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instead of the twelve Buonuomini, or good men, created eight
counsellors, four from each party. The government having been
established in this manner, the city might have been in repose if the
great had been content to live in that moderation which civil society
requires. But they produced a contrary result, for those out of office
would not conduct themselves as citizens, and those who were in
government wished to be lords, so that every day furnished some new
instance of their insolence and pride. These things were very grievous
to the people, and they began to regret that for one tyrant put down,
there had sprung up a thousand. The arrogance of one party and the
anger of the other rose to such a degree, that the heads of the people
complained to the bishop of the improper conduct of the nobility, and
what unfit associates they had become for the people; and begged he
would endeavor to induce them to be content with their share of
administration in the other offices, and leave the magistracy of the
Signory wholly to themselves.

The bishop was naturally a well-meaning man, but his want of firmness
rendered him easily influenced. Hence, at the instance of his
associates, he at first favored the duke of Athens, and afterward, by
the advice of other citizens, conspired against him. At the
reformation of the government, he had favored the nobility, and now he
appeared to incline toward the people, moved by the reasons which they
had advanced. Thinking to find in others the same instability of
purpose, he endeavored to effect an amicable arrangement. With this
design he called together the fourteen who were yet in office, and in
the best terms he could imagine advised them to give up the Signory to
the people, in order to secure the peace of the city; and assured them
that if they refused, ruin would most probably be the result.

This discourse excited the anger of the nobility to the highest pitch,
and Ridolfo de' Bardi reproved him in unmeasured terms as a man of
little faith; reminding him of his friendship for the duke, to prove
the duplicity of his present conduct, and saying, that in driving him
away he had acted the part of a traitor. He concluded by telling him,
that the honors they had acquired at their own peril, they would at
their own peril defend. They then left the bishop, and in great wrath,
informed their associates in the government, and all the families of
the nobility, of what had been done. The people also expressed their
thoughts to each other, and as the nobility made preparations for the
defense of their signors, they determined not to wait till they had
perfected their arrangements; and therefore, being armed, hastened to
the palace, shouting, as they went along, that the nobility must give
up their share in the government.

The uproar and excitement were astonishing. The Signors of the
nobility found themselves abandoned; for their friends, seeing all the
people in arms, did not dare to rise in their defense, but each kept
within his own house. The Signors of the people endeavored to abate
the excitement of the multitude, by affirming their associates to be
good and moderate men; but, not succeeding in their attempt, to avoid
a greater evil, sent them home to their houses, whither they were with
difficulty conducted. The nobility having left the palace, the office
of the four councillors was taken from their party, and conferred upon
twelve of the people. To the eight signors who remained, a Gonfalonier
of Justice was added, and sixteen Gonfaloniers of the companies of the
people; and the council was so reformed, that the government remained
wholly in the hands of the popular party.

At the time these events took place there was a great scarcity in the
city, and discontent prevailed both among the highest and the lowest
classes; in the latter for want of food, and in the former from having
lost their power in the state. This circumstance induced Andrea
Strozzi to think of making himself sovereign of the city. Selling his
corn at a lower price than others did, a great many people flocked to
his house; emboldened by the sight of these, he one morning mounted
his horse, and, followed by a considerable number, called the people
to arms, and in a short time drew together about 4,000 men, with whom
he proceeded to the Signory, and demanded that the gates of the palace
should be opened. But the signors, by threats and the force which they
retained in the palace, drove them from the court; and then by
proclamation so terrified them, that they gradually dropped off and
returned to their homes, and Andrea, finding himself alone, with some
difficulty escaped falling into the hands of the magistrates.

This event, although an act of great temerity, and attended with the
result that usually follows such attempts, raised a hope in the minds
of the nobility of overcoming the people, seeing that the lowest of
the plebeians were at enmity with them. And to profit by this
circumstance, they resolved to arm themselves, and with justifiable
force recover those rights of which they had been unjustly deprived.
Their minds acquired such an assurance of success, that they openly
provided themselves with arms, fortified their houses, and even sent
to their friends in Lombardy for assistance. The people and the
Signory made preparation for their defense, and requested aid from
Perugia and Sienna, so that the city was filled with the armed
followers of either party. The nobility on this side of the Arno
divided themselves into three parts; the one occupied the houses of
the Cavicciulli, near the church of St. John; another, the houses of
the Pazzi and the Donati, near the great church of St. Peter; and the
third those of the Cavalcanti in the New Market. Those beyond the
river fortified the bridges and the streets in which their houses
stood; the Nerli defended the bridge of the Carraja; the Frescobaldi
and the Manelli, the church of the Holy Trinity; and the Rossi and the
Bardi, the bridge of the Rubaconte and the Old Bridge. The people were
drawn together under the Gonfalon of justice and the ensigns of the
companies of the artisans.

Both sides being thus arranged in order of battle, the people thought
it imprudent to defer the contest, and the attack was commenced by the
Medici and the Rondinelli, who assailed the Cavicciulli, where the
houses of the latter open upon the piazza of St. John. Here both
parties contended with great obstinacy, and were mutually wounded,
from the towers by stones and other missiles, and from below by
arrows. They fought for three hours; but the forces of the people
continuing to increase, and the Cavicciulli finding themselves
overcome by numbers, and hopeless of other assistance, submitted
themselves to the people, who saved their houses and property; and
having disarmed them, ordered them to disperse among their relatives
and friends, and remain unarmed. Being victorious in the first attack,
they easily overpowered the Pazzi and the Donati, whose numbers were
less than those they had subdued; so that there only remained on this
side of the Arno, the Cavalcanti, who were strong both in respect of
the post they had chosen and in their followers. Nevertheless, seeing
all the Gonfalons against them, and that the others had been overcome
by three Gonfalons alone, they yielded without offering much
resistance. Three parts of the city were now in the hands of the
people, and only one in possession of the nobility; but this was the
strongest, as well on account of those who held it, as from its
situation, being defended by the Arno; hence it was first necessary to
force the bridges. The Old Bridge was first assailed and offered a
brave resistance; for the towers were armed, the streets barricaded,
and the barricades defended by the most resolute men; so that the
people were repulsed with great loss. Finding their labor at this
point fruitless, they endeavored to force the Rubaconte Bridge, but no
better success resulting, they left four Gonfalons in charge of the
two bridges, and with the others attacked the bridge of the Carraja.
Here, although the Nerli defended themselves like brave men, they
could not resist the fury of the people; for this bridge, having no
towers, was weaker than the others, and was attacked by the Capponi,
and many families of the people who lived in that vicinity. Being thus
assailed on all sides, they abandoned the barricades and gave way to
the people, who then overcame the Rossi and the Frescobaldi; for all
those beyond the Arno took part with the conquerors.

There was now no resistance made except by the Bardi, who remained
undaunted, notwithstanding the failure of their friends, the union of
the people against them, and the little chance of success which they
seemed to have. They resolved to die fighting, and rather see their
houses burned and plundered, than submit to the power of their
enemies. They defended themselves with such obstinacy, that many
fruitless attempts were made to overcome them, both at the Old Bridge
and the Rubaconte; but their foes were always repulsed with loss.
There had in former times been a street which led between the houses
of the Pitti, from the Roman road to the walls upon Mount St. George.
By this way the people sent six Gonfalons, with orders to assail their
houses from behind. This attack overcame the resolution of the Bardi,
and decided the day in favor of the people; for when those who
defended the barricades in the street learned that their houses were
being plundered, they left the principal fight and hastened to their
defense. This caused the Old Bridge to be lost; the Bardi fled in all
directions and were received into the houses of the Quaratesi,
Panzanesi, and Mozzi. The people, especially the lower classes, greedy
for spoil, sacked and destroyed their houses, and pulled down and
burned their towers and palaces with such outrageous fury, that the
most cruel enemy of the Florentine name would have been ashamed of
taking part in such wanton destruction.

The nobility being thus overcome, the people reformed the government;
and as they were of three kinds, the higher, the middle, and the lower
class, it was ordered that the first should appoint two signors; the
two latter three each, and that the Gonfalonier should be chosen
alternately from either party. Besides this, all the regulations for
the restraint of the nobility were renewed; and in order to weaken
them still more, many were reduced to the grade of the people. The
ruin of the nobility was so complete, and depressed them so much, that
they never afterward ventured to take arms for the recovery of their
power, but soon became humbled and abject in the extreme. And thus
Florence lost the generosity of her character and her distinction in

After these events the city remained in peace till the year 1353. In
the course of this period occurred the memorable plague, described
with so much eloquence by Giovanni Boccaccio, and by which Florence
lost 96,000 souls. In 1348, began the first war with the Visconti,
occasioned by the archbishop, then prince of Milan; and when this was
concluded, dissensions again arose in the city; for although the
nobility were destroyed, fortune did not fail to cause new divisions
and new troubles.



Reflections upon the domestic discords of republics--A parallel
between the discords of Rome and those of Florence--Enmities
between the families of the Ricci and the Albizzi--Uguccione de'
Ricci causes the laws against the Ghibellines to be renewed in
order to injure the Albizzi--Piero degli Albizzi derives advantage
from it--Origin of admonitions and the troubles which result from
them--Uguccione de' Ricci moderates their injustice--Difficulties
increase--A meeting of the citizens--They address the Signory--The
Signory attempt to remedy the evils.

Those serious, though natural enmities, which occur between the
popular classes and the nobility, arising from the desire of the
latter to command, and the disinclination of the former to obey, are
the causes of most of the troubles which take place in cities; and
from this diversity of purpose, all the other evils which disturb
republics derive their origin. This kept Rome disunited; and this, if
it be allowable to compare small things with great, held Florence in
disunion; although in each city it produced a different result; for
animosities were only beginning with the people and nobility of Rome
contended, while ours were brought to a conclusion by the contentions
of our citizens. A new law settled the disputes of Rome; those of
Florence were only terminated by the death and banishment of many of
her best people. Those of Rome increased her military virtue, while
that of Florence was quite extinguished by her divisions. The quarrels
of Rome established different ranks of society, those of Florence
abolished the distinctions which had previously existed. This
diversity of effects must have been occasioned by the different
purposes which the two people had in view. While the people of Rome
endeavored to associate with the nobility in the supreme honors, those
of Florence strove to exclude the nobility from all participation in
them: as the desire of the Roman people was more reasonable, no
particular offense was given to the nobility; they therefore consented
to it without having recourse to arms; so that, after some disputes
concerning particular points, both parties agreed to the enactment of
a law which, while it satisfied the people, preserved the nobility in
the enjoyment of their dignity.

On the other hand, the demands of the people of Florence being
insolent and unjust, the nobility, became desperate, prepared for
their defense with their utmost energy, and thus bloodshed and the
exile of citizens followed. The laws which were afterward made, did
not provide for the common good, but were framed wholly in favor of
the conquerors. This too, must be observed, that from the acquisition
of power, made by the people of Rome, their minds were very much
improved; for all the offices of state being attainable as well by the
people as the nobility, the peculiar excellencies of the latter
exercised a most beneficial influence upon the former; and as the city
increased in virtue she attained a more exalted greatness.

But in Florence, the people being conquerors, the nobility were
deprived of all participation in the government; and in order to
regain a portion of it, it became necessary for them not only to seem
like the people, but to be like them in behavior, mind, and mode of
living. Hence arose those changes in armorial bearings, and in the
titles of families, which the nobility adopted, in order that they
might seem to be of the people; military virtue and generosity of
feeling became extinguished in them; the people not possessing these
qualities, they could not appreciate them, and Florence became by
degrees more and more depressed and humiliated. The virtue of the
Roman nobility degenerating into pride, the citizens soon found that
the business of the state could not be carried on without a prince.
Florence had now come to such a point, that with a comprehensive mind
at the head of affairs she would easily have been made to take any
form that he might have been disposed to give her; as may be partly
observed by a perusal of the preceding book.

Having given an account of the origin of Florence, the commencement of
her liberty, with the causes of her divisions, and shown how the
factions of the nobility and the people ceased with the tyranny of the
duke of Athens, and the ruin of the former, we have now to speak of
the animosities between the citizens and the plebeians and the various
circumstances which they produced.

