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Republican governments, more especially those imperfectly organized,
frequently change their rulers and the form of their institutions; not
by the influence of liberty or subjection, as many suppose, but by
that of slavery and license; for with the nobility or the people, the
ministers respectively of slavery or licentiousness, only the name of
liberty is in any estimation, neither of them choosing to be subject
either to magistrates or laws. When, however, a good, wise, and
powerful citizen appears (which is but seldom), who establishes
ordinances capable of appeasing or restraining these contending
dispositions, so as to prevent them from doing mischief, then the
government may be called free, and its institutions firm and secure;
for having good laws for its basis, and good regulations for carrying
them into effect, it needs not, like others, the virtue of one man for
its maintenance. With such excellent laws and institutions, many of
those ancient republics, which were of long duration, were endowed.
But these advantages are, and always have been, denied to those which
frequently change from tyranny to license, or the reverse; because,
from the powerful enemies which each condition creates itself, they
neither have, nor can possess any stability; for tyranny cannot please
the good, and license is offensive to the wise: the former may easily
be productive of mischief, while the latter can scarcely be
beneficial; in the former, the insolent have too much authority, and
in the latter, the foolish; so that each requires for their welfare
the virtue and the good fortune of some individual who may be removed
by death, or become unserviceable by misfortune.

Hence, it appears, that the government which commenced in Florence at
the death of Giorgio Scali, in 1381, was first sustained by the
talents of Maso degli Albizzi, and then by those of Niccolo da Uzzano.
The city remained tranquil from 1414 to 1422; for King Ladislaus was
dead, and Lombardy divided into several parts; so that there was
nothing either internal or external to occasion uneasiness. Next to
Niccolo da Uzzano in authority, were Bartolomeo Valori, Neroni di
Nigi, Rinaldo degli Albizzi, Neri di Gino, and Lapo Niccolini. The
factions that arose from the quarrels of the Albizzi and the Ricci,
and which were afterward so unhappily revived by Salvestro de' Medici,
were never extinguished; for though the party most favored by the
rabble only continued three years, and in 1381 was put down, still, as
it comprehended the greatest numerical proportion, it was never
entirely extinct, though the frequent Balias and persecutions of its
leaders from 1381 to 1400, reduced it almost to nothing. The first
families that suffered in this way were the Alberti, the Ricci, and
the Medici, which were frequently deprived both of men and money; and
if any of them remained in the city, they were deprived of the honors
of government. These oft-repeated acts of oppression humiliated the
faction, and almost annihilated it. Still, many retained the
remembrance of the injuries they had received, and a desire of
vengeance remained pent in their bosoms, ungratified and unquenched.
Those nobles of the people, or new nobility, who peaceably governed
the city, committed two errors, which eventually caused the ruin of
their party; the first was, that by long continuance in power they
became insolent; the second, that the envy they entertained toward
each other, and their uninterrupted possession of power, destroyed
that vigilance over those who might injure them, which they ought to
have exercised. Thus daily renewing the hatred of a mass of the people
by their sinister proceedings, and either negligent of the threatened
dangers, because rendered fearless by prosperity, or encouraging them
through mutual envy, they gave an opportunity to the family of the
Medici to recover their influence. The first to do so was Giovanni di
Bicci de' Medici, who having become one of the richest men, and being
of a humane and benevolent disposition, obtained the supreme
magistracy by the consent of those in power. This circumstance gave so
much gratification to the mass of the people (the multitude thinking
they had now found a defender), that not without occasion the
judicious of the party observed it with jealousy, for they perceived
all the former feelings of the city revived. Niccolo da Uzzano did not
fail to acquaint the other citizens with the matter, explaining to
them how dangerous it was to aggrandize one who possessed so much
influence; that it was easy to remedy an evil at its commencement, but
exceedingly difficult after having allowed it to gather strength; and
that Giovanni possessed several qualities far surpassing those of
Salvestro. The associates of Niccolo were uninfluenced by his remarks;
for they were jealous of his reputation, and desired to exalt some
person, by means of whom he might be humbled.

This was the state of Florence, in which opposing feelings began to be
observable, when Filippo Visconti, second son of Giovanni Galeazzo,
having, by the death of his brother, become master of all Lombardy,
and thinking he might undertake almost anything, greatly desired to
recover Genoa, which enjoyed freedom under the Dogiate of Tommaso da
Campo Fregoso. He did not think it advisable to attempt this, or any
other enterprise, till he had renewed amicable relations with the
Florentines, and made his good understanding with them known; but with
the aid of their reputation he trusted he should attain his wishes. He
therefore sent ambassadors to Florence to signify his desires. Many
citizens were opposed to his design, but did not wish to interrupt the
peace with Milan, which had now continued for many years. They were
fully aware of the advantages he would derive from a war with Genoa,
and the little use it would be to Florence. Many others were inclined
to accede to it, but would set a limit to his proceedings, which, if
he were to exceed, all would perceive his base design, and thus they
might, when the treaty was broken, more justifiably make war against
him. The question having been strongly debated, an amicable
arrangement was at length effected, by which Filippo engaged not to
interfere with anything on the Florentine side of the rivers Magra and

Soon after the treaty was concluded, the duke took possession of
Brescia, and shortly afterward of Genoa, contrary to the expectation
of those who had advocated peace; for they thought Brescia would be
defended by the Venetians, and Genoa would be able to defend herself.
And as in the treaty which Filippo made with the Doge of Genoa, he had
acquired Serezana and other places situated on this side the Magra,
upon condition that, if he wished to alienate them, they should be
given to the Genoese, it was quite palpable that he had broken the
treaty; and he had, besides, entered into another treaty with the
legate of Bologna, in opposition to his engagement respecting the
Panaro. These things disturbed the minds of the citizens, and made
them, apprehensive of new troubles, consider the means to be adopted
for their defense.

The dissatisfaction of the Florentines coming to the knowledge of
Filippo, he, either to justify himself, or to become acquainted with
their prevailing feelings, or to lull them to repose, sent ambassadors
to the city, to intimate that he was greatly surprised at the
suspicions they entertained, and offered to revoke whatever he had
done that could be thought a ground of jealousy. This embassy produced
no other effect than that of dividing the citizens; one party, that in
greatest reputation, judged it best to arm, and prepare to frustrate
the enemy's designs; and if he were to remain quiet, it would not be
necessary to go to war with him, but an endeavor might be made to
preserve peace. Many others, whether envious of those in power, or
fearing a rupture with the duke, considered it unadvisable so lightly
to entertain suspicions of an ally, and thought his proceedings need
not have excited so much distrust; that appointing the ten and hiring
forces was in itself a manifest declaration of war, which, if
undertaken against so great a prince, would bring certain ruin upon
the city without the hope of any advantage; for possession could never
be retained of the conquests that might be made, because Romagna lay
between, and the vicinity of the church ought to prevent any attempt
against Romagna itself. However the views of those who were in favor
of war prevailed, the Council of Ten were appointed, forces were
hired, and new taxes levied, which, as they were more burdensome upon
the lower than the upper ranks, filled the city with complaints, and
all condemned the ambition and avarice of the great, declaring that,
to gratify themselves and oppress the people, they would go to war
without any justifiable motive.

They had not yet come to an open rupture with the duke, but everything
tended to excite suspicion; for Filippo had, at the request of the
legate of Bologna (who was in fear of Antonio Bentivogli, an emigrant
of Bologna at Castel Bolognese), sent forces to that city, which,
being close upon the Florentine territory, filled the citizens with
apprehension; but what gave every one greater alarm, and offered
sufficient occasion for the declaration of war, was the expedition
made by the duke against Furli. Giorgio Ordelaffi was lord of Furli,
who dying, left Tibaldo, his son, under the guardianship of Filippo.
The boy's mother, suspicious of his guardian, sent him to Lodovico
Alidossi, her father, who was lord of Imola, but she was compelled by
the people of Furli to obey the will of her deceased husband, to
withdraw him from the natural guardian, and place him in the hands of
the duke. Upon this Filippo, the better to conceal his purpose, caused
the Marquis of Ferrara to send Guido Torello as his agent, with
forces, to seize the government of Furli, and thus the territory fell
into the duke's hands. When this was known at Florence, together with
the arrival of forces at Bologna, the arguments in favor of war were
greatly strengthened, but there were still many opposed to it, and
among the rest Giovanni de' Medici, who publicly endeavored to show,
that even if the ill designs of the duke were perfectly manifest, it
would still be better to wait and let him commence the attack, than to
assail him; for in the former case they would be justified in the view
of the princes of Italy as well as in their own; but if they were to
strike the first blow at the duke, public opinion would be as
favorable to him as to themselves; and besides, they could not so
confidently demand assistance as assailants, as they might do if
assailed; and that men always defend themselves more vigorously when
they attack others. The advocates of war considered it improper to
await the enemy in their houses, and better to go and seek him; that
fortune is always more favorable to assailants than to such as merely
act on the defensive, and that it is less injurious, even when
attended with greater immediate expense, to make war at another's door
than at our own. These views prevailed, and it was resolved that the
ten should provide all the means in their power for rescuing Furli
from the hands of the duke.

Filippo, finding the Florentines resolved to occupy the places he had
undertaken to defend, postponed all personal considerations, and sent
Agnolo della Pergola with a strong force against Imola, that Ludovico,
having to provide for the defense of his own possessions, might be
unable to protect the interests of his grandson. Agnolo approached
Imola while the forces of the Florentines were at Modigliana, and an
intense frost having rendered the ditches of the city passable, he
crossed them during the night, captured the place, and sent Lodovico a
prisoner to Milan. The Florentines finding Imola in the hands of the
enemy, and the war publicly known, sent their forces to Furli and
besieged it on all sides. That the duke's people might not relieve it,
they hired Count Alberigo, who from Zagonara, his own domain, overran
the country daily, up to the gates of Imola. Agnolo della Pergola,
finding the strong position which the Florentines had taken prevented
him from relieving Furli, determined to attempt the capture of
Zagonara, thinking they would not allow that place to be lost, and
that in the endeavor to relieve it they would be compelled to give up
their design against Furli, and come to an engagement under great
disadvantage. Thus the duke's people compelled Alberigo to sue for
terms, which he obtained on condition of giving up Zagonara, if the
Florentines did not relieve him within fifteen days. This misfortune
being known in the Florentine camp and in the city, and all being
anxious that the enemy should not obtain the expected advantage, they
enabled him to secure a greater; for having abandoned the siege of
Furli to go to the relief of Zagonara, on encountering the enemy they
were soon routed, not so much by the bravery of their adversaries as
by the severity of the season; for, having marched many hours through
deep mud and heavy rain, they found the enemy quite fresh, and were
therefore easily vanquished. Nevertheless, in this great defeat,
famous throughout all Italy, no death occurred except those of
Lodovico degli Obizi and two of his people, who having fallen from
their horses were drowned in the morass.


The Florentines murmur against those who had been advocates of the
war--Rinaldo degli Albizzi encourages the citizens--Measures for
the prosecution of the war--Attempt of the higher classes to
deprive the plebeians of their share in the government--Rinaldo
degli Albizzi addresses an assembly of citizens and advises the
restoration of the /Grandi/--Niccolo da Uzzano wishes to have
Giovanni de' Medici on their side--Giovanni disapproves of the
advice of Rinaldo degli Albizzi.

The defeat at Zagonara spread consternation throughout Florence; but
none felt it so severely as the nobility, who had been in favor of the
war; for they perceived their enemies to be inspirited and themselves
disarmed, without friends, and opposed by the people, who at the
corners of streets insulted them with sarcastic expressions,
complaining of the heavy taxes, and the unnecessary war, and saying,
"Oh! they appointed the ten to frighten the enemy. Have they relieved
Furli, and rescued her from the hands of the duke? No! but their
designs have been discovered; and what had they in view? not the
defense of liberty; for they do not love her; but to aggrandize their
own power, which God has very justly abated. This is not the only
enterprise by many a one with which they have oppressed the city; for
the war against King Ladislaus was of a similar kind. To whom will
they flee for assistance now? to Pope Martin, whom they ridiculed
before the face of Braccio; or to Queen Giovanna, whom they abandoned,
and compelled to throw herself under the protection of the king of
Aragon?" To these reproaches was added all that might be expected from
an enraged multitude.

