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tale, and immediately sent to Florence to see the young man, and
procure of Cosmo and Neri permission to return with him to Bologna.
The reputed father of Santi was dead, and he lived under the
protection of his uncle, whose name was Antonio da Cascese. Antonio
was rich, childless, and a friend of Neri, to whom the matter becoming
known, he thought it ought neither to be despised nor too hastily
accepted; and that it would be best for Santi and those who had been
sent from Bologna, to confer in the presence of Cosmo. They were
accordingly introduced, and Santi was not merely honored but adored by
them, so greatly were they influenced by the spirit of party. However,
nothing was done at the time, except that Cosmo, taking Santi apart,
spoke to him thus: "No one can better advise you in this matter than
yourself; for you have to take that course to which your own mind
prompts you. If you be the son of Ercole Bentivoglio, you will
naturally aspire to those pursuits which are proper to your family and
worthy of your father; but if you be the son of Agnolo da Cascese, you
will remain in Florence, and basely spend the remainder of your days
in some branch of the woolen trade." These words greatly influenced
the youth, who, though he had at first almost refused to adopt such a
course, said, he would submit himself wholly to what Cosmo and Neri
should determine. They, assenting to the request of the Bolognese,
provided suitable apparel, horses, and servants; and in a few days he
was escorted by a numerous cavalcade to Bologna, where the
guardianship of Annibale's son and of the city were placed in his
hands. He conducted himself so prudently, that although all his
ancestors had been slain by their enemies, he lived in peace and died
respected by everyone.

After the death of Niccolo Piccinino and the peace of La Marca,
Filippo wishing to procure a leader of his forces, secretly negotiated
with Ciarpellone, one of the principal captains of Count Francesco,
and arrangements having been made, Ciarpellone asked permission to go
to Milan to take possession of certain castles which had been given
him by Filippo during the late wars. The count suspecting what was in
progress, in order to prevent the duke from accommodating himself at
his expense, caused Ciarpellone to be arrested, and soon afterward put
to death; alleging that he had been detected plotting against him.
Filippo was highly annoyed and indignant, which the Venetians and the
Florentines were glad to observe, for their greatest fear was, that
the duke and the count should become friends.

The duke's anger caused the renewal of war in La Marca. Gismondo
Malatesti, lord of Rimino, being son-in-law of the count, expected to
obtain Pesaro; but the count, having obtained possession, gave it to
his brother, Alessandro. Gismondo, offended at this, was still further
exasperated at finding that Federigo di Montefeltro, his enemy, by the
count's assistance, gained possession of Urbino. He therefore joined
the duke, and solicited the pope and the king to make war against the
count, who, to give Gismondo a taste of the war he so much desired,
resolved to take the initiative, and attacked him immediately. Thus
Romagna and La Marca were again in complete confusion, for Filippo,
the king, and the pope, sent powerful assistance to Gismondo, while
the Florentines and Venetians supplied the count with money, though
not with men. Nor was Filippo satisfied with the war in Romagna, but
also desired to take Cremona and Pontremoli from the count; but
Pontremoli was defended by the Florentines, and Cremona by the
Venetians. Thus the war was renewed in Lombardy, and after several
engagements in the Cremonese, Francesco Piccinino, the leader of the
duke's forces, was routed at Casale, by Micheletto and the Venetian
troops. This victory gave the Venetians hope of obtaining the duke's
dominions. They sent a commissary to Cremona, attacked the
Ghiaradadda, and took the whole of it, except Crema. Then crossing the
Adda, they overran the country as far as Milan. Upon this the duke had
recourse to Alfonso, and entreated his assistance, pointing out the
danger his kingdom would incur if Lombardy were to fall into the hands
of the Venetians. Alfonso promised to send him troops, but apprised
him of the difficulties which would attend their passage, without the
permission of the count.

Filippo, driven to extremity, then had recourse to Francesco, and
begged he would not abandon his father-in-law, now that he had become
old and blind. The count was offended with the duke for making war
against him; but he was jealous of the increasing greatness of the
Venetians, and he himself began to be in want of money, for the League
supplied him sparingly. The Florentines, being no longer in fear of
the duke, ceased to stand in need of the count, and the Venetians
desired his ruin; for they thought Lombardy could not be taken from
him except by this means; yet while Filippo sought to gain him over,
and offered him the entire command of his forces, on condition that he
should restore La Marca to the pope and quit the Venetian alliance,
ambassadors were sent to him by that republic, promising him Milan, if
they took it, and the perpetual command of their forces, if he would
push the war in La Marca, and prevent Alfonso from sending troops into
Lombardy. The offers of the Venetians were great, as also were their
claims upon him, having begun the war in order to save him from losing
Cremona; while the injuries received from the duke were fresh in his
memory, and his promises had lost all influence, still the count
hesitated; for on the one hand, were to be considered his obligations
to the League, his pledged faith, their recent services, and his hopes
of the future, all which had their influence on him; on the other,
were the entreaties of his father-in-law, and above all, the bane
which he feared would be concealed under the specious offers of the
Venetians, for he doubted not, that both with regard to Milan and
their other promises, if they were victorious, he would be at their
mercy, to which no prudent men would ever submit if he could avoid it.
These difficulties in the way of his forming a determination, were
obviated by the ambition of the Venetians, who, seeing a chance of
occupying Cremona, from secret intelligence with that city, under a
different pretext, sent troops into its neighborhood; but the affair
was discovered by those who commanded Cremona for the count, and
measures were adopted which prevented its success. Thus without
obtaining Cremona, they lost the count's friendship, who, now being
free from all other considerations, joined the duke.


Death of Filippo Visconti, duke of Milan--The Milanese appoint
Sforza their captain--Milan becomes a republic--The pope endeavors
to restore peace to Italy--The Venetians oppose this design--
Alfonso attacks the Florentines--The neighborhood of Piombino
becomes the principal theater of war--Scarcity in the Florentine
camp--Disorders occur in the Neapolitan and Florentine armies--
Alfonso sues for peace and is compelled to retreat--Pavia
surrenders to the count--Displeasure of the Milanese--The count
besieges Caravaggio--The Venetians endeavor to relieve the place--
They are routed by the count before Caravaggio.

Pope Eugenius being dead, was succeeded by Nicholas V. The count had
his whole army at Cotignola, ready to pass into Lombardy, when
intelligence was brought him of the death of Filippo, which happened
on the last day of August, 1447. This event greatly afflicted him, for
he doubted whether his troops were in readiness, on account of their
arrears of pay; he feared the Venetians, who were his armed enemies,
he having recently forsaken them and taken part with the duke; he was
in apprehension from Alfonso, his inveterate foe; he had no hope from
the pontiff or the Florentines; for the latter were allies of the
Venetians, and he had seized the territories of the former. However,
he resolved to face his fortune and be guided by circumstances; for it
often happens, that when engaged in business valuable ideas are
suggested, which in a state of inaction would never have occurred. He
had great hopes, that if the Milanese were disposed to defend
themselves against the ambition of the Venetians, they could make use
of no other power but his. Therefore, he proceeded confidently into
the Bolognese territory, thence to Modena and Reggio, halted with his
forces upon the Lenza, and sent to offer his services at Milan. On the
death of the duke, part of the Milanese were inclined to establish a
republic; others wished to choose a prince, and of these, one part
favored the count, and another Alfonso. However, the majority being in
favor of freedom, they prevailed over the rest, and organized a
republic, to which many cities of the Duchy refused obedience; for
they, too, desired to live in the enjoyment of their liberty, and even
those who did not embrace such views, refused to submit to the
sovereignty of the Milanese. Lodi and Piacenza surrendered themselves
to the Venetians; Pavia and Parma became free. This confused state of
things being known to the count, he proceeded to Cremona, where his
ambassadors and those of the Milanese arranged for him to command the
forces of the new republic, with the same remuneration he had received
from the duke at the time of his decease. To this they added the
possession of Brescia, until Verona was recovered, when he should have
that city and restore Brescia to the Milanese.

Before the duke's death, Pope Nicholas, after his assumption of the
pontificate, sought to restore peace among the princes of Italy, and
with this object endeavored, in conjunction with the ambassadors sent
by the Florentines to congratulate him on his accession, to appoint a
diet at Ferrara to attempt either the arrangement of a long truce, or
the establishment of peace. A congress was accordingly held in that
city, of the pope's legate and the Venetian, ducal, and Florentine
representatives. King Alfonso had no envoy there. He was at Tivoli
with a great body of horse and foot, and favorable to the duke; both
having resolved, that having gained the count over to their side, they
would openly attack the Florentines and Venetians, and till the
arrival of the count in Lombardy, take part in the treaty for peace at
Ferrara, at which, though the king did not appear, he engaged to
concur in whatever course the duke should adopt. The conference lasted
several days, and after many debates, resolved on either a truce for
five years, or a permanent peace, whichsoever the duke should approve;
and the ducal ambassadors, having returned to Milan to learn his
decision, found him dead. Notwithstanding this, the Milanese were
disposed to adopt the resolutions of the assembly, but the Venetians
refused, indulging great hopes of becoming masters of Lombardy,
particularly as Lodi and Piacenza, immediately after the duke's death,
had submitted to them. They trusted that either by force or by treaty
they could strip Milan of her power; and then so press her, as to
compel her also to surrender before any assistance could arrive; and
they were the more confident of this from seeing the Florentines
involved in war with King Alfonso.

The king being at Tivoli, and designing to pursue his enterprise
against Tuscany, as had been arranged between himself and Filippo,
judging that the war now commenced in Lombardy would give him both
time and opportunity, and wishing to have a footing in the Florentine
state before he openly commenced hostilities, opened a secret
understanding with the fortress of Cennina, in the Val d'Arno
Superiore, and took possession of it. The Florentines, surprised with
this unexpected event, perceiving the king already in action, and
resolved to do them all the injury in his power, hired forces, created
a council of ten for management of the war, and prepared for the
conflict in their usual manner. The king was already in the Siennese,
and used his utmost endeavors to reduce the city, but the inhabitants
of Sienna were firm in their attachment to the Florentines, and
refused to receive him within their walls or into any of their
territories. They furnished him with provisions, alleging in excuse,
the enemy's power and their inability to resist. The king, finding he
could not enter by the Val d'Arno, as he had first intended, both
because Cennina had been already retaken, and because the Florentines
were now in some measure prepared for their defense, turned toward
Volterra, and occupied many fortresses in that territory. Thence he
proceeded toward Pisa, and with the assistance of Fazio and Arrigo de'
Conti, of the Gherardesca, took some castles, and issuing from them,
assailed Campiglia, but could not take it, the place being defended by
the Florentines, and it being now in the depth of winter. Upon this
the king, leaving garrisons in the places he had taken to harass the
surrounding country, withdrew with the remainder of his army to
quarters in the Siennese. The Florentines, aided by the season, used
the most active exertions to provide themselves troops, whose captains
were Federigo, lord of Urbino, and Gismondo Malatesti da Rimino, who,
though mutual foes, were kept so united by the prudence of the
commissaries, Neri di Gino and Bernardetto de' Medici, that they broke
up their quarters while the weather was still very severe and
recovered not only the places that had been taken in the territory of
Pisa, but also the Pomerancie in the neighborhood of Volterra, and so
checked the king's troops, which at first had overrun the Maremma,
that they could scarcely retain the places they had been left to

Upon the return of the spring the commissaries halted with their whole
force, consisting of five thousand horse and two thousand foot, at the
Spedaletto. The king approached with his army, amounting to fifteen
thousand men, within three miles of Campiglia, but when it was
expected he would attack the place he fell upon Piombino, hoping, as
it was insufficiently provided, to take it with very little trouble,
and thus acquire a very important position, the loss of which would be
severely felt by the Florentines; for from it he would be able to
exhaust them with a long war, obtain his own provision by sea, and
harass the whole territory of Pisa. They were greatly alarmed at this
attack, and, considering that if they could remain with their army
among the woods of Campiglia, the king would be compelled to retire
either in defeat or disgrace. With this view they equipped four
galleys at Livorno, and having succeeded in throwing three hundred
infantry into Piombino, took up their own position at the Caldane, a
place where it would be difficult to attack them; and they thought it
would be dangerous to encamp among the thickets of the plain.

