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on account of the influence of those to whom they were subject.
Nevertheless, in the year 1010, upon the feast of St. Romolo, a solemn
day with the Fiesolani, they took and destroyed Fiesole, which must
have been performed either with the consent of the emperors, or during
the interim from the death of one to the creation of his successor,
when all assumed a larger share of liberty. But then the pontiffs
acquired greater influence, and the authority of the German emperors
was in its wane, all the places of Italy governed themselves with less
respect for the prince; so that, in the time of Henry III. the mind of
the country was divided between the emperor and the church. However,
the Florentines kept themselves united until the year 1215, rendering
obedience to the ruling power, and anxious only to preserve their own
safety. But, as the diseases which attack our bodies are more
dangerous and mortal in proportion as they are delayed, so Florence,
though late to take part in the sects of Italy, was afterward the more
afflicted by them. The cause of her first division is well known,
having been recorded by Dante and many other writers; I shall,
however, briefly notice it.

Among the most powerful families of Florence were the Buondelmonti and
the Uberti; next to these were the Amidei and the Donati. Of the
Donati family there was a rich widow who had a daughter of exquisite
beauty, for whom, in her own mind, she had fixed upon Buondelmonti, a
young gentleman, the head of the Buondelmonti family, as her husband;
but either from negligence, or, because she thought it might be
accomplished at any time, she had not made known her intention, when
it happened that the cavalier betrothed himself to a maiden of the
Amidei family. This grieved the Donati widow exceedingly; but she
hoped, with her daughter's beauty, to disturb the arrangement before
the celebration of the marriage; and from an upper apartment, seeing
Buondelmonti approach her house alone, she descended, and as he was
passing she said to him, "I am glad to learn you have chosen a wife,
although I had reserved my daughter for you"; and, pushing the door
open, presented her to his view. The cavalier, seeing the beauty of
the girl, which was very uncommon, and considering the nobility of her
blood, and her portion not being inferior to that of the lady whom he
had chosen, became inflamed with such an ardent desire to possess her,
that, not thinking of the promise given, or the injury he committed in
breaking it, or of the evils which his breach of faith might bring
upon himself, said, "Since you have reserved her for me, I should be
very ungrateful indeed to refuse her, being yet at liberty to choose";
and without any delay married her. As soon as the fact became known,
the Amidei and the Uberti, whose families were allied, were filled
with rage, and having assembled with many others, connections of the
parties, they concluded that the injury could not be tolerated without
disgrace, and that the only vengeance proportionate to the enormity of
the offence would be to put Buondelmonti to death. And although some
took into consideration the evils that might ensue upon it, Mosca
Lamberti said, that those who talk of many things effect nothing,
using that trite and common adage, /Cosa fatta capo ha/. Thereupon,
they appointed to the execution of the murder Mosca himself, Stiatti
Uberti, Lambertuccio Amidei, and Oderigo Fifanti, who, on the morning
of Easter day, concealed themselves in a house of the Amidei, situate
between the old bridge and St. Stephen's, and as Buondelmonti was
passing upon a white horse, thinking it as easy a matter to forget an
injury as reject an alliance, he was attacked by them at the foot of
the bridge, and slain close by a statue of Mars. This murder divided
the whole city; one party espousing the cause of the Buondelmonti, the
other that of the Uberti; and as these families possessed men and
means of defense, they contended with each other for many years,
without one being able to destroy the other.

Florence continued in these troubles till the time of Frederick II.,
who, being king of Naples, endeavored to strengthen himself against
the church; and, to give greater stability to his power in Tuscany,
favored the Uberti and their followers, who, with his assistance,
expelled the Buondelmonti; thus our city, as all the rest of Italy had
long time been, became divided into Guelphs and Ghibellines; and as it
will not be superfluous, I shall record the names of the families
which took part with each faction. Those who adopted the cause of the
Guelphs were the Buondelmonti, Nerli, Rossi, Frescobaldi, Mozzi,
Bardi, Pulci, Gherardini, Foraboschi, Bagnesi, Guidalotti, Sacchetti,
Manieri, Lucardesi, Chiaramontesi, Compiobbesi, Cavalcanti,
Giandonati, Gianfigliazzi, Scali, Gualterotti, Importuni, Bostichi,
Tornaquinci, Vecchietti, Tosinghi, Arrigucci, Agli, Sizi, Adimari,
Visdomini, Donati, Passi, della Bella, Ardinghi, Tedaldi, Cerchi. Of
the Ghibelline faction were the Uberti, Manelli, Ubriachi, Fifanti,
Amidei, Infangati, Malespini, Scolari, Guidi, Galli, Cappiardi,
Lamberti, Soldanieri, Cipriani, Toschi, Amieri, Palermini,
Migliorelli, Pigli, Barucci, Cattani, Agolanti, Brunelleschi,
Caponsacchi, Elisei, Abati, Tidaldini, Giuochi, and Galigai. Besides
the noble families on each side above enumerated, each party was
joined by many of the higher ranks of the people, so that the whole
city was corrupted with this division. The Guelphs being expelled,
took refuge in the Upper Val d'Arno, where part of their castles and
strongholds were situated, and where they strengthened and fortified
themselves against the attacks of their enemies. But, upon the death
of Frederick, the most unbiased men, and those who had the greatest
authority with the people, considered that it would be better to
effect the reunion of the city, than, by keeping her divided, cause
her ruin. They therefore induced the Guelphs to forget their injuries
and return, and the Ghibellines to lay aside their jealousies and
receive them with cordiality.


New form of government in Florence--Military establishments--The
greatness of Florence--Movements of the Ghibellines--Ghibellines
driven out of the city--Guelphs routed by the forces of the king
of Naples--Florence in the power of the king of Naples--Project of
the Ghibellines to destroy Florence opposed by Farinata degli
Uberti--Adventures of the Guelphs of Florence--The pope gives his
standard to the Guelphs--Fears of the Ghibellines and their
preparations for the defense of their power--Establishment of
trades' companies, and their authority--Count Guido Novello
expelled--He goes to Prato--The Guelphs restored to the city--The
Ghibellines quit Florence--The Florentines reform the government
in favor of the Guelphs--The pope endeavors to restore the
Ghibellines and excommunicates Florence--Pope Nicholas III.
endeavors to abate the power of Charles king of Naples.

Being united, the Florentines thought the time favorable for the
ordination of a free government, and that it would be desirable to
provide their means of defense before the new emperor should acquire
strength. They therefore divided the city into six parts, and elected
twelve citizens, two for each sixth, to govern the whole. These were
called Anziani, and were elected annually. To remove the cause of
those enmities which had been observed to arise from judicial
decisions, they provided two judges from some other state,--one called
captain of the people, the other podesta, or provost,--whose duty it
was to decide in cases, whether civil or criminal, which occurred
among the people. And as order cannot be preserved without a
sufficient force for the defense of it, they appointed twenty banners
in the city, and seventy-six in the country, upon the rolls of which
the names of all the youth were armed; and it was ordered that
everyone should appear armed, under his banner, whenever summoned,
whether by the captain of the people or the Anziani. They had ensigns
according to the kind of arms they used, the bowmen being under one
ensign, and the swordsmen, or those who carried a target, under
another; and every year, upon the day of Pentecost, ensigns were given
with great pomp to the new men, and new leaders were appointed for the
whole establishment. To give importance to their armies, and to serve
as a point of refuge for those who were exhausted in the fight, and
from which, having become refreshed, they might again make head
against the enemy, they provided a large car, drawn by two oxen,
covered with red cloth, upon which was an ensign of white and red.
When they intended to assemble the army, this car was brought into the
New Market, and delivered with pomp to the heads of the people. To
give solemnity to their enterprises, they had a bell called
Martinella, which was rung during a whole month before the forces left
the city, in order that the enemy might have time to provide for his
defense; so great was the virtue then existing among men, and with so
much generosity of mind were they governed, that as it is now
considered a brave and prudent act to assail an unprovided enemy, in
those days it would have been thought disgraceful, and productive only
of a fallacious advantage. This bell was also taken with the army, and
served to regulate the keeping and relief of guard, and other matters
necessary in the practice of war.

With these ordinations, civil and military, the Florentines
established their liberty. Nor is it possible to imagine the power and
authority Florence in a short time acquired. She became not only the
head of Tuscany, but was enumerated among the first cities of Italy,
and would have attained greatness of the most exalted kind, had she
not been afflicted with the continual divisions of her citizens. They
remained under the this government ten years, during which time they
compelled the people of Pistoria, Arezzo, and Sienna, to enter into
league with them; and returning with the army from Sienna, they took
Volterra, destroyed some castles, and led the inhabitants to Florence.
All these enterprises were effected by the advice of the Guelphs, who
were much more powerful than the Ghibellines, for the latter were
hated by the people as well on account of their haughty bearing while
in power, during the time of Frederick, as because the church party
was in more favor than that of the emperor; for with the aid of the
church they hoped to preserve their liberty, but, with the emperor,
they were apprehensive of losing it.

The Ghibellines, in the meantime, finding themselves divested of
authority, could not rest, but watched for an occasion of repossessing
the government; and they thought the favorable moment come, when they
found that Manfred, son of Frederick, had made himself sovereign of
Naples, and reduced the power of the church. They, therefore, secretly
communicated with him, to resume the management of the state, but
could not prevent their proceedings from coming to the knowledge of
the Anziani, who immediately summoned the Uberti to appear before
them; but instead of obeying, they took arms and fortified themselves
in their houses. The people, enraged at this, armed themselves, and
with the assistance of the Guelphs, compelled them to quit the city,
and, with the whole Ghibelline party, withdraw to Sienna. They then
asked assistance of Manfred king of Naples, and by the able conduct of
Farinata degli Uberti, the Guelphs were routed by the king's forces
upon the river Arbia, with so great slaughter, that those who escaped,
thinking Florence lost, did not return thither, but sought refuge at

Manfred sent the Count Giordano, a man of considerable reputation in
arms, to command his forces. He after the victory, went with the
Ghibellines to Florence, and reduced the city entirely to the king's
authority, annulling the magistracies and every other institution that
retained any appearance of freedom. This injury, committed with little
prudence, excited the ardent animosity of the people, and their enmity
against the Ghibellines, whose ruin it eventually caused, was
increased to the highest pitch. The necessities of the kingdom
compelling the Count Giordano to return to Naples, he left at Florence
as regal vicar the Count Guido Novallo, lord of Casentino, who called
a council of Ghibellines at Empoli. There it was concluded, with only
one dissenting voice, that in order to preserve their power in
Tuscany, it would be necessary to destroy Florence, as the only means
of compelling the Guelphs to withdraw their support from the party of
the church. To this so cruel a sentence, given against such a noble
city, there was not a citizen who offered any opposition, except
Farinata degli Uberti, who openly defended her, saying he had not
encountered so many dangers and difficulties, but in the hope of
returning to his country; that he still wished for what he had so
earnestly sought, nor would he refuse the blessing which fortune now
presented, even though by using it, he were to become as much an enemy
of those who thought otherwise, as he had been of the Guelphs; and
that no one need be afraid the city would occasion the ruin of their
country, for he hoped that the valor which had expelled the Guelphs,
would be sufficient to defend her. Farinata was a man of undaunted
resolution, and excelled greatly in military affairs: being the head
of the Ghibelline party, and in high estimation with Manfred, his
authority put a stop to the discussion, and induced the rest to think
of some other means of preserving their power.

The Lucchese being threatened with the anger of the count, for
affording refuge to the Guelphs after the battle of the Arbia, could
allow them to remain no longer; so leaving Lucca, they went to
Bologna, from whence they were called by the Guelphs of Parma against
the Ghibellines of that city, where, having overcome the enemy, the
possessions of the latter were assigned to them; so that having
increased in honors and riches, and learning that Pope Clement had
invited Charles of Anjou to take the kingdom from Manfred, they sent
ambassadors to the pope to offer him their services. His holiness not
only received them as friends, but gave them a standard upon which his
insignia were wrought. It was ever after borne by the Guelphs in
battle, and is still used at Florence. Charles having taken the
kingdom from Manfred, and slain him, to which success the Guelphs of
Florence had contributed, their party became more powerful, and that
of the Ghibellines proportionately weaker. In consequence of this,
those who with Count Novello governed the city, thought it would be
advisable to attach to themselves, with some concession, the people
whom they had previously aggravated with every species of injury; but
these remedies which, if applied before the necessity came would have
been beneficial, being offered when they were no longer considered
favors, not only failed of producing any beneficial results to the
donors, but hastened their ruin. Thinking, however, to win them to
their interests, they restored some of the honors of which they had
deprived them. They elected thirty-six citizens from the higher rank
of the people, to whom, with two cavaliers, knights or gentlemen,
brought from Bologna, the reformation of the government of the city
was confided. As soon as they met, they classed the whole of the
people according to their arts or trades, and over each art appointed
a magistrate, whose duty was to distribute justice to those placed
under him. They gave to each company or trade a banner, under which
every man was expected to appear armed, whenever the city required it.
These arts were at first twelve, seven major and five minor. The minor
arts were afterward increased to fourteen, so that the whole made, as
at present, twenty-one. The thirty-six reformers also effected other
changes for the common good.