Seeing the discontent so prevalent, the Signory resolved to assemble a
few citizens, and with soft words endeavor to soothe the popular
irritation. On this occasion, Rinaldo degli Albizzi, the eldest son of
Maso, who, by his own talents and the respect he derived from the
memory of his father, aspired to the first offices in the government,
spoke at great length; showing that it is not right to judge of
actions merely by their effects; for it often happens that what has
been very maturely considered is attended with unfavorable results:
that if we are to applaud evil counsels because they are sometimes
followed by fortunate events, we should only encourage men in error
which would bring great mischief upon the republic; because evil
counsel is not always attended with happy consequences. In the same
way, it would be wrong to blame a wise resolution, because if its
being attended with an unfavorable issue; for by so doing, we should
destroy the inclination of citizens to offer advice and speak the
truth. He then showed the propriety of undertaking the war; and that
if it had not been commenced by the Florentines in Romagna the duke
would have assailed them in Tuscany. But since it had pleased God,
that the Florentine people should be overcome, their loss would be
still greater if they allowed themselves to be dejected; but if they
set a bold front against adversity, and made good use of the means
within their power, they would not be sensible of their loss or the
duke of his victory. He assured them they ought not to be alarmed by
impending expenses and consequent taxation; because the latter might
be reduced, and the future expense would not be so great as the former
had been; for less preparation is necessary for those engaged in self-
defense than for those who design to attack others. He advised them to
imitate the conduct of their forefathers, who, by courageous conduct
in adverse circumstances, had defended themselves against all their

Thus encouraged, the citizens engaged Count Oddo the son of Braccio,
and united with him, for directing the operations of the war, Niccolo
Piccinino, a pupil of his father's, and one of the most celebrated of
all who had served under him. To these they added other leaders, and
remounted some of those who had lost their horses in the late defeat.
They also appointed twenty citizens to levy new taxes, who finding the
great quite subdued by the recent loss, took courage and drained them
without mercy.

These burdens were very grievous to the nobility, who at first, in
order to conciliate, did not complain of their own particular
hardships, but censured the tax generally as unjust, and advised that
something should be done in the way of relief; but their advice was
rejected in the Councils. Therefore, to render the law as offensive as
possible, and to make all sensible of its injustice, they contrived
that the taxes should be levied with the utmost rigor, and made it
lawful to kill any that might resist the officers employed to collect
them. Hence followed many lamentable collisions, attended with the
blood and death of citizens. It began to be the impression of all,
that arms would be resorted to, and all prudent persons apprehended
some approaching evil; for the higher ranks, accustomed to be treated
with respect, could not endure to be used like dogs; and the rest were
desirous that the taxation should be equalized. In consequence of this
state of things, many of the first citizens met together, and it was
resolved that it had become necessary for their safety, that some
attempt should be made to recover the government; since their want of
vigilance had encouraged men to censure public actions, and allowed
those to interfere in affairs who had hitherto been merely the leaders
of the rabble. Having repeatedly discussed the subject, they resolved
to meet again at an appointed hour, when upwards of seventy citizens
assembled in the church of St. Stephen, with the permission of Lorenzo
Ridolfi and Francesco Gianfigliazzi, both members of the Signory.
Giovanni de' Medici was not among them either because being under
suspicion he was not invited or that entertaining different views he
was unwilling to interfere.

Rinaldo degli Albizzi addressed the assembly, describing the condition
of the city, and showing how by their own negligence it had again
fallen under the power of the plebeians, from whom it had been wrested
by their fathers in 1381. He reminded them of the iniquity of the
government which was in power from 1378 to 1381, and that all who were
then present had to lament, some a father, others a grandfather, put
to death by its tyranny. He assured them they were now in the same
danger, and that the city was sinking under the same disorders. The
multitude had already imposed a tax of its own authority; and would
soon, if not restrained by greater force or better regulations,
appoint the magistrates, who, in this case, would occupy their places,
and overturn the government which for forty-two years had ruled the
city with so much glory; the citizens would then be subject to the
will of the multitude, and live disorderly and dangerous, or be under
the command of some individual who might make himself prince. For
these reasons he was of opinion, that whoever loved his country and
his honor must arouse himself, and call to mind the virtue of Bardo
Mancini, who, by the ruin of the Alberti, rescued the city from the
dangers then impending; and that the cause of the audacity now assumed
by the multitude was the extensive Squittini or Pollings, which, by
their negligence, were allowed to be made; for thus the palace had
become filled with low men. He therefore concluded, that the only
means of remedying the evil was to restore the government to the
nobility, and diminish the authority of the minor trades by reducing
the companies from fourteen to seven, which would give the plebeians
less authority in the Councils, both by the reduction in their number
and by increasing the authority of the great; who, on account of
former enmities, would be disinclined to favor them. He added, that it
is a good thing to know how to avail themselves of men according to
the times; and that as their fathers had used the plebeians to reduce
the influence of the great, that now, the great having been humbled,
and the plebeians become insolent, it was well to restrain the
insolence of the latter by the assistance of the former. To effect
this they might proceed either openly or otherwise, for some of them
belonging to the Council of Ten, forces might be led into the city
without exciting observation.

Rinaldo was much applauded, and his advice was approved of by the
whole assembly. Niccolo da Uzzano who, among others, replied to it,
said, "All that Rinaldo had advanced was correct, and the remedies he
proposed good and certain, if they could be adopted without an
absolute division of the city; and this he had no doubt would be
effected if they could induce Giovanni de' Medici to join them; for
with him on their side, the multitude being deprived of their chief
and stay, would be unable to oppose them; but that if he did not
concur with them they could do nothing without arms, and that with
them they would incur the risk of being vanquished, or of not being
able to reap the fruit of victory." He then modestly reminded them of
what he had said upon a former occasion, and of their reluctance to
remedy the evil when it might easily have been done; that now the same
remedy could not be attempted without incurring the danger of greater
evils, and therefore there was nothing left for them to do but to gain
him over to their side, if practicable. Rinaldo was then commissioned
to wait upon Giovanni and try if he could induce him to join them.

He undertook this commission, and in the most prevailing words he
could make use of endeavored to induce him to coincide with their
views; and begged that he would not by favoring an audacious mob,
enable them to complete the ruin both of the government and the city.
To this Giovanni replied, that he considered it the duty of a good and
wise citizen to avoid altering the institutions to which a city is
accustomed; there being nothing so injurious to the people as such a
change; for many are necessarily offended, and where there are several
discontented, some unpropitious event may be constantly apprehended.
He said it appeared to him that their resolution would have two
exceedingly pernicious effects; the one conferring honors on those
who, having never possessed them, esteemed them the less, and
therefore had the less occasion to grieve for their absence; the other
taking them from those who being accustomed to their possession would
never be at rest till they were restored to them. It would thus be
evident that the injury done to one party, was greater than the
benefit they had conferred upon the other; so that whoever was the
author of the proposition, he would gain few friends and make many
enemies, and that the latter would be more resolutely bent on injuring
him than the former would be zealous for his defense, for mankind are
naturally more disposed to revenge than to gratitude, as if the latter
could only be exercised with some inconvenience to themselves, while
the former brings alike gratification and profit. Then, directing his
discourse more particularly to Rinaldo, he said, "And you, if you
could call to mind past events, and knew how craftily affairs are
conducted in this city, would not be so eager in this pursuit; for he
who advises it, when by your aid he has wrested the power from the
people, will, with the people's assistance, who will have become your
enemies, deprive you of it. And it will happen to you as to Benedetto
Alberti, who, at the persuasion of those who were not his friends,
consented to the ruin of Giorgio Scali and Tommaso Strozzi, and
shortly afterward was himself sent into exile by the very same men."
He therefore advised Rinaldo to think more maturely of these things,
and endeavor to imitate his father, who, to obtain the benevolence of
all, reduced the price of salt, provided that whoever owed taxes under
half a florin should be at liberty to pay them or not, as he thought
proper, and that at the meeting of the Councils every one should be
free from the importunities of his creditors. He concluded by saying,
that as regarded himself, he was disposed to let the government of the
city remain as it was.


Giovanni de' Medici acquires the favor of the people--Bravery of
Biaggio del Melano--Baseness of Zanobi del Pino--The Florentines
obtain the friendship of the lord of Faenza--League of the
Florentines with the Venetians--Origin of the Catasto--The rich
citizens discontented with it--Peace with the duke of Milan--New
disturbances on account of the Catasto.

These events, and the circumstances attending them, becoming known to
the people, contributed greatly to increase the reputation of
Giovanni, and brought odium on those who had made the proposals; but
he assumed an appearance of indifference, in order to give less
encouragement to those who by his influence were desirous of change.
In his discourse he intimated to every one that it is not desirable to
promote factions, but rather to extinguish them; and that whatever
might be expected of him, he only sought the union of the city. This,
however, gave offense to many of his party; for they would have rather
seen him exhibit greater activity. Among others so disposed, was
Alamanno de' Medici, who being of a restless disposition, never ceased
exciting him to persecute enemies and favor friends; condemning his
coldness and slow method of proceeding, which he said was the cause of
his enemies' practicing against him, and that these practices would
one day effect the ruin of himself and his friends. He endeavored to
excite Cosmo, his son, with similar discourses; but Giovanni, for all
that was either disclosed or foretold him, remained unmoved, although
parties were now declared, and the city in manifest disunion.

There were at the palace, in the service of the Signory, two
chancellors, Ser Martino and Ser Pagolo. The latter favored the party
of Niccolo da Uzzano, the former that of Giovanni; and Rinaldo, seeing
Giovanni unwilling to join them, thought it would be advisable to
deprive Ser Martino of his office, that he might have the palace more
completely under his control. The design becoming known to his
adversaries, Ser Martino was retained and Ser Pagolo discharged, to
the great injury and displeasure of Rinaldo and his party. This
circumstance would soon have produced most mischievous effects, but
for the war with which the city was threatened, and the recent defeat
suffered at Zagonara, which served to check the audacity of the
people; for while these events were in progress at Florence, Agnolo
della Pergola, with the forces of the duke, had taken all the towns
and cities possessed by the Florentines in Romagna, except Castracaro
and Modigliano; partly from the weakness of the places themselves, and
partly by the misconduct of those who had the command of them. In the
course of the campaign, two instances occurred which served to show
how greatly courage is admired even in enemies, and how much cowardice
and pusillanimity are despised.

Biaggio del Melano was castellan in the fortress of Monte Petroso.
Being surrounded by enemies, and seeing no chance of saving the place,
which was already in flames, he cast clothes and straw from a part
which was not yet on fire, and upon these he threw his two little
children, saying to the enemy, "Take to yourselves those goods which
fortune has bestowed upon me, and of which you may deprive me; but
those of the mind, in which my honor and glory consist, I will not
give up, neither can you wrest them from me." The besiegers ran to
save the children, and placed for their father ropes and ladders, by
which to save himself, but he would not use them, and rather chose to
die in the flames than owe his safety to the enemies of his country:
an example worthy of that much lauded antiquity, which offers nothing
to surpass it, and which we admire the more from the rarity of any
similar occurrence. Whatever could be recovered from the ruins, was
restored for the use of the children, and carefully conveyed to their
friends; nor was the republic less grateful; for as long as they
lived, they were supported at her charge.

An example of an opposite character occurred at Galeata, where Zanobi
del Pino was governor; he, without offering the least resistance, gave
up the fortress to the enemy; and besides this, advised Agnolo della
Pergola to leave the Alps of Romagna, and come among the smaller hills
of Tuscany, where he might carry on the war with less danger and
greater advantage. Agnolo could not endure the mean and base spirit of
this man, and delivered him to his own attendants, who, after many
reproaches, gave him nothing to eat but paper painted with snakes,
saying, that of a Guelph they would make him a Ghibelline; and thus
fasting, he died in a few days.

At this time Count Oddo and Niccolo Piccinino entered the Val di
Lamona, with the design of bringing the lord of Faenza over to the
Florentines, or at least inducing him to restrain the incursions of
Agnolo della Pergola into Romagna; but as this valley is naturally
strong, and its inhabitants warlike, Count Oddo was slain there, and
Niccolo Piccinino sent a prisoner to Faenza. Fortune, however, caused
the Florentines to obtain by their loss, what, perhaps, they would
have failed to acquire by victory; for Niccolo so prevailed with the
lord of Faenza and his mother, that they became friends of the
Florentines. By this treaty, Niccolo Piccinino was set at liberty, but
did not take the advice he had given others; for while in treaty with
the city, concerning the terms of his engagement, either the
conditions proposed were insufficient, or he found better elsewhere;
for quite suddenly he left Arezzo, where he had been staying, passed
into Lombardy, and entered the service of the duke.

