Milan, under the leadership of Filippo Maria Visconti, had returned
to the policy of ferocious imperialism that it had pursued in the prior
century. Its army was thrusting southward deep into the territory of
Florence. Imola fell early in 1424 and the Florentines suffered another
disastrous defeat at Zagonara. The signs for Venice were ominous, for
it was clear that after satisfying his appetite to the south Visconti
would likely be turning his army east into Venetian territory.
Venice was reluctant
to embark on another land war, but finally in 1426 she agreed to an
alliance with Florence. The decision was made easier because Francesco
Bussone (known as "Carmagnola"), the most famous mercenary leader
(condottiere) of the day, had recently left the service of
Milan and was available to lead the forces of Venice against his former
In fact, Carmagnola's
leadership of the Venetians was always suspiciously lethargic, raising
questions about whether he had completely severed his service to the
Viscontis. Nonetheless, with a great deal of assistance from the Brescians
themselves, Brescia fell to Venice in November of 1426. Late in the
following year, while Visconti was distracted by hostilities with
the Duke of Savoy based in Turin to the west, Carmagnola--under intense
pressure from the Venetian leadership--led the Venetian forces to
a major victory at Macalo. Emissaries of the Pope assisted in brokering
a peace between the belligerants in April 1428. The treaty confirmed
Venetian sovereignty over Brescia and granted Bergamo to it as well.
in 1431, and Carmagnola's leadership became increasingly puzzling
and ineffectual. Finally, in the spring of 1432 the exasperated Venetians
lured Carmagnola into Venice, and then imprisoned, tried and executed
him for treason. The warfare between Venice and Milan continued for
more than two decades thereafter, until the Treaty of Lodi in 1454.
That treaty confirmed Venetian rule at Brescia and Bergamo and introduced
a surprising period of peace in the Venetian mainland.