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CHAPTER FIFTH.: SIENA. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 5 (Defence of the Constitutions Vols. II and III) 
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 5.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
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The antiquity of the city of Siena is proved by the notice of Pliny, Tacitus, and Ptolemy, if not by another circumstance mentioned by its historian, namely,—the splendor of certain families among its citizens,* nobility being only an ancient virtue, accompanied with the splendor of riches. The tradition, that it was first planted by Remus, can hardly be supported by the single circumstance, that the ensigns of the city are a wolf giving suck to two infants.
Siena was built by the ancient Tuscans, whose province was anciently inhabited by the Umbrians, who were driven out by the Pelasgians from Arcadia, who were afterwards driven out by the Lydians from Asia, five hundred and sixty years before Rome was built. These, from Tirrhenus their king, were called afterwards Tirrhenians; and because they used in their sacrifices great quantities of frankincense, thus, they were called Thuscans, and their country Tuscany, by others called Etruria.† Livy represents the Etrurians as abounding in wealth, and filling the whole length of Italy, from the Alps to the straits of Sicily, with their fame; and, in another place, represents the Tuscan empire as much more ancient than the Roman.‡ They inhabited twelve cities; the form of their government was a confederacy, like that of the modern Swiss, Dutch, and Americans.
“The twelve cities, peoples, or divisions of territory rather, were called Lucumoni, from the magistrates annually chosen to govern the whole province of Tuscany. Twelve annual magistrates were chosen, one by each city, to govern the whole province, called Lartes and Lucumones; the names of these cities were Luna, Pisa, Populonia, Volterra, Roselle, Fiesole, Agillina, Vulsino, Chiusi, Arezzo, Perugia, and Faleria, the ruins of which are near to Viterbo. In the same manner was the republic of the Achaians afterwards formed by the Greeks, the twelve cities of which are enumerated by Polybius. Not unlike this republic of the Tuscans was that of the Latins, who, upon public occasions, assembled in a certain place under Mount Albanus, called the Forest of Ferentina; where, having deliberated in council upon their affairs, they gave the charge of the execution of their resolutions to two prætors.* It is true that sometimes, at the exchange of magistrates, the Tuscans, varying the form of their government, by agreement among themselves created a king; and each one of the twelve peoples of the twelve principal cities concurred to give him a minister, whom the Romans afterwards denominated a lictor. And of so much grandeur, and so illustrious an example, were the government, the ceremonies, the religion, and the other qualities of the Tuscans, that Romulus, in imitation of them, in giving laws to the Romans ordained, besides the habit of the robe and the cloak, the curule chair, and the same number of ministers, determining a corresponding number of lictors. This is told us by Livy: ‘Et hoc genus ab Etruscis finitimis, unde sella curulis, unde toga prætexta sumpta est, numerum quoque ipsum ductum placet, et ita habuisse Etruscos, quod ex duodecim populis communiter creato rege, singulos singuli populi lictores dederint.’
“With this mode of regimen, and this form of government, with their union and virtue, the Tuscans augmented their empire so greatly, that it extended to the Alps, which separate Italy from France, and from one sea to the other; one of which was named from them the Tuscan, and the other the Adriatic, from the city Adria, which was their colony, and under their dominion. Having acquired all that part of Italy which was afterwards called Cisalpine Gaul, in order to hold it more securely, and give room to their people, by relieving Tuscany of so great a number of inhabitants, they sent into it twelve colonies. In this manner they proceeded, augmenting and amplifying their empire on every side, for seven hundred and thirty years, until, in the reign of Tarquinius Priscus, the Gauls took possession of that part of Italy, which they called Cisalpine Gaul, one part of which was afterwards called Lombardy, and the other Romagna. Then the empire of the Tuscans began to decline, because on one side they were combated by the Gauls, and on the other by the Romans; and having, by the abundance of wealth, become ambitious and avaricious, discord, following the train of those vices, changed the form of their government, and destroyed their prosperity; and this empire, which, by its union and good order, had grown up, and, computing from its beginning to its dissolution, subsisted more than a thousand years, easily ruined itself by means of contentions, occasioned by habits adverse to the virtues by which it had been gained. Dispossessed by the Gauls of all their territory beyond the Apennines, and continually molested in Tuscany by the Romans, they were no longer united in the defence of each other, by reason of the variety creeping into the form of government in the separate cities, occasioned by ambition, avarice, and luxury; vices opposed to each other, but powerful to ruin a great empire. When they saw the most manifest danger of the ruin of the whole, they exerted all their force, but were no longer able to defend themselves. The other Tuscans, from an indignation against the Veientes for having separately elected a king, looked on with indifference while the Romans subjected that people. Livy says, the Veientes, to avoid the tedious contentions of ambition, which was sometimes the cause of dissensions, created a king, and thus gave great offence to the other peoples of Etruria, not more by their hatred of that form of government, than from their detestation of the man.*
“Tuscany, after long wars, many victories and defeats, and the destruction of a great number of citizens, was finally subjected to the dominion of the Romans, by Q. Fabius Maximus Rutilianus. They, to secure the province against rebellions and tumults, sent a colony into it; and finding Siena in the centre of the twelve cities, and the situation strong, they sent thither their colony and garrison, under the first consulate of Curius Dentatus, two hundred and ninety years before Christ.
“The Tuscans remained quietly under the government of the Romans, until the invasion of Italy by Asdrubal, when they were accused of having held a secret correspondence, and given assistance to the Carthaginians. After that great victory of the Romans, in which Asdrubal, with fifty-six thousand of his men, was slain, Marcus Livius was sent to Tuscany, to inquire which of the twelve cities had assisted the Carthaginians, who reported, that he found nothing against Siena. Tranquillity, thus restored, continued under the Roman government till the social war, when the inhabitants of almost all Italy waged war with the Romans for the privileges of Roman citizens. This war cost the lives of a very great number of men, and ended with the ruin of Arezzo and Chiusi, two of the principal cities of Tuscany, from whence many families removed to Siena, as a place of more security, both on account of its being a Roman colony, and as it had ever discovered more fidelity to the Romans than any other Tuscan city.”
We may pass over the conversion of Constantine, in a dream of a standard, (gonfalone,) with the motto ἐν τούτῳ νίϰα; his division of the empire, by retiring to Byzantium, into two, the Grecian and Roman, or eastern and western; the decline of the western empire; the capture of Rome by Alaric, King of the Goths, in 412; the sacking of Rome by Odoacer, King of the Herulians and Thuringians, in 475, the first of the barbarous kings, who drove out Augustulus, annihilated the empire, made himself King of Italy, and so established his power, that the western empire remained vacant for three hundred years, till the time of Charlemagne, though Justin, after the victories of Belisarius and Narses over the Goths, sent Longinus into Italy, with the title of exarch, a kind of first magistracy, which continued one hundred and seventy years, through a succession of thirteen.
“Longinus having found that the several cities had undertaken to govern themselves, each one having created its own magistrates, sent a governor, not to rule generally in the province, but to each city of any considerable consequence. To these governors he gave a new name, that of dukes. The first that he sent to Rome was called a president, but those who succeeded him were called dukes like the rest. This title of duke, from the name of a military office, was reduced to the name of a dignity, which, at this day, is the principal one in Europe after the royal dignity. And thus, all the time that Narses remained in Rome, after the expulsion of the Ostrogoths, the cities of Tuscany governed themselves by their own magistrates, acknowledging no superior, until the arrival of Longinus, in 566. He, with his new governors or dukes, debilitated the forces, and destroyed the reputation of the empire, and the confidence of the people in their own militia, to such a degree, that the Lombards, under Albinus their king, found it easy to ruin Tuscany, which they conquered, plundered, and oppressed, sometimes under the general power of their kings, and sometimes under an officer, sent to command in particular cities. These Lombards, from their proud hatred of the Romans, endeavored everywhere to change the laws, customs, manners, and especially the language. In their time the Latin language in Italy was corrupted into that speech now called the Italian, which is no other than the Latin corrupted by a mixture of the barbarous speech of those very Lombards, and some other nations, who governed in Italy after them; as the French and Spanish are similar corruptions of the Latin, the first by a mixture with the language of the Franks, and the last, with that of the Visigoths and other barbarians. The Lombards held the domination of the major part of Italy more than two hundred years, when they were totally subdued.
“Desiderius, who, from a Duke of Tuscany, had made himself King of Italy, was the last Lombard king, and was totally defeated, and sent prisoner to Lyons in France, by Charlemagne, in 773. This great monarch having taken Pavia, which was the principal city and royal residence of the kings of the Lombards, proceeded to many other strong places, which were held by governors of castles and garrisons in the service of the king, or of particular lords of these places; those which surrendered, and swore obedience, were left under the command of their lords, but those which resisted, and were reduced by force, were given by Charlemagne to some of his barons or nobles, in reward of the services and merits they had shown in the course of the war. More of the cities of Tuscany defended themselves than of any other parts of Italy, because they were better fortified, and therefore more French noblemen were left here. These married with original families in Siena, and from those matches have issued the greatest part of the noble families which have been and still are in that city. They continued afterwards, many hundreds of years, to be lords of the same castles, until, by continual discords, many families not only lost their estates and commands, but became extinct, as will be shown in the sequel.
“Charles, for the greatness of his soul and the multitude of his victories, received the surname of Magnus, and was made Roman emperor. As Longinus had brought into Italy the title of dukes, the Lombards those of marquises and castaldi or bailiffs, the French now imported that of counts. Charlemagne, having arranged all things to his mind in Italy, set out on his journey to return; and passing through Siena, and being moved with the relation which he heard from those noblemen whom he had left there, of the fidelity and other good qualities of that people, and being touched also by their petitions, he made them free, and determined that they should not be subjected to the king or any other power. This is the reason that, in the division of Tuscany, afterwards made between Louis the Pious and Pascal the pope, in which it was declared that Arezzo, Chiusi, Volterra, Florence, Pistoia, Lucca, Pisa, and Luna, should be reserved to the emperor, and Orvieto, Bagnarea, Viterbo, Sovana, Populonia, Roselle, Perugia, Sutri, and Nepi, should belong to the ecclesiastical state, Siena is not found among the former or the latter. Being free and independent, it was left in the enjoyment of its liberty; and as the nobles had procured from Charlemagne so great a favor, the people, in gratitude to them, and ignorant, no doubt, of any better form, left the government to them, and suffered an optimacy1 to be established. Siena was a long time governed by these noblemen; and, as long as the signori consisted of these successors of Charlemagne in Italy and the empire, all remained quiet in this city, as well as in the rest of Italy. This tranquillity continued to the time of Arnulphus, the last emperor of the house of France, who was approved by the pope. At this time, ambition, discontent, and ill humor began to arise in Italy, from the weakness of the successors of Charlemagne. Berengarius, Duke of Friuli, and Guido, Duke of Spoleto, aspiring to the empire and the kingdom of Italy, took arms against the emperor; Berengarius succeeded, declared himself emperor, and, by the favor of the Roman people, was made King of Italy; in which dignities he was succeeded by Berengarius II. and III. A contest, however, arose between the princes of Italy, France, and Germany, for the empire and the kingdom of Italy, which continued sixty years; and a Saracen invasion having been defeated by Albericus, he was declared Duke of Tuscany by the pope, and acknowledged no superior in the emperor or others. Contentions soon arose between him and the pope; and the Hungarians, taking advantage of them, made inroads into Italy, plundered Tuscany, and ruined Volterra. The Romans, judging this calamity to proceed from the discords between the pope and Albericus, assassinated both. Such was the malignity of these times, and Christian princes had deviated so far from a virtuous conduct, and had become a prey to ambition, avarice, and pleasure, (powerful ministers to every kind of wickedness,) that they determined, through these means, and without scruple, to occupy those dignities which their ancestors had acquired by religion, charity, and every Christian virtue; they lived in continual discords and bloody wars among themselves; and the people, after their example, having adopted their follies and vices, and embroiled themselves in the same dissensions, found themselves ruined. Having neither forces nor courage to defend their country, the Hungarians committed, in a short space of time, greater ravages in Tuscany than the other barbarous nations had been able to do in three hundred years.
“The Saracens, too, or Moors, broke in and destroyed the seacoast of Siena, and took Jerusalem and Spain, until at last they were defeated by Charles Martel in Italy, in 930, and by Ferdinand III. in Spain, in 1216. The city of Roselle was ruined by them, and its inhabitants fled to Siena, which made it necessary to enlarge the bounds of the city, and take in the ancient castle Montone, built at the time of the King Porsenna of Chiusi, who, desirous of assisting Tarquin the Proud in his restoration to Rome, sent to his aid two hundred infantry and fifty cavalry; the former, taken from the castle Montone, were commanded by Bacco Piccolomo; and the latter, taken from the Old Castle, by Perinto Cacciaconte. From these two captains are descended the two most ancient families in Siena, those of the Piccolomini, and those of the Cacciaconti.
“Otho, the first emperor of the German nation, but the second of that name, expelled the last of the Saracens, and left an officer in Tuscany, who governed it in his name, with the title of Vicar of the Empire. The successors of Otho followed the same practice; but Siena, by the indulgence of Otho, maintained its independence under the government of its nobles, and its liberty was afterwards confirmed, with ample privileges, by Otho III. of the German nation, who had been served in his enterprise by a company of gentlemen from Siena, and to it was presented a new ensign of the white lion. Both the first and the third Otho left many of their gentlemen in Siena, from whom are descended several of the noble and powerful families in that city, where they continued a long time, behaving virtuously and honorably in the service of their country. All the inhabitants of the city and territory, living then in union and harmony, were comprehended under the name of the People, which has since, from a general denomination, become a particular and peculiar name of a faction called Popolo, the citizens being divided into parties. Although the body of the city increased on every side, both in numbers and riches, it was nevertheless unable to enlarge its boundaries or extend its jurisdiction; for, having on one hand the lands of the church, and on the other the territories of the emperor, it could not go beyond its own limits.
“At this time much industry and many artificers were introduced, by means of an extensive commerce. Besides other noblemen, the Count Bandinello de’ Bandinelli, having agents and correspondents in many parts of the Levant, imported large merchandises, to his own great profit as well as the public utility, employing and maintaining a multitude of people in every kind of labor. He was in a great measure the instrument of directing this people to merchandise. The same Count Bandinello, moreover, being consul, and desirous of displaying the consular dignity and authority, gave orders that two commanders, or officers, on all occasions of solemnity or ceremony, should go before the consuls, with rods in their hands and fringes at their breasts, after the similitude of the lictors, who walked with their bundles of rods and with their axes before the consuls of Rome. He also ordered, that to the trumpets should be fixed those streamers of white and black taffety, which have been ever since used by all the supreme magistrates who have succeeded in the place of the consuls; and that the fifers and trumpeters, with the rest of the family and servants of the magistrate, down to modern times, in the public palace, should be clothed in blue and green.
“About the year 1059, contentions arose between the Emperor Henry III. and the pope, who decreed him an enemy to the church, and interdicted him his empire and kingdom; which quarrel was the reason that the cities of Tuscany began to be agitated with seditions. Some of them declared in favor of the emperor, and others, rebelling against him, adopted republican governments, and attached themselves to the pope, by whose assistance they hoped to defend themselves against the emperor, who would have oppressed them. From this division originated the desire in the minds of the people to increase their forces, that they might the more easily resist the emperor, if he should invade Tuscany with a design of reducing them to his obedience. To this end every city and castle endeavored to make itself master of those in its neighborhood, or at least to draw them to its alliance, which involved them in frequent wars, and was the original of those discords and enmities with which many cities of Tuscany were long agitated, and which proved the ruin of some, though it augmented the greatness of others.
“The Italians having long remained under the obedience of the German emperors, and having very rarely been employed in their wars, either by them or their captains, neglected, in so long and inactive a kind of servitude, the regulations of their militia; but now, in danger of oppression from Conrad I., the cities, in order to defend themselves, ordered a kind of chariot to be built, and called it il carrocio. It was covered with rose-colored cloth, with a large pole in the centre, on which was displayed a white standard, with two scarlet stripes, in a cross, at the middle of it; and on every side of the carriage stood a man, who held in his hand a cord fastened to the top of the pole, that neither the force of the wind nor the weight of the standard might incline it one way or another. The chariot was drawn by oxen covered with white, although they varied the colors according to the prevalence of factions in the city. The care and command of this chariot was given to one of the most experience and ability in war, who became the captain; and to him, for the purpose of increasing his authority, a shield and a sword were given by the public. But in the times which followed after the Emperor Frederick I., this was the office of the podestà;* and he was accompanied with eight trumpets and one priest. In this manner the cities of Lombardy, as well as Tuscany, sent out their people to war, without entertaining any soldiers in pay; for those who were ordered out to war in those times, in Italy, went at their own expense, so great was their affection to their country, as in the beginning the Romans did. Wherever the triumphal chariot was found, there were the head-quarters of the captain, like the prætor’s among the ancients. With this manner of making war, confiding in the power of the faction it followed, and living by plunder, each city was ambitious to increase its dominion, and declined no opportunity which occurred of opposing itself obstinately to the most powerful princes and veteran armies, for the defence of its own dignity, and that of the party to which it was devoted.
“Deriving from these motives, and from successful enterprises, great courage and ardor, when Henry III., with his antipope, besieged Gregory VII. in his castle, and, for fear of Robert Guiscard, on his march to succor the pope, retired to Siena, Florence took the part of the pope, and Siena that of the emperor; and from this principle arose that irreconcilable hatred and enmity between these cities, which lasted so long, and produced so much war and bloodshed. Upon this occasion a memorable battle was fought, and a signal victory obtained by the army of Siena over that of Florence. Certain persons in this engagement had been the first to begin the action, and behaved themselves so bravely in it, that it was adjudged that their conduct had been the principal cause of putting the Florentines to flight. The republic, in reward of their merit, and to incite and inflame by this example the minds of others to act nobly in the service of their country, erected, by a public decree, a very high tower by the sides of their houses. The Greeks and Romans, by decreeing statues to them, used to honor those who performed similar achievements in the service of the republic, by this means rendering their memories immortal; and they were more or less honored, according to the position in which the statue was placed, and the height and grandeur of the statue itself; wherefore they made some larger and others smaller; some on horseback, others on the ground; and to make the glory of others still more illustrious, they sought the most eminent artists, and placed the statues on columns,* knowing that columns, anciently dedicated to men, were marks of honor, and conspicuous tokens of immortal glory. Moved by these old examples, they who governed the city of Siena having, by the long domination of the barbarians in Italy, lost the arts of sculpture and painting, which were held in so high estimation by the ancients, as well as by the modern civilized nations, and not being able, for want of artists, to make statues or columns to honor these brave and virtuous citizens, ordered those towers to be built. After which precedent, for similar merits and services, many others were afterwards erected; among which that of the Malavolti was built by the public, in memory of the virtue of Philip Malavolti, captain of Siena in the Christian army of Clement III. This, like many others which had been raised before, was habitable; and although they were erected only as memorials of the honor due to greatness of soul, they were afterwards employed very often as fortifications for offence and defence, by the several parties, in their civil wars; permission was granted by the public, to many gentlemen, to build towers at their own expense, as testimonials of the nobility and splendor of their families; and until, long afterwards, they were taken down by order of Charles V., and the materials employed in a castle which that tyrant built for himself, they were so large and so high, as to be seen from a great distance, and made a most beautiful appearance.
In the union of the Christian princes, in 1099, against the Saracens, and in the army engaged in the enterprise against Jerusalem, the city of Siena had a thousand men, under the command of Dominick and Boniface Gricci, noblemen of Siena. Henry IV., after the death of Henry III., coming to Rome for the crown, in 1110, renewing the discords with the pope Pascal II., and Gelasius his successor, and marching to Rome with his armies, excited afresh the ill humors in Tuscany. But these not having much energy, did not at that time produce effects of moment; yet, stirred up from time to time by the discord among the great princes, and other accidents, though they seemed at times to be quieted, they broke out again, and were never wholly extinguished; they rather went on increasing, and at last, discovering themselves with greater malignity, they grew, from particular disputes between one city and another, to the most general and sanguinary factions of all, or the greatest part, of the territory of Tuscany, and all the rest of Italy, making alliance among one another, of those who were of the same faction, against other leagues among the factions who were their enemies. One party having taken the name of Guelphs, and the other of Ghibellines, these parties and divisions were not only between one people and another, but, to complete the ruin and destruction, they spread into the same city, and sometimes into the same family, till there was not a spot of earth to be found whose inhabitants were not divided, and on which the citizens did not frequently meet in arms against each other; as it happened in 1137, and in 1147, between the noble houses in Siena, in which private interests and party passions had infinitely more energy than the interest of the public. Although the nobles had so long governed and preserved this republic in peace, they now most imprudently suffered themselves to be blindly led on by ambition. This civil discord having entered, and been increased and artificially fomented by the heads of those plebeians who had attached themselves, some to one nobleman and some to another, in the city, they began to endeavor in turn to expel one another by violence from the city.*
By this means, coming frequently to blows, and meeting often in arms, they gave occasion to the plebeians, who wished nothing better, to study the means of taking the government, by little and little, out of their hands, in the firm hope of being able to obtain it, if not entirely, at least in part, to themselves; for the gentlemen being in arms, and each party afraid of being overcome by the other, strove to acquire friends and adherents among the plebeians, whom they now called by a more decent appellation of the People. That they might be able with stronger forces, to conquer their enemies, or at least secure themselves from being conquered by them, neither party was willing, by refusing the people a share in the government, to make them their enemies. They agreed therefore to give them a third part: wherefore, when they first appointed two consuls of noble houses, who should annually govern the republic, it was ordained, that for the future they should appoint three, two of them to be noblemen taken from each faction, and the third from the people; and sometimes they made the number six, observing the same distribution; and this is the reason why many persons have believed that certain families, which at this day are of the order of the nine,* finding that their ancestors were made consuls in those times, were originally noble, not knowing that the people, from whom the order of nine had their original, participated at that time, by a third part, in the government, and that from some of those popular families, who at that time held the consulate, are descended those of the nine. The nobles, who at this day are denominated in Siena gentlemen, and who anciently, being very powerful, were sometimes called grandees, are sprung from a part of those ancient families, who in the first institution and ordination of the republic took upon them the government, which, with large additions to the city and its dominions, they held till the year 1137, when the plebeians, or more properly the people, first began to enter into a share of the government of the state and police of the city; by this means, although those who had been in public offices and dignities had acquired nobility to their descendants, they had not yet assumed the name of nobles or of gentlemen.