The Florentines, alarmed by this circumstance, and reduced to
despondency by their frequent losses, thought themselves unable to
sustain the war alone, and sent ambassadors to the Venetians, to beg
they would lend their aid to oppose the greatness of one who, if
allowed to aggrandize himself, would soon become as dangerous to them
as to the Florentines themselves. The Venetians were advised to adopt
the same course by Francesco Carmignuola, one of the most
distinguished warriors of those times, who had been in the service of
the duke, and had afterward quitted it; but they hesitated, not
knowing how far to trust him; for they thought his enmity with the
duke was only feigned. While in this suspense, it was found that the
duke, by means of a servant of Carmignuola, had caused poison to be
given him in his food, which, although it was not fatal, reduced him
to extremity. The truth being discovered, the Venetians laid aside
their suspicion; and as the Florentines still solicited their
assistance, a treaty was formed between the two powers, by which they
agreed to carry on the war at the common expense of both: the
conquests in Lombardy to be assigned to the Venetians; those in
Romagna and Tuscany to the Florentines; and Carmignuola was appointed
Captain General of the League. By this treaty the war was commenced in
Lombardy, where it was admirably conducted; for in a few months many
places were taken from the duke, together with the city of Brescia,
the capture of which was in those days considered a most brilliant

The war had continued from 1422 to 1427, and the citizens of Florence
were so wearied of the taxes that had been imposed during that time,
that it was resolved to revise them, preparatory to their
amelioration. That they might be equalized according to the means of
each citizen, it was proposed that whoever possessed property of the
value of one hundred florins should pay half a florin of taxes.
Individual contribution would thus be determined by an invariable
rule, and not left to the discretion of parties; and as it was found
that the new method would press heavily upon the powerful classes,
they used their utmost endeavors to prevent it from becoming law.
Giovanni de' Medici alone declared himself in favor of it, and by his
means it was passed. In order to determine the amount each had to pay,
it was necessary to consider his property in the aggregate, which the
Florentines call /accatastare/, in which in this application of it
would signify TO RATE or VALUE, and hence this tax received the name
of /catasto/. The new method of rating formed a powerful check to the
tyranny of the great, who could no longer oppress the lower classes,
or silence them with threats in the council as they had formerly done,
and it therefore gave general satisfaction, though to the wealthy
classes it was in the highest degree offensive. But as it is found men
are never satisfied, but that the possession of one advantage only
makes them desire more, the people, not content with the equality of
taxation which the new law produced, demanded that the same rule
should be applied to past years; that in investigation should be made
to determine how much, according to the Catasto, the rich had paid
less than their share, and that they should now pay up to an equality
with those who, in order to meet the demand unjustly made, had been
compelled to sell their possessions. This proposal alarmed the great
more than the Catasto had done; and in self-defense they unceasingly
decried it, declaring it in the highest degree unjust in being laid
not only on immovable but movable property, which people possess
to-day and lose to-morrow; that many persons have hidden wealth which
the Catasto cannot reach; that those who leave their own affairs to
manage those of the republic should be less burdened by her, it being
enough for them to give their labour, and that it was unjust of the
city to take both their property and their time, while of others she
only took money. The advocates of the Catasto replied, that if movable
property varies, the taxes would also vary, and frequently rating it
would remedy the evil to which it was subject; that it was unnecessary
to mention those who possessed hidden property; for it would be
unreasonable to take taxes for that which produced no interest, and
that if it paid anything, it could not fail to be discovered: that
those who did not like to labor for the republic might cease to do so;
for no doubt she would find plenty of loving citizens who would take
pleasure in assisting her with both money and counsel: that the
advantages and honors of a participation in the government are so
great, that of themselves they are a sufficient remuneration to those
who thus employ themselves, without wishing to be excused from paying
their share of taxes. But, they added, the real grievance had not been
mentioned: for those who were offended with the Catasto, regretted
they could no longer involve the city in all the difficulties of war
without injury to themselves, now that they had to contribute like the
rest; and that if this law had then been in force they would not have
gone to war with King Ladislaus, or the Duke Filippo, both which
enterprises had been not through necessity, but to impoverish the
citizens. The excitement was appeased by Giovanni de' Medici, who
said, "It is not well to go into things so long past, unless to learn
something for our present guidance; and if in former times the
taxation has been unjust, we ought to be thankful, that we have now
discovered a method of making it equitable, and hope that this will be
the means of uniting the citizens, not of dividing them; which would
certainly be the case were they to attempt the recovery of taxes for
the past, and make them equal to the present; and that he who is
content with a moderate victory is always most successful; for those
who would more than conquer, commonly lose." With such words as these
he calmed the disturbance, and this retrospective equalization was no
longer contemplated.

The war with the duke still continued; but peace was at length
restored by means of a legate of the pope. The duke, however, from the
first disregarded the conditions, so that the league again took arms,
and meeting the enemy's forces at Maclovio routed them. After this
defeat the duke again made proposals for peace, to which the
Florentines and Venetians both agreed; the former from jealousy of the
Venetians, thinking they had spent quite enough money in the
aggrandizement of others; the latter, because they found Carmignuola,
after the defeat of the duke, proceed but coldly in their cause; so
that they thought it no longer safe to trust him. A treaty was
therefore concluded in 1428, by which the Florentines recovered the
places they had lost in Romagna; and the Venetians kept Brescia, to
which the duke added Bergamo and the country around it. In this war
the Florentines expended three millions and a half of ducats, extended
the territory and power of the Venetians, and brought poverty and
disunion upon themselves.

Being at peace with their neighbors, domestic troubles recommenced.
The great citizens could not endure the Catasto, and not knowing how
to set it aside, they endeavored to raise up more numerous enemies to
the measure, and thus provide themselves with allies to assist them in
annulling it. They therefore instructed the officers appointed to levy
the tax, that the law required them to extend the Catasto over the
property of their nearest neighbors, to see if Florentine wealth was
concealed among it. The dependent states were therefore ordered to
present a schedule of their property against a certain time. This was
extremely offensive to the people of Volterra, who sent to the Signory
to complain of it; but the officers, in great wrath, committed
eighteen of the complainants to prison. The Volterrani, however, out
of regard for their fellow-countrymen who were arrested, did not
proceed to any violence.


Death of Giovanni de' Medici--His character--Insurrection of
Volterra--Volterra returns to her allegiance--Niccolo Fortebraccio
attacks the Lucchese--Diversity of opinion about the Lucchese war
--War with Lucca--Astore Gianni and Rinaldo degli Albizzi
appointed commissaries--Violence of Astorre Gianni.

About this time Giovanni de' Medici was taken ill, and finding his end
approach, called his sons Cosmo and Lorenzo to him, to give them his
last advice, and said, "I find I have nearly reached the term which
God and nature appointed at my birth, and I die content, knowing that
I leave you rich, healthy, and of such standing in society, that if
you pursue the same course that I have, you will live respected in
Florence, and in favor with everyone. Nothing cheers me so much at
this moment, as the recollection that I have never willfully offended
anyone; but have always used my utmost endeavors to confer benefits
upon all. I would have you do so too. With regard to state affairs, if
you would live in security, take just such a share as the laws and
your countrymen think proper to bestow, thus you will escape both
danger and envy; for it is not what is given to any individual, but
what he has determined to possess, that occasions odium. You will thus
have a larger share than those who endeavor to engross more than
belongs to them; for they thus usually lose their own, and before they
lose it, live in constant disquiet. By adopting this method, although
among so many enemies, and surrounded by so many conflicting
interests, I have not only maintained my reputation but increased my
influence. If you pursue the same course, you will be attended by the
same good fortune; if otherwise, you may be assured, your end will
resemble that of those who in our own times have brought ruin both
upon themselves and their families." Soon after this interview with
his sons, Giovanni died, regretted by everyone, as his many
excellencies deserved. He was compassionate; not only bestowing alms
on those who asked them, but very frequently relieving the necessities
of the poor, without having been solicited so to do. He loved all;
praised the good, and pitied the infirmities of the wicked. He never
sought the honors of government; yet enjoyed them all; and never went
to the palace unless by request. He loved peace and shunned war;
relieved mankind in adversity, and assisted them in prosperity; never
applied the public money to his own uses, but contributed to the
public wealth. He was courteous in office; not a man of great
eloquence, but possessed of extraordinary prudence. His demeanor
expressed melancholy; but after a short time his conversation became
pleasant and facetious. He died exceedingly rich in money, but still
more in good fame and the best wishes of mankind; and the wealth and
respect he left behind him were not only preserved but increased by
his son Cosmo.

The Volterran ambassadors grew weary of lying in prison, and to obtain
their liberty promised to comply with the commands of the Florentines.
Being set free and returned to their city, the time arrived for the
new Priors to enter upon office, and among those who were drawn, was
one named Giusto, a plebeian, but possessing great influence with his
class, and one of those who had been imprisoned at Florence. He, being
inflamed with hatred against the Florentines on account of his public
as well as personal injuries, was further stimulated by Giovanni di
Contugi, a man of noble family, and his colleague in office, to induce
the people, by the authority of the Priors and his own influence, to
withdraw their country from the power of the Florentines, and make
himself prince. Prompted by these motives, Giusto took arms, rode
through the city, seized the Capitano, who resided in it, on behalf of
the Florentines, and with the consent of the people, became lord of
Volterra. This circumstance greatly displeased the Florentines; but
having just made peace with the duke, and the treaty being yet
uninfringed on either side, they bethought themselves in a condition
to recover the place; and that the opportunity might not be lost, they
immediately appointed Rinaldo degli Albizzi and Palla Strozzi
commissaries, and sent them upon the expedition. In the meantime,
Giusto, who expected the Florentines would attack him, requested
assistance of Lucca and Sienna. The latter refused, alleging her
alliance with Florence; and Pagolo Guinigi, to regain the favor of the
Florentines, which he imagined he had lost in the war with the duke
and by his friendship for Filippo, not only refused assistance to
Giusto, but sent his messenger prisoner to Florence.

The commissaries, to come upon the Volterrani unawares, assembled
their cavalry, and having raised a good body of infantry in the Val
d'Arno Inferiore, and the country about Pisa, proceeded to Volterra.
Although attacked by the Florentines and abandoned by his neighbors,
Giusto did not yield to fear; but, trusting to the strength of the
city and the ruggedness of the country around it, prepared for his

There lived at Volterra one Arcolano, brother of that Giovanni Contugi
who had persuaded Giusto to assume the command. He possessed influence
among the nobility, and having assembled a few of his most
confidential friends, he assured them that by this event, God had come
to the relief of their necessities; for if they would only take arms,
deprive Giusto of the Signory, and give up the city to the
Florentines, they might be sure of obtaining the principal offices,
and the place would retain all its ancient privileges. Having gained
them over, they went to the palace in which Giusto resided; and while
part of them remained below, Arcolano, with three others, proceeded to
the chamber above, where finding him with some citizens, they drew him
aside, as if desirous to communicate something of importance, and
conversing on different subjects, let him to the lower apartment, and
fell upon him with their swords. They, however, were not so quick as
to prevent Giusto from making use of his own weapon; for with it he
seriously wounded two of them; but being unable to resist so many, he
was at last slain, and his body thrown into the street. Arcolano and
his party gave up the city to the Florentine commissaries, who, being
at hand with their forces, immediately took possession; but the
condition of Volterra was worse than before; for among other things
which operated to her disadvantage, most of the adjoining countryside
was separated from her, and she was reduced to the rank of a

Volterra having been lost and recovered almost at the same time,
present circumstances afforded nothing of sufficient importance to
occasion a new war, if ambition had not again provoked one. Niccolo
Fortebraccio, the son of a sister of Braccio da Perugia, had been in
the service of the Florentines during most of their wars with the
duke. Upon the restoration of peace he was discharged; but when the
affair of Volterra took place, being encamped with his people at
Fucecchio, the commissaries availed themselves both of himself and his
forces. Some thought that while Rinaldo conducted the expedition along
with him, he persuaded him, under one pretext or another, to attack
the Lucchese, assuring him, that if he did so, the Florentines would
consent to undertake an expedition against them, and would appoint him
to the command. When Volterra was recovered, and Niccolo returned to
his quarters at Fucecchio, he, either at the persuasion of Rinaldo, or
of his own accord, in November, 1429, took possession of Ruoti and
Compito, castles belonging to the Lucchese, with three hundred cavalry
and as many infantry, and then descending into the plain, plundered
the inhabitants to a vast amount. The news of this incursion having
reached Florence, persons of all classes were seen gathered in parties
throughout the city discussing the matter, and nearly all were in
favor of an expedition against Lucca. Of the Grandees thus disposed,
were the Medici and their party, and with them also Rinaldo, either
because he thought the enterprise beneficial to the republic, or
induced by his own ambition and the expectation of being appointed to
the command. Niccolo da Uzzano and his party were opposed to the war.
It seems hardly credible that such contrary opinions should prevail,
though at different times, in the same men and the same city, upon the
subject of war; for the same citizens and people that, during the ten
years of peace had incessantly blamed the war undertaken against Duke
Filippo, in defense of liberty, now, after so much expense and
trouble, with their utmost energy, insisted on hostilities against
Lucca, which, if successful, would deprive that city of her liberty;
while those who had been in favor of a war with the duke, were opposed
to the present; so much more ready are the multitude to covet the
possessions of others than to preserve their own, and so much more
easily are they led by the hope of acquisition than by the fear of
loss. The suggestions of the latter appear incredible till they are
verified; and the pleasing anticipations of the former are cherished
as facts, even while the advantages are very problematical, or at
best, remote. The people of Florence were inspired with hope, by the
acquisitions which Niccolo Fortebraccio had made, and by letters
received from their rectors in the vicinity of Lucca; for their
deputies at Vico and Pescia had written, that if permission were given
to them to receive the castles that offered to surrender, the whole
country of Lucca would very soon be obtained. It must, however, be
added, that an ambassador was sent by the governor of Lucca to
Florence, to complain of the attack made by Niccolo, and to entreat
that the Signory would not make war against a neighbor, and a city
that had always been friendly to them. The ambassador was Jacopo
Viviani, who, a short time previously, had been imprisoned by Pagolo
Guinigi, governor of Lucca, for having conspired against him. Although
he had been found guilty, his life was spared, and as Pagolo thought
the forgiveness mutual, he reposed confidence in him. Jacopo, more
mindful of the danger he had incurred than of the lenity exercised
toward him, on his arrival in Florence secretly instigated the
citizens to hostilities; and these instigations, added to other hopes,
induced the Signory to call the Council together, at which 498
citizens assembled, before whom the principal men of the city
discussed the question.