The Florentine army depended for provisions on the surrounding places,
which, being poor and thinly inhabited, had difficulty in supplying
them. Consequently the troops suffered, particularly from want of
wine, for none being produced in that vicinity, and unable to procure
it from more distant places, it was impossible to obtain a sufficient
quantity. But the king, though closely pressed by the Florentines, was
well provided except in forage, for he obtained everything else by
sea. The Florentines, desirous to supply themselves in the same
manner, loaded four vessels with provisions, but, upon their approach,
they were attacked by seven of the king's galleys, which took two of
them and put the rest to flight. This disaster made them despair of
procuring provisions, so that two hundred men of a foraging party,
principally for want of wine, deserted to the king, and the rest
complained that they could not live without it, in a situation where
the heat was so excessive and the water bad. The commissaries
therefore determined to quit the place, and endeavor to recover those
castles which still remained in the enemy's power; who, on his part,
though not suffering from want of provisions, and greatly superior in
numbers, found his enterprise a failure, from the ravages made in his
army by those diseases which the hot season produces in marshy
localities; and which prevailed to such an extent that many died
daily, and nearly all were affected. These circumstances occasioned
overtures of peace. The king demanded fifty thousand florins, and the
possession of Piombino. When the terms were under consideration, many
citizens, desirous of peace, would have accepted them, declaring there
was no hope of bringing to a favorable conclusion a war which required
so much money to carry it on. But Neri Capponi going to Florence,
placed the matter in a more correct light, and it was then unanimously
determined to reject the proposal, and take the lord of Piombino under
their protection, with an alliance offensive and defensive, provided
he did not abandon them, but assist in their defense as hitherto. The
king being informed of this resolution, saw that, with his reduced
army, he could not gain the place, and withdrew in the same condition
as if completely routed, leaving behind him two thousand dead. With
the remainder of his sick troops he retired to the Siennese territory,
and thence to his kingdom, incensed against the Florentines, and
threatening them with new wars upon the return of spring.

While these events were proceeding in Tuscany the Count Sforza, having
become leader of the Milanese forces, strenuously endeavored to secure
the friendship of Francesco Piccinino, who was also in their service,
that he might support him in his enterprises, or be less disposed to
do him injury. He then took the field with his army, upon which the
people of Pavia, conscious of their inability to resist him, and
unwilling to obey the Milanese, offered to submit themselves to his
authority, on condition that he should not subject them to the power
of Milan. The count desired the possession of Pavia, and considered
the circumstance a happy omen, as it would enable him to give a color
to his designs. He was not restrained from treachery either by fear or
shame; for great men consider failure disgraceful,--a fraudulent
success the contrary. But he was apprehensive that his possession of
the city would excite the animosity of the Milanese, and perhaps
induce them to throw themselves under the power of the Venetians. If
he refused to accept the offer, he would have occasion to fear the
duke of Savoy, to whom many citizens were inclined to submit
themselves; and either alternative would deprive him of the
sovereignty of Lombardy. Concluding there was less danger in taking
possession of the city than in allowing another to have it, he
determined to accept the proposal of the people of Pavia, trusting he
would be able to satisfy the Milanese, to whom he pointed out the
danger they must have incurred had he not complied with it; for her
citizens would have surrendered themselves to the Venetians or to the
duke of Savoy; so that in either case they would have been deprived of
the government, and therefore they ought to be more willing to have
himself as their neighbor and friend, than a hostile power such as
either of the others, and their enemy. The Milanese were upon this
occasion greatly perplexed, imagining they had discovered the count's
ambition, and the end he had in view; but they thought it desirable to
conceal their fears, for they did not know, if the count were to
desert them, to whom they could have recourse except the Venetians,
whose pride and tyranny they naturally dreaded. They therefore
resolved not to break with the count, but by his assistance remedy the
evils with which they were threatened, hoping that when freed from
them they might rescue themselves from him also; for at that time they
were assailed not only by the Venetians but by the Genoese and the
duke of Savoy, in the name of Charles of Orleans, the son of a sister
of Filippo, but whom the count easily vanquished. Thus their only
remaining enemies were the Venetians, who, with a powerful army,
determined to occupy their territories, and had already taken
possession of Lodi and Piacenza, before which latter place the count
encamped; and, after a long siege, took and pillaged the city. Winter
being set in, he led his forces into quarters, and then withdrew to
Cremona, where, during the cold season, he remained in repose with his

In the spring, the Venetian and Milanese armies again took the field.
It was the design of the Milanese, first to recover Lodi and then to
come to terms with the Venetians; for the expenses of the war had
become very great, and they were doubtful of their general's
sincerity, so that they were anxious alike for the repose of peace,
and for security against the count. They therefore resolved that the
army should march to the siege of Carravaggio, hoping that Lodi would
surrender, on that fortress being wrested from the enemy's hands. The
count obeyed, though he would have preferred crossing the Adda and
attacking the Brescian territory. Having encamped before Caravaggio,
he so strongly entrenched himself, that if the enemy attempted to
relieve the place, they would have to attack him at a great
disadvantage. The Venetian army, led by Micheletto, approached within
two bowshots of the enemy's camp, and many skirmishes ensued. The
count continued to press the fortress, and reduced it to the very last
extremity, which greatly distressed the Venetians, since they knew the
loss of it would involve the total failure of their expedition. Very
different views were entertained by their military officers respecting
the best mode of relieving the place, but they saw no course open
except to attack the enemy in his trenches, in spite of all obstacles.
The castle was, however, considered of such paramount importance, that
the Venetian senate, though naturally timid, and averse to all
hazardous undertakings, chose rather to risk everything than allow it
to fall into the hands of the enemy.

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


The count's successes--The Venetians come to terms with him--Views
of the Venetians--Indignation of the Milanese against the count--
Their ambassador's address to him--The count's moderation and
reply--The count and the Milanese prepare for war--Milanese
ambassadors at Venice--League of the Venetians and Milanese--The
count dupes the Venetians and Milanese--He applies for assistance
to the Florentines--Diversity of opinions in Florence on the
subject--Neri di Gino Capponi averse to assisting the count--Cosmo
de' Medici disposed to do so--The Florentines sent ambassadors to
the count.

After this victory, the count marched into the Brescian territory,
occupied the whole country, and then pitched his camp within two miles
of the city. The Venetians, having well-grounded fears that Brescia
would be next attacked, provided the best defense in their power. They
then collected the relics of their army, and, by virtue of the treaty,
demanded assistance of the Florentines; who, being relieved from the
war with Alfonso, sent them one thousand foot and two thousand horse,
by whose aid the Venetians were in a condition to treat for peace. At
one time it seemed the fate of their republic to lose by war and win
by negotiation; for what was taken from them in battle was frequently
restored twofold on the restoration of peace. They knew the Milanese
were jealous of the count, and that he wished to be not their captain
merely, but their sovereign; and as it was in their power to make
peace with either of the two (the one desiring it from ambition, the
other from fear), they determined to make choice of the count, and
offer him assistance to effect his design; persuading themselves, that
as the Milanese would perceive they had been duped by him, they would
in revenge place themselves in the power of any one rather than in
his; and that, becoming unable either to defend themselves or trust
the count, they would be compelled, having no other resource, to fall
into their hands. Having taken this resolution, they sounded the
count, and found him quite disposed for peace, evidently desirous that
the honor and advantage of the victory at Caravaggio should be his
own, and not accrue to the Milanese. The parties therefore entered
into an agreement, in which the Venetians undertook to pay the count
thirteen thousand florins per month, till he should obtain Milan, and
to furnish him, during the continuance of the war, four thousand horse
and two thousand foot. The count engaged to restore to the Venetians
the towns, prisoners, and whatever else had been taken by him during
the late campaigns, and content himself with those territories which
the duke possessed at the time of his death.

When this treaty became known at Milan, it grieved the citizens more
than the victory at Caravaggio had exhilarated them. The rulers of the
city mourned, the people complained, women and children wept, and all
exclaimed against the count as false and perfidious. Although they
could not hope that either prayers or promises would divert him from
his ungrateful design, they sent ambassadors to see with what kind of
color he would invest his unprincipled proceedings, and being admitted
to his presence, one of them spoke to the following effect;--"It is
customary with those who wish to obtain a favor, to make use either of
prayers, presents, or threats, that pity, convenience, or fear, may
induce a compliance with their requests. But as with cruel,
avaricious, or, in their own conceit, powerful men, these arguments
have no weight, it is vain to hope, either to soften them by prayers,
win them by presents, or alarm them by menaces. We, therefore, being
now, though late, aware of thy pride, cruelty, and ambition, come
hither, not to ask aught, nor with the hope, even if we were so
disposed, of obtaining it, but to remind thee of the benefits thou
hast received from the people of Milan, and to prove with what
heartless ingratitude thou hast repaid them, that at least, under the
many evils oppressing us, we may derive some gratification from
telling thee how and by whom they have been produced. Thou canst not
have forgotten thy wretched condition at the death of the duke
Filippo; the king and the pope were both thine enemies; thou hadst
abandoned the Florentines and the Venetians, who, on account of their
just indignation, and because they stood in no further need of thee,
were almost become thy declared enemies. Thou wert exhausted by thy
wars against the church; with few followers, no friends, or any money;
hopeless of being able to preserve either thy territories or thy
reputation. From these circumstances thy ruin must have ensued, but
for our simplicity; we received thee to our home, actuated by
reverence for the happy memory of our duke, with whom, being connected
by marriage and renewed alliance, we believed thy affection would
descend to those who had inherited his authority, and that, if to the
benefits he had conferred on thee, our own were added, the friendship
we sought to establish would not only be firm, but inseparable; with
this impression, we added Verona or Brescia to thy previous
appointments. What more could we either give or promise thee? What
else couldst thou, not from us merely, but from any others, have
either had or expected? Thou receivedst from us an unhoped-for
benefit, and we, in return, an unmerited wrong. Neither hast thou
deferred until now the manifestation of thy base designs; for no
sooner wert thou appointed to command our armies, than, contrary to
every dictate of propriety, thou didst accept Pavia, which plainly
showed what was to be the result of thy friendship; but we bore with
the injury, in hope that the greatness of the advantage would satisfy
thy ambition. Alas! those who grasp at all cannot be satisfied with a
part. Thou didst promise that we should possess the conquests which
thou might afterward make; for thou wert well aware that what was
given at many times might be withdrawn at once, as was the case after
the victory at Caravaggio, purchased by our money and blood, and
followed by our ruin. Oh! unhappy states, which have to guard against
their oppressor; but much more wretched those who have to trust to
mercenary and faithless arms like thine! May our example instruct
posterity, since that of Thebes and Philip of Macedon, who, after
victory over her enemies, from being her captain became her foe and
her prince, could not avail us.

"The only fault of which we are conscious is our over-weening
confidence in one whom we ought not to have trusted; for thy past
life, thy restless mind, incapable of repose, ought to have put us on
our guard; neither ought we to have confided in one who betrayed the
lord of Lucca, set a fine upon the Florentines and the Venetians,
defied the duke, despised the king, and besides all this, persecuted
the church of God, and the Divinity himself with innumerable
atrocities. We ought not to have fancied that so many potentates
possessed less influence over the mind of Francesco Sforza, than the
Milanese; or that he would preserve unblemished that faith towards us
which he had on so many occasions broken with them. Still this want of
caution in us does not excuse the perfidy in thee; nor can it
obliterate the infamy with which our just complaints will blacken thy
character throughout the world, or prevent the remorse of thy
conscience, when our arms are used for our own destruction; for thou
wilt see that the sufferings due to parricides are fully deserved by
thee. And though ambition should blind thine eyes, the whole world,
witness to thine iniquity, will compel thee to open them; God himself
will unclose them, if perjuries, if violated faith, if treacheries
displease him, and if, as ever, he is still the enemy of the wicked.
Do not, therefore, promise thyself any certainty of victory; for the
just wrath of the Almighty will weigh heavily upon thee; and we are
resolved to lose our liberty only with our lives; but if we found we
could not ultimately defend it, we would submit ourselves to anyone
rather than to thee. And if our sins be so great that in spite of our
utmost resolution, we should still fall into thy hands, be quite
assured, that the sovereignty which is commenced in deceit and
villainy, will terminate either in thyself or thy children with
ignominy and blood."

The count, though not insensible to the just reproaches of the
Milanese, did not exhibit either by words or gestures any unusual
excitement, and replied, that "He willingly attributed to their angry
feelings all the serious charges of their indiscreet harangue; and he
would reply to them in detail, were he in the presence of anyone who
could decide their differences; for it would be evident that he had
not injured the Milanese, but only taken care that they should not
injure him. They well knew how they had proceeded after the victory of
Caravaggio; for, instead of rewarding him with either Verona or
Brescia, they sought peace with the Venetians, that all the blame of
the quarrel might rest on him, themselves obtaining the fruit of
victory, the credit of peace, and all the advantages that could be
derived from the war. It would thus be manifest they had no right to
complain, when he had effected the arrangements which they first
attempted to make; and that if he had deferred to do so a little
longer, he would have had reason to accuse them of the ingratitude
with which they were now charging him. Whether the charge were true or
false, that God, whom they had invoked to avenge their injuries, would
show at the conclusion of the war, and would demonstrate which was
most his friend, and who had most justice on their side."

