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FOURTH BOOK. - Niccolo Machiavelli, The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 1 (Life of Machiavelli, History of Florence) 
The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, tr. from the Italian, by Christian E. Detmold (Boston, J. R. Osgood and company, 1882). Vol. 1. History of Florence.
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1. Cities that govern themselves under the name of Republics, and especially such as are not well constituted, are exposed to frequent revolutions in their government, which make them pass, not, as is generally believed, from servitude to liberty, but from servitude to license. For it is merely the name of liberty that is extolled by the ministers of license, which are the popular faction, and by the ministers of servitude, which are the nobles, neither one nor the other of these being willing to submit either to laws or to men. On the other hand, it is true that when by good fortune some wise, good, and powerful citizen arises in the republic, (which, however, seldom happens,) who establishes laws that will quell the factious spirit of the nobles and of the people, and restrain it so that it can do no harm, — then I say that city may call herself truly free, and such a state may be considered firm and stable. For being founded upon good laws and institutions, it is not dependent upon the virtue of one man for its maintenance, as is the case with the others. Many of the republics of antiquity, whose governments endured a long time, were endowed with such laws. And similar laws and institutions will ever be needed in all those republics that have often changed, and continue to change, their governments from a state of tyranny to one of license, and from the latter to the former. For in such there is not, and cannot be, any stability, because of the violent enmities which each of them provokes; for the one does not please the good men, and the other displeases the wise ones; the one can easily work harm, and the other can with difficulty effect any good. In the one, the insolent have too much authority, and in the other, the foolish; and both one and the other require being sustained by the virtue and good fortune of one man, who may at any moment be removed by death, or his usefulness impaired by misfortune.
2. I say, therefore, that the organization of the government that was established in Florence after the death of Messer Giorgio Scali, in 1381, was maintained, first by the virtue of Messer Maso degli Albizzi, and afterwards by that of Niccolo da Uzano. The city remained tranquil from the year 1414 until 1422; for King Ladislas was dead, and the state of Lombardy divided by parties, so that there was nothing from without or within to disturb her quiet. After Niccolo da Uzano, the citizens having most authority were Bartolommeo Valori, Nerone di Nigi, Messer Rinaldo degli Albizzi, Neri di Gino, and Lapo Niccolini. The factions that sprung from the feud between the Albizzi and Ricci, and which Messer Salvestro de’ Medici rekindled with so much violence, had never been extinguished; and although the popular party ruled only three years, having been vanquished in 1381, yet, comprising as it did the greater part of the citizens, it could never be entirely suppressed. Still it is true that the frequent parliaments, and the continued persecutions against its leaders from 1381 to 1400, had well-nigh reduced it to nullity. The principal families that were persecuted as the chiefs of that faction were the Alberti, the Ricci, and the Medici, who many times had to suffer in their persons and in their wealth; and those of them who still remained in Florence were deprived of the honor of holding public offices. These frequent chastisements humbled that party so as almost entirely to destroy it. There remained nevertheless in the minds of many of them the remembrance of the wrongs endured, and the desire to avenge them; but not finding a favorable opportunity to vent that feeling, it remained concealed within their hearts. Those noble citizens, who governed the city thus peaceably, committed two errors, which proved the ruin of their government. The one was that, by continued possession of power, they became overbearing; the other, that mutual jealousies and long control of the government caused them to relax that vigilance which they should have exercised over those who were hostile and capable of injuring them.
3. Stimulating thus by their sinister conduct the hatred of the masses, and neglecting to watch the dangers because they did not fear them, or encouraging them by their jealousy of each other, they enabled the Medici to recover their influence and authority. The first of them that began to rise again was Giovanni di Bicci; who, having amassed great wealth, and being of a benign and humane disposition, was elevated to the supreme magistracy by those who held the government in the year 1420. This caused the greatest satisfaction to the mass of the people, for they seemed to think that in him they had gained a defender; so that the most prudent men of the city became justly suspicious of him, seeing all the former ill-feeling to revive and gain strength. Niccolo da Uzano therefore made it a point to inform the other citizens of it, pointing out to them the danger of encouraging any one who had so much influence with the masses, and how easy it was to check disorders in the beginning; but that, having once allowed them to gain headway, it was difficult to remedy them; and that he well knew Giovanni to possess many qualities superior to those of Messer Salvestro. But Niccolo was not listened to by his compeers, who were jealous of his reputation, and were desirous of securing associates for themselves so as to put him down. Whilst this state of things prevailed in Florence, and dissensions began secretly to be fomented again, Filippo Visconti, second son of Galeazzo, who, by the death of his brother, had become sovereign of all Lombardy, believing himself capable of undertaking almost any enterprise, desired, above all things, to recover the mastery over Genoa, which at that time enjoyed independence under the government of its Doge, Messer Tommaso da Campo Fregoso. But he was doubtful whether success would be certain in this or any other enterprise, unless he first concluded a new treaty with the Florentines, and to have it made publicly known; for he thought that the credit he would gain thereby would suffice to enable him to accomplish his desires. He therefore sent ambassadors to Florence to obtain such a treaty. Many citizens advised that it should not be made, as, without any new treaty, they ought to continue the peace with Filippo, which had been maintained for so many years; for they knew the great advantage which such a treaty would afford to Filippo, and of how little benefit it would be to the city of Florence. Many others thought it best to make such a treaty, and by virtue of it to impose conditions upon Filippo, the transgression of which would make his evil intentions manifest to everybody; and that then, in case he broke the peace, they might with the greater justice make war against him. And thus, after the matter had been much debated, a treaty of peace was concluded (1421), in which Filippo pledged himself in no way to interfere with anything on the Florentine side of the rivers Magra and Panaro.
4. So soon as this treaty was made, Filippo seized Brescia (1422), and soon after he took Genoa, contrary to the expectations of those Florentines who had advised the making of the treaty; for they had believed that Brescia would be defended by the Venetians, and that Genoa would be able to protect herself. And inasmuch as in the terms which Filippo had made with the Doge of Genoa, he had left him Serezana, and other places situated on this side of the Magra, on condition that he should not part with them except to the Genoese, it was considered that Filippo had by this agreement violated the stipulations of his treaty with Florence. He had, moreover, concluded a treaty with the Legate of Bologna. These things caused great uneasiness to our citizens, who, apprehensive of further troubles, began to prepare means for their prevention. When this became known to Filippo, he sent ambassadors to Florence, either to justify himself, or to sound the feelings of the Florentines, or to lull them into security. He professed to be astonished at their suspicions, and offered to renounce all that he had done that could give rise to any such feelings. These ambassadors produced no other effect than to divide the city; for that part of the citizens who had most influence in the government thought it advisable to arm, and to prepare themselves to thwart the designs of the enemy; for if such preparations should cause Filippo to remain quiet, then a war would be avoided, and there would be every reason for a continuance of peace. Many others, either from jealousy of those who held the government or from fear of war, deemed it wrong so lightly to suspect an ally, whose conduct had given no cause for such mistrust, but felt convinced that the appointing of the Ten, and the hiring of troops, meant war; which, if undertaken against so powerful a prince as Filippo Visconti, would surely involve the city in ruin, without the least prospect of any good resulting from it. For they could not retain sovereignty over any territory they might acquire, because of the Romagna lying between; and it would be impossible for them to make themselves masters of the Romagna on account of the proximity of the Church. Nevertheless the influence of those who wanted the republic to prepare for war outweighed that of the advocates of peace. The Ten were appointed, troops were levied, and fresh taxes imposed, which, bearing much heavier upon the lower classes than upon the wealthy citizens, filled the city with complaints; and the condemnation of the ambition and avarice of the government were general; they were accused of wishing to make an unnecessary war only for the purpose of gratifying their passions and to oppress the people.
5. The republic had not yet come to an open rupture with the Duke, but everything was looked upon with suspicion; for Filippo had at the request of the Legate of Bologna (who feared Messer Antonio Bentivogli, who, being banished, happened to be at Castel Bolognese) sent troops into that city (1420), which being near the Florentine dominions kept the republic full of apprehensions. But that which alarmed everybody, and was the main cause for declaring war, was the attempt which Duke Filippo made upon Furli. Giorgio Ordelaffi, lord of Furli, upon his death had left his young son Tibaldo under the guardianship of Duke Filippo; and although the mother, being suspicious of this guardian, had sent her son to her father Lodovico Alidossi, who was lord of Imola, yet was she forced by the people of Furli to conform to the father’s will, and place the boy in the hands of the Duke. Whereupon Filippo, by way of removing all suspicion and the better to conceal his intentions, ordered that the Marquis of Ferrara should send Guido Torelli in his place with troops to take possession of the government of Furli. It was thus that this place fell into the hands of Filippo. When this fact became known at Florence, together with the news of the arrival of troops at Bologna, it facilitated the determination to declare war. Still there was great opposition to it, and Giovanni de’ Medici publicly counselled against it, pointing out that, however certain the Duke’s evil intentions were, yet it would be better to wait until he should make an attack than at once to move against him; for in the latter case the war would be justified in the opinion of the other Italian sovereigns on the part of the Duke as well as on their own part; and that then they could not claim their assistance with the same confidence as they might do if they allowed the Duke to manifest his ambitious projects; and that, finally, people defend their own homes with more courage and determination than they attack those of others. To this it was replied, that one should not await the enemy at home, but that it was better to go to meet him, and that fortune favored the assailants more than the defendants; and that it was less injurious, even if more costly in money, to carry the war into the enemy’s country, than to have it in one’s own. This opinion prevailed, and it was resolved that the Ten should take all means for recovering the city of Furli from the hands of the Duke.
