After a smooth passing of Milan, the french king Charles VIII and his 25.000 men march on south towards Rome and Naples. But first stop is Lucca, the little gem in Tuscany – which still has its city walls from the 1400-hundreds fully intact.
For a little warmup, the king decides to send a little message to Florence.
When Lucca wants to negotiate terms – Charles don’t show any interest in small talk. He’s already tired of the second thoughts and hesitations of Cardinal Rovere – who’s beginning to understand the consequences of his plot to use an invading force in his own country – to grab the papacy.
Gunpowder and cannons was still a fairly new and modern invention back then, which made the bloodshed of climbing the city walls unnecessary. And in some cases like this, made resistance very futile.
The walls of Lucca fall quickly.
Slaughter and carnage commences..
The word spreads all over Italy..
The Pope Alexander VI reconsiders his options..
Naples starts to tremble..
And the snubbed cardinal gets very cold feet, running ahead to Florence to negiotiate a peaceful surrender and passage for the french.
spurs the french terms of 400.000 ducats, demanding no resistance and one hostage from each of the big families of Florence.
The King feels no reason to be modest after the italian city-states had proven so unable to co-operate for security, and easily sold each other out for personal amibition and old rivalries.
Cardinal Rovere briefly stalls for a second, then lays flat and rides to Florence.. with a new set of rules for the war.
And to Machiavellis disgust – the ruler Piero II di Medici quickly surrenders everything at whatever terms the frenh have. The news of Lucca clouds his judgement – and the French are given an unconditional welcome into the city-state of Florence.
Well, almost. Machiavelli tricks Charles VIII into riding into the city with his lance backwards. First upwards to avoid the symbol of conquest, then backwards becase the city gate proved too low for the lance. A small victory for the statesman in the midst of all the humiliating events..