Upon the departure of the ambassadors, the count determined to attack
the Milanese, who prepared for their defense, and appointed Francesco
and Jacopo Piccinino (attached to their cause, on account of the
ancient feud of the families of Braccio and Sforza) to conduct their
forces in support of liberty; at least till they could deprive the
count of the aid of the Venetians, who they did not think would long
be either friendly or faithful to him. On the other hand, the count,
perfectly aware of this, thought it not imprudent, supposing the
obligation of the treaty insufficient, to bind them by the ties of
interest; and, therefore, in assigning to each their portion of the
enterprise, he consented that the Venetians should attack Crema, and
himself, with the other forces, assail the remainder of the territory.
The advantage of this arrangement kept the Venetians so long in
alliance with the count, that he was enabled to conquer the whole of
the Milanese territory, and to press the city so closely, that the
inhabitants could not provide themselves with necessaries; despairing
of success, they sent envoys to the Venetians to beg they would
compassionate their distress, and, as ought to be the case between
republics, assist them in defense of their liberty against a tyrant,
whom, if once master of their city, they would be unable to restrain;
neither did they think he would be content with the boundaries
assigned him by the treaty, but would expect all the dependencies of

The Venetians had not yet taken Crema, and wishing before they changed
sides, to effect this point, they PUBLICLY answered the envoys, that
their engagements with the count prevented them from defending the
Milanese; but SECRETLY, gave them every assurance of their wish to do

The count had approached so near Milan with his forces, that he was
disputing the suburbs with the inhabitants, when the Venetians having
taken Crema, thought they need no longer hesitate to declare in favor
of the Milanese, with whom they made peace and entered into alliance;
among the terms of which was the defense of their liberty unimpaired.
Having come to this agreement, they ordered their forces to withdraw
from the count's camp and to return to the Venetian territory. They
informed him of the peace made with the Milanese, and gave him twenty
days to consider what course he would adopt. He was not surprised at
the step taken by the Venetians, for he had long foreseen it, and
expected its occurrence daily; but when it actually took place, he
could not avoid feeling regret and displeasure similar to what the
Milanese had experienced when he abandoned them. He took two days to
consider the reply he would make to the ambassadors whom the Venetians
had sent to inform him of the treaty, and during this time he
determined to dupe the Venetians, and not abandon his enterprise;
therefore, appearing openly to accept the proposal for peace, he sent
his ambassadors to Venice with full credentials to effect the
ratification, but gave them secret orders not to do so, and with
pretexts or caviling to put it off. To give the Venetians greater
assurance of his sincerity, he made a truce with the Milanese for a
month, withdrew from Milan and divided his forces among the places he
had taken. This course was the occasion of his victory and the ruin of
the Milanese; for the Venetians, confident of peace, were slow in
preparing for war, and the Milanese finding the truce concluded, the
enemy withdrawn, and the Venetians their friends, felt assured that
the count had determined to abandon his design. This idea injured them
in two ways: one, by neglecting to provide for their defense; the
next, that, being seed-time, they sowed a large quantity of grain in
the country which the enemy had evacuated, and thus brought famine
upon themselves. On the other hand, all that was injurious to his
enemies favored the count, and the time gave him opportunity to take
breath and provide himself with assistance.

The Florentines during the war of Lombardy had not declared in favor
of either party, or assisted the count either in defense of the
Milanese or since; for he never having been in need had not pressingly
requested it; and they only sent assistance to the Venetians after the
rout at Caravaggio, in pursuance of the treaty. Count Francesco,
standing now alone, and not knowing to whom else he could apply, was
compelled to request immediate aid of the Florentines, publicly from
the state, and privately from friends, particularly from Cosmo de'
Medici, with whom he had always maintained a steady friendship, and by
whom he had constantly been faithfully advised and liberally
supported. Nor did Cosmo abandon him in his extreme necessity, but
supplied him generously from his own resources, and encouraged him to
prosecute his design. He also wished the city publicly to assist him,
but there were difficulties in the way. Neri di Gino Capponi, one of
the most powerful citizens of Florence, thought it not to the
advantage of the city, that the count should obtain Milan; and was of
opinion that it would be more to the safety of Italy for him to ratify
the peace than pursue the war. In the first place, he apprehended that
the Milanese, through their anger against the count, would surrender
themselves entirely to the Venetians, which would occasion the ruin of
all. Supposing he should occupy Milan, it appeared to him that so
great military superiority, combined with such an extent of territory,
would be dangerous to themselves, and that if as count he was
intolerable, he would become doubly so as duke. He therefore
considered it better for the republic of Florence and for Italy, that
the count should be content with his military reputation, and that
Lombardy should be divided into two republics, which could never be
united to injure others, and separately are unable to do so. To attain
this he saw no better means than to refrain from aiding the count, and
continuing in the former league with the Venetians. These reasonings
were not satisfactory to Cosmo's friends, for they imagined that Neri
had argued thus, not from a conviction of its advantage to the
republic, but to prevent the count, as a friend of Cosmo, from
becoming duke, apprehending that Cosmo would, in consequence of this,
become too powerful.

Cosmo, in reply, pointed out, that to lend assistance to the count
would be highly beneficial both to Italy and the republic; for it was
unwise to imagine the Milanese could preserve their own liberty; for
the nature of their community, their mode of life, and their
hereditary feuds were opposed to every kind of civil government, so
that it was necessary, either that the count should become duke of
Milan, or the Venetians her lords. And surely under such
circumstances, no one could doubt which would be most to their
advantage, to have for their neighbor a powerful friend or a far more
powerful foe. Neither need it be apprehended that the Milanese, while
at war with the count, would submit to the Venetians; for the count
had a stronger party in the city, and the Venetians had not, so that
whenever they were unable to defend themselves as freemen, they would
be more inclined to obey the count than the Venetians.

These diverse views kept the city long in suspense; but at length it
was resolved to send ambassadors to the count to settle the terms of
agreement, with instructions, that if they found him in such a
condition as to give hopes of his ultimate success, they were to close
with him, but, if otherwise, they were to draw out the time in


Prosecution of the war between the count and the Milanese--The
Milanese reduced to extremity--The people rise against the
magistrates--Milan surrenders to the count--League between the new
duke of Milan and the Florentines, and between the king of Naples
and the Venetians--Venetian and Neapolitan ambassadors at Florence
--Answer of Cosmo de' Medici to the Venetian ambassador--
Preparations of the Venetians and the king of Naples for the war--
The Venetians excite disturbances in Bologna--Florence prepares
for war--The emperor, Frederick III. at Florence--War in Lombardy
between the duke of Milan and the Venetians--Ferrando, son of the
king of Naples, marches into Tuscany against the Florentines.

The ambassadors were at Reggio when they heard that the count had
become lord of Milan; for as soon as the truce had expired, he
approached the city with his forces, hoping quickly to get possession
of it in spite of the Venetians, who could bring no relief except from
the side of the Adda, which route he could easily obstruct, and
therefore had no apprehension (being then winter) of their arrival,
and he trusted that, before the return of spring, he would be
victorious, particularly, as by the death of Francesco Piccinino,
there remained only Jacopo his brother, to command the Milanese. The
Venetians had sent an ambassador to Milan to confirm the citizens in
their resolution of defense, promising them powerful and immediate
aid. During the winter a few slight skirmishes had taken place between
the count and the Venetians; but on the approach of milder weather,
the latter, under Pandolfo Malatesti, halted with their army upon the
Adda, and considering whether, in order to succor the Milanese, they
ought to risk a battle, Pardolfo, their general, aware of the count's
abilities, and the courage of his army, said it would be unadvisable
to do so, and that, under the circumstances, it was needless, for the
count, being in great want of forage, could not keep the field, and
must soon retire. He therefore advised them to remain encamped, to
keep the Milanese in hope, and prevent them from surrendering. This
advice was approved by the Venetians, both as being safe, and because,
by keeping the Milanese in this necessity, they might be the sooner
compelled to submit to their dominion; for they felt quite sure that
the injuries they had received would always prevent their submission
to the count.

In the meantime, the Milanese were reduced to the utmost misery; and
as the city usually abounded with poor, many died of hunger in the
streets; hence arose complaints and disturbances in several parts,
which alarmed the magistrates, and compelled them to use their utmost
exertions to prevent popular meetings. The multitude are always slow
to resolve on commotion; but the resolution once formed, any trivial
circumstance excites it to action. Two men in humble life, talking
together near the Porta Nuova of the calamities of the city, their own
misery, and the means that might be adopted for their relief, others
beginning to congregate, there was soon collected a large crowd; in
consequence of it a report was spread that the neighborhood of Porta
Nuova had risen against the government. Upon this, all the lower
orders, who only waited for an example, assembled in arms, and chose
Gasparre da Vicomercato to be their leader. They then proceeded to the
place where the magistrates were assembled, and attacked them so
impetuously that all who did not escape by flight were slain: among
the number, as being considered a principal cause of the famine, and
gratified at their distress, fell Lionardo Veniero, the Venetian
ambassador. Having thus almost become masters of the city, they
considered what course was next to be adopted to escape from the
horrors surrounding them, and to procure peace. A feeling universally
prevailed, that as they could not preserve their own liberty, they
ought to submit to a prince who could defend them. Some proposed King
Alfonso, some the duke of Savoy, and others the king of France, but
none mentioned the count, so great was the general indignation against
him. However, disagreeing with the rest, Gasparre da Vicomercato
proposed him, and explained in detail that if they desired relief from
war, no other plan was open, since the people of Milan required a
certain and immediate peace, and not a distant hope of succor. He
apologized for the count's proceedings, accused the Venetians, and all
the powers of Italy, of which some from ambition and others from
avarice were averse to their possessing freedom. Having to dispose of
their liberty, it would be preferable, he said, to obey one who knew
and could defend them; so that, by their servitude they might obtain
peace, and not bring upon themselves greater evils and more dangerous
wars. He was listened to with the most profound attention; and, having
concluded his harangue, it was unanimously resolved by the assembly,
that the count should be called in, and Gasparre was appointed to wait
upon him and signify their desire. By the people's command he conveyed
the pleasing and happy intelligence to the count, who heard it with
the utmost satisfaction, and entered Milan as prince on the twenty-
sixth of February, 1450, where he was received with the greatest
possible joy by those who, only a short time previously had heaped on
him all the slanders that hatred could inspire.

The news of this event reaching Florence, orders were immediately sent
to the envoys who were upon the way to Milan, that instead of treating
for his alliance with the count, they should congratulate the duke
upon his victory; they, arranging accordingly, had a most honorable
reception, and were treated with all possible respect; for the duke
well knew that in all Italy he could not find braver or more faithful
friends, to defend him against the power of the Venetians, than the
Florentines, who, being no longer in fear of the house of Visconti,
found themselves opposed by the Aragonese and Venetians; for the
Aragonese princes of Naples were jealous of the friendship which the
Florentines had always evinced for the family of France; and the
Venetians seeing the ancient enmity of the Florentines against the
Visconti transferred to themselves, resolved to injure them as much as
possible; for they knew how pertinaciously and invariably they had
persecuted the Lombard princes. These considerations caused the new
duke willingly to join the Florentines, and united the Venetians and
King Alfonso against their common enemies; impelling them at the same
time to hostilities, the king against the Florentines, and the
Venetians against the duke, who, being fresh in the government, would,
they imagined, be unable to resist them, even with all the aid he
could obtain.