Count Guido proposed to lay a tax upon the citizens for the support of
the soldiery; but during the discussion found so much difficulty, that
he did not dare to use force to obtain it; and thinking he had now
lost the government, called together the leaders of the Ghibellines,
and they determined to wrest from the people those powers which they
had with so little prudence conceded. When they thought they had
sufficient force, the thirty-six being assembled, they caused a tumult
to be raised, which so alarmed them that they retired to their houses,
when suddenly the banners of the Arts were unfurled, and many armed
men drawn to them. These, learning that Count Guido and his followers
were at St. John's, moved toward the Holy Trinity, and chose Giovanni
Soldanieri for their leader. The count, on the other hand, being
informed where the people were assembled, proceeded in that direction;
nor did the people shun the fight, for, meeting their enemies where
now stands the residence of the Tornaquinci, they put the count to
flight, with the loss of many of his followers. Terrified with this
result, he was afraid his enemies would attack him in the night, and
that his own party, finding themselves beaten, would murder him. This
impression took such hold of his mind that, without attempting any
other remedy, he sought his safety rather in flight than in combat,
and, contrary to the advice of the rectors, went with all his people
to Prato. But, on finding himself in a place of safety, his fears
fled; perceiving his error he wished to correct it, and on the
following day, as soon as light appeared, he returned with his people
to Florence, to enter the city by force which he had abandoned in
cowardice. But his design did not succeed; for the people, who had had
difficulty in expelling him, kept him out with facility; so that with
grief and shame he went to the Casentino, and the Ghibellines withdrew
to their villas.

The people being victorious, by the advice of those who loved the good
of the republic, determined to reunite the city, and recall all the
citizens as well Guelph as Ghibelline, who yet remained without. The
Guelphs returned, after having been expelled six years; the recent
offences of the Ghibellines were forgiven, and themselves restored to
their country. They were, however, most cordially hated, both by the
people and the Guelphs, for the latter could not forget their exile,
and the former but too well remembered their tyranny when they were in
power; the result was, that the minds of neither party became settled.

While affairs were in this state at Florence, a report prevailed that
Corradino, nephew of Manfred, was coming with a force from Germany,
for the conquest of Naples; this gave the Ghibellines hope of
recovering power, and the Guelphs, considering how they should provide
for their security, requested assistance from Charles for their
defense, in case of the passage of Corradino. The coming of the forces
of Charles rendered the Guelphs insolent, and so alarmed the
Ghibellines that they fled the city, without being driven out, two
days before the arrival of the troops.

The Ghibellines having departed, the Florentines reorganized the
government of the city, and elected twelve men who, as the supreme
power, were to hold their magistracy two months, and were not called
Anziani or "ancients," but Buono Uomini or "good men." They also
formed a council of eighty citizens, which they called the Credenza.
Besides these, from each sixth, thirty citizens were chosen, who, with
the Credenza and the twelve Buono Uomini, were called the General
Council. They also appointed another council of one hundred and twenty
citizens, elected from the people and the nobility, to which all those
things were finally referred that had undergone the consideration of
the other councils, and which distributed the offices of the republic.
Having formed this government, they strengthened the Guelphic party by
appointing its friends to the principal offices of state, and a
variety of other measures, that they might be enabled to defend
themselves against the Ghibellines, whose property they divided into
three parts, one of which was applied to the public use, another to
the Capitani, and the third was assigned to the Guelphs, in
satisfaction of the injuries they had received. The pope, too, in
order to keep Tuscany in the Guelphic interest, made Charles imperial
vicar over the province. While the Florentines, by virtue of the new
government, preserved their influence at home by laws, and abroad with
arms, the pope died, and after a dispute, which continued two years,
Gregory X. was elected, being then in Syria, where he had long lived;
but not having witnessed the working of parties, he did not estimate
them in the manner his predecessors had done, and passing through
Florence on his way to France, he thought it would be the office of a
good pastor to unite the city, and so far succeeded that the
Florentines consented to receive the Syndics of the Ghibellines in
Florence to consider the terms of their recall. They effected an
agreement, but the Ghibellines without were so terrified that they did
not venture to return. The pope laid the whole blame upon the city,
and being enraged excommunicated her, in which state of contumacy she
remained as long as the pontiff lived; but was reblessed by his
successor Innocent V.

The pontificate was afterward occupied by Nicholas III. of the Orsini
family. It has to be remarked that it was invariably the custom of the
popes to be jealous of those whose power in Italy had become great,
even when its growth had been occasioned by the favors of the church;
and as they always endeavored to destroy it, frequent troubles and
changes were the result. Their fear of a powerful person caused them
to increase the influence of one previously weak; his becoming great
caused him also to be feared, and his being feared made them seek the
means of destroying him. This mode of thinking and operation
occasioned the kingdom of Naples to be taken from Manfred and given to
Charles, but as soon as the latter became powerful his ruin was
resolved upon. Actuated by these motives, Nicholas III. contrived
that, with the influence of the emperor, the government of Tuscany
should be taken from Charles, and Latino his legate was therefore sent
into the province in the name of the empire.


Changes in Florence--The Ghibellines recalled--New form of
government in Florence--The Signory created--Victory over the
Aretins--The Gonfalonier of Justice created--Ubaldo Ruffoli the
first Gonfalonier--Giano della Bella--New reform by his advice--
Giano della Bella becomes a voluntary exile--Dissensions between
the people and the nobility--The tumults composed--Reform of
Government--Public buildings--The prosperous state of the city.

Florence was at this time in a very unhappy condition; for the great
Guelphic families had become insolent, and set aside the authority of
the magistrates; so that murders and other atrocities were daily
committed, and the perpetrators escaped unpunished, under the
protection of one or other of the nobility. The leaders of the people,
in order to restrain this insolence, determined to recall those who
had been expelled, and thus gave the legate an opportunity of uniting
the city. The Ghibellines returned, and, instead of twelve governors,
fourteen were appointed, seven for each party, who held their office
one year, and were to be chosen by the pope. The Florentines lived
under this government two years, till the pontificate of Martin, who
restored to Charles all the authority which had been taken from him by
Nicholas, so that parties were again active in Tuscany; for the
Florentines took arms against the emperor's governor, and to deprive
the Ghibellines of power, and restrain the nobility, established a new
form of government. This was in the year 1282, and the companies of
the Arts, since magistrates had been appointed and colors given to
them, had acquired so great influence, that of their own authority
they ordered that, instead of fourteen citizens, three should be
appointed and called Priors, to hold the government of the republic
two months, and chosen from either the people or the nobility. After
the expiration of the first magistracy they were augmented to six,
that one might be chosen from each sixth of the city, and this number
was preserved till the year 1342, when the city was divided into
quarters, and the Priors became eight, although upon some occasions
during the interim they were twelve.

This government, as will be seen hereafter, occasioned the ruin of the
nobility; for the people by various causes excluded them from all
participation in it, and then trampled upon them without respect. The
nobles at first, owing to their divisions among themselves, made no
opposition; and each being anxious to rob the other of influence in
the state, they lost it altogether. To this government a palace was
given, in which they were to reside constantly, and all requisite
officers were appointed; it having been previously the custom of
councils and magistrates to assemble in churches. At first they were
only called Priors, but to increase their distinction the word
signori, or lords, was soon afterward adopted. The Florentines
remained for some time in domestic quiet, during which they made war
with the Aretins for having expelled the Guelphs, and obtained a
complete victory over them at Campaldino. The city being increased in
riches and population, it was found expedient to extend the walls, the
circle of which was enlarged to the extent it at present remains,
although its diameter was previously only the space between the old
bridge and the church of St. Lorenzo.

Wars abroad and peace within the city had caused the Guelph and
Ghibelline factions to become almost extinct; and the only party
feeling which seemed occasionally to glow, was that which naturally
exists in all cities between the higher classes and the people; for
the latter, wishing to live in conformity with the laws, and the
former to be themselves the rulers of the people, it was not possible
for them to abide in perfect amity together. This ungenial
disposition, while their fear of the Ghibellines kept them in order,
did not discover itself, but no sooner were they subdued than it broke
forth, and not a day passed without some of the populace being
injured, while the laws were insufficient to procure redress, for
every noble with his relations and friends defended himself against
the forces of the Priors and the Capitano. To remedy this evil, the
leaders of the Arts' companies ordered that every Signory at the time
of entering upon the duties of office should appoint a Gonfalonier of
Justice, chosen from the people, and place a thousand armed men at his
disposal divided into twenty companies of fifty men each, and that he,
with his gonfalon or banner and his forces, should be ready to enforce
the execution of the laws whenever called upon, either by the Signors
themselves or the Capitano. The first elected to this high office was
Ubaldo Ruffoli. This man unfurled his gonfalon, and destroyed the
houses of the Galletti, on account of a member of that family having
slain one of the Florentine people in France. The violent animosities
among the nobility enabled the companies of the Arts to establish this
law with facility; and the former no sooner saw the provision which
had been made against them than they felt the acrimonious spirit with
which it was enforced. At first it impressed them with greater terror,
but they soon after returned to their accustomed insolence, for one or
more of their body always making part of the Signory, gave them
opportunities of impeding the Gonfalonier, so that he could not
perform the duties of his office. Besides this, the accuser always
required a witness of the injury he had received, and no one dared to
give evidence against the nobility. Thus in a short time Florence
again fell into the same disorders as before, and the tyranny
exercised against the people was as great as ever; for the decisions
of justice were either prevented or delayed, and sentences were not
carried into execution.

In this unhappy state, the people not knowing what to do, Giano della
Bella, of a very noble family, and a lover of liberty, encouraged the
heads of the Arts to reform the constitution of the city; and by his
advice it was ordered that the Gonfalonier should reside with the
Priors, and have four thousand men at his command. They deprived the
nobility of the right to sit in the Signory. They condemned the
associates of a criminal to the same penalty as himself, and ordered
that public report should be taken as evidence. By these laws, which
were called the ordinations of justice, the people acquired great
influence, and Giano della Bella not a small share of trouble; for he
was thoroughly hated by the great, as the destroyer of their power,
while the opulent among the people envied him, for they thought he
possessed too great authority. This became very evident upon the first
occasion that presented itself.

It happened that a man from the class of the people was killed in a
riot, in which several of the nobility had taken a part, and among the
rest Corso Donati, to whom, as the most forward of the party, the
death was attributed. He was, therefore, taken by the captain of the
people, and whether he was really innocent of the crime or the
Capitano was afraid of condemning him, he was acquitted. This
acquittal displeased the people so much, that, seizing their arms,
they ran to the house of Giano della Bella, to beg that he would
compel the execution of those laws which he had himself made. Giano,
who wished Corso to be punished, did not insist upon their laying down
their arms, as many were of opinion he ought to have done, but advised
them to go to the Signory, complain of the fact, and beg that they
would take it into consideration. The people, full of wrath, thinking
themselves insulted by the Capitano and abandoned by Giano della
Bella, instead of going to the Signory went to the palace of the
Capitano, of which they made themselves masters, and plundered it.

This outrage displeased the whole city, and those who wished the ruin
of Giano laid the entire blame upon him; and as in the succeeding
Signory there was an enemy of his, he was accused to the Capitano as
the originator of the riot. While the case was being tried, the people
took arms, and, proceeding to his house, offered to defend him against
the Signory and his enemies. Giano, however, did not wish to put this
burst of popular favor to the proof, or trust his life to the
magistrates, for he feared the malignity of the latter and the
instability of the former; so, in order to remove an occasion for his
enemies to injure him, or his friends to offend the laws, he
determined to withdraw, deliver his countrymen from the fear they had
of him, and, leaving the city which at his own charge and peril he had
delivered from the servitude of the great, become a voluntary exile.