The nobility being overcome, and the war with the archbishop of Milan
concluded, there did not appear any cause of dissension in Florence.
But the evil fortune of the city, and the defective nature of her
laws, gave rise to enmities between the family of the Albizzi and that
of the Ricci, which divided her citizens as completely as those of the
Buondelmonti and the Uberti, or the Donati and the Cerchi had formerly
done. The pontiffs, who at this time resided in France, and the
emperors, who abode in Germany, in order to maintain their influence
in Italy, sent among us multitudes of soldiers of many countries, as
English, Dutch, and Bretons. As these, upon the conclusion of a war,
were thrown out of pay, though still in the country, they, under the
standard of some soldier of fortune, plundered such people as were
least prepared to defend themselves. In the year 1353 one of these
companies came into Tuscany under the command of Monsignor Reale, of
Provence, and his approach terrified all the cities of Italy. The
Florentines not only provided themselves forces, but many citizens,
among whom were the Albizzi and the Ricci, armed themselves in their
own defense. These families were at the time full of hatred against
each other, and each thought to obtain the sovereignty of the republic
by overcoming his enemy. They had not yet proceeded to open violence,
but only contended in the magistracies and councils. The city being
all in arms, a quarrel arose in the Old Market place, and, as it
frequently happens in similar cases, a great number of people were
drawn together. The disturbance spreading, it was told the Ricci that
the Albizzi had assailed their partisans, and to the Albizzi that the
Ricci were in quest of them. Upon this the whole city arose, and it
was all the magistrates could do to restrain these families, and
prevent the actual occurrence of a disaster which, without being the
fault of either of them, had been willfully though falsely reported as
having already taken place. This apparently trifling circumstance
served to inflame the minds of the parties, and make each the more
resolved to increase the number of their followers. And as the
citizens, since the ruin of the nobility, were on such an equality
that the magistrates were more respected now than they had previously
been, they designed to proceed toward the suppression of this disorder
with civil authority alone.

We have before related, that after the victory of Charles I. the
government was formed of the Guelphic party, and that it thus acquired
great authority over the Ghibellines. But time, a variety of
circumstances, and new divisions had so contributed to sink this party
feeling into oblivion, that many of Ghibelline descent now filled the
highest offices. Observing this, Uguccione, the head of the family of
the Ricci, contrived that the law against the Ghibellines should be
again brought into operation; many imagining the Albizzi to be of that
faction, they having arisen in Arezzo, and come long ago to Florence.
Uguccione by this means hoped to deprive the Albizzi of participation
in the government, for all of Ghibelline blood who were found to hold
offices, would be condemned in the penalties which this law provided.
The design of Uguccione was discovered to Piero son of Filippo degli
Albizzi, and he resolved to favor it: for he saw that to oppose it
would at once declare him a Ghibelline; and thus the law which was
renewed by the ambition of the Ricci for his destruction, instead of
robbing Piero degli Albizzi of reputation, contributed to increase his
influence, although it laid the foundation of many evils. Nor is it
possible for a republic to enact a law more pernicious than one
relating to matters which have long transpired. Piero having favored
this law, which had been contrived by his enemies for his stumbling-
block, it became the stepping-stone to his greatness; for, making
himself the leader of this new order of things, his authority went on
increasing, and he was in greater favor with the Guelphs than any
other man.

As there could not be found a magistrate willing to search out who
were Ghibellines, and as this renewed enactment against them was
therefore of small value, it was provided that authority should be
given to the Capitani to find out who were of this faction; and,
having discovered, to signify and ADMONISH them that they were not to
take upon themselves any office of government; to which ADMONITIONS,
if they were disobedient, they became condemned in the penalties.
Hence, all those who in Florence are deprived of the power to hold
offices are called /ammoniti/, or ADMONISHED.

The Capitani in time acquiring greater audacity, admonished not only
those to whom the admonition was applicable, but any others at the
suggestion of their own avarice or ambition; and from 1356, when this
law was made, to 1366, there had been admonished above 200 citizens.
The Captains of the Parts and the sect of the Guelphs were thus become
powerful; for every one honored them for fear of being admonished; and
most particularly the leaders, who were Piero degli Albizzi, Lapo da
Castiglionchio, and Carlo Strozzi. This insolent mode of proceeding
was offensive to many; but none felt so particularly injured with it
as the Ricci; for they knew themselves to have occasioned it, they saw
it involved the ruin of the republic, and their enemies, the Albizzi,
contrary to their intention, became great in consequence.

On this account Uguccione de' Ricci, being one of the Signory,
resolved to put an end to the evil which he and his friends had
originated, and with a new law provided that to the six Captains of
Parts an additional three should be appointed, of whom two should be
chosen from the companies of minor artificers, and that before any
party could be declared Ghibelline, the declaration of the Capitani
must be confirmed by twenty-four Guelphic citizens, appointed for the
purpose. This provision tempered for a time the power of the Capitani,
so that the admonitions were greatly diminished, if not wholly laid
aside. Still the parties of the Albizzi and the Ricci were continually
on the alert to oppose each other's laws, deliberations, and
enterprises, not from a conviction of their inexpediency, but from a
hatred of their promoters.

In such distractions the time passed from 1366 to 1371, when the
Guelphs again regained the ascendant. There was in the family of the
Buondelmonti a gentleman named Benchi, who, as an acknowledgment of
his merit in a war against the Pisans, though one of the nobility, had
been admitted among the people, and thus became eligible to office
among the Signory; but when about to take his seat with them, a law
was made that no nobleman who had become of the popular class should
be allowed to assume that office. This gave great offense to Benchi,
who, in union with Piero degli Albizzi, determined to depress the less
powerful of the popular party with ADMONITIONS, and obtain the
government for themselves. By the interest which Benchi possessed with
the ancient nobility, and that of Piero with most of the influential
citizens, the Guelphic party resumed their ascendancy, and by new
reforms among the PARTS, so remodeled the administration as to be able
to dispose of the offices of the captains and the twenty-four citizens
at pleasure. They then returned to the ADMONITIONS with greater
audacity than ever, and the house of the Albizzi became powerful as
the head of this faction.

On the other hand, the Ricci made the most strenuous exertions against
their designs; so that anxiety universally prevailed, and ruin was
apprehended alike from both parties. In consequence of this a great
number of citizens, out of love to their country, assembled in the
church of St. Piero Scarraggio, and after a long consideration of the
existing disorders, presented themselves before the Signors, whom one
of the principal among them addressed in the following terms:--

"Many of us, magnificent Signors! were afraid of meeting even for
consideration of public business, without being publicly called
together, lest we should be noted as presumptuous or condemned as
ambitious. But seeing that so many citizens daily assemble in the
lodges and halls of the palace, not for any public utility, but only
for the gratification of their own ambition, we have thought that as
those who assemble for the ruin of the republic are fearless, so still
less ought they to be apprehensive who meet together only for its
advantage; nor ought we to be anxious respecting the opinion they may
form of our assembling, since they are so utterly indifferent to the
opinion of others. Our affection for our country, magnificent Signors!
caused us to assemble first, and now brings us before you, to speak of
grievances already great and daily increasing in our republic, and to
offer our assistance for their removal: and we doubt not that, though
a difficult undertaking, it will still be attended with success, if
you will lay aside all private regards, and authoritatively use the
public force.

"The common corruption of all the cities of Italy, magnificent
Signors! has infested and still vitiates your own; for when this
province had shaken off the imperial yoke, her cities not being
subject to any powerful influence that might restrain them,
administered affairs, not as free men do, but as a factious populace;
and hence have arisen all the other evils and disorders that have
appeared. In the first place, there cannot be found among the citizens
either unity or friendship, except with those whose common guilt,
either against their country or against private individuals, is a bond
of union. And as the knowledge of religion and the fear of God seem to
be alike extinct, oaths and promises have lost their validity, and are
kept as long as it is found expedient; they are adopted only as a
means of deception, and he is most applauded and respected whose
cunning is most efficient and secure. On this account bad men are
received with the approbation due to virtue, and good ones are
regarded only in the light of fools.

"And certainly in the cities of Italy all that is corruptible and
corrupting is assembled. The young are idle, the old lascivious, and
each sex and every age abounds with debasing habits, which the good
laws, by misapplication, have lost the power to correct. Hence arises
the avarice so observable among the citizens, and that greediness, not
for true glory, but for unworthy honors; from which follow hatred,
animosities, quarrels, and factions; resulting in deaths, banishments,
affliction to all good men, and the advancement of the most
unprincipled; for the good, confiding in their innocence, seek neither
safety nor advancement by illegal methods as the wicked do, and thus
unhonored and undefended they sink into oblivion.

"From proceedings such as these, arise at once the attachment for and
influence of parties; bad men follow them through ambition and
avarice, and necessity compels the good to pursue the same course. And
most lamentable is it to observe how the leaders and movers of parties
sanctify their base designs with words that are all piety and virtue;
they have the name of liberty constantly in their mouths, though their
actions prove them her greatest enemies. The reward which they desire
from victory is not the glory of having given liberty to the city, but
the satisfaction of having vanquished others, and of making themselves
rulers; and to attain their end, there is nothing too unjust, too
cruel, too avaricious for them to attempt. Thus laws and ordinances,
peace, wars, and treaties are adopted and pursued, not for the public
good, not for the common glory of the state, but for the convenience
or advantage of a few individuals.

"And if other cities abound in these disorders, ours is more than any
infected with them; for her laws, statutes, and civil ordinances are
not, nor have they ever been, established for the benefit of men in a
state of freedom, but according to the wish of the faction that has
been uppermost at the time. Hence it follows that, when one party is
expelled, or faction extinguished, another immediately arises; for, in
a city that is governed by parties rather than by laws, as soon as one
becomes dominant and unopposed, it must of necessity soon divide
against itself; for the private methods at first adapted for its
defense will now no longer keep it united. The truth of this, both the
ancient and modern dissensions of our city prove. Everyone thought
that when the Ghibellines were destroyed, the Guelphs would long
continue happy and honored; yet after a short time they divided into
the Bianchi and Neri, the black faction and the white. When the
Bianchi were overcome, the city was not long free from factions; for
either, in favor of the emigrants, or on account of the animosity
between the nobility and the people, we were still constantly at war.
And as if resolved to give up to others, what in mutual harmony we
either would not or were unable to retain, we confided the care of our
precious liberty first to King Robert, then to his brother, next to
his son, and at last to the duke of Athens. Still we have never in any
condition found repose, but seem like men who can neither agree to
live in freedom nor be content with slavery. Nor did we hesitate (so
greatly does the nature of our ordinances dispose us to division),
while yet under allegiance to the king, to substitute for his majesty,
one of the vilest of men born at Agobbio.

"For the credit of the city, the name of the duke of Athens ought to
be consigned to oblivion. His cruel and tyrannical disposition,
however, might have taught us wisdom and instructed us how to live;
but no sooner was he expelled than we handled our arms, and fought
with more hatred, and greater fury than we had ever done on any former
occasion; so that the ancient nobility were vanquished the city was
left at the disposal of the people. It was generally supposed that no
further occasion of quarrel or of party animosity could arise, since
those whose pride and insupportable ambition had been regarded as the
causes of them were depressed; however, experience proves how liable
human judgment is to error, and what false impressions men imbibe,
even in regard to the things that most intimately concern them; for we
find the pride and ambition of the nobility are not extinct, but only
transferred from them to the people who at this moment, according to
the usual practice of ambitious men, are endeavoring to render
themselves masters of the republic; and knowing they have no chance of
success but what is offered by discord, they have again divided the
city, and the names of Guelph and Ghibelline, which were beginning to
be forgotten (and it would have been well if they had never been heard
among us), are repeated anew in our ears.

"It seems almost necessarily ordained, in order that in human affairs
there may be nothing either settled or permanent, that in all
republics there are what may be called fatal families, born for the
ruin of their country. Of this kind of pest our city has produced a
more copious brood than any other; for not one but many have disturbed
and harassed her: first the Buondelmonti and the Uberti; then the
Donati and the Cerchi; and now, oh ridiculous! oh disgraceful thought!
the Ricci and the Albizzi have caused a division of her citizens.