Among the first who addressed the assembly in favor of the expedition,
was Rinaldo. He pointed out the advantage that would accrue from the
acquisition, and justified the enterprise from its being left open to
them by the Venetians and the duke, and that as the pope was engaged
in the affairs of Naples, he could not interfere. He then remarked
upon the facility of the expedition, showing that Lucca, being now in
bondage to one of her own citizens, had lost her natural vigor and
former anxiety for the preservation of her liberty, and would either
be surrendered to them by the people in order to expel the tyrant, or
by the tyrant for fear of the people. He recalled the remembrance of
the injuries done to the republic by the governor of Lucca; his
malevolent disposition toward them; and their embarrassing situation
with regard to him, if the pope or the duke were to make war upon
them; and concluded that no enterprise was ever undertaken by the
people of Florence with such perfect facility, more positive
advantage, or greater justice in its favor.

In a reply to this, Niccolo da Uzzano stated that the city of Florence
never entered on a more unjust or more dangerous project, or one more
pregnant with evil, than this. In the first place they were going to
attack a Guelphic city, that had always been friendly to the
Florentine people, and had frequently, at great hazard, received the
Guelphs into her bosom when they were expelled from their own country.
That in the history of the past there was not an instance, while Lucca
was free, of her having done an injury to the Florentines; and that if
they had been injured by her enslavers, as formerly by Castruccio, and
now by the present governor, the fault was not in the city, but in her
tyrant. That if they could assail the latter without detriment to the
people, he should have less scruple, but as this was impossible, he
could not consent that a city which had been friendly to Florence
should be plundered of her wealth. However, as it was usual at present
to pay little or no regard either to equity or injustice, he would
consider the matter solely with reference to the advantage of
Florence. He thought that what could not easily be attended by
pernicious consequences might be esteemed useful, but he could not
imagine how an enterprise should be called advantageous in which the
evils were certain and the utility doubtful. The certain evils were
the expenses with which it would be attended; and these, he foresaw,
would be sufficiently great to alarm even a people that had long been
in repose, much more one wearied, as they were, by a tedious and
expensive war. The advantage that might be gained was the acquisition
of Lucca, which he acknowledged to be great; but the hazards were so
enormous and immeasurable, as in his opinion to render the conquest
quite impossible. He could not induce himself to believe that the
Venetians, or Filippo, would willingly allow them to make the
acquisition; for the former only consented in appearance, in order to
avoid the semblance of ingratitude, having so lately, with Florentine
money, acquired such an extent of dominion. That as regarded the duke,
it would greatly gratify him to see them involved in new wars and
expenses; for, being exhausted and defeated on all sides, he might
again assail them; and that if, after having undertaken it, their
enterprise against Lucca were to prove successful, and offer them the
fullest hope of victory, the duke would not want an opportunity of
frustrating their labors, either by assisting the Lucchese secretly
with money, or by apparently disbanding his own troops, and then
sending them, as if they were soldiers of fortune, to their relief. He
therefore advised that they should give up the idea, and behave toward
the tyrant in such a way as to create him as many enemies as possible;
for there was no better method of reducing Lucca than to let them live
under the tyrant, oppressed and exhausted by him; for, if prudently
managed, that city would soon get into such a condition that he could
not retain it, and being ignorant or unable to govern itself, it must
of necessity fall into their power. But he saw that his discourse did
not please them, and that his words were unheeded; he would, however,
predict this to them, that they were about to commence a war in which
they would expend vast sums, incur great domestic dangers, and instead
of becoming masters of Lucca, they would deliver her from her tyrant,
and of a friendly city, feeble and oppressed, they would make one free
and hostile, and that in time she would become an obstacle to the
greatness of their own republic.

The question having been debated on both sides, they proceeded to
vote, as usual, and of the citizens present only ninety-eight were
against the enterprise. Thus determined in favor of war, they
appointed a Council of Ten for its management, and hired forces, both
horse and foot. Astorre Gianni and Rinaldo degli Albizzi were
appointed commissaries, and Niccolo Fortebraccio, on agreeing to give
up to the Florentines the places he had taken, was engaged to conduct
the enterprise as their captain. The commissaries having arrived with
the army in the country of the Lucchese, divided their forces; one
part of which, under Astorre, extended itself along the plain, toward
Camaiore and Pietrasanta, while Rinaldo, with the other division, took
the direction of the hills, presuming that when the citizens found
themselves deprived of the surrounding country, they would easily
submit. The proceedings of the commissaries were unfortunate, not that
they failed to occupy many places, but from the complaints made
against them of mismanaging the operations of the war; and Astorre
Gianni had certainly given very sufficient cause for the charges
against him.

There is a fertile and populous valley near Pietrasanta, called
Seravezza, whose inhabitants, on learning the arrival of the
commissary, presented themselves before him and begged he would
receive them as faithful subjects of the Florentine republic. Astorre
pretended to accept their proposal, but immediately ordered his forces
to take possession of all the passes and strong positions of the
valley, assembled the men in the principal church, took them all
prisoners, and then caused his people to plunder and destroy the whole
country, with the greatest avarice and cruelty, making no distinction
in favor of consecrated places, and violating the women, both married
and single. These things being known in Florence, displeased not only
the magistracy, but the whole city.


The inhabitants of Seravezza appeal to the Signory--Complaints
against Rinaldo degli Albizzi--The commissaries changed--Filippo
Brunelleschi proposes to submerge the country about Lucca--Pagolo
Guinigi asks assistance of the duke of Milan--The duke sends
Francesco Sforza--Pagolo Guinigi expelled--The Florentines routed
by the forces of the duke--The acquisitions of the Lucchese after
the victory--Conclusion of the war.

A few of the inhabitants of the valley of Seravezza, having escaped
the hands of the commissary, came to Florence and acquainted every one
in the streets with their miserable situation; and by the advice of
those who, either through indignation at his wickedness or from being
of the opposite party, wished to punish the commissary, they went to
the Council of Ten, and requested an audience. This being granted, one
of them spoke to the following effect: "We feel assured, magnificent
lords, that we shall find credit and compassion from the Signory, when
you learn how your commissary has taken possession of our country, and
in what manner he has treated us. Our valley, as the memorials of your
ancient houses abundantly testify, was always Guelphic, and has often
proved a secure retreat to your citizens when persecuted by the
Ghibellines. Our forefathers, and ourselves too, have always revered
the name of this noble republic as the leader and head of their party.
While the Lucchese were Guelphs we willingly submitted to their
government; but when enslaved by the tyrant, who forsook his old
friends to join the Ghibelline faction, we have obeyed him more
through force than good will. And God knows how often we have prayed,
that we might have an opportunity of showing our attachment to our
ancient party. But how blind are mankind in their wishes! That which
we desired for our safety has proved our destruction. As soon as we
learned that your ensigns were approaching, we hastened to meet your
commissary, not as an enemy, but as the representative of our ancient
lords; placed our valley, our persons, and our fortunes in his hands,
and commended them to his good faith, believing him to possess the
soul, if not of a Florentine, at least of a man. Your lordships will
forgive us; for, unable to support his cruelties, we are compelled to
speak. Your commissary has nothing of the man but the shape, nor of a
Florentine but the name; a more deadly pest, a more savage beast, a
more horrid monster never was imagined in the human mind; for, having
assembled us in our church under pretense of wishing to speak with us,
he made us prisoners. He then burned and destroyed the whole valley,
carried off our property, ravaged every place, destroyed everything,
violated the women, dishonored the virgins, and dragging them from the
arms of their mothers, gave them up to the brutality of his soldiery.
If by any injury to the Florentine people we merited such treatment,
or if he had vanquished us armed in our defense, we should have less
reason for complaint; we should have accused ourselves, and thought
that either our mismanagement or our arrogance had deservedly brought
the calamity upon us; but after having freely presented ourselves to
him unarmed, to be robbed and plundered with such unfeeling barbarity,
is more than we can bear. And though we might have filled Lombardy
with complaints and charges against this city, and spread the story of
our misfortunes over the whole of Italy, we did not wish to slander so
just and pious a republic, with the baseness and perfidy of one wicked
citizen, whose cruelty and avarice, had we known them before our ruin
was complete, we should have endeavored to satiate (though indeed they
are insatiable), and with one-half of our property have saved the
rest. But the opportunity is past; we are compelled to have recourse
to you, and beg that you will succor the distresses of your subjects,
that others may not be deterred by our example from submitting
themselves to your authority. And if our extreme distress cannot
prevail with you to assist us, be induced, by your fear of the wrath
of God, who has seen his temple plundered and burned, and his people
betrayed in his bosom." Having said this they threw themselves on the
ground, crying aloud, and praying that their property and their
country might be restored to them; and that if the Signory could not
give them back their honor, they would, at least, restore husbands to
their wives, and children to their fathers. The atrocity of the affair
having already been made known, and now by the living words of the
sufferers presented before them, excited the compassion of the
magistracy. They ordered the immediate return of Astorre, who being
tried, was found guilty, and admonished. They sought the goods of the
inhabitants of Seravezza; all that could be recovered was restored to
them, and as time and circumstance gave opportunity, they were
compensated for the rest.

Complaints were made against Rinaldo degli Albizzi, that he carried on
the war, not for the advantage of the Florentine people, but his own
private emolument; that as soon as he was appointed commissary, he
lost all desire to take Lucca, for it was sufficient for him to
plunder the country, fill his estates with cattle, and his house with
booty; and, not content with what his own satellites took, he
purchased that of the soldiery, so that instead of a commissary he
became a merchant. These calumnies coming to his ears, disturbed the
temper of this proud but upright man, more than quite became his
dignity. He was so exasperated against the citizens and magistracy,
that without waiting for or asking permission, he returned to
Florence, and, presenting himself before the Council of Ten, he said
that he well knew how difficult and dangerous a thing it was to serve
an unruly people and a divided city, for the one listens to every
report, the other pursues improper measures; they neglect to reward
good conduct, and heap censure upon whatever appears doubtful; so that
victory wins no applause, error is accused by all, and if vanquished,
universal condemnation is incurred; from one's own party through envy,
and from enemies through hatred, persecution results. He confessed
that the baseness of the present calumnies had conquered his patience
and changed the temper of his mind; but he would say, he had never,
for fear of a false accusation, avoided doing what appeared to him
beneficial to the city. However, he trusted the magistrates would in
future be more ready to defend their fellow-citizens, so that the
latter might continue anxious to effect the prosperity of their
country; that as it was not customary at Florence to award triumphs
for success, they ought at least to be protected from calumny; and
that being citizens themselves, and at any moment liable to false
accusations, they might easily conceive how painful it is to an
upright mind to be oppressed with slander. The Ten endeavored, as well
as circumstances would admit, to soothe the acerbity of his feelings,
and confided the care of the expedition to Neri di Gino and Alamanno
Salviati, who, instead of overrunning the country, advanced near to
Lucca. As the weather had become extremely cold, the forces
established themselves at Campannole, which seemed to the commissaries
waste of time; and wishing to draw nearer the place, the soldiery
refused to comply, although the Ten had insisted they should pitch
their camp before the city, and would not hear of any excuse.