Although in Siena, as in all the other cities of Tuscany, the popular faction long prevailed over the nobles, they followed, as the most favorable and least invidious, the name of the people; and thus, leaving uncorrupted the ancient nobility, perhaps to avoid the distinction of greater and lesser, like that of nobles and patricians among the Romans, they busied themselves in those factions, through which, at different times, they began to ennoble themselves; the people in process of time divided into three parties, one of which was called the people of the smaller number, who were those of the order of the nine; the second, the people of the middle number, who were called the order of the twelve; and the third, the people of the greater number, called the order of reformers, including all the lesser people,† combined with some of the ancient houses, under this denomination, were the most numerous, as will be largely shown in its proper place. Subsequently to these three popular factions, out of those who were afterwards accepted into the government and acquired civil rights, together with those few houses who would not follow the above-named factions, another order was created, which was called the order of the people; and these, however they may since have been ennobled, have taken no other name than that of the popular faction. So of old in Rome it happened, that the patricians and ancient nobles had always the name of nobles, and the plebeians, (so called by the Romans,) although they had been consuls and dictators, and had enjoyed triumphs, were ever called plebeians, until some families were added to the number of patricians by the emperors, Julius Cæsar, Augustus, and Claudius. The greater part of the families of nobles, who were denominated by Romulus the greater race, and of those who were added by Tarquinius Priscus, and were afterwards called by Lucius Brutus the lesser race, being already extinguished, this distinction was preserved in the Roman senate, where the fathers were understood to be those who were of patrician houses, and fathers conscript those who had been added and recorded in the number of senators; and thus plebeians sometimes, by concessions of princes, acquired the name of nobles. These orders were in all respects contrary to those which were used at this time in the cities of Tuscany, which, being governed by the multitude, did not admit the nobles to honors, nor to the administration of the republic, if they did not, first renouncing their nobility, acquire the privilege of being of the people; such was in that age the odium against the name of nobles among those who governed the republics of Tuscany, from the jealousy and terror that were entertained of their greatness; and this we may well suppose was the main reason why those first popular characters, and the others who followed after them, did not care to acquire the name of noblemen or gentlemen; on the contrary they exerted themselves with all diligence, by the laws and by all their actions, by extermination and destruction of one family after another, totally to destroy the memory of all the noble houses of the gentlemen, in such manner that the greatest part of them are extinguished. Among the few that remain are the Bisdomini, the Tegolei, the Floridi, who were original inhabitants of the city, and lived in that third of it which was called the Old Castle, with many other noble families enumerated. In another third of the city, named the Third of Saint Martin, the noble families of Jazzani, Trombetti, Guastelloni, Sansedonii, and others dwelt; in the remaining third, called the third of Camullia, lived the Gallerani, Scricciuoli, Arzochii, Mignanelli, &c. There was another distinction of five families, who were counts, and lived indifferently in any part of the town, which were called the greater houses, as the Counts Ardenghesci, Guiglieschi, Scialenghi, Cacciaconti, and Valcortese. There were other families who, because very numerous, had the privilege of having two members from each family in the magistracy, while the rest could have but one, as the Piccolomini, Tolommei, Malavolti, Salimbeni, and Saraceni; and in the same proportion they might have seats in the council of a hundred gentlemen, to whom, in this reform of the state, fifty popular members were added. This council was renewed once in two years, and sometimes every year; and was elected by the general council, one member from each family, with ample authority. In this council, which was to assemble at least once a month, they consulted upon all affairs of the most serious nature and the greatest importance.
“Under this form of government Siena continued for some time, and, following the imperial party, they had a mind to possess themselves of the castle of Radicofani, then held by the church, pretending that it had been given to the bishop and people of Siena by the Count Manente de’ Visconti di Campiglia, before 1138; but this expedition failed. In this year the inhabitants of Siena and the Aretini united with the Conti Guidi, whose castle of Monte alla Croce they relieved from a siege of the Florentines. The Conti Guidi were lords of many castles in Casentino and one part of Valdarno, and had been decorated with the title of counts by Otho the emperor, after he had liberated Italy from the lordship of Berengarius III., when one of the family who came with him from Germany, married a lady of Florence, from which marriage descended the house of Guidi.”
We may pass over the bloody wars and variety of victories and defeats between these two cities of Siena and Florence; but when Frederick Barbarossa came into Italy, they made a truce, and new laws and confederations were made between the people of Tuscany.
“The Florentines, Lucchese, Pratensians, and lords of Carfagna, entered into one league; and the inhabitants of Siena, Pisa, Pistoia, Aretina, and the Conti Guidi into another; and because the Sienese had shown themselves, in the dissensions which had happened in times past between the popes and the emperors, favorable to the empire, the Pope Adrian, attentive to the arrival of Frederick, with much solicitude completed the fortress, and part of the walls of the territory, of Radicofani. In 1154, Frederick was crowned at Rome, after long disputes with the Romans, and returned to Germany in 1155. The Sienese, by sympathy, being of the same faction, acquired a jurisdiction over Poggibonzi, an eighth part of which castle had been given them by the Count Guido Guerra. This castle was afterwards, in 1268, taken by Charles, King of Naples, and given to the Florentines, and by them demolished, as always friendly or subject to the Sienese, and a receptacle of Ghibellines. In 1158, Frederick came a second time into Italy. The Sienese, being at variance with the Counts of Orgia, and other lords, their neighbors, who held many strong castles very near to Siena, some of which were demolished by the Sienese, the lords of these castles were desirous of rebuilding them; but Frederick granted to the Sienese the privilege, that neither those counts, nor any other lords, nor their successors, should rebuild any castle or fortress, within twelve miles of their city.”
As it is a sketch of the laws, their vicissitudes and variations, that we are attempting, we have nothing to do with wars or disputes between popes and antipopes, the church and the empire, nor with the accessions of Staggia or Orgia to Siena. In 1167, Frederick returned to Italy, and confirmed all the privileges and donations which had been before made to Siena. The fourth, fifth, and sixth journey to Italy, and all the wars, and truces, and peaces, between Florence and Siena, may likewise be omitted; though in the last, which was in 1184, he found enemies in the Sienese, his old friends. According to some writers, this strange revolution was in 1186, and the causes of it deserve to be examined and explained.*
Charlemagne, as has been before related, left the government of Siena in a single assembly of hereditary nobles, who, no doubt, as they had procured the independence of the city by their interest and intercession, thought it their own, and entailed on their posterity forever. While the people considered these rulers as their benefactors, to whom they owed so much; while the nobles were united, and the city continued with constancy faithful to the emperors, all went smoothly on; at least, no history appears to the contrary; but in a course of time, when the nobles became divided into parties, each of which courted the people, not so much from humanity, patriotism, or love of liberty and equality, as because their bones and sinews were wanted in the civil wars, the people, with very good reason, began to demand a share and to take a hand in the game. But how? Not in any proportion which could give them a control, or a power of self-defence, or even much influence; but by claiming one in three consuls, and fifty in one hundred and fifty senators. Absolute power was still in the noble hundred, and the people, by their members, only became nearer witnesses of their own insignificance, and of the arbitrary disposition of their noble masters. This, therefore, of course, irritated the people, and gave them able leaders, while it increased the motives of the factions in each party of the nobles to caress them still more.
“In consequence of this, the public councils and conduct, in 1186, began to be unsteady, and a strong faction appeared for the pope against the emperor. Philippo Malavolti, Palmerio Malagalla, and Guido Maizi, were this year consuls. The Guelphs had acquired so much influence as to shut the gates against the emperor desirous of passing through the town, and even to attack and defeat his army; but as soon as he was prepared to punish them for this offence, certain orators were sent to him by those in the government, to excuse the fault, and to beg his pardon. They said, the resistance to his majesty had been occasioned by the fury of the people, who arose in a tumult, very much against the will of their governors, who had always been faithfully devoted to him. The emperor received them graciously, and confirmed their privileges under some severe conditions; moved however to this grace, according to the custom of great princes, more by his own interest than by any confidence he had in their professions; but as he was now intent upon an enterprise into the Levant against the Turks and Saracens, he wished to leave all things in tranquillity in Italy. Intending, on his return, to make himself master of the kingdom of Sicily and Naples, he was desirous of preserving peace in the cities of Italy already friendly to him; and by reconciling the others, to acquire more friends and followers, who might assist him, and remove all obstacles to his enterprise. With this view he sent Henry his son, already elected King of the Romans, into Italy, with great pomp and authority, who pretended to be favorable to the Sienese, and granted them the power, under the imperial authority, to elect consuls, as they had been long used to do; but those who should be elected, were obliged to accept the investiture of their consulate, without expense, from the king himself, or the emperor, or their successors, if in Italy; if not, from their legate or vicar in Tuscany; and if there should be no imperial legate in Tuscany, the consuls elect were obliged to go in a body, or a part of them, or send an ambassador, to demand the investiture of the emperor, or whoever should be King of the Romans.
“In 1187, Jerusalem was besieged by Saladin; and Siena sent five hundred of her young men, under the command of Philip Malavolti, in the Christian army raised for its relief. Henry, on his return from this expedition, was declared by the pope emperor, and invested with the kingdom of Naples and Sicily, upon condition that he would recover it from Tancred, the son of Roger IV., of the house of Normandy, heir of William, King of England, who died in this crusade. While the pope and the emperor were occupied in this enterprise, and all Italy was filled with arms and rumors, and so many gentlemen of Siena were absent in the wars, the people of Siena thought they had a favorable opportunity to endeavor with safety to take the government of the republic out of the hands of the consuls, and, by a reformation of the state, introduce a new form of popular government. The plebeians, tumultuously rising, with great impetuosity flew to arms; but the gentlemen, who had foreseen the insurrection, assembled in the public walks, provided with attendants and arms, that they might be able to oppose the people, and defend the dignity of the government. The heads of the popular faction, perceiving that their design could not succeed by force, put a stop to the tumult, but stood armed in several parts of the city. The most respectable citizens of each party, meeting half way between the two bodies, effected a reconciliation so far, that both sides agreed to lay down their arms; and it was agreed, that if any one would demand or request that any thing should be corrected or reformed for the public service, he should propose it civilly, without the din of arms; and if it should be judged an error or a grievance by the council, there should be no difficulty in obtaining its amendment or redress; and with copious reasoning, they demonstrated the disorders which must arise from exciting the mob, with arms in their hands, to demand new laws, because, always naturally desirous of seeing new things, they are never contented with what they possess; and having obtained one object of pursuit, they suddenly look for another, setting neither bounds nor laws to their appetites; upon every little accident, which is always in the power of any one to excite, they fly, according to their present passions, prejudices, necessities, or inclinations, to robberies and conflagrations, many examples of which have been seen in Siena, as well as other cities; and no method of suppressing an unbridled populace has been hitherto invented, without manifest and universal danger.
“They moreover took into consideration, that, from the vicinity of Florence, in times so agitated, both parties ought to be sensible into what ruin they might fall, while they were engaged at home in contending with each other; and had it not been for this danger, the nobles were, at that time, so superior in power to the plebeians, that they would not have submitted to this insolence, nor let escape this opportunity of putting an end to such seditions, by chastising the authors of this. They only advised the consuls to call together the council the next day. When together, they deliberated and debated upon a variety of subjects; but, after many contests, they concluded upon nothing but this: in order to satisfy the ambition of two or three persons who aspired to be consuls, it was determined, that, instead of three consuls, there should in future be six, observing the same distribution of two thirds noblemen, one third of whom were to be of the Ghibelline faction, and one third popular members. By this measure they quieted the minds of the ambitious and envious for this year. But the year following, at the new election of consuls, fresh innovations would have been attempted, if, at that time, those Sienese gentlemen, who had been to Asia at their own expense, had not returned in triumph, to the universal joy of the whole city. This event quieted the minds of those who were inclined to civil discord. As the creation of six consuls had produced no other effect than to increase the difficulty of assembling them together, and of concluding deliberations by deciding questions, it was now resolved to have only three; and in this way they went on, varying the number according to the times and the business.”
In 1194 and 1195, the commerce of the city was much increased by emigrants from Milan; the manufactures in wool were introduced; the great fountain and aqueduct was built, as well as the palace.
“In 1197, the Conti Scialenghi were made to submit and swear allegiance to Siena, for all the lands and castles, as il monte Sante Marie, Montebello, Monte Martino, Monte Bernardo, Monte Franco, &c., and the Cacciaconti, Cacciaguerra, Tancredi, Guido, Ranieri, Bernardino, Aldobrandino, Renaldo, Counts of Scialenghi, were admitted citizens of Siena. The inhabitants of Asciano also submitted. The Count Napoleone de’ Visconti di Campiglia, the Counts Guiglieschi, and the Counts Ardengheschi, also capitulated. The inhabitants of Montalcino, who had frequently excited quarrels between Siena and these counts, now discovered much animosity, and preparations were made for war, to bring them to submission; and, that civil dissensions might not interrupt the enterprise, and to quiet the minds of many, who desired that military matters should be separated from the civil and political, and that the consuls should have nothing to do but attend to affairs of state and government of the city, they made an election of a foreign nobleman, who, with imperial authority, should have the care of all civil and criminal causes, having judges, assessors, and other officers in his family convenient for such an office.
“This magistrate they called podestà, from the power and authority granted to the cities of Italy to create such an officer by the Emperor Frederick I., at the peace of Constance, in 1183, and to the Sienese in particular, by Henry VI. in 1186, when he came into Italy as vicar to his father Frederick. And besides the judicial authority, in civil and criminal causes, the podestà had the government and command of the army in case of war. The first who was elected podestà of Siena was M. Orlando Malapresa of Lucca, for one year, and he entered on his office the first of January, 1199, according to the order of the city. The Sienese were desirous of an accommodation with the Florentines, that they might not be molested by them in the enterprise they meditated against Montalcino.”
The discords among the princes of Germany upon the election of an emperor, and the revolution of empire in Constantinople, are not much to our present purpose.
“In 1201, a perpetual alliance, offensive and defensive, was concluded between Florence and Siena, Philip Malavolti being podestà, by which the inhabitants of Montalcino were declared enemies of both. In 1202, the army of Siena made themselves masters of their fortress and territory. The Counts Ardenghesci refused to furnish their quota to this expedition, which excited the resentment of the city against them, and at length a war. The cities of Tuscany, that lived and were governed as republics, remained long without any palace, or other public place in which they could assemble their magistrates and councils; they were therefore summoned to meet sometimes in one church, and sometimes in another, varying with the changes of the chief consul, until the establishment of the office of the nine, at which time a palace was built. For the first magistrate usually collected the rest in his own parish church, as the Romans long congregated their senate, sometimes in one temple, sometimes in another, according to the nature of the business on which they were to deliberate.
“Another quarrel soon arose between Florence and Siena, at the conclusion of which the latter were obliged to relinquish Poggibonzi, whose inhabitants praised the Florentines very highly, while they reproached the Sienese with bitterness. The arbitrators, or agents, who settled this dispute, were very ill received on their return; and the praises of Florence, which they heard repeated, displeased them as much as the reproaches of themselves. These excited great heats, resentments, and personal altercations, not only among the common people, but among all the noble houses which had given their opinions against making the cession of Poggibonzi. The disputes upon this occasion went so far, that many personal enmities grew out of them, and parties frequently came to blows and bloody combats in arms, by which many factions were generated, who, frequently fighting with each other, produced a number of atrocious actions and scandalous crimes. The wisest men, those who consider more the end than the beginning of things, a character peculiar to prudent men, were hardly able to invent a remedy, or by the interposition of the public authority to preserve the peace. The city remained a long time wonderfully agitated, the citizens having no confidence in one another, standing in continual suspicion, and daily expectation of further disorders, tumults, and seditions. These distractions delayed the expedition against Monte Pulciano, which however was at length, in 1204, undertaken; when dissensions arose among all the cities of Tuscany upon the question, whether Monte Pulciano was within the dominion or country of Siena. It was customary to settle such disputes by a congress or parliament of rectors, from all the cities of the league or company of Tuscany; and such deputies were now appointed, who, after hearing the parties, and examining witnesses, determined in favor of Siena.
“It was a custom of the emperors to maintain a vicar in Tuscany, who lived and held a court in San Miniato Altedesco, who gave an account of the causes where an appeal was had to the emperor, and received the rents, taxes, tolls, customs, tributes, and other gifts, all which the jurists call by one word, regalia; and when it happened that the emperor sent no vicar to the province, he sent nuncios to particular cities, and called them counts of those places to which he sent them, with the same authority. This method of collecting together and making a congress, which was used in those times by the cities of Tuscany, was generally very useful to the whole province, because the rettori, (so they called the representatives who composed the congress,) as soon as they understood that a difference had arisen between one city and another, although they were sometimes of different and contrary factions, exerted themselves, according to the obligations of their magistracy, with extreme diligence, to bring them to an accommodation; and if sometimes their endeavors to adjust the difference did not succeed, and the war was prosecuted, the congress nevertheless stood firm, and the rectors did not fail to do every thing in their power for the universal benefit, and at all times appeared together in parliament for the public business which occurred, and to make their elections, at the stated periods, of new rectors; for they had no authority when alone in their respective cities, but only while they were assembled in one body. As it was their duty to be always attentive to the common interests, if so many people, for their private ends, excited by the ambition of dominion, or by avarice, two qualities very unfriendly to peace, had not left off this federal order, the ruin of so many republics had not perhaps been effected; but as the men of that age were little accustomed to reflection, and had less prudence in providing for futurity, they were still less solicitous to leave, by the means of letters, the memory and history of their times, so that only a confused notion of a few particulars remains at this day, not only of this confederation, but of an infinite number of other great events and institutions.
“In 1206, the discords followed between Philip of Suabia and Otho of Saxony, and their contention for the empire, in which Philip was superior; which were followed by wars with the Saracens, and between Siena and Florence, in which the army of the former was defeated at Montalto.
“In 1209, the king of the Romans came into Italy, and confirmed the privileges of Siena, particularly those of electing consuls, coining money, and administering justice, reserving appeals, and other conditions expressed in the grant of Henry; but declaring, that neither Jacomo, Aldobrando, and Henry, sons of Aldobrandino Giuseppi, and other nobles who held signories in the county of Siena, nor their subjects, should be under the podestà of the city. The consuls endeavored to divert the minds of the people, now at peace with Florence, by employing them in rebuilding the castles, and restoring the strong places belonging to the republic; but they found it impossible to suppress or divert the ambition of the popular multitude, who, feeling themselves relieved from foreign wars, would be employed in domestic seditions. As they were at liberty to choose the podestà, either from foreigners or from the nobility of Siena, the choice was generally made from among the latter. The people thought, that the introduction of this office had rather been a loss than an acquisition to them; and that the nobles, by means of it, had aggrandized themselves. They insisted that this should be corrected in the order of choosing the podestà; and to remove all occasion of dissensions, and maintain the public tranquillity, the gentlemen concurred, in 1211, in a new law, that the podestà should, for the future, always be a foreigner.”
It is easy to see that the pride of most of the nobles concurred with, if it did not excite this popular humor; for the jealousy and envy of the nobles can never bear to see one of themselves elevated much above the rest. Regardless of equality among the people, and irreconcilable enemies to any appearance of it between the people and themselves, they must always be peers, or equals among one another; and when a king, or any other first magistrate, must be placed over them, they always prefer the introduction of a foreigner to the elevation of one of their own body.
“But it does not always happen in these cases, that by taking away the cause, the effect is removed. Those who are grown inveterate in the habits of dissension, without having any regard to the public good, and without the least cause of complaint, will find means of interrupting and disturbing good order. The people had obtained whatever they demanded, yet they would not lay down their arms; and the multitude appearing in continual insurrections, some terrible catastrophe was apprehended, and would have occurred, if the nobles had not likewise resorted to arms, and, with a great concourse of those who wished for peace and order, had not marched through the city. This procession spread a terror among the seditious, who, from fear, laid down their arms, and returned to their houses. Upon this the government was reassumed, and confirmed by the punishment of many of those who had been the heads of this commotion. The first who was created podestà, according to the new law, was M. Guido di Ranuccio da Orvieto.
“In 1221, Frederick II., after his coronation, having granted many favors to several lords and cities of the Ghibelline party, renewed and enlarged the privileges of Siena, of administering justice, of paying the gabelle or imposts only at the gates of the city, of coining money, and of exemption from all customs and tributes in the country. These exemptions and privileges perhaps occasioned a demand of similar favors which was at this time made by the territories tributary to Siena, such as Chiusi, Montelatrone, Montepinzuto, Potentino, Luriano, Vico, the lands of the abbey of St. Antimo, and other places. But as this demand occasioned a civil war, and Siena raised a force both of horse and foot, which they were ill provided to resist, they capitulated.
“In 1222, the Count Ranieri da Travale, originally of the Morea, in the Peloponnesus, was made a citizen of Siena, and annexed the lands and castles he had purchased to their dominion. From him are descended the Counts of Elci, Montingegnoli, and Fuosini. But the city, when it was not at war with Florence, nor against the pope, nor engaged in crusades, nor in rebellion against the emperor, was almost continually engaged in disputes and wars with the mountains, castles, and lords in its neighborhood, though in alliance with it, or under its dominion; and whenever a moment of perfect peace occurred, seditions and tumults broke out. With the conquest of Grosetto, and an increase of jurisdiction, Siena had excited much envy in a part of those cities of the Guelphs, in Tuscany, Florence, Lucca, Orvieto, and Perugia, which were in a league against the other confederation of the Ghibellines, which were Siena, Pisa, Arezzo, and Pistoia. The former took measures to oppose the Sienese in their favorite enterprise against Monte Pulciano, and this occasioned a series of altercations and wars, not only among these cities, but with the lords of the mountains, too long to be related; but at last Monte Pulciano was taken, and peace concluded.