After the departure of Giano della Bella the nobility began to
entertain hopes of recovering their authority; and judging their
misfortune to have arisen from their divisions, they sent two of their
body to the Signory, which they thought was favorable to them, to beg
they would be pleased to moderate the severity of the laws made
against them. As soon as their demand became known, the minds of the
people were much excited; for they were afraid the Signors would
submit to them; and so, between the desire of the nobility and the
jealousy of the people, arms were resorted to. The nobility were drawn
together in three places: near the church of St. John, in the New
Market, and in the Piazza of the Mozzi, under three leaders, Forese
Adimari, Vanni de Mozzi, and Geri Spini. The people assembled in
immense numbers, under their ensigns, before the palace of the
Signory, which at that time was situated near St. Procolo; and, as
they suspected the integrity of the Signory, they added six citizens
to their number to take part in the management of affairs.

While both parties were preparing for the fight, some individuals, as
well of the people as of the nobility, accompanied by a few priests of
respectable character, mingled among them for the purpose of effecting
a pacification, reminding the nobility that their loss of power, and
the laws which were made against them, had been occasioned by their
haughty conduct, and the mischievous tendency of their proceedings;
that resorting to arms to recover by force what they had lost by
illiberal measures and disunion, would tend to the destruction of
their country and increase the difficulties of their own position;
that they should bear in mind that the people, both in riches,
numbers, and hatred, were far stronger than they; and that their
nobility, on account of which they assumed to be above others, did not
contribute to win battles, and would be found, when they came to arms,
to be but an empty name, and insufficient to defend them against so
many. On the other hand, they reminded the people that it is not
prudent to wish always to have the last blow; that it is an
injudicious step to drive men to desperation, for he who is without
hope is also without fear; that they ought not to forget that in the
wars the nobility had always done honor to the country, and therefore
it was neither wise nor just to pursue them with so much bitterness;
and that although the nobility could bear with patience the loss of
the supreme magistracy, they could not endure that, by the existing
laws, it should be in the power of everyone to drive them from their
country; and, therefore, it would be well to qualify these laws, and,
in furtherance of so good a result, be better to lay down their arms
than, trusting to numbers, try the fortune of a battle; for it is
often seen that the many are overcome by the few. Variety of opinion
was found among the people; many wished to decide the question by arms
at once, for they were assured it would have to be done some time, and
that it would be better to do so then than delay till the enemy had
acquired greater strength; and that if they thought a mitigation of
the laws would satisfy them, that then they would be glad to comply,
but that the pride of the nobility was so great they would not submit
unless they were compelled. To many others, who were more peaceable
and better disposed, it appeared a less evil to qualify the laws a
little than to come to battle; and their opinion prevailing, it was
provided that no accusation against the nobility could be received
unless supported with sufficient testimony.

Although arms were laid aside, both parties remained full of
suspicion, and each fortified itself with men and places of strength.
The people reorganized the government, and lessened the number of its
officers, to which measure they were induced by finding that the
Signors appointed from the families, of which the following were the
heads, had been favorable to the nobility, viz.: the Mancini,
Magalotti, Altoviti, Peruzzi, and Cerretani. Having settled the
government, for the greater magnificence and security of the Signory,
they laid the foundation of their palace; and to make space for the
piazza, removed the houses that had belonged to the Uberti; they also
at the same period commenced the public prisons. These buildings were
completed in a few years; nor did our city ever enjoy a greater state
of prosperity than in those times: filled with men of great wealth and
reputation; possessing within her walls 30,000 men capable of bearing
arms, and in the country 70,000, while the whole of Tuscany, either as
subjects or friends, owed obedience to Florence. And although there
might be some indignation and jealousy between the nobility and the
people, they did not produce any evil effect, but all lived together
in unity and peace. And if this peace had not been disturbed by
internal enmities there would have been no cause of apprehension
whatever, for the city had nothing to fear either from the empire or
from those citizens whom political reasons kept from their homes, and
was in condition to meet all the states of Italy with her own forces.
The evil, however, which external powers could not effect, was brought
about by those within.


The Cerchi and the Donati--Origin of the Bianca and Nera factions
in Pistoia--They come to Florence--Open enmity of the Donati and
the Cerchi--Their first conflict--The Cerchi head the Bianca
faction--The Donati take part with the Nera--The pope's legate at
Florence increases the confusion with an interdict--New affray
between the Cerchi and the Donati--The Donati and others of the
Nera faction banished by the advice of Dante Alighieri--Charles of
Valois sent by the pope to Florence--The Florentines suspect him--
Corso Donati and the rest of the Nera party return to Florence--
Veri Cerchi flies--The pope's legate again in Florence--The city
again interdicted--New disturbances--The Bianchi banished--Dante
banished--Corso Donati excites fresh troubles--The pope's legate
endeavors to restore the emigrants but does not succeed--Great
fire in Florence.

The Cerchi and the Donati were, for riches, nobility, and the number
and influence of their followers, perhaps the two most distinguished
families in Florence. Being neighbors, both in the city and the
country, there had arisen between them some slight displeasure, which,
however, had not occasioned an open quarrel, and perhaps never would
have produced any serious effect if the malignant humors had not been
increased by new causes. Among the first families of Pistoia was the
Cancellieri. It happened that Lore, son of Gulielmo, and Geri, son of
Bertacca, both of this family, playing together, and coming to words,
Geri was slightly wounded by Lore. This displeased Gulielmo; and,
designing by a suitable apology to remove all cause of further
animosity, he ordered his son to go to the house of the father of the
youth whom he had wounded and ask pardon. Lore obeyed his father; but
this act of virtue failed to soften the cruel mind of Bertacca, and
having caused Lore to be seized, in order to add the greatest
indignity to his brutal act, he ordered his servants to chop off the
youth's hand upon a block used for cutting meat upon, and then said to
him, "Go to thy father, and tell him that sword wounds are cured with
iron and not with words."

The unfeeling barbarity of this act so greatly exasperated Gulielmo
that he ordered his people to take arms for his revenge. Bertacca
prepared for his defense, and not only that family, but the whole city
of Pistoia, became divided. And as the Cancellieri were descended from
a Cancelliere who had had two wives, of whom one was called Bianca
(white), one party was named by those who were descended from her
BIANCA; and the other, by way of greater distinction, was called NERA
(black). Much and long-continued strife took place between the two,
attended with the death of many men and the destruction of much
property; and not being able to effect a union among themselves, but
weary of the evil, and anxious either to bring it to an end, or, by
engaging others in their quarrel, increase it, they came to Florence,
where the Neri, on account of their familiarity with the Donati, were
favored by Corso, the head of that family; and on this account the
Bianchi, that they might have a powerful head to defend them against
the Donati, had recourse to Veri de Cerchi, a man in no respect
inferior to Corso.

This quarrel, and the parties in it, brought from Pistoia, increased
the old animosity between the Cerchi and the Donati, and it was
already so manifest, that the Priors and all well-disposed men were in
hourly apprehension of its breaking out, and causing a division of the
whole city. They therefore applied to the pontiff, praying that he
would interpose his authority between these turbulent parties, and
provide the remedy which they found themselves unable to furnish. The
pope sent for Veri, and charged him to make peace with the Donati, at
which Veri exhibited great astonishment, saying that he had no enmity
against them, and that as pacification presupposes war, he did not
know, there being no war between them, how peacemaking could be
necessary. Veri having returned from Rome without anything being
effected, the rage of the parties increased to such a degree, that any
trivial accident seemed sufficient to make it burst forth, as indeed
presently happened.

It was in the month of May, during which, and upon holidays, it is the
custom of Florence to hold festivals and public rejoicings throughout
the city. Some youths of the Donati family, with their friends, upon
horseback, were standing near the church of the Holy Trinity to look
at a party of ladies who were dancing; thither also came some of the
Cerchi, like the Donati, accompanied with many of the nobility, and,
not knowing that the Donati were before them, pushed their horses and
jostled them; thereupon the Donati, thinking themselves insulted, drew
their swords, nor were the Cerchi at all backward to do the same, and
not till after the interchange of many wounds, they separated. This
disturbance was the beginning of great evils; for the whole city
became divided, the people as well as the nobility, and the parties
took the names of the Bianchi and the Neri. The Cerchi were at the
head of the Bianchi faction, to which adhered the Adimari, the Abati,
a part of the Tosinghi, of the Bardi, of the Rossi, of the
Frescobaldi, of the Nerli, and of the Manelli; all the Mozzi, the
Scali, Gherardini, Cavalcanti, Malespini, Bostichi, Giandonati,
Vecchietti, and Arrigucci. To these were joined many families of the
people, and all the Ghibellines then in Florence, so that their great
numbers gave them almost the entire government of the city.

The Donati, at the head of whom was Corso, joined the Nera party, to
which also adhered those members of the above-named families who did
not take part with the Bianchi; and besides these, the whole of the
Pazzi, the Bisdomini, Manieri, Bagnesi, Tornaquinci, Spini,
Buondelmonti, Gianfigliazzi, and the Brunelleschi. Nor did the evil
confine itself to the city alone, for the whole country was divided
upon it, so that the Captains of the Six Parts, and whoever were
attached to the Guelphic party or the well-being of the republic, were
very much afraid that this new division would occasion the destruction
of the city, and give new life to the Ghibelline faction. They,
therefore, sent again to Pope Boniface, desiring that, unless he
wished that city which had always been the shield of the church should
either be ruined or become Ghibelline, he would consider some means
for her relief. The pontiff thereupon sent to Florence, as his legate,
Cardinal Matteo d'Acquasparta, a Portuguese, who, finding the Bianchi,
as the most powerful, the least in fear, not quite submissive to him,
he interdicted the city, and left it in anger, so that greater
confusion now prevailed than had done previously to his coming.

The minds of men being in great excitement, it happened that at a
funeral which many of the Donati and the Cerchi attended, they first
came to words and then to arms, from which, however, nothing but
merely tumult resulted at the moment. However, having each retired to
their houses, the Cerchi determined to attack the Donati, but, by the
valor of Corso, they were repulsed and great numbers of them wounded.
The city was in arms. The laws and the Signory were set at nought by
the rage of the nobility, and the best and wisest citizens were full
of apprehension. The Donati and their followers, being the least
powerful, were in the greatest fear, and to provide for their safety
they called together Corso, the Captains of the Parts, and the other
leaders of the Neri, and resolved to apply to the pope to appoint some
personage of royal blood, that he might reform Florence; thinking by
this means to overcome the Bianchi. Their meeting and determination
became known to the Priors, and the adverse party represented it as a
conspiracy against the liberties of the republic. Both parties being
in arms, the Signory, one of whom at that time was the poet Dante,
took courage, and from his advice and prudence, caused the people to
rise for the preservation of order, and being joined by many from the
country, they compelled the leaders of both parties to lay aside their
arms, and banished Corso, with many of the Neri. And as an evidence of
the impartiality of their motives, they also banished many of the
Bianchi, who, however, soon afterward, under pretense of some
justifiable cause, returned.

Corso and his friends, thinking the pope favorable to their party,
went to Rome and laid their grievances before him, having previously
forwarded a statement of them in writing. Charles of Valois, brother
of the king of France, was then at the papal court, having been called
into Italy by the king of Naples, to go over into Sicily. The pope,
therefore, at the earnest prayers of the banished Florentines,
consented to send Charles to Florence, till the season suitable for
his going to Sicily should arrive. He therefore came, and although the
Bianchi, who then governed, were very apprehensive, still, as the head
of the Guelphs, and appointed by the pope, they did not dare to oppose
him, and in order to secure his friendship, they gave him authority to
dispose of the city as he thought proper.

Thus authorized, Charles armed all his friends and followers, which
step gave the people so strong a suspicion that he designed to rob
them of their liberty, that each took arms, and kept at his own house,
in order to be ready, if Charles should make any such attempt. The
Cerchi and the leaders of the Bianchi faction had acquired universal
hatred by having, while at the head of the republic, conducted
themselves with unbecoming pride; and this induced Corso and the
banished of the Neri party to return to Florence, knowing well that
Charles and the Captains of the Parts were favorable to them. And
while the citizens, for fear of Charles, kept themselves in arms,
Corso, with all the banished, and followed by many others, entered
Florence without the least impediment. And although Veri de Cerchi was
advised to oppose him, he refused to do so, saying that he wished the
people of Florence, against whom he came, should punish him. However,
the contrary happened, for he was welcomed, not punished by them; and
it behooved Veri to save himself by flight.