"We have not dwelt upon our corrupt habits or our old and continual
dissensions to occasion you alarm, but to remind you of their causes;
to show that as you doubtless are aware of them, we also keep them in
view, and to remind you that their results ought not to make you
diffident of your power to repress the disorders of the present time.
The ancient families possessed so much influence, and were held in
such high esteem, that civil force was insufficient to restrain them;
but now, when the empire has lost its ascendancy, the pope is no
longer formidable, and the whole of Italy is reduced to a state of the
most complete equality, there can be no difficulty. Our republic might
more especially than any other (although at first our former practices
seem to present a reason to the contrary), not only keep itself united
but be improved by good laws and civil regulations, if you, the
Signory, would once resolve to undertake the matter; and to this we,
induced by no other motive than the love of our country, would most
strongly urge you. It is true the corruption of the country is great,
and much discretion will be requisite to correct it; but do not impute
the past disorders to the nature of the men, but to the times, which,
being changed, give reasonable ground to hope that, with better
government, our city will be attended with better fortune; for the
malignity of the people will be overcome by restraining the ambition
and annulling the ordinances of those who have encouraged faction, and
adopting in their stead only such principles as are conformable to
true civil liberty. And be assured, that these desirable ends will be
more certainly attained by the benign influence of the laws, than by a
delay which will compel the people to effect them by force and arms."

The Signory, induced by the necessity of the case, of which they were
previously aware, and further encouraged by the advice of those who
now addressed them, gave authority to fifty-six citizens to provide
for the safety of the republic. It is usually found that most men are
better adapted to pursue a good course already begun, than to discover
one applicable to immediate circumstances. These citizens thought
rather of extinguishing existing factions than of preventing the
formation of new ones, and effected neither of these objects. The
facilities for the establishment of new parties were not removed; and
out of those which they guarded against, another more powerful arose,
which brought the republic into still greater danger. They, however,
deprived three of the family of the Albizzi, and three of that of the
Ricci, of all the offices of government, except those of the Guelphic
party, for three years; and among the deprived were Piero degli
Albizzi and Uguccione de' Ricci. They forbade the citizens to assemble
in the palace, except during the sittings of the Signory. They
provided that if any one were beaten, or possession of his property
detained from him, he might bring his case before the council and
denounce the offender, even if he were one of the nobility; and that
if it were proved, the accused should be subject to the usual
penalties. This provision abated the boldness of the Ricci, and
increased that of the Albizzi; since, although it applied equally to
both, the Ricci suffered from it by far the most; for if Piero was
excluded from the palace of the Signory, the chamber of the Guelphs,
in which he possessed the greatest authority, remained open to him;
and if he and his followers had previously been ready to ADMONISH,
they became after this injury, doubly so. To this pre-disposition for
evil, new excitements were added.


The war of the Florentines against the pope's legate, and the
causes of it--League against the pope--The censures of the pope
disregarded in Florence--The city is divided into two factions,
the one the Capitani di Parte, the other of the eight
commissioners of the war--Measures adopted by the Guelphic party
against their adversaries--The Guelphs endeavor to prevent
Salvestro de Medici from being chosen Gonfalonier--Salvestro de
Medici Gonfalonier--His law against the nobility, and in favor of
the Ammoniti--The /Collegi/ disapprove of the law--Salvestro
addresses the council in its favor--The law is passed--
Disturbances in Florence.

The papal chair was occupied by Gregory XI. He, like his predecessors,
residing at Avignon, governed Italy by legates, who, proud and
avaricious, oppressed many of the cities. One of these legates, then
at Bologna, taking advantage of a great scarcity of food at Florence,
endeavored to render himself master of Tuscany, and not only withheld
provisions from the Florentines, but in order to frustrate their hopes
of the future harvest, upon the approach of spring, attacked them with
a large army, trusting that being famished and unarmed, he should find
them an easy conquest. He might perhaps have been successful, had not
his forces been mercenary and faithless, and, therefore, induced to
abandon the enterprise for the sum of 130,000 florins, which the
Florentines paid them. People may go to war when they will, but cannot
always withdraw when they like. This contest, commenced by the
ambition of the legate, was sustained by the resentment of the
Florentines, who, entering into a league with Bernabo of Milan, and
with the cities hostile to the church, appointed eight citizens for
the administration of it, giving them authority to act without appeal,
and to expend whatever sums they might judge expedient, without
rendering an account of the outlay.

This war against the pontiff, although Uguccione was now dead,
reanimated those who had followed the party of the Ricci, who, in
opposition to the Albizzi, had always favored Bernabo and opposed the
church, and this, the rather, because the eight commissioners of war
were all enemies of the Guelphs. This occasioned Piero degli Albizzi,
Lapo da Castiglionchio, Carlo Strozzi, and others, to unite themselves
more closely in opposition to their adversaries. The eight carried on
the war, and the others admonished during three years, when the death
of the pontiff put an end to the hostilities, which had been carried
on which so much ability, and with such entire satisfaction to the
people, that at the end of each year the eight were continued in
office, and were called /Santi/, or holy, although they had set
ecclesiastical censures at defiance, plundered the churches of their
property, and compelled the priests to perform divine service. So much
did citizens at that time prefer the good of their country to their
ghostly consolations, and thus showed the church, that if as her
friends they had defended, they could as enemies depress her; for the
whole of Romagna, the Marches, and Perugia were excited to rebellion.

Yet while this war was carried on against the pope, they were unable
to defend themselves against the captains of the parts and their
faction; for the insolence of the Guelphs against the eight attained
such a pitch, that they could not restrain themselves from abusive
behavior, not merely against some of the most distinguished citizens,
but even against the eight themselves; and the captains of the parts
conducted themselves with such arrogance, that they were feared more
than the Signory. Those who had business with them treated them with
greater reverence, and their court was held in higher estimation: so
that no ambassador came to Florence, without commission to the

Pope Gregory being dead, and the city freed from external war; there
still prevailed great confusion within; for the audacity of the
Guelphs was insupportable, and as no available mode of subduing them
presented itself, it was thought that recourse must be had to arms, to
determine which party was the strongest. With the Guelphs were all the
ancient nobility, and the greater part of the most popular leaders, of
which number, as already remarked, were Lapo, Piero, and Carlo. On the
other side, were all the lower orders, the leaders of whom were the
eight commissioners of war, Giorgio Scali and Tommaso Strozzi, and
with them the Ricci, Alberti, and Medici. The rest of the multitude,
as most commonly happens, joined the discontented party.

It appeared to the heads of the Guelphic faction that their enemies
would be greatly strengthened, and themselves in considerable danger
in case a hostile Signory should resolve on their subjugation.
Desirous, therefore, of being prepared against this calamity, the
leaders of the party assembled to take into consideration the state of
the city and that of their own friends in particular, and found the
/ammoniti/ so numerous and so great a difficulty, that the whole city
was excited against them on this account. They could not devise any
other remedy than, that as their enemies had deprived them of all the
offices of honor, they should banish their opponents from the city,
take possession of the palace of the Signory, and bring over the whole
state to their own party; in imitation of the Guelphs of former times,
who found no safety in the city, till they had driven all their
adversaries out of it. They were unanimous upon the main point, but
did not agree upon the time of carrying it into execution. It was in
the month of April, in the year 1378, when Lapo, thinking delay
inadvisable, expressed his opinion, that procrastination was in the
highest degree perilous to themselves; as in the next Signory,
Salvestro de' Medici would very probably be elected Gonfalonier, and
they all knew he was opposed to their party. Piero degli Albizzi, on
the other hand, thought it better to defer, since they would require
forces, which could not be assembled without exciting observation, and
if they were discovered, they would incur great risk. He thereupon
judged it preferable to wait till the approaching feast of St. John on
which, being the most solemn festival of the city, vast multitudes
would be assembled, among whom they might conceal whatever numbers
they pleased. To obviate their fears of Salvestro, he was to be
ADMONISHED, and if this did not appear likely to be effectual, they
would "ADMONISH" one of the Colleague of his quarter, and upon
redrawing, as the ballot-boxes would be nearly empty, chance would
very likely occasion that either he or some associate of his would be
drawn, and he would thus be rendered incapable of sitting as
Gonfalonier. They therefore came to the conclusion proposed by Piero,
though Lapo consented reluctantly, considering the delay dangerous,
and that, as no opportunity can be in all respects suitable, he who
waits for the concurrence of every advantage, either never makes an
attempt, or, if induced to do so, is most frequently foiled. They
"admonished" the Colleague, but did not prevent the appointment of
Salvestro, for the design was discovered by the Eight, who took care
to render all attempts upon the drawing futile.

Salvestro Alammano de' Medici was therefore drawn Gonfalonier, and,
being one of the noblest popular families, he could not endure that
the people should be oppressed by a few powerful persons. Having
resolved to put an end to their insolence, and perceiving the middle
classes favorably disposed, and many of the highest of the people on
his side, he communicated his design to Benedetto Alberti, Tommaso
Strozzi, and Georgio Scali, who all promised their assistance. They,
therefore, secretly draw up a law which had for its object to revive
the restrictions upon the nobility, to retrench the authority of the
Capitani di Parte, and recall the /ammoniti/ to their dignity. In
order to attempt and obtain their ends, at one and the same time,
having to consult, first the Colleagues and then the Councils,
Salvestro being Provost (which office for the time makes its possessor
almost prince of the city), he called together the Colleagues and the
Council on the same morning, and the Colleagues being apart, he
proposed the law prepared by himself and his friends, which, being a
novelty, encountered in their small number so much opposition, that he
was unable to have it passed.

Salvestro, seeing his first attempt likely to fail, pretended to leave
the room for a private reason, and, without being perceived, went
immediately to the Council, and taking a lofty position from which he
could be both seen and heard, said:--"That considering himself
invested with the office of Gonfalonier, not so much to preside in
private cases (for which proper judges were appointed, who have their
regular sittings), as to guard the state, correct the insolence of the
powerful, and ameliorate those laws by the influence of which the
republic was being ruined, he had carefully attended to both these
duties, and to his utmost ability provided for them, but found the
perversity of some so much opposed to his just designs as to deprive
him of all opportunity of doing good, and them not only of the means
of assisting him with their counsel, but even hearing him. Therefore
finding he no longer contributed either to the benefit of the republic
or of the people generally, he could not perceive any reason for his
longer holding the magistracy, of which he was either undeserving, or
others thought him so, and would therefore retire to his house, that
the people might appoint another in his stead, who would either have
greater virtue or better fortune than himself." And having said this,
he left the room as if to return home.

Those of the council who were in the secret, and others desirous of
novelty, raised a tumult, at which the Signory and the Colleagues came
together, and finding the Gonfalonier leaving them, entreatingly and
authoritatively detained him, and obliged him to return to the council
room, which was now full of confusion. Many of the noble citizens were
threatened in opprobrious language; and an artificer seized Carlo
Strozzi by the throat, and would undoubtedly have murdered him, but
was with difficulty prevented by those around. He who made the
greatest disturbance, and incited the city to violence, was Benedetto
degli Alberti, who, from a window of the palace, loudly called the
people to arms; and presently the courtyards were filled with armed
men, and the Colleagues granted to threats, what they had refused to
entreaty. The Capitani di Parte had at the same time drawn together a
great number of citizens to their hall to consult upon the means of
defending themselves against the orders of the Signors, but when they
heard the tumult that was raised, and were informed of the course the
Councils had adopted, each took refuge in his own house.

Let no one, when raising popular commotions, imagine he can afterward
control them at his pleasure, or restrain them from proceeding to the
commission of violence. Salvestro intended to enact his law, and
compose the city; but it happened otherwise; for the feelings of all
had become so excited, that they shut up the shops; the citizens
fortified themselves in their houses; many conveyed their valuable
property into the churches and monasteries, and everyone seemed to
apprehend something terrible at hand. The companies of the Arts met,
and each appointed an additional officer or Syndic; upon which the
Priors summoned their Colleagues and these Syndics, and consulted a
whole day how the city might be appeased with satisfaction to the
different parties; but much difference of opinion prevailed, and no
conclusion was come to. On the following day the Arts brought forth
their banners, which the Signory understanding, and being apprehensive
of evil, called the Council together to consider what course to adopt.
But scarcely were they met, when the uproar recommenced, and soon the
ensigns of the Arts, surrounded by vast numbers of armed men, occupied
the courts. Upon this the Council, to give the Arts and the people
hope of redress, and free themselves as much as possible from the
charge of causing the mischief, gave a general power, which in
Florence is called /Balia/, to the Signors, the Colleagues, the Eight,
the Capitani di Parte, and to the Syndics of the Arts, to reform the
government of the city, for the common benefit of all. While this was
being arranged, a few of the ensigns of the Arts and some of the mob,
desirous of avenging themselves for the recent injuries they had
received from the Guelphs, separated themselves from the rest, and
sacked and burnt the house of Lapo da Castiglionchio, who, when he
learned the proceedings of the Signory against the Guelphs, and saw
the people in arms, having no other resource but concealment or
flight, first took refuge in Santa Croce, and afterward, being
disguised as a monk, fled into the Casentino, where he was often heard
to blame himself for having consented to wait till St. John's day,
before they had made themselves sure of the government. Piero degli
Albizzi and Carlo Strozzi hid themselves upon the first outbreak of
the tumult, trusting that when it was over, by the interest of their
numerous friends and relations, they might remain safely in Florence.