“The cities of Tuscany, now in profound peace, and all apprehensions of its interruption removed by the presence of the emperor in Italy with a powerful army, the Sienese thought themselves secure from the stratagems as well as invasions of their enemies. This sense of security awakened in the minds of the multitude in the city of Siena the same desire of making themselves masters of the internal government of the republic, which at former times they had entertained. The principal heads of this faction, in their consultations on the project, and discoursing on the means of carrying it into execution, found among themselves a great variety of opinions, from whence arose violent dissensions. From this two circumstances occured, which prevented the scandalous disorders that usually happen in such cases. The first was a delay of the conclusions and resolutions; the second was, that in this interval it was not possible to keep the plot so secret and concealed, that no intimations should be given to the nobility of what was meditated to their disadvantage, and the manifest danger of the whole city, if to such an end the people should recur to arms. When the nobles had discovered and considered the situation and the danger they were in, not only from these commotions, but from the hatred which, in the wars of so many years with Florence and Orvieto, they had provoked in the minds of the inhabitants, from such prudent considerations it was determined to treat civilly with the popular party, without the din of arms, lest they should be involved at once in a war both at home and abroad; and as the popular party, from the same motives, concurred with the nobles, that the innovation should be made when in their civil robes rather than in armor, it was agreed that the council should be assembled. Here they deliberated and debated on the mode of reforming the government of the city. As the popular party saw no possibility of obtaining to themselves the government exclusively, as they had at first projected and reasoned among themselves, they demanded, that, in addition to their third part in the council and magistracy, it should be left to the discretion of the council themselves to choose the other part of the magistrates, and fifty more members at least of the council, out of the nobles or people, at their pleasure. To this the nobles would not agree, and many of them opposed it with such efficacious reasons, as made it appear unreasonable to the popular party themselves, and the petition was neither granted nor countenanced by many votes. Tolommei, Malavolti, Buonsignori, and Gallerani, were the principal speakers among the nobles; and their eloquence was employed to persuade the popular party, that they ought to be contented with the share they already enjoyed in the republic, and esteem themselves under obligations to the memory of their grandfathers, who had so benevolently embraced them, and taken them into their society; and having received so great a favor from the nobility, who had received them into an equality with themselves, it would have been a more rational and becoming conduct to have demonstrated their gratitude, by acknowledging the benefaction, and coöperating harmoniously in the public service, in the imminent danger which they saw over the commonwealth, rather than excite every day fresh seditions. They might well know that those who had held the government hitherto, were not men of so poor capacities as to have occasion, in the administration of the republic, for the assistance of so great a number of new men, for the most part useless, or more properly pernicious, by their contracted understandings and small experience; that their project was the more alarming, as they proposed to make the magistrates so very numerous; because it had been seen, in numberless examples, and experience had found it an infallible observation, that states had been seldom well governed by the multitude, in whose deliberations, besides other imperfections, the opinion of the most ignorant and incapable weighs as much as that of the most prudent and experienced. Those cities which had rashly committed the government to the multitude, had, to their misfortune, more frequently experienced revolutions in the state, than those which restricted the government to a few; for although, to a superficial view, the equality of the citizens in the public deliberations, where the votes are numbered, but neither weighed nor measured, might appear a just and reasonable thing; yet to any man who maturely reflected on the subject, it must appear in a very different light.
“As to the mode of making the elections of magistrates, if it were possible to concede to the people the share they demanded, these orators demonstrated that it must prove pernicious to the commonwealth. The method proposed was a way to take from the council the free power of creating the magistrates, the proposed law imposing the necessity of creating one third of them from one faction exclusively, and taking away the discretionary right of electing those who, according to the occasions and times of war or of peace, might be the best qualified to discharge the duties of their office. It was affirmed, that in a very little time it would be seen, that not only the nobles, who had from the beginning ruled, and with so much virtue and dignity aggrandized their country, but even that those popular families, which, for a space of a hundred years, had honorably governed and prospered with them, would by this innovation be thrown out of the government. That this invention, as now proposed, it was easy to be perceived, had no other end in view than to introduce a government of new men, by pulling down those who had hitherto maintained it; because, as the council in the election of officers was bound by necessity always to elect a third portion from the popular order, it might, and would soon happen, that of the other portion, either all, or at least a part, would be popular members, new persons, and unexperienced in administration; and the nobles, and those accustomed to government, would be deposed, to the grievous loss and misfortune of the public. When it was admitted that every citizen, without distinction, might be admitted to honors and to government, is it not better that the council should have the free faculty of making their elections of persons apt for their offices, that men may be excited by this motive to habituate themselves to honorable exercises and virtuous courses? That to impose the necessity of electing another, who knows that he must be elected at all events, is to take away from him every incentive to virtuous behavior. This would be precisely the way of bestowing honors on sloth instead of virtue, and to give the establishment of magistrates to the laws, not the appointment to the council, who will be, for the most part, forced to make the election contrary to their judgments and inclinations; an indignity too great to be offered to that senate.
“This harangue was answered, on the part of the popular faction, by William Gollucci, who said, that the nobles ought not to disdain to have the people associated with them in the government of the commonwealth, among many other reasons, because they very well knew they had it not now in their power to say, what had been affirmed by their grandfathers, when in the beginning they refused to admit the people to any share, that popular men are not fit to exercise magistracies, nor to rule in the councils of the city; for having, since 1135, governed in concert with them, participating only in a third part, they had given such assistance, that the city was greatly increased in dominion, riches, and population, as was evident to all men; so that their society might be said to have been of the greatest public utility; and the same benefits, and still greater, might be expected in future, when, instead of a limitation to a third part, there should be no bounds prescribed. It very rarely had happened that any city had arisen to grandeur, if it had not admitted the people and the other subjects to the administration of the commonwealth, and to the magistracies. ‘This,’ said he, ‘was the ruin of the Lacedæmonians and the Athenians, who, although they were most valiant in arms, would have found their republics of little energy and short duration, if they had excluded their subjects from the hopes of rising, by their arms and other virtues, to honors and public magistracies. What was it that elevated Rome to its superlative greatness, more than their having given the rights of citizens to privileges and honors, to all in Italy who submitted to their empire? What can stimulate your own citizens to greater alacrity in the service of the public, than the hope of arriving, by their good behavior, to the highest honors of the republic, and the knowledge, that if in war they place themselves in the post of danger, they are sure to do it for their own proper utility, as well as for that of others? What interest can you believe will make them more ardent, animated, and intrepid, in any public enterprise? We know, moreover, that no government can be properly styled a republic, which does not comprehend all the people of the city.’ By these reasons he endeavored to persuade the senate, that is to say, the council, that the demand made by the people was as much for the public service in general, as their own in particular; and as to that which had been said by the grandees against receiving new men into the government, he replied, that as all other things, how ancient soever they might be, had a beginning, so it was with nobility; ‘as, for example, we may say, as you know very well, that next to the original nobility of our city, with Charlemagne, when he delivered Italy from the domination of the Lombards, the Malavolti and the French gentlemen, who since have called themselves Bandinelli, came, who were received, not only into the number of the citizens, but into the ranks of the nobles and patricians of Siena; after that, with Otho I., when he expelled the Berengarii from Italy, the Salimbeni, the Tolommei, came, who in like manner were enumerated among the nobles and grandees of this city; and in times more modern, many others, who were lords of several castles of this state, as the Scorcialupi, who since have called themselves Squarcialupi, those of Tornano, of Valcortese, of Berardenga, Scialengha, and many others, who all enjoy the title of nobility. Finally, our grandfathers were admitted to the government in 1135; and if we, their descendants, have retained the name of popular, it does not follow that we have not acquired nobility. For what reason then, if your ancestors have accepted foreigners and ultramontanes, and even conquered lords and landholders into their peerage, should not you receive your own proper fellow-citizens, those who are born free within the same walls with yourselves, and run the same fortunes with all others? You will say, because they are not noble. We however say, that all those others in this kind of nobility were not more noble than at this hour these are, who, by means of public dignities, have acquired nobility, or than they will be who shall come into the government after us; and as we shall be an example for them, so will they be to those who may come after them; and the city will be able, by this means, to preserve for a longer time the nobility of her citizens; and, as it is natural that whatever has a beginning must have an end, new noblemen will succeed from time to time to those who may fail, and the land will be better peopled, and more powerful.’
“A short replication to these arguments was made by Rinaldo Alessi, who said, that if the people, since they had participated in the government, had remained more quiet, it was possible the city might have made some notable acquisition; but, as every one knew, the continual seditions which the popular party had excited, had raised their inordinate desires, and disposed them more to civil wars than to wars with their hostile neighbors; and that those acquisitions which they had made had been obtained rather by the incidents of the times than by any other reason; that the ancient gentlemen who came formerly with Charlemagne and the first Otho, when they were invited, many centuries ago, to inhabit this city, had the signories of many castles given them in reward of the illustrious actions which they performed for the service of the empire, by Charles and Otho; and that more splendor and nobility had accrued to the republic than to them by their coming to inhabit it. And the same thing was true of the other lords of this dominion, who, according to the accidents which have occurred, have been made gentlemen of Siena, the city being aggrandized and ennobled by the acquisition of their families, castles, and signories.”
By these speeches we see that neither the aristocratical nor the democratical orators aimed at any thing more than a government of all authority in one centre; but the legislative and executive power were to be lodged in one assembly. The nobles wished to have the whole house to themselves, and the commons wished the same thing, though each party temporized and modified their language with some regard to the other. The loaves and fishes, the honors and emoluments, were what they all sought; more than liberty, safety, or good order; more than the commerce, arts, or peace; more than the prosperity, grandeur, and glory of their country. Not one of them thinks of giving all the executive power to the podestà, with a weapon to defend it; not one thinks of dividing the sovereign legislature into two assemblies, giving to the nobles and people an equal share; yet, without these arrangements, every intelligent reader of their history at this day perceives that all the projects of either party for amendment would only increase the evil, by inflaming the ill humor.
“After many discourses, made by several persons of both parties, the grandees became sensible that, if they should recur to arms, and defend the dignity of their stations, they might, in the war which they expected with Florence and Orvieto, and from the difficulty of obtaining money, put all in danger, by refusing to concede something to accommodate their civil discords; they therefore concurred in the opinion that prevailed, that the council should make the election of thirty citizens, fifteen of each party, who should have authority to propose a new form of government, since it appeared that the magistrates, called the consuls, after the introduction of the office of the podestà, that of the four purveyors, and the chamberlain of Biccherna, were no longer of any authority at all, and that there was a necessity to think of making a magistracy of a greater number of men, and of more authority concerning the affairs of the state and the administration of the republic. The thirty persons who were invested with this full power, or, as the Florentines called it, this balia, having discoursed and deliberated some time upon the subject of their commission, and wishing to give satisfaction to the public, as well as gratify the ambition of many individuals, by constituting a numerous magistracy, proposed to the council to institute a magistracy of twenty-four, to be elected by the council out of the whole body of the people, or the citizens at large, on condition that a greater number should not be nominated or voted for from one faction than from the other; and as it was understood that the Emperor Frederick was soon to leave Italy, and it was expected the Florentines would soon attack them or some of their dependencies, the measure soon obtained; the four-and-twenty magistrates were immediately created, and they entered on their offices with great spirit, by making preparations for war against the Florentines and the other Guelphs.”
This revolution, if a bare change of the number of first magistrates, without any change in the sovereignty, can be called one, was in 1232, while the emperor was at Ravenna.
The Sienese were now involved in constant wars with their neighbors till 1238, when the discord between the pope and the emperor revived the animosities of the ancient factions of Guelphs and Ghibellines in Tuscany, as well as in many other parts of Italy, and with greater hatred and animosity than ever; nor was there any people who were not infected with this destructive contagion, by which, without having any other cause of quarrel, they fought with each other with mortal enmity; not only one city against another, but the same city, divided into these factions, combated itself; each party had not only different ensigns, under which they marched out to war, but they distinguished themselves by the color and wearing of their clothes, by their gait and air and gestures of the body, and by every other the smallest circumstance; so that, at the first aspect, a Guelph might be known by a glance of the eye from a Ghibelline. These were not the only divisions among the Sienese, but, since the introduction of the magistracy of Twenty-four, a new diversity arose among the citizens, and a new distinction of party names.
“This government did not please all, and those who approved it assumed the name of the Twenty-four, and those who were dissatisfied took the name of the Twenty-seven. Hatred and resentment increased among them to such a degree, that in 1240 they flew again to arms, with most violent commotions of the whole city, the slaughter of multitudes on each side, with innumerable robberies, burglaries, plunderings, and conflagrations of houses and palaces, and other crimes committed by the plebeians. But, as the rabble in favor of the Twenty-four appeared to be the strongest, this magistracy survived the lawless attempts to destroy it, and preserved authority enough to elect M. Aldobrandino di Guido Cacciaconti podestà, who, by his prudence and the public authority, reduced the city to some degree of obedience to the laws.”
The secret was, that the pope and the emperor were to the republics of Italy, what Sparta and Athens had been to those of the Peloponnesus. Each must have a party in every city; if the nobles were on one side, the people would be on the other, and vice versa; and every art of seduction was employed by one power or the other on both.
The Sienese were now plunged in new wars, which continued, almost without interruption, till 1258. “The cities of Tuscany, which, in the discord between the pontiffs and emperors, had followed the imperial party, and were denominated Ghibellines, after the death of Frederick II. were greatly oppressed by the other cities, which, having followed the ecclesiastical party, were then superior, and were distinguished by the name of Guelphs; but since Manfred, overcoming the forces of the pope, had made himself master of the kingdom of Naples and Sicily, he took the Ghibellines in the province of Tuscany into his more immediate protection, and placed Siena at the head of that party. As Florence was the head of the Guelph party, each city in its turn was an asylum for the exiles of the other; which, in addition to the jealousy, envy, emulation, and selfish views, common between neighboring nations as well as cities, proved a continual provocative to war.”
These wars and rebellions of their mountain castles, which it would fill volumes to describe, will be passed over. Yet it may be proper to mention the rebellion of Monteano and Montemassi, when the Count Giordano demanded in the senate that one third of the city should be armed and sent out, because a form of their constitution is upon this occasion explained.
“Although the Sienese were zealously inclined to comply with the request of Giordano, and thought the expedition very interesting to their country, they would not depart from the ancient order; when any expedition was proposed, for the subject to be maturely considered, it must have been proposed in the council of the credenza, and consulted on, three times, on three several days, in the general council, before any thing could be determined. Upon this occasion a deputation was appointed to attend the army, consisting of the podestà, the captain of the people, the first three members of the office of Twenty-four, and twelve good men, buoni huomini, deputed by the commons. The soldiers and officers in these expeditions served without pay, in imitation of the Romans, who, for three hundred and forty-nine years, continued to go out to war, every one at his own expense.”
This is universally alleged by historians as a proof of their love of their country; but it may as well be considered as a proof of their poverty and their ignorance, for there is no example of it among rich and well-informed people; it would be indeed unjust and unequal. As the provisions and apparatus were found by the public, and plunder was made wherever they went, it is very probable that the most of their armies were better fed and more profitably employed abroad than at home, as manufactures were little known, and commerce and navigation in their infancy.
“In the year 1259, ambassadors were sent to the King Manfred by the council of the credenza, who from the council general, or the senate, which signified the same thing, had the authority deputed to them to give commissions and instructions to ambassadors. The council of credenza was a secret council, as its name imports, in which were secretly treated those things which were to be proposed to the general council, which, representing the whole city, had greater authority; but no proposition could be made, if it had not first obtained in the council of credenza.
“This is very remarkable; the sovereignty was in one single assembly, the general council; the leading members, however, had influence enough to get themselves separated from the body by its own act, all secret affairs committed to them, and nothing permitted to be brought into the general council without their previous approbation. This arrangement was afterwards imitated by the grand dukes. In the council of the people, nothing could be treated which had not previously been treated in the consistory, and by them proposed.
“Another council obtained in Siena, which has been mentioned before, called the council of assembly, of fifty members for each third, which, at stated periods, was changed by the general council, and limited by them in authority.” So that the whole sovereignty, the whole legislative, judicial, and executive authority, was literally in one centre, that of the general council; and all other assemblies, councils, magistrates, and officers, were only committees and deputies of that body.* In this council of credenza the secret treaty was made with the Count Giordano, and ambassadors sent with his to Manfred.
In the year 1260, the memorable battle of Monte-aperto was fought between the Florentines and Sienese, in which the latter obtained a complete victory, and reduced Florence to the brink of destruction. At this glorious period, when their great rival Florence was reduced to such extremities as to be obliged to submit to the emperor and the Ghibellines, and make peace with Siena upon her own terms; when so many other people and territories were daily submitting to their jurisdiction, and ambassadors of congratulation were arriving from all parts, is it not surprising that union and harmony at home should not accompany such transports of joy as appeared in every part of their dominions? Yet, in a government so constituted, a dispute among a few young gentlemen at a bath of Petriuolo was sufficient to divide the whole city.
“In this rencounter one Baroccino di Bencivenne Barocci, a youth of the popular order, was killed by M. Robba Renaldini. Of this homicide M. Bennucio Salimbeni was also accused, who, besides being banished together with M. Robba, and both having their palaces demolished by the fury of the people, because Bencivenne, father of Baroccino, was of the magistracy of the Twenty-four then governing the city, and through the hatred which the people bore to the nobles, was condemned in a fine of twelve thousand pounds, and rigorously held in prison in irons, till his father Salimbeni was obliged to pay it. So rigid a punishment, transgressing as they thought all bounds of justice, provoked some of the nobles, who would not remain exposed to the discretion and insolence of the multitude, daily excited in commotions against them; so they left the city, and retired for safety to Radicofani, a place by its situation sufficiently strong. Upon this the magistrates declared them of the party of the Guelphs, which provoked them to overrun, with some troops of horse and their followers, the dominions of the republic in the country, and plunder the lands of their enemies. For it was by their instigation they believed the magistrates had been induced to pass a decree so pernicious and prejudicial, not only to them, but to the whole city, by the divisions which must arise from it among the citizens, reviving the hatred of factions, both of Guelphs and Ghibellines, nobles and people, which through the fear of foreign wars all parties had united unanimously to bury in oblivion, to their infinite advantage in the late war against their national enemies. From this disorder, arising out of that leisure, idleness, and insolence, which, after the overthrow of their external enemies had taken the place of fear, factions and parties took occasion to revive their enmities, and to study to offend, provoke, and injure one another. Having learned in Siena the mischief which had been done in the country by the fugitives, now become exiles, a strong force of German troops, as well as the militia, was sent out, both cavalry and infantry. After an obstinate engagement, and many slain on both sides, among whom were several persons of consequence, the exiles were defeated by superior numbers, and the discipline of the German troops.”
This was in 1262. The history proceeds with accounts of rebellions and submissions of one and another of their mountains, castles, signories, and other little dependencies, and of the persecutions of their exiles and the Guelphs; and all things in this period are done in the name of the commons of Siena, till the year 1266, when “many ill humors began to appear again in the city; and by the accidents which had occurred, so great a change had been produced in the minds of the multitude, that it appeared to the major part of those concerned in the administration, that, for the universal satisfaction, it was become necessary to remodel the government in a better form. To this end sixty citizens were elected.” But by whom? Not by the people, or citizens at large, nor by a convention of their deputies, the only legitimate expedient for framing a new constitution, but by the general council. “Into this number of sixty were elected, indiscriminately, both grandees (for so the nobles were now called) and popular men, with authority to reform the city by new regulations, by which they were to introduce universal peace and tranquillity among the citizens. But a contrary effect was produced; for it seeming to the popular party as if the sixty, in the many months spent since they assembled, had been making provisions favorable to the nobles, they assumed that these had been made to their prejudice and damage, and rose with astonishing noise and tumult; and rushing impetuously in arms to the palace of the bishopric, where the sixty were congregated, and setting fire to the gate, they constrained them to renounce the magistracy; many of them, both of the popular citizens and of the nobles, returning privately to their houses, through fear, went out of the city. Others, taking arms, endeavored to defend the public honor and their own; among whom were many of the houses of Tolommei, Salimbeni, Piccolomini, Accarigi, and other families, who, combating in a variety of places, after having done and suffered much injury, causing the death of many persons of every party, and not longer able to resist so great a multitude, were forced to depart from Siena, together with M. Inghirano, captain of the people, who in this contest had shown himself favorable to the magistracy of the Sixty. As soon as they had departed, they were declared rebels and enemies of their country, their estates were confiscated, and the palace of the Tolommei demolished, as well as another of the Piccolomini, and the tower of the sons of Salimbeni, and the houses of Accarigi. The instrument of all this ruin was one Master Lutterio, who is named without a surname; and another, named Ferrucio, was sent as a commissary to Campriano, to demolish the palace of Ranuccio Tolommei, &c. In this new sedition, excited by the multitude against the magistrates of the Sixty, though it was not properly a quarrel between Guelphs and Ghibellines, nor entirely between the nobles and the people, those who had before been driven from the city took it up and united with the exiles of the Guelph party, who, incited by the favoring victory of King Charles, and uniting with the Orvietans and the Counts Aldobrandeschi, did infinite damage in the dominions of Siena, and in a few days made themselves masters of the lands of Monte Pulciano, of Torrita, Menzano, Cerreto, and many other places, which, rebelling against the city, surrendered to its exiles. The greater part of Tuscany, by these and similar divisions, stood in constant trouble and danger. Moved by this consideration, the citizens of Siena who held the government, desirous of reuniting and reconciling their exiles, that they might preserve the state from still greater confusions, sent ambassadors of the Ghibelline party, one of whom was the bishop of Siena, to Rome, to the pope Clement IV., praying his interposition to conclude a peace between them and their exiles and confederates. The pope accepted the office of mediator, and a peace was concluded August 2, 1266, and confirmed by all parties, with promises of mutual forgiveness.”
New connections were formed with Charles of Anjou, King of Naples, and fresh wars engaged in, which kept the minds of the citizens employed, though the Sienese and the Ghibelline cause met with defeats and disasters, which reduced it so low, that Siena was left alone to support it. This adversity, however, had one good effect. “On the fifteenth of August, 1270, it produced a peace between the Guelphs and Ghibellines in Siena; and the twenty-four magistrates, with twelve buoni homini of the commons, meeting in one assembly, agreed that in future the government should be administered by thirty-six magistrates, of nobles and commons in equal portions, with the title of The Thirty-six Governors of the City and Community of Siena. This was followed by a league with Florence, under the auspices of Charles, King of Naples. The party of the Guelphs was now so powerful, and the Ghibellines so depressed, that the Sienese, who, like all other people under governments so constituted, with parties nearly equal in numbers, wealth, and merit, without any mediator between them, always stood on the brink of sedition, turned the scale rather in favor of the Guelphs; and these, as soon as they felt their power, rose upon the Ghibellines, and drove them out of the city.
“Understanding that King Charles was at Viterbo, they sent ambassadors to congratulate him on the happy success of affairs in Tuscany, who presented him with four thousand five hundred golden florins in behalf of the republic, the Guelphs being desirous, upon this their first appearance in power, to show their gratitude; and a diet of Guelph ambassadors was soon held in the castle of Florence. The Sienese Ghibellines in exile were nevertheless troublesome, appearing in many places in arms, and ravaging the country, till the Guelphs marched out, fought, and routed them. When this was done, they in their turn took vengeance, by demolishing the castles and towers of the Ghibellines, both in the city and country. In 1272, the pope Gregory X. again interposed his mediation, and obtained the restoration of the Ghibellines both in Siena and Florence; and the stipulation, promising them protection, was ratified by the college of thirty-six governors of the city and commons of Siena.”
But the minority is never happy; indeed, they are always oppressed by the majority, where there is not a separate executive and an independent judicial, whose interest as well as duty it is to be impartial between them. In a little time the Ghibellines, who were returned to Siena, found by experience the truth of this observation. They found that they had not the same privileges* with others, nor the same chance for honors, nor the same security of their reputations, as when formerly they had shared the government with the Guelphs. Living in little credit, having small hopes of any change in their favor, and knowing that they had no security for their property, liberty, or lives, but in the mercy of the major party, they returned into the country of Siena, and, joining with the Ghibelline exiles from Bologna, renewed the old troubles and the usual party rage. They raised forces, excited rebellions, and formed alliances with little territories and signories, till they were able to meet a party of the army sent out against them in 1277. These they defeated at Pari, and took many prisoners, among whom was Ridolfo, the captain, whom they beheaded. The news of this skirmish and defeat threw the Sienese army into such a sudden panic, that they betook themselves to flight, without having seen their enemy, and without any military order returned to the city. Such an excess of timidity, such an infamous cowardice, though it is not unprecedented nor uncommon even among the bravest troops, could not fail to occasion great indignation in Siena.