6. Filippo, seeing the Florentines determined to take those places which he had resolved to defend, threw off the mask, and sent Agnolo della Pergola with a large force to Imola (1424), so that the lord of that city, being obliged to look to his own defence, could not think of the protection of his grandson Tibaldo. When therefore Agnolo reached Imola, the Florentine troops being still at Modigliana, and the weather being so intensely cold that the ditches of the city were frozen, he passed over them by stealth at night and entered the city, capturing Lodovico Alidossi, whom he sent as prisoner to Milan. Imola being lost and war openly declared, the Florentines sent their troops to Furli, and began the siege of that city by investing it on all sides; and to prevent the Duke’s forces from uniting to relieve it, they employed the Count Alberigo, who scoured the country daily from Zagonara to the very gates of Imola. Agnolo della Pergola, seeing that he could not safely succor Furli, because of the strong position occupied by the Florentine troops, bethought himself of attempting the capture of Zagonara, judging that the Florentines would not allow that place to be taken; and that, if they wished to succor it, they would have to raise the siege of Furli and come to battle under great disadvantage. He soon forced the Count Alberigo to ask for terms of capitulation, which were conceded to them, on condition that they should surrender the place if not relieved by the Florentines within fifteen days. When this mishap became known in the Florentine camp and in the city, every one was anxious not to allow the enemy to obtain this victory, but unhappily they thereby afforded him the opportunity of gaining a much greater one. For having raised the camp of Furli to go to the rescue of Zagonara, they encountered the enemy and were completely routed, not so much by the valor of the Milanese as by the inclemency of the weather; for the Florentines, having marched for several hours through deep mud in a pouring rain, found the enemy fresh, and were easily defeated by him. Nevertheless, in so great a defeat, which become famous throughout all Italy, none were killed excepting Lodovico degli Obizzi, together with two of his men, who having fallen from their horses were suffocated in the mud.
7. This defeat threw all Florence into great consternation, but mostly so those prominent citizens who had advised the war; for they saw the enemy powerful, their own forces dispersed, without the support of allies, and their own people irritated, who assailed them in all the public places with insulting words, complaining of the heavy taxes imposed upon them, and of the war, for which there was no cause, saying: “Did they appoint the Ten to intimidate the enemy? Did they relieve Furli and rescue it from the hands of the Duke? We now see the result of their counsels, and what they are aiming at! It was not to defend liberty, which is hateful to them, but it was to increase their own power, which God has justly diminished. Nor is this the only enterprise with which they burdened the city, but there were several others; for was not the war against King Ladislas similar to this one? To whom would they now fly for help? To Pope Martin, whom they had insulted, for the sake of Braccio? To Queen Joanna, who had to throw herself into the arms of the king of Aragon because they had abandoned her?” Besides these reproaches, they said all sorts of other insulting things, as an irritated people is apt to do. The Signori therefore deemed it well to call together a number of citizens who with good words should quiet the excited anger of the populace. Whereupon Messer Rinaldo degli Albizzi, the oldest remaining son of Messer Maso, who on the strength of his own merits and the memory of his father aspired to the highest offices in the city, spoke at length, showing that “it was not wise to judge of things only by their results, for it often happened that the best considered undertakings did not come to a good end, whilst the most ill-advised were frequently successful. And were we to approve evil counsels because of the good which occasionally has attended them, we should virtually be encouraging error, which might result disastrously for the republic; for certainly evil counsels do not always produce happy results. And in the same way it would be an error to blame a judicious enterprise because it had had an unsuccessful issue; for such a course would discourage the citizens from giving the city the benefit of their counsels, and to say that which they thought.” He then pointed out the necessity that had existed for this war, and how it would have been waged in Tuscany, if they had not carried it into the Romagna. “But since it was the will of God that their troops should have been beaten, their losses would be still more serious if they abandoned themselves to hopelessness; if, however, they showed a bold front to fortune, and made the best use of the means at their command, they would not feel the loss, nor would Duke Filippo enjoy the victory. Nor should they be alarmed by the cost of the war and the prospect of future taxation; for the latter could easily be modified, and the former would be much less in the future than what it had been in the past; for less money sufficed for defence than what was needed for attacking others. And finally he counselled them to follow the example of their fathers, who, undismayed by any reverses, had always defended themselves courageously against whoever assailed them.”
8. The citizens, reanimated by the discourse of Messer Rinaldo, engaged the services of the Count Oddo, son of Braccio, and gave him as an adviser Niccolo Piccinino, a pupil of Braccio’s, and the best reputed of all those who had fought under his banner; to these they added other Condottieri, and remounted a portion of their men who had lost their horses. They appointed twenty citizens to levy new taxes, who, seeing the prominent citizens much cast down by the late defeat, taxed them without consideration. (1426.) These imposts greatly offended many of the prominent citizens, who at first, from a sense of propriety, had not complained of the taxes for themselves, but objected to them on the general ground of their being unjust, and therefore urged their repeal. This proposition, however, was rejected when brought before the council. Therefore, by way of making the harshness of the tax felt the more, and to make it odious to the mass of the people, these citizens contrived that the tax-gatherers should enforce it with the utmost severity, giving them the authority to kill any one who resisted the officers of the law. This gave rise to many painful occurrences, by the wounding and killing of citizens. It became evident that this course of proceeding would soon provoke the old party violence, and many prudent men feared some immediate misfortune. The great, who had been accustomed to be treated with special regard, would not submit to being thus spoliated, whilst the others wanted that all should be taxed alike. In this state of things a number of the principal citizens met, and concluded that it would be necessary for them to reconstitute the government; inasmuch as their indolence had encouraged the people to find fault with the acts of the government, and had emboldened the leaders of the masses. After several private conferences they resolved all to meet again at an appointed time; when upwards of seventy citizens assembled in the church of San Stefano, with the sanction of Messer Lorenzo Ridolfi and Francesco Gianfigliazzo, members of the Signoria. Giovanni de’ Medici did not meet with them, either because he was not invited, being suspected, or because he did not wish to interfere by opposing their views.
9. Messer Rinaldo degli Albizzi addressed the assembly and began by “showing them the condition of the city, and how by their negligence Florence had fallen under the control of the populace, from whom it had been wrested by their fathers in 1381. He reminded them of the iniquity of that government which had ruled from 1378 to 1381, and how every one present had to deplore the death of a father or grandfather in consequence; that the same dangers now threatened the republic, and that the city was relapsing into the same disorders. For already the people had laid a tax after their own fashion, and that they would very soon appoint the magistrates according to their pleasure, if they were not restrained by superior force or by more vigorous institutions. And that if this came to pass then the populace would occupy their places, and would overturn the government which for forty years had ruled the city with so much glory. That Florence would then be governed either by chance, according to the caprice of the multitude, when the one party would indulge in every license and the other would be exposed to every danger; or the city would become subject to the rule of some one man, who would in the end make himself sovereign of it. And therefore he affirmed that every one who loved his country and valued his honor ought to rouse himself and remember the virtue of Bardo Mancini, who by the ruin of the Alberti rescued the city from the dangers in which it then was. He showed them that the cause of the audacity of the multitude was to be found in the frequency of the elections, which they by their negligence had allowed to take place, and which had filled the palace with new and low people. He therefore concluded that there was but one way of remedying the evil, and that was to restore the government to the hands of the nobles; to deprive the minor guilds of all share in the public authority, and to reduce their number from fourteen to seven; that thus the populace would have less influence in the councils, both by the diminution of their numbers as well as by the increased authority which it would give to the nobles, who, always preserving their old enmities, would be opposed to the others. He assured them that it was true wisdom to make use of men according to the times; for if their fathers availed of the people to put down the insolence of the nobles, so, now that the nobles had become humble and the people insolent, it was wise to check the arrogance of the latter by the help of the former. And to enable them to carry this out, they might employ either craft or force, to either of which means they could easily resort, as some of their friends were members of the Council of Ten, and could easily bring troops into the city.”
Messer Rinaldo was applauded and his counsels approved by all; amongst others Messer Niccolo da Uzano said: “All that Messer Rinaldo has spoken is true, and the remedies proposed by him are good and sure provided they can be carried out without producing an open rupture in the city; which could be done if they could draw Messer Giovanni de’ Medici into their plans. For by his concurrence with them, the people, being deprived of their chief and their strength, could do no harm; but if he did not concur with them, nothing could be effected without arms, and he deemed any resort to arms perilous, either from failure of success or from not being able to enjoy the benefit of their victory. He modestly brought to their recollection his past record, how he wanted to remedy the difficulty at the time when it might have been done easily, but now the opportune moment had been allowed to pass when it might have been done without danger of greater evils; and therefore there was now no other remedy left them but to gain Giovanni de’ Medici over to their side.” Messer Rinaldo was therefore commissioned to call upon Giovanni, and try to draw him into their plans.
10. This gentleman executed his commission, and in the best terms at his command he urged Giovanni to unite with them in their effort, and not to encourage the multitude in their audacity, which would lead to the ruin of the government and the city. To which Giovanni replied: “That he believed it the duty of a good and wise citizen not to change the established institutions of the city, as there was nothing so injurious as such frequent changes, which always gave offence to many; and where so many remained discontented, there was cause for apprehending every day some unhappy occurrence. He thought that their determination would have two most pernicious results: the one, to give the public offices to those who, never having held them, would esteem the honor less, and who would have less cause of complaint if they did not have them; the other, to take the honors from those who, being accustomed to have them, would never rest until they were restored to them. And thus the injury done to the one would be much greater than the benefit bestowed upon the other, so that whoever might be the author of such a measure would gain but few friends by it, and make himself many enemies; and the latter would be more eager to injure him than the former to defend him, men being naturally more prone to revenge of injuries than to gratitude for benefits received, regarding the latter as onerous, whilst the former was alike sweet and profitable.” Then, turning to address Messer Rinaldo personally, he said: “And you, if you would remember the things that have happened, and with how much craft and deceit things are carried on in this city, you would be less eager in your resolve; for those who counsel it, after having with your aid deprived the people of their authority, will in turn take it again from you, with their aid whom the wrong done them will have converted into your enemies. And it will happen to you as it did to Messer Benedetto Alberti, who, persuaded by those who did not love him to consent to the destruction of Messer Giorgio Scali and Messer Tommaso Strozzi, was a short time after sent himself into exile by those who had thus persuaded him. He advised him, therefore, to think more maturely of these matters, and to imitate his father, who, for the sake of gaining the favor of the masses, had lowered the price of salt, and had provided that he who owed less than half a florin for taxes might pay it or not as he pleased; and that on the day of the meeting of the councils every one should be exempt from prosecution by his creditors. And finally he concluded that, so far as regarded himself, he was in favor of leaving the city under its present organization.”