The house of Lapo being burnt, as mischief begins with difficulty but
easily increases, many other houses, either through public hatred, or
private malice, shared the same fate; and the rioters, that they might
have companions more eager than themselves to assist them in their
work of plunder, broke open the public prisons, and then sacked the
monastery of the Agnoli and the convent of S. Spirito, whither many
citizens had taken their most valuable goods for safety. Nor would the
public chambers have escaped these destroyers' hands, except out of
reverence for one of the Signors, who on horseback, and followed by
many citizens in arms, opposed the rage of the mob.


Contrary measures adopted by the magistrates to effect a
pacification--Luigi Guicciardini the Gonfalonier entreats the
magistrates of the Arts to endeavor to pacify the people--Serious
riot caused by the plebeians--The woolen Art--The plebeians
assemble--The speech of a seditious plebeian--Their resolution
thereupon--The Signory discover the designs of the plebeians--
Measures adopted to counteract them.

This popular fury being abated by the authority of the Signors and the
approach of night, on the following day, the Balia relieved the
admonished, on condition that they should not for three years be
capable of holding any magistracy. They annulled the laws made by the
Guelphs to the prejudice of the citizens; declared Lapo da
Castiglionchio and his companions, rebels, and with them many others,
who were the objects of universal detestation. After these
resolutions, the new Signory were drawn for, and Luigi Guicciardini
appointed Gonfalonier, which gave hope that the tumults would soon be
appeased; for everyone thought them to be peaceable men and lovers of
order. Still the shops were not opened, nor did the citizens lay down
their arms, but continued to patrol the city in great numbers; so that
the Signory did not assume the magistracy with the usual pomp, but
merely assembled within the palace, omitting all ceremony.

This Signory, considering nothing more advisable in the beginning of
their magistracy than to restore peace, caused a relinquishment of
arms; ordered the shops to be opened, and the strangers who had been
called to their aid, to return to their homes. They appointed guards
in many parts of the city, so that if the admonished would only have
remained quiet, order would soon have been re-established. But they
were not satisfied to wait three years for the recovery of their
honours; so that to gratify them the Arts again met, and demanded of
the Signory, that for the benefit and quiet of the city, they would
ordain that no citizens should at any time, whether Signor, Colleague,
Capitano di Parte, or Consul of any art whatever, be admonished as a
Ghibelline; and further, that new ballots of the Guelphic party should
be made, and the old ones burned. These demands were at once acceded
to, not only by the Signors, but by all the Councils; and thus it was
hoped the tumults newly excited would be settled.

But since men are not satisfied with recovering what is their own, but
wish to possess the property of others and to revenge themselves,
those who were in hopes of benefiting by these disorders persuaded the
artificers that they would never be safe, if several of their enemies
were not expelled from the city or destroyed. This terrible doctrine
coming to the knowledge of the Signory, they caused the magistrates of
the Arts and their Syndics to be brought before them, and Luigi
Guicciardini, the Gonfalonier, addressed them in the following words:
"If these Signors, and I with them, had not long been acquainted with
the fate of this city, that as soon as external wars have ceased the
internal commence, we should have been more surprised, and our
displeasure would have been greater. But as evils to which we are
accustomed are less annoying, we have endured past disturbances
patiently, they having arisen for the most part without our fault; and
we hoped that, like former troubles, they would soon have an end,
after the many and great concessions we had made at your suggestion.
But finding that you are yet unsettled, that you contemplate the
commission of new crimes against your fellow-citizens, and are
desirous of making new exiles, our displeasure increases in proportion
to your misconduct. And certainly, could we have believed that during
our magistracy the city was to be ruined, whether with or without your
concurrence, we should certainly, either by flight or exile, have
avoided these horrors. But trusting that we had to do with those who
possessed some feelings of humanity and some love of their country, we
willingly accepted the magistracy, thinking that by our gentleness we
should overcome your ambition. But we perceive from experience that
the more humble our behavior, the more concessions we make, the
prouder you become, and the more exorbitant are your demands. And
though we speak thus, it is not in order to offend, but to amend you.
Let others tell you pleasing tales, our design is to communicate only
what is for your good. Now we would ask you, and have you answer on
your honor, What is there yet ungranted, that you can, with any
appearance of propriety, require? You wished to have authority taken
from the Capitani di Parte; and it is done. You wished that the
ballotings should be burned, and a reformation of them take place; and
we consent. You desired that the admonished should be restored to
their honours; and it is permitted. At your entreaty we have pardoned
those who have burned down houses and plundered churches; many
honorable citizens have been exiled to please you; and at your
suggestion new restraints have been laid upon the Great. When will
there be an end of your demands? and how long will you continue to
abuse our liberality? Do you not observe with how much more moderation
we bear defeat than you your victory? To what end will your divisions
bring our city? Have you forgotten that when disunited Castruccio, a
low citizen of Lucca, subdued her? or that a duke of Athens, your
hired captain did so too? But when the citizens were united in her
defense, an archbishop of Milan and a pope were unable to subdue it,
and, after many years of war, were compelled to retire with disgrace.

"Then why would you, by your discords, reduce to slavery in a time of
peace, that city, which so many powerful enemies have left free, even
in war? What can you expect from your disunion but subjugation? or
from the property of which you already have plundered, or may yet
plunder us, but poverty? for this property is the means by which we
furnish occupation for the whole city, and if you take it from us, our
means of finding that occupation is withdrawn. Besides, those who take
it will have difficulty in preserving what is dishonestly acquired,
and thus poverty and destitution are brought upon the city. Now, I,
and these Signors command, and if it were consistent with propriety,
we would entreat that you allow your minds to be calmed; be content,
rest satisfied with the provisions that have been made for you; and if
you should be found to need anything further, make your request with
decency and order, and not with tumult; for when your demands are
reasonable they will always be complied with, and you will not give
occasion to evil designing men to ruin your country and cast the blame
upon yourselves." These words conveying nothing but the truth,
produced a suitable effect upon the minds of the citizens, who
thanking the Gonfalonier for having acted toward them the part of a
king Signor, and toward the city that of a good citizen, offered their
obedience in whatever might be committed to them. And the Signors, to
prove the sincerity of their intentions, appointed two citizens for
each of the superior magistracies, who, with Syndics of the arts, were
to consider what could be done to restore quite, and report their
resolutions to the Signors.

While these things were in progress, a disturbance arose, much more
injurious to the republic than anything that had hitherto occurred.
The greatest part of the fires and robberies which took place on the
previous days were perpetrated by the very lowest of the people; and
those who had been the most audacious, were afraid that when the
greater differences were composed, they would be punished for the
crimes they had committed; and that as usual, they would be abandoned
by those who had instigated them to the commission of crime. To this
may be added, the hatred of the lower orders toward the rich citizens
and the principals of the arts, because they did not think themselves
remunerated for their labor in a manner equal to their merits. For in
the time of Charles I., when the city was divided into arts, a head or
governor was appointed to each, and it was provided that the
individuals of each art, should be judged in civil matters by their
own superiors. These arts, as we have before observed, were at first
twelve; in the course of time they were increased to twenty-one, and
attained so much power, that in a few years they grasped the entire
government of the city; and as some were in greater esteem than
others, they were divided into MAJOR and MINOR; seven were called
"major," and fourteen, the "minor arts." From this division, and from
other causes which we have narrated above, arose the arrogance of the
Capitani di Parte; for those citizens who had formerly been Guelphs,
and had the constant disposal of that magistracy, favored the
followers of the major and persecuted the minor arts and their
patrons; and hence arose the many commotions already mentioned. When
the companies of the arts were first organized, many of those trades,
followed by the lowest of the people and the plebeians, were not
incorporated, but were ranged under those arts most nearly allied to
them; and, hence, when they were not properly remunerated for their
labor, or their masters oppressed them, they had no one of whom to
seek redress, except the magistrate of the art to which theirs was
subject; and of him they did not think justice always attainable. Of
the arts, that which had always had, and now has, the greatest number
of these subordinates, is the woolen; which being both then, and
still, the most powerful body, and first in authority, supports the
greater part of the plebeians and lowest of the people.

The lower classes, then, the subordinates not only of the woolen, but
also of the other arts, were discontented, from the causes just
mentioned; and their apprehension of punishment for the burnings and
robberies they had committed, did not tend to compose them. Meetings
took place in different parts during the night, to talk over the past,
and to communicate the danger in which they were, when one of the most
daring and experienced, in order to animate the rest, spoke thus:

"If the question now were, whether we should take up arms, rob and
burn the houses of the citizens, and plunder churches, I am one of
those who would think it worthy of further consideration, and should,
perhaps, prefer poverty and safety to the dangerous pursuit of an
uncertain good. But as we have already armed, and many offenses have
been committed, it appears to me that we have to consider how to lay
them aside, and secure ourselves from the consequences of what is
already done. I certainly think, that if nothing else could teach us,
necessity might. You see the whole city full of complaint and
indignation against us; the citizens are closely united, and the
signors are constantly with the magistrates. You may be sure they are
contriving something against us; they are arranging some new plan to
subdue us. We ought therefore to keep two things in view, and have two
points to consider; the one is, to escape with impunity for what has
been done during the last few days, and the other, to live in greater
comfort and security for the time to come. We must, therefore, I
think, in order to be pardoned for our faults, commit new ones;
redoubling the mischief, and multiplying fires and robberies; and in
doing this, endeavor to have as many companions as we can; for when
many are in fault, few are punished; small crimes are chastised, but
great and serious ones rewarded. When many suffer, few seek vengeance;
for general evils are endured more patiently than private ones. To
increase the number of misdeeds will, therefore, make forgiveness more
easily attainable, and will open the way to secure what we require for
our own liberty. And it appears evident that the gain is certain; for
our opponents are disunited and rich; their disunion will give us the
victory, and their riches, when they have become ours, will support
us. Be not deceived about that antiquity of blood by which they exalt
themselves above us; for all men having had one common origin, are all
equally ancient, and nature has made us all after one fashion. Strip
us naked, and we shall all be found alike. Dress us in their clothing,
and they in ours, we shall appear noble, they ignoble--for poverty and
riches make all the difference. It grieves me much to think that some
of you are sorry inwardly for what is done, and resolve to abstain
from anything more of the kind. Certainly, if it be so, you are not
the men I took you for; because neither shame nor conscience ought to
have any influence with you. Conquerors, by what means soever, are
never considered aught but glorious. We have no business to think
about conscience; for when, like us, men have to fear hunger, and
imprisonment, or death, the fear of hell neither can nor ought to have
any influence upon them. If you only notice human proceedings, you may
observe that all who attain great power and riches, make use of either
force or fraud; and what they have acquired either by deceit or
violence, in order to conceal the disgraceful methods of attainment,
they endeavor to sanctify with the false title of honest gains. Those
who either from imprudence or want of sagacity avoid doing so, are
always overwhelmed with servitude and poverty; for faithful servants
are always servants, and honest men are always poor; nor do any ever
escape from servitude but the bold and faithless, or from poverty, but
the rapacious and fraudulent. God and nature have thrown all human
fortunes into the midst of mankind; and they are thus attainable
rather by rapine than by industry, by wicked actions rather than by
good. Hence it is that men feed upon each other, and those who cannot
defend themselves must be worried. Therefore we must use force when
the opportunity offers; and fortune cannot present us one more
favorable than the present, when the citizens are still disunited, the
Signory doubtful, and the magistrates terrified; for we may easily
conquer them before they can come to any settled arrangement. By this
means we shall either obtain the entire government of the city, or so
large a share of it, as to be forgiven past errors, and have
sufficient authority to threaten the city with a renewal of them at
some future time. I confess this course is bold and dangerous, but
when necessity presses, audacity becomes prudence, and in great
affairs the brave never think of dangers. The enterprises that are
begun with hazard always have a reward at last; and no one ever
escaped from embarrassment without some peril. Besides, it is easy to
see from all their preparations of prisons, racks, and instruments of
death, that there is more danger in inaction than in endeavoring to
secure ourselves; for in the first case the evils are certain, in the
latter doubtful. How often have I heard you complain of the avarice of
your superiors and the injustice of your magistrates. Now then is the
time, not only to liberate yourself from them, but to become so much
superior, that they will have more causes of grief and fear from you,
than you from them. The opportunity presented by circumstances passes
away, and when gone, it will be vain to think it can be recalled. You
see the preparations of our enemies; let us anticipate them; and those
who are first in arms will certainly be victors, to the ruin of their
enemies and their own exaltation; and thus honors will accrue to many
of us and security to all." These arguments greatly inflamed minds
already disposed to mischief, so that they determined to take up arms
as soon as they had acquired a sufficient number of associates, and
bound themselves by oath to mutual defense, in case any of them were
subdued by the civil power.