“When the multitude considered how easily the enemy might, if they should have the resolution to follow their advantage, enter the city itself, and join their partisans there, they rose in a tumult, and ran with great fury to the defence of the gates, and stood in arms all the rest of that day and the following night. In the morning, finding that the enemy had less ardor to follow than their own army to fly, they laid down their arms, but went about the streets of the city, discoursing in much ill humor, that the divisions of the nobles might very easily prove the ruin of their country, if some remedy was not discovered; and they declared that they would no longer be disturbed by exiles, nor compelled, by the discords among the gentlemen, to be forever in war, and in danger of losing their lives and their property. It appeared to them that, for the common tranquillity, a peace ought to be concluded, as proposed by the pope’s legate, who had been sent to recommend a reconciliation between the people of Tuscany. The Sienese of the Guelph party, who governed the city, influenced by these murmurs, the legate’s exhortations, and a weariness of civil war, which held them in continual agitation and danger, both in their public and private affairs, agreed at last, in 1279, to a peace with their exiles, who, without any further noise of arms, and to the universal satisfaction of all parties, were restored to their country and their honors, under the podesterate, or, as they chose to call it, the signory of Matthew de’ Maggi of Brescia.”
In the next year, 1280, in the podesterate of Alberigo Signoregi of Bologna, the palaces of the Incontri were burnt and demolished by the fury of the people, instigated by the Guelphs; a convulsion which originated in the usual source, the divisions and enmities among the gentlemen, and produced the usual effect, an idle and useless attempt to reform the government, by restraining the power to fewer hands, without dividing and separating it into its natural departments. The thirty-six magistrates were now reduced to fifteen, as if the number of members, not the nature of their power, had done the mischief; and it was ordained that no gentleman could be of the number of fifteen, but all must be popular men; as if noble demagogues and popular demagogues were not all equally absurd, ambitious, proud, and tyrannical, when they have no necessity to be wise, modest, humble, and equitable. This decree was as tyrannical as any that can be conceived; for if it were admitted that a descent from a line of benefactors to their country was no merit, nor any argument for employing a citizen in public offices, surely it is no demerit, nor any argument for excluding him. The reason assigned for it was, that the pride of the nobility increased and accumulated by their bearing the public authority, and that they ought not to have the power to make their pride and arbitrary dispositions more intolerable, nor, by their divisions among themselves, to disturb so frequently the public peace and quiet of the other citizens, as they had done in times past; as if the pride of new men were not equally or even more exalted by power, their dispositions apt to become more arbitrary, and their divisions even more intractable and furious, which is the certain truth of fact.
“These fifteen new magistrates were called the governors and defenders of the commons and people of Siena; but by this arbitrary institution they neither quieted themselves nor reunited to them the exasperated minds of the nobles. Without considering the damage which, in the divided situation of their principles, opinions, and affections, would result not only to themselves, but to the whole city, weakened to such a degree by its divisions, that malignant humors and irreparable animosities must be generated from fresh hatreds and revenge, and without seeing that the exaltation of the popular faction, patronized as it was by the supreme magistrates, would prove their depression, the Guelphs and Ghibellines, in a few months after, again flew to arms; and part of the multitude taking side with the Guelphs, many of the faction of Ghibellines were driven out of the city, at the head of whom was M. Niccolò Buonsignori, a man of great reputation, and in great credit for his valor with the soldiers and princes of those times. His fame had procured him many followers of the Ghibelline faction; and having received information that the Ghibellines who, after his departure, had remained in Siena, were grievously oppressed by Orsini, the podestà of that city, he wished to deliver them from such injustice, and vindicate their cause. By the aid of the Counts of Santa Fiore, from whom he had no small number of men, he approached one night to the gate, to which the Ghibellines in Siena, with whom he had an understanding, rushed; and having suddenly made a breach, he entered the city. Guided by several citizens, with their assistance he fought all night and the next day; but was finally driven out again. The battle upon this occasion between the parties was general, for the bells of the commons, which were upon the tower of Mignanelli, had rung to arms, and the people had very generally risen. Danger was affronted on all sides, and the struggle was furious. Although the Ghibellines had by force of arms made their way to the market, the Guelphs put them to flight, massacring some, and making many prisoners, leaving among the dead M. Jacomo Forteguerri, who was one of the heads of the faction. Niccolò found himself surrounded with a host of his enemies; but, although on horseback, he retreated, defending himself with that fierce intrepidity that so commonly appears in civil wars, and went out of the city through the same gate, accompanied by great numbers of the nobles of Ghibelline houses, as the Forteguerri, Paliaresi, Salvani, Ugurgieri, Ragnoni, and others, who would not remain in the power of an enraged enemy, and retired to the territory of Rigomagno. This was on the fifteenth of July, 1281. Matthew Orsini, the Roman, being podestà, was afterwards sent by the magistrates of Siena, the fifteen governors and defenders of the commons and people of Siena, with an army composed of the men of the third of San Martino, and other people summoned from the other thirds, to attack the Ghibellines in Rigomagno. Here the exiles had fortified themselves, and, when attacked, as they had expected, defended their strong-hold with great bravery; but at length they were forced to evacuate it, and leave the ground to the Guelphs, who having, at the expense of much slaughter on both sides, got possession of it, razed the walls, and cut off the head of Neri di Belmonte, a captain of the Ghibellines, whom they had taken prisoner, in retaliation for a similar severity committed by them on Ridolfo della Treguena, a few years before, when they defeated the Guelphs at Pari.
“In 1282, the Count Silvatico de’ Conti Guidi was podestà, and the Sienese, the other castles of their state being intimidated by the examples made at Rigomagno, sent them orders not to receive the exiles, nor any other Ghibellines, but to resist them in arms, to demolish the walls of Monte Fallonica, those of St. Agnolo in Colle, and those of Monticiano, in which territories M. Niccolò Buonsignori had attempted to make a stand, and from which he made a predatory war upon Siena for some months, with several exiles from that city and other places. Martin IV., a Frenchman, succeeded to the pontificate, and by his favor King Charles regained his former credit in the cities of Tuscany, and was restored to the dignity of senator of Rome, to the infinite dissatisfaction of the Ghibelline party, who upon this occasion were wholly deprived of any share in the government by the triumphant Guelphs, both in Siena and in many other cities.”
And this is ever the object of a prevalent faction or a decided majority, to monopolize the whole government to themselves, by the total exclusion of the minority; and when possessed of the whole legislative, executive, and judicial power, they drive into exile, confiscate, behead, and oppress in every way, without control.
“The Sicilians broke out in rebellion against Charles; and while his forces were employed in attempting to reduce them, the Sienese of the Guelph party, who governed the republic, to prevent their Ghibelline exiles and rebels from attempting some innovation under favor of the revolution in Sicily against King Charles, the head and protector of the Guelphs, sent a new army into the country to persecute and plunder the Ghibellines; and this year the fifteen governors and defenders of the people and commons of Siena, the consuls of the merchants, the consuls of the manufacturers in wool, the signors of the other arts, the signors gonfaloniers of the companies, and the captains of the country, were all congregated together with the podestà in the general council, and a treaty made with Ranieri de’ Conti d’ Elci and several other lords.
“A war continued between Charles and Peter, King of Aragon; and in 1283 Charles died, which again raised the hopes of the Ghibellines, and excited them to arms in Romagna and in the territories of Siena, where they did infinite mischief, sometimes approaching and entering the city itself. At last an army was raised, and they were put to flight. If this vigorous exertion had not prevented them, they were in a fair way of regaining the ascendency in the city, where great discontents prevailed; for the government, in 1280, having been placed entirely in the hands of the popular party, as has been related, the gentlemen could not with quiet minds submit to it; and although, by the divisions among them into Guelphs and Ghibellines, they were disunited among themselves, it was much feared by the ruling party that, when the enemy should approach the city, they would endeavor, with the assistance of some of the popular men, (for these too were divided,) to make themselves masters of some part of the state with their arms, although they had not been able to obtain it by their beans. The Sienese, in determining all questions in their councils and among their magistrates, made use of beans as votes, white ones for the affirmative and black for the negative. The governing party, knowing that, by the death of Charles and the other mishaps which followed it, the party of the Guelphs was much debilitated, thought it necessary in this year, 1284, to make many new provisions for the security of the state; among which, as they could not confide in the multitude, they thought to réstrain the government to a smaller number of persons, it appearing to them that they could more securely confide in a few, whose abilities, being more united, would have greater energy than those of many, and that they might more easily agree among themselves, treat with greater secrecy, form their resolutions, and decide upon execution for the defence of the state. After long and angry controversies, they gained the concurrence of the nobles in one opinion, though little satisfactory to them, that the fifteen magistrates should be reduced to nine; and this was the original of the order of the Nine in Siena; and, that they might with more convenience attend upon the public, without being interrupted by their private affairs, it was ordained that they should continue for two months continually assembled in the same palace, and live at the expense of the republic; and it was declared that in this office, denominated ‘The Nine Governors and Defenders of the Commons and People of Siena,’ although the nobles were to have a part in all the other magistracies, no noblemen could be elected. The statute says, ‘De numero dominorum novem, vel ipsius officii officialis non possit aliquis de aliquo casato civitatis Senensis, nec aliquis nobilis de civitate, vel jurisdictione Senensi. Domini novem, qui sunt, et esse debent defensores communis et populi civitatis Senensis, et districtus, ac jurisdictionis ejusdem, sint et esse debeant de mercatoribus, et de numero mercatorum civitatis prædictæ, vel de media gente.’ ”
The nature of the animal is nowhere revealed in stronger characters than in this curious record, where a government in one centre, and that centre a group of merchants, with unblushing heads, exclude not only all the plebeians and lowest class of laborers, but all the artists, mechanics, and men of the three liberal professions, and all the landholders of the country, and monopolize every thing to themselves, as they would monopolize a merchandise or forestall a market. There appears a ridiculous variation of the numbers of this magistracy for many years together, as if they thought the faults of the government, which every one felt, were owing to this circumstance; and the same fickleness appeared in all the other cities of Italy, particularly Florence, where the number of priori was once three, then six, afterwards twelve, presently eight.* This form of government was as detestable to the plebeians as to the nobles; and the wars between Genoa and Pisa, and the expeditions against rebellious lords, and the death of four princes in this year, 1285, Charles, Philip, Peter, and Martin the pope, could not prevent the Ghibellines and the common people (il popolo minuto) of Siena from uniting against the Nine.
“For, on the succession of Honorius IV. to the papacy in the place of Martin, and after the death of Charles, his son being a prisoner to the Aragonese, weakness appeared among the Guelphs; and the Ghibelline exiles of Siena, assisted by the people of Arezzo, were encouraged to take by surprise a Sienese castle, named Poggio a Santa Cicilia, which they fortified; from hence, with troops of horse, they made continual incursions and depredations, not only upon the country of Siena, but other confederated cities of the Guelph party, until the Sienese, after a siege of six months, unable to take it by force, had reduced it by famine, in 1286. A great number of prisoners were made, and, after demolishing the walls, delivered to the podestà to be punished. The people, however, were so oppressed by their popular mercantile government, and so much preferred that of the nobles, that they took their part, rose in convulsion, joined the Ghibellines in arms, with great impetuosity rushed to the palace, and compelled the nine governors and defenders of the commons and people of Siena, and their podestà, Bartolomeo de’ Maggi of Brescia, to deliver the prisoners into their hands, to be conducted to the house of the bishopric, to save their lives. But no sooner had they come out of the palace than the Guelphs, who by order of the magistrates had been summoned, and united with the soldiers of the guards and garrisons, a kind of standing army maintained for the defence of the state, proceeded to oppose and affront the Ghibellines, who, with the popolo minuto, had excited this sedition; and finding that these, thinking the prisoners safe, had begun to disperse, they attacked them with great fury, slew many, put the rest to flight, recovered the prisoners, and cut off their heads, to the number of sixty-five, among whom were several principal characters.”
The union of the plebeians, the popolo minuto, with the nobles and Ghibellines, against the government of the commons and Guelphs, is not less remarkable than the distinction established by their very title between the commons and people. Both are perfectly natural, for the popolo grasso can never bear to be mixed with the popolo minuto, any more than nobles to be confounded with commons; and the union of the laborers and mechanics with the nobles, against a government of dogmatical merchants, by whom they were oppressed, was as natural as that which has so often happened, of the people with a monarch, against the tyranny of nobles and patricians. The general sense of the city upon this occasion appears to have been in favor of the nobles, and their opportunity was lost merely by the weakness of the human understanding, which seldom knows how to seize with promptitude and decision the critical moment that decides so many great events. The Ghibellines were not, however, suppressed; they continued to assemble in the country, and unite in bodies from various cities, and commit frequent depredations, laying waste the country both of Florence and Siena. These civil wars continued, without interruption, between the cities and their exiles, with various fortune, till 1292, when Siena became so weak, and the government so tyrannical, as to force the nobles to sell their lands, houses, and castles, to bear the expense of defending that government from which they were so arbitrarily excluded. Prosecuting the war abroad against the Ghibellines, and plundering the nobles at home, they suppressed both at last, and began to entertain lofty thoughts; at the public expense they built magnificent palaces for the signori of the commons of Siena, to give the government more authority, majesty, and strength, and the more effectually to trample down the pride of the nobility.
“To this end, as the ambitious desires of men are insatiable, although Siena was at full peace, and without the least suspicion or apprehension of the Ghibellines, the nine magistrates, who had the absolute power of the city, taking occasion of the many private enmities and personal hatreds which had grown up, and were habitual and even hereditary between many noble families, ordered that four hundred men should always stand in arms in each third of the city, on the pretence of obviating any scandalous rencounter that might suddenly arise between one family and another. To these standing guards they gave arms and ensigns, with orders that, at the ringing of the bells, they should all march to the piazza; and a complete arrangement of orders was given, that at the call of the magistrates they should be ready to quell the scandals and quarrels which, to the great danger of the public as well as private persons, they said, arose from the discord of the gentlemen; and to prevent the gentlemen in such cases from moving on horseback or otherwise, they placed at the head of every street, and even at every corner, an enormous iron chain, to be drawn upon occasion across the street, and prevent their passage. Under this color of preventing disorders and tumults, to be occasioned by the discords among the noble houses, the popular party were thus armed without opposition, not so much to prevent the pretended disorders, as to secure themselves from any attempt of the nobles, if ever they should unite to reinstate themselves in their dignities, and obtain a restoration to that share in the government which was their undoubted right.”
For the consciences of these mercantile demagogues must have taught them, that if the nobles had no more, they had at least an equal right with themselves, or any others, to participate in government; and thus those public arms, which had been provided by their ancestors for the conservation of their country and their liberties, were now most insolently converted into the weapons of civil war, and turned by the cunning of one party against the rights of another; and whether this plague of the city of Siena, and all the other republics of Italy, was produced by the natural pride of the nobility, impatiently borne by the people, or by the immoderate jealousy and envy of the people, or whether by both together, it was not the less fatal to all the Tuscan republics, by conducting them to that destruction, to which all republics have been devoted when subjected to any government in one centre, whether that centre be the unbridled licentiousness of the multitude, or the ambitious and avaricious discords of the few.
“The nobles were at this period persecuted, not only in Siena, but in all the other cities of Tuscany, and deprived of all share in government; and those who were in power held in such detestation the very name of nobility, that, thinking the judgments of others would keep pace with their own passions, they ordained by public laws, that such as would formally and solemnly renounce their nobility, and declare that they were no gentlemen, should become qualified to be in the government, and to be admitted into the supreme magistracy; in such contempt were held, at this time and by these men, those advantages and that character, which in other places have ever been most ardently desired and sought, at every hazard of life and fortune, and which the sons and descendants of these very merchants have with so much avidity since claimed, insisting on being entitled to the rank and title of nobles and gentlemen, merely because descended from magistrates holding the power of the state.
“Having thus excluded all gentlemen from the administration of the republic, and extinguished all their hopes of ever recovering it, these tyrants, the nine magistrates, had the assurance to constitute a new regimen, which, under the name of a popular government, tended more to give the power to a few, than to distribute it generally; and this restriction to a few, although it was injurious and oppressive to some, is said to have been more useful to the state, and of longer duration, than if it had been relaxed in favor of the many.”
Perhaps it is universally true, that if the whole government must reside in a single assembly, it is more safe, peaceful, and durable in a few hands than in many, an aristocracy than a democracy.
“Having modelled the government according to their own passions, interest, and convenience, they proceeded to subdue the rebellious mountains and castles in the country. It was in this year, 1299, the house of Austria had its origin, in the elevation of Albert to the empire. The wars against the Turks, and in Sicily and Flanders, occupied the spirits in some degree till 1302, when the many enmities among the noble houses in Siena were renewed with as much boldness and violence as ever, which occasioned frequent tumults and continual agitation in the city; parties meeting in arms, sometimes upon one incident and sometimes on another, and many of all sides falling victims to their fury; and, from the number of clients and adherents to these families, all the orders of government for maintaining in each third of the city an armed guard were not sufficient to preserve the peace; and the magistrates feared they would not long be able to keep the nobles out of the government; they therefore thought it prudent to try another method. When any quarrel broke out, the nine magistrates sent for the heads of those families which were engaged in the brawl, and endeavored to reconcile them; and in this way they succeeded, in some degree, to reconcile the Malavolti and Salimbeni, the Gigli and Squarcialupi, the Piccolomini and Pelacani, the Tegolei and Malavolti, and many others.
“The major part of the Guelph cities of Tuscany, in 1303, were delivered from the discords and dangers which they had with the Ghibellines, in consequence of the victory obtained over them at Campaldino; but having nobody to fight with, as if they were incapable of quiet and impatient of rest, the Guelphs divided themselves into two factions, the one called Bianchi, and the other Neri. This pernicious distinction had its beginning in Pistoia, in the family of the Cancellieri, whence, spreading through many other cities, it infected the whole province of Tuscany, and part of Romagna. The city of Siena, though naturally inclined to divisions, preserved itself some time from this venomous contagion, chiefly by the constant occupation it already had in the quarrels between the people and the gentlemen, which would not allow time for new contests. This division, however, broke out in Florence, very near them in neighborhood, where, after many skirmishes in arms, the Bianchi were overcome by the Neri, and expelled from the city; and all the influence of the pope, with his spiritual armor, could not reconcile them. The Bianchi now in exile, though Guelphs, united with the Ghibellines, and, assisted by the Aretines and Bolonese of the same faction, made an attempt, in 1304, upon Florence; but some cavalry, sent from Siena, put them to flight.”
The detail of altercations and civil wars, within and without, between these complicated and contradictory mixtures of Neri and Bianchi, Guelphs and Ghibellines, nobles and commons, from this time to 1309, is too minute to be related, although there was no pause, no interval of quiet. In this year the quarrels between the nobles, particularly the families of Tolommei and Salimbeni, arising merely from their envy of each other, and their emulation in feasting and entertainments, broke out anew. Though excluded from government, though plundered in property, these families had still admirers, followers, and adherents among the people, who made them formidable to the magistrates, and gave them influence to weaken the government, more than they possibly could have had with their whole share in a well-constituted state. All the nobles, with their followers, who were very numerous, as well as the multitude of people, their friends and adherents in the counties or signories in the country, became divided by this private quarrel into two parties. Wonderful was the jealousy of those in government, and their apprehensions for the safety of the state; and to secure it, as they pretended, from all danger that might arise, to repress the temerity and pride of the seditious, they ordained, that for every company, in town or country, which consisted, in all, of forty-two since the nobility were excluded, there should be appointed one captain and one gonfalonier, as there used to be anciently, when the city raised an army for the field; that this militia, whenever any tumult was to be apprehended, and in all other emergencies, should hold their men in arms (but none of the nobility were to be admitted among them, as they were in former times, when the companies were of fifty-nine) and together, under the command of the gonfalonier of the Third, should march in all haste to the palace with their public ensigns, and there execute the orders which should be given them by the magistracy of the Nine. For the same purpose they organized three centurions, three commanders of brigades, and eleven vicariates, each of whom had his own distinct ensigns and colors.
“But by this whole system of forty-two armed companies, their captains, gonfaloniers, and centurions, formed in appearance for the common service, and under color of suppressing the feuds of the grandees, the principals of the party who governed the city, thought to pursue their own inordinate desire of reducing the government to a smaller number of persons, by means of the public arms, of which, through this artifice, they made themselves masters. They therefore prohibited not only the noblemen, but many of those popular persons who had, many years before, ennobled themselves, and acquired the name of families, to enjoy the benefit of the law which, in the beginning of the present form of government had been made, that those who would renounce their nobility, and reduce themselves to the popular order, should be capable of being magistrates. Taking advantage of a little tumult on the twenty-sixth of May, 1310, which they themselves excited, they sounded the alarm, and called together at the palace their whole military force; and instead of proceeding to suppress riots, or punish criminals, it was there declared, by those citizens who had arrogated to themselves the whole government, that those families which were named in writing should never be of the number of popular families, but they and their descendants, forever, should be understood to be grandees, and incapable of serving in the office of the Nine, then the supreme magistracy, as all of the Ghibelline party had been rendered incapable before; and this practice was common at this period in all the other cities of Tuscany, as well as in Siena, whenever the governing party had a mind to exclude any man from the magistracy, to make him a grandee, which is the same thing as a noble. Ninety families were admonished, as the phrase was, that is, rendered incapable of the magistracy, for being noble, or for being made and declared so—a number that comprehended all the families of any distinction or consideration.
“Having thus reduced the government to a small number, by excluding everybody but themselves, they became very assiduous in attending the magistracy, in order to make the most of it; and in a short time they acquired so great an authority, so much wealth and power, that they became formidable not only to the nobles, but to that part of the people which was not admitted by them into the government. Holding down all others, they established their own power in the state so oligarchically, that, like other despots, they were obeyed by every one from fear. The Ghibelline exiles, however, made frequent inroads upon their territories; and the disqualified families had so many friends, that these nine magistrates were kept in continual alarms. In 1313, some of the nobles appeared to have so much influence, that the government thought it necessary to reënact and republish their militia law, and the law of exclusion of all the nobles and grandees, depriving them of all the honors, offices, and privileges of the commons. They sometimes thought themselves so secure that they might recall their exiles, then would suddenly seize and imprison them; and were generally employed in foreign or domestic wars, or in quelling some rebellion, till 1315, when a fresh quarrel broke out between the Tolommei and Salimbeni, two noble families, and produced tumults and battles in the streets, in which much blood was shed, and the city thrown into such confusion, that the militia, when called out, would not, or could not, obey the orders either of the magistrates or their own officers. The whole people took arms, and sided with one party and another, some for government, some for the Tolommei, some for the Salimbeni, till the Nine issued a proclamation, that, upon penalty of life and fortune, both parties should appear in their presence, before a candle, which they had burning, should be consumed.
