts. Zbigniew presided over this city, a bishop notable for his literary erudition and charming personality. I...

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26. Lithuania

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pp. 141-147

89. LITHUANIA, which is also an extensive region, adjoins Poland in the east and is almost entirely covered in bogs and forests. The leader of this land was Vytautus, the brother of Wladyslaw II, who abandoned the cult of many gods and received the sacrament of Christ along with the throne of Poland. The name of Vytautus...

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27. Ruthenia

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p. 147-147

94. THE RUTHENIANS,326 whom Strabo appears to call Roxanians,327 border on the Lithuanians. They are a rough and barbarous race, among whom Cardinal Isidore of Santa Sabina, whom I mentioned previously, secured a wealthy diocese.328 In this nation, there is said to be a huge city called Novgorod, which German merchants...

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28. Livonia

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pp. 147-148

95. NEXT IS Livonia, the most distant of the Christian countries, which borders on the Ruthenians to the north. It is often invaded by the Tartars, who have suffered bloody defeats there in our time. The Teutonic Brothers of St. Mary conquered this country and forced...

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29. Prussia: The Teutonic Brothers

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pp. 148-156

96. RETURNING from Livonia to Germany along the shore of the Baltic Sea, the next people one encounters after the Samogitians are the Prussians. They inhabit both banks of the Vistula River, which forms the boundary between Sarmatia and Germany...

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30. The Saxon Nation, Pomerania

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pp. 156-158

104. NEXT after Prussia comes the nation of the Saxons, a powerful and widely distributed people, whose western boundary is the Weser River. Most have been of the opinion that the Saxons extend as far as the Rhine.353 The zone to their north is occupied by the Danes and the Baltic Sea, and the Franconians, Bavarians, and...

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31. Thuringia, Halberstadt

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pp. 158-160

106. IN THURINGIA is the famous town of Erfurt, which is the capital of this region; it lies under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Mainz and is famous for its schools of the liberal arts. There is also the small city of Naumburg, which is subject to the duke of Saxony. All these towns use the law and language of the Saxons and follow...

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32. Brunswick, Saxony

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pp. 160-165

108. BRUNSWICK is a large and populous town renowned throughout Germany. It is fortified with walls and ditches, together with high towers and ramparts. Its houses are grand, its streets elegant, and its churches large and richly decorated. It possesses five...

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33. Denmark, Norway, Sweden

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pp. 165-170

115. AT THIS point, since Denmark lies next to Saxony, I have decided to record some noteworthy facts about the kingdom of Denmark and its neighboring regions to the north before I attend to the remaining parts of Germany.382 Extending northward, there...

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34. Bohemia

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pp. 170-171

118. THE GEOGRAPHICAL order of places would now require me to take up the deeds of the Bohemians and describe their location, for they border the Saxons in the south. Many things of note have happened among them in the present age; many battles have been fought there and much blood spilled; cities have been razed...

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35. Frisia

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pp. 171-172

119. THE FRISIANS, who live next to the ocean, border on Saxony to the east and Westphalia to the south; in the west they adjoin the territory of Utrecht (though the people of Utrecht, too, are alleged to be Frisians by many authors, including Otto, bishop of Freising, who wrote a history of Germany that is not without...

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36. Holland, Utrecht, Dordrecht, Westphalia

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pp. 173-179

120. HOLLAND, which is also a German country, is washed by the ocean on its northern edge; the rest of it is cut off by branches of the Rhine River, which form an island. It is marshy, rich in pasture, and interspersed with numerous lakes and inlets of the sea.412 Some say that the famous city of Utrecht is located in Holland. To me, it...

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37. Hesse

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pp. 179-180

129. BETWEEN Westphalia and Franconia lies Hesse, a mountainous region which stretches north from the Rhine and joins Thuringia. The ruler of the nation, Landgrave Ludwig, was invited to become emperor in our time, but he said that he was unequal to so heavy a burden and preferred to rule efficiently the small realm...

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38. The Franks

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pp. 180-186

130. AFTER this comes Franconia, a decidedly well-known and very powerful region, which was named after the Franks who settled there. In fact, the Franks were originally Trojans, who, after the destruction of Troy, followed the leadership of Priam, the nephew of Priam the Great on his sister’s side, and made their way...

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39. Franconia

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pp. 186-191

135. FRANCONIA, as it is understood in our time, borders on the Swabians and Bavarians in the south, the Rhine in the west, and the Bohemians and Thuringians in the east; the Thuringians also adjoin it to the north, along with the Hessians. A river of no little renown called the Main flows through the land. Ptolemy seems to call...