11. When these negotiations became known, it increased the esteem in which Giovanni was held, and the detestation of the other citizens, from whom Giovanni kept himself aloof, so as to discourage any one’s attempting to introduce innovations under cover of his favor; and in all his conversations he gave every one to understand that he did not wish to nurse factions, but rather to destroy them; and so far as regarded himself, he desired nothing but the union of the city. This caused many of the adherents of his party to be dissatisfied, for they could have wished that he should have shown himself more active in these matters. Amongst these was Alamanno de’ Medici, who, being of a violent temper, did not cease to urge him to persecute his enemies and to favor his friends, condemning his coldness and want of energy, to which he attributed the intrigues of his enemies against him, which, he said, would some day ruin his family and friends. He also encouraged Cosimo, the son of Giovanni, to the same views. Nevertheless Giovanni, from some revelations or predictions made to him, did not swerve from his purpose; despite of which, however, the parties had already declared themselves, and the city was in open division. There happened at that time to be in the palace attached to the service of the Signoria two chancellors, Ser Martino and Ser Pagolo. The latter adhered to the party of Uzano, and the former to that of the Medici; and Messer Rinaldo, seeing that Giovanni would not agree with them, thought it advisable to deprive Ser Martino of his office, hoping thereby to have the palace afterwards more favorably disposed for his party. But he was anticipated in this move by his adversaries, for Martino was not only protected, but Ser Pagolo was deprived of office, to the great displeasure and damage of his party. This would immediately have produced evil consequences had it not been for the war which threatened the republic, which had become greatly alarmed by the defeat suffered at Zagonara. For whilst these things were transpiring in Florence, Agnolo della Pergola with the troops of the Duke had seized all the places which the Florentines possessed in the Romagna, excepting only Castrocaro and Modigliana; partly in consequence of the weakness of the places, and partly owing to the defection of those in charge of them. In the taking of these places two circumstances occurred which show how true bravery is appreciated even by the enemy, and how cowardice and villany are despised.
12. Biagio del Melano was castellan of the castle of Monte Petroso, which was surrounded and closely pressed by the enemy; and seeing no means of saving the place, Biagio piled clothing and straw in that part which was not yet in flames, and, casting his two little sons upon the pile, he called out to the enemy: “Take for yourselves the goods which Fortune has given me, and of which you can deprive me, but the treasures of my heart, which constitute my honor and glory, I shall neither yield nor can you take them from me!” The enemy rushed in to save the children, and brought him ropes and ladders so that he might save himself and them. But he did not accept for himself, preferring to die in the flames rather than be saved by the hands of his country’s enemies. An instance truly worthy of the boasted examples of antiquity! but more admirable than those, because more rare. The enemy restored to the children of Biagio all the things they were able to save, and sent them with the greatest care to their relatives. Nor was the republic less kind to them, for they were supported during life at the public expense.
The reverse of this occurred at Galeata, where Zanobi dal Pino was Podesta, who surrendered the fortress to the enemy without making any defence, and moreover advised Agnolo to leave the mountains of the Romagna and come into the hills of Tuscany, where he could carry on the war more advantageously and with less danger. Agnolo was disgusted by the cowardice and baseness of Zanobi, and handed him over to his servants, who, after much taunting, gave him nothing to eat but paper painted with snakes, saying that by this means they wanted to change him from a Guelf into a Ghibelline; and thus he died in a few days from hunger.
13. In the midst of this Count Oddo, together with Niccolo Piccinino, had entered the Val di Lamona for the purpose of trying to force the lord of Faenza into an alliance with the Florentines; or at least to hinder Agnolo della Pergola from freely scouring the Romagna. But that valley being naturally strong, and its inhabitants accustomed to arms, Count Oddo was killed and Niccolo Piccinino taken prisoner and sent to Faenza. But fortune wanted the Florentines to obtain by means of their losses what victory perhaps would not have given them; for Niccolo prevailed upon the lord of Faenza and his mother to become allies of the Florentines. By the treaty resulting from this Niccolo was set free; but he did not himself act up to the advice which he had given to others; for in negotiating with the city of Florence in relation to his employment, they disagreed, either because the terms seemed to him insufficient, or because he found better pay elsewhere. For he abruptly left Arezzo, where he was in quarters, and went into Lombardy, where he entered into the service of the Duke Filippo. The Florentines, alarmed at this and frightened by the enormous expenses, concluded that they were not able to carry on this war alone; and therefore sent ambassadors to the Venetians to pray them, whilst it was still easy for them to do so, to oppose the greatness of one man, who, if they allowed him to increase in power, would be as dangerous for them as he was for the Florentines. The Venetians had been advised to the same effect by Francesco Carmignuola, a man highly esteemed in those days for his ability as a general, and who had formerly been in the service of the Duke, but had subsequently revolted against him; but they were doubtful as to how far they could trust Carmignuola, thinking that his enmity towards the Duke might possibly be only feigned. Whilst he was thus suspected by the Venetians, the Duke had poison administered to him by one of the servants of Carmignuola; the poison, however, was not sufficiently powerful to kill him, though it reduced him to extremity. When the cause of his illness was discovered, the Venetians gave up their suspicions, and employed him in accordance with the advice of the Florentines, and concluded a league with them, by which both parties obligated themselves to carry on the war at joint expense; and that the conquests in Lombardy should belong to the Venetians, and those in the Romagna and Tuscany to the Florentines; and Carmignuola was appointed the commander-in-chief of the forces of the league. The war during the continuance of this league was confined to Lombardy, where it was valiantly conducted by Carmignuola, who in the course of a few months took a number of places from the Duke, together with the city of Brescia, the capture of which was regarded in those days as something marvellous.
14. This war lasted from 1422 to 1427, so that the citizens of Florence were tired of the taxes imposed upon them and agreed to revise them (1427). And by way of equalizing them according to the wealth of the citizens, they provided that the taxes should be laid upon property, and that whoever had to the value of one hundred florins should be assessed one half a florin. As it was therefore the law and not men that had to adjust this tax, it was regarded very onerous by the powerful citizens, who strenuously opposed the new system before it was finally adopted. Giovanni alone supported it openly, and thus it was passed. And because in the assessing of this tax the property of each one was valued in the aggregate, which the Florentines call “accatastare” (to pile together), this tax was called the “Catasto.” This system in some measure put a check upon the tyranny of the great, for they could no longer oppress the lesser people, nor silence them with threats in the councils, as they formerly could. The mass of the people therefore gladly accepted this tax, but the great received it with the greatest oppugnancy. But as it happens that men are never satisfied, and when they have obtained one thing are not content with it, but desire something else, so the people, not content with the present equality of the tax, which commenced with the passage of the law, demanded that it should be made retroactive, and that it should be ascertained how much too little the nobles had paid according to the Catasto; and that they should be made to pay as much as would bring them even with those who, to enable them to pay the taxes which they ought not to have paid, had been obliged to sell their property. This demand alarmed the nobles much more than the Catasto itself; and they did not cease to condemn it as being most unjust, especially in being put also upon movable property, which, they argued, is possessed one day and lost the next; and besides, that there were many persons who kept their money concealed, so that the Catasto could not touch it; to which they added, that those who left their business to govern the republic should be taxed less, as it should suffice that they gave their personal services; and that it was not just that the city should claim their property, as well as their time and talents. The others, who were favorable to the Catasto, replied, that, if the personal property varied, the assessments could be varied accordingly, and by doing so frequently, that inconvenience would be remedied. And of those who kept their money concealed it was not necessary to take any account, for their money brought them no return, and therefore it was not reasonable that they should pay; but if they wanted to have profit from their money, they would have to reveal it, in which case it would be taxed. And if it did not please them to serve the republic, they might leave it alone and need not trouble themselves about it; for it would be easy to find well-disposed citizens who would willingly give their money and their counsels to the city; inasmuch as the advantages and honors resulting from their being in the government were such that they ought to suffice them without wishing to be exempt from taxation. But that the evil was not where they said it was, and that the real cause of their regrets was being no longer able to carry on the war without injury to themselves, since they had to contribute to its expenses the same as the others. And if the present measure had been adopted sooner, they would never have made the war against King Ladislas, nor the one against the Duke Filippo, both of which had been made, not from necessity, but merely to enrich some of the citizens. These ill feelings were calmed by Giovanni de’ Medici, who argued that it was not well to revert to the things of the past, but that they ought to provide for the future. And if the taxes in the past had been unjust, they should thank God that the means had been found to make them just for the future; and he wanted that these means should serve to unite, and not to divide the city, as would be the case if they attempted to collect the taxes for the past so as to make them equal to the present one; and that it was better to be content with half a victory, for those who wanted to gain too much often lost all. With these and other similar arguments he quieted these discontents, and caused the retrospective tax not to be resolved upon.
15. Meantime, whilst the war with the Duke thus went on, a peace was negotiated at Ferrara through the intervention of the Pope’s Legate, the conditions of which, however, were from the first disregarded by Filippo, so that the league resumed arms anew; and having come to battle with the Duke’s forces, these were routed at Maclovio (1428). After this defeat Filippo set new negotiations on foot for a treaty, which were acceded to by the Venetians and Florentines; by the latter, from jealousy of the Venetians, for it seemed to them that they had spent enough to make others powerful; and by the former, because they had observed that Carmignuola after the defeat of the Duke had become less active, so that they thought that they could no longer trust him. Peace was therefore concluded in 1428; according to the terms of which the Florentines were to receive back the places lost in the Romagna, and the Venetians retained Brescia, besides which the Duke gave them Bergamo with its territory. Florence had spent in this war the sum of three and a half millions of ducats; and whilst the Venetians had gained in power and possessions, the Florentines increased their poverty and divisions. External peace being restored, the internal dissensions recommenced. The great citizens, unwilling to submit to the Catasto, and seeing no way of putting an end to it, thought of means for augmenting the number of opponents to that measure, so as to have more support in their efforts to have it annulled. For this purpose they instructed the official assessors to put the tax, in accordance with the law, also upon the property of the inhabitants of the subject districts, so as to ascertain whether any of that property belonged to the Florentines. All the inhabitants of the districts were therefore cited to present, within a given time, written schedules of their property. This caused the Volterrans to send a deputation to protest against it to the Signoria, which irritated the officials to that degree that they put eighteen of them in prison. This aroused the indignation of the Volterrans, but consideration for their imprisoned envoys caused them to refrain from any violence.