Corso, having forced the Pinti Gate, assembled his party at San Pietro
Maggiore, near his own house, where, having drawn together a great
number of friends and people desirous of change, he set at liberty all
who had been imprisoned for offenses, whether against the state or
against individuals. He compelled the existing Signory to withdraw
privately to their own houses, elected a new one from the people of
the Neri party, and for five days plundered the leaders of the
Bianchi. The Cerchi, and the other heads of their faction, finding
Charles opposed to them, withdrew from the city, and retired to their
strongholds. And although at first they would not listen to the advice
of the pope, they were now compelled to turn to him for assistance,
declaring that instead of uniting the city, Charles had caused greater
disunion than before. The pope again sent Matteo d'Acquasparta, his
legate, who made peace between the Cerchi and the Donati, and
strengthened it with marriages and new betrothals. But wishing that
the Bianchi should participate in the employments of the government,
to which the Neri who were then at the head of it would not consent,
he withdrew, with no more satisfaction nor less enraged than on the
former occasion, and left the city interdicted for disobedience.

Both parties remained in Florence, and equally discontented; the Neri
from seeing their enemies at hand, and apprehending the loss of their
power, and the Bianchi from finding themselves without either honor or
authority; and to these natural causes of animosity new injuries were
added. Niccolo de' Cerchi, with many of his friends, went to his
estates, and being arrived at the bridge of Affrico, was attacked by
Simone, son of Corso Donati. The contest was obstinate, and one each
side had a sorrowful conclusion; for Niccolo was slain, and Simone was
so severely wounded that he died on the following night.

This event again disturbed the entire city; and although the Neri were
most to blame, they were defended by those who were at the head of
affairs; and before sentence was delivered, a conspiracy of the
Bianchi with Piero Ferrante, one of the barons who had accompanied
Charles, was discovered, by whose assistance they sought to be
replaced in the government. The matter became known from letters
addressed to him by the Cerchi, although some were of opinion that
they were not genuine, but written and pretended to be found, by the
Donati, to abate the infamy which their party had acquired by the
death of Niccolo. The whole of the Cerchi were, however, banished,--
with their followers of the Bianchi party, of whom was Dante the poet,
--their property confiscated, and their houses pulled down. They
sought refuge, with a great number of Ghibellines who had joined them,
in many places, seeking fresh fortunes in new undertakings. Charles,
having effected the purpose of his coming, left the city, and returned
to the pope to pursue his enterprise against Sicily, in which he was
neither wiser nor more fortunate than he had been at Florence; so that
with disgrace and the loss of many of his followers, he withdrew to

After the departure of Charles, Florence remained quiet. Corso alone
was restless, thinking he did not possess that sort of authority in
the city which was due to his rank; for the government being in the
hands of the people, he saw the offices of the republic administered
by many inferior to himself. Moved by passions of this kind, he
endeavored, under the pretense of an honorable design, to justify his
own dishonorable purposes, and accused many citizens who had the
management of the public money, of applying it to their private uses,
and recommended that they should be brought to justice and punished.
This opinion was adopted by many who had the same views as himself;
and many in ignorance joined them, thinking Corso actuated only by
pure patriotism. On the other hand, the accused citizens, enjoying the
popular favor, defended themselves, and this difference arose to such
a height, that, after civil means, they had recourse to arms. Of the
one party were Corso and Lottieri, bishop of Florence, with many of
the nobility and some of the people; on the other side were the
Signory, with the greater part of the people; so that skirmishes took
place in many parts of the city. The Signory, seeing their danger
great, sent for aid to the Lucchese, and presently all the people of
Lucca were in Florence. With their assistance the disturbances were
settled for the moment, and the people retained the government and
their liberty, without attempting by any other means to punish the
movers of the disorder.

The pope had heard of the tumults at Florence, and sent his legate,
Niccolo da Prato, to settle them, who, being in high reputation both
for his quality, learning, and mode of life, presently acquired so
much of the people's confidence, that authority was given him to
establish such a government as he should think proper. As he was of
Ghibelline origin, he determined to recall the banished; but designing
first to gain the affections of the lower orders, he renewed the
ancient companies of the people, which increased the popular power and
reduced that of the nobility. The legate, thinking the multitude on
his side, now endeavored to recall the banished, and, after attempting
in many ways, none of which succeeded, he fell so completely under the
suspicion of the government, that he was compelled to quit the city,
and returned to the pope in great wrath, leaving Florence full of
confusion and suffering under an interdict. Neither was the city
disturbed with one division alone, but by many; first the enmity
between the people and the nobility, then that of the Ghibellines and
the Guelphs, and lastly, of the Bianchi and the Neri. All the citizens
were, therefore, in arms, for many were dissatisfied with the
departure of the legate, and wished for the return of the banished.
The first who set this disturbance on foot were the Medici and the
Guinigi, who, with the legate, had discovered themselves in favor of
the rebels; and thus skirmishes took place in many parts of the city.

In addition to these evils a fire occurred, which first broke out at
the garden of St. Michael, in the houses of the Abati; it thence
extended to those of the Capoinsacchi, and consumed them, with those
of the Macci, Amieri, Toschi, Cipriani, Lamberti, Cavalcanti, and the
whole of the New Market; from thence it spread to the gate of St.
Maria, and burned it to the ground; turning from the old bridge, it
destroyed the houses of the Gherardini, Pulci, Amidei, and Lucardesi,
and with these so many others that the number amounted to seventeen
hundred. It was the opinion of many that this fire occurred by
accident during the heat of the disturbances. Others affirm that it
was begun willfully by Neri Abati, prior of St. Pietro Scarragio, a
dissolute character, fond of mischief, who, seeing the people occupied
with the combat, took the opportunity of committing a wicked act, for
which the citizens, being thus employed, could offer no remedy. And to
insure his success, he set fire to the house of his own brotherhood,
where he had the best opportunity of doing it. This was in the year
1304, Florence being afflicted both with fire and the sword. Corso
Donati alone remained unarmed in so many tumults; for he thought he
would more easily become the arbitrator between the contending parties
when, weary of strife, they should be inclined to accommodation. They
laid down their arms, however, rather from satiety of evil than from
any desire of union; and the only consequence was, that the banished
were not recalled, and the party which favored them remained inferior.


The emigrants attempt to re-enter Florence, but are not allowed to
do so--The companies of the people restored--Restless conduct of
Corso Donati--The ruin of Corso Donati--Corso Donati accused and
condemned--Riot at the house of Corso--Death of Corso--His
character--Fruitless attempt of the Emperor Henry against the
Florentines--The emigrants are restored to the city--The citizens
place themselves under the king of Naples for five years--War with
Uguccione della Faggiuola--The Florentines routed--Florence
withdraws herself from subjection to King Robert, and expels the
Count Novello--Lando d'Agobbio--His tyranny--His departure.

The legate being returned to Rome, and hearing of the new disturbance
which had occurred, persuaded the pope that if he wished to unite the
Florentines, it would be necessary to have twelve of the first
citizens appear before him, and having thus removed the principal
causes of disunion, he might easily put a stop to it. The pontiff took
this advice, and the citizens, among whom was Corso Donati, obeyed the
summons. These having left the city, the legate told the exiles that
now, when the city was deprived of her leaders, was the time for them
to return. They, therefore, having assembled, came to Florence, and
entering by a part of the wall not yet completed, proceeded to the
piazza of St. Giovanni. It is worthy of remark, that those who, a
short time previously, when they came unarmed and begged to be
restored to their country, had fought for their return, now, when they
saw them in arms and resolved to enter by force, took arms to oppose
them (so much more was the common good esteemed than private
friendship), and being joined by the rest of the citizens, compelled
them to return to the places whence they had come. They failed in
their undertaking by having left part of their force at Lastra, and by
not having waited the arrival of Tolosetto Uberti, who had to come
from Pistoia with three hundred horse; for they thought celerity
rather than numbers would give them the victory; and it often happens,
in similar enterprises, that delay robs us of the occasion, and too
great anxiety to be forward prevents us of the power, or makes us act
before we are properly prepared.

The banished having retired, Florence again returned to her old
divisions; and in order to deprive the Cavalcanti of their authority,
the people took from them the Stinche, a castle situated in the Val di
Greve, and anciently belonging to the family. And as those who were
taken in it were the first who were put into the new prisons, the
latter were, and still continue, named after it,--the Stinche. The
leaders of the republic also re-established the companies of the
people, and gave them the ensigns that were first used by the
companies of the Arts; the heads of which were called Gonfaloniers of
the companies and colleagues of the Signory; and ordered, that when
any disturbance arose they should assist the Signory with arms, and in
peace with counsel. To the two ancient rectors they added an executor,
or sheriff, who, with the Gonfaloniers, was to aid in repressing the
insolence of the nobility.

In the meantime the pope died. Corso, with the other citizens,
returned from Rome; and all would have been well if his restless mind
had not occasioned new troubles. It was his common practice to be of a
contrary opinion to the most powerful men in the city; and whatever he
saw the people inclined to do, he exercised his utmost influence to
effect, in order to attach them to himself; so that he was a leader in
all differences, at the head of every new scheme, and whoever wished
to obtain anything extraordinary had recourse to him. This conduct
caused him to be hated by many of the highest distinction; and their
hatred increased to such a degree that the Neri faction to which he
belonged, became completely divided; for Corso, to attain his ends,
had availed himself of private force and authority, and of the enemies
of the state. But so great was the influence attached to his person,
that everyone feared him. Nevertheless, in order to strip him of the
popular favor (which by this means may easily be done), a report was
set on foot that he intended to make himself prince of the city; and
to the design his conduct gave great appearance of probability, for
his way of living quite exceeded all civil bounds; and the opinion
gained further strength, upon his taking to wife a daughter of
Uguccione della Faggiuola, head of the Ghibelline and Bianchi faction,
and one of the most powerful men in Tuscany.

When this marriage became known it gave courage to his adversaries,
and they took arms against him; for the same reason the people ceased
to defend him, and the greater part of them joined the ranks of his
enemies, the leaders of whom were Rosso della Tosa, Pazino dei Pazzi,
Geri Spini, and Berto Brunelleschi. These, with their followers, and
the greater part of the people, assembled before the palace of the
Signory, by whose command a charge was made before Piero Branca,
captain of the people, against Corso, of intending, with the aid of
Uguccione, to usurp the government. He was then summoned, and for
disobedience, declared a rebel; nor did two hours pass over between
the accusation and the sentence. The judgment being given, the
Signory, with the companies of the people under their ensigns, went in
search of him, who, although seeing himself abandoned by many of his
followers, aware of the sentence against him, the power of the
Signory, and the multitude of his enemies, remained undaunted, and
fortified his houses, in the hope of defending them till Uguccione,
for whom he had sent, should come to his Relief. His residences, and
the streets approaching them, were barricaded and taken possession of
by his partisans, who defended them so bravely that the enemy,
although in great numbers, could not force them, and the battle became
one of the hottest, with wounds and death on all sides. But the
people, finding they could not drive them from their ground, took
possession of the adjoining houses, and by unobserved passages
obtained entry. Corso, thus finding himself surrounded by his foes, no
longer retaining any hope of assistance from Uguccione, and without a
chance of victory, thought only of effecting his personal safety, and
with Gherardo Bordoni, and some of his bravest and most trusted
friends, fought a passage through the thickest of their enemies, and
effected their escape from the city by the Gate of the Cross. They
were, however, pursued by vast numbers, and Gherardo was slain upon
the bridge of Affrico by Boccaccio Cavicciulli. Corso was overtaken
and made prisoner by a party of Catalan horse, in the service of the
Signory, at Rovezzano. But when approaching Florence, that he might
avoid being seen and torn to pieces by his victorious enemies, he
allowed himself to fall from horseback, and being down, one of those
who conducted him cut his throat. The body was found by the monks of
San Salvi, and buried without any ceremony due to his rank. Such was
the end of Corso, to whom his country and the Neri faction were
indebted for much both of good and evil; and if he had possessed a
cooler spirit he would have left behind him a more happy memory.
Nevertheless, he deserves to be enumerated among the most
distinguished men our city has produced. True it is, that his restless
conduct made both his country and his party forgetful of their
obligation to him. The same cause also produced his miserable end, and
brought many troubles upon both his friends and his country.
Uguccione, coming to the assistance of his relative, learned at Remoli
that Corso had been overcome by the people, and finding that he could
not render him any assistance, in order to avoid bringing evil upon
himself without occasion, he returned home.

