I shall give an instance of this which occurred recently in our own country. In the year 1498, when the Florentines had a great army in the territory of Pisa and had closely invested the town, the Venetians, who had undertaken its protection, seeing no other way to save it, resolved to make a diversion in its favour by attacking the territories of the Florentines in another quarter. Wherefore, having assembled a strong force, they entered Tuscany by the Val di Lamona, and seizing on the village of Marradi, besieged the stronghold of Castiglione which stands on the height above it. Getting word of this, the Florentines sought to relieve Marradi, without weakening the army which lay round Pisa. They accordingly raised a new levy of foot-soldiers, and equipped a fresh squadron of horse, which they despatched to Marradi under the joint command of Jacopo IV. d’Appiano, lord of Piombino, and Count Rinuccio of Marciano. These troops taking up their position on the hill above Marradi, the Venetians withdrew from the investment of Castiglione and lodged themselves in the village. But when the two armies had confronted one another for several days, both began to suffer sorely from want of victuals and other necessaries, and neither of them daring to attack the other, or knowing to what extremities the other was reduced, both simultaneously resolved to strike their camps the following morning, and to retreat, the Venetians towards Berzighella and Faenza, the Florentines towards Casaglia and the Mugello. But at daybreak, when both armies had begun to remove their baggage, it so happened that an old woman, whose years and poverty permitted her to pass unnoticed, leaving the village of Marradi, came to the Florentine camp, where were certain of her kinsfolk whom she desired to visit. Learning from her that the Venetians were in retreat, the Florentine commanders took courage, and changing their plan, went in pursuit of the enemy as though they had dislodged them, sending word to Florence that they had repulsed the Venetians and gained a victory. But in truth this victory was wholly due to their having notice of the enemy’s movements before the latter had notice of theirs. For had that notice been given to the Venetians first, it would have wrought against us the same results as it actually wrought for us.
The Roman Republic was distracted by the feuds of the nobles and commons. Nevertheless, on war breaking out, Quintius and Appius Claudius were sent forth in command of Roman armies. From his harshness and severity to his soldiers, Appius was so ill obeyed by them, that after sustaining what almost amounted to a defeat, he had to resign his command. Quintius, on the contrary, by kindly and humane treatment, kept his men obedient and returned victorious to Rome. From this it might seem that to govern a large body of men, it is better to be humane than haughty, and kindly rather than severe.