16. About this time Giovanni de’ Medici fell sick, and, feeling his illness to be mortal, he called his two sons, Cosimo and Lorenzo, to him, and said to them: “I believe I have lived to the time appointed for me by God and nature at my birth. I die content, for I leave you rich and healthy, and of such quality that, if you will follow in my footsteps, you can live in Florence honored and beloved by every one. Nothing makes me die so content as the reflection that I have never injured any one, but that rather, according to my ability, I have benefited all. I advise you to do the same; and if you desire to live securely, take only such share of the government as the laws and the citizens may choose to bestow upon you, which will never expose you to envy or danger. For it is that which a man takes, not that which is given to him, that renders him odious to others; and thus you will always have much more than those who, wishing to take the share of others, lose their own, and who, before losing it live in constant anxiety. In this way have I, in the midst of so many enemies and divisions, not only maintained, but increased my influence in the city; and thus, if you follow my example, will you maintain and increase yours. But if you do otherwise, remember that your fate will not be different from that of those who within our memory have ruined themselves and their families.”
Soon after this he died, in 1429, greatly regretted by every one in Florence, as he deserved, because of his admirable qualities. Giovanni was most charitable, and not only gave alms to whoever asked them, but often succored the poor without being solicited. He loved all mankind; he praised the good, and had compassion upon the wicked. He never asked for honors, but had them all. He never went to the palace unless called there. He loved peace, and avoided war; he remembered men in their adversity, and aided them in prosperity. He was a stranger to public rapine, and only aimed to increase the wealth of the state. As a magistrate he was courteous; his eloquence was moderate, but his prudence very great. The expression of his countenance was sad, but his conversation was cheerful, and even facetious. He died rich in treasure, but richer in good fame and the general affection. The heritage he left both in wealth of fortune and of character was not only maintained, but increased, by his son Cosimo.
17. The Volterran envoys were tired of being in prison, and for the sake of obtaining their liberty they promised to consent to what had been demanded of them. Being thereupon liberated, they returned to Volterra at the moment when the new priors of the city were about to assume their magistracy. Amongst these one Giusto had been drawn, a plebeian who had much influence with the populace, and one of those who had been imprisoned by the Florentines. Being fired with hatred against them on account of his private and the public wrongs, and stimulated also by Giovanni di Contugi, a noble who sat in the magistracy with him, he resolved to stir up the people with the authority of the priors; and with the support of the masses, whose favor he enjoyed, to rescue the country from the hands of the Florentines, and to make himself master of it. By Giovanni’s advice Giusto took up arms, scoured the country, captured the resident Florentine governor, and with the consent of the people made himself lord of Volterra. This occurrence greatly irritated the Florentines; but having concluded a peace with Duke Filippo, the terms of which had just been settled, they judged that they would still be able to recover Volterra. And by way of not losing any time, they at once appointed Messer Rinaldo degli Albizzi and Messer Palla Strozzi as commissaries to conduct this enterprise. Giusto, in the mean time, anticipating that he would be attacked by the Florentines, applied for assistance to the people of Lucca and Sienna. The latter declined on the ground of being in alliance with the Florentines; and Pagolo Guinigi, lord of Lucca, who was desirous of recovering the good will of the people of Florence, which he supposed he had lost during their war with the Duke Filippo when he had declared himself the friend of the latter, not only refused all aid to Giusto, but sent those who had come to ask it as prisoners to Florence. The commissaries meantime, desiring to fall upon the Volterrans unawares, assembled all their forces, and raised a large body of infantry from the lower Val d’ Arno, and marched upon Volterra. But Giusto, undismayed by having been abandoned by his neighbors, and by the impending attack of the Florentines, and relying upon the strength of the place and the roughness of the country, prepared for defence.
There was in Volterra a certain Messer Arcolano, brother of that Giovanni di Contugi who had persuaded Giusto to seize the lordship, who had much influence with the nobility. He called together certain of his confidential friends, and showed them how by this event God had come to the aid of their city in its need; for if they would take up arms and deprive Giusto of the lordship, and restore the city to the Florentines, it would follow that they would remain the leading men of the country, and preserve their ancient privileges. Having agreed upon this, they went to the palace where the lord resided; a portion of them remained below, whilst Messer Arcolano with three others ascended into the hall, where they found Giusto with some citizens. They called him aside as though they wished to confer with him upon some important affair, and whilst conversing with him they led him into a chamber, where Arcolano and his companions attacked him with their swords. But they were not sufficiently quick in their movements to prevent Giusto from drawing his sword, so that before they killed him he wounded two of his assailants severely. Unable, however, to resist so many, he was slain, and his body thrown down to the lower floor of the palace. The party of Messer Arcolano, having taken up arms, gave the city up to the Florentine commissaries, who were near by with their troops, and who entered the city without further stipulations. This made the condition of the Volterrans much worse, for amongst other things the Florentines secured the greater part of the territory from the city, and reduced Volterra to a mere vicariate.
18. Volterra being thus, as it were, lost and regained at one blow, there appeared no reasons for any new wars, had it not been that ambition provoked another. Niccolo Fortebraccio, a son of a sister of Braccio da Perugia, had been for a considerable time in the service of the city of Florence during the war with Duke Filippo. Upon the declaration of peace he was discharged by the Florentines; but when the difficulty with Volterra occurred he was still in quarters at Fucecchio, where the commissaries charged with the enterprise against Volterra made use of him and his men. It was generally believed that whilst thus engaged Messer Rinaldo persuaded Niccolo under some pretext to attack Lucca, pointing out to him that, if he did so, it would cause the Florentines openly to declare war against Lucca, and that then he would be made commander of their forces. After Volterra was taken, and when Niccolo had returned to his quarters at Fucecchio, persuaded either by Messer Rinaldo or of his own accord, he seized, in November, 1429, with three hundred mounted men and three hundred infantry, the Lucchese castles of Ruoti and Compito, and then descended into the plain, where he took a large amount of booty. When this became known in Florence people of all sorts gathered in groups throughout Florence, the greater part of which wanted war to be declared against Lucca. Of the principal citizens who were in favor of this were the Medici and their adherents; also Messer Rinaldo, who was influenced either by the belief that it would be advantageous for the republic, or perhaps by the ambitious hope that he would be appointed to conduct the enterprise. Those who were opposed to it were Niccolo da Uzano and his party. It would almost seem incredible that in the same city there should be such a diversity of opinion as to the undertaking of this war; for those very citizens and the same people who, after ten years of peace, had blamed the war undertaken against Duke Filippo in defence of their own liberty, now, after the heavy expenditures and affliction in which that war involved the city, eagerly demanded that a war should be undertaken against Lucca to rob her citizens of their liberty. And, on the other hand, those who had been in favor of the former war now strenuously opposed this one. Thus do opinions change with time, and thus are the multitude ever more ready to seize upon the goods of others than to defend their own. And thus are men more influenced by the hope of gain than by the fear of loss; for the latter, unless very near, excites no apprehension; and the former, being still remote, creates hopes. And thus the people of Florence were filled with hopes by the conquests already made and yet expected to be made by Fortebraccio, and by the letters written by their rectors from near Lucca. For the governors of Pescia and Vico had written that, if permission were given them to receive those castles that were willing to surrender to them, the whole Lucchese territory would very quickly be acquired. Added to this came the conduct of the envoy whom the lord of Lucca had sent to Florence to remonstrate against the attack made upon him by Fortebraccio, and to beg the Signoria not to make war upon a neighbor and a city that had ever been their friend. This envoy was called Messer Jacopo Viviani; he had been imprisoned by Pagolo Guinigi, lord of Lucca, for having conspired against him; and although found guilty, yet his life was spared and he was pardoned by Pagolo, who, in the belief that Messer Jacopo had also forgiven his injury, intrusted him with this mission. But when Messer Jacopo came to Florence, being more mindful of the danger he had escaped than of the benefit received, he secretly counselled the citizens in favor of the war against Lucca. This advice, added to their hopes, caused the Signoria to assemble the councils, at which four hundred and ninety-eight citizens came together, before whom the question was discussed by the principal men of Florence.
19. Amongst the first to speak in favor of the attempt against Lucca was, as we have said above, Messer Rinaldo. He pointed out the advantages that would result from the acquisition, and demonstrated the opportunity to be favorable, — Lucca being left an easy prey to them by the Venetians and Duke Filippo. Nor could the Pope intervene, being occupied with the affairs of the kingdom of Naples. He furthermore showed the facility with which the city could be taken, being enslaved by one of her own citizens, and having lost her natural vigor and ancient zeal in defence of her liberties; so that the city would be given up to them, either by the people for the sake of ridding themselves of their tyrant, or by the tyrant from fear of the people. He recited the injuries done them by the lord of Lucca, his ill-will angainst the Florentine republic, and how dangerous he would prove if ever they should again be involved in war with either the Pope or the Duke; and concluded by saying that no enterprise ever engaged in by the Florentines had been more easy, more beneficial, or more just. Against this opinion Niccolo da Uzano spoke as follows: “That the city of Florence had never attempted a more unjust nor more hazardous enterprise, and from which greater injury would result. And, first, because it was a Guelf city which it was proposed to attack, and one that had ever been friendly to the Florentine people, and had many times, at her own peril, received in her bosom the Guelfs who were not permitted to remain in their own country; and that never, within the memory of our times, had Lucca, when free, offended Florence; and that, if she had done so when enslaved, as formerly by Castruccio, and now by Pagolo, the guilt could not be imputed to her, but to her tyrant. And if they could make war against the tyrant without doing so against the citizens, it would displease him less; but as that could not be done, he could not consent that a city, hitherto their friend, should be despoiled of her liberty and her property. But as people nowadays took little account of what was just or unjust, he would not now touch upon that point, but would only look to the question of advantage to their own city. He believed that only those things should be called advantageous which could not readily be productive of injury; but he did not know how any one could call an undertaking useful in which the damage was certain and the benefit doubtful. The certain damage was the cost, which would be unavoidable, and which would be found so great that it should alarm a city that for a long while had enjoyed the repose of peace, and much more so one that was wearied by a serious and protracted war, as was the case with Florence. The benefit that could possibly result from it would be the conquest of Lucca, which he confessed would be a great one; but that it was proper to consider the uncertainty in which that was involved, which in his judgment was so great that he regarded the conquest impossible. And that they must not believe that the Venetians and Duke Filippo would rest satisfied with such an acquisition on their part; for the former only made pretence of consent to avoid appearing ungrateful, having but a short time before added so largely to their dominions by means of Florentine money. And Duke Filippo would be glad to see them involve themselves in new wars and expenditures, so that, when wearied and exhausted in all respects, he might the more safely assail them anew; and that whilst they were engaged in this undertaking, and full of high hopes of victory, the Duke would not lack means of aiding the Lucchese covertly, either with money or by disbanding some of his troops, and letting them go to their assistance as soldiers of fortune. He therefore advised them to abstain from the attempt, and to live on such terms with the tyrant of Lucca as would cause him to increase the number of his enemies as much as possible within the city; for there would be no more convenient way of subjugating Lucca than to let her live under the rule of her tyrant, and to have her weakened and exhausted by him. For if the matter were managed prudently, things would soon come to that point in Lucca that, the tyrant not being able to hold her, the city, being incapable of governing herself, would of necessity fall into their hands. But that he saw the feelings that had been stirred, and that his words were not listened to; yet this he would predict to them, that they were about to make a war in which they would expend a great deal of money and expose themselves to many dangers; and, instead of taking Lucca, they would deliver her from her tyrant, and convert her from a friendly, feeble, and enslaved city into a free and hostile city, which in time would prove an obstacle to the greatness of their own republic.”