At that time there lived at Florence, a very distinguished architect,
named Filippo di Ser Brunelleschi, of whose works our city is full,
and whose merit was so extraordinary, that after his death his statue
in marble was erected in the principal church, with an inscription
underneath, which still bears testimony to those who read it, of his
great talents. This man pointed out, that in consequence of the
relative positions of the river Serchio and the city of Lucca, the
wastes of the river might be made to inundate the surrounding country,
and place the city in a kind of lake. His reasoning on this point
appeared so clear, and the advantage to the besiegers so obvious and
inevitable, that the Ten were induced to make the experiment. The
result, however, was quite contrary to their expectation, and produced
the utmost disorder in the Florentine camp; for the Lucchese raised
high embankments in the direction of the ditch made by our people to
conduct the waters of the Serchio, and one night cut through the
embankment of the ditch itself, so that having first prevented the
water from taking the course designed by the architect, they now
caused it to overflow the plain, and compelled the Florentines,
instead of approaching the city as they wished, to take a more remote

The design having failed, the Council of Ten, who had been re-elected,
sent as commissary, Giovanni Guicciardini, who encamped before Lucca,
with all possible expedition. Pagolo Guinigi finding himself thus
closely pressed, by the advice of Antonio del Rosso, then
representative of the Siennese at Lucca, sent Salvestro Trento and
Leonardo Bonvisi to Milan, to request assistance from the duke; but
finding him indisposed to comply, they secretly engaged, on the part
of the people, to deliver their governor up to him and give him
possession of the place; at the same time intimating, that if he did
not immediately follow this advice, he would not long have the
opportunity, since it was the intention of Pagolo to surrender the
city to the Florentines, who were very anxious to obtain it. The duke
was so much alarmed with this idea, that, setting aside all other
considerations, he caused Count Francesco Sforza, who was engaged in
his service, to make a public request for permission to go to Naples;
and having obtained it, he proceeded with his forces directly to
Lucca, though the Florentines, aware of the deception, and
apprehensive of the consequences, had sent to the count, Boccacino
Alamanni, his friend, to frustrate this arrangement. Upon the arrival
of the count at Lucca, the Florentines removed their camp to
Librafatta, and the count proceeded immediately to Pescia, where
Pagolo Diacceto was lieutenant governor, who, promoted by fear rather
than any better motive, fled to Pistoia, and if the place had not been
defended by Giovanni Malavolti, to whom the command was intrusted, it
would have been lost. The count failing in his attempt went to Borgo a
Buggiano which he took, and burned the castle of Stigliano, in the
same neighborhood.

The Florentines being informed of these disasters, found they must
have recourse to those remedies which upon former occasions had often
proved useful. Knowing that with mercenary soldiers, when force is
insufficient, corruption commonly prevails, they offered the count a
large sum of money on condition that he should quit the city, and give
it up to them. The count finding that no more money was to be had from
Lucca, resolved to take it of those who had it to dispense, and agreed
with the Florentines, not to give them Lucca, which for decency he
could not consent to, but to withdraw his troops, and abandon it, on
condition of receiving fifty thousand ducats; and having made this
agreement, to induce the Lucchese to excuse him to the duke, he
consented that they should expel their tyrant.

Antonio del Rosso, as we remarked above, was Siennese ambassador at
Lucca, and with the authority of the count he contrived the ruin of
Pagolo Guinigi. The heads of the conspiracy were Pierro Cennami and
Giovanni da Chivizzano. The count resided upon the Serchio, at a short
distance from the city, and with him was Lanzilao, the son of Pagolo.
The conspirators, about forty in number, went armed at night in search
of Pagolo, who, on hearing the noise they made, came toward them quite
astonished, and demanded the cause of their visit; to which Piero
Cennami replied, that they had long been governed by him, and led
about against the enemy, to die either by hunger or the sword, but
were resolved to govern themselves for the future, and demanded the
keys of the city and the treasure. Pagolo said the treasure was
consumed, but the keys and himself were in their power; he only begged
that as his command had begun and continued without bloodshed, it
might conclude in the same manner. Count Francesco conducted Pagolo
and his son to the duke, and they afterward died in prison.

The departure of the count having delivered Lucca from her tyrant, and
the Florentines from their fear of his soldiery, the former prepared
for her defense, and the latter resumed the siege. They appointed the
count of Urbino to conduct their forces, and he pressed the Lucchese
so closely, that they were again compelled to ask the assistance of
the duke, who dispatched Niccolo Piccinino, under the same pretense as
he previously sent Count Francesco. The Florentine forces met him on
his approach to Lucca, and at the passage of the Serchio a battle
ensued, in which they were routed, the commissary with a few of his
men escaping to Pisa. This defeat filled the Florentines with dismay,
and as the enterprise had been undertaken with the entire approbation
of the great body of the people, they did not know whom to find fault
with, and therefore railed against those who had been appointed to the
management of the war, reviving the charges made against Rinaldo. They
were, however, more severe against Giovanni Guicciardini than any
other, declaring that if he had wished, he might have put a period to
the war at the departure of Count Francesco, but that he had been
bribed with money, for he had sent home a large sum, naming the party
who had been intrusted to bring it, and the persons to whom it had
been delivered. These complaints and accusations were carried to so
great a length that the captain of the people, induced by the public
voice, and pressed by the party opposed to the war, summoned him to
trial. Giovanni appeared, though full of indignation. However his
friends, from regard to their own character, adopted such a course
with the Capitano as induced him to abandon the inquiry.

After this victory, the Lucchese not only recovered the places that
had belonged to them, but occupied all the country of Pisa except
Beintina, Calcinaja, Livorno, and Librafatta; and, had not a
conspiracy been discovered that was formed in Pisa, they would have
secured that city also. The Florentines again prepared for battle, and
appointed Micheletto, a pupil of Sforza, to be their leader. The duke,
on the other hand, followed up this victory, and that he might bring a
greater power against the Florentines, induced the Genoese, the
Siennese, and the governor of Piombino, to enter into a league for the
defense of Lucca, and to engage Niccolo Piccinino to conduct their
forces. Having by this step declared his design, the Venetians and the
Florentines renewed their league, and the war was carried on openly in
Tuscany and Lombardy, in each of which several battles were fought
with variety of fortune. At length, both sides being wearied out, they
came to terms for the cessation of hostilities, in May, 1433. By this
arrangement the Florentines, Lucchese, and Siennese, who had each
occupied many fortresses belonging to the others, gave them all up,
and each party resumed its original possessions.


Cosmo de' Medici, his character and mode of proceedings--The
greatness of Cosmo excites the jealousy of the citizens--The
opinion of Niccolo da Uzzano--Scandalous divisions of the
Florentines--Death of Niccolo da Uzzano--Bernardo Guadagni,
Gonfalonier, adopts measures against Cosmo--Cosmo arrested in the
palace--He is apprehensive of attempts against his life.

During the war the malignant humors of the city were in constant
activity. Cosmo de' Medici, after the death of Giovanni, engaged more
earnestly in public affairs, and conducted himself with more zeal and
boldness in regard to his friends than his father had done, so that
those who rejoiced at Giovanni's death, finding what the son was
likely to become, perceived they had no cause for exultation. Cosmo
was one of the most prudent of men; of grave and courteous demeanor,
extremely liberal and humane. He never attempted anything against
parties, or against rulers, but was bountiful to all; and by the
unwearied generosity of his disposition, made himself partisans of all
ranks of the citizens. This mode of proceeding increased the
difficulties of those who were in the government, and Cosmo himself
hoped that by its pursuit he might be able to live in Florence as much
respected and as secure as any other citizen; or if the ambition of
his adversaries compelled him to adopt a different course, arms and
the favor of his friends would enable him to become more so. Averardo
de' Medici and Puccio Pucci were greatly instrumental in the
establishment of his power; the former by his boldness, the latter by
unusual prudence and sagacity, contributed to his aggrandizement.
Indeed the advice of wisdom of Puccio were so highly esteemed, that
Cosmo's party was rather distinguished by the name of Puccio than by
his own.

By this divided city the enterprise against Lucca was undertaken; and
the bitterness of party spirit, instead of being abated, increased.
Although the friends of Cosmo had been in favor of it, many of the
adverse faction were sent to assist in the management, as being men of
greater influence in the state. Averardo de' Medici and the rest being
unable to prevent this, endeavored with all their might to calumniate
them; and when any unfavorable circumstance occurred (and there were
many), fortune and the exertions of the enemy were never supposed to
be the causes, but solely the want of capacity in the commissary. This
disposition aggravated the offenses of Astorre Gianni; this excited
the indignation of Rinaldo degli Albizzi, and made him resign his
commission without leave; this, too, compelled the captain of the
people to require the appearance of Giovanni Guicciardini, and from
this arose all the other charges which were made against the
magistrates and the commissaries. Real evils were magnified, unreal
ones feigned, and the true and the false were equally believed by the
people, who were almost universally their foes.

All these events and extraordinary modes of proceeding were perfectly
known to Niccolo da Uzzano and the other leaders of the party; and
they had often consulted together for the purpose of finding a remedy,
but without effect; though they were aware of the danger of allowing
them to increase, and the great difficulty that would attend any
attempt to remove or abate them. Niccolo da Uzzano was the earliest to
take offense; and while the war was proceeding without, and these
troubles within, Niccolo Barbadoro desirous of inducing him to consent
to the ruin of Cosmo, waited upon him at his house; and finding him
alone in his study, and very pensive, endeavored, with the best
reasons he could advance, to persuade him to agree with Rinaldo on
Cosmo's expulsion. Niccolo da Uzzano replied as follows: "It would be
better for thee and thy house, as well as for our republic, if thou
and those who follow thee in this opinion had beards of silver instead
of gold, as is said of thee; for advice proceeding from the hoary head
of long experience would be wiser and of greater service to all. It
appears to me, that those who talk of driving Cosmo out of Florence
would do well to consider what is their strength, and what that of
Cosmo. You have named one party, that of the nobility, the other that
of the plebeians. If the fact corresponded with the name, the victory
would still be most uncertain, and the example of the ancient nobility
of this city, who were destroyed by the plebeians, ought rather to
impress us with fear than with hope. We have, however, still further
cause for apprehension from the division of our party, and the union
of our adversaries. In the first place, Neri di Gino and Nerone di
Nigi, two of our principal citizens, have never so fully declared
their sentiments as to enable us to determine whether they are most
our friends our those of our opponents. There are many families, even
many houses, divided; many are opposed to us through envy of brothers
or relatives. I will recall to your recollection two or three of the
most important; you may think of the others at your leisure. Of the
sons of Maso degli Albizzi, Luca, from envy of Rinaldo, has thrown
himself into their hands. In the house of Guicciardini, of the sons of
Luigi, Piero is the enemy of Giovanni and in favor of our adversaries.
Tommaso and Niccolo Soderini openly oppose us on account of their
hatred of their uncle Francesco. So that if we consider well what we
are, and what our enemies, I cannot see why we should be called NOBLE
any more than they. If it is because they are followed by the
plebeians, we are in a worse condition on that account, and they in a
better; for were it to come either to arms or to votes, we should not
be able to resist them. True it is, we still preserve our dignity, our
precedence, the priority of our position, but this arises from the
former reputation of the government, which has now continued fifty
years; and whenever we come to the proof, or they discover our
weakness we shall lose it. If you were to say, the justice of our
cause ought to augment our influence and diminish theirs I answer,
that this justice requires to be perceived and believed by others as
well as by ourselves, but this is not the case; for the justice of our
cause is wholly founded upon our suspicion that Cosmo designs to make
himself prince of the city. And although we entertain this suspicion
and suppose it to be correct, others have it not; but what is worse,
they charge us with the very design of which we accuse him. Those
actions of Cosmo which lead us to suspect him are, that he lends money
indiscriminately, and not to private persons only, but to the public;
and not to Florentines only, but to the /condottieri/, the soldiers of
fortune. Besides, he assists any citizen who requires magisterial aid;
and, by the universal interest he possesses in the city, raises first
one friend and then another to higher grades of honor. Therefore, to
adduce our reasons for expelling him, would be to say that he is kind,
generous, liberal, and beloved by all. Now tell me, what law is there
which forbids, disapproves, or condemns men for being pious, liberal,
and benevolent? And though they are all modes adopted by those who aim
at sovereignty, they are not believed to be such, nor have we
sufficient power to make them to be so esteemed; for our conduct has
robbed us of confidence, and the city, naturally partial and (having
always lived in faction) corrupt, cannot lend its attention to such
charges. But even if we were successful in an attempt to expel him
(which might easily happen under a favorable Signory), how could we
(being surrounded by his innumerable friends, who would constantly
reproach us, and ardently desire to see him again in the city) prevent
his return? It would be impossible for they being so numerous, and
having the good will of all upon their side, we should never be secure
from them. And as many of his first discovered friends as you might
expel, so many enemies would you make, so that in a short time he
would return, and the result would be simply this, that we had driven
him out a good man and he had returned to us a bad one; for his nature
would be corrupted by those who recalled him, and he, being under
obligation, could not oppose them. Or should you design to put him to
death, you could not attain your purpose with the magistrates, for his
wealth, and the corruption of your minds, will always save him. But
let us suppose him put to death, or that being banished, he did not
return, I cannot see how the condition of our republic would be
ameliorated; for if we relieve her from Cosmo, we at once make her
subject to Rinaldo, and it is my most earnest desire that no citizen
may ever, in power and authority, surpass the rest. But if one of
these must prevail, I know of no reason that should make me prefer
Rinaldo to Cosmo. I shall only say, may God preserve the city from any
of her citizens usurping the sovereignty, but if our sins have
deserved this, in mercy save us from Rinaldo. I pray thee, therefore,
do not advise the adoption of a course on every account pernicious,
nor imagine that, in union with a few, you would be able to oppose the
will of the many; for the citizens, some from ignorance and others
from malice, are ready to sell the republic at any time, and fortune
has so much favored them, that they have found a purchaser. Take my
advice then; endeavor to live moderately; and with regard to liberty,
you will find as much cause for suspicion in our party as in that of
our adversaries. And when troubles arise, being of neither side, you
will be agreeable to both, and you will thus provide for your own
comfort and do no injury to any."