After the death of Corso, which occurred in the year 1308, the
disturbances were appeased, and the people lived quietly till it was
reported that the Emperor Henry was coming into Italy, and with him
all the Florentine emigrants, to whom he had promised restoration to
their country. The leaders of the government thought, that in order to
lessen the number of their enemies, it would be well to recall, of
their own will, all who had been expelled, excepting such as the law
had expressly forbidden to return. Of the number not admitted, were
the greater part of the Ghibellines, and some of those of the Bianchi
faction, among whom were Dante Alighieri, the sons of Veri de' Cerchi
and of Giano della Bella. Besides this they sent for aid to Robert,
king of Naples, and not being able to obtain it of him as friends,
they gave their city to him for five years, that he might defend them
as his own people. The emperor entered Italy by the way of Pisa, and
proceeded by the marshes to Rome, where he was crowned in the year
1312. Then, having determined to subdue the Florentines, he approached
their city by the way of Perugia and Arezzo, and halted with his army
at the monastery of San Salvi, about a mile from Florence, where he
remained fifty days without effecting anything. Despairing of success
against Florence, he returned to Pisa, where he entered into an
agreement with Frederick, king of Sicily, to undertake the conquest of
Naples, and proceeded with his people accordingly; but while filled
with the hope of victory, and carrying dismay into the heart of King
Robert, having reached Buonconvento, he died.

Shortly after this, Uguccione della Faggiuola, having by means of the
Ghibelline party become lord of Pisa and of Lucca, caused, with the
assistance of these cities, very serious annoyance to the neighbouring
places. In order to effect their relief the Florentines requested King
Robert would allow his brother Piero to take the command of their
armies. On the other hand, Uguccione continued to increase his power;
and either by force or fraud obtained possession of many castles in
the Val d'Arno and the Val di Nievole; and having besieged Monte
Cataini, the Florentines found it would be necessary to send to its
relief, that they might not see him burn and destroy their whole
territory. Having drawn together a large army, they entered the Val di
Nievole where they came up with Uguccione, and were routed after a
severe battle in which Piero the king's brother and 2,000 men were
slain; but the body of the Prince was never found. Neither was the
victory a joyful one to Uguccione; for one of his sons, and many of
the leaders of his army, fell in the strife.

The Florentines after this defeat fortified their territory, and King
Robert sent them, for commander of their forces, the Count d'Andria,
usually called Count Novello, by whose deportment, or because it is
natural to the Florentines to find every state tedious, the city,
notwithstanding the war with Uguccione, became divided into friends
and enemies of the king. Simon della Tosa, the Magalotti, and certain
others of the people who had attained greater influence in the
government than the rest, were leaders of the party against the king.
By these means messengers were sent to France, and afterward into
Germany, to solicit leaders and forces that they might drive out the
count, whom the king had appointed governor; but they failed of
obtaining any. Nevertheless they did not abandon their undertaking,
but still desirous of one whom they might worship, after an unavailing
search in France and Germany, they discovered him at Agobbio, and
having expelled the Count Novello, caused Lando d'Agobbio to be
brought into the city as Bargello sheriff), and gave him the most
unlimited power of the citizens. This man was cruel and rapacious; and
going through the country accompanied with an armed force, he put many
to death at the mere instigation of those who had endowed him with
authority. His insolence rose to such a height, that he stamped base
metal with the impression used upon the money of the state, and no one
had sufficient courage to oppose him, so powerful had he become by the
discords of Florence. Great, certainly, but unhappy city! which
neither the memory of past divisions, the fear of her enemies, nor a
king's authority, could unite for her own advantage; so that she found
herself in a state of the utmost wretchedness, harassed without by
Uguccione, and plundered within by Lando d'Agobbio.

The friends of the king and those who opposed Lando and his followers,
were either of noble families or the highest of the people, and all
Guelphs; but their adversaries being in power they could not discover
their minds without incurring the greatest danger. Being, however,
determined to deliver themselves from such disgraceful tyranny, they
secretly wrote to King Robert, requesting him to appoint for his vicar
in Florence Count Guido da Battifolle. The king complied; and the
opposite party, although the Signory were opposed to the king, on
account of the good quality of the count, did not dare to resist him.
Still his authority was not great, because the Signory and
Gonfaloniers of the companies were in favor of Lando and his party.

During these troubles, the daughter of King Albert of Bohemia passed
through Florence, in search of her husband, Charles, the son of King
Robert, and was received with the greatest respect by the friends of
the king, who complained to her of the unhappy state of the city, and
of the tyranny of Lando and his partisans; so that through her
influence and the exertions of the king's friends, the citizens were
again united, and before her departure, Lando was stripped of all
authority and send back to Agobbio, laden with blood and plunder. In
reforming the government, the sovereignty of the city was continued to
the king for another three years, and as there were then in office
seven Signors of the party of Lando, six more were appointed of the
king's friends, and some magistracies were composed of thirteen
Signors; but not long afterward the number was reduced to seven
according to ancient custom.


War with Castruccio--Castruccio marches against Prato and retires
without making any attempt--The emigrants not being allowed to
return, endeavor to enter the city by force, and are repulsed--
Change in the mode of electing the great officers of state--The
Squittini established--The Florentines under Raymond of Cardona
are routed by Castruccio at Altopascio--Treacherous designs of
Raymond--The Florentines give the sovereignty of the city to
Charles duke of Cambria, who appoints the duke of Athens for his
vicar--The duke of Calabria comes to Florence--The Emperor Louis
of Bavaria visits Italy--The excitement he produces--Death of
Castruccio and of Charles duke of Calabria--Reform of government.

About the same time, Uguccione lost the sovereignty of Lucca and of
Pisa, and Castruccio Castracani, a citizen of Lucca, became lord of
them, who, being a young man, bold and fierce, and fortunate in his
enterprises, in a short time became the head of the Ghibellines in
Tuscany. On this account the discords among the Florentines were laid
aside for some years, at first to abate the increasing power of
Castruccio, and afterward to unite their means for mutual defense
against him. And in order to give increased strength and efficacy to
their counsels, the Signory appointed twelve citizens whom they called
Buonomini, or good men, without whose advice and consent nothing of
any importance could be carried into effect. The conclusion of the
sovereignty of King Robert being come, the citizens took the
government into their own hands, reappointed the usual rectors and
magistracies, and were kept united by the dread of Castruccio, who,
after many efforts against the lords of Lunigiano, attacked Prato, to
the relief of which the Florentines having resolved to go, shut up
their shops and houses, and proceeded thither in a body, amounting to
twenty thousand foot and one thousand five hundred horse. And in order
to reduce the number of Castruccio's friends and augment their own,
the Signory declared that every rebel of the Guelphic party who should
come to the relief of Prato would be restored to his country; they
thus increased their army with an addition of four thousand men. This
great force being quickly brought to Prato, alarmed Castruccio so
much, that without trying the fortune of battle, he retired toward
Lucca. Upon this, disturbances arose in the Florentine camp between
the nobility and the people, the latter of whom wished to pursue the
foe and destroy him; the former were for returning home, saying they
had done enough for Prato in hazarding the safety of Florence on its
account, which they did not regret under the circumstances, but now,
that necessity no longer existing, the propriety of further risk
ceased also, as there was little to be gained and much to lose.
Not being able to agree, the question was referred to the Signory,
among whom the difference of opinion was equally great; and as the
matter spread throughout the city, the people drew together, and used
such threatening language against the nobility that they, being
apprehensive for their safety, yielded; but the resolution being
adopted too late, and by many unwillingly, gave the enemy time to
withdraw in safety to Lucca.

This unfortunate circumstance made the people so indignant against the
great that the Signory refused to perform the promise made to the
exiles, and the latter, anticipating the fact, determined to be
beforehand, and were at the gates of Florence to gain admittance into
the city before the rest of the forces; but their design did not take
effect, for their purpose being foreseen, they were repulsed by those
who had remained at home. They then endeavored to acquire by entreaty
what they had failed to obtain by force; and sent eight men as
ambassadors to the Signory, to remind them of the promise given, and
of the dangers they had undergone, in hope of the reward which had
been held out to them. And although the nobility, who felt the
obligation on account of their having particularly undertaken to
fulfill the promise for which the Signory had bound themselves, used
their utmost exertion in favor of the exiles, so great was the anger
of the multitude on account of their only partial success against
Castruccio, that they could not obtain their admission. This
occasioned cost and dishonor to the city; for many of the nobility,
taking offense at this proceeding, endeavored to obtain by arms that
which had been refused to their prayers, and agreed with the exiles
that they should come armed to the city, and that those within would
arm themselves in their defense. But the affair was discovered before
the appointed day arrived, so that those without found the city in
arms, and prepared to resist them. So completely subdued were those
within, that none dared to take arms; and thus the undertaking was
abandoned, without any advantage having been obtained by the party.
After the departure of the exiles it was determined to punish those
who had been instrumental in bringing them to the city; but, although
everyone knew who were the delinquents, none ventured to name and
still less to accuse them. It was, therefore, resolved that in order
to come at the truth, everyone should write the names of those he
believed to be guilty, and present the writing secretly to the
Capitano. By this means, Amerigo Donati, Teghiajo, Frescobaldi, and
Lotteringo Gherardini were accused; but, the judges being more
favorably disposed to them than, perhaps, their misdeeds deserved,
each escaped by paying a fine.

The tumults which arose in Florence from the coming of the rebels to
the gates, showed that one leader was insufficient for the companies
of the people; they, therefore, determined that in future each should
have three or four; and to every Gonfalonier two or three Pennonieri
(pennon bearers) were added, so that if the whole body were not drawn
out, a part might operate under one of them. And as happens in
republics, after any disturbance, some old laws are annulled and
others renewed, so on this occasion, as it had been previously
customary to appoint the Signory for a time only, the then existing
Signors and the Colleagues, feeling themselves possessed of sufficient
power, assumed the authority to fix upon the Signors that would have
to sit during the next forty months, by putting their names into a bag
or purse, and drawing them every two months. But, before the
expiration of the forty months, many citizens were jealous that their
names had not been deposited among the rest, and a new emborsation was
made. From this beginning arose the custom of emborsing or enclosing
the names of all who should take office in any of the magistracies for
a long time to come, as well those whose offices employed them within
the city as those abroad, though previously the councils of the
retiring magistrates had elected those who were to succeed them. These
emborsations were afterward called Squittini, or pollings,--and it was
thought they would prevent much trouble to the city, and remove the
cause of those tumults which every three, or at most five, years, took
place upon the creation of magistrates, from the number of candidates
for office. And not being able to adopt a better expedient, they made
use of this, but did not observe the defects which lay concealed under
such a trivial accommodation.

In 1325, Castruccio, having taken possession of Pistoia, became so
powerful that the Florentines, fearing his greatness, resolved, before
he should get himself firmly seated in his new conquest, to attack him
and withdraw it from his authority. Of their citizens and friends they
mustered an army amounting to 20,000 foot and 3,000 horse, and with
this body encamped before Altopascio, with the intention of taking the
place and thus preventing it from relieving Pistoia. Being successful
in the first part of their design, they marched toward Lucca, and laid
the country waste in their progress; but from the little prudence and
less integrity of their leader, Ramondo di Cardona, they made but
small progress; for he, having observed them upon former occasions
very prodigal of their liberty, placing it sometimes in the hands of a
king, at others in those of a legate, or persons of even inferior
quality, thought, if he could bring them into some difficulty, it
might easily happen that they would make him their prince. Nor did he
fail frequently to mention these matters, and required to have that
authority in the city which had been given him over the army,
endeavoring to show that otherwise he could not enforce the obedience
requisite to a leader. As the Florentines did not consent to this, he
wasted time, and allowed Castruccio to obtain the assistance which the
Visconti and other tyrants of Lombardy had promised him, and thus
become very strong. Ramondo, having willfully let the opportunity of
victory pass away, now found himself unable to escape; for Castruccio
coming up with him at Altopascio, a great battle ensued in which many
citizens were slain and taken prisoners, and among the former fell
Ramondo, who received from fortune that reward of bad faith and
mischievous counsels which he had richly deserved from the
Florentines. The injury they suffered from Castruccio, after the
battle, in plunder, prisoners, destruction, and burning of property,
is quite indescribable; for, without any opposition, during many
months, he led his predatory forces wherever he thought proper, and it
seemed sufficient to the Florentines if, after such a terrible event,
they could save their city.