But as the league between the Florentines and the Venetians still
continued, and as the king, after the war of Piombino, had made peace
with the former, it seemed indecent to commence an open rupture until
some plausible reason could be assigned in justification of offensive
measures. On this account each sent ambassadors to Florence, who, on
the part of their sovereigns, signified that the league formed between
them was made not for injury to any, but solely for the mutual defense
of their states. The Venetian ambassador then complained that the
Florentines had allowed Alessandro, the duke's brother, to pass into
Lombardy with his forces; and besides this, had assisted and advised
in the treaty made between the duke and the marquis of Mantua, matters
which he declared to be injurious to the Venetians, and inconsistent
with the friendship hitherto subsisting between the two governments;
amicably reminding them, that one who inflicts unmerited injury, gives
others just ground of hostility, and that those who break a peace may
expect war. The Signory appointed Cosmo de' Medici to reply to what
had been said by the Venetian ambassador, and in a long and excellent
speech he recounted the numerous advantages conferred by the city on
the Venetian republic; showed what an extent of dominion they had
acquired by the money, forces, and counsel of the Florentines, and
reminded him that, although the friendship had originated with the
Florentines, they had never given occasion of enmity; and as they
desired peace, they greatly rejoiced when the treaty was made, if it
had been entered into for the sake of peace, and not of war. True it
was, he wondered much at the remarks which had been made, seeing that
such light and trivial matters should give offense to so great a
republic; but if they were worthy of notice he must have it
universally understood, that the Florentines wished their country to
be free and open to all; and that the duke's character was such, that
if he desired the friendship of the marquis of Mantua, he had no need
of anyone's favor or advice. He therefore feared that these cavils
were produced by some latent motive, which it was not thought proper
to disclose. Be this as it might, they would freely declare to all,
that in the same proportion as the friendship of the Florentines was
beneficial their enmity could be destructive.

The matter was hushed up; and the ambassadors, on their departure,
appeared perfectly satisfied. But the league between the king and the
Venetians made the Florentines and the duke rather apprehend war than
hope for a long continuance of peace. They therefore entered into an
alliance, and at the same time the enmity of the Venetians transpired
by a treaty with the Siennese, and the expulsion of all Florentine
subjects from their cities and territories. Shortly after this,
Alfonso did the same, without any consideration of the peace made the
year previous, and not having even the shadow of an excuse. The
Venetians attempted to take Bologna, and having armed the emigrants,
and united to them a considerable force, introduced them into the city
by night through one of the common sewers. No sooner had they entered,
than they raised a cry, by which Santi Bentivogli, being awakened, was
told that the whole city was in possession of the rebels. But though
many advised him to escape, saying that he could not save the city by
his stay, he determined to confront the danger, and taking arms
encouraged his followers, assembled a few friends, attacked and routed
part of the rebels, slew many more, and drove the remainder out of the
city. By this act of bravery all agreed he had fully proved himself a
genuine scion of the house of the Bentivogli.

These events and demonstrations gave the Florentines an earnest of
approaching war; they consequently followed their usual practice on
similar occasions, and created the Council of Ten. They engaged new
condottieri, sent ambassadors to Rome, Naples, Venice, Milan, and
Sienna, to demand assistance from their friends, gain information
about those they suspected, decide such as were wavering, and discover
the designs of the foe. From the pope they obtained only general
expressions of an amicable disposition and admonitions to peace; from
the king, empty excuses for having expelled the Florentines, and
offers of safe conduct for whoever should demand it; and although he
endeavored, as much as possible, to conceal every indication of his
hostile designs, the ambassadors felt convinced of his unfriendly
disposition, and observed many preparations tending to the injury of
the republic. The League with the duke was strengthened by mutual
obligations, and through his means they became friends with the
Genoese, the old differences with them respecting reprisals, and other
small matters of dispute, being composed, although the Venetians used
every possible means to prevent it, and entreated the emperor of
Constantinople to expel all Florentines from his dominions; so fierce
was the animosity with which they entered on this war, and so powerful
their lust of dominion, that without the least hesitation they sought
the destruction of those who had been the occasion of their own power.
The emperor, however, refused to listen to them. The Venetian senate
forbade the Florentine ambassadors to enter their territories,
alleging, that being in league with the king, they could not entertain
them without his concurrence. The Siennese received the ambassadors
with fair words, fearing their own ruin before the League could assist
them, and therefore endeavored to appease the powers whose attack they
were unable to resist. The Venetians and the king (as was then
conjectured) were disposed to send ambassadors to Florence to justify
the war. But the Venetian envoy was not allowed to enter the
Florentine dominions, and the king's ambassador, being unwilling to
perform his office alone, the embassy was not completed; and thus the
Venetians learned, that however little they might esteem the
Florentines, the latter had still less respect for them.

In the midst of these fears, the emperor, Frederick III., came into
Italy to be crowned. On the thirtieth of January, 1451, he entered
Florence with fifteen hundred horse, and was most honorably received
by the Signory. He remained in the city till the sixth of February,
and then proceeded to Rome for his coronation, where, having been
solemnly consecrated, and his marriage celebrated with the empress,
who had come to Rome by sea, he returned to Germany, and again passed
through Florence in May, with the same honors as upon his arrival. On
his return, having derived some benefits from the marquis of Mantua,
he conceded to him Modena and Reggio. In the meantime, the Florentines
did not fail to prepare themselves for immediate war; and to augment
their influence, and strike the enemy with terror, they, in
conjunction with the duke, entered into alliance with the king of
France for the mutual defense of their states. This treaty was
published with great pomp throughout all Italy.

The month of May, 1452, having arrived, the Venetians thought it not
desirable to defer any longer their attack upon the duke, and with
sixteen thousand horse and six thousand foot assailed his territories
in the direction of Lodi, while the marquis of Montferrat, instigated
either by his own ambition or the entreaties of the Venetians, did the
same on the side of Alexandria. The duke assembled a force of eighteen
thousand cavalry and three thousand infantry, garrisoned Alexandria
and Lodi, and all the other places where the enemy might annoy them.
He then attacked the Brescian territory, and greatly harassed the
Venetians; while both parties alike plundered the country and ravaged
the smaller towns. Having defeated the marquis of Montferrat at
Alexandria, the duke was able to unite his whole force against the
Venetians and invade their territory.

While the war in Lombardy proceeded thus, giving rise to various
trifling incidents unworthy of recital, King Alfonso and the
Florentines carried on hostilities in Tuscany, but in a similarly
inefficient manner, evincing no greater talent, and incurring no
greater danger. Ferrando, the illegitimate son of Alfonso, entered the
country with twelve thousand troops, under the command of Federigo,
lord of Urbino. Their first attempt was to attack Fojano, in the Val
di Chiane; for, having the Siennese in their favor, they entered the
Florentine territory in that direction. The walls of the castle were
weak, and it was small, and consequently poorly manned, but the
garrison were, among the soldiers of that period, considered brave and
faithful. Two hundred infantry were also sent by the Signory for its
defense. Before this castle, thus provided, Ferrando sat down, and
either from the valor of its defenders or his own deficiencies,
thirty-six days elapsed before he took it. This interval enabled the
city to make better provision for places of greater importance, to
collect forces and conclude more effective arrangements than had
hitherto been made. The enemy next proceeded into the district of
Chiane, where they attacked two small towns, the property of private
citizens, but could not capture them. They then encamped before the
Castellina, a fortress upon the borders of the Chianti, within ten
miles of Sienna, weak from its defective construction, and still more
so by its situation; but, notwithstanding these defects, the
assailants were compelled to retire in disgrace, after having lain
before it forty-four days. So formidable were those armies, and so
perilous those wars, that places now abandoned as untenable were then
defended as impregnable.

While Ferrando was encamped in the Chianti he made many incursions,
and took considerable booty from the Florentine territories, extending
his depredations within six miles of the city, to the great alarm and
injury of the people, who at this time, having sent their forces to
the number of eight thousand soldiers under Astorre da Faenza and
Gismondo Malatesti toward Castel di Colle, kept them at a distance
from the enemy, lest they should be compelled to an engagement; for
they considered that so long as they were not beaten in a pitched
battle, they could not be vanquished in the war generally; for small
castles, when lost, were recovered at the peace, and larger places
were in no danger, because the enemy would not venture to attack them.
The king had also a fleet of about twenty vessels, comprising galleys
and smaller craft, which lay off Pisa, and during the siege of
Castellina were moored near the Rocca di Vada, which, from the
negligence of the governor, he took, and then harassed the surrounding
country. However, this annoyance was easily removed by a few soldiers
sent by the Florentines to Campiglia, and who confined the enemy to
the coast.


Conspiracy of Stefano Porcari against the papal government--The
conspirators discovered and punished--The Florentines recover the
places they had lost--Gherardo Gambacorti, lord of Val di Bagno,
endeavors to transfer his territories to the king of Naples--
Gallant conduct of Antonio Gualandi, who counteracts the design of
Gambacorti--René of Anjou is called into Italy by the Florentines
--René returns to France--The pope endeavors to restore peace--
Peace proclaimed--Jacopo Piccinino attacks the Siennese.

The pontiff did not interfere in these affairs further than to
endeavor to bring the parties to a mutual accommodation; but while he
refrained from external wars he incurred the danger of more serious
troubles at home. Stefano Porcari was a Roman citizen, equally
distinguished for nobility of birth and extent of learning, but still
more by the excellence of his character. Like all who are in pursuit
of glory, he resolved either to perform or to attempt something worthy
of memory, and thought he could not do better than deliver his country
from the hands of the prelates, and restore the ancient form of
government; hoping, in the event of success, to be considered a new
founder or second father of the city. The dissolute manners of the
priesthood, and the discontent of the Roman barons and people,
encouraged him to look for a happy termination of his enterprise; but
he derived his greatest confidence from those verses of Petrarch in
the canzone which begins, "Spirto gentil che quelle membra reggi,"
where he says,--

"Sopra il Monte Tarpejo canzon vedra,
Un cavalier, ch' Italia tutta onora,
Pensoso piu d'altrui, che di se stesso."

Stefano, believing poets are sometimes endowed with a divine and
prophetic spirit, thought the event must take place which Petrarch in
this canzone seemed to foretell, and that he was destined to effect
the glorious task; considering himself in learning, eloquence,
friends, and influence, superior to any other citizen of Rome. Having
taken these impressions, he had not sufficient prudence to avoid
discovering his design by his discourse, demeanor, and mode of living;
so that the pope becoming acquainted with it, in order to prevent the
commission of some rash act, banished him to Bologna and charged the
governor of the city to compel his appearance before him once every
day. Stefano was not daunted by this first check, but with even
greater earnestness prosecuted his undertaking, and, by such means as
were available, more cautiously corresponded with his friends, and
often went and returned from Rome with such celerity as to be in time
to present himself before the governor within the limit allowed for
his appearance. Having acquired a sufficient number of partisans, he
determined to make the attempt without further delay, and arranged
with his friends at Rome to provide an evening banquet, to which all
the conspirators were invited, with orders that each should bring with
him his most trust-worthy friends, and himself promised to be with him
before the entertainment was served. Everything was done according to
this orders, and Stefano Porcari arrived at the place appointed.
Supper being brought in, he entered the apartment dressed in cloth of
gold, with rich ornaments about his neck, to give him a dignified
appearance and commanding aspect. Having embraced the company, he
delivered a long oration to dispose their minds to the glorious
undertaking. He then arranged the measures to be adopted, ordering
that one part of them should, on the following morning, take
possession of the pontiff's palace, and that the other should call the
people of Rome to arms. The affair came to the knowledge of the pope
the same night, some say by treachery among the conspirators, and
others that he knew of Porcari's presence at Rome. Be this as it may,
on the night of the supper Stefano, and the greater part of his
associates, were arrested, and afterward expiated their crime by
death. Thus ended his enterprise; and though some may applaud his
intentions, he must stand charged with deficiency of understanding;
for such undertakings, though possessing some slight appearance of
glory, are almost always attended with ruin.

Gherardo Gambacorti was lord of Val di Bagno, and his ancestors as
well as himself had always been in the pay or under the protection of
the Florentines. Alfonso endeavored to induce him to exchange his
territory for another in the kingdom of Naples. This became known to
the Signory, who, in order to ascertain his designs, sent an
ambassador to Gambacorti, to remind him of the obligations of his
ancestors and himself to their republic, and induce him to continue
faithful to them. Gherardo affected the greatest astonishment, assured
the ambassador with solemn oaths that no such treacherous thought had
ever entered his mind, and that he would gladly go to Florence and
pledge himself for the truth of his assertions; but being unable, from
indisposition, he would send his son as an hostage. These assurances,
and the proposal with which they were accompanied, induced the
Florentines to think Gherardo had been slandered, and that his accuser
must be alike weak and treacherous. Gherardo, however, hastened his
negotiation with redoubled zeal, and having arranged the terms,
Alfonso sent Frate Puccio, a knight of Jerusalem, with a strong body
of men to the Val di Bagno, to take possession of the fortresses and
towns, the people of which, being attached to the Florentine republic,
submitted unwillingly.