These words somewhat abated the eagerness of Barbadoro, so that
tranquillity prevailed during the war with Lucca. But this being
ended, and Niccolo da Uzzano dead, the city being at peace and under
no restraint, unhealthy humors increased with fearful rapidity.
Rinaldo, considering himself now the leader of the party, constantly
entreated and urged every citizen whom he thought likely to be
Gonfalonier, to take up arms and deliver the country from him who,
from the malevolence of a few and the ignorance of the multitude, was
inevitably reducing it to slavery. These practices of Rinaldo, and
those of the contrary side, kept the city full of apprehension, so
that whenever a magistracy was created, the numbers of each party
composing it were made publicly known, and upon drawing for the
Signory the whole city was aroused. Every case brought before the
magistrates, however trivial, was made a subject of contention among
them. Secrets were divulged, good and evil alike became objects of
favor and opposition, the benevolent and the wicked were alike
assailed, and no magistrate fulfilled the duties of his office with

In this state of confusion, Rinaldo, anxious to abate the power of
Cosmo, and knowing that Bernardo Guadagni was likely to become
Gonfalonier, paid his arrears of taxes, that he might not, by being
indebted to the public, be incapacitated for holding the office. The
drawing soon after took place, and fortune, opposed to our welfare,
caused Bernardo to be appointed for the months of September and
October. Rinaldo immediately waited upon him, and intimated how much
the party of the nobility, and all who wished for repose, rejoiced to
find he had attained that dignity; that it now rested with him to act
in such a manner as to realize their pleasing expectations. He then
enlarged upon the danger of disunion, and endeavored to show that
there was no means of attaining the blessing of unity but by the
destruction of Cosmo, for he alone, by the popularity acquired with
his enormous wealth, kept them depressed; that he was already so
powerful, that if not hindered, he would soon become prince, and that
it was the part of a good citizen, in order to prevent such a
calamity, to assemble the people in the piazza, and restore liberty to
his country. Rinaldo then reminded the new Gonfalonier how Salvestro
de' Medici was able, though unjustly, to restrain the power of the
Guelphs, to whom, by the blood of their ancestors, shed in its cause,
the government rightly belonged; and argued that what he was able
unjustly to accomplish against so many, might surely be easily
performed with justice in its favor against one! He encouraged him
with the assurance that their friends would be ready in arms to
support him; that he need not regard the plebeians, who adored Cosmo,
since their assistance would be of no greater avail than Giorgio Scali
had found it on a similar occasion; and that with regard to his
wealth, no apprehension was necessary, for when he was under the power
of the Signory, his riches would be so too. In conclusion, he averred
that this course would unite and secure the republic, and crown the
Gonfalonier with glory. Bernardo briefly replied, that he thought it
necessary to act exactly as Rinaldo had advised, and that as the time
was suitable for action, he should provide himself with forces, being
assured from what Rinaldo had said, he would be supported by his

Bernardo entered upon the duties of his office, prepared his
followers, and having concerted with Rinaldo, summoned Cosmo, who,
though many friends dissuaded him from it, obeyed the call, trusting
more to his own innocence than to the mercy of the Signory. As soon as
he had entered the palace he was arrested. Rinaldo, with a great
number of armed men, and accompanied by nearly the whole of his party,
proceeded to the piazza, when the Signory assembled the people, and
created a Balia of two hundred persons for the reformation of the
city. With the least possible delay they entered upon the
consideration of reform, and of the life or death of Cosmo. Many
wished him to be banished, others to be put to death, and several were
silent, either from compassion toward him or for fear of the rest, so
that these differences prevented them from coming to any conclusion.

There is an apartment in the tower of the palace which occupies the
whole of one floor, and is called the Alberghettino, in which Cosmo
was confined, under the charge of Federigo Malavolti. In this place,
hearing the assembly of the Councils, the noise of arms which
proceeded from the piazza, and the frequent ringing of the bell to
assemble the Balia, he was greatly apprehensive for his safety, but
still more less his private enemies should cause him to be put to
death in some unusual manner. He scarcely took any food, so that in
four days he ate only a small quantity of bread, Federigo, observing
his anxiety, said to him, "Cosmo, you are afraid of being poisoned,
and are evidently hastening your end with hunger. You wrong me if you
think I would be a party to such an atrocious act. I do not imagine
your life to be in much danger, since you have so many friends both
within the palace and without; but if you should eventually lose it,
be assured they will use some other medium than myself for that
purpose, for I will never imbue my hands in the blood of any, still
less in yours, who never injured me; therefore cheer up, take some
food, and preserve your life for your friends and your country. And
that you may do so with greater assurance, I will partake of your
meals with you." These words were of great relief to Cosmo, who, with
tears in his eyes, embraced and kissed Federigo, earnestly thanking
him for so kind and affectionate conduct, and promising, if ever the
opportunity were given him, he would not be ungrateful.


Cosmo is banished to Padua--Rinaldo degli Albizzi attempts to
restore the nobility--New disturbances occasioned by Rinaldo degli
Albizzi--Rinaldo takes arms against the Signory--His designs are
disconcerted--Pope Eugenius in Florence--He endeavors to reconcile
the parties--Cosmo is recalled--Rinaldo and his party banished--
Glorious return of Cosmo.

Cosmo in some degree recovered his spirits, and while the citizens
were disputing about him, Federigo, by way of recreation, brought an
acquaintance of the Gonfalonier to take supper with him, an amusing
and facetious person, whose name was Il Farnagaccio. The repast being
nearly over, Cosmo, who thought he might turn this visit to advantage,
for he knew the man very intimately, gave a sign to Federigo to leave
the apartment, and he, guessing the cause, under pretense of going for
something that was wanted on the table, left them together. Cosmo,
after a few friendly expressions addressed to Il Farnagaccio, gave him
a small slip of paper, and desired him to go to the director of the
hospital of Santa Maria Nuova, for one thousand one hundred ducats; he
was to take the hundred for himself, and carry the thousand to the
Gonfalonier, and beg that he would take some suitable occasion of
coming to see him. Farnagaccio undertook the commission, the money was
paid, Bernardo became more humane, and Cosmo was banished to Padua,
contrary to the wish of Rinaldo, who earnestly desired his death.
Averardo and many others of the house of Medici were also banished,
and with them Puccio and Giovanni Pucci. To silence those who were
dissatisfied with the banishment of Cosmo, they endowed with the power
of a Balia, the Eight of War and the Capitano of the People. After his
sentence, Cosmo on the third of October, 1433, came before the
Signory, by whom the boundary to which he was restricted was
specified; and they advised him to avoid passing it, unless he wished
them to proceed with greater severity both against himself and his
property. Cosmo received his sentence with a cheerful look, assuring
the Signory that wherever they determined to send him, he would
willingly remain. He earnestly begged, that as they had preserved his
life they would protect it, for he knew there were many in the piazza
who were desirous to take it; and assured them, that wherever he might
be, himself and his means were entirely at the service of the city,
the people, and the Signory. He was respectfully attended by the
Gonfalonier, who retained him in the palace till night, then conducted
him to his own house to supper, and caused him to be escorted by a
strong armed force to his place of banishment. Wherever the cavalcade
passed, Cosmo was honorably received, and was publicly visited by the
Venetians, not as an exile, but with all the respect due to one in the
highest station.

Florence, widowed of so great a citizen, one so generally beloved,
seemed to be universally sunk in despondency; victors and the
vanquished were alike in fear. Rinaldo, as if inspired with a presage
of his future calamities, in order not to appear deficient to himself
or his party, assembled many citizens, his friends, and informed them
that he foresaw their approaching ruin for having allowed themselves
to be overcome by the prayers, the tears, and the money of their
enemies; and that they did not seem aware they would soon themselves
have to entreat and weep, when their prayers would not be listened to,
or their tears excite compassion; and that of the money received, they
would have to restore the principal, and pay the interest in tortures,
exile, and death; that it would have been much better for them to have
done nothing than to have left Cosmo alive, and his friends in
Florence; for great offenders ought either to remain untouched, or be
destroyed; that there was now no remedy but to strengthen themselves
in the city, so that upon the renewed attempts of their enemies, which
would soon take place, they might drive them out with arms, since they
had not sufficient civil authority to expel them. The remedy to be
adopted, he said, was one that he had long before advocated, which was
to regain the friendship of the grandees, restoring and conceding to
them all the honors of the city, and thus make themselves strong with
that party, since their adversaries had joined the plebeians. That by
this means they would become the more powerful side, for they would
possess greater energy, more comprehensive talent and an augmented
share of influence; and that if this last and only remedy were not
adopted, he knew not what other means could be made use of to preserve
the government among so many enemies, or prevent their own ruin and
that of the city.

Mariotto Baldovinetti, one of the assembly, was opposed to this plan,
on account of the pride and insupportable nature of the nobility; and
said, that it would be folly to place themselves again under such
inevitable tyranny for the sake of avoiding imaginary dangers from the
plebeians. Rinaldo, finding his advice unfavorably received, vexed at
his own misfortune and that of his party, imputed the whole to heaven
itself, which had resolved upon it, rather than to human ignorance and
blunders. In this juncture of affairs, no remedial measure being
attempted, a letter was found written by Agnolo Acciajuoli to Cosmo,
acquainting him with the disposition of the city in his favor, and
advising him, if possible, to excite a war, and gain the friendship of
Neri di Gino; for he imagined the city to be in want of money, and as
she would not find anyone to serve her, the remembrance of him would
be revived in the minds of the citizens, and they would desire his
return; and that if Neri were detached from Rinaldo, the party of the
latter would be so weakened, as to be unable to defend themselves.
This letter coming to the hands of the magistrates, Agnolo was taken,
put to the torture, and sent into exile. This example, however, did
not at all deter Cosmo's party.