Still they were not so absolutely cast down as to prevent them from
raising great sums of money, hiring troops, and sending to their
friends for assistance; but all they could do was insufficient to
restrain such a powerful enemy; so that they were obliged to offer the
sovereignty to Charles duke of Calabria, son of King Robert, if they
could induce him to come to their defense; for these princes, being
accustomed to rule Florence, preferred her obedience to her
friendship. But Charles, being engaged in the wars of Sicily, and
therefore unable to undertake the sovereignty of the city, sent in his
stead Walter, by birth a Frenchman, and duke of Athens. He, as
viceroy, took possession of the city, and appointed the magistracies
according to his own pleasure; but his mode of proceeding was quite
correct, and so completely contrary to his real nature, that everyone
respected him.

The affairs of Sicily being composed, Charles came to Florence with a
thousand horse. He made his entry into the city in July, 1326, and his
coming prevented further pillage of the Florentine territory by
Castruccio. However, the influence which they acquired without the
city was lost within her walls, and the evils which they did not
suffer from their enemies were brought upon them by their friends; for
the Signory could not do anything without the consent of the duke of
Calabria, who, in the course of one year, drew from the people 400,000
florins, although by the agreement entered into with him, the sum was
not to exceed 200,000; so great were the burdens with which either
himself or his father constantly oppressed them.

To these troubles were added new jealousies and new enemies; for the
Ghibellines of Lombardy became so alarmed upon the arrival of Charles
in Tuscany, that Galeazzo Visconti and the other Lombard tyrants, by
money and promises, induced Louis of Bavaria, who had lately been
elected emperor contrary to the wish of the pope, to come into Italy.
After passing through Lombardy he entered Tuscany, and with the
assistance of Castruccio, made himself master of Pisa, from whence,
having been pacified with sums of money, he directed his course
towards Rome. This caused the duke of Calabria to be apprehensive for
the safety of Naples; he therefore left Florence, and appointed as his
viceroy Filippo da Saggineto.

After the departure of the emperor, Castruccio made himself master of
Pisa, but the Florentines, by a treaty with Pistoia, withdrew her from
obedience to him. Castruccio then besieged Pistoia, and persevered
with so much vigor and resolution, that although the Florentines often
attempted to relieve her, by attacking first his army and then his
country, they were unable either by force or policy to remove him; so
anxious was he to punish the Pistolesi and subdue the Florentines. At
length the people of Pistoia were compelled to receive him for their
sovereign; but this event, although greatly to his glory, proved but
little to his advantage, for upon his return to Lucca he died. And as
one event either of good or evil seldom comes alone, at Naples also
died Charles duke of Calabria and lord of Florence, so that in a short
time, beyond the expectation of their most sanguine hopes, the
Florentines found themselves delivered from the domination of the one
and the fear of the other. Being again free, they set about the
reformation of the city, annulled all the old councils, and created
two new ones, the one composed of 300 citizens from the class of the
people, the other of 250 from the nobility and the people.

The first was called the Council of the People, the other the Council
of the Commune.


The Emperor at Rome--The Florentines refuse to purchase Lucca, and
repent of it--Enterprises of the Florentines--Conspiracy of the
Bardi and the Frescobaldi--The conspiracy discovered and checked--
Maffeo da Marradi appeases the tumult--Lucca is purchased by the
Florentines and taken by the Pisans--The duke of Athens at
Florence--The nobility determine to make him prince of the city.

The emperor, being arrived at Rome, created an anti-pope, did many
things in opposition to the church, and attempted many others, but
without effect, so that at last he retired with disgrace, and went to
Pisa, where, either because they were not paid, or from disaffection,
about 800 German horse mutinied, and fortified themselves at
Montechiaro upon the Ceruglio; and when the emperor had left Pisa to
go into Lombardy, they took possession of Lucca and drove out
Francesco Castracani, whom he had left there. Designing to turn their
conquest to account, they offered it to the Florentines for 80,000
florins, which, by the advice of Simone della Tosa, was refused. This
resolution, if they had remained in it, would have been of the
greatest utility to the Florentines; but as they shortly afterward
changed their minds, it became most pernicious; for although at the
time they might have obtained peaceful possession of her for a small
sum and would not, they afterward wished to have her and could not,
even for a much larger amount; which caused many and most hurtful
changes to take place in Florence. Lucca, being refused by the
Florentines, was purchased by Gherardino Spinoli, a Genoese, for
30,000 florins. And as men are often less anxious to take what is in
their power than desirous of that which they cannot attain, as soon as
the purchase of Gherardino became known, and for how small a sum it
had been bought, the people of Florence were seized with an extreme
desire to have it, blaming themselves and those by whose advice they
had been induced to reject the offer made to them. And in order to
obtain by force what they had refused to purchase, they sent troops to
plunder and overrun the country of the Lucchese.

About this time the emperor left Italy. The anti-pope, by means of the
Pisans, became a prisoner in France; and the Florentines from the
death of Castruccio, which occurred in 1328, remained in domestic
peace till 1340, and gave their undivided attention to external
affairs, while many wars were carried on in Lombardy, occasioned by
the coming of John king of Bohemia, and in Tuscany, on account of
Lucca. During this period Florence was ornamented with many new
buildings, and by the advice of Giotto, the most distinguished painter
of his time, they built the tower of Santa Reparata. Besides this, the
waters of the Arno having, in 1333, risen twelve feet above their
ordinary level, destroyed some of the bridges and many buildings, all
which were restored with great care and expense.

In the year 1340, new sources of disagreement arose. The great had two
ways of increasing or preserving their power; the one, so to restrain
the emborsation of magistrates, that the lot always fell upon
themselves or their friends; the other, that having the election of
the rectors, they were always favorable to their party. This second
mode they considered of so great importance, that the ordinary rectors
not being sufficient for them, they on some occasions elected a third,
and at this time they had made an extraordinary appointment, under the
title of captain of the guard, of Jacopo Gabrielli of Agobbio, and
endowed him with unlimited authority over the citizens. This man,
under the sanction of those who governed, committed constant outrages;
and among those whom he injured were Piero de' Bardi and Bardo
Frescobaldi. These being of the nobility, and naturally proud, could
not endure that a stranger, supported by a few powerful men, should
without cause injure them with impunity, and consequently entered into
a conspiracy against him and those by whom he was supported. They were
joined by many noble families, and some of the people, who were
offended with the tyranny of those in power. Their plan was, that each
should bring into his house a number of armed men, and on the morning
after the day of All Saints, when almost all would be in the temples
praying for their dead, they should take arms, kill the Capitano and
those who were at the head of affairs, and then, with a new Signory
and new ordinances, reform the government.

But, as the more a dangerous business is considered, the less
willingly it is undertaken, it commonly happens, when there is any
time allowed between the determining upon a perilous enterprise and
its execution, that the conspiracy by one means or another becomes
known. Andrea de' Bardi was one of the conspirators, and upon
reconsideration of the matter, the fear of the punishment operated
more powerfully upon him than the desire of revenge, and he disclosed
the affair to Jacopo Alberti, his brother-in-law. Jacopo acquainted
the Priors, and they informed the government. And as the danger was
near, All Saints' day being just at hand, many citizens met together
in the palace; and thinking their peril increased by delay, they
insisted that the Signory should order the alarm to be rung, and
called the people together in arms. Taldo Valori was at this time
Gonfalonier, and Francesco Salviati one of the Signory, who, being
relatives of the Bardi, were unwilling to summon the people with the
bell, alleging as a reason that it is by no means well to assemble
them in arms upon every slight occasion, for power put into the hands
of an unrestrained multitude was never beneficial; that it is an easy
matter to excite them to violence, but a difficult thing to restrain
them; and that, therefore, it would be taking a more prudent course if
they were to inquire into the truth of the affair, and punish the
delinquents by the civil authority, than to attempt, upon a simple
information, to correct it by such a tumultuous means, and thus hazard
the safety of the city. None would listen to these remarks; the
Signory were assailed with insolent behavior and indecent expressions,
and compelled to sound the alarm, upon which the people presently
assembled in arms. On the other hand, the Bardi and the Frescobaldi,
finding themselves discovered, that they might conquer with glory or
die without shame, armed themselves, in the hope that they would be
able to defend that part of the city beyond the river, where their
houses were situated; and they fortified the bridge in expectation of
assistance, which they expected from the nobles and their friends in
the country. Their design was frustrated by the people who, in common
with themselves, occupied this part of the city; for these took arms
in favor of the Signory, so that, seeing themselves thus
circumstanced, they abandoned the bridges, and betook themselves to
the street in which the Bardi resided, as being a stronger situation
than any other; and this they defended with great bravery.

Jacopo d'Agobbio, knowing the whole conspiracy was directed against
himself, in fear of death, terrified and vanquished, kept himself
surrounded with forces near the palace of the Signory; but the other
rectors, who were much less blamable, discovered greater courage, and
especially the podesta or provost, whose name was Maffeo da Marradi.
He presented himself among the combatants without any fear, and
passing the bridge of the Rubaconte amid the swords of the Bardi, made
a sign that he wished to speak to them. Upon this, their reverence for
the man, his noble demeanor, and the excellent qualities he was known
to possess, caused an immediate cessation of the combat, and induced
them to listen to him patiently. He very gravely, but without the use
of any bitter or aggravating expressions, blamed their conspiracy,
showed the danger they would incur if they still contended against the
popular feeling, gave them reason to hope their complaints would be
heard and mercifully considered, and promised that he himself would
use his endeavors in their behalf. He then returned to the Signory,
and implored them to spare the blood of the citizens, showing the
impropriety of judging them unheard, and at length induced them to
consent that the Bardi and the Frescobaldi, with their friends, should
leave the city, and without impediment be allowed to retire to their
castles. Upon their departure the people being again disarmed, the
Signory proceeded against those only of the Bardi and Frescobaldi
families who had taken arms. To lessen their power, they bought of the
Bardi the castle of Mangona and that of Vernia; and enacted a law
which provided that no citizen should be allowed to possess a castle
or fortified place within twenty miles of Florence.

After a few months, Stiatta Frescobaldi was beheaded, and many of his
family banished. Those who governed, not satisfied with having subdued
the Bardi and the Frescobaldi, as is most commonly the case, the more
authority they possessed the worse use they made of it and the more
insolent they became. As they had hitherto had one captain of the
guard who afflicted the city, they now appointed another for the
country, with unlimited authority, to the end that those whom they
suspected might abide neither within nor without. And they excited
them to such excesses against the whole of the nobility, that these
were driven to desperation, and ready to sell both themselves and the
city to obtain revenge. The occasion at length came, and they did not
fail to use it.

The troubles of Tuscany and Lombardy had brought the city of Lucca
under the rule of Mastino della Scala, lord of Verona, who, though
bound by contract to assign her to the Florentines, had refused to do
so; for, being lord of Parma, he thought he should be able to retain
her, and did not trouble himself about his breach of faith. Upon this
the Florentines joined the Venetians, and with their assistance
brought Mastino to the brink of ruin. They did not, however, derive
any benefit from this beyond the slight satisfaction of having
conquered him; for the Venetians, like all who enter into league with
less powerful states than themselves, having acquired Trevigi and
Vicenza, made peace with Mastino without the least regard for the
Florentines. Shortly after this, the Visconti, lords of Milan, having
taken Parma from Mastino, he found himself unable to retain Lucca, and
therefore determined to sell it. The competitors for the purchase were
the Florentines and the Pisans; and in the course of the treaty the
Pisans, finding that the Florentines, being the richer people, were
about to obtain it, had recourse to arms, and, with the assistance of
the Visconti, marched against Lucca. The Florentines did not, on that
account, withdraw from the purchase, but having agreed upon the terms
with Mastino, paid part of the money, gave security for the remainder,
and sent Naddo Rucellai, Giovanni di Bernadino de' Medici, and Rosso
di Ricciardo de' Ricci, to take possession, who entered Lucca by
force, and Mastino's people delivered the city to them. Nevertheless,
the Pisans continued the siege, and the Florentines used their utmost
endeavors to relieve her; but after a long war, loss of money, and
accumulation of disgrace, they were compelled to retire, and the
Pisans became lords of Lucca.

