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TitleRanke, History of the Latin and Teutonic Nations
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Page 246

both armies marched backwards and forwards for a while,
intently observing each other, until Gonzalvo threw a bridge
across at Sessa, and, under cover of his guns, which
mounted on barks swept the river, actually succeeded in
gaining the opposite bank. As soon as he had crossed, a
battle began, in which Gonzalvo fought on foot, and a
Spanish ensign who had lost his right arm exclaimed


"Have I not still the left?" and again seized the standard.
In this encounter the French held the bridge and the head
of the bridge, but they never advanced a step further. 1

But the opposing armies were not kept apart so much
by the river, although it actually separated their camps, as
by the swampy ground on either bank —for the season was
very wet, and the country as far as Mondragone almost one
great morass. Some of the Spaniards kept the outer lines
of the trench they had dug ; the rest were encamped under
huts made from oak trees. 2 The French endeavoured to find
shelter in the neighbouring villages, at all events for their
horses; the Swiss companies lay alternately in the camp
and in the same villages. Both armies were in need of
provisions, money, and clothes. 3 This depressing state of
things resulted in the very reverse of the merry war before
Barletta. Words of abuse were heard more than the ring
of arms. The Spaniards were abused for their stealing
and hanging proclivities ; the French were called drunkards


the Swiss were called cattle-vultures, and the Germans
"Schmocher; " whilst the Italians were called " Bougres." 4

The question was, which of the two would hold out the
longer. Gonzaga, hearing himself called " Bougre " by
the French, and all disaster attributed to him, would no
longer tolerate this want of discipline, and so drew up an
account of his operations, and after having it signed by his
captains, left the army. Gonzalvo, on the other hand, who
was beset by his bravest officers, stating that they could not
and would not endure this state of affairs any longer,

1 Jovii Gonsalvus, 263. Petrus Martyr, 261. Zurita, 313 f.
Passero, 141.

2 Machiavelli, Legaz. a. c. d. R. 316, 342, 382.
3 Caracciolus, Vita Spinelli, 52.
4 Zurita.

Page 247

replied : " Rather a step forwards to death, than one back-
wards to victory," and so held out. 1

At length the enemy crossed over and attacked. On
the 29th December, 1503, Gonzalvo made an onslaught
upon the French bridge, and a simultaneous attack upon
their camp with his main army, which, with Alviano's assist-
ance, he had been enabled to bring across the river. This
battle decided the fate of the kingdom. Bayard fought like
a hero, but all in vain ; the French disorganization was too
great, and the onslaught of the Spaniards overwhelming.
Gonzalvo was victorious on both banks. In Gaeta, too,
whither French had at first fled, the Spanish standard was
flying by the 3rd January, 1504. The French were obliged
to retreat homewards ; many by sea—the ships set sail as
soon as they were filled, none waited for the other —the rest
by land ; the latter said to Gonzalvo : " Give us strong
horses to bring us back again." 2

Yet this favour was not to be their's so readily. The
superiority of the Spaniards was due to their greater
proximity, owing to the possession of Sicily, between which
and Naples existed an old natural alliance, as well as to the
prudent and cautious treatment of the factions opposing one
another in the south of Italy; for this was Gonzalvo'


peculiar merit, that he controlled different factions and
nations by the deep respect in which he was held, as might
be seen in the manner in which he succeeded in uniting
Colonna and Orsini in one and the same camp. He did
not spare his enemy. The remainder of the Angevin army
in the Abruzzi and Otranto was vanquished by Morgan and
Pedro de la Paz ; the Marquisates of Bitonto and Salerno
were seized, and many barons dispossessed. 3 Gonzalvo
rewarded his captains, including those of the Orsini family,
with the estates of those thus expelled, and ruled the
kingdom entirely in the spirit of the Aragonese party.

At the same time, the French and Spanish forces were
opposing each other, not only on the Neapolitan frontier,

1 Ferronus, Rerum Gallic, lib. iii. pp. 70, 71.
2 Sabellicus, Euneades, 12, 2. Bayard, Guicciardini, 330. Jovii

Gonsalvus, 267. Zurita, 315--317.
3 Treaty in Dumont, iv. 1, 52. Zurita, 321.

Page 491




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