It was now almost a year since Cosmo had been banished, and the end of
August, 1434, being come, Niccolo di Cocco was drawn Gonfalonier for
the two succeeding months, and with him eight signors, all partisans
of Cosmo. This struck terror into Rinaldo and his party; and as it is
usual for three days to elapse before the new Signory assume the
magistracy and the old resign their authority, Rinaldo again called
together the heads of his party. He endeavored to show them their
certain and immediate danger, and that their only remedy was to take
arms, and cause Donato Velluti, who was yet Gonfalonier, to assemble
the people in the piazza and create a Balia. He would then deprive the
new Signory of the magistracy, appoint another, burn the present
balloting purses, and by means of a new Squittini, provide themselves
with friends. Many thought this course safe and requisite; others,
that it was too violent, and likely to be attended with great evil.
Among those who disliked it was Palla Strozzi, a peaceable, gentle,
and humane person, better adapted for literary pursuits than for
restraining a party, or opposing civil strife. He said that bold and
crafty resolutions seem promising at their commencement, but are
afterward found difficult to execute, and generally pernicious at
their conclusion; that he thought the fear of external wars (the
duke's forces being upon the confines of Romagna), would occupy the
minds of the Signory more than internal dissensions; but, still, if
any attempt should be made, and it could not take place unnoticed,
they would have sufficient time to take arms, and adopt whatever
measures might be found necessary for the common good, which being
done upon necessity, would occasion less excitement among the people
and less danger to themselves. It was therefore concluded, that the
new Signory should come in; that their proceedings should be watched,
and if they were found attempting anything against the party, each
should take arms, and meet in the piazza of San Pulinari, situated
near the palace, and whence they might proceed wherever it was found
necessary. Having come to this conclusion, Rinaldo's friends

The new Signory entered upon their office, and the Gonfalonier, in
order to acquire reputation, and deter those who might intend to
oppose him, sent Donato Velluti, his predecessor, to prison, upon the
charge of having applied the public money to his own use. He then
endeavored to sound his colleagues with respect to Cosmo: seeing them
desirous of his return, he communicated with the leaders of the Medici
party, and, by their advice, summoned the hostile chiefs, Rinaldo
degli Albizzi, Ridolfo Peruzzi, and Niccolo Barbadoro. After this
citation, Rinaldo thought further delay would be dangerous: he
therefore left his house with a great number of armed men, and was
soon joined by Ridolfo Peruzzi and Niccolo Barbadoro. The force
accompanying them was composed of several citizens and a great number
of disbanded soldiers then in Florence: and all assembled according to
appointment in the piazza of San Pulinari. Palla Strozzi and Giovanni
Guicciardini, though each had assembled a large number of men, kept in
their houses; and therefore Rinaldo sent a messenger to request their
attendance and to reprove their delay. Giovanni replied, that he
should lend sufficient aid against their enemies, if by remaining at
home he could prevent his brother Piero from going to the defense of
the palace. After many messages Palla came to San Pulinari on
horseback, accompanied by two of his people on foot, and unarmed.
Rinaldo, on meeting him, sharply reproved him for his negligence,
declaring that his refusal to come with the others arose either from
defect of principle or want of courage; both of which charges should
be avoided by all who wished to preserve such a character as he had
hitherto possessed; and that if he thought this abominable conduct to
his party would induce their enemies when victorious to spare him from
death or exile, he deceived himself; but for himself (Rinaldo)
whatever might happen, he had the consolation of knowing, that
previously to the crisis he had never neglected his duty in council,
and that when it occurred he had used every possible exertion to repel
it with arms; but that Palla and the others would experience
aggravated remorse when they considered they had upon three occasions
betrayed their country; first when they saved Cosmo; next when they
disregarded his advice; and now the third time by not coming armed in
her defense according to their engagement. To these reproaches Palla
made no reply audible to those around, but, muttering something as he
left them, returned to his house.

The Signory, knowing Rinaldo and his party had taken arms, finding
themselves abandoned, caused the palace to be shut up, and having no
one to consult they knew not what course to adopt. However, Rinaldo,
by delaying his coming to the piazza, having waited in expectation of
forces which did not join him, lost the opportunity of victory, gave
them courage to provide for their defense, and allowed many others to
join them, who advised that means should be used to induce their
adversaries to lay down their arms. Thereupon, some of the least
suspected, went on the part of the Signory to Rinaldo, and said, they
did not know what occasion they had given his friends for thus
assembling in arms; that they never had any intention of offending
him, and if they had spoken of Cosmo, they had no design of recalling
him; so if their fears were thus occasioned they might at once be
dispelled, for that if they came to the palace they would be
graciously received, and all their complaints attended to. These words
produced no change in Rinaldo's purpose; he bade them provide for
their safety by resigning their offices, and said that then the
government of the city would be reorganized, for the mutual benefit of

It rarely happens, where authorities are equal and opinions contrary,
that any good resolution is adopted. Ridolfo Peruzzi, moved by the
discourse of the citizens, said, that all he desired was to prevent
the return of Cosmo, and this being granted to them seemed a
sufficient victory; nor would he, to obtain a greater, fill the city
with blood; he would therefore obey the Signory; and accordingly went
with his people to the palace, where he was received with a hearty
welcome. Thus Rinaldo's delay at San Pulinari, Palla's want of
courage, and Ridolfo's desertion, deprived their party of all chance
of success; while the ardor of the citizens abated, and the pope's
authority did not contribute to its revival.

Pope Eugenius was at this time at Florence, having been driven from
Rome by the people. These disturbances coming to his knowledge, he
thought it a duty suitable to his pastoral office to appease them, and
sent the patriarch Giovanni Vitelleschi, Rinaldo's most intimate
friend, to entreat the latter to come to an interview with him, as he
trusted he had sufficient influence with the Signory to insure his
safety and satisfaction, without injury or bloodshed to the citizens.
By his friend's persuasion, Rinaldo proceeded with all his followers
to Santa Maria Nuova, where the pope resided. Eugenius gave him to
understand, that the Signory had empowered him to settle the
differences between them, and that all would be arranged to his
satisfaction, if he laid down his arms. Rinaldo, having witnessed
Palla's want of zeal, and the fickleness of Ridolfo Peruzzi, and no
better course being open to him, placed himself in the pope's hands,
thinking that at all events the authority of his holiness would insure
his safety. Eugenius then sent word to Niccolo Barbadoro, and the rest
who remained without, that they were to lay down their arms, for
Rinaldo was remaining with the pontiff, to arrange terms of agreement
with the signors; upon which they immediately dispersed, and laid
aside their weapons.

The Signory, seeing their adversaries disarmed, continued to negotiate
an arrangement by means of the pope; but at the same time sent
secretly to the mountains of Pistoia for infantry, which, with what
other forces they could collect, were brought into Florence by night.
Having taken possession of all the strong positions in the city, they
assembled the people in the piazza and created a new balia, which,
without delay, restored Cosmo and those who had been exiled with him
to their country; and banished, of the opposite party, Rinaldo degli
Albizzi, Ridolfo Peruzzi, Niccolo Barbadoro, and Palla Strozzi, with
so many other citizens, that there were few places in Italy which did
not contain some, and many others beyond her limits were full of them.
By this and similar occurrences, Florence was deprived of men of
worth, and of much wealth and industry.

The pope, seeing such misfortunes befall those who by his entreaties
were induced to lay down their arms, was greatly dissatisfied, and
condoled with Rinaldo on the injuries he had received through his
confidence in him, but advised him to be patient, and hope for some
favorable turn of fortune. Rinaldo replied, "The want of confidence in
those who ought to have trusted me, and the great trust I have reposed
in you, have ruined both me and my party. But I blame myself
principally for having thought that you, who were expelled from your
own country, could preserve me in mine. I have had sufficient
experience of the freaks of fortune; and as I have never trusted
greatly to prosperity, I shall suffer less inconvenience from
adversity; and I know that when she pleases she can become more
favorable. But if she should never change, I shall not be very
desirous of living in a city in which individuals are more powerful
than the laws; for that country alone is desirable in which property
and friends may be safely enjoyed, not one where they may easily be
taken from us, and where friends, from fear of losing their property,
are compelled to abandon each other in their greatest need. Besides,
it has always been less painful to good men to hear of the misfortunes
of their country than to witness them; and an honorable exile is
always held in greater esteem than slavery at home." He then left the
pope, and, full of indignation, blaming himself, his own measures, and
the coldness of his friends, went into exile.

Cosmo, on the other hand, being informed of his recall, returned to
Florence; and it has seldom occurred that any citizen, coming home
triumphant from victory, was received by so vast a concourse of
people, or such unqualified demonstrations of regard as he was upon
his return from banishment; for by universal consent he was hailed as
the benefactor of the people, and the FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY.



The vicissitudes of empires--The state of Italy--The military
factions of Sforza and Braccio--The Bracceschi and the Sforzeschi
attack the pope, who is expelled by the Romans--War between the
pope and the duke of Milan--The Florentines and the Venetians
assist the pope--Peace between the pope and the duke of Milan--
Tyranny practiced by the party favorable to the Medici.

It may be observed, that provinces amid the vicissitudes to which they
are subject, pass from order into confusion, and afterward recur to a
state of order again; for the nature of mundane affairs not allowing
them to continue in an even course, when they have arrived at their
greatest perfection, they soon begin to decline. In the same manner,
having been reduced by disorder, and sunk to their utmost state of
depression, unable to descend lower, they, of necessity, reascend; and
thus from good they gradually decline to evil, and from evil again
return to good. The reason is, that valor produces peace; peace,
repose; repose, disorder; disorder, ruin; so from disorder order
springs; from order virtue, and from this, glory and good fortune.
Hence, wise men have observed, that the age of literary excellence is
subsequent to that of distinction in arms; and that in cities and
provinces, great warriors are produced before philosophers. Arms
having secured victory, and victory peace, the buoyant vigor of the
martial mind cannot be enfeebled by a more excusable indulgence than
that of letters; nor can indolence, with any greater or more dangerous
deceit, enter a well regulated community. Cato was aware of this when
the philosophers, Diogenes and Carneades, were sent ambassadors to the
senate by the Athenians; for perceiving with what earnest admiration
the Roman youth began to follow them, and knowing the evils that might
result to his country from this specious idleness, he enacted that no
philosopher should be allowed to enter Rome. Provinces by this means
sink to ruin, from which, men's sufferings having made them wiser,
they again recur to order, if they be not overwhelmed by some
extraordinary force. These causes made Italy, first under the ancient
Tuscans, and afterward under the Romans, by turns happy and unhappy;
and although nothing has subsequently arisen from the ruins of Rome at
all corresponding to her ancient greatness (which under a well-
organized monarchy might have been gloriously effected), still there
was so much bravery and intelligence in some of the new cities and
governments that afterward sprang up, that although none ever acquired
dominion over the rest, they were, nevertheless, so balanced and
regulated among themselves, as to enable them to live in freedom, and
defend their country from the barbarians.

Among these governments, the Florentines, although they possessed a
smaller extent of territory, were not inferior to any in power and
authority; for being situated in the middle of Italy, wealthy, and
prepared for action, they either defended themselves against such as
thought proper to assail them, or decided victory in favor of those to
whom they became allies. From the valor, therefore, of these new
governments, if no seasons occurred of long-continued peace, neither
were any exposed to the calamities of war; for that cannot be called
peace in which states frequently assail each other with arms, nor can
those be considered wars in which no men are slain, cities plundered,
or sovereignties overthrown; for the practice of arms fell into such a
state of decay, that wars were commenced without fear, continued
without danger, and concluded without loss. Thus the military energy
which is in other countries exhausted by a long peace, was wasted in
Italy by the contemptible manner in which hostilities were carried on,
as will be clearly seen in the events to be described from 1434 to
1494, from which it will appear how the barbarians were again admitted
into Italy, and she again sunk under subjection to them. Although the
transactions of our princes at home and abroad will not be viewed with
admiration of their virtue and greatness like those of the ancients,
perhaps they may on other accounts be regarded with no less interest,
seeing what masses of high spirited people were kept in restraint by
such weak and disorderly forces. And if, in detailing the events which
took place in this wasted world, we shall not have to record the
bravery of the soldier, the prudence of the general, or the patriotism
of the citizen, it will be seen with what artifice, deceit, and
cunning, princes, warriors, and leaders of republics conducted
themselves, to support a reputation they never deserved. This,
perhaps, will not be less useful than a knowledge of ancient history;
for, if the latter excites the liberal mind to imitation, the former
will show what ought to be avoided and decried.

Italy was reduced to such a condition by her rulers, that when, by
consent of her princes, peace was restored, it was soon disturbed by
those who retained their armies, so that glory was not gained by war
nor repose by peace. Thus when the league and the duke of Milan agreed
to lay aside their arms in 1433, the soldiers, resolved upon war,
directed their efforts against the church. There were at this time two
factions or armed parties in Italy, the Sforzesca and the Braccesca.
The leader of the former was the Count Francesco, the son of Sforza,
and of the latter, Niccolo Piccinino and Niccolo Fortebraccio. Under
the banner of one or other of these parties almost all the forces of
Italy were assembled. Of the two, the Sforzesca was in greatest
repute, as well from the bravery of the count himself, as from the
promise which the duke of Milan had made him of his natural daughter,
Madonna Bianca, the prospect of which alliance greatly strengthened
his influence. After the peace of Lombardy, these forces, from various
causes attacked Pope Eugenius. Niccolo Fortebraccio was instigated by
the ancient enmity which Braccio had always entertained against the
church; the count was induced by ambition: so that Niccolo assailed
Rome, and the count took possession of La Marca.