Frate Puccio had already taken possession of nearly the whole
territory, except the fortress of Corzano. Gambacorti was accompanied,
while transferring his dominions, by a young Pisan of great courage
and address, named Antonio Gualandi, who, considering the whole
affair, the strength of the place, the well known bravery of the
garrison, their evident reluctance to give it up, and the baseness of
Gambacorti, at once resolved to make an effort to prevent the
fulfillment of his design; and Gherardo being at the entrance, for the
purpose of introducing the Aragonese, he pushed him out with both his
hands, and commanded the guards to shut the gate upon such a
scoundrel, and hold the fortress for the Florentine republic. When
this circumstance became known in Bagno and the neighboring places,
the inhabitants took up arms against the king's forces, and, raising
the Florentine standard, drove them out. The Florentines learning
these events, imprisoned Gherardo's son, and sent troops to Bagno for
the defense of the territory, which having hitherto been governed by
its own prince, now became a vicariate. The traitor Gherardo escaped
with difficulty, leaving his wife, family, and all his property, in
the hands of those whom he had endeavored to betray. This affair was
considered by the Florentines of great importance; for had the king
succeeded in securing the territory, he might have overrun the Val di
Tavere and the Casentino at his pleasure, and would have caused so
much annoyance, that they could no longer have allowed their whole
force to act against the army of the Aragonese at Sienna.

In addition to the preparations made by the Florentines in Italy to
resist the hostile League, they sent as ambassador, Agnolo Acciajuoli,
to request that the king of France would allow René of Anjou to enter
Italy in favor of the duke and themselves, and also, that by his
presence in the country, he might defend his friends and attempt the
recovery of the kingdom of Naples; for which purpose they offered him
assistance in men and money. While the war was proceeding in Lombardy
and Tuscany, the ambassador effected an arrangement with King René,
who promised to come into Italy during the month of June, the League
engaging to pay him thirty thousand florins upon his arrival at
Alexandria, and ten thousand per month during the continuance of the
war. In pursuance of this treaty, King René commenced his march into
Italy, but was stopped by the duke of Savoy and the marquis of
Montferrat, who, being in alliance with the Venetians, would not allow
him to pass. The Florentine ambassador advised, that in order to
uphold the influence of his friends, he should return to Provence, and
conduct part of his forces into Italy by sea, and, in the meantime,
endeavor, by the authority of the king of France, to obtain a passage
for the remainder through the territories of the duke. This plan was
completely successful; for René came into Italy by sea, and his
forces, by the mediation of the king of France, were allowed a passage
through Savoy. King René was most honorably received by Duke
Francesco, and joining his French with the Italian forces, they
attacked the Venetians with so much impetuosity, that they shortly
recovered all the places which had been taken in the Cremonese. Not
content with this, they occupied nearly the whole Brescian territory;
so that the Venetians, unable to keep the field, withdrew close to the
walls of Brescia.

Winter coming on, the duke deemed it advisable to retire into
quarters, and appointed Piacenza for the forces of René, where, having
passed the whole of the cold season of 1453, without attempting
anything, the duke thought of taking the field, on the approach of
spring, and stripping the Venetians of the remainder of their
possessions by land, but was informed by the king that he was obliged
of necessity to return to France. This determination was quite new and
unexpected to the duke, and caused him the utmost concern; but though
he immediately went to dissuade René from carrying it into effect, he
was unable either by promises or entreaties to divert him from his
purpose. He engaged, however, to leave part of his forces, and send
his son for the service of the League. The Florentines were not
displeased at this; for having recovered their territories and
castles, they were no longer in fear of Alfonso, and on the other
hand, they did not wish the duke to obtain any part of Lombardy but
what belonged to him. René took his departure, and send his son John
into Italy, according to his promise, who did not remain in Lombardy,
but came direct to Florence, where he was received with the highest

The king's departure made the duke desirous of peace. The Venetians,
Alfonso, and the Florentines, being all weary of the war, were
similarly disposed; and the pope continued to wish it as much as ever;
for during this year the Turkish emperor, Mohammed, had taken
Constantinople and subdued the whole of Greece. This conquest alarmed
the Christians, more especially the Venetians and the pope, who
already began to fancy the Mohammedans at their doors. The pope
therefore begged the Italian potentates to send ambassadors to
himself, with authority to negotiate a general peace, with which all
complied; but when the particular circumstances of each case came to
be considered, many difficulties were found in the war of effecting
it. King Alfonso required the Florentines to reimburse the expenses he
had incurred in the war, and the Florentines demanded some
compensation from him. The Venetians thought themselves entitled to
Cremona from the duke; while he insisted upon the restoration of
Bergamo, Brescia, and Crema; so that it seemed impossible to reconcile
such conflicting claims. But what could not be effected by a number at
Rome was easily managed at Milan and Venice by two; for while the
matter was under discussion at Rome, the duke and the Venetians came
to an arrangement on the ninth of April, 1454, by virtue of which,
each party resumed what they possessed before the war, the duke being
allowed to recover from the princes of Montferrat and Savoy the places
they had taken. To the other Italian powers a month was allowed to
ratify the treaty. The pope and the Florentines, and with them the
Siennese and other minor powers, acceded to it within the time.
Besides this, the Florentines, the Venetians, and the duke concluded a
treaty of peace for twenty-five years. King Alfonso alone exhibited
dissatisfaction at what had taken place, thinking he had not been
sufficiently considered, that he stood, not on the footing of a
principal, but only ranked as an auxiliary, and therefore kept aloof,
and would not disclose his intentions. However, after receiving a
legate from the pope, and many solemn embassies from other powers, he
allowed himself to be persuaded, principally by means of the pontiff,
and with his son joined the League for thirty years. The duke and the
king also contracted a twofold relationship and double marriage, each
giving a daughter to a son of the other. Notwithstanding this, that
Italy might still retain the seeds of war, Alfonso would not consent
to the peace, unless the League would allow him, without injury to
themselves, to make war upon the Genoese, Gismondo Malatesti, and
Astorre, prince of Faenza. This being conceded, his son Ferrando, who
was at Sienna, returned to the kingdom, having by his coming into
Tuscany acquired no dominion and lost a great number of his men.

Upon the establishment of a general peace, the only apprehension
entertained was, that it would be disturbed by the animosity of
Alfonso against the Genoese; yet it happened otherwise. The king,
indeed, did not openly infringe the peace, but it was frequently
broken by the ambition of the mercenary troops. The Venetians, as
usual on the conclusion of a war, had discharged Jacopo Piccinino, who
with some other unemployed condottieri, marched into Romagna, thence
into the Siennese, and halting in the country, took possession of many
places. At the commencement of these disturbances, and the beginning
of the year 1455, Pope Nicholas died, and was succeeded by Calixtus
III., who, to put a stop to the war newly broken out so near home,
immediately sent Giovanni Ventimiglia, his general, with what forces
he could furnish. These being joined by the troops of the Florentines
and the duke of Milan, both of whom furnished assistance, attacked
Jacopo, near Bolsena, and though Ventimiglia was taken prisoner, yet
Jacopo was worsted, and retreated in disorder to Castiglione della
Pescaia, where, had he not been assisted by Alfonso, his force would
have been completely annihilated. This made it evident that Jacopo's
movement had been made by order of Alfonso, and the latter, as if
palpably detected, to conciliate his allies, after having almost
alienated them with this unimportant war, ordered Jacopo to restore to
the Siennese the places he had taken, and they gave him twenty
thousand florins by way of ransom, after which he and his forces were
received into the kingdom of Naples.


Christendom alarmed by the progress of the Turks--The Turks routed
before Belgrade--Description of a remarkable hurricane--War
against the Genoese and Gismondo Malatesti--Genoa submits to the
king of France--Death of Alfonso king of Naples--Succeeded by his
son Ferrando--The pope designs to give the kingdom of Naples to
his nephew Piero Lodovico Borgia--Eulogy of Pius II.--Disturbances
in Genoa between John of Anjou and the Fregosi--The Fregosi
subdued--John attacks the kingdom of Naples--Ferrando king of
Naples routed--Ferrando reinstated--The Genoese cast off the
French yoke--John of Anjou routed in the kingdom of Naples.

The pope, though anxious to restrain Jacopo Piccinino, did not neglect
to make provision for the defense of Christendom, which seemed in
danger from the Turks. He sent ambassadors and preachers into every
Christian country, to exhort princes and people to arm in defense of
their religion, and with their persons and property to contribute to
the enterprise against the common enemy. In Florence, large sums were
raised, and many citizens bore the mark of a red cross upon their
dress to intimate their readiness to become soldiers of the faith.
Solemn processions were made, and nothing was neglected either in
public or private, to show their willingness to be among the most
forward to assist the enterprise with money, counsel, or men. But the
eagerness for this crusade was somewhat abated, by learning that the
Turkish army, being at the siege of Belgrade, a strong city and
fortress in Hungary, upon the banks of the Danube, had been routed and
the emperor wounded; so that the alarm felt by the pope and all
Christendom, on the loss of Constantinople, having ceased to operate,
they proceeded with deliberately with their preparations for war; and
in Hungary their zeal was cooled through the death of Giovanni Corvini
the Waiwode, who commanded the Hungarian forces on that memorable
occasion, and fell in the battle.

To return to the affairs of Italy. In the year 1456, the disturbances
occasioned by Jacopo Piccinino having subsided, and human weapons laid
aside, the heavens seemed to make war against the earth; dreadful
tempestuous winds then occurring, which produced effects unprecedented
in Tuscany, and which to posterity will appear marvelous and
unaccountable. On the twenty-fourth of August, about an hour before
daybreak, there arose from the Adriatic near Ancona, a whirlwind,
which crossing from east to west, again reached the sea near Pisa,
accompanied by thick clouds, and the most intense and impenetrable
darkness, covering a breadth of about two miles in the direction of
its course. Under some natural or supernatural influence, this vast
and overcharged volume of condensed vapor burst; its fragments
contended with indescribable fury, and huge bodies sometimes ascending
toward heaven, and sometimes precipitated upon the earth, struggled,
as it were, in mutual conflict, whirling in circles with intense
velocity, and accompanied by winds, impetuous beyond all conception;
while flashes of awful brilliancy, and murky, lurid flames incessantly
broke forth. From these confused clouds, furious winds, and momentary
fires, sounds issued, of which no earthquake or thunder ever heard
could afford the least idea; striking such awe into all, that it was
thought the end of the world had arrived, that the earth, waters,
heavens, and entire universe, mingling together, were being resolved
into their ancient chaos. Wherever this awful tempest passed, it
produced unprecedented and marvelous effects; but these were more
especially experienced near the castle of St. Casciano, about eight
miles from Florence, upon the hill which separates the valleys of Pisa
and Grieve. Between this castle and the Borgo St. Andrea, upon the
same hill, the tempest passed without touching the latter, and in the
former, only threw down some of the battlements and the chimneys of a
few houses; but in the space between them, it leveled many buildings
quite to the ground. The roofs of the churches of St. Martin, at
Bagnolo, and Santa Maria della Pace, were carried more than a mile,
unbroken as when upon their respective edifices. A muleteer and his
beasts were driven from the road into the adjoining valley, and found
dead. All the large oaks and lofty trees which could not bend beneath
its influence, were not only stripped of their branches but borne to a
great distance from the places where they grew, and when the tempest
had passed over and daylight made the desolation visible, the
inhabitants were transfixed with dismay. The country had lost all its
habitable character; churches and dwellings were laid in heaps;
nothing was heard but the lamentations of those whose possessions had
perished, or whose cattle or friends were buried beneath the ruins;
and all who witnessed the scene were filled with anguish or
compassion. It was doubtless the design of the Omnipotent, rather to
threaten Tuscany than to chastise her; for had the hurricane been
directed over the city, filled with houses and inhabitants, instead of
proceeding among oaks and elms, or small and thinly scattered
dwellings, it would have been such a scourge as the mind, with all its
ideas of horror, could not have conceived. But the Almighty desired
that this slight example should suffice to recall the minds of men to
a knowledge of himself and of his power.