20. After the speeches in favor of and against the enterprise, a secret vote was taken, according to custom; and of the whole number present only ninety-eight were against it. The war being therefore resolved upon, the Ten were appointed for its conduct, and troops were levied, both mounted men and infantry. Messer Astorre Gianni and Messer Rinaldo degli Albizzi were appointed commissaries, and an arrangement was made with Niccolo Fortebraccio to receive from him the places he had taken, and for him to remain in the service of the Florentines during the continuance of the war. When the commissaries arrived with the army in the Lucchese territory, they divided their forces; and Astorre extended himself through the plain to Camajore and Pietrasanta, and Messer Rinaldo went towards the mountains, judging that, if the city were cut off from the country, it would then be easy to take it. These movements, however, proved unfortunate; not because they did not capture places enough, but because their conduct of the war had subjected them to various complaints and charges. And certainly the conduct of Messer Astorre Gianni was justly liable to the charges brought against him. There is near to Pietrasanta a rich and populous valley called Seravezza. When its inhabitants heard of the arrival of the commissaries, they went to meet them, and begged to be received by them as loyal servants of the Florentine people. Astorre made show of accepting the proffer, and then sent his troops to occupy the passes and strong places of the valley. Thereupon he caused all the men of the valley to come together in their principal churches, where he made them all prisoners, whilst his troops sacked and plundered the whole country in the most cruel and rapacious manner, respecting neither their sacred places nor their women, whether maidens or married. When these proceedings became known at Florence it caused the greatest indignation, not only of the magistrates, but of the whole city.
21. Some of the men of Seravezza, who had escaped from the hands of Astorre, rushed to Florence, and told the story of their woes to every one in the streets; and being encouraged by many who desired the punishment of the commissary, either because of his infamous conduct or because he was of the opposite faction, they went to the Ten, demanding to be heard. And being admitted, one of the men spoke as follows: “We are certain, O magnificent Signori, that our words will find belief and compassion with your lordships, when you shall know how our country has been seized by your commissary, and how we have been treated by him. Our valley was evermore Guelf, as your ancient records will abundantly attest, and has often been a safe refuge for your citizens when persecuted by the Ghibellines. Our ancestors, as well as ourselves, have ever honored the name of your illustrious republic as the head and chief of the Guelf party. So long as the Lucchese were Guelf, we cheerfully served their power; but since they have fallen under the yoke of the tyrant who has abandoned his old friends and followed the Ghibelline party, we have obeyed by compulsion rather than of our own free will. And God knows how many times we have prayed him to give us an opportunity of manifesting our attachment to the old party. But how blind men are in their desires! That which we longed for as being for our welfare has proved our ruin! For so soon as we heard that your banners were marching towards us, we went to meet your commissary, not as an enemy, but as our ancient lord; and placed our fortunes and ourselves into his hand, and commended ourselves to his good faith, believing that, if he had not the soul of a Florentine, yet he had at least that of a man. Your lordships will pardon us, for we could not suffer worse than what we have suffered, and speak from the heart. Your commissary has nothing of the man but the appearance, and nothing of the Florentine but the name. He is a deadly pest, a wild and cruel beast, a horrid monster, such as no writer has ever before imagined; for after having called us together in our church, on pretence of wishing to confer with us, he destroyed and burnt the whole valley, plundered the inhabitants of their substance, sacked, despoiled, beat, and killed them, ravished the women, and violated the young maidens by dragging them from the arms of their mothers and giving them up to the lust of his soldiers. Had we deserved all this ill treatment because of some injury done to the Florentine people or to him, or had he taken us with arms in hand defending ourselves, we should blame your commissary less, and rather accuse ourselves for having by such injuries or by our arrogance deserved it. But having given ourselves up to him freely and unarmed, he afterwards robbed and maltreated us, and subjected us to such insults and ignominy that we are compelled to complain of it to you. And although we might have filled Lombardy with our lamentations, and spread the story of our wrongs throughout Italy, to the eternal disgrace of your city, yet did we refrain from doing so, as we did not wish to stain so honorable and benevolent a republic with the dishonesty and cruelty of one of her evil-minded citizens, whose ravenous soul, though boundless and bottomless, we would have endeavored to have satisfied with the larger part of our substance, so as thus to have saved the remnant, had we known his avarice and rapacity before. But as there is no longer time for that, we desired to have recourse to you, and by you to relieve the wretchedness of your subjects, so that other people may not be deterred by our unfortunate example from placing themselves under your dominion. And if you are not moved by our infinite ills, may the fear of God’s divine anger move you, who has seen his temples sacked and burnt, and our people betrayed in his very bosom!” Having spoken thus, they threw themselves upon the ground, crying and praying that their goods and their country might be restored to them; and that, although the Signoria could not restore to them their honor, yet they should at least order the wives to be returned to their husbands, and the children to their parents. These atrocities having already come to the knowledge of the Florentines, and having them now heard attested by the very men who had borne them, the magistrates were moved, and ordered Astorre to return without delay, who was thereupon condemned and admonished. They had the property of the people of Seravezza collected, and what was found of it was restored to them; and for the rest they were compensated in time in various ways.
22. Messer Rinaldo degli Albizzi was reported by the other party to be carrying on the war more for his own benefit than for that of the Florentine people; and that since he had been appointed commissary he had become lukewarm in his desire to take Lucca, contenting himself with plundering the country and filling his own estates with stolen cattle and his palace with booty; and that, not satisfied with the plunder made for his private benefit by his followers, he purchased the soldiers’ share, so that from a commissary he had become a mere trader. When these reports came to the ears of Messer Rinaldo, it excited his proud and honorable spirit more than what was becoming to so grave a man; and so perturbed him, that, indignant against the magistrates and the citizens, and without asking or awaiting leave of absence, he returned to Florence, and presenting himself before the Ten, he said: “That he well knew the difficulty and danger of serving a divided city and an unbridled people; for the one magnified every report, and the other punished errors, but did not reward good actions, and accused doubtful ones. And however much a man might be victorious, yet no one would praise him; whilst every one is ready to condemn the slightest error, and overwhelm him with calumnies; for his own party will persecute him from jealousy, and the opposite party from hatred. Nevertheless I have never from fear of any idle complaint failed to do any act which I believed would prove a certain benefit to this city. True, the base dishonesty of the present calumnies has overcome my patience and excited my temper, and therefore do I pray the magistrates that they will in the future be more ready to defend their citizens, so that they may devote themselves with the greater energy to labor for the good of the country. And as it is not the custom of Florence to bestow triumphal honors upon their successful commanders, it would at least be proper that they should defend them against malicious slanders; and that they ought to remember that they too were citizens of Florence, and that charges might at any moment be brought against them, and that then they would understand how deeply upright men were offended by base calumnies.” The Ten endeavored as far as they could to placate Messer Rinaldo; but confided the further command of the expedition to Neri di Gino and Alamanno Salviati, who, instead of scouring the Lucchese territory, moved their camp nearer to the city. And as the season was still cold they established themselves at Campanola, where the commissaries however seemed to think they were losing time; and when they wanted to invest the place closer, the soldiers refused, on account of the severity of the weather, although the Ten urged the investment, and would take no excuse.
23. There lived at that time at Florence an eminent architect called Filippo di Ser Brunelleschi, who has filled our city with his works, and whose merits were so great that after his death a marble statue was erected to him in the principal church of Florence, with an inscription at foot attesting his great ability. Considering the position of the city of Lucca, and the bed of the river Serchio, Brunelleschi demonstrated how Lucca could be submerged; and so persuaded the Ten that they ordered the experiment to be made; which unfortunately, however, resulted only in the discomfiture of our own camp, and greater security to the enemy. For the Lucchese by means of a dam raised the ground on the side whence the Serchio came, and then at night broke the bank of the canal by which the Florentines were conducting the river; so that the water, meeting the raised ground on the side of Lucca, and the open bank of the canal, spread itself over the whole plain, so that, instead of being able to invest the city closer, the Florentine camp had to be removed.
24. This project having failed, the Ten who had been reappointed sent as commissary Messer Giovanni Guicciardini, who established his camp as promptly as possible near the city. When, therefore, the lord of Lucca found himself so closely pressed, by the advice of one Messer Antonio del Rosso, the resident representative of Sienna at Lucca, he sent two envoys, Messer Salvestro Trenta and Leonardo Buonvisi, to the Duke of Milan, to ask assistance of him. But finding him disinclined, they begged him secretly to send them troops, in return for which they pledged themselves on behalf of the people of Lucca to deliver Guinigi to him as prisoner, and then to give him possession of the city; informing him at the same time, that, if he did not accept this proposition at once, the tyrant of Lucca would surrender the city to the Florentines, which they had asked of him with many promises in return. The Duke, fearing that this would be done, put aside all other considerations, and directed Count Francesco Sforza, who was in his pay, publicly to ask leave of him to go to the kingdom of Naples; this leave being granted him, the Count Francesco marched direct upon Lucca with his troops. Although the Florentines understood this arrangement, yet being apprehensive of its results, they sent to his friend Count Boccacino Alamanni to interrupt this movement. When therefore the Count Francesco came to Lucca, the Florentines withdrew with their forces to Librafatta, whilst the Count promptly pitched his camp before Pescia. Pagolo da Diaceto was deputy governor of this place, and being counselled more by his fears than by any other and better motive, he fled to Pistoja; so that the place would have been lost, had it not been defended by Giovanni Malavolti, who was there in garrison. The Count Francesco therefore, unable to take Pescia at the first assault, went thence to the Borgo alla Buggiano and took that, and also burnt the neighboring castle of Stigliano. The Florentines, seeing these disasters, resorted to a remedy that had saved them many times before: knowing that, with the mercenary nature of soldiers, corruption will succeed where force is insufficient, they offered a sum of money to the Count to induce him to depart and give them up the place. Francesco, finding that he could extract no more money from the Lucchese, promptly turned to extract it from those who had it to give; and agreed with the Florentines, not to give them up Lucca, which his honor would not permit him to do, but to abandon it upon receiving from them the sum of fifty thousand ducats. And having concluded a convention to this effect, so that the people of Lucca might excuse him with the Duke, he offered to assist them in expelling their tyrant.