While they were arranging to take possession of the republic, their
design became known to the Signory, who, having taken a man named
Simone, learned from him the particulars of the conspiracy, and that
the outbreak was to take place on the following day. Finding the
danger so pressing, they called together the colleagues and those
citizens who with the syndics of the arts were endeavoring to effect
the union of the city. It was then evening, and they advised the
signors to assemble the consuls of the trades, who proposed that
whatever armed force was in Florence should be collected, and with the
Gonfaloniers of the people and their companies, meet under arms in the
piazza next morning. It happened that while Simone was being tortured,
a man named Niccolo da San Friano was regulating the palace clock, and
becoming acquainted with what was going on, returned home and spread
the report of it in his neighborhood, so that presently the piazza of
St. Spirito was occupied by above a thousand men. This soon became
known to the other conspirators, and San Pietro Maggiore and St.
Lorenzo, their places of assembly, were presently full of them, all
under arms.


Proceedings of the plebeians--The demand they make of the Signory
--They insist that the Signory leave the palace--The Signory leave
the palace--Michael di Lando Gonfalonier--Complaints and movements
of the plebeians against Michael di Lando--Michael di Lando
proceeds against the plebeians and reduces them to order--
Character of Michael di Lando.

At daybreak on the 21st of July, there did not appear in the piazza
above eighty men in arms friendly to the Signory, and not one of the
Gonfaloniers; for knowing the whole city to be in a state of
insurrection they were afraid to leave their homes. The first body of
plebeians that made its appearance was that which had assembled at San
Pietro Maggiore; but the armed force did not venture to attack them.
Then came the other multitudes, and finding no opposition, they loudly
demanded their prisoners from the Signory; and being resolved to have
them by force if they were not yielded to their threats, they burned
the house of Luigi Guicciardini; and the Signory, for fear of greater
mischief, set them at liberty. With this addition to their strength
they took the Gonfalon of Justice from the bearer, and under the
shadow of authority which it gave them, burned the houses of many
citizens, selecting those whose owners had publicly or privately
excited their hatred. Many citizens, to avenge themselves for private
injuries, conducted them to the houses of their enemies; for it was
quite sufficient to insure its destruction, if a single voice from the
mob called out, "To the house of such a one," or if he who bore the
Gonfalon took the road toward it. All the documents belonging to the
woolen trade were burned, and after the commission of much violence,
by way of associating it with something laudable, Salvestro de Medici
and sixty-three other citizens were made knights, among whom were
Benedetto and Antonio degli Alberti, Tommaso Strozzi and others
similarly their friends; though many received the honor against their
wills. It was a remarkable peculiarity of the riots, that many who had
their houses burned, were on the same day, and by the same party made
knights; so close were the kindness and the injury together. This
circumstance occurred to Luigi Guicciardini, Gonfalonier of Justice.

In this tremendous uproar, the Signory, finding themselves abandoned
by their armed force, by the leaders of the arts, and by the
Gonfaloniers, became dismayed; for none had come to their assistance
in obedience to orders; and of the sixteen Gonfalons, the ensign of
the Golden Lion and of the Vaio, under Giovenco della Stufa and
Giovanni Cambi alone appeared; and these, not being joined by any
other, soon withdrew. Of the citizens, on the other hand, some, seeing
the fury of this unreasonable multitude and the palace abandoned,
remained within doors; others followed the armed mob, in the hope that
by being among them, they might more easily protect their own houses
or those of their friends. The power of the plebeians was thus
increased and that of the Signory weakened. The tumult continued all
day, and at night the rioters halted near the palace of Stefano,
behind the church of St. Barnabas. Their number exceeded six thousand,
and before daybreak they obtained by threats the ensigns of the
trades, with which and the Gonfalon of Justice, when morning came,
they proceeded to the palace of the provost, who refusing to surrender
it to them, they took possession of it by force.

The Signory, desirous of a compromise, since they could not restrain
them by force, appointed four of the Colleagues to proceed to the
palace of the provost, and endeavor to learn what was their intention.
They found that the leaders of the plebeians, with the Syndics of the
trades and some citizens, had resolved to signify their wishes to the
Signory. They therefore returned with four deputies of the plebeians,
who demanded that the woolen trade should not be allowed to have a
foreign judge; that there should be formed three new companies of the
arts; namely, one for the wool combers and dyers, one for the barbers,
doublet-makers, tailors, and such like, and the third for the lowest
class of people. They required that the three new arts should furnish
two Signors; the fourteen minor arts, three; and that the Signory
should provide a suitable place of assembly for them. They also made
it a condition that no member of these companies should be expected
during two years to pay any debt that amounted to less than fifty
ducats; that the bank should take no interest on loans already
contracted, and that only the principal sum should be demanded; that
the condemned and the banished should be forgiven, and the admonished
should be restored to participation in the honors of government.
Besides these, many other articles were stipulated in favor of their
friends, and a requisition made that many of their enemies should be
exiled and admonished. These demands, though grievous and dishonorable
to the republic, were for fear of further violence granted, by the
joint deliberation of the Signors, Colleagues, and Council of the
people. But in order to give it full effect, it was requisite that the
Council of the Commune should also give its consent; and, as they
could not assemble two councils during the same day it was necessary
to defer it till the morrow. However the trades appeared content, the
plebeians satisfied; and both promised, that these laws being
confirmed, every disturbance should cease.

On the following morning, while the Council of the Commune were in
consultation, the impatient and volatile multitude entered the piazza,
under their respective ensigns, with loud and fearful shouts, which
struck terror into all the Council and Signory; and Guerrente
Marignolli, one of the latter, influenced more by fear than anything
else, under pretense of guarding the lower doors, left the chamber and
fled to his house. He was unable to conceal himself from the
multitude, who, however, took no notice, except that, upon seeing him,
they insisted that all the Signors should quit the palace, and
declared that if they refused to comply, their houses should be burned
and their families put to death.

The law had now been passed; the Signors were in their own apartments;
the Council had descended from the chamber, and without leaving the
palace, hopeless of saving the city, they remained in the lodges and
courts below, overwhelmed with grief at seeing such depravity in the
multitude, and such perversity or fear in those who might either have
restrained or suppressed them. The Signory, too, were dismayed and
fearful for the safety of their country, finding themselves abandoned
by one of their associates, and without any aid or even advice; when,
at this moment of uncertainty as to what was about to happen, or what
would be best to be done, Tommaso Strozzi and Benedetto Alberti,
either from motives of ambition (being desirous of remaining masters
of the palace), or because they thought it the most advisable step,
persuaded them to give way to the popular impulse, and withdraw
privately to their homes. This advice, given by those who had been the
leaders of the tumult, although the others yielded, filled Alamanno
Acciajuoli and Niccolo del Bene, two of the Signors, with anger; and,
reassuming a little vigor, they said, that if the others would
withdraw they could not help it, but they would remain as long as they
continued in office, if they did not in the meantime lose their lives.
These dissensions redoubled the fears of the Signory and the rage of
the people, so that the Gonfalonier, disposed rather to conclude his
magistracy in dishonor than in danger, recommended himself to the care
of Tommaso Strozzi, who withdrew him from the palace and conducted him
to his house. The other Signors were, one after another, conveyed in
the same manner, so that Alamanno and Niccolo, not to appear more
valiant than wise, seeing themselves left alone, also retired, and the
palace fell into the hands of the plebeians and the Eight
Commissioners of War, who had not yet laid down their authority.

When the plebeians entered the palace, the standard of the Gonfalonier
of Justice was in the hands of Michael di Lando, a wool comber. This
man, barefoot, with scarcely anything upon him, and the rabble at his
heels, ascended the staircase, and, having entered the audience
chamber of the Signory, he stopped, and turning to the multitude said,
"You see this palace is now yours, and the city is in your power; what
do you think ought to be done?" To which they replied, they would have
him for their Gonfalonier and lord; and that he should govern them and
the city as he thought best. Michael accepted the command; and, as he
was a cool and sagacious man, more favored by nature than by fortune,
he resolved to compose the tumult, and restore peace to the city. To
occupy the minds of the people, and give himself time to make some
arrangement, he ordered that one Nuto, who had been appointed
bargello, or sheriff, by Lapo da Castiglionchio, should be sought. The
greater part of his followers went to execute this commission; and, to
commence with justice the government he had acquired by favor, he
commanded that no one should either burn or steal anything; while, to
strike terror into all, he caused a gallows to be erected in the court
of the palace. He began the reform of government by deposing the
Syndics of the trades, and appointing new ones; he deprived the
Signory and the Colleagues of their magistracy, and burned the
balloting purses containing the names of those eligible to office
under the former government.

In the meantime, Ser Nuto, being brought by the mob into the court,
was suspended from the gallows by one foot; and those around having
torn him to pieces, in little more than a moment nothing remained of
him but the foot by which he had been tied.

The Eight Commissioners of War, on the other hand, thinking
themselves, after the departure of the Signors, left sole masters of
the city, had already formed a new Signory; but Michael, on hearing
this, sent them an order to quit the palace immediately; for he wished
to show that he could govern Florence without their assistance. He
then assembled the Syndics of the trades, and created as a Signory,
four from the lowest plebeians; two from the major, and two from the
minor trades. Besides this, he made a new selection of names for the
balloting purses, and divided the state into three parts; one composed
of the new trades, another of the minor, and the third of the major
trades. He gave to Salvestro de' Medici the revenue of the shops upon
the Old Bridge; for himself he took the provostry of Empoli, and
conferred benefits upon many other citizens, friends of the plebeians;
not so much for the purpose of rewarding their labors, as that they
might serve to screen him from envy.

It seemed to the plebeians that Michael, in his reformation of the
state, had too much favored the higher ranks of the people, and that
themselves had not a sufficient share in the government to enable them
to preserve it; and hence, prompted by their usual audacity, they
again took arms, and coming tumultuously into the court of the palace,
each body under their particular ensigns, insisted that the Signory
should immediately descend and consider new means for advancing their
well-being and security. Michael, observing their arrogance, was
unwilling to provoke them, but without further yielding to their
request, blamed the manner in which it was made, advised them to lay
down their arms, and promised that then would be conceded to them,
what otherwise, for the dignity of the state, must of necessity be
withheld. The multitude, enraged at this reply, withdrew to Santa
Maria Novella, where they appointed eight leaders for their party,
with officers, and other regulations to ensure influence and respect;
so that the city possessed two governments, and was under the
direction of two distinct powers. These new leaders determined that
Eight, elected from their trades, should constantly reside in the
palace with the Signory, and that whatever the Signory should
determine must be confirmed by them before it became law. They took
from Salvestro de' Medici and Michael di Lando the whole of what their
former decrees had granted them, and distributed to many of their
party offices and emoluments to enable them to support their dignity.
These resolutions being passed, to render them valid they sent two of
their body to the Signory, to insist on their being confirmed by the
Council, with an intimation, that if not granted they would be
vindicated by force. This deputation, with amazing audacity and
surpassing presumption, explained their commission to the Signory,
upbraided the Gonfalonier with the dignity they had conferred upon
him, the honor they had done him, and with the ingratitude and want of
respect he had shown toward them. Coming to threats toward the end of
their discourse, Michael could not endure their arrogance, and
sensible rather of the dignity of the office he held than of the
meanness of his origin, determined by extraordinary means to punish
such extraordinary insolence, and drawing the sword with which he was
girt, seriously wounded, and cause them to be seized and imprisoned.