“Wars and tumults occupied the citizens till 1318, when, upon the disbanding the army at the peace with the city of Massa, the troops and the people in general, who expected to have plundered it, were very discontented, and two classes of tradesmen, the smiths and the butchers, began a riot in the city against their captain, calling him traitor, and collecting tumultuous bodies of the multitude. The captain, finding himself in great danger, contrived to escape their fury, in which he was favored by some noblemen, who, by entertaining the people with soft words, composed their anger; and, as they had neither any head nor guide, they were easily persuaded to go home. Although this tumult was quieted in appearance, the minds of the citizens were much altered, and there was danger of fresh commotions. To avoid greater inconvenience, seeing that the greater part of the plebeians stood in arms through fear, with their shops shut, to defend themselves from punishment, the magistrates absolved them from all penalties incurred by those who had been in arms in the late tumult, and commanded, under grievous penalties, that every one laying down his arms should return to his business. It would have been a remarkable thing, if, in a factious city, like Siena, quieted as it was from foreign wars, new seditions and civil wars had not been fomented within; but discontents with the government were now universal. The nobility, the plebeians, and the middling people, being all excluded from the government, excepting the nine, were all oppressed and all provoked. The doctors, as they called the judges and notaries, were of a rank and character as nearly in the middle between the nobles and plebeians as any. These, excited as much by the persuasions of the other persons, as moved by their own interest, came forward and demanded or petitioned the Nine to be admitted into the government of the city, and to be declared capable of serving in the supreme magistracy of the republic. Reasons the most solid and cogent, as they thought, were urged by them, to show that their pretensions were but just and reasonable. It appeared to the nine signori, that this petition was impertinent, and an offence that merited not only correction, but a severe chastisement; and having rejected it with much bitterness, they decreed the punishment of which those should be adjudged worthy, who, from such interested motives, should seek to disturb the civil orders, and interrupt the common quiet of the city. The doctors and notaries they dismissed from their offices, and declared them incapable of holding any office in the city or country. This high-spirited edict excited the indignation and despair of the doctors and notaries, and they entered into a conspiracy with the butchers, smiths, and other plebeians, to assassinate the whole nine, with all their adherents, take possession of the palace, make themselves masters of the state, and appoint one of the Tolommei, who favored the enterprise, podestà, another nobleman captain, a third proconsul, and thus to distribute all the offices of state among their leaders in the conspiracy.
“With this intention, on the twenty-sixth of October, 1318, the conspirators arose in a tumult, raised a loud cry against the nine, and demanded, with arms in their hands, a participation in the government; but they were soon met by a large body of cavalry and three hundred infantry, who were then kept in pay, to be sent to Genoa in the service of King Robert, and whom the nine magistrates, having some intimation of this enterprise, not willing to trust their own guards alone, had ordered out, for their security. A furious battle ensued, and much bravery was displayed on both sides; but as the commotion had been excited by the plebeians themselves, and was encouraged but faintly by the nobility, chiefly with a view to try their strength, the forces of government prevailed; yet the plebeians sustained the shock with more firmness than was expected; and if they had been judicious enough to wait till the regular troops were gone to Genoa, would have carried their point. The greater part of the gonfaloniers, centurions, and captains, concurred with the multitude, in desiring to acquire the benefits of civil life, and the rights of citizens; but the magistrates were favored by one part of the gentlemen, who were not well pleased that the government of the city should be reduced totally into the hands of the plebeians, and thus obtained from Florence some forces, under the command of one Bingeri Rucellai, by whose assistance the multitude, being first disheartened by the non-appearance of their leaders, were finally dispersed. Some of the leaders of the butchers, &c. were beheaded, and Rucellai rewarded with the ensign of the white lion, the arms of the people of Siena.
“When the tumult was quieted, and the city purged by the punishment of the principal delinquents, the nine sent succors to King Robert at Genoa, and to the Guelphs at Brescia, Cremona, and Perugia; and thus they became employed in all the wars abroad; but even this was not enough, in 1324, to prevent the feuds between the two noble families, the Tolommei and Salimbeni, whose hatred produced many murders and assassinations, many other single combats, besides general and more sanguinary actions between parties of their followers in the streets, both by night and by day. In 1325, the Guelphs were defeated by Castruccio Castracani, Signor of Lucca, near the castle of Altopascio, where he made a great slaughter, and many prisoners, and brought both Florence and Siena into imminent danger; but this was not sufficient to prevent another tumult, in which the podestà took one part, and the captain another; many were insulted, some slain, nor was the disorder suppressed without grievous fines and capital punishments.
“In 1326, Walter, Duke of Athens, vicar of the Duke of Calabria in Florence, came to Siena, and demanded the signory of that city, in the same manner as he had obtained that of Florence. The demand appeared to the citizens very strange, though they treated him with great magnificence. They thought it proceeded from a very bad principle, and worse intention, considering the sincere and affectionate attachment which they and their ancestors had ever, with the utmost veneration, demonstrated for his house, and the great and many tokens of fidelity, which might be known from their actions towards King Robert, Kings Charles I. and II., and towards all their connections on all occasions; and as it appeared to them, that they were outrageously insulted, and by him from whom they least expected it, they suddenly rose in a great tumult in arms, and, drawing the chains across the streets, shut up their gates, lest the Florentines should send a reinforcement. They not only prepared for defence, but, their suspicions increasing, also to attack with all their forces, the lodgings of the duke himself at the bishop’s palace, and give battle to his people. Such a commotion and concourse of so numerous an armed multitude, under so many standards of their companies and vicariates, demonstrating that in this the city was united, and not divided, as had been represented to the duke, upon the supposition of which division he had founded his demand, spread a terror among his followers; and demanding to speak with the magistrates, it was agreed, that the requisition of the duke should be referred to a senate. Such an assembly was accordingly congregated, to the number of four hundred and eighty senators, who, after long debates, having regard both to the liberty of the republic and the honor of the duke, determined that Charles, Duke of Calabria, should have, for five years, and no longer, power to elect the podestà of Siena from the number of three, who should be proposed to him by the people of Siena; that he should not, however, be called podestà, but vicar of the duke, on condition that every vicar, before he should take upon him the office, should take an oath to observe the laws and statutes of the city of Siena; and the citizens well knowing of how much detriment to cities are divisions and animosities, the duke easily persuaded the Salimbeni and Tolommei to make a truce for five years.”
In 1328, the nine magistrates made a census, or description of the families of the city, third by third, and there were found eleven thousand seven hundred and eleven heads of families in the whole, nobles, grandees, substantial people, and lesser people all together. The calamities of famine and pestilence, as well as war and sedition, which happened in 1329 and 1330, though the magistracy of nine discovered too much insensibility, and too little activity, to relieve the people, we pass over as evils not proceeding immediately from the form of government, and too afflicting to humanity to be related.
In 1331, a fresh affray happened between the two great families of Salimbeni and Tolommei. The inveteracy with which ancient and honored families take hold of a nation, and become interwoven with each other and the whole people, so that it is impossible to get rid of their influence, appears very strongly on this occasion. Though excluded and robbed, they could not dispute without setting the whole city to disputing. The ren-counter between two noblemen, in which one was killed, produced the assassination of another, and the whole city took the part of the one or the other, and tumults and commotions in arms threatened universal ruin, till the government issued a proclamation against the two principal actors, offered rewards for their lives as assassins, and raised a force to confirm it, which obliged them to fly to Ferrara, where they and the other Tolommei, their descendants, were long afterwards known by the nickname of The Assassins. But this could not prevent fresh tumults and homicides in Siena, between the same families in 1332; nor others between the Malavolti and Piccolomini, in 1333, which were renewed in 1334, notwithstanding the employment the city had, through this whole period, in foreign affairs. In 1335, the league was renewed between the Guelph cities, and particularly between Siena and Florence. In 1337, an accommodation was attempted between the quarrelsome nobles, but without much effect; but in 1342 their ungovernable passions broke out again in homicides and general tumults.
“In 1343, the Duke of Athens attempted to promote his own ambitious views of obtaining the sovereignty of Siena, by pretending to mediate between the nobles and the nine, and to reconcile them with each other; but his dissimulation was not profound enough to deceive either party. In this year there were three conspiracies at once against the Duke of Athens at Florence, and the government of Siena sent ambassadors to his assistance; but the people in their fury had committed great disorders and many homicides, and finally besieged the Duke in his palace for a time, and then drove him out of the city; after which, by the advice of the Sienese ambassadors, they reformed their government, instituting eight priori, four of them noble, and four popular; but this form was soon demolished, and the government became as popular as that of Siena itself; the nobles were excluded, and tempted to renounce their nobility, in the same manner, and with the same whimsical, odious, and vicious effects.
“In 1344, the Counts of Santa Fiore, and the Visconti de Campiglia were made citizens of Siena, and subjected their lands to the republic.” In the year 1346, another memorable commotion happened. “Such is the nature of the people, that, ever desirous of seeing new things, they frequently hold in contempt those that are present; governed more by their wills than their prudence, and excited by vain hopes and immoderate desires, they are too often easily stimulated to enterprises, which, if regarded with an eye of reason, would be found impracticable. The government of the nine, by the length of time, by their arbitrary exclusions, and by their more arbitrary restriction to so small a number, were grown so odious, not only to the nobles, but to a great part of the multitude, that neither could patiently bear that a few popular men should enjoy every thing, and be masters of all men, when it appeared to them that others had more merit. From conversations and consultations they proceeded to action, and many popular men having associated under Spinelloccio Tolommei, they rose in a mighty tumult.” There is no room to doubt that they would have risen long before, and not have suffered such a government to stand a month, nor indeed to be erected at all, if the Tolommei and Salimbeni, the Malavolti and Piccolomini, could have agreed who should be the leader. The divisions of the nobles among themselves had alone lost them the government, and prevented their recovering it. The people in those days, and in that city, were utterly incapable of planning or executing any enterprise whatever. “A noisy uproar of ‘Down with the Nine!’* ran through the city; but the insurgents, not having been able to force the palace, and having in vain attempted to enter several houses of the nine magistrates, which were well guarded, some of them entered the house of Berto di Lotto, where there happened to be an entertainment, and found John Foscherani, one of the principal men in the government. Him, with his son, who exerted himself nobly in defence of his father, they slew. The perpetrators of this murder, intimidated with the apprehension of punishment for what they had done, and perhaps made cowards by remorse of conscience, rushed out of the house, and committed themselves to flight for safety; the rest retired to the houses of the heads of the conspiracy, thinking to assemble a great number of their partisans, and again to try their fortune. This attempt, however ill-digested and unsuccessful, excited a terror in the magistrates, perceiving that a part of the nobility had concurred in it, and fearing they had not force sufficient to suppress it. They found means, however, to defend themselves, by a strong guard, in the palace, till they received assistance from Florence, and other places in alliance with them, which enabled them, by means of the captain of war, to apprehend the conspirators, many of whom were beheaded, and others declared rebels; after which, they entered into a new league with the popular government of Florence, for mutual support against such insurrections. This convention was concluded between the syndics of the commons of Florence, and the syndics of the commons of Siena, each party obliging itself to aid, favor, and support, with their councils and arms, the other, and in every way to operate for the conservation and maintenance of the peace between them, and the internal tranquillity of each, under the office of the signori, priori of the arts, and the gonfalonier of justice in Florence, and that of the signori of the nine governors and defenders of the commons and people of Siena, declaring that whatever conspiracy or insurrection should be made against the magistrates or government of either city, should be understood to be made against the other, and its whole force exerted for the destruction of the conspirators.
“In 1348, another confederation was formed in Siena between the cities of Florence, Siena, Arezzo, and Perugia, and a large army raised by them; and in 1352, another against the Visconti. In 1354, being at peace, and without much apprehension of any foreign war, there did not fail to arise in Siena persons who spent their time in exciting new discontents as well as fomenting old humors, which they hoped would soon arise to seditions and civil war; for those who, with the authority of the Nine, had so long governed the city, had acquired, together with great power and immense riches, much envy among their fellow-citizens. This envy and resentment had, upon many occasions, given birth to conspiracies and various enterprises for wresting the authority out of their hands; and although they had defended themselves, and punished the principal delinquents, they had never been able to eradicate the seeds of sedition so effectually but that many remains of it were left in the minds of their adherents, which went on continually increasing by time, till the magistrates were seriously apprehensive that the common people would attach themselves to Charles, the emperor, and by his assistance depose them. Desirous of possessing themselves first of his favor, and moved by the persuasions of one of the Salimbeni, whom, on account of his enmity to many of the noble houses, they had taken into their confidence, they sent ambassadors to Charles, to offer him the obedience of the city; and, so ill a counsellor is fear, the majority, much against the judgment of many of their colleagues, were for submitting freely, without any exception, or making any conditions, hoping by his assistance, or at least without offence to him, or opposition from him, to reëstablish their authority; not considering, that having always been Guelphs, and by so many offences provoked the past emperors, particularly Henry VII., his grandfather, it would be impossible for him to judge whether they submitted from any motive other than fear or necessity, or to confide in their fidelity. But the hour was come when this form of government must be changed into another. “Charles having in all appearance benignly accepted the offer, dissimulating his intentions, came to Siena; and soon after his arrival, the little people, il popolo minuto, by Charles’s orders, and guided by the Tolommei, Malavolti, Piccolomini, Saraceni, and even some of the Salimbeni, with a great and universal commotion of the whole city, rose and drove out of the public palace the nine magistrates, not without robberies and murders committed by the rabble, who burnt the caskets and boxes in which were kept the ballots of the nine magistrates, which every two months were drawn, one by each magistrate, for two months to come. Charles, by whose consent and orders this novelty had been committed, gave a commission to twenty citizens, twelve popular and eight noble, to think of a new plan of government. The twenty elected for this purpose, in three days, ordained that a new magistracy should be instituted, of twelve popular members, and entitled The Twelve Signori, governors and administrators of the commonwealth of Siena, to be elected four from each third of the city, and, as the nine had done, to reside in the palace at the public expense, and to be changed every two months, with full authority in every respect to administer the government of the republic, in company, in all their deliberations, with twelve noblemen, four for each third, who might inhabit the city in their own houses, without being obliged to live in the palace, except when they should be summoned to assemble with the twelve signori for the public service and despatch of business, as it should occur; and this number of noblemen were called the College, without whom the signori could not come to any resolution, or enter on any deliberation relative to the government of the city. A council, moreover, of four hundred citizens was ordained, one hundred and fifty of whom were to be nobles, and two hundred and fifty populars, (of those, however, who had not been of the office of the nine,) who were to be elected and changed every six months, and this was called the General Council. The Emperor Charles IV., after he had taken the crown, returned from Rome, and remained some days at Siena; where, finding little good understanding between the people and the nobility, he took occasion from their discord to attempt to make himself master of the city and the state, and to invest it in the Patriarch of Aquilea, his natural brother. To this end he courted the people, making many demonstrations of benevolence, with many favors which he did them in public and private; and he so operated upon them that they were content to give him the sovereignty, and put him in possession of the fortresses; and the patriarch having in this manner taken the government of the city, the twelve signori and the noble college finished their office. The emperor, felicitating himself that he had provided his brother with a beautiful dominion, took leave of Siena, and went to Pisa. There, entering into negotiations to make himself master, as he had done at Siena, he met with some difficulties, which soon multiplied upon him, in consequence of the novelties which sprung up in Siena; where one party of the citizens, not able to support the sovereignty of the patriarch, which trampled down the nobles and first populars, and studiously strove to aggrandize the common people and the multitude, upon whom he justly thought his greatness depended, arose in arms, closed the gates of the city, and demanded that the magistrates of the signori of the twelve governors and administrators should return and reside in the palace, and, together with the college, reassume the government of the republic; and that the chains which used to be drawn across the streets, but on the entrance of the emperor had been taken away, should be replaced. Three days the city stood under arms, before they obtained of the patriarch their demand. At length the magistrates were reinstated and the chains replaced.
A new rumor was then spread in the city about certain strangers who had been taken up, because they said that they had come for the service of some noblemen. The common people, from jealousy, and suspicion of plots and machinations, would have had them hanged; but the nobility, with many of the* greater people, defended them. Upon these occasions there was no adequate mode of deciding such questions but by arms; to these they accordingly resorted, and the twelve signori sent to Pisa to demand aid from the emperor, who was found in great perplexity; and fearing that, by the inconstancy of the people, the patriarch might meet with some fatal accident, he answered, that, upon condition they would consult his brother’s safety, they might model their government as they should think proper; that he would not take any part, as he had no particular knowledge of their disputes. The prisoners were therefore only confined, and the patriarch voluntarily renounced the sovereignty to the twelve magistrates, who were already returned to the palace, and the day following restored the fortresses, and joined the emperor in Pisa, leaving the city and state free, and the government, which he had held for a few days, in the hands of those magistrates from whom he received it.
“In this manner the government of the nine came to an end, who had governed with so much boldness from 1283, when this form had its beginning, under the protection of the King of Naples and the union of the Guelph cities in Tuscany, and, it must be owned, aggrandized the republic;1 and those very men of the popular side who had been of the nine, were not only deprived, with all their descendants, of the capacity of being in the government of the twelve, but it was by a law enacted that, in the volume of the statutes, the word nine should be erased, and the word twelve written in its place; in such abhorrence were they now held by all men.” These decrees of the new government, it is true, were as arbitrary as any of the former; but the whole history of this republic is but a series of changes from one unbalanced party to another. “The citizens who had held the last government were nicknamed the nine; and this name descended by inheritance to their posterity, and gave rise to the order of the nine, and became the principle of those divisions, which went on increasing among the people of this city, and became so sanguinary as to make them forget the distinctions of Guelphs and Ghibellines, nobles and populars; for after the government of the republic became again entirely vested in the hands of the populars, and then again restricted to a few, the desire constantly increased in the multitude, first to participate, then to monopolize the whole, as happened in the creation of the twelve, who became eligible exclusively from the popolo minuto.
“The emperor returned to Germany, and the Sienese soon found their new system as defective as the former.1 The whole government was still in one assembly; and though the nobles were less than half of it, they appeared to have the whole power, as they always will when mixed with the commons. The noblemen proceeded in their offices too arbitrarily; the splendor of their birth and riches, accompanied with the public authority, acquired them too much credit, too imposing an influence; and, in their usual strain, according to the lofty pride of their natures, they must needs govern all things. In order to carry into effect their desire to reduce them, as well as to establish their own authority, the popular party would forthwith have gone to arms, had not an unexpected accident compelled them to change their purpose. In the expulsion of the nine, the dependencies of the state, seeing so great an alteration in the city, and that those who had been used to command were deprived of all power, and persecuted with so much cruelty and rancor by the other citizens, thought that by such divisions the public must be too much weakened to defend the city, much less the state. Embracing this opportunity, Grosetto, Massa, Montalcino, Monte Pulciano, Casole, and other lands in the jurisdiction of Siena, refused obedience to the magistrates of the city, and to the patriarch, during the few days that he held the sovereignty. The new government, and especially the nobles, were very zealous to send out forces to suppress these rebellions, and succeeded against Massa; but the inhabitants of Monte Pulciano attempted to practise a deceit; they sent a false letter to the twelve, promising submission, in order to amuse them, while they were in reality carrying on their military operations. This letter was delivered to the twelve signori, who, without calling in the twelve of the college,2 as, according to the constitution, they ought to have done, opened and read it; and perceiving, by many manifest circumstances, the imposition, they hanged up in the piazza him who had brought the letter. The multitude were collected together by this execution, and the nobles were much exasperated that the letter had been opened and such business done without their knowledge, and contrary to order. The popular leaders of the day took occasion of this commotion to accomplish their own desires; sallied out with a great noise of arms; put themselves at the head of the mob; went to the houses of many noblemen and of the nine, with intention to put all to pillage, and force the noblemen to renounce the magistracy of the college; and would have proceeded to infamous lengths, if the gravest and most moderate citizens had not appeared, and persuaded the nobles to obviate all inconveniences by renouncing the government, in which they had discovered the best and sincerest intentions towards their country, and not more arbitrary dispositions than the popular men. The council next day ordered that three noblemen only, one for each third, should be admitted into the government, with the title of the Three Defenders; but these in a few days were deposed. That similar tumults might not happen every hour, and throw all things into confusion, they concluded to give a head to the twelve magistrates and the public arms, by whose orders alone the gonfaloniers, captains of companies, and centurions were to move. Instead of a captain of the people, whom they used to elect among foreigners every six months, they ordained that some citizen of Siena should be elected every two months; that he should be of the popular party, and one of the twelve administrators and governors, at whose deliberations he should be present as a member. The captain was afterwards commonly elected in addition to the number of twelve. The government thus organized, they proceeded against the rebels.
“Before the end of the same year, 1355, the plot of Gano di Benedetto Macellaro, and his friends, was discovered. These were the principal heads of the plebeians, the little people,1 that very faction that governed the city. Considering that, by the inconstancy of their own multitude, it might happen to their government of twelve as it had happened to the nine, they determined, for greater security and firmness to the state, to reduce the government into the hands of one man, who, from his wisdom, virtues, and the public authority, might, by crushing all seditions, consolidate and maintain it. Signor Meio di M. Jacomo Tolommei, who they knew had been always favorable to the plebeians, and desirous of making himself powerful by this means to defend their liberty, was selected by them as the man of the people; to him they communicated their intentions, and found him very well disposed to conform. Other writers have said, that the first motion came from Meio, who persuaded the heads of the plebeians to confer with their friends; however this might be, they were all seen frequently together in the house of Meio, to consult upon measures for the execution of their plan. The visits so often made by so many plebeians to this house were observed; and the twelve magistrates conceiving a suspicion, gave orders to the conservator, who had been introduced instead of the captain of war in criminal matters, to imprison Gano, and the others, who were heads of the conspiracy. Upon examination they confessed, that it was their intention, for the public good, to take the government from the twelve, and give it to Meio Tolommei, who might more easily preserve the city free from seditions and civil wars. Gano’s head was struck off; and the others, who enjoyed the favor of some grandee, a thing that in ill-constituted cities is eternally superior to justice, were confined; but Meio and many others, who had fled from Siena, were declared rebels, and his palace was demolished.
“In the year 1357, the Emperor Charles IV. confirmed all the privileges of this popular government, and made the magistrate who governed the city of Siena vicar of the emperor.
