They therefore resolved to attack the count at all events, and early the next morning commenced their assault upon a point which was least defended. At the first charge, as commonly happens in a surprise, Francesco’s whole army was thrown into dismay. Order, however, was soon so completely restored by the count, that the enemy, after various efforts to gain the outworks, were repulsed and put to flight; and so entirely routed, that of twelve thousand horse only one thousand escaped the hands of the Milanese, who took possession of all the carriages and military stores; nor had the Venetians ever before suffered such a thorough rout and overthrow. Among the plunder and prisoners, crouching down, as if to escape observation, was found a Venetian commissary, who, in the course of the war and before the fight, had spoken contemptuously of the count, calling him “bastard,” and “base-born.” Being made prisoner, he remembered his faults, and fearing punishment, being taken before the count, was agonized with terror; and, as is usual with mean minds (in prosperity insolent, in adversity abject and cringing), prostrated himself, weeping and begging pardon for the offenses he had committed. The count, taking him by the arm, raised him up, and encouraged him to hope for the best. He then said he wondered how a man so prudent and respectable as himself, could so far err as to speak disparagingly of those who did not merit it; and as regarded the insinuations which he had made against him, he really did not know how Sforza his father, and Madonna Lucia his mother, had proceeded together, not having been there, and having no opportunity of interfering in the matter, so that he was not liable either to blame or praise. However, he knew very well, that in regard to his own actions he had conducted himself so that no one could blame him; and in proof of this he would refer both the Venetian senate and himself to what had happened that day. He then advised him in future to be more respectful in speaking of others, and more cautious in regard to his own proceedings.
The count’s successes—The Venetians come to terms with him—Views of the Venetians—Indignation of the Milanese against the count—Their ambassador’s address to him—The count’s moderation and reply—The count and the Milanese prepare for war—Milanese ambassadors at Venice—League of the Venetians and Milanese—The count dupes the Venetians and Milanese—He applies for assistance to the Florentines—Diversity of opinions in Florence on the subject—Neri di Gino Capponi averse to assisting the count—Cosmo de’ Medici disposed to do so—The Florentines sent ambassadors to the count.