When the fact became known, the multitude were filled with rage, and
thinking that by their arms they might ensure what without them they
had failed to effect, they seized their weapons and with the utmost
fury resolved to force the Signory to consent to their wishes.
Michael, suspecting what would happen, determined to be prepared, for
he knew his credit rather required him to be first to the attack than
to wait the approach of the enemy, or, like his predecessors, dishonor
both the palace and himself by flight. He therefore drew together a
good number of citizens (for many began to see their error), mounted
on horseback, and followed by crowds of armed men, proceeded to Santa
Maria Novella, to encounter his adversaries. The plebeians, who as
before observed were influenced by a similar desire, had set out about
the same time as Michael, and it happened that as each took a
different route, they did not meet in their way, and Michael, upon his
return, found the piazza in their possession. The contest was now for
the palace, and joining in the fight, he soon vanquished them, drove
part of them out of the city, and compelled the rest to throw down
their arms and escape or conceal themselves, as well as they could.
Having thus gained the victory, the tumults were composed, solely by
the talents of the Gonfalonier, who in courage, prudence, and
generosity surpassed every other citizen of his time, and deserves to
be enumerated among the glorious few who have greatly benefited their
country; for had he possessed either malice or ambition, the republic
would have been completely ruined, and the city must have fallen under
greater tyranny than that of the duke of Athens. But his goodness
never allowed a thought to enter his mind opposed to the universal
welfare: his prudence enabled him to conduct affairs in such a manner,
that a great majority of his own faction reposed the most entire
confidence in him; and he kept the rest in awe by the influence of his
authority. These qualities subdued the plebeians, and opened the eyes
of the superior artificers, who considered how great must be the folly
of those, who having overcome the pride of the nobility, could endure
to submit to the nauseous rule of the rabble.


New regulations for the elections of the Signory--Confusion in the
City--Piero degli Albizzi and other citizens condemned to death--
The Florentines alarmed by the approach of Charles of Durazzo--The
measures adopted in consequence thereof--Insolent Conduct of
Giorgio Scali--Benedetto Alberti--Giorgio Scali beheaded.

By the time Michael di Lando had subdued the plebeians, the new
Signory was drawn, and among those who composed it, were two persons
of such base and mean condition, that the desire increased in the
minds of the people to be freed from the ignominy into which they had
fallen; and when, upon the first of September, the new Signory entered
office and the retiring members were still in the palace, the piazza
being full of armed men, a tumultuous cry arose from the midst of
them, that none of the lowest of the people should hold office among
the Signory. The obnoxious two were withdrawn accordingly. The name of
one was Il Tira, of the other Baroccio, and in their stead were
elected Giorgio Scali and Francesco di Michele. The company of the
lowest trade was also dissolved, and its members deprived of office,
except Michael di Lando, Lorenzo di Puccio and a few others of better
quality. The honors of government were divided into two parts, one of
which was assigned to the superior trades, the other to the inferior;
except that the latter were to furnish five Signors, and the former
only four. The Gonfalonier was to be chosen alternately from each.

The government thus composed, restored peace to the city for the time;
but though the republic was rescued from the power of the lowest
plebeians, the inferior trades were still more influential than the
nobles of the people, who, however, were obliged to submit for the
gratification of the trades, of whose favor they wished to deprive the
plebeians. The new establishment was supported by all who wished the
continued subjugation of those who, under the name of the Guelphic
party, had practiced such excessive violence against the citizens. And
as among others, thus disposed, were Giorgio Scali, Benedetto Alberti,
Salvestro di Medici, and Tommaso Strozzi, these four almost became
princes of the city. This state of the public mind strengthened the
divisions already commenced between the nobles of the people, and the
minor artificers, by the ambition of the Ricci and the Albizzi; from
which, as at different times very serious effects arose, and as they
will hereafter be frequently mentioned, we shall call the former the
popular party, the latter the plebeian. This condition of things
continued three years, during which many were exiled and put to death;
for the government lived in constant apprehension, knowing that both
within and without the city many were dissatisfied with them. Those
within, either attempted or were suspected of attempting every day
some new project against them; and those without, being under no
restraint, were continually, by means of some prince or republic,
spreading reports tending to increase the disaffection.

Gianozzo da Salerno was at this time in Bologna. He held a command
under Charles of Durazzo, a descendant of the kings of Naples, who,
designing to undertake the conquest of the dominions of Queen
Giovanna, retained his captain in that city, with the concurrence of
Pope Urban, who was at enmity with the queen. Many Florentine
emigrants were also at Bologna, in close correspondence with him and
Charles. This caused the rulers in Florence to live in continual
alarm, and induced them to lend a willing ear to any calumnies against
the suspected. While in this disturbed state of feeling, it was
disclosed to the government that Gianozzo da Salerno was about to
march to Florence with the emigrants, and that great numbers of those
within were to rise in arms, and deliver the city to him. Upon this
information many were accused, the principal of whom were Piero degli
Albizzi and Carlo Strozzi: and after these Cipriano Mangione, Jacopo
Sacchetti, Donato Barbadori, Filippo Strozzi, and Giovanni Anselmi,
the whole of whom, except Carlo Strozzi who fled, were made prisoners;
and the Signory, to prevent any one from taking arms in their favor,
appointed Tommaso Strozzi and Benedetto Alberti with a strong armed
force, to guard the city. The arrested citizens were examined, and
although nothing was elicited against them sufficient to induce the
Capitano to find them guilty, their enemies excited the minds of the
populace to such a degree of outrageous and overwhelming fury against
them, that they were condemned to death, as it were, by force. Nor was
the greatness of his family, or his former reputation of any service
to Piero degli Albizzi, who had once been, of all the citizens, the
man most feared and honored. Some one, either as a friend to render
him wise in his prosperity, or an enemy to threaten him with the
fickleness of fortune, had upon the occasion of his making a feast for
many citizens, sent him a silver bowl full of sweetmeats, among which
a large nail was found, and being seen by many present, was taken for
a hint to him to fix the wheel of fortune, which, having conveyed him
to the top, must if the rotation continued, also bring him to the
bottom. This interpretation was verified, first by his ruin, and
afterward by his death.

After this execution the city was full of consternation, for both
victors and vanquished were alike in fear; but the worst effects arose
from the apprehensions of those possessing the management of affairs;
for every accident, however trivial, caused them to commit fresh
outrages, either by condemnations, admonitions, or banishment of
citizens; to which must be added, as scarcely less pernicious, the
frequent new laws and regulations which were made for defense of the
government, all of which were put in execution to the injury of those
opposed to their faction. They appointed forty-six persons, who, with
the Signory, were to purge the republic of all suspected by the
government. They admonished thirty-nine citizens, ennobled many of the
people, and degraded many nobles to the popular rank. To strengthen
themselves against external foes, they took into their pay John
Hawkwood, an Englishman of great military reputation, who had long
served the pope and others in Italy. Their fears from without were
increased by a report that several bodies of men were being assembled
by Charles of Durazzo for the conquest of Naples, and many Florentine
emigrants were said to have joined him. Against these dangers, in
addition to the forces which had been raised, large sums of money were
provided; and Charles, having arrived at Arezzo, obtained from the
Florentines 40,000 ducats, and promised he would not molest them. His
enterprise was immediately prosecuted, and having occupied the kingdom
of Naples, he sent Queen Giovanna a prisoner into Hungary. This
victory renewed the fears of those who managed the affairs of
Florence, for they could not persuade themselves that their money
would have a greater influence on the king's mind than the friendship
which his house had long retained for the Guelphs, whom they so
grievously oppressed.

This suspicion increasing, multiplied oppressions; which again,
instead of diminishing the suspicion, augmented it; so that most men
lived in the utmost discontent. To this the insolence of Giorgio Scali
and Tommaso Strozzi (who by their popular influence overawed the
magistrates) also contributed, for the rulers were apprehensive that
by the power these men possessed with the plebeians they could set
them at defiance; and hence it is evident that not only to good men,
but even to the seditious, this government appeared tyrannical and
violent. To put a period to the outrageous conduct of Giorgio, it
happened that a servant of his accused Giovanni di Cambio of practices
against the state, but the Capitano declared him innocent. Upon this,
the judge determined to punish the accuser with the same penalties
that the accused would have incurred had he been guilty, but Giorgio
Scali, unable to save him either by his authority or entreaties,
obtained the assistance of Tommaso Strozzi, and with a multitude of
armed men, set the informer at liberty and plundered the palace of the
Capitano, who was obliged to save himself by flight. This act excited
such great and universal animosity against him, that his enemies began
to hope they would be able to effect his ruin, and also to rescue the
city from the power of the plebeians, who for three years had held her
under their arrogant control.

To the realization of this design the Capitano greatly contributed,
for the tumult having subsided, he presented himself before the
signors, and said "He had cheerfully undertaken the office to which
they had appointed him, for he thought he should serve upright men who
would take arms for the defense of justice, and not impede its
progress. But now that he had seen and had experience of the
proceedings of the city, and the manner in which affairs were
conducted, that dignity which he had voluntarily assumed with the hope
of acquiring honor and emolument, he now more willingly resigned, to
escape from the losses and danger to which he found himself exposed."
The complaint of the Capitano was heard with the utmost attention by
the Signory, who promising to remunerate him for the injury he had
suffered and provide for his future security, he was satisfied. Some
of them then obtained an interview with certain citizens who were
thought to be lovers of the common good, and least suspected by the
state; and in conjunction with these, it was concluded that the
present was a favorable opportunity for rescuing the city from Giorgio
and the plebeians, the last outrage he had committed having completely
alienated the great body of the people from him. They judged it best
to profit by the occasion before the excitement had abated, for they
knew that the favor of the mob is often gained or lost by the most
trifling circumstance; and more certainly to insure success, they
determined, if possible, to obtain the concurrence of Benedetto
Alberti, for without it they considered their enterprise to be

Benedetto was one of the richest citizens, a man of unassuming
manners, an ardent lover of the liberties of his country, and one to
whom tyrannical measures were in the highest degree offensive; so that
he was easily induced to concur in their views and consent to
Giorgio's ruin. His enmity against the nobles of the people and the
Guelphs, and his friendship for the plebeians, were caused by the
insolence and tyrannical proceedings of the former; but finding that
the plebeians had soon become quite as insolent, he quickly separated
himself from them; and the injuries committed by them against the
citizens were done wholly without his consent. So that the same
motives which made him join the plebeians induced him to leave them.

Having gained Benedetto and the leaders of the trades to their side,
they provided themselves with arms and made Giorgio prisoner. Tommaso
fled. The next day Giorgio was beheaded; which struck so great a
terror into his party, that none ventured to express the slightest
disapprobation, but each seemed anxious to be foremost in defense of
the measure. On being led to execution, in the presence of that people
who only a short time before had idolized him, Giorgio complained of
his hard fortune, and the malignity of those citizens who, having done
him an undeserved injury, had compelled him to honor and support a
mob, possessing neither faith nor gratitude. Observing Benedetto
Alberti among those who had armed themselves for the preservation of
order, he said, "Do you, too, consent, Benedetto, that this injury
shall be done to me? Were I in your place and you in mine, I would
take care that no one should injure you. I tell you, however, this day
is the end of my troubles and the beginning of yours." He then blamed
himself for having confided too much in a people who may be excited
and inflamed by every word, motion, and breath of suspicion. With
these complaints he died in the midst of his armed enemies, delighted
at his fall. Some of his most intimate associates were also put to
death, and their bodies dragged about by the mob.