To return to our history. King Alfonso was dissatisfied with the
peace, and as the war which he had unnecessarily caused Jacopo
Piccinino to make against the Siennese, had produced no important
result, he resolved to try what could be done against those whom the
conditions of the League permitted him to attack. He therefore, in the
year 1456, assailed the Genoese, both by sea and by land, designing to
deprive the Fregosi of the government and restore the Adorni. At the
same time, he ordered Jacopo Piccinino to cross the Tronto, and attack
Gismondo Malatesti, who, having fortified his territories, did not
concern himself, and this part of the king's enterprise produced no
effect; but his proceedings against Genoa occasioned more wars against
himself and his kingdom than he could have wished. Piero Fregoso was
then doge of Genoa, and doubting his ability to sustain the attack of
the king, he determined to give what he could not hold, to some one
who might defend it against his enemies, in hope, that at a future
period, he should obtain a return for the benefit conferred. He
therefore sent ambassadors to Charles VII. of France, and offered him
the government of Genoa. Charles accepted the offer, and sent John of
Anjou, the son of King René, who had a short time previously left
Florence and returned to France, to take possession with the idea,
that he, having learned the manners and customs of Italy, would be
able to govern the city; and also that this might give him an
opportunity of undertaking the conquest of Naples, of which René,
John's father, had been deprived by Alfonso. John, therefore,
proceeded to Genoa, where he was received as prince, and the
fortresses, both of the city and the government, given up to him. This
annoyed Alfonso, with the fear that he had brought upon himself too
powerful an enemy. He was not, however, dismayed; but pursued his
enterprise vigorously, and had led his fleet to Porto, below
Villamarina, when he died after a sudden illness, and thus John and
the Genoese were relieved from the war. Ferrando, who succeeded to the
kingdom of his father Alfonso, became alarmed at having so powerful an
enemy in Italy, and was doubtful of the disposition of many of his
barons, who being desirous of change, he feared would take part with
the French. He was also apprehensive of the pope, whose ambition he
well knew, and who seeing him new in the government, might design to
take it from him. He had no hope except from the duke of Milan, who
entertained no less anxiety concerning the affairs of the kingdom than
Ferrando; for he feared that if the French were to obtain it, they
would endeavor to annex his own dominions; which he knew they
considered to be rightfully their own. He, therefore, soon after the
death of Alfonso, sent letters and forces to Ferrando; the latter to
give him aid and influence, the former to encourage him with an
intimation that he would not, under any circumstances, forsake him.
The pontiff intended, after the death of Alfonso, to give the kingdom
of Naples to his nephew Piero Lodovico Borgia, and, to furnish a
decent pretext for his design and obtain the concurrence of the powers
of Italy in its favor he signified a wish to restore that realm to the
dominion of the church of Rome; and therefore persuaded the duke not
to assist Ferrando. But in the midst of these views and opening
enterprises, Calixtus died, and Pius II. of Siennese origin, of the
family of the Piccolomini, and by name Ćneas, succeeded to the
pontificate. This pontiff, free from the ties of private interest,
having no object but to benefit Christendom and honor the church, at
the duke's entreaty crowned Ferrando king of Naples; judging it easier
to establish peace if the kingdom remained in the hands which at
present held it, than if he were to favor the views of the French, or,
as Calixtus purposed, take it for himself. Ferrando, in acknowledgment
of the benefit, created Antonio, one of the pope's nephews, prince of
Malfi, gave him an illegitimate daughter of his own in marriage, and
restored Benevento and Terracina to the church.

It thus appeared that the internal dissensions of Italy might be
quelled, and the pontiff prepared to induce the powers of Christendom
to unite in an enterprise against the Turks (as Calixtus had
previously designed) when differences arose between the Fregosi and
John of Anjou, the lord of Genoa, which occasioned greater and more
important wars than those recently concluded. Pietrino Fregoso was at
his castle of Riviera, and thought he had not been rewarded by John in
proportion to his family's merits; for it was by their means the
latter had become prince of the city. This impression drove the
parties into open enmity; a circumstance gratifying to Ferrando, who
saw in it relief from his troubles, and the sole means of procuring
his safety: he therefore assisted Pietrino with money and men,
trusting to drive John out of the Genoese territory. The latter being
aware of his design, sent for aid to France; and, on obtaining it,
attacked Pietrino, who, through his numerous friends, entertained the
strongest assurance of success; so that John was compelled to keep
within the city, into which Pietrino having entered by night, took
possession of some parts of it; but upon the return of day, his people
were all either slain or made prisoners by John's troops, and he
himself was found among the dead.

This victory gave John hopes of recovering the kingdom; and in
October, 1459, he sailed thither from Genoa, with a powerful fleet,
and landed at Baia; whence he proceeded to Sessa, by the duke of which
place he was favorably received. The prince of Taranto, the Aquilani,
with several cities and other princes, also joined him; so that a
great part of the kingdom fell into his hands. On this Ferrando
applied for assistance to the pope and the duke of Milan; and, to
diminish the number of his enemies, made peace with Gismondo
Malatesti, which gave so much offense to Jacopo Piccinino, the
hereditary enemy of Gismondo, that he resigned his command under
Ferrando, and joined his rival. Ferrando also sent money to Federigo,
lord of Urbino, and collected with all possible speed what was in
those times considered a tolerable army; which, meeting the enemy upon
the river Sarni, an engagement ensued in which Ferrando was routed,
and many of his principal officers taken. After this defeat, the city
of Naples alone, with a few smaller places and princes of inferior
note, adhered to Ferrando, the greater part having submitted to John.
Jacopo Piccinino, after the victory, advised an immediate march upon
Naples; but John declined this, saying, he would first reduce the
remainder of the kingdom, and then attack the seat of government. This
resolution occasioned the failure of his enterprise; for he did not
consider how much more easily the members follow the head than the
head the members.

After his defeat, Ferrando took refuge in Naples, whither the
scattered remnants of his people followed him; and by soliciting his
friends, he obtained money and a small force. He sent again for
assistance to the pope and the duke, by both of whom he was supplied
more liberally and speedily than before; for they began to entertain
most serious apprehensions of his losing the kingdom. His hopes were
thus revived; and, marching from Naples, he regained his reputation in
his dominions, and soon obtained the places of which he had been
deprived. While the war was proceeding in the kingdom, a circumstance
occurred by which John of Anjou lost his influence, and all chance of
success in the enterprise. The Genoese had become so weary of the
haughty and avaricious dominion of the French, that they took arms
against the viceroy, and compelled him to seek refuge in the
castelletto; the Fregosi and the Adorni united in the enterprise
against him, and were assisted with money and troops by the duke of
Milan, both for the recovery and preservation of the government. At
the same time, King René coming with a fleet to the assistance of his
son, and hoping to recover Genoa by means of the castelletto, upon
landing his forces was so completely routed, that he was compelled to
return in disgrace to Provence. When the news of his father's defeat
reached Naples, John was greatly alarmed, but continued the war for a
time by the assistance of those barons who, being rebels, knew they
would obtain no terms from Ferrando. At length, after various trifling
occurrences, the two royal armies came to an engagement, in which John
was routed near Troia, in the year 1463. He was, however, less injured
by his defeat than by the desertion of Jacopo Piccinino, who joined
Ferrando; and, being abandoned by his troops, he was compelled to take
refuge in Istria, and thence withdrew to France. This war continued
four years. John's failure was attributable to negligence; for victory
was often within his grasp, but he did not take proper means to secure
it. The Florentines took no decisive part in this war. John, king of
Aragon, who succeeded upon the death of Alfonso, sent ambassadors to
request their assistance for his nephew Ferrando, in compliance with
the terms of the treaty recently made with his father Alfonso. The
Florentines replied, that they were under no obligation; that they did
not think proper to assist the son in a war commenced by the father
with his own forces; and that as it was begun without either their
counsel or knowledge, it must be continued and concluded without their
help. The ambassadors affirmed the engagement to be binding on the
Florentines, and themselves to be answerable for the event of the war;
and then in great anger left the city.

Thus with regard to external affairs, the Florentines continued
tranquil during this war; but the case was otherwise with their
domestic concerns, as will be particularly shown in the following



Connection of the other Italian governments with the history of
Florence--Republics always disunited--Some differences are
injurious; others not so--The kind of dissensions prevailing at
Florence--Cosmo de' Medici and Neri Capponi become powerful by
dissimilar means--Reform in the election of magistrates favorable
to Cosmo--Complaints of the principal citizens against the reform
in elections--Luca Pitti, Gonfalonier of Justice, restrains the
imborsations by force--Tyranny and pride of Luca Pitti and his
party--Palace of the Pitti--Death of Cosmo de' Medici--His
liberality and magnificence--His modesty--His prudence--Sayings of

It will perhaps appear to the readers of the preceding book that,
professing only to write of the affairs of Florence, I have dilated
too much in speaking of those which occurred in Lombardy and Naples.
But as I have not already avoided, so it is not my intention in future
to forbear, similar digressions. For although we have not engaged to
give an account of the affairs of Italy, still it would be improper to
neglect noticing the most remarkable of them. If they were wholly
omitted, our history would not be so well understood, neither would it
be so instructive or agreeable; since from the proceedings of the
other princes and states of Italy, have most commonly arisen those
wars in which the Florentines were compelled to take part. Thus, from
the war between John of Anjou and King Ferrando, originated those
serious enmities and hatreds which ensued between Ferrando and the
Florentines, particularly the house of Medici. The king complained of
a want of assistance during the war, and of the aid afforded to his
enemy; and from his anger originated the greatest evils, as will be
hereafter seen. Having, in speaking of external affairs, come down to
the year 1463, it will be necessary in order to make our narrative of
the contemporaneous domestic transactions clearly understood, to
revert to a period several years back. But first, according to custom,
I would offer a few remarks referring to the events about to be
narrated, and observe, that those who think a republic may be kept in
perfect unity of purpose are greatly deceived. True it is, that some
divisions injure republics, while others are beneficial to them. When
accompanied by factions and parties they are injurious; but when
maintained without them they contribute to their prosperity. The
legislator of a republic, since it is impossible to prevent the
existence of dissensions, must at least take care to prevent the
growth of faction. It may therefore be observed, that citizens acquire
reputation and power in two ways; the one public, the other private.
Influence is acquired publicly by winning a battle, taking possession
of a territory, fulfilling the duties of an embassy with care and
prudence, or by giving wise counsel attended by a happy result.
Private methods are conferring benefits upon individuals, defending
them against the magistrates, supporting them with money, and raising
them to undeserved honors; or with public games and entertainments
gaining the affection of the populace. This mode of procedure produces
parties and cliques; and in proportion as influence thus acquired is
injurious, so is the former beneficial, if quite free from party
spirit; because it is founded upon the public good, and not upon
private advantage. And though it is impossible to prevent the
existence of inveterate feuds, still if they be without partisans to
support them for their own individual benefit, they do not injure a
republic, but contribute to its welfare; since none can attain
distinction, but as he contributes to her good, and each party
prevents the other from infringing her liberties. The dissensions of
Florence were always accompanied by factions, and were therefore
always pernicious; and the dominant party only remained united so long
as its enemies held it in check. As soon as the strength of the
opposition was annihilated, the government, deprived of the
restraining influence of its adversaries, and being subject to no law,
fell to pieces. The party of Cosmo de' Medici gained the ascendant in
1434; but the depressed party being very numerous, and composed of
several very influential persons, fear kept the former united, and
restrained their proceedings within the bounds of moderation, so that
no violence was committed by them, nor anything done calculated to
excite popular dislike. Consequently, whenever this government
required the citizens' aid to recover or strengthen its influence, the
latter were always willing to gratify its wishes; so that from 1434 to
1455, during a period of twenty-one years, the authority of a balia
was granted to it six times.

There were in Florence, as we have frequently observed, two
principally powerful citizens, Cosmo de' Medici and Neri Capponi. Neri
acquired his influence by public services; so that he had many friends
but few partisans. Cosmo, being able to avail himself both of public
and private means, had many partisans as well as friends. While both
lived, having always been united, they obtained from the people
whatever they required; for in them popularity and power were united.
But in the year 1455, Neri being dead, and the opposition party
extinct, the government found a difficulty in resuming its authority;
and this was occasioned, remarkably enough, by Cosmo's private
friends, and the most influential men in the state; for, not fearing
the opposite party, they became anxious to abate his power. This
inconsistency was the beginning of the evils which took place in 1456;
so that those in power were openly advised in the deliberative
councils not to renew the power of the balia, but to close the
balloting purses, and appoint the magistrates by drawing from the
pollings or squittini previously made. To restrain this disposition,
Cosmo had the choice of two alternatives, either forcibly to assume
the government, with the partisans he possessed, and drive out the
others, or to allow the matter to take its course, and let his friends
see they were not depriving him of power, but rather themselves. He
chose the latter; for he well knew that at all events the purses being
filled with the names of his own friends, he incurred no risk, and
could take the government into his own hands whenever he found
occasion. The chief offices of state being again filled by lot, the
mass of the people began to think they had recovered their liberty,
and that the decisions of the magistrates were according to their own
judgments, unbiased by the influence of the Great. At the same time,
the friends of different grandees were humbled; and many who had
commonly seen their houses filled with suitors and presents, found
themselves destitute of both. Those who had previously been very
powerful were reduced to an equality with men whom they had been
accustomed to consider inferior; and those formerly far beneath them
were now become their equals. No respect or deference was paid to
them; they were often ridiculed and derided, and frequently heard
themselves and the republic mentioned in the open streets without the
least deference; thus they found it was not Cosmo but themselves that
had lost the government. Cosmo appeared not to notice these matters;
and whenever any subject was proposed in favor of the people he was
the first to support it. But the greatest cause of alarm to the higher
classes, and his most favorable opportunity of retaliation, was the
revival of the catasto, or property-tax of 1427, so that individual
contributions were determined by statute, and not by a set of persons
appointed for its regulation.