25. Messer Antonio del Rosso, as we have said above, was the Siennese envoy at Lucca, and he, by authority of the Count Francesco, plotted with the citizens the ruin of Pagolo Guinigi. The chiefs of this conspiracy were Piero Cennami and Giovanni da Chivizano. Count Francesco was in quarters outside of the city on the Serchio, and with him was Lanzilao, the son of the Lord Pagolo. The conspirators, to the number of forty, went armed to find Pagolo, who, aroused by the noise, went towards them quite surprised, and demanded the reason of their coming. To which Piero Cennami replied, that they had for a long time been governed by him, and had been led to die by hunger and the sword, surrounded by enemies, and therefore they were resolved to govern themselves in future, and demanded of him the keys of the city and its treasure. To which Pagolo replied, that the treasure was exhausted and the keys of the city in their power; and he begged of them only this one thing, that, inasmuch as his government had been begun and continued without bloodshed, they might be satisfied that it should terminate in like manner. Pagolo Guinigi and his son were carried by Count Francesco to the Duke at Milan, where both died in prison soon after. The departure of the Count Francesco relieved Lucca of her tyrant and Florence of the fear of his troops; whereupon the former prepared for defence, and the latter resumed the offensive. The Florentines appointed the Conte d’ Urbino as their captain, who invested Lucca closely, thus obliging the inhabitants again to have recourse to the Duke for assistance. He sent Niccolo Piccinino to their assistance under a similar pretext to that on which he had previously sent the Count Francesco. When Niccolo was about to enter Lucca, our troops met him on the Serchio, and on his attempting to cross the river they came to battle with him and were routed, so that our commissary with only a few of our troops escaped to Pisa. This defeat cast a gloom over our whole city; and as the expedition against Lucca had been undertaken at the general desire of the people, they knew not whom to blame; and inasmuch as they could not censure those who had advised the war, they abused those who had been charged with its conduct, and revived the charges against Messer Rinaldo. But more than any one else they censured Messer Giovanni Guicciardini, it being charged against him that he might have terminated the war after the departure of the Count Francesco, but that he had been bribed with money, and had sent home a large sum; they even gave the name of the person who had paid it, and of him who received it. These rumors became so loud that the Captain of the people, influenced by these reports, and urged on by those of the opposite faction, summoned Messer Giovanni to appear before him. Messer Giovanni appeared, full of indignation, but his relatives exerted themselves so much in behalf of his honor that the Captain abandoned the prosecution. After their victory, the Lucchese not only recovered their own castles, but took all those in the territory of Pisa, excepting Bientina, Calcinaia, Livorno, and Librafatta (1433). And had it not been that a conspiracy, which had been set on foot in Pisa, was discovered, that city would also have been lost. The Florentines thereupon reorganized their forces, and gave the command to Micheletto, a pupil of the Count Francesco Sforza. The Duke on the other hand followed up the victory; and to enable him to carry on the war against the Florentines with greater power, he induced the Genoese, the Siennese, and the lord of Piombino to form a league for the defence of Lucca, and to secure the services of Niccolo Piccinino as their commander, which made the whole matter publicly known. Hereupon the Venetians and Florentines renewed their league, and the war began openly in Lombardy and Tuscany; several battles were fought in both territories, with varying fortune; so that both sides became weary of the contest, and peace was concluded in the month of May, 1433, according to the terms of which the Florentines, Lucchese, and Siennese, who during the war had seized each other’s castles, surrendered them all, and each reentered into possession of their own.
26. Whilst this war had been going on, the malign humors of the factions were kept all along in a state of fermentation. Cosimo de’ Medici, after the death of his father, displayed more zeal in public affairs, and even more devotion and liberality towards his friends, than his father had done; so that those who had rejoiced at Giovanni’s death became greatly depressed when they saw what Cosimo was. Cosimo was a man of rare prudence, of grave but agreeable presence, and most liberal and humane. He never attempted anything against the party opposed to him, or against the state, but endeavored to do good to all; and by his generosity he won the attachment of a great many citizens who became his partisans, so that his example increased the cares of those who held the government, whilst he judged that in this way he would be able to live in Florence as securely, and exercise as much power, as any one else; or if his adversaries from motives of ambition should attempt to resort to extraordinary measures against him, that he would be superior to them both in force of arms and by the support of his friends. The persons mainly instrumental in promoting the growth of his power were Averardo de’ Medici and Puccio Pucci; the former by his audacity, and the latter by his prudence and sagacity, contributed largely to increase the popularity and influence of Cosimo. The counsels and judgment of Puccio were so much esteemed, and were so well known by everybody, that the party was named, not after Cosimo, but after Puccio.
It was by a city thus divided that the expedition against Lucca had been undertaken, by which the party feeling, instead of being allayed, became only the more inflamed. And although it had been the party of Cosimo that had been in favor of the expedition, yet in its conduct many of the opposite party had been employed, being some of the best reputed men in the republic. And as Averardo de’ Medici and the others of his party could not prevent this, they strove by every device most industriously to caluminate them, and whenever any reverse was experienced, which happened repeatedly, it was ascribed, not to fortune or to the strength of the enemy, but to the lack of skill and prudence of the commissary. It was this that caused the offences of Astorre de Gianni to be exaggerated; it was this that caused the indignation of Messer Rinaldo degli Albizzi, making him throw up his commission without leave; and it was the same system of calumny that had caused the Captain of the people to summon Messer Giovanni Guicciardini. From this arose all the other troubles to which the magistrates and the commissaries were subjected; for real evils were exaggerated, and unreal ones were invented, and both true and false were alike believed by the people, who as a general thing hated the accused.
27. This whole system and extraordinary mode of proceeding were well understood by Niccolo da Uzano and the other chiefs of the party; and they had often discussed together the means for remedying them, but had not found any; for to allow these things to go on and increase seemed to them dangerous, and any attempt to put an end to them difficult. Niccolo da Uzano was the first to express himself openly dissatisfied with these extraordinary proceedings; and therefore, whilst there was war without and dissensions within the city, Niccolo Barbadori, desirous to induce Niccolo da Uzano to consent to the destruction of Cosimo, went to see him at his house, where he found him in his study wrapt in deep thought. He endeavored to persuade him with such arguments as best he could to concur with Messer Rinaldo in the expulsion of Cosimo, to which Niccolo da Uzano replied in the following words: —
“It would be better for thee and thy family, as well as for our republic, that thou and the others who hold the same opinions as you do had beards of silver-white rather than of golden hue as thy name indicates, for then their counsels, proceeding from hoary heads full of experience, would be wiser and more beneficial to everybody. For it seems to me that those who wish to drive Cosimo from Florence should, before doing anything else, measure their own strength and that of Cosimo. You have baptized this party of ours that of the nobles, and the other that of the people; even if the name corresponded with the truth, yet would success be doubtful, and we should have reason to fear rather than to hope, according to the example of that ancient nobility which was destroyed by the people. But we have much more to fear, for our party is dismembered, and that of the adversary compact and entire. In the first place Neri di Gino and Nerone di Nigi, two of our principal citizens, have never declared themselves in such a way that we could say they are more our friends than theirs. Many families and even houses are divided amongst themselves; for, owing to the jealousy of brothers or relatives, they are opposed to us and support the other party. I will cite only the most striking cases; others will readily suggest themselves to you. Of the two sons of Messer Maso degli Albizzi, Lucci has cast his fortunes with the Medici party from jealousy of his brother, Messer Rinaldo. In the house of the Guicciardini the two sons of Messer Luigi are divided, Piero being the enemy of Giovanni and supporting the party of our adversaries. The same with Tommaso and Niccolo Soderini, who have openly declared against us from their hatred against their uncle Francesco; so that, if we consider well who are for them and who for us, I do not really know why our party more than theirs should be called that of the nobles. If it be because they have the people on their side, that places us only so much in a worse and them in a better position, in so far that, were it to come to arms or to voting, we should be unable to resist them. And if we still preserve our dignities, it arises from the ancient reputation of our government, which maintained itself honorably during fifty years; but should it come to the test and our weakness be discovered, then we should also lose that dignity. And if thou wert to say to me that the justice of our cause should increase our influence and diminish theirs, I should reply, that that justice must be understood and believed in by others as it is by us, all of which, however, is just the very reverse; for the reasons that influence us are founded wholly upon the suspicion that Cosimo aims at making himself sovereign of the city. Now, although we have that suspicion, yet the others have it not, and what is worse, they accuse us of the very thing that we charge upon him.