“In 1362, Giovanni de’ Salimbeni, upon receiving some injury, or at least taking some offence at the government, made himself the head of a conspiracy of many noblemen and many of those popular men who, as of the magistracy of the nine, had been admonished, and rendered incapable of office, to take the government out of the hands of the twelve, and restore it to the nine. But the secret was revealed to so many, that one at last informed the government; the plot was ordered by the twelve to be inquired into, and a very great number of considerable people were seized, some beheaded, others banished, and others imprisoned;” and all this without any regular process of law or formality of trial.
“In 1363, a new magistracy was created, and called the Regulators, who had the care of revising the accounts of those who had the management of the public money, to see that the commons were not defrauded.
“In 1365, fresh quarrels arose between the Malavolti and Tolommei, and a plot was discovered of the Piccolomini against the government of the twelve; and these families were subjected to heavy fines for their punishment, probably because the government had not strength to inflict a severer chastisement. And this timidity appeared to be well founded in another instance the same year, when their ambassadors returned from Rome, one of whom, being attached to the nobles, had given offence to the twelve, by speaking freely against them in his absence; he was cast into prison; but the government were not able to punish him with death as they intended, for the noblemen appeared in arms to defend him.”
These instances, with many others, show, that however arbitrarily or severely the nobles and most revered families are excluded, they will ever have a controlling influence over the government, when in one assembly of commons only, sometimes by secret practices, at others by open force. Indeed, such families are always in reality the heads of the factions that tear the state, though, in appearance, they have no share in it, as was seen more plainly the next year, when those twelve who had the government in their hands were afflicted beyond measure with fears of new animosities and insurrections against them.
“They found themselves divided into two factions, one called the Caneschi, and the other Grasselli, the former the favorites of the Salimbeni, and the other of the Tolommei. Knowing that the nobility were irritated by the late imprisonment of their friend the ambassador, and by the design which the twelve had discovered, by means of false testimony, to take his life and confiscate his estate, if he had not been defended by the nobles, they looked out for foreign aid, and sent to the pope to obtain it; they sent also ambassadors, some noble and some popular, to the emperor, to sound his disposition towards the republic. Among these was John Salimbeni, a man of prudence, very useful to the state, and in high reputation abroad. His death at this time was a public calamity; for the twelve, dreading the union of the noble houses, artfully introduced and excited among them every provocation to arms, to keep them divided, and excite one family against another. The nobles, at last perceiving the malicious artifice, secretly united among themselves, and, simulating a greater hatred to one another than ever, on the second of September, 1368, they, with their friends and adherents, armed themselves as if they intended to come to a decisive battle against each other. They then with one impulse turned their arms against the magistracy of the twelve, drove them out of the palace, taking possession of the arms, and, without putting any to death, made themselves masters of the city and the state.
“At once they new-modelled the government, ordaining a magistracy of ten noblemen, and three of those popular men who had been of the nine; took possession of the fortresses, and sent ambassadors to the emperor to obtain his confirmation of their new authority; but they found that ambassadors from the twelve and those plebeians who still adhered to them, had arrived before them, to solicit Charles’s aid to recover their power; and had filled the court with slanders to such a degree as to move the emperor’s compassion in their own favor, and his indignation against their antagonists. He therefore amused the ambassadors of the latter with false promises, while he sent Malatesta di Rimini to reinstate the former; a design in which, by the treachery and ambition of the Salimbeni, he succeeded. As soon as it was known in Siena that Malatesta, with his forces, was approaching in the neighborhood, the little people, in the interest of the twelve, arose suddenly and tumultuously in arms, and, with the assistance of the Salimbeni, forced open the gates to admit the imperial army, not without an obstinate battle, however, which continued the whole day, (September 24, 1368,) and great slaughter.
“The government was thus again taken from the nobles, their houses plundered, and themselves driven out of the city to their castles in the country. The multitude of plebeians having tasted the sweets of public honors, power, and riches, combated furiously upon this occasion; and having, by the aid of Malatesta and the Salimbeni, been victorious, they reformed the system. Excluding the nobles, they instituted a council of one hundred and twenty-four popular men, whom they called The Council of Reformers, because to them was given authority to reform the constitution. Sixty-one of these were of the plebeians, or little people; thirty-five of those popular men who had been in the office of the twelve, and twenty-eight of those who had been in the office of the nine, or of their descendants or associates. These governed with the participation of Malatesta, who was in Siena the lieutenant or vicar of the emperor after the expulsion of the nobles. This party having held the government of the state and inhabited the palace of the signori twenty-two days, reorganized the magistracy of the twelve, adding five of the little people, and four of the twelve, to three of the nine, who had been in the magistracy of the consuls together with ten gentlemen; and determined that these should be called The Twelve Lords Defenders of the People of Siena. They made a new box of magistrates, in which they put fifty-one ballots, in each of which was contained a magistracy of twelve citizens, with the distribution before mentioned of five, four, and three.” By this we see that a complete aristocracy was established, and a very narrow one too, such as may well be called an oligarchy, by this faction of the little people, or plebeians. The choice of magistrates was confined to fifty persons only. “They created also a general council of six hundred and fifty popular men, preserving the same proportion of five, four, and three, to continue till January next. To this council they joined another, called The Council of the Companies, to the number of two hundred and forty; and this is the first time that in the public books was written and preserved the memory of the divisions among the people; and thus, by creating magistrates expressly and avowedly by distributions of factions, of orders, and of mountains, as they did afterwards, they made their discords immortal. Animosities, kept alive by these records, not only cost the lives of an infinite number of individuals in the frequent and bloody innovations which followed, but finally proved the destruction of the whole commonwealth, and the establishment of the domination of one man.”
So says the historian; but whether these records had existed or not, the calamities, and the issue of them, would have been the same, provided they had not changed their government from one assembly to two, and separated the executive authority from both. Scrambling for loaves and fishes, in an assembly of people, or representatives, or nobles, or in a mixture or union of both, will forever have the same effects.
“These reformers annulled all the deliberations and decrees made by the late magistracy of the nobles, except those which contained the liberation of the banished and condemned. Wishing to reward the noble house of Salimbeni for the benefit received from them, they gave them, in honor and recompense of their perfidy against the other nobles, five castles; and moreover, with privileges proportioned to their merit, they made them popular citizens, that they might be capable of being in the magistracy. The Salimbeni were the first who followed the example of Manlius, the first of the Romans, who from a patrician made himself a plebeian, and from a similar caprice, renounced his nobility, that by the aid of the plebeians he might make himself master of the liberties of his country.”
So says the historian; and it is true there is a remarkable resemblance between the rivalry of Manlius and Camillus, and that of the Salimbeni and Tolommei; and both examples are equally demonstrative of the dangers and evils of a sovereignty in one assembly. There will ever be two rival families to tear the vitals of the state, and one or the other, perhaps both, will sacrifice truth, right, honor, and liberty, to obtain the ascendency.
“The nobles, now chased from the city, met at Cerreto Ciampoli, to consult what they ought to do to regain their situations in the city. The magistrates of the twelve having intelligence of this assembly, declared six noblemen of the house of Cerretani rebels, which obliged them, with the others, to look out for some strong place to make the seat of war. As they were to be treated as enemies, one part of the Tolommei took possession of the castle of Montieri, another that of Traguanda; the Malavolti occupied Castiglione, the Piccolomini Batignano, and others, other castles, from whence they began to make war upon all the country of Siena, to intercept the supplies of provisions, to demolish the mills, and to carry their depredations to the very walls, holding the people in continual alarm and terror, and the city in a manner besieged, so that few had the courage to go in or out. The twelve defenders, in order to disunite the nobles, pardoned all the others, and banished only the Tolommei, Malavolti, Piccolomini, Cerretani, Saraceni, and Forteguerri, to the distance of twenty miles in the country, in lands subject to the emperor, upon penalty of life and fortune for disobedience. This proclamation was not obeyed, and an army was sent, under command of the podestà Simone da Spoleto, selected by Malatesta, to recover from the noblemen the lands they held of the commons of Siena; but they returned without success, to wait a better opportunity.
“It appeared by this time to the order of the twelve, that they had been immense losers by the change of government; for whereas, prior to their deprivation through the nobles, they had enjoyed it all, sharing with no one, at present they only shared a third part; and being stimulated by ambition, which oftener measures things by its will than its prudence, they did not consider those dangers concealed under their immoderate desires. They persuaded the little people, that by joining with them they could easily exclude by force the order of the nine from the regency. The people, joining them in arms, soon put the plot in execution; but these, finding success so easy, were incited, before laying down the arms in their hands, in their turn to think more of their own convenience, profit, pleasure, and utility, than of their honor, integrity, or the public good, so that without ceremony, they deprived the twelve of their share in administration; and burning the gate of the palace, and the major part of the public books, with a great noise, and universal convulsion of the city, they dragged out of the palace the three of the nine, and the four of the twelve, who occupied the office of the lords defenders of the people of Siena.
“To avoid more scandalous excesses, and to put an end to the tumult of the people, who would not be satisfied nor quieted without a new order to reform the government of the city, by transferring it to the little people, or (to distinguish them more clearly from those other popular men who had been of the party of the nine and of the party of the twelve) to those who were truly the plebeians and altogether new men, because (as the plebeians said in Rome, when, in high wrath against the nobles, they created Terentius Varro consul) those plebeians, who had already been ennobled by serving in the government, despised the lower plebeians (la plebe bassa) more, and showed themselves more inimical to them, than the ancient nobility, Malatesta entered the palace, and selected eighteen of the little people, who, together with the five of the same sort who remained in the palace of the twelve defenders, and three gonfaloniers of the thirds of the city, and four of the house of Salimbeni, were to reform anew the government of the republic. These, meeting, without loss of time, in the consistory, which is the apartment where the signori usually assembled, with Malatesta, adopting the advice of M. Reame di M. Notto Salimbeni, made an election of ten of the little people, who, with the five who had remained in the palace, were to exercise the office, now augmented from twelve to fifteen, of defenders of the people of Siena, until the beginning of January next, with the same authority those had had who exercised the office of the twelve governors and administrators of the republic of Siena before the second day of September last. Thus the new magistrates were all made of popular men, who had not been of the nine, or of the twelve; and to the eighteen reformers, and the others ordered by Malatesta, they added a certain number, by the distribution of the companies, who, with the fifteen lords defenders, made the number of one hundred and fifty reformers, all of the lesser people, who, with ample authority given them by Malatesta, as imperial vicar, were to reform the government.
“The twelve now perceiving their error, and that, by attempting to usurp power from others, they had lost their own, sent, with the privity of the Salimbeni, to negotiate with the emperor yet remaining at Rome, to the end that, when passing on his return through Siena, he might effect their restoration to their former state. The popular men of the greater number, still denominated in the public books The Little People, having information of that effort of the twelve, and considering that, if the twelve should unite with the nobles and the nine, and be assisted by the arms of Charles, they might easily make themselves masters of the city, and seize the government, thought it more prudent to yield a part by consent, than run the risk of losing the whole by force. Moved by this consideration, (such is the inconstancy of the multitude!) the reformers ordained that the party which had been dragged from the palace should return, and occupy their offices with the fifteen defenders till the first of January, at which time they were to join in the ballot, and draw, from the boxes already made by the other reformers, three popular men, of whom the one who should have the most votes in the council of the reformers was to be captain of the people. This person proved to be Matteino di Ser Ventura Menzani, so that the magistracy consisted of the number of fifteen, of whom eight were of the little people, four of the twelve, and three of the nine. They declared, moreover, that the gonfaloniers of the thirds of the city, different from the gonfaloniers of the companies whom they were to command, should be called Master Gonfaloniers, and should always be of the little people, like the captain of the people; and the three counsellors of the same captain should be taken, one from each sort of people. This captain, with his counsellors and master gonfaloniers, had full authority in fact, though not according to the orders in the statutes, and a discretionary power in all criminal cases, but not in civil. From this reform, the order of Reformers had its first original; for this name of reformers remained afterwards in those popular men who were of the council of the last reformers, and descended to their posterity, as it happened before to the nine and the twelve, all of whom had their origin from the people. This tripartite division appeared to the reformers to be a most powerful cause of divisions and discords, which they wished to prevent; therefore they ordered these distinctions to be annulled, and the whole people to be united in one body, and, when in any writing there should be occasion to mention the little people, it should be called the people of the greater number; that the party of the twelve should be called the people of the middle number; and the nine, the people of the lesser number;* but although the names of the factions were changed, the substance of things was not united.”
As these distinctions arise from that constitution of human nature, and course of its passions, which legislation is not yet perfect enough to alter or to remedy, but by making the distinctions themselves legal, and assigning to each its share, whatever it may be hereafter, the same discords remained among the popular men, and preserved always the same distinctions in the public books.
“They ordained further, that of the officers of merchandise, or chamber of commerce, there should be two of the people of the greater number, one of those of the middle number, and the other of the lesser number, while the nobles should remain out of the city; but in case they should return, instead of one of the two of the greater number, a nobleman should be elected; and this rule they followed in after times, electing one nobleman and three popular men; and by this order it became a declared point, that the nobles were not comprehended in the people, but were distinct from them. They further ordained (correcting the order given concerning the mode of electing the three popular members, who were to be joined to the twelve of the ballot to be drawn every two months, to make the number of fifteen defenders) that a hundred for each third should be put into the boxes by the council of reformers, and that, in drawing for magistrates, eight should be drawn for each third; and they made many other provisions to consolidate, as they said, the popular state, which were very displeasing to the twelve, who could not endure that the nine should be restored, and the greater part of the government should be taken out of their hands. They could not sit easy under this mortification, but, with the favor of the Salimbeni, they frequently stirred up fresh tumults, which Malatesta with his soldiers had trouble enough to suppress. The twelve, with the Salimbeni at their head, still restless, applied to the emperor, and made him great offers to assist them in new-modelling the government. The emperor would not agree without the consent of the senate or general council, which was sometimes upon great occasions called together. Being assembled at this time to the number of eight hundred and sixty-nine, they refused their consent; but, by a vote of seven hundred and twenty-one, confirmed the present form, imposing grievous penalties upon all such as should speak or act any thing against it, or attempt any alteration in it.
“The twelve, perceiving that they could not succeed in this way to obtain their unconquerable desire of mastering the government, deliberated upon the means of securing by arms what by intrigue and fraud they had not been able to acquire; they flattered themselves that, by the interest of the family of Salimbeni, they could procure the aid of Cæsar’s arms. While, through the discord thus excited, the public in Siena remained in this fluctuating state, the nobles in exile made frequent inroads into its territory with their cavalry, plundering and burning at their pleasure, and holding the city in a manner besieged. The emperor, taking advantage of this, labored with both parties to lay aside their animosities. A truce was agreed on, and arbitrators or mediators to settle the pretensions of all parties. The mediators assembled in a church, but the twelve and the Salimbeni studied to prevent their determination. The people and the nine were willing the nobles should return. The twelve and the Salimbeni persuaded the emperor to negotiate with the pope to send a legate, because, seeing the people and the nine concur in the return of the nobility, it appeared to them they should be too inferior in force and influence to their enemies without the aid of foreign arms.
“Parties remaining in suspense and suspicion of one another, neither dared to lay down their arms. At last it appeared to the twelve that, by favor of the imperialists and the pope’s legate, they had acquired enough to be superior, and, not willing to lose the opportunity, they made Niccolò Salimbeni their head; and with many foreign troops they began the uproar, with a great show and noise of arms, crying, Down with the traitors of the nine, who wish to restore the nobles! They ran through the third of the city, and having met Scotto di Minuccio, who was captain of his company, they killed him, because he had given his opinion for confirming the boxes of ballots and the government; and proceeded to the houses of several families of the nine to assassinate them. Not finding them, because they had fled for safety, the twelve, with their mob, ran through the whole city, plundered the houses of the nine, and then marched to the palace; with the connivance of Malatesta, who appeared in the piazza with his armed men, they drove out the three of the nine who were of the fifteen lords defenders; and, aspiring at a complete victory, they made the emperor move from the house of Salimbeni, where he was lodged, by giving him hopes that, if he went in person to the palace, he would have the city at his devotion. On the other hand, the remaining magistrates, seeing three of their colleagues dragged out of the palace, excited to indignation at the insult, and at the danger they were in of losing the government, suddenly caused the bell to be rung, sounding to arms; and so great a multitude of people assembled in arms in the piazza, and in such a fury, that the captain of the people, taking courage to turn with his colleagues upon the twelve, the Salimbeni and podestà, drove them out of the palace.
“The battles which ensued in the city were obstinate and bloody; splendid feats of valor were displayed on all sides; but they are unnecessary to be related. The government was finally triumphant; at least their military commander had all the power of a dictator. Negotiations were soon opened between the principal men and the emperor; and it was concluded that the same government should stand, under the emperor as its sovereign lord, and the city should be considered as a vicarage of the holy empire. But of what avail are treaties, or decrees, or agreements, when the government remains in one assembly? The emperor was scarcely gone out of the city, before fresh plots and treasons of the twelve and the Salimbeni were discovered, and new tumults against the nine. The lords defenders, together with the council of reformers, to put a stop to these disorders, were obliged to create a new office, which they called the Executor; and they gave him great authority in criminal matters, even to proceed discretionally, and without observing the orders of the statutes. But with all this there was no security in town or country; and justice was so corrupted, that an infinite number of assassinations and robberies were committed with impunity.
“Certain travellers at last were robbed and murdered in the neighborhood of the castle of Monteriggioni; and several men from the castle ran out with their arms, took four of the men who had committed the robbery, and, without sending them to the city, or waiting for any trial, hanged them on the spot; and as this example was followed by the people in the country, the roads began to be more secure; but in the city the insurrections still continued. The executor having caused all the popular men who had not been banished or declared rebels to return into the city, it happened that one Niccolò di Guelfo, of the order of the nine, killed Paolo di Legacci, and wounded two others of the order of the twelve, who, happening to be present, attempted to defend him. At the rumor of this, a great disturbance arose, and numbers of people collected and fell into skirmishes, in which many were killed. To quiet this commotion, the lords defenders placed guards of soldiers in the palace, in the piazza, at the gates, and many other places, confined eight of the principals of the order of the nine, and sixteen of the order of the twelve; and the delinquents having fled, the tumult subsided. Propositions of an accommodation between the nobles and populars had been made by the mediation of the Marquis of Monferrato; but, as little progress was made in it, and the nobles were impatient, they took the castle of Batignano, and approached to Monte Pulciano, with the exiles from that territory,” (for every village had its disputes between the great and the little, and its revolutions, triumphs, and banishments,) “who had intelligence with the popular party within, by whose aid they entered, and made prisoner of Jacomo de’ Cavalieri, who had made himself lord of the place. Intending to save his life, they threw him into prison; but the plebeians, not satisfied with deposing him and plundering his property, and in order to satiate their revenge for the injuries they thought they had received from him, went the next day to the prison, and, breaking it open, cut him to bits; and every one took a piece, as is customary with meat at market. The nobles were so enraged with the people for this, that they fell upon them, killed many, and drove others off the territory. When they had done this, they set up another government, and that a popular one,” (which is remarkable enough,) “and departed.
“The Marquis of Monferrato, who had undertaken the mediation at the request of both parties, but saw that all his pains to restore harmony between the nobles and populars would be in vain, departed from Siena and went to Florence, whence he communicated his award to Malavolti, who represented the nobles, and to Guerrieri, who was ambassador for the popular men who governed the city. The decree, however, as he had foreseen, was accepted by neither party. One article was, that the Salimbeni should release to the republic the castles which had been given them; and that they should no longer keep the standard with the arms of the people, nor the infantry, which the magistrates had given them for the guard of their persons. By reason of this, a part of the people, who followed the faction of the twelve, made a tumult, declaring that they would not degrade the honor nor lessen the grandeur of the Salimbeni; and several persons of consequence were killed in this riot. At this time the castle and land of Pian Castagnaio was taken by the Count di Nola, captain of some men of the church; and it was said that the Salimbeni, contrary to their compact with the commons of Siena, when it was given to them, had sold it. This report produced tokens of great dissatisfaction among the citizens in general, and especially when the same count, within a few days, reduced the lands of San Salvadore to his obedience, and held it as if he had been its sovereign. Moved at this loss, the fifteen lords defenders sent an ample force and recovered it. It now appeared to the Salimbeni that the popular men, by the loss of Pian Castagnaio, were disgusted with them, and had not the same confidence and affection for them as they usually had before this accident happened; wherefore, considering what might occur, being enemies of the other nobles, and not very acceptable to the popular men, they solicited the Florentine ambassadors, who were in Siena, to treat of peace between the nobles and those who governed the state, and of a reconciliation between them and the other nobles; and in a short time both points were accomplished, with little satisfaction, however, to those who governed the state, though in appearance they pretended the contrary.
“While the Florentines were treating of a peace between the nobles and commons of Siena, Odoardo di Mariscotti, thinking the proceedings too slow, and desirous to hasten them, began, from a castle of his, to infest the roads with his highwaymen, robbing and assassinating the merchants and others who travelled that way, which incited the magistrates to send out an army, and take and demolish his castle, destroying many of his people, and bringing him prisoner to Siena. The same army, the day after, marched to Campriano, where they subdued another band of the nobles, employed in intercepting provisions in their way to Siena. Campriano they took by assault, and destroyed the fortress, after having slain in the action three of the house of Tolommei, three of the Piccolomini, two of the Scotti, and one of the Mariscotti, with many others. The castle of Cotone was obliged to capitulate; Castiglione fought nine hours incessantly, and in the battle lost some of the Tolommei, and some of the Malavolti, and many others of the nobles; but the place was taken, plundered, and burnt; after which the army returned to Siena with a great number of prisoners. There did not remain many of the nobles united together, capable of doing much damage to the dominions of the republic.
“On the other hand, the popular men, the more to consolidate their power, having seen the unanimity of the nobles through the order of the last reformers, erected a company, whom they called the Grand Family of the People, which should endure to perpetuity among those popular men who should be elected by the reformers for the conservation of the popular state of the city, and of the company itself, into which no nobleman could be received. Every member was to take an oath to observe the rules ordained for the maintenance of both the state and the society; and many exemptions and immunities were granted them. Every one whose name was subscribed to the association, was to hold the arms of the people painted upon some conspicuous place of his house; from which institution, the white lion is seen at this day, over the doors of many houses. They had also the privilege of bearing the white lion in their own proper arms, and many persons availed themselves of it, as is seen in the arms of many families still remaining. All who were not of the association of the people were forbid to bear it in any manner. These and other regulations being made, desirous of preventing the incursions, and repairing the damages done by the nobles in the country, they collected a numerous force, went to their castles, and seized sometimes upon one and sometimes upon another, not meeting any power that could resist them, till the republic of Florence, to whom, on the thirteenth of May, 1369, the difference between the people and the nobles had been referred, made their report, to the great satisfaction of both parties.