The loss of this city, as in like cases commonly happens, exasperated
the people of Florence against the members of the government; at every
street corner and public place they were openly censured, and the
entire misfortune was laid to the charge of their greediness and
mismanagement. At the beginning of the war, twenty citizens had been
appointed to undertake the direction of it, who appointed Malatesta da
Rimini to the command of the forces. He having exhibited little zeal
and less prudence, they requested assistance from Robert king of
Naples, and he sent them Walter duke of Athens, who, as Providence
would have it, to bring about the approaching evils, arrived at
Florence just at the moment when the undertaking against Lucca had
entirely failed. Upon this the Twenty, seeing the anger of the people,
thought to inspire them with fresh hopes by the appointment of a new
leader, and thus remove, or at least abate, the causes of calumny
against themselves. As there was much to be feared, and that the duke
of Athens might have greater authority to defend them, they first
chose him for their coadjutor, and then appointed him to the command
of the army. The nobility, who were discontented from the causes above
mentioned, having many of them been acquainted with Walter, when upon
a former occasion he had governed Florence for the duke of Calabria,
thought they had now an opportunity, though with the ruin of the city,
of subduing their enemies; for there was no means of prevailing
against those who had oppressed them but of submitting to the
authority of a prince who, being acquainted with the worth of one
party and the insolence of the other, would restrain the latter and
reward the former. To this they added a hope of the benefits they
might derive from him when he had acquired the principality by their
means. They, therefore, took several occasions of being with him
secretly, and entreated he would take the command wholly upon himself,
offering him the utmost assistance in their power. To their influence
and entreaty were also added those of some families of the people;
these were the Peruzzi, Acciajuoli, Antellesi, and Buonaccorsi, who,
being overwhelmed with debts, and without means of their own, wished
for those of others to liquidate them, and, by the slavery of their
country, to deliver themselves from their servitude to their
creditors. These demonstrations excited the ambitious mind of the duke
to greater desire of dominion, and in order to gain himself the
reputation of strict equity and justice, and thus increase his favor
with the plebeians, he prosecuted those who had conducted the war
against Lucca, condemned many to pay fines, others to exile, and put
to death Giovanni de' Medici, Naddo Rucellai, and Guglielmo Altoviti.


The Duke of Athens requires to be made prince of Florence--The
Signory address the duke upon the subject--The plebeians proclaim
him prince of Florence for life--Tyrannical proceedings of the
duke--The city disgusted with him--Conspiracies against the duke--
The duke discovers the conspiracies, and becomes terrified--The
city rises against him--He is besieged in the palace--Measures
adopted by the citizens for reform of the government--The duke is
compelled to withdraw from the city--Miserable deaths of Guglielmo
da Scesi and his son--Departure of the duke of Athens--His

These executions greatly terrified the middle class of citizens, but
gave satisfaction to the great and to the plebeians;--to the latter,
because it is their nature to delight in evil; and to the former, by
thus seeing themselves avenged of the many wrongs they had suffered
from the people. When the duke passed along the streets he was hailed
with loud cheers, the boldness of his proceedings was praised, and
both parties joined in open entreaties that he would search out the
faults of the citizens, and punish them.

The office of the Twenty began to fall into disuse, while the power of
the duke became great, and the influence of fear excessive; so that
everyone, in order to appear friendly to him, caused his arms to be
painted over their houses, and the name alone was all he needed to be
absolutely prince. Thinking himself upon such a footing that he might
safely attempt anything, he gave the Signory to understand that he
judged it necessary for the good of the city, that the sovereignty
should be freely given to him, and that as the rest of the citizens
were willing that it should be so, he desired they would also consent.
The Signory, notwithstanding many had foreseen the ruin of their
country, were much disturbed at this demand; and although they were
aware of the dangerous position in which they stood, that they might
not be wanting in their duty, resolutely refused to comply. The duke
had, in order to assume a greater appearance of religion and humanity,
chosen for his residence the convent of the Minor Canons of St. Croce,
and in order to carry his evil designs into effect, proclaimed that
all the people should, on the following morning, present themselves
before him in the piazza of the convent. This command alarmed the
Signory much more than his discourse to them had done, and they
consulted with those citizens whom they thought most attached to their
country and to liberty; but they could not devise any better plan,
knowing the power of which the duke was possessed, than to endeavor by
entreaty to induce him either to forego his design or to make his
government less intolerable. A party of them was, therefore, appointed
to wait upon him, one of whom addressed him in the following manner:--

"We appear before you, my lord, induced first by the demand which you
have made, and then by the orders you have given for a meeting of the
people; for it appears to us very clearly, that it is your intention
to effect by extraordinary means the design from which we have
hitherto withheld our consent. It is not, however, our intention to
oppose you with force, but only to show what a heavy charge you take
upon yourself, and the dangerous course you adopt; to the end that you
may remember our advice and that of those who, not by consideration of
what is beneficial for you, but for the gratification of their own
unreasonable wishes, have advised you differently. You are endeavoring
to reduce to slavery a city that has always existed in freedom; for
the authority which we have at times conceded to the kings of Naples
was companionship and not servitude. Have you considered the mighty
things which the name of liberty implies to such a city as this, and
how delightful it is to those who hear it? It has a power which
nothing can subdue, time cannot wear away, nor can any degree of merit
in a prince countervail the loss of it. Consider, my lord, how great
the force must be that can keep a city like this in subjection, no
foreign aid would enable you to do it; neither can you confide in
those at home; for they who are at present your friends, and advise
you to adopt the course you now pursue, as soon as with your
assistance they have overcome their enemies, will at once turn their
thoughts toward effecting your destruction, and then take the
government upon themselves. The plebeians, in whom you confide, will
change upon any accident, however trivial; so that in a very short
time you may expect to see the whole city opposed to you, which will
produce both their ruin and your own. Nor will you be able to find any
remedy for this; for princes who have but few enemies may make their
government very secure by the death or banishment of those who are
opposed to them; but when the hatred is universal, no security
whatever can be found, for you cannot tell from what direction the
evil may commence; and he who has to apprehend every man his enemy
cannot make himself assured of anyone. And if you should attempt to
secure a friend or two, you would only increase the dangers of your
situation; for the hatred of the rest would be increased by your
success, and they would become more resolutely disposed to vengeance.

"That time can neither destroy nor abate the desire for freedom is
most certain; for it has been often observed, that those have
reassumed their liberty who in their own persons had never tasted of
its charms, and love it only from remembrance of what they have heard
their fathers relate; and, therefore, when recovered, have preserved
it with indomitable resolution and at every hazard. And even when
their fathers could not remember it, the public buildings, the halls
of the magistracy, and the insignia of free institutions, remind them
of it; and these things cannot fail to be known and greatly desired by
every class of citizens.

"What is it you imagine you can do, that would be an equivalent for
the sweets of liberty, or make men lose the desire of their present
conditions? No; if you were to join the whole of Tuscany to the
Florentine rule, if you were to return to the city daily in triumph
over her enemies, what could it avail? The glory would not be ours,
but yours. We should not acquire fellow-citizens, but partakers of our
bondage, who would serve to sink us still deeper in ignominy. And if
your conduct were in every respect upright, your demeanor amiable, and
your judgments equitable, all these would be insufficient to make you
beloved. If you imagine otherwise, you deceive yourself; for, to one
accustomed to the enjoyment of liberty, the slightest chains feel
heavy, and every tie upon his free soul oppresses him. Besides, it is
impossible to find a violent people associated with a good prince, for
of necessity they must soon become alike, or their difference produce
the ruin of one of them. You may, therefore, be assured, that you will
either have to hold this city by force, to effect which, guards,
castles, and external aid have oft been found insufficient, or be
content with the authority we have conferred; and this we would
advise, reminding you that no dominion can be durable to which the
governed do not consent; and we have no wish to lead you, blinded by
ambition, to such a point that, unable either to stand or advance, you
must, to the great injury of both, of necessity fall."

This discourse did not in the slightest degree soften the obdurate
mind of the duke, who replied that it was not his intention to rob the
city of her liberty, but to restore it to her; for those cities alone
are in slavery that are disunited, while the united are free. As
Florence, by her factions and ambition, had deprived herself of
liberty, he should restore, not take it from her; and as he had been
induced to take this charge upon himself, not from his own ambition,
but at the entreaty of a great number of citizens, they would do well
to be satisfied with that which produced contentment among the rest.
With regard to the danger he might incur, he thought nothing of it;
for it was not the part of a good man to avoid doing good from his
apprehension of evil, and it was the part of a coward to shun a
glorious undertaking because some uncertainty attended the success of
the attempt; and he knew he should so conduct himself, that they would
soon see they had entertained great apprehensions and been in little

The Signory then agreed, finding they could not do better, that on the
following morning the people should be assembled in their accustomed
place of meeting, and with their consent the Signory should confer
upon the duke the sovereignty of the city for one year, on the same
conditions as it had been intrusted to the duke of Calabria. It was
upon the 8th of November, 1342, when the duke, accompanied by Giovanni
della Tosa and all his confederates, with many other citizens, came to
the piazza or court of the palace, and having, with the Signory
mounted upon the ringhiera, or rostrum (as the Florentines call those
steps which lead to the palace), the agreement which had been entered
into between the Signory and himself was read. When they had come to
the passage which gave the government to him for one year, the people
shouted, "FOR LIFE." Upon this, Francesco Rustichelli, one of the
Signory, arose to speak, and endeavored to abate the tumult and
procure a hearing; but the mob, with their hootings, prevented him
from being heard by anyone; so that with the consent of the people the
duke was elected, not for one year merely, but for life. He was then
borne through the piazza by the crowd, shouting his name as they

It is the custom that he who is appointed to the guard of the palace
shall, in the absence of the Signory, remain locked within. This
office was at that time held by Rinieri di Giotto, who, bribed by the
friends of the duke, without waiting for any force, admitted him
immediately. The Signory, terrified and dishonored, retired to their
own houses; the palace was plundered by the followers of the duke, the
Gonfalon of the people torn to pieces, and the arms of the duke placed
over the palace. All this happened to the indescribable sorrow of good
men, though to the satisfaction of those who, either from ignorance or
malignity, were consenting parties.

The duke, having acquired the sovereignty of the city, in order to
strip those of all authority who had been defenders of her liberty,
forbade the Signory to assemble in the palace, and appointed a private
dwelling for their use. He took their colors from the Gonfaloniers of
the companies of the people; abolished the ordinances made for the
restraint of the great; set at liberty those who were imprisoned;
recalled the Bardi and the Frescobaldi from exile, and forbade
everyone from carrying arms about his person. In order the better to
defend himself against those within the city, he made friends of all
he could around it, and therefore conferred great benefits upon the
Aretini and other subjects of the Florentines. He made peace with the
Pisans, although raised to power in order that he might carry on war
against them; ceased paying interest to those merchants who, during
the war against Lucca, had lent money to the republic; increased the
old taxes, levied new ones, and took from the Signory all authority.
His rectors were Baglione da Perugia and Guglielmo da Scesi, who, with
Cerrettieri Bisdomini, were the persons with whom he consulted on
public affairs. He imposed burdensome taxes upon the citizens; his
decisions between contending parties were unjust; and that precision
and humanity which he had at first assumed, became cruelty and pride;
so that many of the greatest citizens and noblest people were, either
by fines, death, or some new invention, grievously oppressed. And in
completing the same bad system, both without the city and within, he
appointed six rectors for the country, who beat and plundered the
inhabitants. He suspected the great, although he had been benefited by
them, and had restored many to their country; for he felt assured that
the generous minds of the nobility would not allow them, from any
motives, to submit contentedly to his authority. He also began to
confer benefits and advantages upon the lowest orders, thinking that
with their assistance, and the arms of foreigners, he would be able to
preserve the tyranny. The month of May, during which feasts are held,
being come, he caused many companies to be formed of the plebeians and
very lowest of the people, and to these, dignified with splendid
titles, he gave colors and money; and while one party went in
bacchanalian procession through the city, others were stationed in
different parts of it, to receive them as guests. As the report of the
duke's authority spread abroad, many of French origin came to him, for
all of whom he found offices and emoluments, as if they had been the
most trustworthy of men; so that in a short time Florence became not
only subject to French dominion, but adopted their dress and manners;
for men and women, without regard to propriety or sense of shame,
imitated them. But that which disgusted the people most completely was
the violence which, without any distinction of quality or rank, he and
his followers committed upon the women.