Confusion and riots in the city--Reform of government in
opposition to the plebeians--Injuries done to those who favored
the plebeians--Michael di Lando banished--Benedetto Alberti hated
by the Signory--Fears excited by the coming of Louis of Anjou--The
Florentines purchase Arezzo--Benedetto Alberti becomes suspected
and is banished--His discourse upon leaving the city--Other
citizens banished and admonished--War with Giovanni Galeazzo, duke
of Milan.

The death of Giorgio caused very great excitement; many took arms at
the execution in favor of the Signory and the Capitano; and many
others, either for ambition or as a means for their own safety, did
the same. The city was full of conflicting parties, who each had a
particular end in view, and wished to carry it into effect before they
disarmed. The ancient nobility, called the GREAT, could not bear to be
deprived of public honors; for the recovery of which they used their
utmost exertions, and earnestly desired that authority might be
restored to the Capitani di Parte. The nobles of the people and the
major trades were discontented at the share the minor trades and
lowest of the people possessed in the government; while the minor
trades were desirous of increasing their influence, and the lowest
people were apprehensive of losing the companies of their trades and
the authority which these conferred.

Such opposing views occasioned Florence, during a year, to be
disturbed by many riots. Sometimes the nobles of the people took arms;
sometimes the major and sometimes the minor trades and the lowest of
the people; and it often happened that, though in different parts, all
were at once in insurrection. Hence many conflicts took place between
the different parties or with the forces of the palace; for the
Signory sometimes yielding, and at other times resisting, adopted such
remedies as they could for these numerous evils. At length, after two
assemblies of the people, and many Balias appointed for the
reformation of the city; after much toil, labor, and imminent danger,
a government was appointed, by which all who had been banished since
Salvestro de' Medici was Gonfalonier were restored. They who had
acquired distinctions or emoluments by the Balia of 1378 were deprived
of them. The honors of government were restored to the Guelphic party;
the two new Companies of the Trades were dissolved, and all who had
been subject to them assigned to their former companies. The minor
trades were not allowed to elect the Gonfalonier of Justice, their
share of honors was reduced from a half to a third; and those of the
highest rank were withdrawn from them altogether. Thus the nobles of
the people and the Guelphs repossessed themselves of the government,
which was lost by the plebeians after it had been in their possession
from 1378 to 1381, when these changes took place.

The new establishment was not less injurious to the citizens, or less
troublesome at its commencement than that of the plebeians had been;
for many of the nobles of the people, who had distinguished themselves
as defenders of the plebeians, were banished, with a great number of
the leaders of the latter, among whom was Michael di Lando; nor could
all the benefits conferred upon the city by his authority, when in
danger from the lawless mob, save him from the rabid fury of the party
that was now in power. His good offices evidently excited little
gratitude in his countrymen. The neglect of their benefactors is an
error into which princes and republics frequently fall; and hence
mankind, alarmed by such examples, as soon as they begin to perceive
the ingratitude of their rulers, set themselves against them.

As these banishments and executions had always been offensive to
Benedetto Alberti, they continued to disgust him, and he censured them
both publicly and privately. The leaders of the government began to
fear him, for they considered him one of the most earnest friends of
the plebeians, and thought he had not consented to the death of
Giorgio Scali from disapprobation of his proceeding, but that he might
be left himself without a rival in the government. His discourse and
his conduct alike served to increase their suspicions, so that all the
ruling party had their eyes upon him, and eagerly sought an
opportunity of crushing him.

During this state of things, external affairs were not of serious
importance, for some which ensued were productive of apprehension
rather than of injury. At this time Louis of Anjou came into Italy, to
recover the kingdom of Naples for Queen Giovanna, and drive out
Charles of Durazzo. His coming terrified the Florentines; for Charles,
according to the custom of old friends, demanded their assistance, and
Louis, like those who seek new alliances, required their neutrality.
The Florentines, that they might seem to comply with the request of
Louis, and at the same time assist Charles, discharged from their
service Sir John Hawkwood, and transferred him to that of Pope Urban,
who was friendly to Charles; but this deceit was at once detected, and
Louis considered himself greatly injured by the Florentines. While the
war was carried on between Louis and Charles in Puglia, new forces
were sent from France in aid of Louis, and on arriving in Tuscany,
were by the emigrants of Arezzo conducted to that city, and took it
from those who held possession for Charles. And when they were about
to change the government of Florence, as they had already done that of
Arezzo, Louis died, and the order of things in Puglia and in Tuscany
was changed accordingly; for Charles secured the kingdom, which had
been all but lost, and the Florentines, who were apprehensive for
their own city, purchased Arezzo from those who held it for Louis.
Charles, having secured Puglia, went to take possession of Hungary, to
which he was heir, leaving, with his wife, his children Ladislaus and
Giovanna, who were yet infants. He took possession of Hungary, but was
soon after slain there.

As great rejoicings were made in Florence on account of this
acquisition as ever took place in any city for a real victory, which
served to exhibit the public and private wealth of the people, many
families endeavoring to vie with the state itself in displays of
magnificence. The Alberti surpassed all others; the tournaments and
exhibitions made by them were rather suitable for a sovereign prince
than for any private individuals. These things increased the envy with
which the family was regarded, and being joined with suspicions which
the state entertained of Benedetto, were the causes of his ruin. The
rulers could not endure him, for it appeared as if, at any moment,
something might occur, which, with the favor of his friends, would
enable him to recover his authority, and drive them out of the city.
While in this state of suspicion and jealousy, it happened that while
he was Gonfalonier of the Companies, his son-in-law, Filippo
Magalotti, was drawn Gonfalonier of Justice; and this circumstance
increased the fears of the government, for they thought it would
strengthen Benedetto's influence, and place the state in the greater
peril. Anxious to provide a remedy, without creating much disturbance,
they induced Bese Magalotti, his relative and enemy, to signify to the
Signory that Filippo, not having attained the age required for the
exercise of that office, neither could nor ought to hold it.

The question was examined by the signors, and part of them out of
hatred, others in order to avoid disunion among themselves, declared
Filippo ineligible to the dignity, and in his stead was drawn Bardo
Mancini, who was quite opposed to the plebeian interests, and an
inveterate foe of Benedetto. This man, having entered upon the duties
of his office, created a /Balia/ for the reformation of the state,
which banished Benedetto Alberti and admonished all the rest of his
family except Antonio. Before his departure, Benedetto called them
together, and observing their melancholy demeanor, said, "You see, my
fathers, and you the elders of our house, how fortune has ruined me
and threatened you. I am not surprised at this, neither ought you to
be so, for it always happens thus to those who among a multitude of
the wicked, wish to act rightly, and endeavor to sustain, what the
many seek to destroy. The love of my country made me take part with
Salvestro de Medici and afterward separated me from Giorgio Scali. The
same cause compelled me to detest those who now govern, who having
none to punish them, will allow no one to reprove their misdeeds. I am
content that my banishment should deliver them from the fears they
entertain, not of me only, but of all who they think perceives or is
acquainted wit their tyrannical and wicked proceedings; and they have
aimed their first blow at me, in order the more easily to oppress you.
I do not grieve on my own account; for those honors which my country
bestowed upon me while free, she cannot in her slavery take from me;
and the recollection of my past life will always give me greater
pleasure than the pain imparted by the sorrows of exile. I deeply
regret that my country is left a prey to the greediness and pride of
the few who keep her in subjection. I grieve for you; for I fear that
the evils which this day cease to affect me, and commence with you,
will pursue you with even greater malevolence than they have me.
Comfort, then, each other; resolve to bear up against every
misfortune, and conduct yourselves in such a manner, that when
disasters befall you (and there will be many), every one may know they
have come upon you undeservedly." Not to give a worse impression of
his virtue abroad than he had done at home, he made a journey to the
sepulcher of Christ, and while upon his return, died at Rhodes. His
remains were brought to Florence, and interred with all possible
honors, by those who had persecuted him, when alive, with every
species of calumny and injustice.

The family of the Alberti was not the only injured party during these
troubles of the city; for many others were banished and admonished. Of
the former were Piero Benini, Matteo Alderotti, Giovanni and Francesco
del Bene, Giovanni Benci, Andrea Adimari, and with them many members
of the minor trades. Of the admonished were the Covini, Benini,
Rinucci, Formiconi, Corbizzi, Manelli, and Alderotti. It was customary
to create the Balia for a limited time; and when the citizens elected
had effected the purpose of their appointment, they resigned the
office from motives of good feeling and decency, although the time
allowed might not have expired. In conformity with this laudable
practice, the Balia of that period, supposing they had accomplished
all that was expected of them, wished to retire; but when the
multitude were acquainted with their intention, they ran armed to the
palace, and insisted, that before resigning their power, many other
persons should be banished and admonished. This greatly displeased the
signors; but without disclosing the extent of their displeasure, they
contrived to amuse the multitude with promises, till they had
assembled a sufficient body of armed men, and then took such measures,
that fear induced the people to lay aside the weapons which madness
had led them to take up. Nevertheless, in some degree to gratify the
fury of the mob, and to reduce the authority of the plebeian trades,
it was provided, that as the latter had previously possessed a third
of the honors, they should in future have only a fourth. That there
might always be two of the signors particularly devoted to the
government, they gave authority to the Gonfalonier of Justice, and
four others, to form a ballot-purse of select citizens, from which, in
every Signory, two should be drawn.

This government from its establishment in 1381, till the alterations
now made, had continued six years; and the internal peace of the city
remained undisturbed until 1393. During this time, Giovanni Galeazzo
Visconti, usually called the Count of Virtú, imprisoned his uncle
Bernabo, and thus became sovereign of the whole of Lombardy. As he had
become duke of Milan by fraud, he designed to make himself king of
Italy by force. In 1391 he commenced a spirited attack upon the
Florentines; but such various changes occurred in the course of the
war, that he was frequently in greater danger than the Florentines
themselves, who, though they made a brave and admirable defense, for a
republic, must have been ruined, if he had survived. As it was, the
result was attended with infinitely less evil than their fears of so
powerful an enemy had led them to apprehend; for the duke having taken
Bologna, Pisa, Perugia, and Sienna, and prepared a diadem with which
to be crowned king of Italy at Florence, died before he had tasted the
fruit of his victories, or the Florentines began to feel the effect of
their disasters.


Maso degli Albizzi--His violence excites the anger of the people--
They have recourse to Veri de' Medici--The modesty of Veri--He
refuses to assume the dignity of prince, and appeases the people--
Discourse of Veri to the Signory--The banished Florentines
endeavor to return--They secretly enter the city and raise a
tumult--Some of them slain, others taken to the church of St.
Reparata--A conspiracy of exiles supported by the duke of Milan--
The conspiracy discovered and the parties punished--Various
enterprises of the Florentines--Taking of Pisa--War with the king
of Naples--Acquisition of Cortona.

During the war with the duke of Milan the office of Gonfalonier of
Justice fell to Maso degli Albizzi, who by the death of Piero in 1379,
had become the inveterate enemy of the Alberti: and as party feeling
is incapable either of repose or abatement, he determined,
notwithstanding Benedetto had died in exile, that before the
expiration of his magistracy, he would revenge himself on the
remainder of that family. He seized the opportunity afforded by a
person, who on being examined respecting correspondence maintained
with the rebels, accused Andrea and Alberto degli Alberti of such
practices. They were immediately arrested, which so greatly excited
the people, that the Signory, having provided themselves with an armed
force, called the citizens to a general assembly or parliament, and
appointed a Balia, by whose authority many were banished, and a new
ballot for the offices of government was made. Among the banished were
nearly all the Alberti; many members of the trades were admonished,
and some put to death. Stung by these numerous injuries, the trades
and the lowest of the people rose in arms, considering themselves
despoiled both of honor and life. One body of them assembled in the
piazza; another ran to the house of Veri de' Medici, who, after the
death of Salvestro, was head of the family. The Signory, in order to
appease those who came to the piazza or court of the palace, gave them
for leaders, with the ensigns of the Guelphs and of the people in
their hands, Rinaldo Gianfigliazzi, and Donato Acciajuoli, both men of
the popular class, and more attached to the interests of the plebeians
than any other. Those who went to the house of Veri de' Medici, begged
that he would be pleased to undertake the government, and free them
from the tyranny of those citizens who were destroying the peace and
safety of the commonwealth.