“This award was dated the last of June, 1369, and, among the other articles of the peace, the nobles were to be restored to their country, and be made capable of all the magistracies of the commonwealth, except those of lords defenders, gonfaloniers, and counsellors; and this was ratified by the popular men in a general council. The nobles in ten days ratified it on their part, to the wonderful satisfaction of the city and the state, as they hoped to put an end to so many miseries. The reformers afterwards, for the maintenance of the peace, as they said, ordained grievous penalties for any one of the nobles who should offend any of the people, and it was made capital to strike or draw blood from any one of the council of reformers; and to show that affairs which interest many ought to be made known to and managed by many, wishing to increase the number of that council, which was not at that time more than one hundred and fifty, on the twenty-second of August, 1369, they added to it those of the little people, who had been of the first reformers after the expulsion of the nobles, and those of the same people who had been of the lords defenders since January, 1368, or should be in future, and the master gonfaloniers whilst this box lasted; and wishing to reform the council of the people, it was ordained by the general council, that all the people, of whatever number, who shall have been of the lords defenders, or of the twelve governors, after the twenty-third September, 1368, should be understood to be of the council of the people; and from this the practice began, which continued as long as the republic, that those who had been of the signori should be of this council.
“It was likewise ordained, that when any thing should obtain in the council of the people, which ought to be proposed to the general council, and the bell was ordered to ring for a general council, the council of the people being in session, the members of the council of the people should be members of the general council; and by this order the general council was converted into the council of the people, and was no more assembled during the commonwealth. The public was very much in debt, and had not the means of satisfying its creditors; it was therefore ordained, that all those who had lent money to the commons, and ought to be reimbursed, should be arranged in three different books, according to the distinction of the thirds of the city, and made creditors, each one, in the sum total of his credit, with orders that the chamberlain should pay at the rate of ten per cent. every year to each creditor; and this union or consolidation of the public debt was called il monte, the mountain, or the lump; and this practice was afterwards repeated upon various occasions; and these were the provisions, which were punctually paid off by the chamberlain in the time of the republic, but were imitated afterwards, merely to abate the debt of every one, who had lent money in the ordinary loans.”
We see by this, that in those days republicans had some regard to honesty and the public faith, and the infamy of defrauding creditors was left to the absolute monarchy.
“The number of the reformers being increased, their authority increased every day, and with it the desire of reducing the office of lords defenders wholly to the little people, called the people of the greater number. To this end, in 1370, they excited certain tumults among the journeymen and laborers in the woollen manufacture, inhabiting the coast of Ovile, the very lowest of the people, who, meeting frequently together, called themselves the Company del Bruco, because such was the ensign of that country;1 many of these, having taken the occasion of some quarrels with their masters in the woollen trade, and guided by one Dominico, a dealer in old clothes, raised a great uproar, beating some and threatening others; being armed and in great numbers, as it was a year of scarcity, they turned to the houses which had the reputation of having some grain; and, through fear, it was given out to them. This quieted them until three of their leaders were taken up by the authority of a senator, and upon examination, confessed crimes enough to condemn them to death. Upon this all those of the company del Bruco, arose again in arms with a very great noise, ran to the palace of the senator, and with menaces of burning him in his house, insolently demanded the three prisoners. They then began furiously to fight with the officers of justice, and to collect materials for applying fire to the gate. The captain of the people, who was Francesco Naddo, perceiving the danger in which the senator was, and that the city was all in arms, took the resolution, in order by the public authority to prevent the disorder from increasing, to go in person and endeavor to suppress it. With his standard and trumpets before him, he arrived at the palace of the senator; but finding it impossible to allay the fury of the plebeians otherwise, he made the senator set at liberty the three prisoners, and returned to his palace, believing that the company would lay down their arms as they had promised.
“But having come off conquerors in this warfare, and forced justice herself, they acquired so much presumption, that, running with great violence to the gate of the palace of the signory, and finding it locked, they attempted in several ways to force it; they raised a loud clamor, that the four lords of the order of the twelve, and the three of the order of the nine, should be banished; but finding them well defended, they ran to the palace of the Salimbeni, to avail themselves of their assistance and authority. Having in the way encountered Nannuccio di Francesco, who had been a few months before captain of the people, because he had upon that occasion favored the order of the twelve, they slew him. The Salimbeni would not move nor intermeddle in this sedition. They therefore took from them the colors with the ensign of the people, which, as associates of that faction, they still held at their window, although they had made a peace with the other nobles. From the gonfaloniers of Camullia and San Martino they likewise took their standards, and having given them to others, they returned to make a fresh attack upon the palace; and being repulsed from thence, they sent a party towards Camullia to attack the house of the Salimbeni, against whom they were bitterly enraged, because they would not concur in this revolution. Meeting a company of noblemen of the houses of Salimbeni, Malavolti, Tolommei, Renaldini, and others, in considerable numbers, who had made a great exertion, and taken arms to quell this tumult of the plebeians, the parties went to action immediately, the noblemen were many of them killed, and the rest routed; and although many men were appointed to endeavor to quiet the disturbance, they not only found no means of suppressing it, but they found it impossible to prevent it from increasing every moment in violence; until one morning, in the month of July, the company of the people arose in arms with the company del Bruco, and dragged from the palace the four lords who resided there, of the order of the twelve, and three of the order of the nine, instead of whom seven others of the larger number were elected by the people, to reside with the eight who remained in the palace, and fill up the number of fifteen signori.
“But suspecting that, by having thus brought into their own hands the whole government of the city, the other citizens would be provoked to make an alteration, the council of reformers, to whom full power had been given by the general council, resolved that the names of those of the twelve and the nine, who had been pulled out of the palace, should be returned into the box of the freemen, so that they might be drawn another time to occupy the same office, and enjoy the same privileges, as if they had remained in the palace two months entire. The order of the twelve, however, not being satisfied with this regulation, conspired with some of the nine, aided by the captain of the people, who, although he was himself of the popular order of the greater number, was of an elevated spirit, and could not bear, that the state should be reduced, in his time, with such indignity into the hands of men of such base condition, entered into the conspiracy, sent them the master gonfaloniers, with their arms, who united with the conspirators, and on a sudden attacked those of the company del Bruco, in their own houses, on the coast of Ovile, and, before they had time to get their arms and make a stand, slew a great part of them; and they were exasperated into such rage and fury, as to have no consideration of age or sex, but to murder without distinction all who came in their way.
“At the same time the company of the people having risen, fought in the piazza and in several places of the city, with great ferocity, and the twelve, with their conspirators, remained in many places superior; but a stone, cast from the tower of the palace, fell upon the gonfalonier of San Martino, who, with his company, returned from the coast of Ovile, was fighting in the piazza, and struck him to the ground; and every one, who saw him, believed him to be dead. By this accident his party was seized with a panic and fled, and gave an opportunity to the popular party to gain the superiority, and break and rout the conspirators. A part of the principal leaders of the conspiracy were taken prisoners, together with Francino, captain of the people, and Magio Calzolaio, gonfalonier of the third of the city; and on the first of August, 1371, without letting them finish the term of their magistracy, a most miserable and horrible example was set, by cutting off their heads publicly in the piazza; at the same time, they beheaded many others; but the two other gonfaloniers, having saved themselves by flight, were declared rebels, with many others, and a new reformation of the state was resolved on.
“The reformers made a new box of magistrates for five years, continuing the office of the fifteen defenders, of whom twelve were popular men of the greater number, who were afterwards called reformers, and three popular men of the smaller number, who were those of the order of the nine, and in place of Francino, as captain of the people, Landino Fabro was substituted. Confirming the usual order, they resolved, that the president of the council of reformers, who was changed every third day, should act with the lords defenders and with his counsellors, although they had joined in the magistracy four of the little people, in place of those whom they took away of the twelve, to give a more decisive superiority to their faction. They admonished and disqualified all those of the people of the middle number who had been of the twelve, and twelve families of the people of the lesser number, who had been of the nine, and some of the people of the greater number, who had been numbered among the reformers, and had agreed with the twelve. Two hundred and twenty-eight were condemned in pecuniary penalties; and all those who were condemned were called, without distinction, Fini. A number of men, both horse and foot, sent by the Salimbeni for the service of the twelve, arrived at Torrenieri, but learning the turn of affairs, returned back. Almost all the lesser artificers afterwards joined themselves to the number of the reformers; and for the security of the state they had from Florence a hundred cavalry. The public, by great expenses and little government, being without any appropriation of money, that they could avail themselves of, the reformers introduced the practice of selling the public revenue, besides the confiscations and penalties, for three years, which did not obtain more than three hundred and eighteen thousand golden florins. This commencement of the usage of selling the public revenues, which was continued from this time, was the reason why the public was always in debt; selling for a small price, which was not sufficient for the necessary expenses, illegal practices were the consequence, and from thence new seditions, which finally accomplished the ruin of the republic. The twelve did not cease to stir matters to the prejudice of the reformers, because the capacity of being in the magistracy was now taken from them. For security, their arms were taken from them, and placed in the chamber of the commons, and the captain of the people seized many of them on suspicion, who were in great danger of losing their heads.”
The year following the conduct of the twelve occasioned the same suspicions. The nobles themselves were never more impatient of exclusion, nor more eager to try every expedient to recover their share in the state. The nobles, indeed, were not only injured, but had a right to complain. The twelve were injured, but they had only that wrong done to them which they had set against the nobles, and they ought to have recollected,
But if the rule of doing as you would be done by were the rule of life, and observed by all men, there would perhaps be no need of government at all.
“The twelve, to be sure, did not think their own case and that of the nobles parallel, but were indefatigable in insinuating, sometimes into one, and sometimes into another of the little people, that it was neither profitable to them, nor honorable to the public, to suffer those reformers to tyrannize over the city; and they frequently succeeded in drawing over to their side partisans, with whom they proceeded to consult of the means of carrying their intentions, to take the government out of the hands of the reformers, into effect. They opened themselves to so many, that at length the machination was discovered, and numbers taken up; among whom was Ser Cecco d’Andrea, the man of the highest reputation with the twelve, who was beheaded; and of the others, some were imprisoned, others fined, and those who had escaped by flight were banished; and Ser Agnolo d’Andrea was condemned, because, having made a dinner for some of his friends at his country-house, no reformer was invited.” Other instances of the grossest prostitution of the judicial power were attempted by the vulgar tyrants, who now had the sway. “Giovanni Calzettaio, who was one of the council of reformers, prosecuted one of the twelve for striking him. Niccolò Rosso da Terano, the podestà, upon examination of the parties face to face, found evidence of the malicious fraud of the reformer, who, to give a color to his false accusation, that the other had broke the law, by which it was made capital to strike or draw blood of a reformer, had struck and drawn blood from himself. He had the integrity to imprison the complainant, and finding him to be so abandoned a fellow, and many charges brought against him of atrocious crimes, he adjudged him to have his head cut off under the gallows, since it was not lawful to hang him, being one of the reformers.”
Justice, it seems, though attempted, was not yet so prostituted but that many others were chastised for enormous crimes; but the most of the criminals being of the people of the greater number, who were the dominant faction, and held the great part in the government, tumults were generated in no small numbers among the multitude.
“But when Antonio di Orso and Deo Malavolti were imprisoned and beheaded for having carried off a young woman, though with her own consent, and half a dozen other noblemen executed for other crimes, the plebeians were pacified and softened by the blood of so many nobles, and that insurrection, which had been raised to save the lives of the condemned plebeians, was quelled.
“When all were returned to their habitations, and their arms laid aside, the senator, Louis della Marca, ordered four of the heads of the late sedition to obstruct the course of justice to be seized, and sentenced them to be hanged; others he imprisoned, and some were fined. The senator, among so many controversies, rumors, and tumults, as occurred during his administration, although ex debito justitiæ he had been obliged to order so many executions, ran a great risk of being murdered in those popular seditions of multitudes, who were offended by him, and both himself and his family were under no small apprehensions.”
In such a state of society the human heart pours forth all its turpitude, and all parties appear to be equally abandoned. “The signor of Perolla, a castle of the Maremma of Siena, died, and left an only daughter heir to the estate and the lordship. Andrea Salimbeni, who was a relation, went to visit the young lady; by some fraudulent stratagem, which is not explained, he put her to death, made himself patron or tyrant of the place, and, with a gang of people under his command, committing robberies on the highways, and all the neighboring places, rendered it unsafe to pass in that quarter. The report of this was soon carried to the Sienese, who sent out a body of men, under the command of the senator, and the twenty-third of April, 1374, took the place, and carried Salimbeni, with twenty-eight others, prisoners to the city. Sixteen of these in a few days were beheaded by order of the senator; but either from respect to the family, or from fear of their power, he did not proceed against Salimbeni. Upon this the company del Bruco again arose in arms, with the other plebeians, and, running to the palace, with threats demanded of the lords defenders that justice should be done upon Andrea Salimbeni. The captain of the people, the two priori, and their colleagues of the lords defenders, found themselves so mean in spirit, so infertile in council, so unskilful at their own game, that not knowing any better way to prevent the evil from increasing, they gave authority to Noccio Sellaio to do in that emergency, whatever he should judge useful to the commonwealth. Noccio snatching eagerly at this opportunity, by which he thought to gain the hearts of the plebeians, and by their favor raise himself to power and superiority above his fellow-citizens, entered into the palace of the senator, and sitting down in the midst of an immense crowd, on the bench from whence sentence was usually given, condemned Andrea Salimbeni to death, and ordered his head to be struck off before the public. Intending to dispatch Pietro da Massa in the same manner, he was prohibited by the major part of the reformers, who began to perceive his design, and to see the error which the lords defenders had committed in giving him such an authority; and although he had at his heels the company del Bruco, and the other lowest plebeians, they revoked the power that had been given him. This measure excited a great tumult in the city; but the reformers, being united, were able to quiet it.
“Niccolò and Cione Salimbeni, with others of the same family, and their associates, moved with indignation and grief at the outrage which had been committed upon Andrea, took from the commons of Siena the castles of Montemassi and Boccheggiano, and with large companies went about, committing depredations in the country. The reformers, to make preparations for recovering their lands, and for making head against the Salimbeni and their followers, created a new magistracy of ten citizens, to superintend the conduct of the war. The first provision made by this new council of war was, to imprison twenty-six citizens of the order of the twelve, and condemn them in twelve thousand golden florins, which were immediately paid.” Was the robbery of Salimbeni worse than this? “They next sent to demand aid of Florence and Lucca, and obtained it; but ambassadors were sent from Florence, Perugia, and other places, at the same time, to make peace if possible, knowing that their own discontented and distracted factions were ready to break out; but the Salimbeni would not listen to any thing, because the ten had sent an army in force to the castle of Boccheggiano, with instruments for destroying the walls, cranes, mortar-pieces, and other things which in those days were used in war to fortify estates. On the other hand the Salimbeni, having collected together many of their friends and adherents, watched a convenient opportunity, sallied out from their lands, and attacking their enemies without the least expectation, broke their order, put them to flight, took many prisoners, plundered their camp, and burnt all the frames, bastions, buildings and instruments they found there.
“As soon as this defeat was well known in Siena, the relations of those many citizens, who remained prisoners, ran in arms to the houses of the Salimbeni, and seized all they could find of those families, that they might hold them as hostages to redeem their own relations. Neither the plague nor famine, both of which raged this year, 1374, could prevent continual plots of the Salimbeni and the twelve to recover the government of the city, and constant skirmishes and wars between them and the reformers and lords defenders throughout all the territories of the republic. In the year following, ambassadors were sent from several friendly cities, to persuade peace between the reformers and the Salimbeni. The reformers, desirous of lessening the number of their enemies, in 1379 restored all the rebels who had been denominated Fini, and banished in the time of those seditions, which were made by the gonfaloniers and the twelve. The nobles, however, were employed in forming parties in the country, and in negotiations with their friends in the neighboring cities, till, in 1384, they were able to meet the reformers in the field, and give them a complete overthrow; and if they had pursued their victory, such was the astonishment and panic of the reformers in the city, they might have made themselves masters; but in this their fortune befriended them. Finding they were not pursued by their enemies, they assumed some vigor and courage, gave orders to guard the gates and suppress the seditions which were moved in the city against them, and sent abroad for foreign aid.
“Florence, Pisa, Bologna, and Perugia, hearing of so great a change, and fearing greater civil discords, sent ambassadors to Siena, to endeavor to reunite the nobles in exile, and the popular men who governed the city; but, after trying every mode of negotiation, and every proposition of accommodation, with both parties, they found they could make no impression upon either, and returned home. It was the opinion of the reformers, that the Florentine ambassadors, from some interest of their republic, in their secret negotiations with one party and the other, had been the cause that the peace had not been effected, as, from both sides appearing to be weary of the war, was generally hoped and expected. The time was come when the magistrates, the lords defenders for the months of March and April, were to be drawn; and the council being assembled, and the ballots drawn, Giovanni Minucci, one of the lords defenders, proved to be captain of the people. When the council dissolved, they perceived no small tumult made by the citizens of the order of the twelve, who said, they did not know for what reason the power of participating in the honors and cares of government was taken from them, rather than from other popular men, and that they no longer would tolerate the abuse; and although the disturbance appeared to subside for the present, the twelve, fomented by the gentlemen, who were very active, and had made themselves masters of a great part of the dominion, and who promised the twelve, in all events, to assist them with men, arms, and provisions, to the utmost of their power, for the common service against the reformers, did not cease to demand, with great animosity and many threats, that a place should be given them in the magistracy.
“These motions of the twelve, favored by the nobles, gave much molestation to the heads of the government; and therefore, that they might not have to defend themselves against too many enemies, on the twenty-third of March, 1384, in the morning, they assembled the council, and obtained that the twelve, in the new draught, should have a part in that magistracy, by increasing the number from fifteen to eighteen; but, as experience has ever proved, gratitude shown and remedies applied out of season, have little effect. When the council was finished, at noonday, Cestelli, a seditious man of the order of the twelve, was taken up by the ministers of justice. He refused to obey, and calling with a loud voice for assistance, multitudes of the twelve and the nine hastened, at his cry, to his relief, and took the prisoner by force from the officer, who had already drawn him from the hill to the piazza. Upon this riot, Materazza and Nerini, accompanied by a great number of reformers, interposed, partly by their authority, and partly by their arms, to recover the prisoner. They fell with great impetuosity upon those who had rescued him, and denouncing vengeance and death on the twelve and the nine, as obstructers of justice, cried, ‘Long live the Reformers!’ At this cry the whole city rose at once in arms, and, with those of the twelve and the nine, went to the few noblemen who remained in Siena; having taken the entrance of the piazza, they prevented the plebeians from passing in to the aid of the reformers, and, from the houses of the Scotti and Saraceni, annoyed the multitude of reformers, who were fighting in the piazza against their friends. The contest had become general in various parts of the city, and it appearing to the nobles, the twelve, and the nine (as the major part of the plebeians ran to the service of the reformers) that they had the disadvantage, they began at the instigation of a Jew to cry, ‘Peace! Peace!’ At the hearing of this word, industriously echoed in various parts of the city, a great number of the little people, distinguished from the plebeians or the rabble, wearied out with so many seditions, and united with the nobles and their adherents, ran with great fury to the prisons, broke them open, and set at liberty all the prisoners, among whom were M. Uguccione and Niccoluccio Malavolti; these, taking the lead of the multitude, attacked the army of reformers, and, urged on by the keen desire of vengeance for the injuries received, combated with such intrepidity as to drive them out of the piazza, after having made a great carnage, and many prisoners. They instantly entered the palace, and, although the people within made a gallant defence, took possession of it, and drove out the lords defenders and reformers, not only from the palace but the piazza, and took from them the administration of the republic, both in the city and the country. This revolution was followed by the usual train; more than four thousand men of the faction of reformers, chiefly artificers, in a few days were sent into exile; and, what is worse, when in the course of a few years their affairs were accommodated, not the tenth part of them returned to their country.”
Thus ended the government of the faction of reformers, and this new species of sovereignty in one assembly; but only to be exchanged for another, consisting of nobles, twelves, and nine.
“The exiles of all these three parties now returned in great numbers from all the neighboring cities, provinces, and countries, and brought with them a strong body both of cavalry and infantry. We may now expect to see the government shining with the splendid names of Salimbeni, Malavolti, Piccolomini, Tolommei, and all the rest; but we have no reason to expect justice, liberty, order, peace, or common decency.
“The new government was instituted in a new magistracy of ten citizens, to be changed every two months, and entitled the Lords Priors Governors of the City of Siena, into which number were to be admitted four popular men of those who had been of the twelve, four of those who had been of the nine, and two of the people of the greater number; of those, however, who had not been of the council of reformers nor of the lords defenders; and thus the people were divided into four factions, the Nine, the Twelve, the Reformers, and the People, and of these discordant materials in one assembly, were the legislative, executive, and judicial powers to be composed; and this mode continued till 1387.”
The order passed in a general council, establishing the new regimen, in 1385, and the scrutiny for magistrates was made for eight years, and the names put into the boxes, a practice which was analogous to that in Florence, which they called imborsation, which was putting the names into purses, to be drawn out upon occasion. Those who had now the most votes in the general council were assorted together in forty-eight ballots, one of which was to be drawn every two months. The first draught was now made, and the lot produced a ballot, in which were the names of Andrea, Cicerchia, and eight others. These took upon them the magistracy of lords priors governors, on the twenty-eighth of March, 1385. “The tumults were quieted, the soldiers disbanded, the fortresses of the dominion rendered to public commissaries, many remunerated for their services, fireworks played off, and many feasts made, and incredible manifestations of joy, and ambassadors sent to all confederated cities to inform them that the city was delivered from the tyranny of the rabble, and the palace cleansed, which had been once thought an Augean stable. Twelve of the principals of the conquered faction were put to death by the course of justice, and thirty sent out to the frontiers, and the major part of those who had fled, declared rebels and enemies pro more revolutionum; and by order of the council of petitions, under authority given them by the general council, their castles were restored to the Salimbeni. But the envy of fortune, according to the historian, and the malice of their constitution, according to truth, would not suffer this felicity to be enjoyed for one year. The Tolommei were now returned, and living in the same city with the Salimbeni; and this fact alone, under such a plan of government, would be enough to give the reader an anticipation of what would be the consequences. Conspiracies were formed in the country among the friends of the exiles, and by companies of depredators, who began to be troublesome and to do mischief in the dominion. The Florentines, too, began to set up claims upon parcels of territory; and while this dispute was in negotiation between the ambassadors of the two people, a plot was discovered, to the great terror of those who governed the city, commenced by a part of the family of Tolommei, who, in concert with some popular men, who intended to restore the reformers, had drawn towards the city certain foreign troops, in an irregular manner, from different places, and entertained them secretly in several of their fortresses. These troops, hearing that their destination was discovered, and the plan impossible to be executed, as many citizens were already imprisoned on account of it, retreated, and the prisoners confessing the truth, were condemned to death. Yet the lords priors, with the rest of their faction, (for the government was never any more than a faction,) were in trouble enough, knowing the danger they were in from the divided minds of their fellow-citizens, and from the hatred and immortal enmity which the Florentines appeared to bear them. This storm was averted by submitting the dispute with Florence to the mediation of Bologna, and by the cession of many lands.