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40. Bavaria, The Palatinate, Swabia

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pp. 191-195

139. BAVARIA abuts the northeast of Franconia and a part of its southern border.475 It, too, is an extensive and wealthy land. In the south, it is bordered by the Italian Alps; the Swabians lie to its west, the Austrians and Bohemians, to its east.476 The Danube flows roughly through its center. Some have set the Enns River as...

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41. The Margravate of Baden, the Tyrol, Switzerland

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pp. 196-197

145. IN THE margravate of Baden, the ruler was Jakob, a man whose reputation for justice and wisdom made him celebrated among the Germans. Because it pained him that the only thing he lacked for human happiness was a knowledge of letters, he compelled the children whom he had fathered with his lawful wife to...

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42. Alsace, the Vogtland, Savoy, Arles

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pp. 197-201

148. IN ALSACE, which was once called Helvetia, a country formerly under French but now German rule, Louis, the dauphin of Vienne,496 led almost the whole French army into the territory of Basel and struck great fear into the people of that city. The Swiss, in accordance with a treaty of alliance, sent four thousand soldiers...

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43. France

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pp. 201-208

155. WHEN Count Jean of Armagnac was stricken with an incestuous passion for his sister and tried to marry her, King Charles of France judged him worthy to be expelled by force from his father’s inheritance.512
156. In the kingdom of France itself, it happened in our time that a young girl from Lorraine named Jeanne, following instructions...

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44. Ghent

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pp. 208-209

163. IN FLANDERS, the people of Ghent revolted against Duke Philip of Burgundy and were defeated in several battles. In the end, after losing over twenty thousand of their citizens in one battle, they admitted their error, surrendered to Philip, and accepted the victor’s...

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45. England

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pp. 209-211

165. I HAVE reached a place from which the crossing to England is very short, for the sea which flows between Flanders and England is no more than thirty miles wide. Now that I have completed my account of France, it would be fitting to cross the sea and record as briefly as possible the changes that took place in England, once...

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46. Scotland, Ireland

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pp. 211-212

166. SCOTLAND is the farthest tip of the island that contains England; it faces north and is separated from England by rivers of no great size and a mountain range. I was there in the winter, when the sun lit the earth for little more than three hours a day...

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47. Spain, Castile, Navarre, Portugal

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pp. 212-216

169. THE HUGE expanse of Spain, a land powerful in men and arms which bears comparison with the very best, is distributed among five kings at the present time. They call the king of Castile the first and greatest of these; next to him, the king of Aragon; in third place, the king of Portugal; in fourth, the king of Navarre; the king...

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48. Italy: Genoa

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pp. 216-219

174. NOW THAT I have traversed the furthest bounds of Europe and covered as much of the north as I had planned, I finally return to my homeland. Since I am faced with the task of recording new developments in Italy, I think I should certainly begin with the city whose constant revolutions are an object of amazement to both...

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49. Italy: Milan

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pp. 219-231

177. AMONG the northern Italians and in the world-famous city of Milan, Duke Filippo Maria, who had once brought Genoa beneath his sway, married the daughter of Duke Amedeo of Savoy.574
178. Filippo defeated the mighty King Alfonso in a naval battle, together with his two brothers—one the king of Navarre, the other...

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50. Italy: Venice

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pp. 231-233

191. AMONG the Venetians, who wield enormous power by land and sea and have made the name of Italy famous among foreign622 nations far and wide, the son of the doge Francesco Foscari623 was driven into exile on the grounds of plotting against the state. Subsequently recalled, he was charged again with suspicion of crime...

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51. Italy: Mantua

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p. 234-234

194. LUDOVICO, marquis of Mantua, a man of considerable fame among the rulers of our generation, who is both cultured and experienced in military matters, sided with Francesco Sforza in the war with the Venetians after he had seized sovereignty over Milan, giving a great boost to Sforza’s...

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52. Italy: Ferrara

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pp. 235-236

195. IN FERRARA, Niccolò d’Este died—the most fortunate of all the rulers of our generation had he, once upon a time, not been forced to take vengeance for his wife’s adultery, not only on her but his dearly beloved son.640 Leonello then took power, a peaceable ruler who was well versed in literature and devoted to...