The people were filled with indignation, seeing the majesty of the
state overturned, its ordinances annihilated, its laws annulled, and
every decent regulation set at naught; for men unaccustomed to royal
pomp could not endure to see this man surrounded with his armed
satellites on foot and on horseback; and having now a closer view of
their disgrace, they were compelled to honor him whom they in the
highest degree hated. To this hatred, was added the terror occasioned
by the continual imposition of new taxes and frequent shedding of
blood, with which he impoverished and consumed the city.

The duke was not unaware of these impressions existing strongly in the
people's minds, nor was he without fear of the consequences; but still
pretended to think himself beloved; and when Matteo di Morozzo, either
to acquire his favor or to free himself from danger, gave information
that the family of the Medici and some others had entered into a
conspiracy against him he not only did not inquire into the matter,
but caused the informer to be put to a cruel death. This mode of
proceeding restrained those who were disposed to acquaint him of his
danger and gave additional courage to such as sought his ruin. Bertone
Cini, having ventured to speak against the taxes with which the people
were loaded, had his tongue cut out with such barbarous cruelty as to
cause his death. This shocking act increased the people's rage, and
their hatred of the duke; for those who were accustomed to discourse
and to act upon every occasion with the greatest boldness, could not
endure to live with their hands tied and forbidden to speak.

This oppression increased to such a degree, that not merely the
Florentines, who though unable to preserve their liberty cannot endure
slavery, but the most servile people on earth would have been roused
to attempt the recovery of freedom; and consequently many citizens of
all ranks resolved either to deliver themselves from this odious
tyranny or die in the attempt. Three distinct conspiracies were
formed; one of the great; another of the people, and the third of the
working classes; each of which, besides the general causes which
operated upon the whole, were excited by some other particular
grievance. The great found themselves deprived of all participation in
the government; the people had lost the power they possessed, and the
artificers saw themselves deficient in the usual remuneration of their

Agnolo Acciajuoli was at this time archbishop of Florence, and by his
discourses had formerly greatly favored the duke, and procured him
many followers among the higher class of the people. But when he found
him lord of the city, and became acquainted with his tyrannical mode
of proceeding, it appeared to him that he had misled his countrymen;
and to correct the evil he had done, he saw no other course, but to
attempt the cure by the means which had caused it. He therefore became
the leader of the first and most powerful conspiracy, and was joined
by the Bardi, Rossi, Frescobaldi, Scali Altoviti, Magalotti, Strozzi,
and Mancini. Of the second, the principals were Manno and Corso
Donati, and with them the Pazzi, Cavicciulli, Cerchi, and Albizzi. Of
the third the first was Antonio Adimari, and with him the Medici,
Bordini, Rucellai, and Aldobrandini. It was the intention of these
last, to slay him in the house of the Albizzi, whither he was expected
to go on St. John's day, to see the horses run, but he not having
gone, their design did not succeed. They then resolved to attack him
as he rode through the city; but they found this would be very
difficult; for he was always accompanied with a considerable armed
force, and never took the same road twice together, so that they had
no certainty of where to find him. They had a design of slaying him in
the council, although they knew that if he were dead, they would be at
the mercy of his followers.

While these matters were being considered by the conspirators, Antonio
Adimari, in expectation of getting assistance from them, disclosed the
affair to some Siennese, his friends, naming certain of the
conspirators, and assuring them that the whole city was ready to rise
at once. One of them communicated the matter to Francesco
Brunelleschi, not with a design to injure the plot, but in the hope
that he would join them. Francesco, either from personal fear, or
private hatred of some one, revealed the whole to the duke; whereupon,
Pagolo del Mazecha and Simon da Monterappoli were taken, who
acquainted him with the number and quality of the conspirators. This
terrified him, and he was advised to request their presence rather
than to take them prisoners, for if they fled, he might without
disgrace, secure himself by banishment of the rest. He therefore sent
for Antonio Adimari, who, confiding in his companions, appeared
immediately, and was detained. Francesco Brunelleschi and Uguccione
Buondelmonti advised the duke to take as many of the conspirators
prisoners as he could, and put them to death; but he, thinking his
strength unequal to his foes, did not adopt this course, but took
another, which, had it succeeded, would have freed him from his
enemies and increased his power. It was the custom of the duke to call
the citizens together upon some occasions and advise with them. He
therefore having first sent to collect forces from without, made a
list of three hundred citizens, and gave it to his messengers, with
orders to assemble them under the pretense of public business; and
having drawn them together, it was his intention either to put them to
death or imprison them.

The capture of Antonio Adimari and the sending for forces, which could
not be kept secret, alarmed the citizens, and more particularly those
who were in the plot, so that the boldest of them refused to attend,
and as each had read the list, they sought each other, and resolved to
rise at once and die like men, with arms in their hands, rather than
be led like calves to the slaughter. In a very short time the chief
conspirators became known to each other, and resolved that the next
day, which was the 26th July, 1343, they would raise a disturbance in
the Old Market place, then arm themselves and call the people to

The next morning being come, at nine o'clock, according to agreement,
they took arms, and at the call of liberty assembled, each party in
its own district, under the ensigns and with the arms of the people,
which had been secretly provided by the conspirators. All the heads of
families, as well of the nobility as of the people, met together, and
swore to stand in each other's defense, and effect the death of the
duke; except some of the Buondelmonti and of the Cavalcanti, with
those four families of the people which had taken so conspicuous a
part in making him sovereign, and the butchers, with others, the
lowest of the plebeians, who met armed in the piazza in his favor.

The duke immediately fortified the place, and ordered those of his
people who were lodged in different parts of the city to mount upon
horseback and join those in the court; but, pn their way thither, many
were attacked and slain. However, about three hundred horse assembled,
and the duke was in doubt whether he should come forth and meet the
enemy, or defend himself within. On the other hand, the Medici,
Cavicciulli, Rucellai, and other families who had been most injured by
him, fearful that if he came forth, many of those who had taken arms
against him would discover themselves his partisans, in order to
deprive him of the occasion of attacking them and increasing the
number of his friends, took the lead and assailed the palace. Upon
this, those families of the people who had declared for the duke,
seeing themselves boldly attacked, changed their minds, and all took
part with the citizens, except Uguccione Buondelmonti, who retired
into the palace, and Giannozzo Cavalcanti, who having withdrawn with
some of his followers to the new market, mounted upon a bench, and
begged that those who were going in arms to the piazza, would take the
part of the duke. In order to terrify them, he exaggerated the number
of his people and threatened all with death who should obstinately
persevere in their undertaking against their sovereign. But not
finding any one either to follow him, or to chastise his insolence,
and seeing his labor fruitless, he withdrew to his own house.

In the meantime, the contest in the piazza between the people and the
forces of the duke was very great; but although the place served them
for defense, they were overcome, some yielding to the enemy, and
others, quitting their horses, fled within the walls. While this was
going on, Corso and Amerigo Donati, with a part of the people, broke
open the stinche, or prisons; burnt the papers of the provost and of
the public chamber; pillaged the houses of the rectors, and slew all
who had held offices under the duke whom they could find. The duke,
finding the piazza in possession of his enemies, the city opposed to
him, and without any hope of assistance, endeavored by an act of
clemency to recover the favor of the people. Having caused those whom
he had made prisoners to be brought before him, with amiable and
kindly expressions he set them at liberty, and made Antonio Adimari a
knight, although quite against his will. He caused his own arms to be
taken down, and those of the people to be replaced over the palace;
but these things coming out of season, and forced by his necessities,
did him little good. He remained, notwithstanding all he did, besieged
in the palace, and saw that having aimed at too much he had lost all,
and would most likely, after a few days, die either of hunger, or by
the weapons of his enemies. The citizens assembled in the church of
Santa Reparata, to form the new government, and appointed fourteen
citizens, half from the nobility and half from the people, who, with
the archbishop, were invested with full authority to remodel the state
of Florence. They also elected six others to take upon them the duties
of provost, till he who should be finally chosen took office, the
duties of which were usually performed by a subject of some
neighboring state.

Many had come to Florence in defense of the people; among whom were a
party from Sienna, with six ambassadors, men of high consideration in
their own country. These endeavored to bring the people and the duke
to terms; but the former refused to listen to any whatever, unless
Guglielmo da Scesi and his son, with Cerrettieri Bisdomini, were first
given up to them. The duke would not consent to this; but being
threatened by those who were shut up with him, he was forced to
comply. The rage of men is certainly always found greater, and their
revenge more furious upon the recovery of liberty, than when it has
only been defended. Guglielmo and his son were placed among the
thousands of their enemies, and the latter was not yet eighteen years
old; neither his beauty, his innocence, nor his youth, could save him
from the fury of the multitude; but both were instantly slain. Those
who could not wound them while alive, wounded them after they were
dead; and not satisfied with tearing them to pieces, they hewed their
bodies with swords, tore them with their hands, and even with their
teeth. And that every sense might be satiated with vengeance, having
first heard their moans, seen their wounds, and touched their
lacerated bodies, they wished even the stomach to be satisfied, that
having glutted the external senses, the one within might also have its
share. This rabid fury, however hurtful to the father and son, was
favorable to Cerrettieri; for the multitude, wearied with their
cruelty toward the former, quite forgot him, so that he, not being
asked for, remained in the palace, and during night was conveyed
safely away by his friends.

The rage of the multitude being appeased by their blood, an agreement
was made that the duke and his people, with whatever belonged to him,
should quit the city in safety; that he should renounce all claim, of
whatever kind, upon Florence, and that upon his arrival in the
Casentino he should ratify his renunciation. On the sixth of August he
set out, accompanied by many citizens, and having arrived at the
Casentino he ratified the agreement, although unwillingly, and would
not have kept his word if Count Simon had not threatened to take him
back to Florence. This duke, as his proceedings testified, was cruel
and avaricious, difficult to speak with, and haughty in reply. He
desired the service of men, not the cultivation of their better
feelings, and strove rather to inspire them with fear than love. Nor
was his person less despicable than his manners; he was short, his
complexion was black, and he had a long, thin beard. He was thus in
every respect contemptible; and at the end of ten months, his
misconduct deprived him of the sovereignty which the evil counsel of
others had given him.


Many cities and territories, subject to the Florentines, rebel--
Prudent conduct adopted upon this occasion--The city is divided
into quarters--Disputes between the nobility and the people--The
bishop endeavors to reconcile them, but does not succeed--The
government reformed by the people--Riot of Andrea Strozzi--Serious
disagreements between the nobility and the people--They come to
arms, and the nobility are subdued--The plague in Florence of
which Boccaccio speaks.

These events taking place in the city, induced all the dependencies of
the Florentine state to throw off their yoke; so that Arezzo,
Castiglione, Pistoia, Volterra, Colle, and San Gemigniano rebelled.
Thus Florence found herself deprived of both her tyrant and her
dominions at the same moment, and in recovering her liberty, taught
her subjects how they might become free. The duke being expelled and
the territories lost, the fourteen citizens and the bishop thought it
would be better to act kindly toward their subjects in peace, than to
make them enemies by war, and to show a desire that their subjects
should be free as well as themselves. They therefore sent ambassadors
to the people of Arezzo, to renounce all dominion over that city, and
to enter into a treaty with them; to the end that as they could not
retain them as subjects, they might make use of them as friends. They
also, in the best manner they were able, agreed with the other places
that they should retain their freedom, and that, being free, they
might mutually assist each other in the preservation of their
liberties. This prudent course was attended with a most favorable
result; for Arezzo, not many years afterward, returned to the
Florentine rule, and the other places, in the course of a few months,
returned to their former obedience. Thus it frequently occurs that we
sooner attain our ends by a seeming indifferent to them, than by more
obstinate pursuit.

Having settled external affairs, they now turned to the consideration
of those within the city; and after some altercation between the
nobility and the people, it was arranged that the nobility should form
one-third of the Signory and fill one-half of the other offices. The
city was, as we have before shown, divided into sixths; and hence
there would be six signors, one for each sixth, except when, from some
more than ordinary cause, there had been twelve or thirteen created;
but when this had occurred they were again soon reduced to six. It now
seemed desirable to make an alteration in this respect, as well
because the sixths were not properly divided, as that, wishing to give
their proportion to the great, it became desirable to increase the
number. They therefore divided the city into quarters, and for each
created three signors. They abolished the office of Gonfalonier of
Justice, and also the Gonfaloniers of the companies of the people; and

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