“One conspiracy was scarcely suppressed, and a foreign war declined from fear of themselves, before another was discovered of greater moment, and a more pernicious nature than the first, excited by M. Spinello Tolommei, and a great number of reformers and others, who had such intelligence in Siena, that it seemed to them easy to effect a revolution, and make themselves masters of the state. But, as many examples both ancient and modern demonstrate, conspiracies made by a multitude, through the variety of interests of those who are comprehended in it, have seldom attained their intended end; and the greater part of conspirators have lost their lives and their fortunes, because the design has been revealed by such as had rather be rewarded with security, than stand in danger of their lives, when a suspicion has gone forth in the public; so conspiracies of lesser numbers have been equally unfortunate, through the want of power to carry them into execution. The reformers, excited by Spinello Tolommei, were betrayed by one of their associates; and one of their chiefs, Nanni di Dota, was beheaded; but Tolommei was too powerful a man for such a government to dare to make an example of; he was therefore admitted to a treaty with the magistrates. Soon afterwards the Count Guido di Santa Fiora submitted to the commonwealth, and after him Monaldo di Visconti di Campiglia.
“Another conspiracy was discovered in Siena among the reformers, under the conduct of the same Spinello Tolommei. A spy, whom he sent with a letter to his correspondents in the city, was intercepted, threw himself out of a window in despair, and was killed in the fall, and a few of the conspirators were beheaded. The city, by these continual plots, so often discovered, was kept in constant terror, as was every village and castle of the whole dominion; for example, in the castle of Casole a violent sedition was awakened; the Casolans were divided into two parties, and coming to arms among themselves, skirmishes happened every day, and many were killed and more wounded. The same mischievous divisions were suffered too in the city of Massa. Monte Pulciano, likewise, was governed by a single assembly of signori, who by their divisions occasioned similar seditions and civil wars among themselves, and their different parties excited a long war between Florence and Siena; at the conclusion of which the Florentines, by their intrigues, laid the Sienese under many disadvantages; and these would have been greater, if at this time it had not been known that the Sienese were in intimate correspondence with Giovan Galeazzo Visconti, Lord of Milan, who, after having taken the city of Verona, had, with a great increase of his power, taken the city of Padua, and made prisoner of Francesco da Carrara, who was lord of it.
“On the twenty-sixth of November, 1387, to give some satisfaction to the people, who began again to show signs of discontent, it was determined in Siena that to the number of the ten lords priors there should be added one of those popular men who had been reformers; and it was declared that, when mention should be made of those persons who were of the reformers, and who might be admitted to occupy the office of the signori, and who called themselves of the people of the larger number, it should be understood to apply to their fathers, sons, brothers, by the masculine line; and those who had been admonished between 1371 and 1384 should be comprehended in the number of the other popular men, who had not been of the reformers nor signori; and if any of the monte of the nine (for this was now the name of distinction) or of the monte of the twelve had been of the said reformers, they might be signori for the monte of the people of the greater number; but he alone should be considered as of the reformers, and not any of his ancestors, descendants, or connections; as these should all remain in the monte (heap, lump, or collection) of which they had been before. They ordained, moreover, that of the chamberlains and notaries, who were eleven in number, four should be of the nine, four of the twelve, and three of the other popular men. And whereas in the other magistracies there used to be in each two nobles, one of the twelve and one of the nine, there should now be added one popular man, who had not been either of the nine or of the twelve, and thus in each of those magistracies there should be two nobles and three populars; that is to say, as it is expressed in the record of the deliberation of the council, ‘one of the nine, one of the twelve, and one of the other populars;’ and of these other populars, one at one time was to be of those who had been reformers and of the signori, for the monte of the people of the greater number, and one other at another time of those of the same monte, who were not of the reformers nor the lords defenders; and by these provisions, those who held the government in their hands studied to conciliate the friendship of the little people, and take away, in some degree, the occasions of conspiracies. And, that they might not alienate from their government the minds of the nobles, they resolved that all the podestaries and ordinary captainships, such as the captainship of Maremma, Montagna, Valdichiana, and others, should be given to the nobles, and to no others; and when occurrences should oblige them to send abroad extraordinary captains, they might send part of them from the nobles and part from the populars; and this order in favor of the nobles was made perpetual.
“These and other regulations were not sufficient to satisfy all, nor yet the hostile designs of Florence, nor the victory obtained by Niccolò Piccolomini over the Brettoni, to divert the people of Siena from their discontents; so that on the eleventh of May, 1388, another amendment of their constitution was attempted. The apprehensions of foreign war as well as domestic broils increased; and to facilitate the public deliberations, that they might not upon every occasion have to call a general council, they introduced a council of substitutes, and called them the Simiglianti, with the same forms and the same authority which the council formerly had in the times of the twelve and the nine. This council comprehended all those who had been of the lords priors governors, and those who had their names in the boxes of the same magistracy, to whom, that they might not appear to be diffident of them, they afterwards added twelve noblemen, elected from the nobility in general; and to gratify and oblige those of their citizens who were abroad, and prevent them from joining their enemies within and without, they gave a pardon to those rebels who had been confined for six months, and had observed their limits, and, although their time was not expired, gave them leave to return to the city; those who were confined for a year, might return in two months; and those who were confined for more than a year, in six months.
“At this time, Batista Piccolomini returned from Milan, who had been sent as ambassador there; and with him was sent M. Giovanni della Porta, treasurer of the Lord Giovan Galeazzo, with orders to raise and take into pay as large a number of soldiers as possible; and to this end the treasurer sent his paymasters, with the Count Ugolotti Bianchiardi, who, having been sent with the ambassador by Giovan Galeazzo, for the service of the city of Siena, went to Marca, and engaged in the pay of Visconti, M. Brogliole and Brandolino, each with a hundred cavalry, and ordered that Boldrino da Panicale should form another company.
“The Florentines carried on their intrigues with so many factions in the state, and discovered a disposition so hostile, and designs, or at least desires, of making themselves masters not only of Monte Pulciano and the other dependencies, but of Siena itself, that the government thought it advisable to hasten their deliberations upon a subject they had in contemplation for several months, a league and confederation with Giovan Galeazzo Visconti, Lord of Milan and Conte di Virtù. This prince, since he possessed Verona and Padua, had intended to take possession of Bologna, which had been sometimes under the dominion of the house of Visconti; and because the Florentines, as confederates of the Bolognese, had sent them assistance, and favored them as much as they could with their armed men, took upon him the protection of the city of Siena, and promised her ambassador to assist her, and sent the Signor Paolo Savelli, with three hundred lances, upon whose arrival uncommon rejoicings were shown in the city. Galeazzo engaged in this warfare, not so much for the service of Siena, as to have an opportunity of maintaining the war in conjunction with them, upon that side, against the Florentines, that they, having employment enough to defend their own houses, might not be able to send succor to Bologna; and by this means to endeavor to make himself master of several places in Tuscany, from whence he might hope, by maintaining the divisions and most ardent hatred, which went on every day increasing, on account of Monte Pulciano, and the injuries the Florentines and Sienese committed against each other, to make himself master of the province, and at length King of Italy, an ambition he had long entertained. To this end he entered into negotiation with the ambassadors of Siena; and on the twenty-second of September, 1389, the treaty was signed. The articles were, that the league should continue ten years; that common cause should be made in a war against Florence; that Galeazzo should maintain during the war, which was to be declared in fifteen days, seven hundred lancemen, with three horses to each lance, in his pay in Tuscany, for the service of the commons of Siena; and the Sienese were to have three hundred in their pay in the same manner, with two hundred cross-bowmen; that if their enemies should send forces from Tuscany into Lombardy, it should be lawful for the count to avail himself of these his forces, but that Siena should not be obliged to send her forces out of Tuscany; that the count should not be obliged to make war or defend the Sienese against any other enemies than the Florentines; that any other community of Tuscany might be admitted into this league; that all the cities, lands, fortresses, and places which by the league might be acquired in this war, should belong to the republic of Siena, if it had any previous pretensions to the dominion of it; otherwise, every one should be left to its liberty, upon condition of holding the league and their allies for friends, and their opposers for enemies, and of giving hospitality, passage, and provisions, on paying for them, to the people of the league. Galeazzo might make peace, truce, or armistice with the people of Florence, including the commons and people of Siena, with all their lands, cities, and subjects; but the Sienese could not make either without his consent; and the ratification was to be on both sides exchanged in three months.
“A war ensued, which lasted till 1389, and was then concluded by a peace, and a confederation between many republics and princes; the Conte di Virtù, Florence, Bologna, Perugia, the Marquis of Ferrara, Siena, the Lord of Mantua, the Lords de’ Malatesti, Lucca, the Count di Montefeltro, Pisa, &c. This confederation, however, was not well observed; and the inhabitants of Monte Pulciano, particularly, violated it, as was supposed, at the instigation of Florence. This occasioned not only a ratification of the former treaty, but the formation of a new one between the republic of Siena and the Signor Giovan Galeazzo Visconti, Conte di Virtù, Lord and Imperial Vicar of Milan. The county or earldom of Virtù is a state in France, in the province of Champagne, which was given by King John in dower to Isabella his daughter, married to this Prince Giovan Galeazzo Visconti, which acquired him the title of Conte di Virtù; and of which marriage was born Madame Valentina, wife of Louis, Duke of Orleans, brother of Charles VI., King of France, who had in dower the same Conte di Virtù, and the city of Asti in Piedmont; of Charles, their first-born, Duke of Orleans, was born the King Louis XII; of Giovanni, their second son, Count of Angoulême, was born Charles of Angoulême, father of the King Francis I. These successors of Valentina pretended, after the death without issue of Giovan Maria and Filippo Maria, their brothers, sons of Giovan Galeazzo, that the state of Milan belonged to them; and for this reason the King Louis XII. and the King Francis I. afterwards made that celebrated war in Lombardy, and recovered and lost several times over the duchy of Milan.
“To return from this digression,—on the ninth of November, 1389, the treaty was ratified and exchanged between Siena and the count; yet a fresh conspiracy was discovered in the city, excited by Spinello Tolommei in banishment, and the reformers, in conjunction with foreigners, and Monte Pulciano again rebelled; but the arms of Siena, aided by the count and his captain, Charles Malatesta, were triumphant at home and abroad, and this year the first bombardment ever seen in Tuscany was practised. Upon some little reverse of fortune, when the count lost the fortress of Padua, and when, to the calamities of war, those of pestilence and famine were added, in 1390, the noble families of Salimbeni, Tolommei, and Malavolti, unable to bear one another, and some of them still less willing to submit to a superior, resumed their old employment of exciting seditions. Florence wanted peace, and the pope exhorted it. The families of Tolommei and Malavolti, still jealous of the Salimbeni, and their superior influence and favor with the count, began to stir up discontents. In their opinion, it was neither profitable nor glorious, nor even honorable for the republic to waste itself on all sides for the service of the Count Galeazzo, who, in the greatest exigency of the war, had, by withdrawing his forces, left it a prey to the enemy. From this specimen of his conduct, the Sienese could only expect, if he had been or should be victorious, a servitude which they would find very bitter and irksome. Every one who was not blinded by an immeasurable hatred, which the vulgar had conceived against the Florentines for the injuries they had done the republic, must already see the disposition of the count; and especially since the arrival from Milan of the Marquis Andreasso Cavalcabò, of his privy council, to take upon him the office of senator of Siena, to which he had been elected. The marquis had demanded, with great ceremony, in the name of his master, and on his behalf, that, for the common utility, the dominion of the city of Siena should be given to him. This embassy caused a wonderful change in the minds of all those who desired that their country should remain independent and free; and the more, as they knew that the generality of the citizens, without listening to any arguments against it, and without any consideration of futurity, or of the nature of princes, never content with a middle flight, and never long to be depended on, were not only inclined to it, but had prepared a petition to the general council, that an answer should be given to the count’s ambassador in these words: ‘We are content; and, as a singular favor, we supplicate his lordship that, from his benignity, he will be pleased to take upon him and accept the dominion and government of the city of Siena, its country and district, and of us his devoted children and servants; and that he rule and govern us as to his excellency shall seem convenient;’ and, descending to particulars, they added and affirmed, ‘We are ready to give and confer upon him the city of Siena, its country and district, with its simple and mixed empire, and to transfer to him liberally the lordship and government of it, so that he may freely dispose of it, in all things, as of the city of Milan, or Padua, or any other the most submissive to him.’
“The contents of this petition, although at first prepared in secret, had reached the ears of those who endeavored to promote peace with Florence and the public tranquillity, wonderfully irritated their minds, and incited them to show to their fellow-citizens the incredible damage to the city which must arise from such an unlimited submission; and to foretell that, in a little time, when they should begin to experience the bitterness of servitude to such as are born and bred to liberty, they would in vain repent of their levity, rashness, and error. They recalled to the recollection of the citizens the great virtues of their fathers and other ancestors, which had defended their country, preserved their liberties, and transmitted both to them; and with how much generosity, bravery, and magnanimity, they themselves had defended it in arms against Charles IV., when present in Siena in 1368 with a powerful army. That they were under the most tender obligation to transmit the sacred trust to their posterity; and this they might easily do, to the inestimable benefit of the city, by a peace, which they had the power and opportunity to make. That when they should be delivered from the calamities of foreign war, and the yoke of tyranny which hung over their necks, they should be at leisure to make provisions of grain against the famine, and to find alleviations of their distresses from the plague.
“To these reasonings of the Tolommei and Malavolti were opposed those of the Salimbeni, who, having been long favorites of the Ghibelline party, were mortal enemies of the others, who were Guelphs. Moved by the interests of faction more than those of the public service, having procured the petition to be heard, and the decree passed and proclaimed by the council, in order to oppress the opposite party by arms, when they had not been able to answer their reasons, they drew over to their side M. Giovan Tedesco, head of the Ghibellines in Arezzo, with his cavalry, and marched through the city, accompanied with a great multitude of people of their faction, and proclaimed the name of Giovan Galeazzo Visconti, Conte di Vertù and Lord of Milan, protector, and chief of the Ghibelline faction in Lombardy, and slew in this sedition twenty men of the followers of the adverse party, and made many prisoners; among whom was Niccolò Malavolti, who, though he had often honorably acted for the service of the republic, was, with many others, beheaded.
“The other members of the families of Tolommei and Malavolti, with many of their followers, left the city, and retired to their castles. The people of Siena, wearied out of patience by being the dupes and tools of two or three ambitious families, were easily led by one of them to rejoice in placing a master over all. They were now so inclined and disposed to servitude to one, in preference to a few, that, blinded with anger, they would not see the evident ruin which must come with the destruction of public liberty; and neither themselves nor their leaders knowing the true cause of their divisions and misfortunes, nor any remedy by which union and liberty might be reconciled by law, they humbly solicited the subjugation of their country, and the privilege—of passive obedience.
“On the fifteenth day of March, in the same year, the record was approved in the general council, and authority was given to the lords priors to appoint a syndic, and a deputy of the commons of Siena, to execute all that was contained in the resolution, and to deliver the keys of the city to the commissaries of the Count Galeazzo, with its absolute dominion, without pact or convention of any kind.”
The example is here complete; and although the tyranny of the Visconti was afterwards overturned, various forms of a republic attempted, exiles sent out and recalled as usual, yet, as the executive power was always left in an assembly, and inveterate factions were not legally separated from each other, nor empowered to control each other, the same divisions, seditions, and civil wars were perpetual, till the same weariness induced the people again to confer the sovereignty on the Grand-Duke of Etruria, where it remains to this time. It is not easy to conceive what further experiments can be made of a sovereignty in one assembly, or how the consequences to be drawn from them can be more decisive. Whether the assembly consists of a larger or a smaller number, of nobles or commons, of great people or little, of rich or poor, of substantial men or the rabble, the effects are all the same,—No order, no safety, no liberty, because no government of law.
It is often said, that the republics of Greece, Rome, and Tuscany, produced in the minds of their citizens great virtues; an ardent love for their country, undaunted bravery, the love of poverty, the love of science, &c. But if a little attention is bestowed upon the subject, these will be found to be very feeble arguments in their favor. It was not the love of their country, but of their faction. There were in every city three factions at least; every citizen loved one third of his fellow-citizens, and hated the other two thirds. It is true that, in such a state of things, affection for friends strengthens in proportion to the fear and hatred of enemies; and the desire of revenge becomes as strong a passion, and demands gratification as imperiously as friendship, and perhaps even more. How was it possible, when men were always in war and danger, that they should not be brave? Courage is a quality to be acquired by all men, by habit and practice. When scenes of death and carnage are every day before his eyes, how is it possible that a man should not acquire a contempt of death, from his familiarity with it, especially if life is made a burden, by continual exertion and mortification? The love of poverty is a fictitious virtue that never existed. A preference of merit to wealth has sometimes existed under all governments; but, most of all, under aristocracies. This is wisdom and virtue in all. But can much of this be found in the histories of any country, that was not poor, and obliged to be so? Can we see much of it in Florence and Siena? The love of science and literature always grows where there is much public deliberation and debate; and in such governments, where every faculty as well as passion is always on the stretch, great energy of mind appears. But there is a form of government which produces a love of law, liberty, and country, instead of disorder, irregularity, and a faction; which produces as much and more independence of spirit, and as undaunted bravery; as much esteem of merit in preference to wealth, and as great simplicity, sincerity, and generosity to all the community, as others do to a faction; which produces as great a desire of knowledge, and infinitely better faculties to pursue it; which, besides, produces security of property, and the desire and opportunities for commerce, which the others obstruct. Shall any one hesitate then to prefer such a government as this to all others? A constitution in which the people reserve to themselves the absolute control of their purses, one essential branch of the legislature, and the inquest of grievances and state crimes, will always produce patriotism, bravery, simplicity, and science; and that infinitely better for the order, security, and tranquillity they will enjoy, by putting the executive power into one hand, which it becomes their interest, as well as that of the nobles, to watch and control.
[* ]Siena dallo splendore delle famiglie s’ era nobilitata,—essendo proprio la nobiltà una antica virtù accompagnata dallo splendore delle ricchezze. Historia del Sig. Orlando Malavolti, de’ fatti, e Guerre de’ Sanesi, cosi esterne, come civili, p. 4.
[† ]Malavolti, p. 9, 10.
[‡ ]Tuscorum ante Romanum imperium late terra marique opes patuere; mari supero inferoque quibus Italia insulæ modo cingitur . . . . Ii in utrumque mare vergentes incoluere urbibus duodenis terras.
[* ]Concilium Latinorum erat ut omnes Latini nominis rerum communium causâ ad Lucum Ferentinæ, qui erat sub monte Albano, coirent, ibique de summa rep. consultarent, ac duobus prætoribus rem universam Latinorum committerent. Sigonius, upon the authority of Dionysius.
[* ]Veientes contra, tedio annuæ ambitionis, quæ interdum discordiarum causa crat regem creavere; offendit ea res populorum Etruriæ animos, non majore odio regni, quam ipsius regis. Livy.
[1 ]Un regimento d’ ottimati, “an aristocracy.”
[* ]The Italian writers in Latin call this office and officer, both, by the name of potestas.
[* ]Columnarum ratio erat attolli supra cæteros mortales. Pliny.
[* ]Plebs est cæteri cives sine senatore. De Verb. Signif.
[* ]Dell’ ordine de’ nove.
[† ]Il popolo minuto.
[* ]Malavolti, lib. iv. p. 36. Giovanni Villani, Croniche Fiorentine, lib. v. Muratori, Rer. Italic. Scrip. tom. xv. Chronica Sanese, di Andrea Dei. Muratori, Dissertazioni, 50. Muratori, Annal. tom. vii. anno 1186, p. 56.
[* ]Malavolti, lib. i. della Seconda Parte, fol. 7 and 8. Croniche Sanese, Ap. Muratori, Rer. Ital. Script. tom. xv. pp. 29, 30, &c.
[* ]Tanto fù sempre piu potente il favor, che la Giustitia nelle città partiali, com’ è stata quasi sempre la città di Siena. Malavolti, lib. iii. part ii. p. 44.
[* ]Quare quatuordecim virorum officio, qui mixti ex utroque genere, civitatem regebant antiquato, priores artium creavere, tres ab initio creatos constat, postea sex, inde duodecim, mox octo; publicis ædibus inclusi, nec aliud quicquam, quàm de republica cogitare jussi sunt, et sumptus ex publico cis præbiti, tempus autem hujus magistratus bimestre constitutum est. Leonardo Aretino, in Malavolti, lib. iii. part ii. p. 51.
[* ]Muoiano i Nove.
[* ]Molti de’ maggiori populari.
[1 ]A Sienne, le gouvernement n’étoit plus dans les mains du peuple; une oligarchie roturière, sous le nom d’ordre des neuf, s’en étoit empare. Quelques ambitieux avoient profité avec artifice du mode d’élection aux magistratures, pour concentrer en dépit des lois et de la constitution, l’autorité entre les mains de quatre-vingt-dix citoyens. Dans l’intérieur, ils se maintenoient contre la haine des nobles et du peuple, par la corruption et la brigue. Au dehors, ils espéroient s’agrandir par la perfidie. Sismondi, Répub. Ital. vol. vi. p. 222.
[1 ]Ainsi, la révolution avoit changé les personnes qui gouvernoient, elle avoit changé leur nombre et leurs titres; mais elle avoit conservé tous les mêmes principes; et sur les ruines d’une oligarchie roturière, elle en avoit élevé une autre plus roturière encore. Sismondi, Répub. Ital. vol. vi. p. 234.
[2 ]The twelve nobles. See, for the nature of their office, p. 249.
[1 ]“Il popolo minuto.” The English words little and great, constantly used by the author, are not free from ambiguity. In modern politics, conservative and radical come nearest to the ideas.
[* ]This record is very curious, and worth inserting. “Item considerantes, dicti providentes, quod ex divisione populi, civitates destruuntur, et annihilantur, et magnam divisionem præbet ordo, factus per alios reformatores, quo cavetur, quod officiales eligantur per quinque de populo parvo, quatuor de gente duodecim, et tres de gente novem, eoque ubi debet populus esse unitus, sit tripartitus, et ideo provideretur, quod dictum capitulum et ordinamentum sit cassum, et sit totus populus Senensis unicus, et unum corpus censeatur, et, siquando in aliqua scriptura esset mentio facienda de populo parvo, dicatur de populo majoris numeri, et si de gente duodecim esset facienda mentio, dicatur de populo mediocris numeri, et si de gente novem, dicatur de populo minoris numeri.”
[1 ]A caterpillar.