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53. Italy: Bologna

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pp. 237-241

199. BOLOGNA may be called not so much the mother of learning as the nurse of sedition—the twin sister of Genoa, consistent only in its inconsistency. When it had violently evicted the faction of the Zambeccari and many of the citizens, it began to be governed by a general council of the Canetoli and...

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54. Italy: Florence, Lucca, San Casciano

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pp. 241-251

204. FLORENCE, a city built on the banks of the Arno from the ruins of Fiesole, was called Fluentia by the ancients. Founded under lucky auspices, it began to outstrip the neighboring cities all around it and to extend its power with extraordinary success, whereupon the name of Florentia became much more appropriate than...

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55. Italy: Siena

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pp. 251-255

217. THE CITY of Siena, which is my own place of origin, today holds the second place in Tuscany. It is located in a delightful spot and, if I can be trusted, has a population which is neither coarse nor unsophisticated. Its rulers, after pushing aside the nobility (which in that city was renowned throughout Italy) and crushing the party...

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56. Italy: Piombino

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pp. 255-258

223. THE FAMOUS town of Piombino is thought to have been built from the ruins of Populonia; some think it should be called Populino. It is situated on the shore of the Tuscan Sea opposite the island of Elba, whose inexhaustible deposits of iron provide the lord of Piombino with a large annual revenue. The ruler of this town was...

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57. Italy: Viterbo

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p. 258-258

227. IN VITERBO, there were great upheavals. For, during the papacy of Nicholas V, Princivalle Gatti, the ruler of that city, was set upon and murdered by his enemies at Lago di Vico while returning from Rome.723 Then, during the papacy of Calixtus III, his nephew Guglielmo was killed at home during the...

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58. Italy: Rome

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pp. 259-273

228. AT LONG LAST, I am faced with the affairs of the city of Rome, which call for their own narrative. I will try to do them justice while adhering to my principle of brevity.
In Rome, Giovanni Vitelleschi—patriarch of Alexandria, cardinal, legate, governor of the Patrimony of St. Peter, and commander...

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59. Italy: Umbria, the Marches

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pp. 274-283

246. IN UMBRIA, which is now contained787 within the duchy of Spoleto, few cities were free from internal discord. Norcia, once the homeland of Quintus Sertorius,788 has only recently enjoyed a respite from repeated disruption by the intrigues of the Guelph party. Narni, which is ringed by a white river with sulfurous waters...

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60. Italy: Ascoli Piceno

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pp. 283-284

254. IN ASCOLI, Giosia, a son of noble parents who was still a youth, entered into a conspiracy with a few others and, taking him by surprise, murdered Francesco Sforza’s brother Giovanni, a young man of great spirit who had admirably defended that city throughout the duration of the...

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61. Italy: Urbino

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pp. 284-285

255. IN URBINO, Oddantonio, the people’s duke and son of a most noble mother from the Colonna family, was killed in a popular uprising after running wild in his lust for noble matrons and setting no limit to his wanton behavior.822 The promoter of his wickedness and corruptor of his youth was the apostolic protonotary...

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62. Italy: Rimini

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pp. 285-286

256. IN RIMINI, a city of Emilia, Sigismondo Malatesta, a man notorious for his crimes, held power.827 After uniting in marriage with Francesco Sforza’s daughter, he supported Francesco’s side in the war in the Marches for some time, then served under the church. He campaigned in the north against the Venetians and in...

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63. Italy: Faenza, Fabriano

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pp. 286-287

257. IN FAENZA, on the death of Guidantonio, of whom there are reported many illustrious feats in war, his brother Astorre,831 who was also well-known as a soldier, seized the rulership. Because he campaigned for the Florentines against the king, he was declared an enemy by Alfonso, just like Sigismondo, and excluded...

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64. Italy: Aquila

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pp. 287-288

259. IN AQUILA, a city of the Marsians,834 it happened within living memory that the much-feared general Braccio of Perugia died after besieging the city for a year and being defeated by the army of the blessed Pope Martin V.835 Saint Bernardino of Siena, having traveled throughout Italy preaching the name of...

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65. Italy: Naples

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pp. 288-310

261. LET ME now enter the kingdom of Naples and turn my pen to the prosperous and amazing career of Alfonso.839
After the unsuccessful naval war which he waged against the Genoese, Fortune seemed to have recognized her error in thwarting so great a leader and, changing her step-motherly hatred into...


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pp. 311-316


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pp. 317-334


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pp. 335-356

E-ISBN-13: 9780813221830
E-ISBN-10: 0813221838
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813221823
Print-ISBN-10: 081322182X

Page Count: 376
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1