This law being re-established, and a magistracy created to carry it
into effect, the nobility assembled, and went to Cosmo to beg he would
rescue them and himself from the power of the plebeians, and restore
to the government the reputation which had made himself powerful and
them respected. He replied, he was willing to comply with their
request, but wished the law to be obtained in the regular manner, by
consent of the people, and not by force, of which he would not hear on
any account. They then endeavored in the councils to establish a new
balia, but did not succeed. On this the grandees again came to Cosmo,
and most humbly begged he would assemble the people in a general
council or parliament, but this he refused, for he wished to make them
sensible of their great mistake; and when Donato Cocchi, being
Gonfalonier of Justice, proposed to assemble them without his consent,
the Signors who were of Cosmo's party ridiculed the idea so
unmercifully, that the man's mind actually became deranged, and he had
to retire from office in consequence. However, since it is undesirable
to allow matters to proceed beyond recovery, the Gonfalon of Justice
being in the hands of Luca Pitti, a bold-spirited man, Cosmo
determined to let him adopt what course he thought proper, that if any
trouble should arise it might be imputed to Luca and not to himself.
Luca, therefore, in the beginning of his magistracy, several times
proposed to the people the appointment of a new balia; and, not
succeeding, he threatened the members of the councils with injurious
and arrogant expressions, which were shortly followed by corresponding
conduct; for in the month of August, 1458, on the eve of Saint
Lorenzo, having filled the piazza, and compelled them to assent to a
measure to which he knew them to be averse. Having recovered power,
created a new balia, and filled the principal offices according to the
pleasure of a few individuals, in order to commence that government
with terror which they had obtained by force, they banished Girolamo
Machiavelli, with some others, and deprived many of the honors of
government. Girolamo, having transgressed the confines to which he was
limited, was declared a rebel. Traveling about Italy, with the design
of exciting the princes against his country, he was betrayed while at
Lunigiana, and, being brought to Florence, was put to death in prison.

This government, during the eight years it continued, was violent and
insupportable; for Cosmo, being now old, and through ill health unable
to attend to public affairs as formerly, Florence became a prey to a
small number of her own citizens. Luca Pitti, in return for the
services he had performed for the republic, as made a knight, and to
be no less grateful than those who had conferred the dignity upon him,
he ordered that the priors, who had hitherto been called priors of the
trades, should also have a name to which they had no kind of claim,
and therefore called them priors of liberty. He also ordered, that as
it had been customary for the gonfalonier to sit upon the right hand
of the rectors, he should in future take his seat in the midst of
them. And that the Deity might appear to participate in what had been
done, public processions were made and solemn services performed, to
thank him for the recovery of the government. The Signory and Cosmo
made Luca Pitti rich presents, and all the citizens were emulous in
imitation of them; so that the money given amounted to no less a sum
than twenty thousand ducats. He thus attained such influence, that not
Cosmo but himself now governed the city; and his pride so increased,
that he commenced two superb buildings, one in Florence, the other at
Ruciano, about a mile distant, both in a style of royal magnificence;
that in the city, being larger than any hitherto built by a private
person. To complete them, he had recourse to the most extraordinary
means; for not only citizens and private individuals made him presents
and supplied materials, but the mass of people, of every grade, also
contributed. Besides this, any exiles who had committed murders,
thefts, or other crimes which made them amenable to the laws, found a
safe refuge within their walls, if they were able to contribute toward
their decoration or completion. The other citizens, though they did
not build like him, were no less violent or rapacious, so that if
Florence were not harassed by external wars, she was ruined by the
wickedness of her own children. During this period the wars of Naples
took place. The pope also commenced hostilities in Romagna against the
Malatesti, from whom he wished to take Rimino and Cesena, held by
them. In these designs, and his intentions of a crusade against the
Turks, was passed the pontificate of Pius II.

Florence continued in disunion and disturbance. The dissensions
continued among the party of Cosmo, in 1455, from the causes already
related, which by his prudence, as we have also before remarked, he
was enabled to tranquilize; but in the year 1464, his illness
increased, and he died. Friends and enemies alike grieved for his
loss; for his political opponents, perceiving the rapacity of the
citizens, even during the life of him who alone restrained them and
made their tyranny supportable, were afraid, lest after his decease,
nothing but ruin would ensue. Nor had they much hope of his son Piero,
who though a very good man, was of infirm health, and new in the
government, and they thought he would be compelled to give way; so
that, being unrestrained, their rapacity would pass all bounds. On
these accounts, the regret was universal. Of all who have left
memorials behind them, and who were not of the military profession,
Cosmo was the most illustrious and the most renowned. He not only
surpassed all his contemporaries in wealth and authority, but also in
generosity and prudence; and among the qualities which contributed to
make him prince in his own country, was his surpassing all others in
magnificence and generosity. His liberality became more obvious after
his death, when Piero, his son, wishing to know what he possessed, it
appeared there was no citizen of any consequence to whom Cosmo had not
lent a large sum of money; and often, when informed of some nobleman
being in distress, he relieved him unasked. His magnificence is
evident from the number of public edifices he erected; for in Florence
are the convents and churches of St. Marco and St. Lorenzo, and the
monastery of Santa Verdiana; in the mountains of Fiesole, the church
and abbey of St. Girolamo; and in the Mugello, he not only restored,
but rebuilt from its foundation, a monastery of the Frati Minori, or
Minims. Besides these, in the church of Santa Croce, the Servi, the
Agnoli, and in San Miniato, he erected splendid chapels and altars;
and besides building the churches and chapels we have mentioned, he
provided them with all the ornaments, furniture, and utensils suitable
for the performance of divine service. To these sacred edifices are to
be added his private dwellings, one in Florence, of extent and
elegance adapted to so great a citizen, and four others, situated at
Careggi, Fiesole, Craggiulo, and Trebbio, each, for size and grandeur,
equal to royal palaces. And, as if it were not sufficient to be
distinguished for magnificence of buildings in Italy alone, he erected
an hospital at Jerusalem, for the reception of poor and infirm
pilgrims. Although his habitations, like all his other works and
actions, were quite of a regal character, and he alone was prince in
Florence, still everything was so tempered with his prudence, that he
never transgressed the decent moderation of civil life; in his
conversation, his servants, his traveling, his mode of living, and the
relationships he formed, the modest demeanor of the citizen was always
evident; for he was aware that a constant exhibition of pomp brings
more envy upon its possessor than greater realities borne without
ostentation. Thus in selecting consorts for his sons, he did not seek
the alliance of princes, but for Giovanni chose Corneglia degli
Allesandri, and for Piero, Lucrezia de' Tornabuoni. He gave his
granddaughters, the children of Piero, Bianca to Guglielmo de' Pazzi,
and Nannina to Bernardo Ruccellai. No one of his time possessed such
an intimate knowledge of government and state affairs as himself; and
hence amid such a variety of fortune, in a city so given to change,
and among a people of such extreme inconstancy, he retained possession
of the government thirty-one years; for being endowed with the utmost
prudence, he foresaw evils at a distance, and therefore had an
opportunity either of averting them, or preventing their injurious
results. He thus not only vanquished domestic and civil ambition, but
humbled the pride of many princes with so much fidelity and address,
that whatever powers were in league with himself and his country,
either overcame their adversaries, or remained uninjured by his
alliance; and whoever were opposed to him, lost either their time,
money, or territory. Of this the Venetians afford a sufficient proof,
who, while in league with him against Duke Filippo were always
victorious, but apart from him were always conquered; first by Filippo
and then by Francesco. When they joined Alfonso against the Florentine
republic, Cosmo, by his commercial credit, so drained Naples and
Venice of money, that they were glad to obtain peace upon any terms it
was thought proper to grant. Whatever difficulties he had to contend
with, whether within the city or without, he brought to a happy issue,
at once glorious to himself and destructive to his enemies; so that
civil discord strengthened his government in Florence, and war
increased his power and reputation abroad. He added to the Florentine
dominions, the Borgo of St. Sepolcro, Montedoglio, the Casentino and
Val di Bagno. His virtue and good fortune overcame all his enemies and
exalted his friends. He was born in the year 1389, on the day of the
saints Cosmo and Damiano. His earlier years were full of trouble, as
his exile, captivity, and personal danger fully testify; and having
gone to the council of Constance, with Pope John, in order to save his
life, after the ruin of the latter, he was obliged to escape in
disguise. But after the age of forty, he enjoyed the greatest
felicity; and not only those who assisted him in public business, but
his agents who conducted his commercial speculations throughout
Europe, participated in his prosperity. Hence many enormous fortunes
took their origin in different families of Florence, as in that of the
Tornabuoni, the Benci, the Portinari, and the Sassetti. Besides these,
all who depended upon his advice and patronage became rich; and,
though he was constantly expending money in building churches, and in
charitable purposes, he sometimes complained to his friends that he
had never been able to lay out so much in the service of God as to
find the balance in his own favor, intimating that all he had done or
could do, was still unequal to what the Almighty had done for him. He
was of middle stature, olive complexion, and venerable aspect; not
learned but exceedingly eloquent, endowed with great natural capacity,
generous to his friends, kind to the poor, comprehensive in discourse,
cautious in advising, and in his speeches and replies, grave and
witty. When Rinaldo degli Albizzi, at the beginning of his exile, sent
to him to say, "the hen had laid," he replied, "she did ill to lay so
far from the nest." Some other of the rebels gave him to understand
they were "not dreaming." He said, "he believed it, for he had robbed
them of their sleep." When Pope Pius was endeavoring to induce the
different governments to join in an expedition against the Turks, he
said, "he was an old man, and had undertaken the enterprise of a young
one." To the Venetians ambassadors, who came to Florence with those of
King Alfonso to complain of the republic, he uncovered his head, and
asked them what color it was; they said, "white": he replied, "it is
so; and it will not be long before your senators have heads as white
as mine." A few hours before his death, his wife asked him why he kept
his eyes shut, and he said, "to get them in the way of it." Some
citizens saying to him, after his return from exile, that he injured
the city, and that it was offensive to God to drive so many religious
persons out of it; he replied that, "it was better to injure the city,
than to ruin it; that two yards of rose-colored cloth would make a
gentleman, and that it required something more to direct a government
than to play with a string of beads." These words gave occasion to his
enemies to slander him, as a man who loved himself more than his
country, and was more attached to this world than to the next. Many
others of his sayings might be adduced, but we shall omit them as
unnecessary. Cosmo was a friend and patron of learned men. He brought
Argiripolo, a Greek by birth, and one of the most erudite of his time,
to Florence, to instruct the youth in Hellenic literature. He
entertained Marsilio Ficino, the reviver of the Platonic philosophy,
in his own house; and being much attached to him, have him a residence
near his palace at Careggi, that he might pursue the study of letters
with greater convenience, and himself have an opportunity of enjoying
his company. His prudence, his great wealth, the uses to which he
applied it, and his splendid style of living, caused him to be beloved
and respected in Florence, and obtained for him the highest
consideration, not only among the princes and governments of Italy,
but throughout all Europe. He thus laid a foundation for his
descendants, which enabled them to equal him in virtue, and greatly
surpass him in fortune; while the authority they possessed in Florence
and throughout Christendom was not obtained without being merited.
Toward the close of his life he suffered great affliction; for, of his
two sons, Piero and Giovanni, the latter, of whom he entertained the
greatest hopes, died; and the former was so sickly as to be unable to
attend either to public or private business. On being carried from one
apartment to another, after Giovanni's death, he remarked to his
attendants, with a sigh, "This is too large a house for so small a
family." His great mind also felt distressed at the idea that he had
not extended the Florentine dominions by any valuable acquisition; and
he regretted it the more, from imagining he had been deceived by
Francesco Sforza, who, while count, had promised, that if he became
lord of Milan, he would undertake the conquest of Lucca for the
Florentines, a design, however, that was never realized; for the
count's ideas changed upon his becoming duke; he resolved to enjoy in
peace, the power he had acquired by war, and would not again encounter
its fatigues and dangers, unless the welfare of his own dominions
required it. This was a source of much annoyance to Cosmo, who felt he
had incurred great expense and trouble for an ungrateful and
perfidious friend. His bodily infirmities prevented him from attending
either to public or private affairs, as he had been accustomed, and he
consequently witnessed both going to decay; for Florence was ruined by
her own citizens, and his fortune by his agents and children. He died,
however, at the zenith of his glory and in the enjoyment of the
highest renown. The city, and all the Christian princes, condoled with
his son Piero for his loss. His funeral was conducted with the utmost
pomp and solemnity, the whole city following his corpse to the tomb in
the church of St. Lorenzo, on which, by public decree, he was
inscribed, "FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY." If, in speaking of Cosmo's
actions, I have rather imitated the biographies of princes than
general history, it need not occasion wonder; for of so extraordinary
an individual I was compelled to speak with unusual praise.