“The acts of Cosimo which cause us to suspect him are that he aids everybody with his money, not only private persons, but even the state, and not only the Florentines, but even the Condottieri; that he supports the citizens in their reclamations upon the magistrates; and that through the good will of the masses, which he enjoys, he has advanced several of his friends to the highest honors. The reasons, therefore, which we would have to adduce for expelling Cosimo would be that he is benevolent, serviceable to his friends, liberal, and beloved by everybody. Tell me a little now, what law is there against charity, liberality, and love? And although these are the very ways which all men adopt who aim at sovereignty, yet they are not so regarded in the case of Cosimo; nor have we sufficient credit to make them so regarded. For our past conduct has caused all confidence to be withdrawn from us; and the city of Florence, which is naturally partisan and corrupt from having always been divided into parties, will not listen to such accusations. But suppose that you were to succeed in driving him out, — which might well be, having a Signoria well disposed to it, — how can you ever prevent his return, when so many of his friends remain here, who will labor most ardently for his return? You will find it impossible to guard against this danger, for his friends are so numerous and have the support and good will of the masses. And the more of his avowed friends you expel, the greater number of enemies will you make yourselves; so that in a little while he would be recalled in spite of you, and all you will have gained will be that you have driven him out a good man and that he returns a bad one; for his nature will be corrupted by those who will have recalled him, and whom he could not oppose being under such obligations to them. And should you wish to kill him, you will never succeed in doing it by legal means, for his money and your corruptible natures will always save him. But suppose him to be killed or banished not to return, I do not see what our republic would gain by it; for if she were delivered from Cosimo she would be enslaved by Rinaldo. As for myself, I am one of those who desire that no one citizen shall exceed another in power and authority. But if either one of these two men must rule, then I know no reason for loving Messer Rinaldo more than Cosimo. And now I have nothing more to say to thee other than may God preserve our republic from having any one of her citizens become sovereign! but even if our sins should have deserved it, then may God preserve her from having to obey Messer Rinaldo! Do not then advise a course that would in every way prove injurious; and do not imagine that being supported by a few, you could successfully oppose the will of the many; for all these citizens, partly from ignorance and partly from malice, are ready to sell the republic; and fortune has so far favored them that they have found a purchaser. Govern thyself, therefore, according to my advice, and look to living modestly, and so far as liberty is concerned, you will have as much cause for suspecting our party as the opposite one. And when trouble comes, you, having remained neutral, will be acceptable to everybody, and thus will you benefit, and not injure, your country!”
28. These words somewhat cooled the ardor of Barbadori, so that matters remained quiet so long as the war with Lucca lasted; but when peace came, and with it the death of Niccolo da Uzano, the city being without any war and without any control, the evil humors again increased unrestrained. Messer Rinaldo, who considered himself as remaining the sole chief of his party, did not cease to entreat and importune all those citizens whom he supposed might become Gonfalonieri, to arm themselves and free the city from that man, who, from necessity and by the malice of a few and the ignorance of the many, would assuredly reduce the city to servitude. This course pursued by Messer Rinaldo, and that taken by the adverse party, kept the entire city in a state of apprehension; and every time that a new magistracy was to be appointed, it was publicly discussed how many of each party should be chosen; and at the drawing of the Signoria the whole city was aroused. Every case that came before the magistrates, even the smallest, became a cause of contention; secrets were divulged, and the good and evil alike became objects of favor or disfavor; good men and wicked were assailed alike, and no magistrate performed his duty. Florence then being in this state of confusion, and Messer Rinaldo ever anxious to break down the power of Cosimo, and knowing that Bernardo Guadagni was likely to become Gonfaloniere, he paid his taxes for him, so that his indebtedness to the public treasury might not deprive him of the right to hold that office. Having come now to the drawing of the Signoria, fortune, ever favoring our dissensions, caused Bernardo to be drawn as Gonfaloniere for the months of September and October. Messer Rinaldo went promptly to call upon him, and told him that the party of the nobles, as well as the others who desired to live quietly, were rejoiced that he had attained that dignity; and that it now behooved him so to act that they should not have rejoiced in vain. He then showed him the dangers to which they would be exposed by disunion; and that there was no other way to secure union but the destruction of Cosimo, — for he alone by his immoderate wealth kept them weak; and that he had already raised himself so high that, if not prevented, he would make himself sovereign of Florence. And therefore it behooved a good citizen to provide against this by calling the people to assemble in the Piazza, and to reorganize the government so as to restore his country to liberty. He recalled to him that Messer Salvestro de’ Medici was enabled unjustly to check the greatness of the Guelfs, to whom by the blood of their ancestors, spilt in the service of the state, the government of right belonged; and that what Salvestro could unjustly do against so many, he ought to be able justly to do against only one man. He counselled him not to fear, for his friends were ready to aid and stand by him with arms in hand; and that he need not regard the populace, which adored Cosimo, who however would obtain no better support from them than what Messer Giorgio Scali had received from them; nor need he fear the wealth of Cosimo, which when he should once be in the hands of the Signoria would then belong to them. And he concluded by telling him that, if he followed these suggestions, he would make the republic secure and united, and himself glorious. To all this Bernardo replied briefly, “that he judged it necessary to do as Rinaldo had told him; but as time was required to carry these suggestions into effect, he should attend to preparing himself to be ready with his forces, being persuaded that his colleagues would join him.” So soon as Bernardo had assumed the magistracy, and had disposed his colleagues favorably to the plan, and all points being agreed upon with Messer Rinaldo, he summoned Cosimo, who, despite of the advice of numerous friends, appeared, relying more upon his innocence than the mercy of the Signori. The moment Cosimo entered the palace he was arrested; and Messer Rinaldo issued forth from his house, together with many armed men and followed by the whole party, and went to the Piazza, where the Signoria caused the people to be assembled, and appointed a Balia of two hundred persons to reorganize the government of the city. So soon as they were able, this Balia discussed the questions of reform and of the life and death of Cosimo. Many wanted him sent into exile, others wanted his death, and some were silent either from compassion for him or from fear of the others; and this difference of opinion prevented anything definite from being resolved upon.
In the tower of the palace of the Signoria there is a chamber called the “Alberghettino,” occupying the entire space of the tower; it was here that Cosimo was confined under the charge of Federigo Malavolti. Hearing from this place the assembling of the councils and the noise of arms in the Piazza, and the frequent ringing of the bells for calling the Balia together, Cosimo became apprehensive lest some attempt should be made upon his life. But what he feared still more was that his particular enemies might employ some extraordinary means for encompassing his death; and therefore he abstained from all food, so that within the space of four days he had eaten nothing but a small piece of bread. Federigo, having observed this, said to him: “You are afraid of being poisoned, Cosimo, and will kill yourself by starvation; it is little to my credit that you should believe me capable of lending myself to such an act of villany. I do not believe your life to be in danger, for you have many friends within and without the palace; and yet, if you should have to lose your life, be assured they would have to use other means than to employ me as a minister in depriving you of it; for I would not stain my hands with the blood of any man, and least of all yours, who have never offended me. Be therefore of good cheer, take your food and live for your friends and your country; and so that you may do so with the greater confidence I will myself share your meals with you.” These words comforted Cosimo very much, and with tears in his eyes he embraced and kissed Federigo, and thanked him most earnestly and affectionately for this kind and compassionate act, promising to be most grateful to him if ever fortune afforded him the opportunity. Cosimo being somewhat restored, and whilst the citizens were still discussing his case, it chanced that Federigo, for the purpose of giving Cosimo pleasure, brought home with him to dinner a familiar friend of the Gonfaloniere, called Il Farganaccio, a man of gay and facetious spirit. Having nearly finished dinner, Cosimo, thinking to profit by the visit of this man, whom he knew extremely well, beckoned to Federigo to leave the room, who, understanding the object, feigned to go out for something necessary to complete the repast; — and the two being thus left alone together, Cosimo, after some friendly words to Farganaccio, gave him a written order upon the director of the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova for one thousand one hundred ducats; one hundred of which he was to take for himself, and the one thousand he was to carry to the Gonfaloniere and beg him to take an early occasion to come to see Cosimo. Farganaccio accepted the commission, and the money was paid; whereupon Bernardo Guadagni became more humane; and the consequence was that Cosimo was banished to Padua, contrary to the will of Messer Rinaldo, who wanted to have him put to death. Averardo and many others of the house of Medici were also banished, and with them Puccio and Giovanni Pucci. And by way of intimidating those who were dissatisfied with the exile of Cosimo, a Balia was given to the Eight of the Guard and the Captain of the people. After these matters were resolved upon, Cosimo was brought before the Signori, on the 3d of October, 1433, who then announced to him the limits of his banishment, and advised him strictly to conform to them unless he wished them to proceed more harshly against him and his property. Cosimo accepted the limits with cheerful countenance, assuring them that wherever the Signoria might send him, there he would cheerfully abide. He begged them however, that, inasmuch as they had spared his life, they would also afford him protection, for he was aware that there were many in the Piazza who desired his blood. And then he offered, wherever he might be, to place himself and all his substance at the service of the city, the people, and their lordships. The Gonfaloniere kindly comforted him, kept him in the palace until nightfall, and then took him home with him to his house and made him sup with him; after which he had him conducted under a strong guard to the place of his banishment. At every station Cosimo was received with honors, and he was publicly called upon by the Venetians, who did him honor as one high in office, and not as an exile.
29. Florence being thus widowed of so illustrious and beloved a citizen, was in a state of general consternation; the supporters as well as the adversaries of Cosimo were equally terror-stricken. So that Messer Rinaldo, foreseeing his future ruin, yet by way of not seeming wanting to himself and his party, called together a number of citizens, friendly to himself, and addressed them as follows: —
“That he saw their impending doom, because they had allowed themselves to be overcome by the prayers, tears, and money of their enemies; and that they themselves did not perceive that in a little while it would be their turn to pray and weep; but that then their prayers would not be heard, nor would their tears move any one to compassion for them. That of the money they had accepted they would have to make restitution of the principal, and pay usurious interest with torments of death and exile. That it would have been better to have left things as they were, rather than to have spared the life of Cosimo and to allow his friends to remain in Florence; for great men must either not be touched at all, or destroyed entirely. And that he saw no other remedy now but to strengthen themselves in the city, so that when their enemies recovered their power, as they assuredly would erelong, they might be able to drive them out by force, which they would not be able to do by civil proceedings. That he repeated now what he had long since counselled them as their sole remedy, namely, to secure to themselves again the support of the great nobles, restoring and conceding to them all the honors of the city, and to strengthen themselves by that party, the same as their adversaries had done with the party of the people. That their own party would gain strength in proportion as they displayed more activity, more ability, more courage, and more influence; affirming that, if they did not avail of this last resource, he could not see by what other means they could preserve the government in the midst of so many enemies; and in such case he only foresaw the speedy ruin of their party and of the city.”