The Romans, in order to avoid the war, drove Pope Eugenius from their
city: and he, having with difficulty escaped, came to Florence, where
seeing the imminent danger of his situation, being abandoned by the
princes (for they were unwilling again to take up arms in his cause,
after having been so anxious to lay them aside), he came to terms with
the count, and ceded to him the sovereignty of La Marca, although, to
the injury of having occupied it, he had added insult; for in signing
the place, from which he addressed letters to his agents, he said in
Latin, according to the Latin custom, /Ex Girfalco nostro Firmiano,
invito Petro et Paulo/. Neither was he satisfied with this concession,
but insisted upon being appointed Gonfalonier of the church, which was
also granted; so much more was Eugenius alarmed at the prospect of a
dangerous war than of an ignominious peace. The count, having been
thus been reconciled to the pontiff, attacked Niccolo Fortebraccio,
and during many months various encounters took place between them,
from all which greater injury resulted to the pope and his subjects,
than to either of the belligerents. At length, by the intervention of
the duke of Milan, an arrangement, by way of a truce, was made, by
which both became princes in the territories of the church.

The war thus extinguished at Rome was rekindled in Romagna by Batista
da Canneto, who at Bologna slew some of the family of the Grifoni, and
expelled from the city the governor who resided there for the pope,
along with others who were opposed to him. To enable himself to retain
the government, he applied for assistance to Filippo; and the pope, to
avenge himself for the injury, sought the aid of the Venetians and
Florentines. Both parties obtained assistance, so that very soon two
large armies were on foot in Romagna. Niccolo Piccinino commanded for
the duke, Gattamelata and Niccolo da Tolentino for the Venetians and
Florentines. They met near Imola, where a battle ensued, in which the
Florentines and Venetians were routed, and Niccolo da Tolentino was
sent prisoner to Milan where, either through grief for his loss or by
some unfair means, he died in a few days.

The duke, on this victory, either being exhausted by the late wars, or
thinking the League after their defeat would not be in haste to resume
hostilities, did not pursue his good fortune, and thus gave the pope
and his colleagues time to recover themselves. They therefore
appointed the Count Francesco for their leader, and undertook to drive
Niccolo Fortebraccio from the territories of the church, and thus
terminate the war which had been commenced in favor of the pontiff.
The Romans, finding the pope supported by so large an army, sought a
reconciliation with him, and being successful, admitted his commissary
into the city. Among the places possessed by Niccolo Fortebraccio,
were Tivoli, Montefiascone, Citta di Castello, and Ascesi, to the last
of which, not being able to keep the field, he fled, and the count
besieged him there. Niccolo's brave defense making it probable that
the war would be of considerable duration, the duke deemed to
necessary to prevent the League from obtaining the victory, and said
that if this were not effected he would very soon have to look at the
defense of his own territories. Resolving to divert the count from the
siege, he commanded Niccolo Piccinino to pass into Tuscany by way of
Romagna; and the League, thinking it more important to defend Tuscany
than to occupy Ascesi, ordered the count to prevent the passage of
Niccolo, who was already, with his army, at Furli. The count
accordingly moved with his forces, and came to Cesena, having left the
war of La Marca and the care of his own territories to his brother
Lione; and while Niccolo Piccinino was endeavoring to pass by, and the
count to prevent him, Fortebraccio attacked Lione with great bravery,
made him prisoner, routed his forces, and pursuing the advantage of
his victory, at once possessed himself of many places in La Marca.
This circumstance greatly perplexed the count, who thought he had lost
all his territories; so, leaving part of his force to check Piccinino,
with the remainder he pursued Fortebraccio, whom he attacked and
conquered. Fortebraccio was taken prisoner in the battle, and soon
after died of his wounds. This victory restored to the pontiff all the
places that had been taken from him by Fortebraccio, and compelled the
duke of Milan to sue for peace, which was concluded by the
intercession of Niccolo da Esta, marquis of Ferrara; the duke
restoring to the church the places he had taken from her, and his
forces retiring into Lombardy. Batista da Canneto, as in the case with
all who retain authority only by the consent and forces of another,
when the duke's people had quitted Romagna, unable with his own power
to keep possession of Bologna, fled, and Antonio Bentivogli, the head
of the opposite party, returned to his country.

All this took place during the exile of Cosmo, after whose return,
those who had restored him, and a great number of persons injured by
the opposite party, resolved at all events to make themselves sure of
the government; and the Signory for the months of November and
December, not content with what their predecessors had done in favor
of their party extended the term and changed the residences of several
who were banished, and increased the number of exiles. In addition to
these evils, it was observed that citizens were more annoyed on
account of their wealth, their family connections or private
animosities, than for the sake of the party to which they adhered, so
that if these prescriptions had been accompanied with bloodshed, they
would have resembled those of Octavius and Sylla, though in reality
they were not without some stains; for Antonio di Bernardo Guadagni
was beheaded, and four other citizens, among whom were Zanobi dei
Belfratelli and Cosmo Barbadori, passing the confines to which they
were limited, proceeded to Venice, where the Venetians, valuing the
friendship of Cosmo de' Medici more than their own honor, sent them
prisoners to him, and they were basely put to death. This circumstance
greatly increased the influence of that party, and struck their
enemies with terror, finding that such a powerful republic would so
humble itself to the Florentines. This, however, was supposed to have
been done, not so much out of kindness to Cosmo, as to excite
dissensions in Florence, and by means of bloodshed make greater
certainty of division among the citizens, for the Venetians knew there
was no other obstacle to their ambition so great as the union of her

The city being cleared of the enemies, or suspected enemies of the
state, those in possession of the government now began to strengthen
their party by conferring benefits upon such as were in a condition to
serve them, and the family of the Alberti, with all who had been
banished by the former government, were recalled. All the nobility,
with few exceptions, were reduced to the ranks of the people, and the
possessions of the exiles were divided among themselves, upon each
paying a small acknowledgment. They then fortified themselves with new
laws and provisos, made new Squittini, withdrawing the names of their
adversaries from the purses, and filling them with those of their
friends. Taking advice from the ruin of their enemies, they considered
that to allow the great offices to be filled by mere chance of
drawing, did not afford the government sufficient security, they
therefore resolved that the magistrates possessing the power of life
and death should always be chosen from among the leaders of their own
party, and therefore that the /Accoppiatori/, or persons selected for
the imborsation of the new Squittini, with the Signory who had to
retire from office, should make the new appointments. They gave to
eight of the guard authority to proceed capitally, and provided that
the exiles, when their term of banishment was complete, should not be
allowed to return, unless from the Signory and Colleagues, which were
thirty-seven in number, the consent of thirty-four was obtained. It
was made unlawful to write to or to receive letters from them; every
word, sign, or action that gave offense to the ruling party was
punished with the utmost rigor; and if there was still in Florence any
suspected person whom these regulations did not reach, he was
oppressed with taxes imposed for the occasion. Thus in a short time,
having expelled or impoverished the whole of the adverse party, they
established themselves firmly in the government. Not to be destitute
of external assistance, and to deprive others of it, who might use it
against themselves, they entered into a league, offensive and
defensive, with the pope, the Venetians, and the duke of Milan.


Death of Giovanni II.--René of Anjou and Alfonso of Aragon aspire
to the kingdom--Alfonso is routed and taken by the Genoese--
Alfonso being a prisoner of the duke of Milan, obtains his
friendship--The Genoese disgusted with the duke of Milan--
Divisions among the Genoese--The Genoese, by means of Francesco
Spinola, expel the duke's governor--League against the duke of
Milan--Rinaldo degli Albizzi advises the duke to make war against
the Florentines--His discourse to the duke--The duke adopts
measures injurious to the Florentines--Niccolo Piccinino appointed
to command the duke's forces--Preparations of the Florentines--
Piccinino routed before Barga.

The affairs of Florence being in this condition, Giovanna, queen of
Naples, died, and by her will appointed René of Anjou to be her
successor. Alfonso, king of Aragon, was at this time in Sicily, and
having obtained the concurrence of many barons, prepared to take
possession of the kingdom. The Neapolitans, with whom a greater number
of barons were also associated, favored René. The pope was unwilling
that either of them should obtain it; but desired the affairs of
Naples to be administered by a governor of his own appointing.

In the meantime Alfonso entered the kingdom, and was received by the
duke of Sessa; he brought with him some princes, whom he had engaged
in his service, with the design (already possessing Capua, which the
prince of Taranto held in his name) of subduing the Neapolitans, and
sent his fleet to attack Gaeta, which had declared itself in their
favor. They therefore demanded assistance of the duke of Milan, who
persuaded the Genoese to undertake their defense; and they, to satisfy
the duke their sovereign, and protect the merchandise they possessed,
both at Naples and Gaeta, armed a powerful fleet. Alfonso hearing of
this, augmented his own naval force, went in person to meet the
Genoese, and coming up with them near the island of Ponzio, an
engagement ensued, in which the Aragonese were defeated, and Alfonso,
with many of the princes of his suite, made prisoners, and sent by the
Genoese to the Filippo.

This victory terrified the princes of Italy, who, being jealous of the
duke's power, thought it would give him a great opportunity of being
sovereign of the whole country. But so contrary are the views of men,
that he took a directly opposite course. Alfonso was a man of great
sagacity, and as soon as an opportunity presented itself of
communicating with Filippo, he proved to him how completely he
contravened his own interests, by favoring René and opposing himself;
for it would be the business of the former, on becoming king of
Naples, to introduce the French into Milan; that in an emergency he
might have assistance at hand, without the necessity of having to
solicit a passage for his friends. But he could not possibly secure
this advantage without effecting the ruin of the duke, and making his
dominions a French province; and that the contrary of all this would
result from himself becoming lord of Naples; for having only the
French to fear, he would be compelled to love and caress, nay even to
obey those who had it in their power to open a passage for his
enemies. That thus the title of king of king of Naples would be with
himself (Alfonso), but the power and authority with Filippo; so that
it was much more the duke's business than his own to consider the
danger of one course and the advantage of the other; unless he rather
wished to gratify his private prejudices than to give security to his
dominions. In the one case he would be a free prince, in the other,
placed between two powerful sovereigns, he would either be robbed of
his territories or live in constant fear, and have to obey them like a
slave. These arguments so greatly influenced the duke, that, changing
his design, he set Alfonso at liberty, sent him honorably to Genoa and
then to Naples. From thence the king went to Gaeta, which as soon as
his liberation had become known, was taken possession of by some
nobles of his party.

The Genoese, seeing that the duke, without the least regard for them,
had liberated the king, and gained credit to himself through the
dangers and expense which they had incurred; that he enjoyed all the
honor of the liberation, and they were themselves exposed to the odium
of the capture, and the injuries consequent upon the king's defeat,
were greatly exasperated. In the city of Genoa, while in the enjoyment
of her liberty, a magistrate is created with the consent of the
people, whom they call the Doge; not that he is absolutely a prince,
or that he alone has the power of determining matters of government;
but that, as the head of the state, he proposes those questions or
subjects which have to be considered and determined by the magistrates
and the councils. In that city are many noble families so powerful,
that they are with great difficulty induced to submit to the authority
of the law. Of these, the most powerful are the Fregosa and the
Adorna, from whom arise the dissensions of the city, and the impotence
of her civil regulations; for the possession of this high office being
contested by means inadmissible in well-regulated communities, and
most commonly with arms in their hands, it always occurs that one
party is oppressed and the other triumphant; and sometimes those who
fail in the pursuit have recourse to the arms of strangers, and the
country they are not allowed to rule they subject to foreign
authority. Hence it happens, that those who govern in Lombardy most
commonly command in Genoa, as occurred at the time Alfonso of Aragon
was made prisoner. Among the leading Genoese who had been instrumental
in subjecting the republic to Filippo, was Francesco Spinola, who,
soon after he had reduced his country to bondage, as always happens in
such cases, became suspected by the duke. Indignant at this, he
withdrew to a sort of voluntary exile at Gaeta, and being there when
the naval expedition was in preparation, and having conducted himself
with great bravery in the action, he thought he had again merited so
much of the duke's confidence as would obtain for him permission to
remain undisturbed at Genoa. But the duke still retained his
suspicions; for he could not believe that a vacillating defender of
his own country's liberty would be faithful to himself; and Francesco
Spinola resolved again to try his fortune, and if possible restore
freedom to his country, and honorable safety for himself; for he was
there was no probability of regaining the forfeited affection of his
fellow-citizens, but by resolving at his own peril to remedy the
misfortunes which he had been so instrumental in producing. Finding

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