It is agreed by all who have written concerning the events of this
period, that if Veri had had more ambition than integrity he might
without any impediment have become prince of the city; for the
unfeeling treatment which, whether right or wrong, had been inflicted
upon the trades and their friends, had so excited the minds of men to
vengeance, that all they required was some one to be their leader. Nor
were there wanting those who could inform him of the state of public
feeling; for Antonio de' Medici with whom he had for some time been
upon terms of most intimate friendship, endeavored to persuade him to
undertake the government of the republic. To this Veri replied: "Thy
menaces when thou wert my enemy, never alarmed me; nor shall thy
counsel, now when thou art my friend, do me any harm." Then, turning
toward the multitude, he bade them be of good cheer; for he would be
their defender, if they would allow themselves to be advised by him.
He then went, accompanied by a great number of citizens, to the
piazza, and proceeded directly to the audience chamber of the Signory,
whom he addressed to this effect: That he could not regret having
lived so as to gain the love of the Florentines; but he was sorry they
had formed an opinion of him which his past life had not warranted;
for never having done anything that could be construed as either
factious or ambitious, he could not imagine how it had happened, that
they should think him willing to stir up strife as a discontented
person, or usurp the government of his country like an ambitious one.
He therefore begged that the infatuation of the multitude might not
injure him in their estimation; for, to the utmost of his power, their
authority should be restored. He then recommended them to use good
fortune with moderation; for it would be much better to enjoy an
imperfect victory with safety to the city, than a complete one at her
ruin. The Signory applauded Veri's conduct; begged he would endeavor
to prevent recourse to arms, and promised that what he and the other
citizens might deem most advisable should be done. Veri then returned
to the piazza, where the people who had followed him were joined by
those led by Donato and Rinaldo, and informed the united companies
that he had found the Signory most kindly disposed toward them; that
many things had been taken into consideration, which the shortness of
time, and the absence of the magistrates, rendered incapable of being
finished. He therefore begged they would lay down their arms and obey
the Signory; assuring them that humility would prevail rather than
pride, entreaties rather than threats; and if they would take his
advice, their privileges and security would remain unimpaired. He thus
induced them to return peaceably to their homes.

The disturbance having subsided, the Signory armed the piazza,
enrolled 2,000 of the most trusty citizens, who were divided equally
by Gonfalons, and ordered to be in readiness to give their assistance
whenever required; and they forbade the use of arms to all who were
not thus enrolled. Having adopted these precautionary measures, they
banished and put to death many of those members of the trades who had
shown the greatest audacity in the late riots; and to invest the
office of Gonfalonier of Justice with more authoritative majesty, they
ordered that no one should be eligible to it, under forty-five years
of age. Many other provisions for the defense of the state were made,
which appeared intolerable to those against whom they were directed,
and were odious even to the friends of the Signory themselves, for
they could not believe a government to be either good or secure, which
needed so much violence for its defense, a violence excessively
offensive, not only to those of the Alberti who remained in the city,
and to the Medici, who felt themselves injured by these proceedings,
but also to many others. The first who attempted resistance was
Donato, the son of Jacopo Acciajuoli, who thought of great authority,
and the superior rather than the equal of Maso degli Albizzi (who on
account of the events which took place while he was Gonfalonier of
Justice, was almost at the head of the republic), could not enjoy
repose amid such general discontent, or, like many others, convert
social evils to his own private advantage, and therefore resolved to
attempt the restoration of the exiles to their country, or at least
their offices to the admonished. He went from one to another,
disseminating his views, showing that the people would not be
satisfied, or the ferment of parties subside, without the changes he
proposed; and declared that if he were in the Signory, he would soon
carry them into effect. In human affairs, delay causes tedium, and
haste danger. To avoid what was tedious, Donato Acciajuoli resolved to
attempt what involved danger. Michele Acciajuoli his relative, and
Niccolo Ricoveri his friend, were of the Signory. This seemed to
Donato a conjuncture of circumstances too favorable to be lost, and he
requested they would propose a law to the councils, which would
include the restoration of the citizens. They, at his entreaty, spoke
about the matter to their associates, who replied, that it was
improper to attempt any innovation in which the advantage was doubtful
and the danger certain. Upon this, Donato, having in vain tried all
other means he could think of, excited with anger, gave them to
understand that since they would not allow the city to be governed
with peaceful measures, he would try what could be done with arms.
These words gave so great offense, that being communicated to the
heads of the government, Donato was summoned, and having appeared, the
truth was proven by those to whom he had intrusted the message, and he
was banished to Barletta. Alamanno and Antonio de' Medici were also
banished, and all those of that family, who were descended from
Alamanno, with many who, although of the inferior artificers,
possessed influence with the plebeians. These events took place two
years after the reform of government effected by Maso degli Albizzi.

At this time many discontented citizens were at home, and others
banished in the adjoining states. Of the latter there lived at Bologna
Picchio Cavicciulli, Tommaso de' Ricci, Antonio de' Medici, Benedetto
degli Spini, Antonio Girolami, Cristofano di Carlone, and two others
of the lowest order, all bold young men, and resolved upon returning
to their country at any hazard. These were secretly told by Piggiello
and Baroccio Cavicciulli, who, being admonished, lived in Florence,
that if they came to the city they should be concealed in their house;
from which they might afterward issue, slay Maso degli Albizzi, and
call the people to arms, who, full of discontent, would willingly
arise, particularly as they would be supported by the Ricci, Adimari,
Medici, Manelli, and many other families. Excited with these hopes, on
the fourth of August, 1397, they came to Florence, and having entered
unobserved according to their arrangement, they sent one of their
party to watch Maso, designing with his death to raise the people.
Maso was observed to leave his house and proceed to that of an
apothecary, near the church of San Pietro Maggiore, which he entered.
The man who went to watch him ran to give information to the other
conspirators, who took their arms and hastened to the house of the
apothecary, but found that Maso had gone. However, undaunted with the
failure of their first attempt, they proceeded to the Old Market,
where they slew one of the adverse party, and with loud cries of
"people, arms, liberty, and death to the tyrants," directed their
course toward the New Market, and at the end of the Calimala slew
another. Pursuing their course with the same cries, and finding no one
join them in arms, they stopped at the Loggia Nighittosa, where, from
an elevated situation, being surrounded with a great multitude,
assembled to look on rather than assist them, they exhorted the men to
take arms and deliver themselves from the slavery which weighed so
heavily upon them; declaring that the complaints of the discontented
in the city, rather than their own grievances, had induced them to
attempt their deliverance. They had heard that many prayed to God for
an opportunity of avenging themselves, and vowed they would use it
whenever they found anyone to conduct them; but now, when the
favorable circumstances occurred, and they found those who were ready
to lead them, they stared at each other like men stupefied, and would
wait till those who were endeavoring to recover for them their liberty
were slain, and their own chains more strongly riveted upon them; they
wondered that those who were wont to take arms upon slight occasions,
remained unmoved under the pressure of so many and so great evils; and
that they could willingly suffer such numbers of their fellow-citizens
to be banished, so many admonished, when it was in their power to
restore the banished to their country, and the admonished to the
honors of the state. These words, although full of truth, produced no
effect upon those to whom they were addressed; for they were either
restrained by their fears, or, on account of the two murders which had
been committed, disgusted with the parties. Thus the movers of the
tumult, finding that neither words or deeds had force sufficient to
stir anyone, saw, when too late, how dangerous a thing it is to
attempt to set a people free who are resolved to be slaves; and,
despairing of success, they withdrew to the temple of Santa Reparata,
where, not to save their lives, but to defer the moment of their
deaths, they shut themselves up. Upon the first rumor of the affair,
the Signory being in fear, armed and secured the palace; but when the
facts of the case were understood, the parties known, and whither they
had betaken themselves, their fears subsided, and they sent the
Capitano with a sufficient body of armed men to secure them. The gates
of the temple were forced without much trouble; part of the
conspirators were slain defending themselves; the remainder were made
prisoners and examined, but none were found implicated in the affair
except Baroccio and Piggiello Cavicciulli, who were put to death with

Shortly after this event, another occurred of greater importance. The
Florentines were, as we have before remarked, at war with the duke of
Milan, who, finding that with merely open force he could not overcome
them, had recourse to secret practices, and with the assistance of the
exiles of whom Lombardy was full, he formed a plot to which many in
the city were accessory. It was resolved by the conspirators that most
of the emigrants, capable of bearing arms, should set out from the
places nearest Florence, enter the city by the river Arno, and with
their friends hasten to the residences of the chiefs of the
government; and having slain them, reform the republic according to
their own will. Of the conspirators within the city, was one of the
Ricci named Samminiato; and as it often happens in treacherous
practices, few are insufficient to effect the purpose of the plot, and
among many secrecy cannot be preserved, so while Samminiato was in
quest of associates, he found an accuser. He confided the affair to
Salvestro Cavicciulli, whose wrongs and those of his friends were
thought sufficient to make him faithful; but he, more influenced by
immediate fear than the hope of future vengeance, discovered the whole
affair to the Signory, who, having caused Samminiato to be taken,
compelled him to tell all the particulars of the matter. However, none
of the conspirators were taken, except Tommaso Davizi, who, coming
from Bologna, and unaware of what had occurred at Florence, was seized
immediately upon his arrival. All the others had fled immediately upon
the apprehension of Samminiato.

Samminiato and Tommaso having been punished according to their
deserts, a Balia was formed of many citizens, which sought the
delinquents, and took measures for the security of the state. They
declared six of the family of the Ricci rebels; also, six of the
Alberti; two of the Medici; three of the Scali; two of the Strozzi;
Bindo Altoviti, Bernado Adimari, and many others of inferior quality.
They admonished all the family of the Alberti, the Ricci, and the
Medici for ten years, except a few individuals. Among the Alberti, not
admonished, was Antonio, who was thought to be quiet and peaceable. It
happened, however, before all suspicion of the conspiracy had ceased,
a monk was taken who had been observed during its progress to pass
frequently between Bologna and Florence. He confessed that he had
often carried letters to Antonio, who was immediately seized, and,
though he denied all knowledge of the matter from the first, the
monk's accusation prevailed, and he was fined in a considerable sum of
money, and banished a distance of three hundred miles from Florence.
That the Alberti might not constantly place the city in jeopardy,
every member of the family was banished whose age exceeded fifteen

These events took place in the year 1400, and two years afterward, died
Giovanni Galeazzo, duke of Milan, whose death as we have said above,
put an end to the war, which had then continued twelve years. At this
time, the government having gained greater strength, and being without
enemies external or internal, undertook the conquest of Pisa, and
having gloriously completed it, the peace of the city remained
undisturbed from 1400 to 1433, except that in 1412, the Alberti,
having crossed the boundary they were forbidden to pass, a Balia was
formed which with new provisions fortified the state and punished the
offenders with heavy fines. During this period also, the Florentines
made war with Ladislaus, king of Naples, who finding himself in great
danger ceded to them the city of Cortona of which he was master; but
soon afterward, recovering his power, he renewed the war, which became
far more disastrous to the Florentines than before; and had it not, in
1414, been terminated by his death, as that of Lombardy had been by
the death of the duke of Milan, he, like the duke, would have brought
Florence into great danger of losing her liberty. Nor was the war with
the king concluded with less good fortune than the former; for when he
had taken Rome, Sienna, the whole of La Marca and Romagna, and had
only Florence itself to vanquish, he died. Thus death has always been
more favorable to the Florentines than any other friend, and more
potent to save them than their own valor. From the time of the king's
decease, peace was preserved both at home and abroad for eight years,
at the end of which, with the wars of Filippo, duke of Milan, the
spirit of faction again broke out, and was only appeased by the ruin
of that government which continued from 1381 to 1434, had conducted
with great glory so many enterprises; acquired Arezzo, Pisa, Cortona,
Leghorn, and Monte Pulciano; and would have accomplished more if the
citizens had lived in unity, and had not revived former factions; as
in the following book will be particularly shown.



License and Slavery peculiar defects in republican governments--
Application of this reflection to the state of Florence--Giovanni
di Bicci di' Medici re-establishes the authority of his family--
Filippo Visconti, duke of Milan, endeavors to make amicable
arrangements with the Florentines--Their jealousy of him--
Precautionary measures against him--War declared--The Florentines
are routed by the ducal forces.

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