Mariotto Boldovinetti, one of the assembled, opposed these views, “pointing out the pride and insupportable nature of the nobles, and that it would not do for them to subject themselves to certain tyranny for the sake of avoiding the doubtful dangers apprehended from the people.” Whereupon Messer Rinaldo, seeing that his counsels were not listened to, bewailed his own misfortunes and those of his party, imputing them more to Heaven who wanted it thus, than to human ignorance and blindness. Matters being left in this way without any necessary provision being made, a letter was found written by Agnolo Acciaiuoli to Cosimo de’ Medici, making known to him the favorable disposition of the city towards him, and advising him to endeavor to stir up some war, and to secure for himself the friendship of Neri di Gino. For he judged that, as the city in such case would need money, they would find no one willing to supply it, and that then the recollection of his liberality would revive a most earnest desire for his return. And that, if at the same time Neri should declare against Messer Rinaldo, it would so weaken the party of the latter that it would be no longer able to defend itself. This letter having fallen into the hands of the magistrates, they had Messer Agnolo arrested, put to the torture, and then sent into exile. But even this example in no way abated the feeling in favor of Cosimo.
A twelvemonth had now nearly elapsed since the banishment of Cosimo; and the end of August, 1434, having come, Niccolo di Cocco was drawn as Gonfaloniere for the two following months, and with him eight Signori, all partisans of Cosimo, so that Messer Rinaldo and all his party became greatly alarmed at this election of the Signoria. And as it was the custom that three days are allowed to elapse before the new Signori assume the magistracy, Messer Rinaldo again convened the chiefs of his party, and pointed out to them the certain and new dangers, and that their only remedy lay in taking up arms and making Donato Velluti, who was then acting Gonfaloniere, call the people to assemble in the Piazza, to appoint a new Balia, deprive the newly elected Signori of the magistracy, and create new ones to be placed at the head of the government, burn the election purses, and by new elections to fortify themselves with friends. Many judged this plan safe and necessary; many others deemed it too violent, and likely to involve them in serious difficulties. Amongst those who objected to it was Messer Palla Strozzi, who was a quiet, courteous, and humane man, and better qualified for the pursuit of letters than for the restraining of a faction, and of contending with civil discords. He said, “That cunning or audacious measures always seemed well in the beginning, but afterwards became difficult in the execution, and in the end dangerous. And he believed that the fear of external war (the troops of the Duke being upon our frontiers in the Romagna) would cause the Signori to think more of that than of their internal dissensions. Should it become evident, however, that they were about to take a different course, (which they could not do without its becoming known,) then it would always be time enough to take up arms, and act as the general good might require; which in that case, being done from necessity, would cause less excitement to the people, and less difficulty to themselves.” It was concluded, therefore, to let the new Signori come in, and that their conduct should be closely watched, and if they attempted to do anything adverse to the party, that then each should take up arms and meet in the Piazza of San Pulinari, a place near the palace, whence they might afterwards proceed wherever it seemed necessary.
30. Having resolved upon this course, the meeting separated, and the new Signoria entered upon the magistracy. The Gonfaloniere, by way of making a reputation for himself, and striking terror into those who designed to oppose him, condemned Donato Velluti, his predecessor, to prison for misappropriation of the public funds. After that, he sounded his colleagues as to the return of Cosimo, and finding them favorably disposed, he conferred with those whom he supposed to be the chiefs of the Medici party; and being encouraged by these, he cited Messer Rinaldo, Ridolfi Peruzzi, and Niccolo Barbadori as being the leaders of the opposite party. After this summons, Messer Rinaldo thought that it would not do to delay action any longer, and issued forth from his house with a great many armed followers, and was promptly joined by Ridolfo Peruzzi and Niccolo Barbadori. A great many other citizens joined the crowd, as also numerous soldiers who happened in Florence, being without any engagement; and all went, according to agreement, to the Piazza of San Pulinari. Messer Palla Strozzi, however, although he had collected a goodly number of men, did not come out; and Messer Giovanni Guicciardini did the same; whereupon Messer Rinaldo sent to request them to come out, and to reprove them for their tardiness. Messer Giovanni replied, that he would most effectually damage the other party if, by remaining at home, he prevented his brother Piero from going to succor the Signoria in the palace. After repeated messages, Messer Palla Strozzi came on horseback to San Pulinari, followed only by two unarmed attendants on foot. Messer Rinaldo met and reproved him severely for his remissness, and said, “that his not coming with the others arose either from want of good faith or lack of courage; and that a man who desired to enjoy the consideration that he did ought to avoid laying himself open to such charges; that he greatly deceived himself if he believed that, by thus failing in his engagements to his own party, the enemy, in case of victory, would either spare his life or exempt him from exile. As regarded himself, in the event of disaster, he would at least have the satisfaction of not having withheld his counsels before the danger, nor his active support when danger had come. But as for him (Palla) and the others like him, their regrets would be increased manifold by the reflection that they had betrayed their country three times; once when they saved Cosimo, the second time when they rejected his advice, and the third time now by failing to support him with arms.” Messer Palla’s answer to these words was not sufficiently loud to be understood by the bystanders; but murmuring something, he turned his horse’s head, and went back to his house.
The Signori, upon hearing that Messer Rinaldo and his party had taken to arms, and seeing themselves abandoned, caused the palace to be closed, and being without any one whom they could consult, they were wholly at a loss what to do. Messer Rinaldo on his part, however, by waiting for the forces that did not come, delayed his arrival in the Piazza, and thus lost the opportunity of victory; for he afforded to the Signori time to recover their courage and to provide for their defence, and allowed many citizens to join the Signori, and to advise them as to the means for inducing Rinaldo to disarm. Thereupon some of the less suspected of the party of the Signori went to Messer Rinaldo, saying that the Signoria did not know the cause of this movement, that they never had any intention of offending him, and, although the subject of Cosimo had been discussed amongst them, yet they had never thought of permitting his return; and that if this was the cause of Messer Rinaldo’s suspicions, he might be reassured; that they were quite willing to have him come to the palace, where they would be glad to see him, and that all his demands should be conceded to him. Messer Rinaldo, however, was not persuaded by these words to change his purpose, but he replied, “that the only way to reassure him was for the Signori to return to private life, and that then the city would be reorganized for the benefit of all.” But it invariably happens that, when the authority is equally divided and the opinions differ, nothing is resolved upon that results in good; and so in this case. Ridolfo Peruzzi, persuaded by the words of those citizens, said that, “for himself, he desired nothing else than that Cosimo should not be permitted to return, and the Signoria’s agreeing to this seemed to him victory enough, which he had no wish to increase by flooding the city with blood; and therefore he wished to obey the Signoria.” And thereupon he went with all his followers to the palace, where he was gladly received. Thus the delay of Messer Rinaldo at San Pulinari, the want of courage of Messer Palla Strozzi, and the going off of Ridolfo Peruzzi, had the effect of depriving Messer Rinaldo of success in his attempt. The ardor of the citizens who had followed him abated after the first excitement was over; and his failure was made still more complete by the authority of the Pope.
31. Pope Eugenius, having been expelled from Rome by the people, happened to be in Florence at the time of these occurrences; and deeming it his duty to do what he could to tranquillize the city, he sent the Patriarch Giovanni Vitelleschi, who was an intimate friend of Messer Rinaldo, to request him to come to him, and to assure him that the Pope had sufficient influence with and confidence in the Signoria to obtain for him entire satisfaction and security, without the effusion of blood, or danger to any citizen. Messer Rinaldo, therefore, being persuaded by his friend, went with all his followers to Santa Maria Novella, where the Pope resided. Pope Eugenius explained to him the pledge which the Signoria had given him, and that he had the whole subject of difference in his hands, and that matters would be arranged according as he might deem best, whenever Messer Rinaldo should lay down his arms. Messer Rinaldo, having seen the coldness of Messer Palla Strozzi and the fickleness of Ridolfo Peruzzi, for want of a better course placed himself in the hands of the Pope, thinking that his authority would anyhow have to be respected. The Pope thereupon caused Niccolo Barbadori, and the others who were waiting outside, to be notified that they must go and disarm, whilst Messer Rinaldo remained with the Pope to arrange the particulars of an agreement with the Signoria; whereupon they all dispersed and disarmed.
32. The Signori, seeing that their adversaries had disarmed, continued the negotiations for an agreement through the intervention of the Pope; but at the same time they sent secretly into the mountains of Pistoja for infantry, which, as well as their other men-at-arms, they introduced by night into Florence, taking possession of all the strong points in the city. And then they called the people together in the Piazza, and created a new Balia, which, immediately after having been convened, restored Cosimo to his country, as well as the others who had been exiled with him. And of the adverse party, they banished Messer Rinaldo degli Albizzi, Ridolfo Peruzzi, Niccolo Barbadori, and Messer Palla Strozzi, together with many other citizens, to such an extent that there were but few places in Italy to which some of them were not banished, and even many places outside of Italy were filled with these exiles.
Thus did Florence, by this and similar proceedings, deprive herself not only of many good and worthy citizens, but of much wealth and industry. The Pope, seeing such general destruction befall those who, at his request, had laid down their arms, was greatly dissatisfied, and condoled with Messer Rinaldo on the wrong done him under his pledge, and counselled him to have patience, and to hope for good from the mutability of fortune. To which Messer Rinaldo replied: “The little faith which those have shown me who should have believed in me, and the too great faith which I had in you, have ruined me and my party. But I blame myself more than any one else for having believed that you, who had been driven out of your own country, would be able to keep me in mine. I have had sufficient experience of the fickleness of Fortune, and, as I had but little confidence in her during prosperity, I am not now made unhappy by adversity; for I know that whenever it shall please her she will show herself more kind to me. But even should it never please her, I should value but little living in a city where the laws are less potent than men; for that country only is desirable where one can enjoy one’s substance and friends in security, and not that where you may easily be deprived of the former, and where your friends, from fear for their own, abandon you in your greatest need. It has ever been less painful for good and wise men to hear of the misfortunes of their country than to witness them; and it has ever been deemed more glorious to be reputed an honorable rebel than an enslaved citizen.” He then parted from the Pope, full of indignation, repeatedly recalling to himself his own counsels and the coldness of his friends, and went away into exile. Cosimo, on the other hand, having been notified of his restoration, returned to Florence; and it has seldom happened that a citizen, returning in triumph from a victory, was received in his own country by such a concourse of people, and with such demonstrations of good will as those with which Cosimo was received on his return from banishment. He was spontaneously greeted by every one as the Benefactor of the People and as the Father of his Country.