The duke of Milan becomes lord of Genoa--The king of Naples and
the duke of Milan endeavor to secure their dominions to their
heirs--Jacopo Piccinino honorably received at Milan, and shortly
afterward murdered at Naples--Fruitless endeavors of Pius II. to
excite Christendom against the Turks--Death of Francesco Sforza,
duke of Milan--Perfidious counsel given to Piero de' Medici by
Diotisalvi Neroni--Conspiracy of Diotisalvi and others against
Piero--Futile attempts to appease the disorders--Public spectacles
--Projects of the conspirators against Piero de' Medici--Niccolo
Fedini discloses to Piero the plots of his enemies.

While Florence and Italy were in this condition, Louis XI. of France
was involved in very serious troubles with his barons, who, with the
assistance of Francis, duke of Brittany, and Charles, duke of
Burgundy, were in arms against him. This attack was so serious, that
he was unable to render further assistance to John of Anjou in his
enterprise against Genoa and Naples; and, standing in need of all the
forces he could raise, he gave over Savona (which still remained in
the power of the French) to the duke of Milan, and also intimated,
that if he wished, he had his permission to undertake the conquest of
Genoa. Francesco accepted the proposal, and with the influence
afforded by the king's friendship, and the assistance of the Adorni,
he became lord of Genoa. In acknowledgment of this benefit, he sent
fifteen hundred horse into France for the king's service, under the
command of Galeazzo, his eldest son. Thus Ferrando of Aragon and
Francesco Sforza became, the latter, duke of Lombardy and prince of
Genoa, and the former, sovereign of the whole kingdom of Naples. Their
families being allied by marriage, they thought they might so confirm
their power as to secure to themselves its enjoyment during life, and
at their deaths, its unencumbered reversion to their heirs. To attain
this end, they considered it necessary that the king should remove all
ground of apprehension from those barons who had offended him in the
war of John of Anjou, and that the duke should extirpate the adherents
of the Bracceschi, the natural enemies of his family, who, under
Jacopo Piccinino, had attained the highest reputation. The latter was
now the first general in Italy, and possessing no territory, he
naturally excited the apprehension of all who had dominions, and
especially of the duke, who, conscious of what he had himself done,
thought he could neither enjoy his own estate in safety, nor leave
them with any degree of security to his son during Jacopo's lifetime.
The king, therefore, strenuously endeavored to come to terms with his
barons, and using his utmost ingenuity to secure them, succeeded in
his object; for they perceived their ruin to be inevitable if they
continued in war with their sovereign, though from submission and
confidence in him, they would still have reason for apprehension.
Mankind are always most eager to avoid a certain evil; and hence
inferior powers are easily deceived by princes. The barons, conscious
of the danger of continuing the war, trusted the king's promises, and
having placed themselves in his hands, they were soon after destroyed
in various ways, and under a variety of pretexts. This alarmed Jacopo
Piccinino, who was with his forces at Sulmona; and to deprive the king
of the opportunity of treating him similarly, he endeavored, by the
mediation of his friends, to be reconciled with the duke, who, by the
most liberal offers, induced Jacopo to visit him at Milan, accompanied
by only a hundred horse.

Jacopo had served many years with his father and brother, first under
Duke Filippo, and afterward under the Milanese republic, so that by
frequent intercourse with the citizens he had acquired many friends
and universal popularity, which present circumstances tended to
increase; for the prosperity and newly acquired power of the
Sforzeschi had occasioned envy, while Jacopo's misfortunes and long
absence had given rise to compassion and a great desire to see him.
These various feelings were displayed upon his arrival; for nearly all
the nobility went to meet him; the streets through which he passed
were filled with citizens, anxious to catch a glimpse of him, while
shouts of "The Bracceschi! the Bracceschi!" resounded on all sides.
These honors accelerated his ruin; for the duke's apprehensions
increased his desire of destroying him; and to effect this with the
least possible suspicion, Jacopo's marriage with Drusiana, the duke's
natural daughter, was now celebrated. The duke then arranged with
Ferrando to take him into pay, with the title of captain of his
forces, and give him 100,000 florins for his maintenance. After this
agreement, Jacopo, accompanied by a ducal ambassador and his wife
Drusiana, proceeded to Naples, where he was honorably and joyfully
received, and for many days entertained with every kind of festivity;
but having asked permission to go to Sulmona, where his forces were,
the king invited him to a banquet in the castle, at the conclusion of
which he and his son Francesco were imprisoned, and shortly afterward
put to death. It was thus our Italian princes, fearing those virtues
in others which they themselves did not possess, extirpated them; and
hence the country became a prey to the efforts of those by whom it was
not long afterward oppressed and ruined.

At this time, Pope Pius II. having settled the affairs of Romagna, and
witnessing a universal peace, thought it a suitable opportunity to
lead the Christians against the Turks, and adopted measures similar to
those which his predecessors had used. All the princes promised
assistance either in men or money; while Matthias, king of Hungary,
and Charles, duke of Burgundy, intimated their intention of joining
the enterprise in person, and were by the pope appointed leaders of
the expedition. The pontiff was so full of expectation, that he left
Rome and proceeded to Ancona, where it had been arranged that the
whole army should be assembled, and the Venetians engaged to send
ships thither to convey the forces to Sclavonia. Upon the arrival of
the pope in that city, there was soon such a concourse of people, that
in a few days all the provisions it contained, or that could be
procured from the neighborhood, were consumed, and famine began to
impend. Besides this, there was no money to provide those who were in
want of it, nor arms to furnish such as were without them. Neither
Matthias nor Charles made their appearance. The Venetians sent a
captain with some galleys, but rather for ostentation and the sake of
keeping their word, than for the purpose of conveying troops. During
this position of affairs, the pope, being old and infirm, died, and
the assembled troops returned to their homes. The death of the pontiff
occurred in 1465, and Paul II. of Venetian origin, was chosen to
succeed him; and that nearly all the principalities of Italy might
change their rulers about the same period, in the following year
Francesco Sforza, duke of Milan, also died, having occupied the
dukedom sixteen years, and Galleazzo, his son, succeeded him.

The death of this prince infused redoubled energy into the Florentine
dissensions, and caused them to produce more prompt effects than they
would otherwise have done. Upon the demise of Cosmo, his son Piero,
being heir to the wealth and government of his father, called to his
assistance Diotisalvi Neroni, a man of great influence and the highest
reputation, in whom Cosmo reposed so much confidence that just before
his death he recommended Piero to be wholly guided by him, both with
regard to the government of the city and the management of his
fortune. Piero acquired Diotisalvi with the opinion Cosmo entertained
of him, and said that as he wished to obey his father, though now no
more, as he always had while alive, he should consult him concerning
both his patrimony and the city. Beginning with his private affairs,
he caused an account of all his property, liabilities, and assets, to
be placed in Diotisalvi's hands, that, with an entire acquaintance
with the state of his affairs, he might be able to afford suitable
advice, and the latter promised to use the utmost care. Upon
examination of these accounts the affairs were found to be in great
disorder, and Diotisalvi, instigated rather by his own ambition than
by attachment to Piero or gratitude to Cosmo, thought he might without
difficulty deprive him of both the reputation and the splendor which
his father had left him as his inheritance. In order to realize his
views, he waited upon Piero, and advised him to adopt a measure which,
while it appeared quite correct in itself, and suitable to existing
circumstances, involved a consequence destructive to his authority. He
explained the disorder of his affairs, and the large amount of money
it would be necessary to provide, if he wished to preserve his
influence in the state and his reputation of wealth; and said there
was no other means of remedying these disorders so just and available
as to call in the sums which his father had lent to an infinite number
of persons, both foreigners and citizens; for Cosmo, to acquire
partisans in Florence and friends abroad, was extremely liberal of his
money, and the amount of loans due to him was enormous. Piero thought
the advice good, because he was only desirous to repossess his own
property to meet the demands to which he was liable; but as soon as he
had ordered those amounts to be recalled, the citizens, as if he had
asked for something to which he had no kind of claim, took great
offense, loaded him with opprobrious expressions, and accused him of
being avaricious and ungrateful.

Diotisalvi, noticing the popular excitement against Piero, occasioned
by his own advice, obtained an interview with Luca Pitti, Agnolo
Acciajuoli, and Niccolo Soderini, and they resolved to unite their
efforts to deprive him both of the government and his influence. Each
was actuated by a different motive; Luca Pitti wished to take the
position Cosmo had occupied, for he was now become so great, that he
disdained to submit to Piero; Diotisalvi Neroni, who knew Luca unfit
to be at the head of a government, thought that of necessity on
Piero's removal, the whole authority of the state would devolve upon
himself; Niccolo Soderini desired the city to enjoy greater liberty,
and for the laws to be equally binding upon all. Agnolo Acciajuoli was
greatly incensed against the Medici, for the following reasons: his
son, Raffaello, had some time before married Alessandra de' Bardi, and
received with her a large dowry. She, either by her own fault or the
misconduct of others, suffered much ill-treatment both from her
father-in-law and her husband, and in consequence Lorenzo d' Ilarione,
her kinsman, out of pity for the girl, being accompanied by several
armed men, took her away from Agnolo's house. The Acciajuoli
complained of the injury done them by the Bardi, and the matter was
referred to Cosmo, who decided that the Acciajuoli should restore to
Alessandra her fortune, and then leave it to her choice either to
return to her husband or not. Agnolo thought Cosmo had not, in this
instance, treated him as a friend; and having been unable to avenge
himself on the father, he now resolved to do his utmost to ruin the
son. These conspirators, though each was influenced by a different
motive from the rest, affected to have only one object in view, which
was that the city should be governed by the magistrates, and not be
subjected to the counsels of a few individuals. The odium against
Piero, and opportunities of injuring him, were increased by the number
of merchants who failed about this time; for it was reported that he,
in having, quite unexpectedly to all, resolved to call in his debts,
had, to the disgrace and ruin of the city, caused them to become
insolvent. To this was added his endeavor to obtain Clarice degli
Orsini as wife of Lorenzo, his eldest son; and hence his enemies took
occasion to say, it was quite clear, that as he despised a Florentine
alliance, he no longer considered himself one of the people, and was
preparing to make himself prince; for he who refuses his fellow-
citizens as relatives, desires to make them slaves, and therefore
cannot expect to have them as friends. The leaders of the sedition
thought they had the victory in their power; for the greater part of
the citizens followed them, deceived by the name of liberty which
they, to give their purpose a graceful covering, adopted upon their

In this agitated state of the city, some, to whom civil discord was
extremely offensive, thought it would be well to endeavor to engage
men's minds with some new occupation, because when unemployed they are
commonly led by whoever chooses to excite them. To divert their
attention from matters of government, it being now a year since the
death of Cosmo, it was resolved to celebrate two festivals, similar to
the most solemn observed in the city. At one of them was represented
the arrival of the three kings from the east, led by the star which
announced the nativity of Christ; which was conducted with such pomp
and magnificence, that the preparations for it kept the whole city
occupied many months. The other was a tournament (for so they call the
exhibition of equestrian combats), in which the sons of the first
families in the city took part with the most celebrated cavaliers of
Italy. Among the most distinguished of the Florentine youth was
Lorenzo, eldest son of Piero, who, not by favor, but by his own
personal valor, obtained the principal prize. When these festivals
were over, the citizens reverted to the same thoughts which had
previously occupied them, and each pursued his ideas with more
earnestness than ever. Serious differences and troubles were the
result; and these were greatly increased by two circumstances: one of
which was, that the authority of the balia had expired; the other,
that upon the death of Duke Francesco, Galeazzo the new duke sent
ambassadors to Florence, to renew the engagements of his father with
the city, which, among other things, provided that every year a

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